This website was originally my way to
experiment with new web technologies
and to keep in touch
with how people used the web.
I experimented with many new web technologies:
publishing the same content via multiple sites,
separate style information
(i.e. Cascading Style Sheets or CSS),
search engine tweaking (i.e.
image search entry,
web server tweaking (i.e.
thorough accommodation of small/handheld/mobile devices,
and social networking as a search adjunct.
Although I've now largely abandoned most of these technologies,
bits of them remain, giving this site an
The original idea of the web was similar to Vannevar Bush's hypertext: richly interlinked material would be added bit by bit at many separate sites. It didn't turn out that way. Typically, rather than revising older material, webmasters simply replaced it with newer material organized differently. This in turn made maintaining inter-site links such a nightmare that most websites began omitting them, keeping only links within their own site and links to whole sites. Links to specific locations within other websites largely disappeared, along with material more than a few years old.
A web technology of recent interest is
images that automatically adapt to
different client device sizes.
(Scaling images may be classified as a part of
or liquid layout.)
One common solution (CSS width: 100%)
has the client repeatedly re-scale images as appropriate.
This works well for photos on devices with plenty of CPU power.
But it doesn't work so well for line graphics (for example charts)
which are garbled by re-scaling,
and it doesn't work so well for client devices with very limited CPU power
that are strained by the demands of re-scaling images.
sends different pre-computed images to the client as appropriate.
This solves the re-scaling problem,
and works well for devices with adequate CPU power and
adequate networking power.
But it doesn't work so well
for devices that need to have image WIDTH= and HEIGHT= pre-specified
because they have so little CPU power they don't handle
layout modifications very well,
and it doesn't work so well
for clients that have such limited networking bandwidth
that a few additional networking round trips
substantially delays displaying a webpage to the user.
Here's an example of
yet another way of handling image sizing
in the green bar)
that works well even on very limited client devices,
by guessing the appropriate image size based on previous requests,
changing the image size
only when the user takes an explicit action,
and remembering the user's choice for future requests.
Of course this too has its downsides:
images are available only in a few pre-calculated sizes;
non-trivial server-side setup
—including substantial modifications to existing pages—
.htaccess to mitigate any possible oversights
can be rather complicated.
The web has long since moved on without me, leaving this website with little raison d'être. Nowadays websites are usually either commercial ventures, or have large significant additional software layered over top of the basic web technology, or both. (The nearly universal additional layers of software [layout tools, content management tools, databases, etc.] generally make it no longer possible for anyone other than the website's original creator to modify a website.) Personal communication has largely moved from individual websites to blogs and social networking sites. Nevertheless I continue to publish this website and to make very occasional changes to it - mainly for nostalgic reasons, and also because it's nice to have my own sandbox I can play in at any time I wish.
My approach to the web is uncommon but not unique. Here's another website with a very similar philosophy.
My first and major career was as a professional in computer high tech centering on data communications and emphasizing troubleshooting. About the time I turned fifty, I left high tech (or it left me:-) and attempted to embark on a second career in bookkeeping/accounting. When an opportunity to live frugally and pay all the bills without holding a permanent job arose in 2004, as employment had been such a big problem for me for so long, I grabbed it. I'm now semi-retired from the labor force, occasionally volunteering to do a little bit of computer software or data analysis or bookkeeping.
Of course having been a computer type,
I can't avoid being attracted to the world wide web.
Hence the pages on this site
-which is now twenty years old-
were created manually,
without even any sort of HTML editor
(no FrontPage nor DreamWeaver nor even HotDog nor HoTMetaL/XMetaL)
and with only simplistic image editors (no PhotoShop).
(As consistent maintenance grew to be a significant chore,
I did though implement my own system of shared common include files,
using only simplistic automation tools
BATch files, the *nix tool
and especially the *nix tool
which is an automation-friendly version
of the old *nix text editor
That past life as a techie stuck with me for a long time. I got involved in things like helping to administer computers at the local school and continuing to fiddle with computers at home (including creating and distributing a freeware program to create images of email addresses, networking XP Home, codifying steps to good troubleshooting, and diagnosing and fixing delays in web indexing). And of course having been a computer type, my humor tends toward computing jokes. Later, the web made it easy to resurrect my interest in fixing things.
My life so far falls into relatively separate phases:
Movies and animation interest me a great deal. I grew up in the time when movies were the preeminent cultural expression, and that absorbed interest in seeing movies is still there. But finding the opportunity to see foreign, uncommon, old, and arty movies has been a bit of a problem. Boston and environs present quite a few opportunities to see something other than blockbusters, but traveling into town is too far and too difficult for me. So I've found other ways to see unusual movies and have become familiar with the intricate details of operation of my Blu-ray player.
Besides watching movies, my favorite pastime is sitting with a cup of tea and a good book in my rocking chair.
I'm intrigued by the intersection of the public sphere and the private sphere.
I'm attracted to the idea that America became successful because of a good social contract with all its citizens. That social contract has been greatly strained recently. To me it's important to address our widening inequality. I want leaders that recognize "we're all in this together," so for example I once supported the candidacy of Robert Reich for governor of Massachusetts, and I once supported the candidacy of Dennis Kucinich for the Democratic contender for president. (I no longer vote for Republicrats at all no matter what — the USA badly needs to escape the two party system trap.) Here are the three simple planks of the USA's social contract:
I try to think and act very locally where I have some sense of control over what happens. Even so, I have opinions on a wide range of social, political, and policy issues, including particular ideas for improving our government to make it even better.
I wonder if our government fell for a conspiracy theory. Laurie Mylroie in her books hypothesizes a single mastermind behind both the earlier and the final attacks on the World Trade Center, the Anthrax attacks, and more. And according to her hypotheses that mastermind was Saddam Hussein. Although it's easy to dismiss her ideas as the ravings of a crackpot, many in our government apparently fully subscribed to and even acted on them. The context of this unsubstantiated fringe theory makes things like Vice President Cheney's long disappearance to an "undisclosed location", the quick and easy conflation of 9/11 with Iraq, and the very strong reaction to the Anthrax attacks easier to understand.
I'm amused by the same sorts of jokes that amuse a lot of computer types.
Back when they lived in Ipswich, they attended Ipswich public schools, and my concerns included both school funding (informed by for example contributions by the Feoffees to Ipswich Public Schools) and the emphasis on high stakes testing (evidenced at the state level by the MCAS graduation requirement and at the federal level by the No Child Left Behind program).
Their mom Kaye is a professor of psychology at Gordon College in Wenham MA.Kollars family tree and Great-grandma Dover's Autobiography.
Both I and my ex-wife are based in the very small town of Ipswich Massachusetts (and my adult children have so many connections here they seem honorary residents). Ipswich is the town where Crane Beach is, north of Boston. As a "townie" I get almost-free access to the beach. I can cut around the lines at the entrance booth and go to our own parking area. A recent issue in the Town of Ipswich is how to prevent further damaging flooding in the downtown area.
Ipswich is far enough from Boston to to have its own identity rather than just being a suburb or a bedroom community. One wag recently commented Ipswich is a bit like Mayberry RFD. The Town of Ipswich has an official website that contains a lot of information related to town government. I live on the main street of downtown, over Ye Olde Barber Shop, across from the fire station. My kids live in the same house I used to live in little over a mile away.
If you want to visit with me, you may wish to explore electronic contact (email, Facebook, etc.). A visit to me in person may be expedited by these detailed driving directions to my residence in Ipswich (you may find allowing popups for this site a convenient way to easily see maps as well as text).