Minor site redesign

I have recently changed the template of the site to give it a second sidebar since the single one was getting too unwieldy. Also included in the update was a variable width so that it can be better viewed from phones and mobile devices. I had to modify the hell out of the existing CSS to make this look how I wanted and as such it is entirely possible that I made some coding mistakes. Please feel free to drop me an email if you find any display errors or broken code.


WordPress has arrived! I have been playing with the layout for the past couple of days and have managed to come up with a passable replica of the old shadowtwin site. Mind you, I am only trying to match that theme for my own sake; switching to wordpress is a HUGE change and I need to have some sense of familiarity. No doubt even that will change once I become more comfortable with the new system.

Since I got it up and running, I have been deleting the wordpress index file every time I am done editing it so that the page would continue to load as it normally did. I am going to quit doing that now. I have had a few moments of clarity where I realized a setting that I need to change, or that sort of thing, and having to then upload the index file before I could effect the change is rather annoying. So until I get the rest of the site set up and the files converted to the new format, you can find the old main page Through this link. It is just the blogger main page that has been running the site for the last few years.

If you happen by, drop me a note if you have any comments or suggestions for the new layout.

Again, Click here to visit the site you are used to.


I have been having problems with Leech FTP for a while now, but continued using it anyway. There were random error messages, random disconnects, and at times it would just get stuck on an upload, download, or directory switch. The reason I continued to use it was that it was so simple and basic; I don’t need a lot of beneficial features crap cluttering it up. I want to upload and download files, I will handle all editing on machine. Yesterday I couldn’t get Leech to connect at all, so I had to find something else. What I ended up with is Core FTP.

Core FTP has roughly the same minimal features, but with the bonus of not locking up at random intervals. An additional bonus is that it automatically refreshes the remote directory on upload, that’s something that I always wished Leech did. It occurs to me that rather than post that here I really should just make a short list of links to put on my sidebar with all the programs that I use for website related stuff. Then I could just visit my page to download them if the need arises. But damn I am lazy…

Fun with text walls

I have been spending some time going through my content pages (here so called for lack of another term. While I question just how much “content” there is on them I don’t know of a more applicable term) in an effort to make them more uniform and clean up the coding a bit. Most of the pages that I set up before blogger were all set up before I knew a great deal about html, and while I knew how to set up tables and use most of the tags I needed, I didn’t know about the simple “—include virtual—” html command (which, of course, needs the greater-than/less-than symbols to make it work). So that rather than having a file that held my link bar, which I could then just insert into pages using the virtual command, I had been coding the links directly into the html. So if I added a link, as I recently did in the case of the Music Lost to History Archive, I would have to go through every html page one at a time and add that line. Needless to say, many of the pages just never got updated.

I was downloading some of the html files through my ftp client yesterday so that I could change the table layout on them and get the banner into the right half (matching the layout you see here), but when I opened the source on many of them for editing, I saw roughly what you see here:

That is a pretty incredible wall of text! I have only two ways to view that: I can bring it up just like you see there, or I can turn word wrap off and see the same thing with a combined total of about 4 lines -each stretching on for near eternity. I know I didn’t write the pages that way. In fact I can clearly remember the cut-and-paste fashion that went into creating all the pages, and I don’t really know why they are displaying like that for me now. I have intentionally always done all my HTML programming in notepad, theorizing that I then wouldn’t have to worry about the stuff not displaying correctly for me if I set them up in Word or Frontpage and later upgraded to a newer version.

The good news is that it hasn’t been as bad as it may look. There are really only about four distinct sections of each page, so with 4 clicks of my return key I am able to break them up into workable sections for what I need to do. I suppose if I cared a little bit more I would go back and change the META tags to something a little bit more useful and search-able, but I can’t imagine that anyone is ever really going to enter a keyword or string of text into the google window that would result in one of my poetry pages, or one of my 2004 archive pages coming up anyway.

But it seems with each bit of html/layout I get cleaned up, there is more to do. The big question I am facing now is if I should go back and change the formatting on every page of the pre-blogger archives, or leave them as is for historical purposes (read:lazy). I have already changed the first navigation page of that directory, and I will probably get as far as fixing the monthly listing pages, but not the day to day pages. I actually find some amusement in clicking back through the old archives from time to time to look at how the site has evolved from trying to emulate the really bad 90’s homepage look to the more tame setup it has changed into.

If you are at all curious as to why I have decided to clean the site up a bit, it is because I went ahead and registered my name DonnieBurgess.com and pointed it here. A google search for my name now brings up pages of hits, of which only a few are me. Better to grab the name myself in case I should ever be rich and famous. Of course it is no secret who runs this site, as I have always had my name displayed on the bottom of each post and content page, but for those who may happen across this site looking for a different Donnie Burgess, I’m hoping to at least give the impression that it is not written by a monkey flinging feces at the keyboard and posting whatever text strings appear (My level of success at that being debatable). Also giving the entire site a uniform look will make it clear when you are navigating away from it, not to mention it gives me the excuse to edit the content of some of the pages that have really just been there as placeholders for these last 5 years.

