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One of my photos goes viral… sort of.

October 24, 2012, 11:12 PM

So apparently one of my photos has gone viral.  Remember this photo?

Code Pink demonstration on July 4

I took this photo on July 4, 2006 in front of the White House.  It first appeared on Schumin Web in a Journal entry posted July 5, 2006 about a trip I made to DC on July 4.  It also ran as the Photo Feature later in the same month.

Then a few years later, in 2009, that photo got morphed into this:

IF OBAMA DOESN'T END THE WARS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN, CLOSE GUANTANAMO, AND STOP BOMBING PAKISTAN, WE SWEAR TO FUCKING GOD WE'LL VOTE FOR HIM WITH SLIGHTLY LESS ENTHUSIASM IN 2012."

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And so this is (roughly) what the redesign will look like…

September 10, 2012, 12:36 AM

So this is what it’s going to look like:

The Schumin Web's new design

This shouldn’t really surprise anyone.  The various reviews of this design were favorable, and so I’m going to move it towards production.  “Moving it towards production” in this case means, now that I’m settled on the design, building it for real with the cleanest code that I can possibly write.  After all, when I’m designing and testing, I’m not necessarily being the neatest that I can be.  I’ll comment code out, make code obsolete, or otherwise leave “debris” around.  The production version, however, will have only what it’s supposed to have, and no more (and no less).

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

Now let’s talk about the Journal…

September 3, 2012, 5:16 PM

You may have noticed that, except for the “Magic” concept, I never showed you pictures of the Journal.  If you go back and look at the Journal entries where I introduced the last three concept designs (first, second, and third), I show the Main Page, I show photo sets, I show intro pages, and whatever other pages, but never the Journal.  That’s because I hadn’t quite nailed down how I wanted to do the Journal.

Going into this, realize that the Journal has never seen a major redesign since it was introduced nine years ago, in July 2003.  Here’s a screenshot of the Journal from then, while the Journal was still in its original place on the front of Life and Times, just before it launched:

The Journal as it appeared in July 2003, just before launch.  The entry shown here is a test entry.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

Trying out a third concept. Your opinions appreciated.

August 26, 2012, 12:36 PM

So I’m now on my third design concept.  This one, as I kind of indicated before, I decided to finally design for a larger resolution, after about eight years of designing for 1024 pixels across.  Now I’m designing for 1280 pixels across, and then I will use CSS to scale this down for smaller widths once I get the main design going.  So here are some sample screenshots:

Archives main page
Archives main page.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

So tonight, I had an “aha” moment…

August 21, 2012, 11:39 PM

So I had an “aha” moment tonight while trying to figure out how to shoehorn an above-the-fold ad into the otherwise nice looking design concept that I showed you a week or so ago.  I was looking at this page and noticed how it had advertisements to the side, and made good use of all of the space regardless of screen size.  I resized my browser window to make it really narrow, and the site rearranged itself to work in the smaller space that it was now in without horizontal scroll bars.  I studied its CSS and then did a little research on what I found.

And then I had my “aha” moment.  I can use CSS to design for different resolutions.  I can design for a wider resolution than I’ve been designing for, and use CSS to optimize it for netbooks.  As of late, the ultimate arbiter on width for Schumin Web has been my netbook, with its 1024 pixel width.  If I got horizontal scroll bars for my design, then I was designing too wide.  Complicating things is that my site uses a content panel that’s around 750 pixels wide and makes good use of all that width, especially in Photography.  Having another 250 pixels to work with is a game changer.  So I sat down and doodled, and this is what I came up with:

My 1280 pixel doodle

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

Another concept, another request for feedback…

August 12, 2012, 11:49 PM

So I took the concept design that I showed you about a week ago back to the drawing board and made some changes.  This is actually both a step forward and a step back in the progression of things.  While this design builds on the earlier design, it actually throws out the theme work I did in the last design.  The earlier design was a completely new theme, while this one I’m about to show you directly modifies the current production theme.  The reason for throwing out the newer theme was because I had so many problems with it.  That made throwing it out worthwhile.  Dirty little secret: some of the details in the other theme were fudged with a graphics program, since I couldn’t get the CSS to work out the way I wanted.

