Ten Years of MZ Online!

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

A New Look Cometh!


Torture Device?
This looks incredibly mean, but it's really not. It was cold today, so she was wrapped up in a blanket. She was tired and sleeping, so she got put in her bouncer wrapped in the blanket (as opposed to waking her up). Here she's smiling and talking to the mobile.
If you're reading this post, you'll notice the new look. It matches much better with the new MZ Online bits, and that's a Good Thing.

I still have much in the tweaking department to do with it (I need to manipulate the template a bit more and organize/'standardize' (to my specifications) the stylesheet yet. I want it to be consistent with the others for future update ease...and right now it's still pretty hacked together.

But it works and I think looks much nicer than the old template. Even if Internet Explorer doesn't like to render the correct color (Firefox and Opera do it without trouble), it's close enough that I'm not concerned about it. At least it's consistent, so it doesn't stick out too much. I took some final screenshots of the old look (for nostalgic and historical/comparison purposes), so I might do a post on just that business.

The process took a lot more of my time today than I'd expected, namely because I ran into some interesting CSS fighting when reorganizing the sidebar stuff, but that's alright. It's been quite a learning experience.

We ended up having Erik & Jill (and Henry) over this evening, which was nice. After some supper, we went to see what we thought would be a showing of the Simpsons movie in Morris, but what ended up being 1408. It was actually a pretty good movie, but then again I really enjoy the psychological horror movies.

In other words, considering it was pretty cold and rainy today, I didn't really get anything accomplished (short of working on the blog business). I guess it could be worse, though. I am really starting to enjoy the Web Developer Firefox plugin, though. It's come in quite handy with the blog template stuff.

I didn't use it much with the regular site design, but I kept that straightforward enough where I didn't really need it. But all the extra stuff in the template (and the random boxes floating around everywhere) makes having the toolbar very nice. I can quickly turn on the border outline stuff and see where the different borders and margins come in to play.

Anyway, it's once again bedtime, so until next time...
"Behind every great fortune there is a crime."
- Honore de Balzac (1799-1850)

--MZ

Friday, August 17, 2007

A New Look -- Coming Shortly!


Chewing!
She was on the floor in the office tonight while
Beth and I worked on various things. She started
chewing on the boat thing again, and a picture
needed to be taken.
For anyone who reads this post after Saturday at noon, the change will likely already be in place. For those who read it before; it will be the last post displayed under the old look.

I spent some time tonight and tweaked the blog template. The new version will match (identically) the new style and design that I've adopted over at MZ Online. The idea is pretty simple -- try to keep my existing blog looking as close to the rest of the site as possible. Consistency!

I was a little concerned that this would be quite an undertaking, but it's not been too bad. I've become intimately familiar with the blogger template system as a result, but it's been good. In fact, I've pretty much got the template in a 'go' state, but I have some text style tweaking (and analysis) to complete before I actually make it public. This all is a good thing, because it means I won't have to install WordPress myself (not a big deal in and of itself, really), get it all configured, and then move all my blogger posts to it. That and I don't have to deal with updates or maintaining the data.

So yeah, I'm being lazy, but I don't want to keep moving things around any more than I have to...especially since I managed to get my look working in a blogger template. So I'm happy. :)

Not much else really exciting happened today. It was a pretty laid-back day once again, and that's alright by me. One thing that we did manage to do was 'paint' Kirstin's mouth (and Beth's boobs) purple. It's a bit of a long story, and I have some pictures of the ordeal. I didn't upload any to Flickr tonight, though, because the only reasonable pictures of Kirstin (with a purple mouth) I managed to get make her really look sickly or dead. They're actually kinda scary looking.

So we'll have to see about different pictures later. I'm sure I'll get a few, because this will go on for a few days (purple mouth/boobs) the way I understand.

It's supposed to be rainy and unpleasant tomorrow, so I will likely end up working on the blog template in the earlier part of the day and probably focus on cleaning the cistern walls tomorrow afternoon, unless it's nice enough to mow the lawn (unlikely).

Another thing I may start tackling is moving the really old 'news system' posts to the blog archive here. It'll be a lot of copy/paste sort of stuff, but incredibly tedious (since there are a few years' worth of posts) and a manual process. I didn't bother with it before because they were all easily accessible; however, now that I've redirected the /zaskem at mzonline.com back to the root (since I'm no longer differentiating the two entities), unless you know how to access the TWiki installation (or have a bookmark), there's no way to see the old news stuff. That, and I can remove the Zaskem web on the TWiki installation once I complete that process.

I may also take a few screenshots for reference and comparison at some point in time. We'll see what happens, but in the meantime, the bed is calling. So until next time...
"The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his."
- General George Patton (1885-1945)

--MZ

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Two Consecutive Posts!


Why Are You Taking My Picture?
The look of surprise, as though she was caught
off guard (and half naked). Wait, she was caught
off guard and half naked, so I guess that works
out well.
So it's been a little while since I last managed to have an accomplishment like this. My day was actually pretty mundane. I went to bed late last night and got up at the normal time, so I was a bit on the really tired order when I got home from work.