A couple of chanes

I have made a couple of changes to the site in the last few days. Some of them are cosmetic, as you can no doubt see, the others are horoscopes and advertising.

The latter first. Advertising on websites has really evolved over the years, and looking into the buttons and banners they have available to place into a webpage now I wasn’t nearly as disgusted. I decided to add a small button there on the top left, as well as a vertical banner (set to display image ads only, I hate those long text link ad bars) for a month or so to see if it is worth my while. Currently I have had them on the page for about 36 hours, and have netted a whopping $.01! They pay based on both impressions and click-throughs, though they don’t really specify how much for either, so I will just leave them up for a bit. They are just taking up dead space anyway.

And among the various updates I made to the sidebar was the addition of Wildly inaccurate, yet shockingly precise, predictions based completely on happenstance and arbitrary universal fluctuations. horoscopes. I used to frequent a few sites that did humorous horoscopes, and I figured I would try my hand at it. The current plan is to update them once a month or so, but that will vary with how overfilled (or underfilled) my notepad of ideas becomes.

Most horoscopes are necessarily vague, and I decided to throw that out and write some very specific ones. Millions of people were born every day of the month, hundreds of millions share the same zodiac sign, so odds are these will be accurate for at least one person. Or not, they are pretty out there. But the goal was to add something new to the site, something that I could get by with updating infrequently, and, at least for now, they fit the bill.

If you are a regular visitor to the site, drop me an email and let me know what you think.

Audio editing

Since I have been playing WoW so much less of late, I find that I have had some time to work on a couple of website related projects that I have been putting off for, oh, let’s call it 4 years. If you stopped by my page in 2005, then again yesterday, you would have noticed that my navbar (everything to the left of the body here) has remained unchanged for that entire time (and you would also have a freakishly good memory). Since converting to the blogger script way back when, I have to update my blogger template to change any of that. Of course when I do that anything that is already over there is just gone unless I take the time to archive it. What I have been working on all day is just that: archiving the Music Lost to History.

I had to trudge through all my pre-blogger posts to find as many of the songs I had featured there as possible, and was a bit irritated that the links to samples of the songs were now all broken. So I decided to figure out how to do the samples myself. First I had to figure out how to embed them. Of course I know the standard HTML functions for embedding .wav files, however since a 1 minute wave file weighs in at about 11megs, I wanted to try to get a slightly smaller format. That was when I found out that a standard MP3 can’t be embedded unless the user (you) has a third party plugin to play it. I also found out that the third party plugin that had been in use for Firefox browsers has been blacklisted for allowing remote code execution. So I had to find another way.

A bit of hunting around on google found me a number of audio embeds, but the thing they all had in common was that the source was stored on their server. These are available from Google, Yahoo, MSN, pretty much any name that you can quickly link to anything internet related. Since the actual source is stored on their server, it is subject to being moved/renamed/changed without warning, thus leaving all my links just as dead as they currently were, so that was straight out the window. Most of these players are running in Shockwave Flash though, so I started searching for shockwave audio embeds rather than MP3 embeds and soon found myself at this site, which was offering just what I wanted: A source that I upload to my own directory for embedding the files. Bonus is that it is so lightweight and hides away (mostly) when not in use, and is easily resizable. Here is a sample:

So now that I was able to embed it, I had to find a way to edit the MP3’s so that -hopefully- I won’t get any angry emails from the record companies. I am going on the logic that if I am only offering a small sample of the song I am more likely increasing their revenue (by forcing readers to seek out the MP3 and pay for a download) than advocating piracy. I don’t know anyone that has an MP3 library filled with about a minute’s worth of each song at the very least.

In the past I have used Goldwave for my audio editing needs. At least I have tried to. Since I lack any post-graduate work in audio engineering, I am barely able to figure out how to make it do a damn thing. I’m sure it is extremely versatile (hell it has to be with that intimidating wall of sliders and buttons), but I’ve no inclination to become a sound engineer just to sample a song. Thankfully I happened across Audacity.

Audacity is great for what I am doing. The intimidating wall of sliders and buttons are neatly stored in drop-down menus so I don’t have to look at them. There was a minor situation involving being able to extract my edited songs as MP3’s, which required downloading a “Lame.DLL” encoder, but that went fairly smoothly. Now I am able to open up the song, slide the bars to the section I want to sample, extract it as MP3 and upload it. It only takes a minute to get all this done (a huge plus since I am so lazy), so I have no excuse not to do it.

