The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

This date on the blog, or stealing a feature I found on another blog

Kirk Israel has an interesting feature on this blog, the “thisday” link, which displays all the entries for a given day (and here is February 26TH in case you are reading this sometime in the future). It's a neat concept, and one I could certainly use. There have been times (usually on holidays) where I'd like to see what I've written so as not to repeat myself. So that usually involves opening up a bunch of tabs of, say, July 4TH (and as of writing this, that would be 14 tabs) but no longer! Now I (and you) can see what I've written for every Fourth of July holiday. All that's left is to generate links to the next and previous day, as well as maybe a link in the sidebar to all the entries for a given day.

While the feature was easy to add to the website, I have yet to do so for my gopher mirror. I'm still afraid my blog on Gopher is still a second class citizen. I still don't support linking to arbitrary portions of time with the gopher mirror, and I'm not sure if I will ever get around to it.


A journal doesn't really help if you never finish the entries

It's been fun going though some of my own entries with the new “this day” feature. One thing I've noticed is that I used to write way more entries in the past than I do now. Part of that may be the newness of online journaling. Another part might be there was less risk of repeating myself. Perhaps I hadn't run out of things to say? Who knows?

I did find a stash of unfinished entries from the time I started working at Negiyo when I checked out this day of October 13TH. At first, I was afraid the partial text was due to a bug, but no, the 13TH of October, 2000 really is a few sentence fragments, along with a whole bunch of other non-entries that month—I guess I never finished those. And that entry for October 30TH, 2000? It's not cut off—apparently I came across the source code for ITS. But I can't even remember what I wanted to say, much less where I stuffed said source code. And what was up with the security guard and the Bible? I want to know! I need closure!

Curse my younger self for not finishing these entries!


How I ended up with a month of non-entries

So how did I end up with a month of non-entries? Therein lies a tale …

While the first entry of my blog is dated Debtember 4TH, 1999, the software running the blog, mod_blog wasn't even started yet—maybe. The previous October and November I spent writing mod_litbook (the software behind The Electric King James Bible) which was the inspiration for how links work around here. I'm not sure if I started the software that Debtember or not, since I spent the rest of the month visiting Dad out in Palm Springs, California.

My first post about mod_blog appears to be on March 13TH, so sometime between Debtember of 1999 and March of 2000 is when I started coding mod_blog. But until mod_blog was ready, I was basically maintaining a bunch of static pages by hand. I then spent over a year and a half writing the software. Most of the time I spent trying to figure out how to generate the appropriate hyperlinks—I was trying to generate anchor links (<A HREF="#2000/10/15.1">) if the entry was on screen, otherwise a hyperlink (<A HREF="/2000/10/15.1">) if the entry wasn't on the screen, while at the same time trying to generate an on-page directory of entries currently being displayed—it was a real mess.

By early October of 2000, I had finalized the storage format for each entry. But that was also the month I started working at Negiyo and the first few weeks were pretty tough. I think I just forgot to go back and flesh out those entries. Besides, at that point, the blog wasn't on a public server and only a small select set of friends had the actual link to it.

It wasn't until October 23RD, 2001 that I finally had enough with the development and decided to go public with what I had. I didn't have the anchor links like I wanted (but that turned out to be a bad idea in the long term anyway), nor the directory of entries (and I still don't have an automatic list of past entries—the archive section I add to every month). Besides, I really wanted to make that synopsis of Atlas Shrugged public (yes, that's what finally prompted me to get mod_blog shipped), so I copied everything on the private server (including the month of non-entries) to the public server and the rest has been online ever since.

And that's how I ended up with a month of non-entries, and curiousity as to what “a wired Jamison” is all about.

Get off the lawn, my younger self!

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You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site: http://boston.conman.org/, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

http://boston.conman.org/2000/08/01

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

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