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Archive for the 'Bipolar: News' Category


2012.01.01 The king is dead… long live the king.

It has been a year and half since this site has seen a new post, and twice that long since brian has made his presence felt. I have been hanging on to bipolar, thinking that one day I would resume posting again, but now I believe its time has passed.

As with most things in which I've been involved online, I'll endeavour to keep bipolar up in perpetuity, as an archive of times past.

If you want to catch up with me, head over to MatthewRasnake.com, which is a window into just about every aspect of my online life.

Brian, bipolar, and friendly readers, thanks for the memories!

chicago road trip, 2000

brian and matt

2009.04.10 identity crisis*:

* "Crisis" is definitely overstating it a bit, but nevertheless…

Earlier tonight, I told an old friend that "I couldn't be happier with where my life has led," and, of course, that is true. What i've been struggling with the last few years has been the "where."

In high school, i wanted nothing more than to start my own business, be my own boss, stay in the hick town where I grew up and be a "computer consultant" (whatever the hell that means.) I knew that I would a) be awesome at it, and b) be totally happy with my life. Instead—when i realized my father's brain would melt and my mother's heart would flop right out of her chest if I didn't—i went to college.

In college, i met some awesome creative people, broke out of my mold, and made sweeping plans for taking over the world with the most profound art, music, and literature the world had ever seen, together with this band of misfit geniuses in whom I'd found a family.

Then the 'net happened and I found another niche. I was going to carry this empire of sight, sound, and word into the year 2000, and become the best damned webmaster this side of the Mississippi. I was going to shift paradigms, set trends, and lead the denizens of the 'net to the next level. Not that I could see what that next level was yet, but that was my plan.

Luckily, I landed a job that let me do the only thing that I'd really want to sit still long enough to get paid for. Unfortunately, i discovered that it wasn't always possible to innovate on a deadline, for the kind of clients a high priced web firm dealt with. That, and I didn't have the base skills to really push the envelope. I was, after all, entirely self-taught.

As technology progressed, I collected plans and hoarded them for "when I had time." My work, psycho ex-girlfriends, the internet, and my plans themselves sapped my energy to the point where little got done. Occasionally, I'd have a burst of activity, and accomplish something neat, or push a pet project a little farther up the hill. Then I'd go back to the news feeds, or the game of Dune, or whatever.

I was going to be a first-rate poet, the next Kerouac, a top notch photographer, a musician, a publisher, a record producer, a freelance web guru, a gallery owner, a coffee shop owner… the list goes on.

It's taken me a few years, but slowly, I've realized that I can't do it all. And those grandiose plans I made years ago—the empire I built on dreams—depended on that family of friends as a static, unchanging unit with infinite reserves of energy and patience. To meet my dreams, my friends would have had to stay just as they were.

What I've come to realize is not that I can't count on my friends (because I know they'll support me in whatever I choose to do), but just that my friends have their own lives, and plans, and dreams. I can't package them up into mine, any more than they can package me up into theirs.

So I have been converging on this point, where I have to figure out two things: what I want to do, and what I can do. With all these grandiose plans I've made, which are the feasible, workable notions, and which are the pipe dreams?

These were the thoughts that, late last year, and early this year, brought me to re-dedicate myself to my writing. I still have lots of plans, little things I'd like to do, but, when push comes to shove, my writing comes first. Someday, perhaps I'll be able to expand my arena again, but right now, I have to seize my opportunities and focus on a smaller set of goals.

To a certain extent, the old Coffeemonk Design Flaws empire is seeing a sunset. The name "Coffeemonk Design Flaws" was always Bob's thing anyway, and without his participation, it has long felt hollow.

I'm still working out the details in my head, but very likely, coffeemonk.com will become my writing oriented blog, and Savant-Garde Press will finally emerge from it's long stasis to stand on it's own. I'm also planning to launch a personal blog at matt.rasnake.info (eventually), and will continue to maintain bipolar as well.

This, then, is not as much an identity crisis, as it is an identity acknowledgement. This is the happiness to which my life has led me…

2007.04.19 whomp:

i'm not quite ready to talk about the recent tragic events at Tech, where my brother attends college. his story will keep, until i have more time to tell it appropriately.

as occasionally happens, i have been quiet on bipolar, but working busily behind the scenes. in fact, i have gone a little plugin crazy. last week i added the gregarious plugin, which gives us digg buttons on posts that have been dugg, and a "share this" link which now lives at the bottom of each post, and is great on the off chance you might want to bookmark or share us on one of several social link-sharing services. the "share this" page also gives you the opportunity to email a link to a particular post directly to a friend, directly from the page. part of the impetus for this addition was brian's recent lamentation on our lack of social penetration (yeah, knock it off) and his self-referential digging. plus, i have a few major posts in the works that i think might be suited to a digg-type feeding frenzy. we'll see.