If I would have known how easy it would be to find the tools I needed to complete this project I would have done it years ago. There are so many programs and applications available for just about any task you can imagine now, it boggles the mind. When I first set up this site I had a problem finding applications like this, and if I even could find them they were ridiculously complicated to use. I’m glad to see that so much of this stuff is so readily available now. Perhaps it will motivate me to take care of a few other things I’ve been meaning to do here…I still haven’t changed the rest of my navbar since 2005, for instance.

Where does the time go?

It has been a while since I slapped anything up over here, so I am just here to let you know that I am still alive.

Lately my time has been consumed by playing far too much Guild Wars. Then, when my wife got into an argument with our Guild Leader, I had a new project to work on. It is called Jade’s Misfits, a website for her guild ( a guild which was started long before aforementioned argument, but I didn’t feel compelled to build a website until she severed ties with her old guild). Being far too cheap to actually pay for hosting on another site, I just put a folder on this site to host it then bought then registered and redirected the domain. I’m cheap like that.

The website is far from complete, but it is now at least functional enough to look at. I got the forums up and running and designed some flashy buttons, banners, etc. About the forum: if you have never had to deal with the chmods on files and folders, stay away from hosting your own, it was really tough to get that all working properly.

Anyway, I am off to play some guild wars.

Following suit

Seeing the ease with which Flux over at BlackChampagne was able to integrate a blogger script into his existing page, I thought I would give it a try as well. It turns out that the ease of which I speak is not really easy, more a long and labor intensive game of guess and check (within reason) until things look more or less like you want them to.

I lost a few early attempts due to sheer idiocy, but I think this version is pretty stable and looks almost exactly like the previous page. Time will tell, as always. If you are reading this it is because I asked you to look at the page and tell me if you noticed any problems, if you do notice any problems (not counting the date being centered in the table instead of on the page type problems) please do comment about it.

Hopefully I will be confident enough with this setup to get it activated on the front page tomorrow. Notice the sheer confidence in that statement?

Meta blogging, Homosexuality

The last two missed posts were for the following reasons. Saturday I just never got around to it, I was watching some of the South Park marathon on Comedy Central. Sunday I decided that I needed to take care of some long overdue archiving around here, when I say long overdue, I mean like six months or more.

I managed to finish updating the April, May and June archives, which can be seen Here. I would like to say that I just finally decided to get off of my lazy ass and start catching up on things, but the truth is that some of the pages contained in those months didn’t upload completely, so I had a bunch of pages that had no links on the bottom. This only came to my attention as I was wondering why things that I had written about six months ago could not be found by search engines, even when I specified my own site and searched for a very particular string of words.

I would also like to say that the reason that I did it was so that someone searching for a particular topic through google would be able to happen across my site. That is at least partially true. The real reason is that I got tired of having to read through every post for the last six months when I was trying to link to something that I had said previously. Hopefully, I have at least fixed the problem with the partial pages, as this is the second time I have tried to remedy the problem and it is getting very frustrating.

A rather unexpected upside to being so lazy is that I didn’t have the slightest idea what I wrote all those months back. I remember having written some of the personal anecdotes from my youth, but as for the off the cuff, day to day bitching I just had no idea. It was as if I was reading something that someone else wrote for the most part, which was quite odd since I was able to find tons of grammatical errors that I never saw when I originally wrote it. Of course I have the grammar prowess of your average third-grader so I guess that is to be expected.

Most of the posts I just skimmed over to get a basic idea for a brief description, while there were a few that I read completely. The most amazing thing was that there were a couple of times that I actually laughed at something that I had written, the amazing part is that it was obviously meant as a joke.

• It turns out that my mother gave the URL of this site to the partner of my eldest brother (the homosexual one). I am not the type of person to hold back thoughts or words, even when I know that if I ever decide to go into politics they will sting me in the ass. The thing that I find very strange/amusing/comforting, is that the guy went ahead and read that particular post, which was on October 14. In that post I make a very feeble defense for homosexuality, why my brother’s partner found it to be good escapes me. Yet, then I realize that damn near half of the world, and probably 80% of the U.S. is against them, I can kind of understand why any endorsement of homosexuality is a good thing.

I think that what pisses me off the most about America is that we are so fucking stupid (as a whole). Men having sex with other men has been the norm since at least the time of the Greeks. All through history there has been homosexuality. Do you honestly believe that the men who came across the Atlantic Ocean to discover America kept it in their pants for four months? Do you really believe that men in prison simply abstain? If your plain crashed on the top of the mountain, no food, no water, would you start to look at the dead people as nourishment? While the last example is something that you certainly would do in the interest of self-preservation, the other two are stone cold facts.

• If it is my fault that everyone in the world except for me really hates homosexuals, all I can say is that I am sorry. If it is the fault of everyone in the U.S. for being intolerant…That sounds about right.