So here are the screenshots:

Main Page
Main Page

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

Okay, folks, feedback time!

August 4, 2012, 9:30 PM

So I spent some time today playing around with a new theme for the site.  Something on the way towards the ultimate goal: a new look for The Schumin Web after nearly eight years with more or less the same design.

In making this new design, I put what I had been throwing around for a while in my head into Dreamweaver to see what it would look like.  And this is what I came up with:


James Madison University” Photography set

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

“Magic” is the latest concept…

July 24, 2012, 10:31 PM

So I’m testing concepts in my sandbox site ahead of a full redesign.  I want to see what I think of potential color schemes and potential new arrangements, and what others think about the same.  So I put something together last night to see what it would look like.  What I did was I went with a dark background color and put a light background behind the content.  I also replaced the logo, mainly just to get my regular logo out of the picture (since I want to change it anyway).  Nothing else changed.  The layout is exactly the same.  Just colors and the logo.

And here is the result:

Main Page
Main Page

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

The post-launch tweaks…

July 5, 2012, 9:15 PM

So the launch of The Schumin Web under WordPress is now five days in the past.  And now that it’s all in production, that’s when things start to come out.  Since the launch on Sunday, I have fixed a few errors in the Stuarts Draft High School photo set, I have changed the way I present RSS feeds on the site, I’ve connected all the various feeds to Facebook, and the comment system is a little different than when it launched.

On that last point, I am also slowly but surely getting used to the concept of comments and how to handle them.  For one thing, since comments are moderated, I get notified on my phone when comments come through so that I can review and approve them wherever I happen to be.  So now I have two notification tones.  I have this tone for regular text messages and such, which I’ve had on three different phones since 2008.  Now I also have this sound for comments through the Disqus app.  And I’ll bet that a lot of people are not surprised at all that I would have that for the comments tone (if you haven’t listened to it yet, I’ll wait).  Considering what it is, though, it certainly has great comedic potential around friends.  First time it went off was for some test comments that I threw at the site to see what would happen.  But then the first time that it went off “for real” while I was out and about was on Monday night.  I was leaving the pool and walking towards the car, and it went off.  Felt like real Power Ranger right there.  It was a comment, but with that kind of sound, it could have been a monster attacking Angel Grove (or at least a few putties).  You never know with these things.  But I’m slowly but surely getting used to it.

A few folks have questioned why I’m locking down my comments to the extent that I am.  Realize that right now, registration is required through one of a choice of six different services (Facebook, the Twitter, etc.), and all comments require approval before they’re visible.  As I see it, since the comment system is brand new right now, I’m taking a very cautious approach to things starting out.  Realize that, outside of my old discussion forums, the last time I allowed people to post on Schumin Web was about nine years ago.  I used to have a guest book on my site, and it eventually became more of a hassle than it was worth.  I spent far too much time removing rude and uncivil comments from my guest book that people posted there.  So on April 16, 2003, I locked the guest books down, and then removed them.  I do not regret that decision.  The memory of that incident four months before the Journal launched, along with my inability to program such a thing on the old site, led me to not include comments on the Journal when I started that in August 2003.  Now, though, the Internet has changed, and I think I can allow commenting directly on the site once again.  Why let a group of morons derail good “Web 2.0” discussion, right?  The discussion guidelines lay out the ground rules, and anything that falls below the guidelines won’t be allowed through.  Additionally, I am not allowing anonymous comments in an attempt to bring some civility and prevent the abuses that happened with the old guestbooks, since the names and emails on the abusive posts were fake, and just as mean-spirited as the comments themselves.  So the idea there is that people have to associate their comments with an already established identity on a third party’s site.  Thus you have to throw a reputation of some sort behind your posts.  I’m not worried so much about whether it’s a person’s real name or not, because regardless of whether you’re posting as “John Smith” or “Unsuck DC Metro”, you’re not using my site to establish a brand for yourself.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

Welcome to The Schumin Web, now powered by WordPress!

