It’s been a while since I last posted. Work has been incredibly busy and my personal life has had a number of events in the last year. The one thing that gets me the most is all the yard work I have to do here. I can barely keep up with the grass, which due to all the rain this year, seems to need cutting every 5 days. Then I have the bushes in front that need trimming, and on the side of the house is a bunch of old flowers that are nice when they re-bloom, but look ugly and overgrown the rest of the year. There is also a small tree that keeps sprouting up on the side and I keep hacking it down, but never get around to pulling the roots out. I have to take a vacation just to do all the yard work. Sigh.
For a while I had enabled a facebook likes plug-in. This was mostly for the purposes of experimentation on my part. Sometime over the last few months I had read an article about people who add facebook and other social links to their sites as having the appearance of being desperate. However, that is not the reason I dumped the plug-in.
I dumped the FB likes because the api was just terrible. Instead of some neat div or button, it had a table wrapped around things and a ton of inline styling. Even worse, it was slow to load. I never really expected anyone to ever like an article I posted as there are so few of you (except myself, how desperate would that be? Hah!). So why waste your time making my site load slower? If anyone wants to actually like an article, they can copy and paste the link into a FB post and like it from there.
Well I had fallen behind the wordpress guys a few versions and needed to get the site back up-to-date. This involved backing up the files and the database. I had disabled my local version a while back so I had to get that up and running and then manually apply the new version there to ensure that it would not break anything. This took a bit of effort as I had to configure the virtual private host on my system again and I had to dig around to remember exactly how to do that.
Once I had the new version running locally I had to copy everything up to the server and then check again. WordPress has a really nifty auto-update feature, which I unfortunately can not take advantage of as I have customized my installation. For those who have not visited in over a year, if you had created an account, I’m sorry to say that I had to dump a bunch of user accounts due to spambots. My apologies and I understand if you decide not to create a new account again. I did change the settings so that you do not have to register to leave a comment. However, posts do not display until I approve them. Trying to make sure the spamage does not get displayed.
I love going to onsen hotels in Japan. An onsen is essentially a hot spring spa, they are not unlike a turkish bath except that you must thoroughly bathe from head to toe before entering the bath. If you have previously bathed, you may simply rinse down with a cup and small basin of onsen water provided before entering the bath. They are usually part of a hotel and not necessarily open to the public. Although there are many that allow public access as well. Some are more natural than others ranging from a simple pool of hot water to water park like structures that are coed and require swim suits. Usually, they are single sex baths where you will be in the presence of other people bathing naked.
Another typical benefit of the onsen hotel is they provide a dinner and sometimes a breakfast as well. The dinner is a wonderful multi-course experience in fine Japanese cuisine. A ryokan onsen is a traditional Japanese style hotel with an onsen. You sleep on a futon on tatami floor and the room often has no furniture other than a table. Pictured is just one of the awesome meals I have had at an onsen.
As with all things Japanese, they of course have miniature beer cans.
I am not sure who the target audience is for these little cans; Women, children, pocket-ninjas? I estimate it would take about 36 of these to begin to get drunk… well for me. For some of you hardier folks it would probably be more like 100.
Spending some of my time off exploring microdata and html5 more in depth. If the semantic web is going to finally gain wide adoption microdata is going to be the catalyst. Unfortunately as easy as it is, it still involves a some effort to add microdata to your code. Still it is a million times easier than XML or other semantic formats.
Unfortunately, I think performance will still be an issue in actual implementations. Microdata is still fairly verbose and also referencing the scope/schema from a third party server may be a problem for some high traffic servers. Adding microdata to your mark-up can easily double or triple the size and there is always the latency issue of referencing a third party server.
Well I finally got around to cleaning up the site here and upgrading the blog software. I had let things go for a while and pretty much had to start over with the site design. The fun thing is I got to try out some cool stuff that I have been using for some professional work, but did not have time to do for my personal site. I added a jquery image slider to the header. JQuery is really hot right now amongst designers because it makes adding powerful interaction and UI effects as easy as it can get. I also added a google font api for the site title text. This is really cool as it expands the fonts one can use in site design without having to resort to images. Google is offering these fonts hosted from their servers for free. If google ever turns that off, the CSS will degrade nicely using the other font family I have set for that particular design. Another good thing about this… It will not interfere with SEO rankings as your text is indexed with the emphasis of the surrounding tags. I hope to work on a couple of other designs shortly as I think it is really fun to make the site look completely different visually while still keeping the same structure and content.