Split Personality

So, I haven’t written a post on this blog in nearly two years. What a crazy year was the last real one, and so much has changed since then that it’d be hard to summarize. However, that’s not necessarily what this post is about.

Lately I’ve had a real urge to get back into blogging. I don’t always have time to sit and write novels, but I do find chances here and there where I can put a few thoughts out. For example, I have three draft posts on JavaScript topics and one on what it’s like to be a new parent (there’s something drastically different in the time since the last post), but the thing is, the audiences for those topics are drastically different.

Navel gazing regarding blogging is not new for me. Much like in my Reboot post though, my concern is crossing the streams. I suspect I still have some family and friends who’d like to read the personal stuff but don’t know what a closure is, while others would be potentially interested to read my technical thoughts but could care less about my child’s latest developmental milestone.

This blog is personal and there’s a lot of old old content in it, and I’ve considered gutting it before and am considering it again, because of the two dozen domains I own, it’s still probably my favorite one and will always feel like home, but I feel bad causing linkrot.

I created brianarn@github the last time I got this urge, and that was a fun experiment with Octopress, but something about having it be a subdomain of GitHub feels a bit funny or odd. I’ve considered buying a domain or using one of the handful of variations on my name that I already own, but then it feels like maybe I’m fragmenting my web presence or whatever.

So, I figure, I’ll reach out this time. What do people think? If you have similar issues, how do you handle it? Separate blogs? Categories? Whoever you are, if you know me and you’ve read this, in particular if you have some experience in this area, please let me know. I know some people just mix it all up, and I’d be open to that, but it feels like I really need to segregate topics in some way and I’m just not sure how best to do that.

Moving Forward

As 2011 closes, we’re excited to be taking up leadership of Webuquerque, however, there have been some recent statements made about the Webuquerque leadership transition that we feel merit a response.

While all parties involved worked hard at the transition process, some things were not as smooth as they could have been. That being said, the hiccups in the transition process have not negatively impacted the presentations or events in any way.

We have nothing but the utmost respect for Emily Lewis and Jason Nakai, the Webuquerque founders. They have created an absolutely amazing community that we are all incredibly honored to be a part of, and proud to help move forward and grow. Our sincere thanks goes out to Emily and Jason for their hard work and the wonderful wealth of information they passed onto us to keep things going strong. We look forward to the continued involvement of Jason and Emily in the Webuquerque community.

We all love and are committed to this community. It has become something very unique and special to all who are involved, helping us improve our craft and our professional relationships. We hope that as Webuquerque moves into 2012 and beyond, the community will continue to be supportive and help Webuquerque grow in size and influence. Thank you!

Signed,
Brian Arnold, Ben Byrne, Zerek Welz

What a crazy year

I remember when I used to feel a little shame in missing a post for one month. Then a few months. Now? We’re looking at nearly a year — and it’s been kind of a crazy year. It’s not over yet, but I find myself in a reflective mood tonight, so, hey.

In 2009, I spent some time playing with some HTML5 APIs, as evidenced by the drum kit and my little canvas demos and such. I’d spent more and more of my free time researching and studying JavaScript more and more. A lot of my little canvas demos had pushed me into looking into optimizations and ways to stop memory leaks.

I still wouldn’t call myself an optimization master, but I’d definitely picked up a number of best practices along the way, which led me to giving a couple of small talks:

Both talks were volunteer affairs – I wasn’t explicitly asked to talk, I just like to talk about things that excite me. However, the Webuquerque talk led me in an interesting direction.

Long story short, I took a chance, put myself out there, and earned a spot on the SitePen team. I’ve always been fortunate to work for good companies, but I have to say, working for SitePen has been an absolute dream come true. I get to work in JavaScript in some capacity every single day. I’ve gotten to build some really awesome things, to learn leaps and bounds in an immensely short period, and I work with some of the most amazing minds in JS today. It couldn’t be better, and I look forward to being a SitePenner for years to come.

