Side Projects

Hey, remember that time when I said you shouldn’t set comestible rewards for coding failures? That was dumb. You should totally set comestible rewards for coding failures. And coding successes, for that matter. In fact, you should give yourself that kind of reward all the time! So let’s just pretend I never said that, k? K.

Alright, internet. We have a lot to catch up on. Last time I was here, I was about to start hacking into my Apache configuration files. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first, let’s zoom out to see what else has been going on over the past month. My last post was written and published  from the back of a lecture hall during one of the most stultifying courses I have ever attended. Though the subject matter (C++) is interesting, the professor managed to render it into enthusiasm-draining drudgery, leaving my mollified brain with little desire to write code after hours. Moreover, I was just starting on a series of site designs with short, drop-dead-style timelines, a couple of which were in a new content management system. Though the sites look good now, and I have learned that I really like Expression Engine, free time was not in abundant supply. Mere excuses, I know, but there you have it.

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I was going to mention this at the end of the previous post, but that was before it turned into a 2,000 word essay. After all time spent working on the Arts project, I had forgotten what it was like to spend an evening without coding (time off? what’s that?). Around the time we launched Arts and UChicago, I was yearning for another website to hack instead of, say, eating dinner. Or replying to email. Or shopping for groceries.

The site I picked belongs to one of my martial arts clubs — UCTSD: UChicago Tang Soo Do. It was a beast. My fault — we were in such a rush to build it years ago that I hacked it together out of some free online template. Of course, the original template wasn’t intended for our use, so I had to rejigger a lot of it in very messy ways.

Here’s how it looked:

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Confession: I didn’t get as much done this week as I might have hoped. My intention was to get MAMP/WAMP/LAMP (software that creates a local hosting environment — eg. create something hosted on the internet without actually putting it on the internet) set up on my various computers. I did make some progress, but I was pulled away by other projects. Work is partially to blame: UChicago’s academic year starts late September, and the time preceding that is sheer chaos at my office. Working extra hours and some of the weekend is not conducive to pfutzing on one’s personal projects.

The other culprit is this: I have a new computer. One that I assembled myself. That latter tidbit may not be particularly impressive; after all, geek and gamer communities pride themselves on building their own boxes/rigs (as they as respectfully known) all the time. But it makes all the difference in the world to me. You see, I’m not a hardware guy — never was. Immerse me in as much obscure code as you want; I won’t bat an eyelid. Make me talk about the central tenets and theories of what makes computation possible, and I’ll happily recite them from memory. But hand me a flat piece of silicone and copper and I wouldn’t be able to tell you if it’s a computer component or a fancy ashtray. And that’s precisely the reason I’ve always wanted to assemble my own machine. I want to actually get my hands dirty handling the tools that I use daily with benevolent ignorance.

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