LoTR, and Neil Gaiman, and life in 2001

I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s Adventures in the Dream Trade, which is a collection of miscellaneous stuff, including introductions he’s written for other people’s books, some poetry and song lyrics, and a bunch of his blog entries from 2001, right after he had finished writing American Gods and was beginning the process of promoting it. I’m in that section now, and have made it through to mid-2001, when he had wrapped up his US book tour and just started his UK tour. I’m wondering how far into 2001 this goes, and whether or not we get as far as September 11, and what his thoughts might be on that.

I’ve also been rewatching the Lord of the Rings movies, including listening to some of the commentaries, and also listening to the Ringheads podcast, which has been discussing the movies at length (about 10 hour-long episodes per movie). The Fellowship of the Ring was released in 2001, with Two Towers coming out in 2002 and Return of the King in 2003. I’d gone into NYC to see a presentation on the first movie in September 2001, just a couple of days before 9/11.

So reading Gaiman’s blog entries, and watching the LOTR movies, has got me living in the past a bit this weekend, for better or worse. Gaiman’s blog was, at the time, done with Blogger, which I was also using at that time. (I started this blog in June 2001.) So reading about his struggles with Blogger brings back some memories. And he writes about buying a Japanese laptop from Dynamism, which is a company that used to import nifty laptops from Japan. (I’d never bought anything from them, but I know at least one person who did, and I was a bit jealous of his nifty Japanese laptop.) And there are mentions of early e-readers, and other fun esoteric stuff.

There are links in many of those blog entries, some of which still work and some of which don’t. It’s been interesting to follow some of them, and get sucked back into the web circa 2001. The review of American Gods from sfsite.com is still up, but the site itself seems to be pretty much dead, having gone on hiatus in 2018. SciFi’s Seeing Ear Theatre is long gone, but there’s a good list of the stuff they did here, with some of it still available for download from various places. (I could go on with more of this, but you get the idea.)

This has all got me thinking about big events, and how we see things differently before and after them, and how there are weird unintended resonances in fiction sometimes. (I have more to say about that, but I’m struggling to get it into words properly, so I’m just going to leave it at that for now.) So, some good memories, and some mixed feelings, and some amusement at old forgotten tech.


Blogging vs. blog setups

I saw this comic on Twitter this morning, and immediately started thinking about where I fit on it. The comic is from rakhim.org, and I hope he doesn’t mind me pasting it in here. (His blog is worth a look, by the way.)

This site started out under Blogger in 2001, so it kind of fits the “old-ass Blogger.com site” description, but I moved it to WordPress in 2014, so it kind of almost fits the “WordPress setup from 2004” description too, though a decade later. (And before Blogger, I was doing some proto-blogging on my old GeoCities site, which would definitely have fit the “weird dude who writes raw HTML” category. I’d like to have some claim to the “cool MIT professor” data point, but I’m nowhere near that one.)

On the “number of posts about elaborate blog setups” axis, I like to think I don’t spend too much time blogging about blogging, though of course that’s what I’m doing right now. Looking at my stats, I have 62 posts tagged “Blogger”, 52 posts tagged “WordPress”, and 2,442 posts total here. So, yeah, not too much meta-blogging.

Of course, for me, initially, part of the point of blogging was to learn about HTML, web hosting, the UNIX command line, and stuff like that. And when I switched to WordPress, part of the point there was just to learn more about WordPress, for professional reasons. But my work now doesn’t really involve any of that stuff, so now the blog is just a blog and I don’t fiddle with the setup that much. I’ve even thought of moving it to WordPress.com, so I don’t have to worry about the setup at all.

Content-wise, I wish my blog was more interesting/useful and less navel-gazing, but I’m kind of okay with navel-gazing right now, since it’s been a rough year and the blog is one of my only outlets for getting stuff out of my head now. I could go see a therapist, I guess, but my blog hosting is only $14/month, and I’m pretty sure therapy would cost a lot more.

Hello from WordPress!

I’ve just switched my blog from Blogger to WordPress. I’ve been using Blogger since, oh, 2001, so switching to a new blogging platform is not something I’d do on a whim. I originally started thinking about moving to WordPress in 2010. Then, since I was doing so much work with Drupal, I started thinking about switching over to Drupal instead. But I could never get the Drupal Blogger import module to work right. I messed around with that for a while, put it aside, came back to it once or twice, and eventually gave up. I’m no longer doing any professional work in Drupal, and I’ve been stumbling across some WordPress stuff lately, so I decided to give WordPress a shot. I have done some work with WordPress at my last job, so I was already familiar with the basics, from an end-user perspective, and some of the internals, from a developer’s perspective. I’ve never messed with WP themes though, so that’s something I need to learn more about.

Well, I have the basics of this blog set up now, and it should be available at my usual address, blog.andrewhuey.com, so I’m going to post this now, and take a break. Later, I plan on writing up some more notes on WordPress setup, which I’m sure everyone will find very exciting. 🙂


Google+ surprise

So I got a little surprise today when I got a notification on my phone that someone had commented on my Google+ post. Now, I haven’t even *looked* at Google+ in months, so I wasn’t sure what had happened there. It turns out that Google has been helpfully sending all these blog posts to Google+. I’m sure I must have clicked “OK” on a dialog that popped up on the Blogger site at some point to allow that, but I’ll be darned if I can remember doing so.