Incidentally, if you’d told me ten years ago that I’d be working in JS every day and loving it, I’d have laughed at you, hard.

This year hasn’t been perfect, by any means. However, it’s definitely been a life-changing one. I really feel like I’m no longer just working a job, but really developing a career. I’ve had some amazing highs and amazing lows in 2010, and even though there’s still a month left to it, I know this year is going to go down in my books as one of the most amazing on record.

So, there’s that. I could say (again) that I’m going to try to post more (again), and I really do hope that’s the case. This blog’s definitely been more personal than technical in the past, but I suspect it’ll move more towards tech stuff at this point, with a rather heavy JS slant.

It’s not that I’m against personal sharing, and I’ll definitely be doing so, but it’s a different world and I’m a different person, and frankly, I suspect it’d be kinda boring if I told you all that I ate lunch at Dion’s again.

Oh, also, I’m down ~30 pounds this year too, which is nice, though I’m definitely kind of hitting up against a wall — but I can’t complain. I mean, 30 pounds is awesome.

It’s full of stars

I’m hoping to make this more of a thing, where I make fun little toys in HTML5. I made my drum kit sometime back, and had played around with <canvas> some last year. Since I’m kind of signed up to talk at Webuquerque on the topic of <canvas> and similar such technology (at the time of my speech in April, Firefox 3.7 should be in some late beta, if not RC, hopefully, meaning WebGL will soon be upon us), well, I should probably actually learn what the heck I’m talking about.

So then, here’s a fun little toy I made. For lack of a better name, I just called it Stars and put it somewhere under my RandomThink.net Labs area (which may someday get its own content management setup, which I hoped to do in EE but it’s just easier to hack on plain files for that so who knows). It needs some better documentation, but I’m sorta-working on a better version with more controls. I’ll be sure to blather on about it at that point.

I’m more apt to quickly shout about these sorts of things on Twitter (and to a lesser extent, Facebook), so if you want to be in the know, you should maybe follow me on Twitter here or add me on Facebook here. Also worth noting, there’s an RSS feed of my tweets here, if you want to listen without being a tweeter. However, that doesn’t filter out any replies I make to others, so, y’know, you’ll be getting one side of a conversation without seeing the rest. Anyhow. Maybe I’ll install Twitter Tools to incorporate my tweets more heavily into the blog or something.

But yeah. Stars. Go play. Start the animation, then move over and hold down the mouse button somewhere for a fast spray of stars, or use the click-hold to queue up a ton of stars while not animating. Dabble a bit. Trace out your name in stars before animating and then start it up. Eventually you can put enough stars to cause some lag, but it’s really not too terrible.

Home again, home again

Well, that was a fun experiment of sorts.

As I wrote back in July, I converted my site to ExpressionEngine. I thought it’d be this great revolution for me. Instead, I just about fell off the face of the planet.

It’s not that EE isn’t a great platform — truly, it is. However, it’s a CMS. Really, it’s more of a content management framework than a CMS. However, for as much as I thought that’s what I’d do with it, to turn my site into some huge hub, it wound up kind of crippling my ability to just write.

Okay, it didn’t do that. That’s all me. However, I just felt this… this block. I didn’t like it. EE2 is a big improvement, but it’s still not quite right.

I’d also moved hosts at the time for awhile, but after doing some testing and experimenting, I found that really, DreamHost worked well for me. I even signed up for DreamHost PS, which is pretty great.

Also, upon returning, I realized I still had my old WordPress setup, still ready to go — but I didn’t just want to flip it back over. I liked the idea of at least staying in HTML5 with a clean presentation. I then explored the Carrington theme framework for WordPress. I used Carrington JAM (Just Add Markup) and basically took my EE themes and put them out into the file architecture here.

After a couple of nights and a little time, I think I’m set. I’m back in WordPress, just in time for the 2.9 upgrade. I’ve got my EE theme (courtesy of Evan for the design, my markup/CSS) in place in WordPress with the awesomeness of Carrington, and I just feel… it just feels more like home. It’s more me.

