This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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December 2003
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Another Day of the Idaho Random Trip

Yes indeed, another Day is ready. Two within 24 hours! Go me!

2003 Q3 Random Vacation – Day 3

Yes, indeed, while Marilyn and Chad may be able to describe it better since they saw it from the outside, the bike completely somersaulted on me, I flew into the air and in a fraction of a second stuck my left arm out to catch myself and tried to protect the camera with my right hand.  I smashed into the ground and the bike landed on top of me.

It will probably be a bit longer until the next one gets out, although Marilyn has promised to do some of her commentary on the Days she has this next coming weekend. Here is the updated status:

Days @, 0, 1, 2, 3: Posted
Days 4, 5, 6: Waiting for Marilyn Commentary (then Chad).
Days 7, 8, 9: Waiting for Sam to start them

In any case, enjoy everybody!

At Long Last: Random Trip Day 2

A lot of you have been bugging me about the slow progress on the report on the 2003 Q3 Random Vacation to Idaho. A bunch is still in the works, and more may be posted shortly. But at long last, another day is ready. Here is Day 2.

2003 Q3 Random Vacation – Day 2

We scrambled down that ridge, then up another ridge, then started to head down the next ridge…  and realized we would have to go down, then up again…  and we were still three quarters of a mile from the spot.

For those curious about progress, here is a current status report:

Days @, 0, 1, 2: Posted
Day 3: Waiting for Sam to insert Chad’s comments, then post.
Days 4, 5, 6: Waiting for Marilyn’s comments. (Then Chad’s)
Days 7, 8, 9: Waiting for Sam to start them.

We’ll try to pick up the pace. :-)

New Graph: Ecosystem Ranking

I added another graph. My ranking on the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem. Fun Fun.

Abulsme.com Ranking

A chart of my ranking on the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem.  I haven’t been doing all that well.  Nobody links to me.  Of course I haven’t been advertising myself and asking people to and such.  And I usually don’t have much that I’m saying that people would link to anyway.  But still!  I’m dropping like a rock!!!

State Department Warning Chart

Charts are back on abulsme.com!!! Well, OK. For now “chart” is back. I have added a charts section to the top navigation of the site, looking to bring back a feature I had on this site in the olden days, where I had up a variety of charts on a variety of things. For now, there is only one chart in there. I will add more over time. I started collecting data for this one a couple months ago and now have enough data points to actually make an interesting chart.

State Department Travel Warnings Over Time

A chart of how many countries world wide have US State Department Travel Warnings as that number varies over time.  Serves as a proxy to chart roughly how dangerous the world is as the world situation changes over time.  Perhaps not the best measure of that, but an interesting one perhaps.

More charts on other exciting things coming soon!

Web Content Management – Keep it Simple Stupid

Another place where people are starting to get it.

Perls of wisdom in a sea of site mismanagement
(David Walker, SMH)

In short, Berk has been reporting on what sites are actually doing, rather than describing the idealised world portrayed by technology vendors and integrators. His core complaint: site management system vendors are creating generic solutions that actually increase the cost of running a site. Meanwhile, most businesses either have very simple needs that require only cheap, simple systems, or have specific needs that generic solutions handle poorly. That means the vendors’ ideal of a generic site-management system “is completely wrong”, Berk says. “The development overhead is very, very high – and for 90per cent of the problems, that’s too much overhead.”

So what should most organisations do? “Use the tools that are simple and cheapest,” he says.

What sort of tools does Berk have in mind? Perl scripts, for instance. A tiny technical team armed with Perl scripts and an Oracle database ran the first sites he worked on back in the mid-1990s. Berk recalls his fascination as he saw larger and larger teams implementing more and more complex platforms in the late 1990s and early 2000s to achieve essentially the same result.

I wrote about this her on my blog a few months ago. I used to be a big fan of a nice, well thought out, generic content management system. After having worked on several projects of that sort, my view has turned completely. Except in VERY SPECIFIC situations where the group doing the project really needs it, and is already structured for and mentally comfortable with the notion of the full seperation of content and presentation, doing a generalized content management system is just courting disaster.

At my last position, in late 2002 I was brought on to take over a Content Management project that was having lots of trouble. After investigating the situation my first recomendation was to stop the approach completely. And instead build quick, small, targeted cheap and easy systems that would meet the specific content management projects that were on the table, not try to solve larger problems that were mostly imaginary, or consolidate for the sake of consolidation.

I was overrulled.

So we tried to define the big system as best we could. And did a damn good job I think. But then it proved impossible for the tech team to implement in the time allotted, and the tech team tried to develop it using the wrong technologies (mandated to them from above). What resulted was a horrible mess that we were forced to use because by then we had no choice.