Seeing as how the MZ Online bit went live, I just kinda hung around and didn't do much tonight. Sure, I worked on small bits and pieces here and there, but nothing drastic or really time-consuming. I did manage to file all the paid bills and whatnot, so my upper desk area is much less cluttered. And that's a Good Thing.

Today while at work I ended up assisting in a ballast replacement, which is normally an innocent enough experience. After all, it's just a ballast; not rocket science. Everything's color coded. Long story short, this particular fixture was wired for an older style (still T-8) ballast that's more expensive (and not on hand). So after much tinkering around and hypothetical work (and ultimately rewiring the posts), no progress was made (aside from half of the fixture now works). Given the simple nature of how these things are normally wired, I'm almost convinced at this time that the replacement ballast isn't of the right type/size, even though it claims that it is.

So it's left to the maintenance man. Not that big a deal to me -- I was just acting as a bit of a side consultant on what to do with it. That was about as exciting as the day got there.

I ran into this amazing story of sheer ingenuity. All I can say is that it's a good idea in principle, but perhaps has crossed the line just a bit (especially once the bill got over $5,000). It's basically a home-built waterslide on the side of the mountains in Tennessee, that is longer than 535 feet! Incredible. And to see the pictures, there was some significant thought put into the process. They even have a liability waiver.

Supposedly they're having a party on Saturday and will be taking some video clips of people riding the slide. That should be good stuff, so I'll have to keep an eye on it in the meantime.

I also installed the latest Thunderbird tonight. At first, I was a bit disappointed due to some of the GUI changes. But it didn't take me long to get things looking a little bit more like I prefer them, and all was good. There are some nice features that I'm pretty sure I'll like once I get used to them a bit more (like the alternate row highlighting in message lists), and it just seems happier overall.

One thing I'm not real stoked about at the moment are some of the icon changes. I was a religious user of the Netscape suite for many years prior to my jump into Thunderbird, so I've been looking at the same style of icon for many years. And they've changed. Not necessarily bad, but it's a bit disorienting at least for the time being.

Anyway, short of that, I've got nothing that new to report tonight. I'm trying to come up with my weekend to do list, but I'm not sure exactly how that's going to work out (especially if it rains on Saturday) since I need to mow the lawn at some point in time, preferably during the weekend.

So all that (not much) said, I'm heading for bed. Until next time...
"Manuscript: something submitted in haste and returned at leisure."
- Oliver Herford (1863-1935)

--MZ

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another Missed Post


Sparkle In The Eyes
This is an amazing picture that Beth managed to
capture of her. It's just simply neat. And very cool.
Well, it was somewhat late when I got home last night, so I skipped a post. But I had a pretty interesting day Tuesday. This post's picture was taken by Beth and is probably my most favorite picture of Kirstin ever.

I managed to get the garage door fixed. When I left for work on Monday, the door broke when it was being raised. Long story short, the support member on the garage door to which the door opener attached sheared off. So I had to raise and lower the door manually, which wasn't that big a deal.

Since I had some spare time yesterday afternoon, I fixed it up (with wood, oddly enough). It's in good order now and seems to work better than the way it'd been before. The door is really pretty much shot, but I don't want to go out and buy a new door if I can make this one last for a while. I believe I've managed to accomplish that task.

I also managed to get some more website work completed...and as of about two hours ago, the new MZ Online website is live. For real.

All of the old stuff is there yet, and I have a lot of cleaning up to do as time allows (I'm not sure how I'm going to handle the removal of the old site just yet), but the landing page (mzonline.com) is now the new site and not the old one. So it's live.

I have some more work to do on it (namely from an administrative perspective), the most obvious of which is to finish going through my bookmarks and tagging appropriate links to display on the links pages. But short of that, it's done and I'm happy with it. I think it's significantly cleaner and clearer than the old site and should serve well for some time.

So that's been my main project for the last few weeks, and it's good to be at the 'pretty much complete' stage.

In other news (I'm going to keep this a bit short tonight), I had to go re-align my Internet satellite dish (just don't tell the FCC) since the strong wind we had last Friday night seemed to have knocked it just far enough out of alignment so as to cause some problems. We still had a signal and the service still worked (for the most part), but it was lower than normal and tended to be intermittently going out. So some wrenches, walkie-talkies, and patience...voila! Got it aligned a little better and service hasn't gone out since. So that's a Good Thing.

What I find odd about it all is that we've had strong wind before and never had a problem. Also, all of the bolts were still in fairly tight shape, so I'm not sure exactly what shifted...but regardless it's fixed for now. And I didn't have to pay someone $80 to come out and tinker with it.

Anyway, it's late now and I'm tired, so I'm calling it a night. Until next time...
"The covers of this book are too far apart."
- Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

--MZ

Monday, August 13, 2007

Back To The Mill


Post-Fair Visit
Beth had her modeling the
headgear she got at the fair.
So today was a fairly normal Monday, with one exception. Beth babysat Henry today, so it was a bit busier at the ranch when I came home, but all went well. Henry and Kirstin kept each other occupied (something different to watch)...so it worked out pretty well. 10 months separate those two...so it was an interesting change of pace...if only for a day.