with this addition i've also reformatted the post-ending link bonanza just a bit, i think making things a bit nicer. gone is the abbreviated "pl," in favor of the slightly less obfuscated "permalink."

the other obvious thing you might notice, looking down there, is a new starred rating thingy, again for individual posts. apparently, this plugin only allows you to vote once, and doesn't allow yout to change that vote once it's cast. i may have to do something about that, but i'll let it stand for now.

one less obvious addition is a "subcribe to comments" plugin, which allows you to indicate whether you want, when you comment on a post, to have subsequent comments sent to you via email. there's also a subscription management feature, so you can come in and remove yourself from subscribed posts if you like.

a very obscure (to you the viewer, anyway) plugin is one which checks for incoming links to a post (from offsite), and registers any that are found as "pingbacks" without the offsite poster having to actually initiate a formal pingback. if you understand what that means, congratulations, you're an official blog geek.

behind the scenes, i've also added a plugin that counts post views, mainly for the benefit of the last recently added plugin… a bipolar stats page. The plugin lists on that page many various stats from the blog, including the new post ratings and post views. One really fun feature (i thought, anyway) is the ability to see the nicks off all previous commenters, and the ability to go to a page listing all their comments. being that we allow "anonymous" comments (i.e. you don't have to register), many people have visited and used different nicks, so the list is rather longer than the actual number of individuals who've commented.

i still have a short list of plugins left to test and install, but i thought these were the most immediately useful ones.

here's what i've installed:

here's what i'm still considering:

so digg, email, subscribe, rate, view, and link away.

2006.12.08 lazy day in old st. lou:

so, i'm up here with my lovely wife, doing her res. interview at WashU. i'm just chillin in the hotel room, shooting at my co-workers with the 2006 Power Treecam—a brilliant idea by yours truly, brilliantly embellished and executed by our boy ben.

i've run over to the St. Louis Bread Co., where I got the skinny on the fact that the national chain Panera Bread (as known to most of us) was actually originally the aforementioned St. Louis Bread Co. I picked up my breakfast there (croissant, cinnamon roll, and coffee) and they gave me a soufflé for free.

I've spent most of the morning upgrading our WordPress installation to 2.0.5, and just installed the wordpressReports plugin, so we can see just how many people aren't coming to visit the site to enjoy the dearth of updates.

and now, i'm going to watch the Special Edition DVD of Star Trek III, which my buddy nate so thoughtfully gave to me on my most recent birthday. thanks again, nate!

2006.04.19 are we compatible?:

as it turns out, there were some issues that 10% or fewer of bipolar's audience might have experienced post-relaunch. brian and his new friends from the land of the rising sun discovered shortly after the launch that most of the new themes were varying levels of screwed up when viewed in Safari. this morning, our favorite beta-tester�MC Seth-yo—informed me that things were also pretty whacked in opera.

i believe things are pretty well patched up all around, so feel free to alternatively compute to your little hearts' content.

- 04:20 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Bipolar: News - Computers/Tech - Friends

 

2006.04.18 another new feature:

this probably has limited intrinsic value, but it's something i've thought was neat for some time, and now that we've got wordpress, it was crazy easy to implement.

you know about avatars, right? as a limited example, they're the little images you choose to personalize your profile on bulletin boards (or forums as the young bucks like to call 'em). well, a guy had an idea that if you wanted, you should be able to use a single avatar, centrally controlled, from any site anywhere on the 'net. and, since we've all got unique email addresses, that could be the peg the hat hangs on. so now, if you login or post to a site that uses these "globally recognized avatars" and give them your email address, whamo-bamo, your personal little pic shows up on their site.

since I tended to use the same avatar (and username) on every site I visit anyway, this seemed like an obvious solution to a problem I hadn't realized I had. so, I signed up.

now, there's a plugin for Thunderbird so you can see gravatars in your address book, and, of course, there's a plugin for wordpress, so you guys can see your pictures when you post comments.

all you need to do to set up your free gravatar is go to http://www.gravatar.com and sign up. The gravatars have to be approved manually, and they are rated, so if you submit porn, someone will see it and rate it appropriately. because of the approval process and the 1-avatar, 1-email address limit of the free account, it could be a chore if you wanted to occasionally swap out your avatars.

i'd love to see all the regular characters set up a gravatar, just 'cause i think it's fun, and y'know, i went to all the trouble of installing the plugin.

oh, and btw, happy birthday to the amazing sharon—officially not a youngster anymore.