It doesn’t really bother me that this is happening, but it’s one more little thing that makes me revisit the idea of moving this blog to Drupal or WordPress, hosted on my 1&1 account, and administered entirely by me. I have quite a few posts on this blog, so I would of course want to import them to any new blog, and there’s the rub. Some time ago, I tried to import everything to a new Drupal site, using this importer. To make a long story short, it didn’t work. (That may not have been entirely the fault of the importer; it might have been something with my local MySQL and/or PHP setup.) But now I’m thinking, more and more, that I don’t want to trust Google too much. With the direction they’ve been going in lately, I could see them, at some point, trying to fold Blogger into Google+, and I *really* don’t want that!


I put AdSense on my blog about two years ago. I haven’t really been looking at it very often, but I just took a look, and I’m now up to $2.99 in earnings. It looks like Google doesn’t pay out until you reach $100, if I understand their chart correctly, so I guess I won’t actually see any money from them until about 50 years from now, if my current rate of earning remains constant. In terms of hits, I’m averaging about a dozen per day, most of which are probably bots.

Of course, my intention with this blog is not to make money. I recently started reading John Scalzi’s Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded, a collection of some of his blog posts, so this has gotten me to thinking a bit about the purpose of keeping up a blog. I’ve been blogging for longer than most people (since 2001), and I’ve been doing it with some consistency. My purpose has been, variously: to make note of certain events in my life, for future reference; to post information that may be helpful for anyone who happens to stumble across it; and to, in general, have an online “home” where people can find me and see a bit of what I’ve been up to.

Other sites have popped up to assume some of these roles of course. Facebook is the online “home” for most people, where their friends can find them and keep up with them, and where they can post photos, funny links, and whatnot. StackOverflow, Code Project, and similar sites offer a way for a programmer to give back to the community by posting useful information and sharing code. But I still think it’s a good idea to keep a blog going, especially when you’ve already been doing it for so long.

messing around with the blog a bit

I just spent a little time cleaning up the files on my 1&1 account, moving anything that I think might be referenced by the blog into a ./blogfiles folder, then changing my files.andrewhuey.com address to point there, instead of at the root. I think it worked out OK.
I now have nothing pointing at the root, which frees me up a bit to experiment with setting up different sites in different subdirectories, and not having to worry about them being accessible in unexpected ways. For instance, I’m probably going to be setting up a test Drupal site soon.  I can put it in a ./drupal folder, and set drupal.andrewhuey.com to point there.

Happy New Year

I went to bed at 11pm last night, and got up at 6:30 today, so I can’t say I had a wild & crazy New Year’s Eve. That’s OK though.
Early in the year, I often find a few things that I’ve been putting off for too long, and try to take care of them. This morning’s project has been getting redirects in place on this web site, so that links to my old blog entries, from back when I was using Blogger’s old FTP publishing, to andrewhuey.org, will do 301 redirects to the appropriate pages at blog.andrewhuey.com, where the pages are now dynamically generated by Blogger.
I switched from FTP to “custom domain” back in Feb 2010, so I’ve put off the redirect stuff for long enough that it probably doesn’t matter anymore. But it seems like a good idea anyway.
I don’t know that much about .htaccess files and ModRewrite, but I know just enough to be dangerous. I picked up some hints on what I need to do here and here.
The part of my .htaccess file that handles redirection now looks like this:

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST}   !^files.andrewhuey.com [NC]
RewriteRule (.*) http://blog.andrewhuey.com/$1 [R=301,L]

I use files.andrewhuey.com to reference various files on my web server. Everything else should just get redirected to blog.andrewhuey.com. So, pretty simple.

Blogger shenanigans

Hmm, the bit of code I’ve been using to generate a tag cloud stopped working for a bit, then just started working again. Maybe it’s time to review that code and rewrite it.  I know a lot more about JavaScript (and jQuery) now than I did when I took that code from someone’s blog, tweaked it a bit, and pasted it into my template.

ten years

I’m scheduling this entry to auto-post on June 19, 2011 at 8pm. I started this blog on June 19,2001, so this will be my tenth anniversary of blogging. Here’s a link to the June 2001 archive page.

Looks like I was talking about PC Expo a bit. There’s a blast from the past. Are there any tech trade shows still happening in NYC? I can’t think of any, but then again I’m probably out of the loop on that kind of thing right now.

Let’s see, what else was going on…

  • Sept 11, 2001 was three months in the future.
  • Version 1.0 of the .NET Framework was about eight months away from release. [ref]
  • PowerBuilder version 8 had just been released. [ref]
  • Adventures of Barry Ween: Monkey Tales #3 was released [ref]
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire had been released in 2000, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix would not be released until 2003. [ref]

Okay, that was a pretty random list.  I don’t suppose I have any point to make, other than marking the fact that I’ve been consistently blogging for 10 years.  I’ve never written anything really substantial here, but I’ve tried to write in complete sentences, usually, and I’ve tried to post stuff that other people might find useful or amusing, if they were to somehow stumble across this blog.


On a lark, I signed up for AdSense a while back. I haven’t really bothered looking at my account in a while though. I got a message today that they’re changing some stuff around, so I looked at my account. It appears that I made a penny in May, another penny in June, nothing in July, then sixty-one cents in August. Oh, and nothing since then. I wonder what I did in August? If I can manage to do it again, on a consistent basis, I could maybe make enough money for a coffee and bagel by the end of 2011!