You are currently browsing the July, 2009 archives.

Winter Camping

Posted 2009.07.27 14.46 in Photography by Stephanie

Almost any kind of camping can be a peaceful experience. (Well, I said almost didn’t I?) When it’s done right… I mean canoeing in, finding somewhere way off the beaten track, where it’s just you, the tent, the water, the trees, and perhaps eleventy-zillion mosquitos.

One kind of camping that I’ve only done a few times (and none of them intentional), however is winter camping. It brings a whole new level of peace and quiet, when it’s too cold for the bugs, there’s nobody else around for a hundred miles (no-one else was dumb enough to go camping in this weather) and the air is still and quiet.

It is almost indescribable, waking up in the morning, and being able to hear snow fall. If the world is quiet enough, you can hear it snowing. It is almost magical.

Snowing in Algonquin

Of course, the subsequent canoe trek through the blizard was sort of the downside anti-climactic non-magical moment… but even then, it had it’s fun. Like stopping in the middle of the lake to have a snowball fight in a canoe. (Yes, we were young, stupid and insane in those days. We’re older now.)

I don’t know why I thought of this today, in late July. It is just one of those moments, those memories, where Nature revealed some of her magic and beauty, and I feel fortunate to have experienced it.

FelesMagus iPhone Software

Posted 2009.07.27 10.06 in iPhone by Stephanie

I’ve been quiet for some time on this subject and I owe an explanation as to the status of my iPhone application development.

My two iPhone apps, Liber Umbrarum et Lux and PassGenR have both been available on the iTunes App Store for a few months. Both are free. Over the few months I’ve received a couple suggestions on how to improve them, and a lot of requests to make them available to a wider range of hardware.

Read more »

RIP Little Golden Snail

Posted 2009.07.26 15.42 in Aquaria, Family/Friends by Stephanie

My little golden snail, whom I have been worried about for some time now, finally passed away. In the six or seven weeks I’ve had her, she seldom ate, and had not grown at all. For the past fortnight she almost never ate and was growing visibly weaker.

Little Golden Snail

Although I hardly knew her, I’ll miss her. Goodbye little cutie.

Why Blog?

Posted 2009.07.26 10.23 in Computers/Internet/Technology, DID, Pointless Blather by Stephanie

Here’s a meta-type question that has rattled around for a while. Why am I doing this? That is to say, why do I write this blog? And that could be extended a bit more to include, why do I even have this website? Obviously a lot of work has gone into it, and continues to go into maintaining, updating, and adding to it. So… why? What’s the point?

It isn’t for money – there are no ads or affiliate links or anything of the sort here. There’s no hidden pay-to-access section. It’s not so much that the idea of monetizing the blog/site hasn’t occured, but I mostly don’t like ads and haven’t felt the need to monetize anything. It isn’t for some kind of self-aggrandizement. To be honest, I’m actually a rather shy individual and sometimes get embarassed at the thought of people actually reading all this stuff.

I think ultimately there are a few reasons why I do all this. It really boils down to the fact that I like to learn and share knowledge; I like funny things and like to share the funny; I sometimes forget things and the blob is a good place to save information so I can find it again later. Finally, I like to create, and writing is an inexpensive way to be creative. In some cases, it’s also somewhat theraputic for myself, this writing stuff.

Read more »

New Sword!

Posted 2009.07.25 18.57 in Spiritual, Swords by Stephanie

I recently received a new sword to add to my collection! This one was a custom project that I designed – well I designed / specced the hilt arrangement, the guard and grip, and pommel decoration.

My Type XIII Hilt DesignThe piece was based around a medieval sword of the Oakeshott Type XIII design. (The true XIII, not a variant.) Of all the various sword makers that I know of, there’s only one who has any Type XIII blades in his catalogue and that is Angus Trim. His new Makers Mark line includes a pair of Type XIIIs, and while they both look great, the one with the tripple fullered blade was the one I liked best. I own a number of ATrim swords already and I’m very pleased with his work. Angus sells his swords through Christian Fletcher, and Christian not only handles the retail sales but also does a fine job of customization, fitting, custom scabards, belts, the works. He’s a true craftsman.

Type_XIII_Blade

So once I had my design and a blade chosen, I contacted Christian Fletcher and commissioned him to to the job. The grip would be a custom piece based on other grips he’s done, the guard would be completely custom based on my own original design, and the pommel would be fairly standard but with my designs etched into it. There would be a fairly basic scabard and a baldric (sort of a belt, worn over one shoulder.)

Read more »

Mobilizing the Site

Posted 2009.07.25 16.06 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

With mobile / handheld internet-enabled devices becoming more and more common, it makes sense to be able to offer one’s content in an alternative format that is geared towards serving the mobile devices. The small screen and alternative interface (i.e. no mouse etc.) can make browsing normal sites more of a challenge.

Mobile Version Screenshot

There is already at least one rather popular and very powerful WordPress plugin that creates a mobile version and serves it automatically to any browsers that it recognizes as belonging to the handheld class of devices. I’ve used it for a while, but there were some aspects of it that I did not like. First and formost was the theme – it was styled to look rather similar to an iPhone application I believe, and while that would be familiar to iPhone users, it meant that my unique scheme of colours and appearance were completely lost on the mobile platforms.

Then there were functional issues as well – I didn’t like how the posts were formatted, how the pages were handled, or that there did not appear to be any way to incorporate other unique content the way I wanted. I looked at the code and theme directories a few times but it seemed very complicated and like a lot of work to customize it. So in the end, I started from scratch and made my own mobile theme, based very much on my normal theme of course.

It remains optomized for handhelds, no graphics are served up on the home page, just text, which allows for quick loading and minimizes data transfer charges. It does include brief excerpts for the posts, and I have created a customized form of ‘sidebar’ which resides at the bottom of each page. I then created my own super-simplified plugin to drive the mobile version of the theme – the plugin code is based somewhat on the package I mentioned earlier, though my version has almost no features other than the barest minimum.

When I had finished it, I then created mobile-friendly but customized themes for my work’s web site, and my friend Lezley’s site. Lezley’s was a tough one, as she’s using ComicPress which makes some significant changes to how WordPress works, and building a new theme to be compatible with ComicPress as well as being mobile-friendly was a challenge.

To view the mobile versions, just head on over with your mobile device. Or if you’d like a preview, follow the links below. (It will look super-huge on a full size monitor, but that’s why it works on a mobile device.)

If  you have visited my site or one of these others with a mobile device but found either the mobile version does not appear for you, or it appears but the style is broken or aspects do not work, please contact me via the comments and let me know so I can fix it.

Ham Radio Pages Updated

Posted 2009.07.25 12.04 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Hobbies by Stephanie

At long last, I have finally updated all the ‘coming soon’ pages under the Radio Stuff section of this site.

It’s about 3 months since I had intended to get them finished, and about 6 months since I actually started in the first place. So, sorry about the delay everyone. Things are gradually falling into place. I’ll have to take time at some point to review all the pages and make sure there aren’t any dangling ‘coming soon’ or ‘under construction’ things, or dead links.

The site has grown to (as of this writing) 63 pages, nearly 400 posts, and almost 100 comments. If I remember correctly, it serves three separate domain names, and contains about 5 megabytes of data — not including the photos, videos, and other uploaded media / attachments. There are a dozen plugins, including a couple of my own creation, and many of the others modified or customized to my requirements, a number of widgets, again including a couple of my own creation, and two customized themes – a normal version and a mobile version.

Zowie.

rightnow