What's Going On?

Indeed! I worked a while on the site and added The Events Calendar plug-in. I have been checking the development of various calendars, but liked this one because it supports importing events in bulk. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to enter data quickly, and the Internet—with its sub-second delays and several-second page-load times—just doesn't cut it for me. So I enter the event information offline and can import it en masse.

Anyway, what this means for you, dear reader, is that the events are now in a link above—right below the logo there:

Click on the Events link to get to the list of events coming up.

Click on the Events link to get to the list of events coming up.

From there the events are listed from the current time forward. You can figure out how to switch to calendar view and day-view if you'd like, or search for things. There are also links to Google Maps, and you can even export a single event or all the entries on a page to your own calendar. Partly for nostalgia, I bundle all the weekly events from Thursday to Wednesday in a category which I include in the weekly e-mail I send out. It's also so I can export all the events for a given week without having to go day-by-day, and without grabbing duplicates from future dates by accident (e.g. you can go to the category, say, for the week related to this post called JayceLand 2015-Apr-16 and export all the events on each page.)

I'll probably tweak things from time-to-time, but it seems like it's working for now.

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Unbastardization of the Apostrophe

This may seem like a dumb thing to a lot of people, but it's something that has been bugging me for a long time. Not bugging me very much, but it keeps popping up.

WordPress has this feature where it makes text look nice with an internal function called wptexturize(). One of the functions buried inside it is to translate plain quotes to smart quotes — ideally it's supposed to make "this" render like “this” and "it's" render like "it’s".

But it's kind of dumb. I frequently trick it because I want to emphasize the name of an artist in the midst of a possessive with the name of the work. So I put in "Jason Olshefsky's" which renders "Jason Olshefsky‘s" and I end up fixating on that friggin' backward apostrophe. (It's clear to me the problem is wptexturize() doesn't take into account HTML tagging in the middle of a word.)

So this guy Scott Reilly wrote a nice little plug-in (overzealously) called wpuntexturize. Despite its name, it just removes the quote-mangling functionality from wptexturize(). And voila. The whole site now has plain old straight quotes and apostrophes.

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About JayceLand's New Look

Well times change and so do I. In the last few years, I've transitioned further from going out to live music all the time to seeing mostly movies and only a handful of shows a month. So I decided to further pare down the number of events I list on the site.

My standing rule is that this site should be as easy for me as possible. I had toyed with a user-generated site and all kinds of fancy databases (which may still come) but that is most certainly not easy. And then there's the whole fragile way I generate the site each week — pretty much unchanged since 2001 — using FileMaker Pro 5 databases on a Macintosh Classic, exporting the data, and using some Unix scripts to make a HTML file. The workflow is quick (i.e. easy) although it's fairly convoluted.

So I decided the new site would be a weekly blog post with highlights of things-to-do — things I will very likely do (rather than "have a passing interest in doing" as it stands now). If you're only interested in the events lists, you can link straight to the events category and skip all my regular blog posts. The JayceLand home page will now redirect to the normal blog. To keep my sanity, I'm going to stop numbering them — the last numbered update was #705 on July 12, 2012. (And even then: 705 weeks of posting events … enough is enough!)

In addition, I'm dropping most of the internal links. You can Google a band just as well as I can. And I don't think I need to remind everyone the address of the Bug Jar (along with a link to Google Maps.) So it'll all look a lot more vanilla. And be much easier for me which, well, is the whole point.

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A Faster JayceLand

A month ago a friend of mine wrote a blog titled The real Killroys. In it she outlined how social media sites are, essentially, the nightmarish big brother we once read about. Basically, if you put a Facebook button on your site, whenever someone views your site, Facebook knows jee was there. In other words, Facebook has a dossier on every one of its users. And it doesn't matter if you log out of Facebook, you're still tracked. The same goes for Tumblr, Google, Digg, and all the others (but man, especially Google Analytics.) She noted that site owners either didn't know or didn't care that this was going on.

I also recall that Chris Guillebeau once wrote something about how when a website visitor sees ads on the site, jee naturally assumes that the site owner endorses (if not at least vets) the quality of the products advertised. I have been using Google Adsense which theoretically produced a few pennies of revenue, but I never got any control [well, technically, a little control] over what ads were placed.

And then there was the speed issue. I would often notice that although stuff from JayceLand.com would load quick, if the page stalled, it would be "Waiting for" digg.com, or google-analytics.com, or ecx.images-amazon.com, or pagead2.googlesyndication.com, or googleads.g.doubleclick.net — but almost never JayceLand.com.

So I stripped all that stuff off. I left the Weather Underground image. I know they also track, but at least it's something directly useful. So now it loads fast.

