Pushing Myself

Me #1: You haven’t updated this site for quite some time now. Ther’s about a year-long pause between the previous article and the one before it. Are you giving up on writing. What’s the problem?

Me #2: Well, at the meantime I actually started a small blog Stuck in Windows at blogspot.com, to which I wrote a fair amount of esseys, so it’s not that I don’t feel like writing, it’s that there is something that is holding me back on doing it, and I believe it’s the techical side of it. Mainly, the site is just a pain, because when I wrote the system I didn’t put any effort into making the site easy to administer. And now that hurts... oh how it hurts whenever I think about writing a new article, I immediately think about the pain that this process involves and I usually give up.

#1: But this is exactly the reason why all these free blogging platforms and services were created, so that bloggers didn’t have to mess with the technical details of blogging, allowing them to concentrate on the really important stuff – what they have to say.

#2: I have seriously considered that. The whole Stuck in Windows blog was to a certain extent an experiment of how does it feel to use one of these services. But it didn’t feel right. The main problem with Blogger was the WYSIWYG editor – I clearly didn’t want to use a WYSIWYG and Blogger made it a pain to even post pure HTML.

#1: But sure there are other blogging engines that don’t require WYSIWYG.

#2: Another problem is that my site isn’t strictly a blog – it has a bunch of blog-style articles, but it also has some lengthy multy-page papers, and some HTML pages that are meant to be served as stand-alone pages, and then some files for just downloading. Not to mention the multi-linguar aspect of some articles being in English and others in Estonian. And I want to keep it that way.

#1: So, what’s keeping you from upgrading the code behind the site to make the writing process smoother?

#2: It’s the code.

#1: Well, obviously it can not really be the code, because it was written by yourself, so you know it fairly well, and your programming skills have only grown better at the meantime. How hard could it be to modify it a bit?

#2: A bit... that’s the problem. You see, when I look at the code, I see that it’s so horrible crap that there can’t be no “modify it a bit” – the whole thing needs a complete rewrite!

#1: So how about a rewrite?

#2: Have tried that too... several times.

#1: Oh...

#2: It’s too large piece to take at one byte. I tend to wander off into the path of perfect code, but come back depressed, realizing that there really can’t be a perfect solution, and so I put the whole thing on hold again.

#1: Well... if the rewrite doesn’t work for you, then you should adopt the iterative approach.

#2: But the current code is so horrible! I can’t stand it!

#1: No, no... you have managed to stand it for several years.

#2: That’s not what I meant. I can’t modify it...

#1: You can handle that. What you really need, is a schedule. Something to push you. And someone to look over your work.

#2: You mean, you – that means me – going to push me. Me pushing me? Not going to work. Have tried.

#1: Not just me.

#2: Who else then?

#1: Maybe nobody, but maybe the whole world...

#2: How could that be?

#1: Well, let’s just say I published the code of the site in Github, and if you’re not going to fix it, then the whole world will laugh over you and your hopelessly bad PHP code-crap.

#2: Hey! How could you!

#1: Well, I just did, and now to the schedule.

#2: I’m not going to follow any of your schedules!

#1: Yes you are, and because you can’t handle big pieces...

#2: Hey!

#1: You sayd it... so I’ll cut it for you into chewable chunks.

#2: ...

#1: But first of all we should set our goals. What would it be like to use this site in your ideal world?

#2: Well... it should be tightly integrated with Emacs, so that I could write a whole article and publish it on this site all without leaving Emacs. It should also be easy to develop it further and publish the updates simply by running some deploy script. And of course the site itself would be with a better structure (the current navigation is a bit awkvard, to say the least), and of course localized, so that when the article is in English, the visitor wouldn’t have to fill in Estonian comment-form.

#1: Alright. I think we’ll start with the deploy script, as that will directly benefit the whole forthcoming development. So your task will be to create a single script that will bring the website in sync with the changes in your local copy (that is: it will remove, add and update files as needed).

#2: And how much time do I have for that?

#1: A week should be enough. And after you’ve succeeded you’ll write a blog entry of how it went and then you’ll get your next assignment.

#2: And when I fail?

#1: Then you write a blog entry of why you failed and what you will do on the next week to really make it happen.

#2: And if I still fail?

#1: Then you’re not trying hard enough, and we shall laugh over your oh-so-below-mediocre skills... you pussy.

#2: Oh...

#1: And now, go!

Kirjutatud 30. augustil 2009.


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