November 23, 2007 Newsletter

Posted Nov 22, 2007
Last Updated Nov 12, 2011
Otter Chasing Fish
Sun Bear and Long Tongue

A couple of my friends have recently launched new websites that are using Webonizer. Among those is sci-fi author John Dalmas. John has been working on a new novel but has been spending some time writing essays on his site. I want to share his site and hope that some of my readers take time to get to know John.

I will share another friend’s site in the next newsletter. Andrew Penry is working on a site devoted to the game Battlefield 2142.

Finally, some other friends of mine are preparing to release their first CD. Philo, a band local to central Ohio, is having a show on December 1. I will be there to take some photos. This group of highly talented musicians is composed of three former members of Cringe as well as a former member of Liquid 6teen. Other bands playing include Bullet Jones, Cordova and For The Drive.

Back in 2001 mankind had not yet encountered aliens like Arthur C. Clarke dramatized in his classic novel titled after that year. The only aliens we have heard of so far this century are the illegal kind looking for refuge in the wealth of American economy.

As with fiction, the real future is often very different from what we expect and intend. I am sure that if you were able to interview Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin and ask them for a prediction of America in 2007, they would not mention anything like Black Friday, global terrorism or Pokemon. In some areas we are probably far past their wildest dreams (we have gone to the moon and now turn our sites on Mars) but in other areas we are probably shamefully not as far as expected (economics still drive our culture more than principles).

That is the nature of this world and life. It’s one of the reasons why I lament the brevity of our lives—we will not get to see what the future holds. Instead, we can only imagine what it might be like and, to a degree, help steer the future in the direction we intend.

In my own life, 2001 marked a transition that I did not expect. While I had been dabbling in personal web pages for a couple of years, I had not learned anything about HTML. The first web pages that I made were generated in graphic software, and I paid no attention to the back end. But as time progressed and I wanted to share my journalistic work with the world, I realized how monumental a task it was to maintain a website. My first attempt at a large website used a technique called Server Side Includes that allowed me to create a template that controlled the basic structure of all pages on the site. But even with that technique, I still had to manually create HTML web pages for every single page I wanted to load—then manually load them to the internet with an FTP program.

That was the original reason I started building a content management system that eventually became Webonizer. In the beginning, I was just making a system to easily load articles and media. Had I known the extent of the work I would put into Webonizer over the years, I may well have given up. A journey that started with a simple goal opened paths that forced me to learn a barrage of technologies—from XHTML and JavaScript to MySQL, PHP, CSS and Ajax. And it’s not over. Now Webonizer is the core behind several websites, and I am constantly adding and optimizing features to accommodate changing technologies and needs.

While I am happy that I have taken this path, it has taken me a long way from my starting point; I am not always sure that I have kept my eyes on the original simple goal. Sometimes weeks pass and I have written programs for others… but I haven’t written anything for my own site, taken photos of things that are important to me, or created new pieces of art for myself.

At our Thanksgiving Dinner, my uncle reminded us that parents often get so caught up in work and providing for their families that they often miss all of the opportunity to enjoy the important things that are always there. Later, driving home from a friend’s home, I was hit with the realization that I have been too caught up in work—my mind often stays focused on problems in my daily chores when I should be tickling my children or playing hide and seek.

Sorry Ayn Rand… I agree that industry and wealth are important. But you did not see the big picture… the big picture reflected in little blue eyes. Industry is a purpose, not an end.

In the end, what I am trying to say is that it is easy to get caught up in all the things that are not as important as they seem, and lose sight of those things that are more important than we remember.


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