I'm not going to write much tonight because I'm pretty well tired. I've spent most of my evening working on the new MZ Online site...which I promise will go live soon. It's in the final phases now. I've done the validation of the XHTML, CSS, and even rough validation against the W3C's WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) guidelines. It's getting down to the very nitpicky stuff now. Finishing touches, mostly.

I need to finish categorizing some things on del.icio.us which will then automatically populate my 'links' pages on the new site. That's the last major content adjustment left to complete. I need to organize the stylesheets (namely to prioritize how background images are loaded and make it easier to find what I'm looking for during the edit/maintenance cycles). Then I intend to revalidate everything (which should only take an hour or so -- it goes pretty fast).

So, all things said, I'm really hoping to get this done by mid-week (Wednesday?). This shouldn't be a terribly difficult goal to accomplish, because the bulk of the work has now been completed (for real this time). While I'd loved to have made what I've had done go 'live' two weeks ago, I want it all done before I get into that release phase...simply so I don't get the attitude of 'I'll get to it later...'

So anyway, that's life for today. And I'm heading for bed, seeing as how George has been attempting to sleep on me (at my desk here) for the last hour. It's a sign...
"I have an existential map; it has 'you are here' written all over it."
- Steven Wright

--MZ

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Finally, I Return!


So Sweet
She was being really good right before we left her
with Grandma Ma while we went to see Monty
Python's Spamalot.
So I had high expectations of actually posting something while we were gone for a few days. Any time that really became available was quickly taken up by my bout of procrastination. So call it a vacation if you will, but I didn't forget about the pseudo-loyal readership. It's just a temporary hiatus.

I won't linger terribly long tonight, but we had a good few days away and did some neat things. On Tuesday morning I managed to get all of the new MZ Online site validated. What I didn't realize in the process is that the small change I made to the .htaccess file (which allowed me to do the validation) totally made the main landing of mzonline.com un-functional. I had redirected that traffic (at the server level) to the TWiki installation. So by disabling that, it simply showed the directory list. :P

I discovered this today (this afternoon), some six days after I made the change (and didn't think to undo it). So that's been re-fixed to allow me the best of both worlds. So the new MZ Online site was intended to be in an undisclosed location, but would have been easily found for any user travelling to the root of mzonline.com in the last six days or so.

At any rate, I have just a little bit of work left to do with the site before it can go live. I need to make a few more content changes and I want to attempt a slight layout change (for consistency). So I'm hoping that by mid-week those will be all done. It shouldn't be a problem. I was really amazed how simple it was to validate the new site as XHTML 1.0 Strict, though. Any previous attempt I'd made at that (most of my other sites are done currently in XHTML 1.0 Transitional) were going to be a significant amount of work. That's what clear design and lots of CSS come in handy. :) Complete separation of markup and layout. And no tables!

Wednesday we made a trip out to Farmfest, which was a good time. Got to walk around and gather random bits of free stuff. But the main event was really what happened on Thursday...

We left Kirstin with Ma and Dad for the night and left around noon on Thursday (the picture above was taken right before we left). We went to the cities and met up with Ian for an hour or so at the Mall of America. That was cool, because we'd not seen him for something like two and a half years or some other ridiculous period of time. And it worked out for us to catch up with him this time...so that was really nice.

Then Beth and I went for a nice supper by ourselves and made the trek to the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts where we FINALLY got to see Monty Python's SPAMALOT! It was the event of the summer for us. I couldn't wait!

It was really an amazing show. I'd heard several things about it, but wasn't really sure what to expect. It was FANTASTIC! Very, very neat technical aspects of the production, and just an amazing stage picture overall. While I wasn't stoked about the $81.50 ticket price (each), I had always told myself for the last several years that as soon as it was anywhere close (and prior to this St. Paul run, the closest it came was Chicago) I had to go. And that only took two and a half years to happen. I am very glad we went to see it. It was well worth the time and ticket price.

Of course, after hearing the songs from Act I, the soundtrack was purchased during the intermission. And it was a Good Thing.

So we did that Thursday night and spent the night in the cities. Friday we spent some time shopping around (mostly looking for cloth books for Kirstin) and came back to my folks' place. We left Saturday around 1pm and came back home just in time to head out to the Stevens County Fair (where we were manning a booth for a few hours that evening). So Kirstin got to hang around at her first county fair. That was a good time as well, but it was good to be able to sleep at home (and sleep we all did -- everyone was pretty wore out by last night).

I missed the lawnmower races this year (although we could hear them going on while we were walking around), but that's alright. I was about 'evented-out' by the time of those anyway.

So today's been pretty normal. I managed to get the last six days' worth of pictures uploaded, catch the latest episode of Ice Road Truckers, and just sit around for a while. And it's been good.

Tomorrow will be back to the mill, so we'll see how that goes. Seeing as how it's now getting on to 11:30 and I have a few things to do before bed, I'm going to call it a night and write more tomorrow.

So until next time...
"When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before."
- Mae West (1892-1980)

--MZ

Oh yeah -- go see SPAMALOT if you ever get a chance! You won't regret it!

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