July 1, 2012, 12:01 AM

So how does it look?  This is The Schumin Web under WordPress in production – the culmination of about a year’s worth of effort in converting content from the old platform (a mishmash of whatever seemed to work) to the WordPress platform.  The work of the project known as “Falcon” is complete, and Falcon is now The Schumin Web.

I would also like to take a moment to thank the folks who beta tested Falcon over these last two weeks to make sure that everything was perfect and ready to go.  It’s always good to have a few extra sets of eyes looking at things to make sure that any mistakes are caught, and I appreciate your helping me check things over.

As far as changes go, there is a lot that’s different in this new build of the site – far more than I can say in a one-sentence site update message.  Here’s a rundown of some of the changes that have come with the conversion to the WordPress platform:

  • No more Splash Page.  After more than a decade, the Splash Page is no more.  The first page that a user entering through the main URL now sees is the Main Page.  The Splash Photo feature is now on the Welcome page.

  • Completely new URL structure.  If you are linking to or bookmarking anything on this site other than www.schuminweb.com itself, then your links or bookmarks will no longer work.  It will probably take a few days for the search engines to catch up, so contact me if you were linking to something and can’t find it on the new site.

  • Fully restored content.  All photos have been restored from the originals.  I believe that the photos now look better than they ever did.  Additionally, all internal and external links have been updated for the new locations of things.

  • Full size images online.  I now offer my images online at the largest size that I have available.  See for yourself.  Click and download (but follow the license).

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

“…you’re in Angel Grove…”

June 27, 2012, 2:47 PM

So now that Falcon is done and pretty much just waiting a few more days to launch on July 1, I’m starting to turn my mind towards other endeavors again.  First of all, I significantly curtailed the amount of Wikipedia contributions that I would make while doing Falcon.  I want to keep the level of my contributions at that lower amount, because Wikipedia has started to annoy me as of late, and I’m happier making far less edits.  Plus I spent too much time on Wikipedia before, and that caused work on Schumin Web to suffer, and so it’s time to spend more time taking care of my first creation.  The time between shooting and publication on photo sets had become far too much, with many months between becoming the norm.  And that was unacceptable.

But looking at what I want to do, aside from the aforementioned Transit Center update, I’m thinking about doing some creative writing.  I’ve been watching a bunch of Power Rangers episodes lately, and I want to try something in that vein (you wondered why I mentioned Angel Grove in the title, didn’t you?).  No, I’m not dressing up in spandex and fighting monsters.  Though that would be kind of fun – three guesses as to what Power Ranger costume I would be wearing, and the first two don’t count.  But no.  I want to do something along the lines of the adapting of stock content into a completely new story and making it believeable.  Realize that the way Power Rangers works is that first the Super Sentai television show is made in Japan for Japanese audiences.  Then Saban acquires the rights to the season, and cuts the episodes up to make a completely new show, adding their own original scenes, and recording new audio to go over the Japanese footage of the suit battles, zord battles, and (sometimes) villain scenes.  A careful viewer of Power Rangers can usually notice when it changes between original footage and the source material from Super Sentai, because the quality of the footage is a little different with regard to lighting and colors, the Power Rangers’ costumes are shiny in the Sentai footage but not in the American footage, and occasionally elements of some costumes are changed (like Elgar’s face in original Turbo footage, vs. in Carranger footage).

