Impressions of MT…

…from a PHP developer’s point of view …for I did have another motive when I downloaded and installed MT last night.

For over a year, I’ve been working on my own Web content management system. I looked at some of the programs out there — in particular the “Nuke” family for those of you in the know — but I wasn’t entirely satisfied. For one thing, to me they all seemed to work well provided one were to accept a predetermined (and a bit limited) data architecture. And for another thing, for someone like myself who works in a milieu with two official languages, I felt I had to come up with my own program that could be operated and could “publish” in two languages simultaneously. Plus I knew that my clients wouldn’t stand for having to learn even the most elementary HTML/XML tags.

I’m happy to report that my program is coming along very well and that it’s been getting a very good reception from my clients, who claim that the system is “dummy proof.” But after focussing for so long on my own work and not trying other people’s scripts, I was beginning to worry that maybe I’m making my program more complicated than it needs to be — either for myself or the ultimate end users. Hence the time had come to take a look at MT, but from the angle of a client rather than a developer.

Looking at MT was a safe choice, really, given that’s it’s written in Perl. I’m very happy in my little world of PHP and have no intention of “getting into” Perl, at least not for a while. So it’s not like studying the script would get me very far.

I must commend Ben & Mena Trott for coming up with an excellent interface. And the documentation that goes along with MT is, for the most part, exemplary. However, I must admit that the reasoning behind and the role played by the whole “Rebuild Site” sequences in MT still eludes me. Another quibble (in terms of usability) is that the “Rebuild” and “Cancel” buttons really ought to be transposed so that the Rebuild would be directly under the pulldown menu. (How many times already have I closed the dialogue box by accident!?)

But what makes me really happy is that my own program operates very much like MT with MySQL support. In other words, I seem to have managed to figure out some key principles — mostly on my own, but also with much help and advice from the Hosting Matters community. How I intended to deploy and license my program is completely different, however, but that might be the topic of another post.

I Blog, Therefore I Am?

In my first post — I know I’m going overboard with postings since this is all new to me — I mentioned that a documentary on CBC is what finally made me decide to blog. But numerous are the other reasons that have accumulated and finally brought me to doing it myself.

Perhaps one of the most determining moments occurred on Aug. 2, 2002, when xkot posted this brief entry titled “A Sad Loss,” which was about a guy who blogged under the name “Skattieboy” but died very suddenly. Skattieboy was essentially my age and, as I commented in xkot’s blog, he just “woke up dead” one day in late July.

At least that’s what seems to have happened. Neither xkot nor I had even met the guy. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of him until xkot mentioned him. Still, the sudden death of an until-then unknown-to-me Ph.D. candidate in psychology — my age and living in Colorado — just hit a chord in me.

Granted, my headspace in 2002 has been one where the need for change has featured prominently, a situation I attribute in good part to my slightly premature but (I think) well under control midlife crisis. As such, I was perhaps more prone to be touched.

Somehow, and perhaps paradoxically, this event tied into other thoughts I had been having as we were approaching the first anniversary of 9/11. Never one to suffer fools gladly, I was realizing that, for me, 9/11 had eroded any shred of tolerance I ever had towards pettiness and stupidity. On the one hand, I would think about what people quibble about and, on the other, I would reflect on 3,000+ people dead because they were simply reporting to work but happened to be on the wrong side of so much hatred. Why go looking for trouble with squabbles that will do nothing but generate bad feelings? There are enough of those already.

But other factors or occurrences made me think about this whole blogging thing. Back in June, there was this really nasty exchange of comments in a blog, to which I won’t link because I don’t want to bring back a bitchfest that’s thankfully over. That event in particular made me think about responsible blogging, responsible commenting in blogs, the respect bloggers and readers should have towards one another, and the blurring of the distinction between personal and professional relationships. And while I’m not giving you the context of the discussion at the time, I was compelled to make this comment:

I think we’re starting to hit on the notion of freedom itself, in the sense of having real as opposed to illusionary choices. We’re surrounded by so many illusionary choices — a gazillion TV channels, computer terminals that come in different colours, etc. — which are little more than cosmetic variations of the same thing. Could it be that, as a consequence, our sense of what real choices are, hence our understanding of what having the freedom to select and respect different approaches should be, has become numbed to the point that admitting an array of real choices is too destablizing?

A few months earlier, I had had a very intense e-mail exchange with an aspiring local Web designer who had a blog and made some inappropriate comments therein about her client, who just so happened to be a friend of mine. I’ve been around the ‘Net long enough to know that situations can very easily get emotionally charged online. The editor in me always knew that words are very powerful but, somehow, the medium seems to have the ability to alter (corrupt?) that power they hold.

Juxtaposed, these disparate experiences of blogs pushed me to think about whether or not I wanted to do the blogging thing. What are the benefits? What are the risks? And to what extent is it an exercise in communicating with friends and acquaintances, or in creative expression? Or simple exhibitionism or narcissism?

Perhaps it’s a bit of all of those things to a varying degree for various people. I still don’t know what the combination is for me.

The Sending of Good Vibes

Can’t help but be concerned about Kevin. He’s still able to make light of what ails him. But he’s really not well …no pun intended. And all I can do right now is send good vibes his way and hope that, indeed, “they’ll” get to the bottom of it and end his suffering.

Anyone who knows me might think that Kevin is the most unlikely person I’d consider a friend. We “met” when we were both with a horrible Web host and eventually moved to our current host at about the same time. He’s been an employee of our host for over a year now, and an ultra-competent one at that. He’s just a great guy and one of the last persons you’d want something horrible to happen to him.

Two for Tuesday (2002-12-17)

I always wondered if I would be good at answering these things…

1. What is your favourite holiday song?
I’d have to say “O Holy Night/Minuit Chrétien,” hands down. The more orchestrated and the more voices in the choir, the better. I’m no big fan of Christmas as it has become, but I like proper decorum as well as some “pomp and circumstance.”

2. Favourite holiday movie?
I can’t think of an actual movie that stands out as my favorite. Rather I’m brought to think of the half-hour Christmas specials when I was a kid which I still love today. It’s a tie between “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” — brilliant text! — and “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown.”

And While I’m Thinking About It…

Along the same lines as the previous post… Of course my daily collection of spam often provides me offers to enlarge [you know what]. Those offers go directly to the trash, unopened. Not that I’m too proud or think I don’t need it or … oh, never mind before I dig myself into a hole.

But the other day I received two different but similar offers in a row, and as I was doing something boring afterwards — namely washing the dishes — I started to wonder. “I wonder which of the two would be the better deal? The one that promised X more inches or the one that promised X% ‘improvement’.”

I hate washing dishes. If it allows my mind to start thinking about such things, then it must be an evil, evil activity.