About this site

My name is Nate Berry and this site serves as my online journal. As an IT Professional a lot of the stuff discussed here will have to do with computers and software. I’m also a musician (I play gigs occassionally) and music is a big part of my life so expect some posts about that. I’ve always been a gamer (though not as hardcore as I might wish to be) so there will certainly be gaming related posts from time to time. Other than that you can expect the occassional political or philosophical rant. I consider myself independent and fairly centrist, but as the country has moved farther to the right over the last 30 years, I sometimes feel like I must be a radical leftist.

While I’m a family man, you won’t see a lot of family related posts here – thats a purposeful ommission.

I have no agenda here other than to continue writing and sharing ideas. The site changes slowly over time because one of the other things I use it for is as a platform to test out platforms. 🙂 I’ve been keeping a journal in some form or other since 1980, originally in one of those black and white composition notebooks, which later grew into several of them taped together, then a few more carried about in a box… For many years I didn’t use a computer to write even though I have always had computers around the house since my first Atari 800 and then a Timex Sinclair, preferring the more tactile scribbling to typing. This changed when the internet was opened to the public where it became clear that I could write things and other people might actually *read* them.

Besides this blog, there are a few other sites hosted here:

  • KtOG – a simple dice game
  • in8notes – a Bloxsom blog
  • gallery – Nate’s personal photo gallery
  • LinksDB – a page I use instead of browser bookmarks

Changing *how* I was writing necessitated a change in *what* I was writing, or at least it brought about a greater cautiousness in topic selection. I decided that writing about my employer, or my personal family life was probably not a very good idea since there was no real way to know who might be reading what I wrote. This means that a lot of what I write is no longer a ‘journal’ in the original sense (to me). I now write about things I am interested in at the time, things I’ve found on the internet, events, etc. and I have a sort of unwritten rule to to try to keep in mind that I am publishing to the whole world, which certainly includes employers and family members. There is a bit of political and religious commentary here, so be warned.

The category list drop down has been removed, but if you click on the little category icon at the upper right of each story you’ll get a list of other stories in that category. I’ve been thinking about adding some more categories lately – July, 2011

For a time after starting to put stuff online, I actually did start keeping a digital version of a real journal in the computer (think Doogie Houser, MD) but because I have a tendency to change operating systems quite frequently, I chose to keep this in a simple text file which eventually grew huge and unwieldy. My first online journal entries were basically just selections of this text formatted with HTML (by hand in a text editor). This became tiresome, and I stopped publishing online for a while. For several years I kept the journal up on my m500 palm pilot (using Wordsmith), but when that died unexpectantly (do they ever die expectantly?), I realized I was lucky to have kept good backups of it and wouldn’t trust a handheld again for my personal journal.

My first attempts at a more automated system to maintain my huge number of text file entries were very frustrating. I didn’t really have a strong enough background in any scripting language to do anything useful on my own, so I started looking around for something already written that I could use to publish online. At the time, web forums were getting very popular so I decided to try using Yabb (Yet another bulletin board). It was fairly easy to set up, and I learned a lot about scripting getting it running. It was written in Perl though which, even after several years of mucking around trying to learn it, I still find incredibly obtuse. I started looking for something that would allow me to bust out of the forum model when I realized that there really wasn’t going to be much use for one anyway – I was writing things and my friends, though they might be reading them, didn’t find it necessary to post responses and well, that’s the point of a bulletin board: threaded conversations. I wanted something that I could use to post text, and that would stand on it’s own without *needing* to have responses tacked on to the posts to seem relevant.

Blosxsom (link now dead as of 2014) seemed like it might be perfect, though it was also written in perl, and I was able to simply upload a mess of text files into a hierarchical directory structure and the script just *built* a website out of it! This seemed like the perfect solution, but there were a lot of limitations, including a limited number of ‘plugins’ and the fact I couldn’t easily change the way the site worked (due to my own ineptitude with perl). I still use blosxom to arrange a lot of detritus on my hard drive which I would probably never even look at again otherwise. It’s also rsynced to the web for easy reference and available at in8notes.

Geeklog looked really cool, but I was intimidated by PHP which was *another* language I didn’t know, but I slowly came up to speed enough to get it running. I eventually used Geeklog for many years, and still use it for other sites I run, but maintaining this huge (and powerful) CMS system for a simple blog turned out, for me, to be a bit of overkill.

This site is currently powered by WordPress. Luckily I found a really helpful geeklog importer script which managed to bring in the entire site without much of a hitch. I did have to restore a copy of the GL database into the WordPress database first since I couldn’t get it to import from a separate database (I’m sure someone smart could figure it out). I was able to easily find many different WordPress plugins that provide nifty functionality for this site (I’ll eventually list all of these here) which I either had already implemented in Geeklog, or wished I could.

As of July, 2011 I’ve integrated the Disqus commenting engine because it makes it so much easier for folks to comment here. Although it might not be obvious how it all works, basically Disqus uses OpenID to authenticate you (you probably have an OpenID already if you have a Google, Yahoo, Facebook, or Twitter account) so you don’t have to bother signing up here, you can just click a button and post.

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