September 2008 Archives

HTML compression via Apache mod_deflateBeen reading about web site optimization (WSO), which stresses the importance of small, fast-loading web pages, that are lite on graphics.

First thing I did after analyzing some of my web pages in this cool analyzer .. was to remove the Lightbox script (even tho it was way cool), cuz it was costing me nearly 200-KB. (Ouch!)

Never realized Lightbox was so big. Actually Lightbox itself is only 18-KB, but it uses/needs Prototype.js (which is 124-KB) and Effects.js (which is 40-KB).

Didn't take long, once I delved into the world of WSO, before I began hearing about the virtues of » HTML compression.

Like WinZip for web servers, HTML compression squeezes web pages before sending them to you, which saves bandwidth. (Radified uses ~50 gigs monthly.)

Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse NowA quote from General Corman in Apocalypse Now:

There's a conflict in every human heart, between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph. Sometimes, the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called 'the better angels of our nature.'

Every man has a breaking point. You and I have. Walt Kurtz has reached his. And very obviously, he has gone insane.

That quote refers to a man reaching his mental breaking point. I've reached a different breaking point: my heart is broken.

You can't die of a broken heart. (Or so they say.) Psalm 147 says: "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." So it would seem, there is hope.

Regarding the film (which I've seen several times over the years), I've never considered what it was that supposedly made Kurtz go crazy .. until now.

I mean, they paint him (played by Marlon Brando) as a stud, both mentally and physically. But if you watch the film, I think you'll agree the thing that made him snap was .. being subject to a dysfunctional system.

Fyodor DostoevskyYou know you're in a bad place when you feel like reading Dostoyevsky .. as a way of commiserating with someone who can relate.

He was screwed over pretty badly. Critics claim it was these experiences that enabled him to write with such penetrating insight.

"The writer's own troubled life enabled him to portray with deep sympathy characters who are emotionally and spiritually downtrodden, and who epitomize the traditional Christian conflict between body and spirit.

Dostoyevsky sought to plumb the depths of the psyche, in order to reveal the full range of the human experience, from the basest desires to the most elevated spiritual yearnings.

Above all, he illustrated the universal human struggle to understand both God and self. Dostoyevsky was, as Katherine Mansfield wrote, a man who loved, in spite of everything, adored life, even while he knew the dank, dark places."

I've known a few dank, dark places myself. (Haven't we all?)

"Who loved in spite of..." That's not easy to do.

Even those who don't like Dostoevsky concede ungrudingly he is "a titan of world literature."

Critics seem to agree The Brothers Karamazov is one of the greatest novels ever written. Some even claim it is the single greatest novel -- ever. (That statement raised my eyebrows.)

  • Einstein said, "Dostoevsky gives me more than any scientist."
  • Freud called it, "The most magnificent novel ever written."

Finally finished watching All the King's Men last night. Near the end, Jude Law performs the following voiceover (while playing solitaire). He speaks quietly, solemnly:

Jue Law in All the King's Men"After any great trauma, or crisis, after the shock subsides and the nerves stop twitching, you settle down to the new condition of things, because you know that all possibility of any more change has been used up.

You've seen the pattern finally, because you've stepped back far enough to take in the whole picture."

He gets up and walks to the window, where outside it's pouring rain. The voiceover continues as the sound of rain becomes prominent.

"But it's too late now .. to do anything except accommodate yourself to it. And that's it. There's nothing left to do, or say, except that God and nothing have a lot in common. The end."

Broken, Defeated, Dazed & Confused

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Imagine a man you've never met, walks up and proceeds to (methodically) mount a bazooka on a tripod right in front of you, and then carefully aims the crosshairs at your heart before squeezing the trigger ..

Cannon.. and you have an idea of how I feel. Defeated, broken. Hollow. Dazed & confused (literally). Not good. It's not the end of the world. (Only feels like it.)

I watched a little of All the King's Men last night, before bed. One scene stood out (as if it were speaking to me), where Sean Penn is devastated by an injustice, while trying to do the right thing, and a man asks him, "What are you gonna do?"

And he answers (unsteadily, as if he's trying to talk himself into it), "I'm gonna keep the faith." Today I know that unsteady feeling.

There is definitely a temptation to "give up" .. to stop caring (because it hurts too much & all hope seems lost). But I don't think I am capable of that.

Big day tomorrow. Another journey into the vast unknown, where I have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

Distracted myself today by updating the VPS guide (while listening to Dylan), and going for a walk at the Back bay (at sunset). Hope I can sleep tonight. Think positive thoughts, of a boy with his dad.

Sennheiser CX300B Canal HeadphoneReceived my new ear-canal headphones today. First thing I noticed was how comfortable they feel. Wow. I'm stoked!

This was always the biggest problem with other headphones that are inserted into the ear. Some would make my ears so sore after only 15 or 20 minutes that I could't wait to yank 'em out.

Sennheiser uses an extra soft moldable rubber that feels like you're wearing slippers.

Over the years, I've tried a dozen different styles of in-ear headphones, and these sound the clearest (by a considerable margin). Listening to a sample of test-songs, I'm hearing things I've never heard before.

Some reviewers complain of excessive bass. While these do have the strongest bass I've ever heard (in a canal headphone, which normally have weak bass), I don't find their bass excessive at all. Rather, it seems just right. (Listening to Pinback now.)

Dream with a Message

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Woke from a dream early this morning that seemed to speak a message to me. In this dream I had recently set out on a long bike-trip, joining three more-experienced riders, who were planning to rendezvous with other small groups at predetermined places/times along the way.

Solo bike trip

The ultimate destination would find a gathering of many such bikers, from many different places around the country. (This represented my first foray on such an extended trip.)

Our first stop en route was scheduled somewhere near Yosemite. Midway thru the first leg of our trip, we stopped at the home of an elderly couple (parents or friends of one of the other riders), where we ate lunch and rested on big, comfy couches.

It surprised me to hear the trip-leader say (an hour before sunset) it was time to saddle up and get back on the road .. after taking such a long break during daylight hours.

First I needed to make a call. That's when I noticed the battery on my cell was low, so I wanted to charge it for 10 minutes before heading out.

The trip-leader said something like, "If you're not smart enough to charge your phone while we're here, then that's too bad for you." (This guy seemed to be on an ego-trip. Because of his experience, I felt dependent on him, which made me very uncomfortable.)

Upgraded Ye Olde Rad Blog to Moveable Type 4.21 (released 21.Aug). Had problems when I tried a new upgrade-method.

Movable Type Open Source v4.21

I used the same procedure I use to upgrade the forums, so I was surprised it didn't work. But the forums don't use a database (and the blog does), which is why I suspect I had problems. Finally got 'er working again. Whew! That suk'ed.

On another note, I found these $80 Sennheiser earbud headphones for $15 (with rebate) + free shipping .. if you need a new pair. Good deal. Many positive reviews, so lotsa people are buying these, and happy with their purchase. (September is my favorite month. Warm days, cool nights.)

For more along these lines. here's a Google search preconfigured for the query » upgrade movable type open source mtos blog

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