So, here goes. I’m hoping that the move back will open up my mental block a bit, and who knows, maybe I can explore Carrington a bit more in building my next theme.

Overthinking it all

I’ve had a number of other titles floating around in my head for this post.

  • Thinking, Rethinking, Overthinking
  • Too many tools
  • Endings, beginnings
  • Restarts
  • Reboot

Then I realized I’d already written one of those posts, back in April.

It’s pretty apparent that I haven’t been blogging lately. I feel stuck. Stymied. I don’t know why. Life is kind of crazy busy. I spent a weekend reworking my blog and then fell away from it for months — really, the longest time I’ve ever been away from writing on this site. I’ve thought about deleting it, resetting it, putting all the old content on some subdomain, moving back to WordPress, not sure.

Next week, ExpressionEngine 2.0 goes into a public pre-release of sorts. I don’t really do a lot with plugins or whatnot, since I’ve barely touched EE, so I’ve thought about upgrading to that. WordPress 2.9 is also on the horizon. I’ve been intrigued by a variety of CMSes lately. I get hung up on the tools. I miss writing, in a way. I tried installing OmmWriter, which is an interesting full-screen editor for the Mac. I could see it being interesting to write with too, but it’s almost too spartan.

But none of that matters to the process of writing, really. I should be able to just write. I don’t know why I can’t. I know that Twitter and social networking in general have kind of sapped the topics I’d write about in the past, acting as kind of a pressure valve, letting the little things out before they built up into a real post.

So, all of this is to say “I’m still here, I’m still alive, and I’m thinking about things — probably too much”.

Lisa and I are going to NYC for a vacation in just a couple of days. I can barely believe it’s so soon, and I simultaneously know it’ll be over and done and we’ll be home before I know it. I’m dabbling with Gowalla, and you can find me on Gowalla. I suspect I’ll be doing several check-ins across NYC, and letting at least a few pass some geo-referenced tweets on through. I doubt I’ll get around to actually posting on here about much of it at all. I still think I didn’t ever finish posting my daily write-ups of our European trip in 2007 — though I did actually write something then.

When I get back, I suspect I’ll dork around with EE 2.0 and see what I think. In a way, it kind of feels like huge overkill for a blog, but I have all these hopes of doing other creative things with it. I’ll also play with WordPress 2.9 and see about maybe moving back. Who knows.

Blogging is a form of expression (engine)

Well, I finally did it. Back in April, I talked about rebooting. At first, I thought I’d maybe start totally fresh. Then I realized that, “Hey, I have a lot of content here, I’d hate to lose it”.

So, I did some dancing with scripts and HTML and ported the site on over to Expression Engine. There’s been a lot of noise about WordPress and the GPL and such lately, but that wasn’t the motivator. Really, after working with it for awhile, the motivator was that it’s simply an amazing system. It’s not open source, GPL, or any sort of open license. However, it’s still very modifiable and extensible and on the whole, I’m pretty pleased so far.

There are still a few rough edges (such as comments – they can be left but the author stuff is messed up, I need to figure that out), and some spots that could use some more styling, but for now, I’m working in EE and really, pretty pleased. It feels so much easier to work in this system. I think it’ll much more easily facilitate me doing things like more RandomThink.net Labs experiments.

So, here’s to more! More blog posts, more experiments, more of me, hopefully.

From Ajaxian

Hello!

If you’re finding this blog for the first time from my HTML5 Drum Kit from this post on Ajaxian.com, welcome to my meager site!

I feel like a cobbler who has no shoes of his own – or perhaps, one that is wearing a brand name instead of his own. I haven’t invested proper time on my personal site. For that I apologize. I’m working on a better version (possibly either a custom CMS or moved into ExpressionEngine). Hopefully I’ll get to do that over the fourth.

