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Friday, April 11, 2003

April 11, 2003

Summer building projects announced!

I've got a few major upcoming projects this summer that will hopefully be a good time. smile I've been itchin' to get out my saws and such...but won't be able to until at least mid-May, but more realistically, June.

On the list of things to do (or build, rather) this summer (not yet in priority order):


Refurbished Computer/Printer/Storage Rack:

This is a piece which currently sits to the right of my desk, about 4.5 feet high, and has outlived its useful life. It worked much better under the old setup of the room, but now (with the addition of other equipment) it just doesn't work as well as it should. Namely, I've removed the server monitor (since I rarely need it anymore thanks to SSH and VNC and generally just hook up my good flat panel when I do need a monitor) and replaced it with a small TV which we use for entertainment in the back room. Secondly, the HP LaserJet 5 (with all its attachments) rises to almost 6' in height as the only place for it is where I had my old LaserJet IIIP -- on the top shelf. I'm not worried about the weight breaking anything (that's the least of my concerns), but it's kinda in the way and if ever there's a paper jam, it's a pain in the ass to fix. Lastly (of the big things), the Mac monitor is just too large (and always was) for its location.

The refurb plan is to do the following: leave the lower portion pretty much as-is since it works very well, but change the upper portion in the following ways:

  1. Cut back the depth about 6", leaving a 'stepped look' to it from the side (when both pieces are put together).
  2. Raise the height about 3-4", leaving more room in the lower cavity for monitors and TV -- possibly allowing for inclusion of keyboard room as upper shelf is stepped back.

The lower portion will stay the same, except I will trim off the lips on the sides of the tabletop (which were there originally to prevent things falling off -- but really are unnecessary in its current position) and extend the right-hand side about 18" -- enough to accomodate the LaserJet 5, thusly taking it off the top shelf and putting it in a more reachable and user-friendly place.


New Home Entertainment Center:

Shortly after we moved in to our apartment (two years ago), I purchased a Home Theater system for use with the three-disc DVD/CD player and our other equipment. As the receiver (especially with inclusion of aforementioned CD player) works as a radio/stereo system, we've literally got the entire setup going. About a year ago, I purchased a new 32" TV which went on top of the current entertainment center I'd built for use in the dorm room. The TV is far bigger than the box it resides on, which has bugged me for some time. Furthermore, we're currently limited to keeping the movies in our bedroom on a shelf...and real estate is becoming high-priced and rare in our apartment.

The solution: build a new entertainment center.

I've drawn some very basic plans (on paper and in my head) as to how this will look. Currently, it will be a three-piece unit: One center unit which will house all the A/V equipment and also the TV and center speaker; two matching/adjustible bookshelves to go on either side of the unit (where we can keep movies/books and the main L/R speakers). I haven't yet decided where to put the subwoofer, but that's alright. I need to do some layout and such before finalizing the design.

I originally figured I'd create a 'corner cabinet' where the center unit would be at 45 degree angle to each wall (e.g. in the corner) and each bookshelf would be flush with its appropriate wall. This was also to be one unit, not three.

Quickly I decided against that, mostly because in the current setup, the TV is more at a 60-30 degree angle (facing more in one direction than another) than at a 45-45 degree angle...and needs to be that way in order to maximize 'good seats' when viewing. Furthermore, we will have to move this beast when the time comes...so portability came into mind. Such came the three-piece design...where we can independently set the center unit at a correct angle (or keep it flush with a wall) in future living areas.


Simple Shelf/Drawer Unit:

This is a request for build. Somewhat of a long story, but a two or three-shelf unit (with a small drawer at the bottom) on which miscellaneous stuff can be placed -- pictures, books, etc. Kinda like one of those $20 Wal-Mart pressboard bookshelf things you can buy, except better. This item is more decorative than anything (meaning it's not boxy and will have decorative additions to enhance the aesthetic of the room) and will probably be built en masse (currently at least three will have to be made).

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/20/07

Wednesday, April 9, 2003

April 9, 2003

Oops! Well, the upgrade was mostly complete, minus one major thing:

Internet Explorer

I've never been much a fan of IE, ever. Sadly, most of the world uses it as it's the default browser. I won't get into a browser war with anyone -- use what you like. Personally, I've been a fan of the Mozilla/Netscape bit, mostly now due to the tabbed browsing bit and the anti-integration with OS thing.

