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It's all Jenn's fault.

Well, okay, she's not the only one who told me I should start a journal. But she's the one who put up a fake link to my nonexistent journal and then took it down again a few days later.

I was still dubious, though. I liked the idea of having a journal, but not the idea of dealing with the mail I figured it would engender. I've tried before to keep up with mail from things I've posted (such as my situation puzzles list and my wordplay column), and I've learned that I'm not very good at it.

And I didn't want to just avoid the issue by attaching a discussion forum because then I'd feel I'd have to read everything everyone posted, and respond to that.

I finally came to the tentative conclusion that I'd just ask people to exercise restraint in sending me mail about things I post. To that end, I'm not including a mailto link on my journal-display page; I don't wanna make it convenient. Sorry about that. If it's any comfort, it's because I expect the resulting mail would be too interesting, and would thus be a major time-sink (which I can't afford). Same reason I don't read Usenet, even the few newsgroups (like rec.puzzles) that have a high signal-to-noise ratio.

But I was still gonna hold off for a while. And then Kir pointed me to an article in The Onion about the Fonty Awards, and I was tickled by the notion of a 'zine titled Lorem Ipsum Dolor. I did some research on the phrase, and decided that if I did start a journal, that's what I'd have to call it.

(Thursday morning I went through a brief phase of wanting to call it Hapax Legomenon, but decided Lorem Ipsum was more apropos.)

Mixed into all of this there were some other factors:

  • I'd spent some time helping Mary Anne streamline her journal, which had reminded me that a database-backed journal would probably be the way to go.
  • Jenn and Kenny started up a company that provides journals to people for a fee; there are also places like LiveJournal (?) and Blogger that I think provide free journal sites. But I wanted my journal to be hosted on my own site—especially since this site has become pretty much a ghost site in the past year.
  • I've been slowly learning PHP and MySQL, and figured this would be a good starter project before I tackle a much more ambitious database I've got planned.
  • And the proximate cause that pushed me over the edge into action: the whole terrorist-attack mess has left me with a lot of items and comments and thoughts and URLs that I wanted to pass along to the general public, but no forum in which to address the general public.

So the other morning on the way to work I planned the database in my head. Thursday night, I sat down to implement it. The whole thing took about seven hours to implement, from scratch, learning a lot about PHP and MySQL as I went. That time included testing time; I think most of the bugs are ironed out. Though clearly I have a long way to go in terms of making it look really nice/elegant. I figure that can be added later.

The way I've got it set up, all entries for a given day will be on the same page, with the most recent entry at the bottom. To see the previous day's entries or the next day's, click the links at the bottom of the page. There's a small weirdness that happens if you go forward or back past the last available entries and then return the way you came; it's logical when you understand how the search works, but counter-intuitive as a user interface, so I'll be fixing that eventually. I'll also eventually add the ability to look at a particular month or year, etc.

I spent a while trying to analyze what makes other people's journals (and news sites) readable for me and what doesn't. I'm not entirely satisfied with what I came up with, but I think it's a little easier to follow than the post-the-latest-on-top approach, for readers who only visit once a day or less often. I like having titles for entries; gives a bit of an anchor point. And I've provided myself the ability to easily add related URLs at the bottom of an entry (and to add more URLs to the entry later if I want to).

Anyway, the design will likely change over time, and I have no idea whether I'll become a regular journaler or whether I'll get sick of it (or bored with it, or just run out of time) in the next couple weeks. But for the moment, I'm glad to be here. Welcome!

Just to show how the URLs facility works, I'll add a link to my sadly neglected home page down below.

URLs:

Jed's sadly neglected home page

PHP info

MySQL info

1 Comment

Hey, Jed, I just for not-very-good reasons wanted to know how long you've been blogging, and came back to this first page. And hey, the links all still work! Ten links (three of which are yours, but hey) after two and a half years. OK, one of them is a sort-of dead page with a link to a live one, but that's still a pretty good percentage, I'd think.

Hm. Not sure how to sign off.

Anachronistically,
-V.