I’ve done a few other things, namely some stuff with <canvas> a year ago or so. It’s all in the RandomThink Labs, which are all pretty ugly right now visually, but hey, that’s part of the cleanup/rework I want to undertake. All the code in the labs is under an MIT license and also available at this GitHub repo if you want to just grab it all.

Thanks for stopping by!

Reboot

Seriously, I need to do something to refresh this excuse of a blog. I used to post about stuff. Then Twitter came along and I find it just so much easier to spout off in 140 character bursts.

Part of me is tempted to clean out the domain and start fresh. I only have one or two posts that get any sort of regular traffic, and one of them is like four years old now and totally irrelevant. However, I have some sort of nostalgic attachment to this domain.

I own a couple of variations of my name, as well as a few other random domains that could be interesting to start something fresh on. However, I’m just not sure.

I’m not sure moving from one domain to another would really help, though. I blame social networking. Anymore, I talk so much about the day-to-day on Twitter and through the occasional Facebook status update that stuff just doesn’t stick in my mind long enough to get to the blog.

On occasion, I get a wild hair to come in and redo things in here. Move to Expression Engine perhaps, or really take the time to craft up a nice WP theme, either using Carrington as more than its default state like it is now or building off of Sandbox or something. Then I remember the other side projects I have brewing, all of which are of higher priority than this site.

The things I stew on longer, to think about and share, are primarily of a technical nature anymore, and it feels funny to go blathering on about jQuery in this environment because it’s generally much more personal. At the same time, I find that it’s one of the more exciting things I deal with on a day-to-day, and I mix it into tweets about other stuff, so perhaps I shouldn’t be concerned with crossover here.

I’ve also thought about keeping this place personal and using more of a normal-namespace type blog (I own 2 or 3 variations of BrianArnold.___) for more technical, professional stuff.

If anyone even still reads this, I’d love a comment, to get some feedback. I’m not sure it’s worth even really bothering with at this point – hard to say.

My thoughts on MacHeist

For those not in the know, MacHeist is back. It’s a large bundle of Mac software for an amazing price, and it seems to create this huge amount of drama in the Mac software developer community. As someone who’s just started to get into Apple development (iPhone for now, maybe more later), I find the responses really interesting, especially the people who are so vehemently opposed to selling product at such a markdown (currently $626.75 worth of software for $39, 25% of which goes to a charity of the purchaser’s choosing, with potential to be $975.70 worth of software – still for $39).

Personally, coming from the perspective of development, I think it’s a great way to reach out to people who may not normally dive into your products. To draw an analogy, a common argument as to why piracy isn’t a big deal is often that the pirates aren’t people who’d buy the music/software anyways, so it’s not a lost sale. I see MacHeist as the same thing, except that the developers do get a small amount of money.

I already own one or two of the applications in MacHeist 3, and so now I have dual licenses (as I don’t really know anyone else I’d have gifted the licenses to), so those devs are actually getting more of my money than normal — and I’m okay with that, because they’re great products. I’ve bought into every MacHeist so far, and out of all of that, I maybe actually still use one or two of the apps. The rest linger, gathering digital dust and cobwebs, eventually to be AppZapped into oblivion (the irony being that I got AppZapper in MH2).

Delicious Library would be an exception worth noting. I still use it on occasion and enjoy it, and I’ve paid for the upgrade to DL2. I wouldn’t have used it, were it not for MacHeist, and now he’s gotten more of my cash because I’m willing to pay for a product I enjoy.

I happily bought into MH3. It’s an amazing deal. These developers are getting some of my money that they normally wouldn’t have, and charities benefit. I don’t see myself using 90% of it more than for a few days as an amusing cheaply-paid trial. If I wind up sticking with some of them, I’ll become a paying customer for further upgrades, as well as a word-of-mouth promoter, because I like to make noise about great software.

Incidentally, if you want to dive in, and use my MacHeist referrer link, you’ll unlock another piece of software or two for me, although it’s not a big deal either way.