Anyway, this isn't about browsers, so I'll leave it at that. Regardless, what I discovered with some help is that a vital bit of linkage I was using for images (which aren't stored within the TWiki directory tree) worked just fine with Netscape/Mozilla, but barfed horribly with IE and presumably other browsers.

After a change (which I was intending to do, although the matter brought to my attention made it a higher priority) I made with a variable and some quick editing of affected pages, things should be back to normal.

If you ever notice anything not working right, please email me about it or fill out the comment form.

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/20/07

Tuesday, April 8, 2003

April 8, 2003

Woohoo! The upgrade is complete!

After some minor tinkering with the EMailMatt and CommentsQuestions forms and general testing, I decided to make the thing go live tonight.

Some major things to note:

  • All references to email addresses for myself have been replaced with links to EMailMatt. This page is a simple form used for me to ensure the receipt of emails through the site, mostly by keeping a standard email address and layout to incoming mail from visitors (done so my mail software won't filter it as spam).
  • General restructuring. I've managed to set up the parent system better. In other words, things in the news system will have parents of MattNews (which makes sense, as news items are 'children' pages)...and similarly pages in the pictures part of the site will have parents of MattPictures.
  • Addition of my mugshot in the logo portion (upper left-hand corner).
  • Change in page function (includes for the sidebar and footer information) which lessen individual page sizes and make it simpler to update things like the footer and sidebar.
  • Redirects. By default, all .html pages within the http://mzonline.com/zaskem subdirectory will automatically be forwarded to WebHome. This is done for multiple reasons, some of which being simplicity and others being protection (people don't need to be looking through directories of images). In the past, I just had dummy index.html pages in subdirectories to take care of this.

The site still remains mostly intact in general appearance. Hopefully you all will like it.

Some things I need to do yet include:

  • remove existing pages (which due to the redirects you will no longer be able to access)
  • re-catalog and index images in the subtree. This has been a long time in coming, but will get done in the pseudo-near future.
This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/20/07

Sunday, April 6, 2003

April 6, 2003

The website upgrade is almost complete. I've made some major changes to the way the news system works and looks (if only on an 'internal' and structural basis) and many subtle changes to the functionality of my website here and actually have all the pages TWiki-fied. I've taken some time after getting the pages there to make minor modifications to a) speed up things and b) eradicate extra stuff I don't need (e.g. duplicate code).

Tonight was spent making adjustments to the web preferences (on the beta version hosted on my localnet) to make things look slightly different than the default elsewhere. I also did some fiddling with Apache directives that I'm going to need when I make the complete change from traditional HTML to TWiki. This way I'll still be able to publish my web address as http://mzonline.com/zaskem without the need for complicated (and sometimes flaky) redirects (as I've used elsewhere) which don't have the desired effect I'm looking for. I've come up with a nice alternative which has allowed me to a) redirect all *.html pages in an area to default to the new WebHome for Matt's Home on the Web (the soon-to-be main page of my website) while allowing me to continue using the tried and true directory structure for keeping website images and whatnot (less mess).

Anyway, my goals for the completion of this upgrade are as follows:

  1. Sometime this week make a tarball of the 'beta' version of Matt's Home on the Web, moving it over to the public TWiki installation.
  2. Unpack the tarball in a temporary test web where I can make final adjustments I missed locally (a key part which shouldn't take long if I've done everything correctly in beta versions).
  3. As soon as everything's looking good, create a tarball of the existing Zaskem web, removing files after transferring the tarball offline and then renaming the test web to Zaskem.
  4. Setting up the Apache configuration file to do redirects and access-like control.
  5. Creating a tarball, transferring said tarball offline, and removing all existing *.html pages currently in /zaskem, thusly completing the upgrade.

I'm probably still looking at another week or so before going completely live with the new website, mostly due to my personal schedule and other commitments; however, it's coming soon. smile And aside from keeping the news system working in duplicate (I have to add news items to both the current public web and my beta test web), it's not that big of a pain. wink

I'm excited for the change -- and if all works well, I plan to do the same for my Monty Python website over the early part of summer 2003.

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/20/07

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