A small, quickly crafted custom application done by one or two good developers, could have blown away the system we ended up getting. One that had the data model we wanted, but tried to use the generic interface provided by one of the big enterprise systems instead of the one we had defined.

It isn’t just a matter of maturing technology, it is a matter of being smart and picking the right tools for the job, and not trying to solve bigger problems than you need to.

There may be disadvantages to doing “quick and dirty” solutions in that they eventually pile up and cause spaghetti type problems… but all in all, they often end up being much more cost effective than going all out on massive “enterprise” solutions that try to do everything.

With a fraction of the money my company spent on various failed content management solutions over the last few years, they could have kept employed a small army of HTML people manually updating the sites. Yes, it would have been manual. But the end results would have been just as good, and the company would have saved a lot of money. Some quick and dirty automation tools would have helped even more. But the larger systems… unless a specific need is there… boondoggle.

Good to see more places are learning it is time to be smart about such things.

AfricaFocus

A few weeks ago my dad launched his Africa Focus website. I had been waiting for him to send out an announcement to his mailing list that was specifically an announcement of the website, and was going to quote it here. But he was sneaky, and just started including links to it within the text of mailing list items on other subjects. I added the site to my “Check Daily” list a couple weeks back, but for those who missed it, here it is:

AfricaFocus

This website features high-quality analysis and progressive advocacy on African issues, with particular attention to priority issues affecting the entire continent.

The heart of the website consists of issues of the AfricaFocus Bulletin, produced and distributed one to three times a week to over 3,200 e-mail addresses, including individuals, organizations, and listservs. Current issues are featured on the homepage; a full archive is also available on the site. Approximately 70 percent of the subscribers are in North America and approximately 13 percent each in Africa and Europe.

The site also features convenient regularly updated news feeds from the BBC’s Africa service and AllAfrica.com. You can also customize part of the homepage to include the latest from AllAfrica.com on your preferred country or region. The site is fully searchable, and provides easy access to use Google to search the entire web or specific Africa-focused sites for additional information you need.

(Quote from About AfricaFocus)

Done with the Shopping

I did almost all of my Christmas shopping in a 12 hour period on Thursday. Some online, some in stores with the help of Brandy and Amy, who then helped wrap too. The last thing I had forgotten and then remembered later I dealt with last night. Now the only thing left is to mail a couple boxes. Probably won’t get to that until Monday, so they will probably be late. Oh well.

But everything is bought. Woo!

Return of the King

Just got home from the 12:01 AM premiere showing of Return of the King. This finished up seeing each of the first two extended versions in the theaters the last two weeks. It was great. Even getting there an hour before the movie, we got crappy seats (way up front). But I got used to that after the first 15 minutes or so.

In any case, as expected, it was great. All three were. Can’t wait for the extended edition of this one.

As usual, a few things were left out or different from the book, but no matter, it was very true to the spirt of the book, and it was just an incredible movie.

Thanks Peter Jackson! Great Job!

And now, I only have time for about 3 hours sleep before getting up for a job hunt related meeting, so I’d better get to bed. I’m exausted!

Fitness Contest Website Up

I have now added a section of the site for purpose of keeping track of the new 2004 Q1 Weight and Body Fat contests. Invitiations were sent to selected people at the end of November. The entry period has already ended and the contest begun. Data on the charts and graphs on the site will be updated as I get to the emails with the readings as I go through my email in order.

2004 Q1 Fitness Contest

Reviving something I did back in 2002, I invited a variety of friends to do a weight / body fat contest to try to get in shape.  A few entered.  Periodic Updates will appear here as the contest progresses.  This contest goes from Dec 1 2003 to Mar 31 2004.  Full rules and explainations of scoring are included below the score chart.

In addition, I took this opportunity to remove the Pager, Eating and Music portions of the site, which were suffering from lack of updates. The Pictures section is too, but it stays for now because it has a bunch of stuff in it. :-)

October 2003 Email List Posted!

The October 2003 Top Ten, which was revealed to the winners a few weeks ago, has now been posted publicly.

October 2003 Top Ten!!

Realizing he was behind after taking some time off for his wedding and honeymoon (some excuse) Al decided he needed to catch up, and did things such as sending me the alphabet… one letter per email… several times. Along with several other similar things. He was clearly trying to take the number one spot this month. He came out two alphabets short. Brandy once again took the top spot. And remarkably, she did it all with real emails that actually contained actual sentences and conversation! Congratulations once again Brandy!