2006.04.17 after many months…:

BAM!

bipolar has been quiet for a while, but we have not been dormant. off in an anteroom, major changes have been brewing, and now, dear reader, the re-tooled bipolar is once again unleashed upon the world.

after the transition of MovableType from a free to a fee-based licensing scheme, i realized it would be untenable to follow through with the upgrade, since we are (or were at the time) running several different blogs by a few different authors from a single installation of MT. unfortunately, I also wasn't convinced about WordPress or any of the other alternatives, and didn't look forward to having several different installations of a CMS/blog package on a single server.

well, WordPress has come a long way, i've gotten over my no-multiple-installs stubbornness, and our installation of MT has finally grown so long in the tooth that it is slowly breaking down.

so, bipolar is now running entirely on WordPress, with all the old bells & whistles, plus a few new ones of considerable value.

major old features still in effect:
1) themes: all of bipolar's old themes are available, up-to-date, and much improved. go to the theme chooser from (very near the bottom of) the dropdown or links list on any bipolar page.
2) category cloud: see all our categories and how much we post in them visually by viewing them as a "cloud" rather than some boring old list.
3) bipolar cam: web cams are still in effect, and are back to their fully-themed glory.

major new features:
1) new pages/subpages: you're no longer tied down to the side-by-side view of bipolar. now category, archive, and sub-page views have their own page layout, hopefully making things easier to read.
2) popular, related, and recent lists: in various places you can now find lists of popular posts, potentially related posts (beyond simple category relations), and simple recent posts lists.
3) 404 page with way too much info: those lists, the categories and the archives are available if you get a 404, and the site will even attempt to show you a list of posts related to the thing you were looking for.
4) RSS feeds: WordPress allows us a much broader RSS feed smorgasbord—eeds for individual posts, post comments, categories.
5) search: MT had a search function, but i never implemented it 'cause i was lazy. WordPress has it built in as well, so i finally took the time to put it in place.
6) brand-new theme: i've created a swanky new theme, and made it the default. if you don't like, it no problem, just choose your favorite from the theme chooser

hopefully there won't be many broken things lying about, but i'm sure there will be some. if you find something, please let me know so i can get it fixed.

in the meantime, enjoy the new theme and all the other changes around this old place.

2005.11.15 posterity & procrastination:

in the interests of complete and total procrastination on the novel-writing front (2640 words), i have undertaken a massive clean-up operation here on bipolar. at least, on my side of things. i've changed the permalinks to link to the individual post pages, rather than the monthly pages, and i've gone through every single one of my old posts to bring them in line with some of the better ways i've figured out to do things since we started. javascript new window links are now "accessible" (which just means they should work for people *without* javascript as well), all self-referential links point to individual post pages instead of monthlies with a hash anchor.

i've found quite a few dead links, and have started treating them in a standardized way (when i can't find a replacement or updated link)…

oh, and the big thing… all those posts in the "Old Posts" category from before we moved to movable type have now been gone through and assigned actual relevant categories. "Old Posts" (is/are) no more!

i also did a little jimmy'ing with the categories page, so now the categories are sized (and weighted) a little more sensibly.

the last thing i need to do is go through each post and hunt for linkrot. i've done a little already, but i've skipped around a bunch, so i'm sure there are more to be found.

all that stuff, and i've set up a new machine at home and installed SuSE linux on it. too many toys, too little time!

now, let's see if i can procrastinate on my procrastinating and get some work on on that novel…

2005.07.19 not so humble:

wow, we actually got to go see a movie!

seriously, it seems like we've not gotten to go to a movie in an insanely long time (though we did go see Batman Begins on our honeymoon). but, we finally managed to get out of the house to go see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which i loved. i loved the original movie, and i love this version of the story too… they are so completely different, it's hard to even compare the two. unfortunately, i haven't read the book, so i can't really say which is the more "accurate" version.

finally had a little job interview today, which i think went pretty well. it's actually a little surprising, as generally, one of my hallmark traits (self-promotion wise) has always been a heaping helping of humility. strangely, during the last few interviews i've been much more "at ease" and confident about my abilities and about my inter-personal interactions with the interviewer(s). it's a very weird experience for me to not be timid around people i don't know and who could have some influence on my career. at a few points during the interview, i actually felt like i was delivering some kind of post-shakespearian monologue. perhaps i went a little overboard at points, but i think it was ok. i think i might've overdone the hand-talking… but otherwise, it seemed to go well.