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The Astonishing Train-Wreck of How JayceLand Gets Made

This year I decided I'd begin the process of replacing the Macintosh PowerBook G3 Firewire that just turned 10 years old yesterday. I had upgraded it to the maximum 2GB RAM and it's still a fine machine. It's just showing its age with sheer speed, particularly with browsing websites to find information about events and bands. So last month I ordered a Mac Mini (mid-2010) — that's apparently the clumsy official name, by the way — and started working with it. Well, having started from OS 8.1 on the PowerBook and as far back as System 7 on the LC III I had out of college, a huge portion of the software I have runs, as they say now, "in the Classic environment." OS X 10.3.9 suported Classic, largely because it ran on PowerPC hardware.

Well the Mac Mini has Intel chips and would never boot up any of the Classic systems. As such, support for it was dropped a few OS X releases ago. I figured I'd give the emulator SheepShaver a go — it professes to run nearly all software in Classic with the caveat that it apparently crashes a lot. I succeeded in getting it to boot up a Classic session (and ran comparable to the Powerbook) but it would not run FileMaker Pro. That's the software package that I use a lot. So big bummer there. I really don't want to buy the latest version because it's rather expensive and I'd prefer to go with something open-source and with a little more staying power (such as MySQL which seems to have a big enough head of steam that it'll be around for a while.)

The dilemma was how to continue to do work; the solution is a mess. I keep the PowerBook running most of the time specifically to have access to FileMaker Pro 5 and Quicken Deluxe '98 (only the name is not Y2K compliant). I wrote an AppleScript that does two things. First, when one of several scripts I wrote for FileMaker Pro request opening a website, it sends the request to the Mac Mini and opens it there. Second, and more terrifying, is that it synchronizes the clipboard between the two machines, so if I copy the name of a book in FileMaker Pro, it's available on the Mac Mini clipboard so I can search Amazon, and if I copy a Google Maps link, it's available on the PowerBook and in FileMaker Pro.

I decided that I'd start migrating to something new, and it looks like that time is now. I don't intend on making JayceLand look or work any different (just as when I integrated the WordPress blog), but I might shoot for bring it up-to-date in terms of, say, 2005 or so. I have long considered making the whole website web-only rather than the hodge-podge I have had for the last 10 years or so. And up until now, it would have violated the one rule I have about JayceLand: it should be the least amount of work for me. But man, this whole AppleScripted FileMaker Pro'd PowerPC-Classic-OS X-Intel thing is quite a hassle.

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Un-GoogleAds

In case you hadn't noticed, I did away with Google ads on my blog pages and the Amazon advertising on the archive. I really only make money from the ads on the Fat Burning Soup Diet Results page that I made back in 1996. It apparently attracts people who like to click on ads, occasionally buying stuff, so pretty much all the ads will live there. That, and a few friends [well, as best I can tell, just Jan] click through the Amazon link to buy stuff.

I'm not trying to be a cult follower by mentioning this again, but this stems directly from Chris Guillebeau's book, The Art of Nonconformity: 279 Days to Overnight Success. He mentions that novice Internet users believe that you have approved all links on your page — and the majority of the readership is novice Internet users. This is a kind of perfect storm disaster: it sends your readers off your site, and with good odds that it will be an unpleasant experience which they attribute to you giving bad advice. I have been cautious to place ads, but I had confidence that Google would provide good ads.  However, their ads have been at best mediocre and at worst irrelevant.

I'll continue to link to Amazon when I mention book titles because I think that — despite the commercial purpose of the site (and their occasionally very questionable business practices) — Amazon is a good resource for reviews and information about a media title. Not to mention, I get a cut if anyone buys a copy … although so far, I don't think anyone has actually purchased a linked book or movie.

So hopefully JayceLand will be a better experience — especially for those who are not reading the comments in the style sheets. [Hint: nobody wins on that quip for there is nothing interesting in the style sheets, and the vast majority of users have no idea what I'm talking about anyway.]

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Ten Whole Years

As best I can remember and as best I can tell, the first official meeting at O'Bagelo's (165 State St.) happened on January 16, 1999.  So now it's ten years later to the day and, despite not stopping by this weekend, I'm still basically going every week.  It used to be a hub of activity for all my college friends to catch up on the week.  As the years passed, though, friends moved away, or they just stopped coming.  In the interim, I started writing up events for this crazy website and have pretty much kept with it every week.  Looking back, it sure seems like a lot of work.

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Upgrading WordPress (… finally)

So I went ahead and upgraded WordPress to the [at present] most-recent version of 2.6.3. It actually went pretty painlessly and I'm excited that there's a new widget for tag clouds (I had been running 2.3.1 that I installed almost exactly a year ago). If you're on the main JayceLand page, then you'll have to go to the blog home page to see them. Even the plugins still work, and the theme I tweaked seems to function okay too (although I'm now using the built-in sidebar instead of a custom one).

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Un Digging a Few Things

I didn't like the performance of Digg so I went ahead and took out the Digg badges from the JayceLand home page blog entries although I left the customized ones in the sidebar. You can still find the badges present on the blog pages, though since they integrated better into WordPress.

I also removed all but a text-link for the Amazon.com advertising. So in all, things should be just a little faster.

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