on a more local level (bipolar-local, that is), i've been trying to spruce up the gallery scripts a bit, since they suffered some after the move to the new server and directory structure. i've managed to get the galleries themselves working and displaying properly, but there're some issues with the (still relatively new) "view by date" code that i haven't been able to spend enough time to massage out yet. and thus far, brian's joycamproject is still utterly non-functional, which is probably also a result of directory re-organization more than anything. hopefully, i'll get a chance to fix that up here soon, then help brian get the actual joycamproject implemented with the designs he's come up with. once that's accomplished, i intend to kick up development of a ground-up recoding of the gallery scripts… something i've been contemplating for a while now.

should be fun and challenging.

last but not least, i took a few moments yesterday to register our RSS feeds on Feedburner. so if you're subscribed to our feeds through an RSS reader, you'll want to update your subscriptions to the following:

main feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/x13design/bipolar
brian's feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/x13design/bipolar/left
matt's feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/x13design/bipolar/right

now, the fun aspect of this change, is that Feedburner allows you to integrate a couple other sources into your standard feeds. so, brian's feed is integrated with his flickr account, and will intermix any new images he uploads there with his posts here. for me, i don't have a flickr account yet, so i'm integrating my del.icio.us bookmarks feed into my bipolar feed. so… one beautiful side-effect will be regular updates (of the RSS/Atom feeds) even if we don't necessarily post on that regular of a basis.

now, these things aren't integrated into the main bipolar feed (though they could be if "demand" is there), so to take advantage, you'd have to subscribe to our individual feeds.

another good thing about Feedburner is that we're no longer stuck (well we never were before, but i could never be bothered to create an Atom output for MovableType) with just RSS… feedburner will serve up whatever type of feed your feed reader asks for… Atom, RSS 0.9, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0 probably others… so… subscribe away!

2005.05.12 a dam bursts:

holy cow. i swore (to myself) i'd stop mentioning with every new post how long it's been since the last one, but jeeze louise, i'm making history here! a whole month gone by without a single post in it, and just over two months since my last post! it's a bipolar first folks (and hopefully a last). i'm going to have to fix the archive index script (see way below) to skip April 2005 for me… weird.

anyway. as you might have guessed by my last few posts, and by my (even for me) uncharacteristic silence, i have been bizz-eee… no, not even that, i've been extremely fucking BUSY for too damn long now. let's recap, shall we?

1) finally bought a house.
2) closed on the house and moved out of the old apartment
3) ITS ALL A BLUR
4) slowly began to see light again
5) started writing this post

i think somewhere in there around 3 and 4, Sara and i spent a bunch of money buying stuff for the house, she had a couple of bridal showers, so we got crap-loads of gifts, i've been doing honest-to-god yard-work, washing a crap-load of dishes (no dishwasher), trying to get my stuff organized and put away, trying to finish the wedding website, trying to finalize wedding plans, trying not to go insane.

we're getting a load of brick today… how incredibly surreal and weirdly pedestrian and adult-like is that? i spent 8 hours on sunday outside… my world is currently sitting directly on its head.

the work roller-coaster was barely noticed (by me, anyway… Sara would've been freaking out if she hadn't had to study so much for finals), in that my 1 year contract expires at the end of the month… but my newly minted boss finally managed to push the paperwork through for a 6 month extension, so i'm gainfully employed until… er… christmas time.

all this, and the wedding is only… 4 weeks away. i'm not consumed with fear or anxiety yet, so that's a good thing. and hell, i'm looking forward to being able to get away from all this recent hubbub for a week and just enjoy *life* (and being married) for a moment without having to deal with anyone or anything else.

but i'm glad my sis, a new foreign service initiate, is coming into town this weekend and bringing that cute niece of mine with her. and she'll actually be staying in the states most of the year as she does her FS training, so it's conceivable we could see her more than twice in the next six months. and then, of course, she'll ship off to some foreign land, and we'll be hard-pressed to even get to see her once a year.

and my darling has successfully completed her 2nd year of med school and is even now studying for her first set of boards. i think we'll have at most a week after we get back from the honeymoon before she has to start her first rotation. thankfully she managed to get it set up so she doesn't have to leave town to do a rotation for a while.

and last, but not least, after giving up my precious kitties to Paul and Allison, and having been in the house for a month and getting it mostly whipped into shape, Sara and I are looking for two little kitties of our own. we want babies, and we'd like them to be litter-mates, but we are a bit flexible on that last bit.

and thanks to everybody for their well-wishes and congratulations re: the house. we're hoping to have a house-warming party soon, and i'll make sure to mention it here unless anybody out in the wide world has an opportunity to make it down for a weekend (pre-wedding, i'm hoping)

oh, one more thing… i just launched the wedding website yesterday, so go check it out!


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