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The last update on the old platform…

June 24, 2012, 8:07 PM

Boy, this is a weird feeling.  But it’s true – this Journal entry is the last update I’m doing on the old system.  The final conversion to WordPress happens in less than a week (12:01 AM on July 1, 2012, to be exact), and so at this point I feel like it’s more trouble than it’s worth to continue to cross-post updates on Falcon and the production site.  I’ve been writing new Journal entries in Falcon and then converting them down to the old system for a few weeks now (vs. converting for Falcon), and so it will be nice to not have to do that anymore, since the conversion was entirely manual, and prone to mistakes.  And once beta testing began a week ago, that took the wraps off of Falcon, it got particularly annoying to do the extra work for a site where its days were numbered in the teens, and where the successor website was already publicly available (albeit in beta test form).

That said, if I do any Journal entries between now and July 1, I’m not cross-posting them to the old site.  I’m going to post them on Falcon only, and then they will come over when Falcon becomes the production site.

Meanwhile, beta testing is going quite well, thank you very much.  People have been combing through Falcon, and interestingly enough, not a single technical problem has been uncovered.  I figured I’d have a small list of errors that needed to be corrected after a week of testing.  Apparently I did my work fairly well.  The only mistakes that have turned up are minor factual errors in the Fire Alarm Collection pages, and a date error on the new James Madison University photo set that’s being released with the conversion.  Nothing technical at all – entirely “human” problems, i.e. I could be the biggest WordPress whiz in the world and still have made those mistakes because they had nothing to do with WordPress.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

Didn’t think I would have a “Fox issues the power” moment, but…

June 8, 2012, 10:41 PM

…but it looks like Falcon is going to have one.  First of all, though, if you’re wondering what I’m even talking about, it’s a Power Rangers reference.  Before Power Rangers Zeo began, they ran “It’s Coming” previews, and then ran the full song before the first episode of the show.  One line was difficult to understand.  The correct lyrics were, “Unleashing the power”, but Sis and I thought it was “Fox [something] the power” (Power Rangers was airing on Fox at that time).  Back in 1996, we wrote to Mark Oxman (aka “Maxmouze”), who ran a Power Rangers newsletter at the time, about the lyrics.  He indicated that the words were “Fox issues the power”.  Even though Mark Oxman got it wrong, the mondegreen has become how I describe hyped up premieres.

And Falcon’s becoming Schumin Web isn’t that big of a deal visually.  The site will look mostly the same.  But the Fire Alarm Collection pages are getting a big upgrade.  That’s because the restoration of that area is coinciding with some long overdue updates, including added alarms, and all new illustrations.  Realize that many of the photos in the alarm collection pages are more than ten years old.  That’s back in the era of my original Mavica camera.  And I wasn’t nearly as meticulous about how I kept photos early on, and the originals for the old photos had been lost.  So there would be no restoration at all if I kept the old photos in place.  So over the last week or so, I configured part of my kitchen as something of a photography studio, and took new photos of every alarm in the collection.  I’ll leave the final result under wraps for now (mostly because I’m not done with the pages), but I want you to see some of the behind-the-scenes work, as the alarms went in for their closeups…

The tablecloth on my kitchen table does double duty as a backdrop for fire alarms.
The tablecloth on my kitchen table does double duty as a backdrop for fire alarms.

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So apparently even my creativity is subject to the laws of supply and demand…

May 22, 2012, 8:19 AM

Apparently so. Last week, I was working on new material for Falcon (by the way, three new photo sets so far to launch with Falcon), and I was running dry on topics for Journal entries. And the one time I did try to write a Journal entry in the past week, I ended up figuratively “ripping it up” midway through it because it wasn’t going the way I wanted.

For those wondering, by the way, the abandoned Journal entry was about those stupid blog disclaimers that you see all over the Internet these days. Specifically, it discussed those “my opinions are my own” lines, because I find it akin to apologizing for one’s opinion. A more realistic sounding blog disclaimer on that thread would read, “I’m sorry if I might offend you because I am capable of forming my own opinion, as said opinion may not necessarily coincide with your own beliefs, and I don’t think you can handle that.” Unfortunately, though, that was about the extent of it. I couldn’t flesh it out any further. Well, crap. And thus into the recycling bin it went.

I was out grocery shopping last night when I figured out why that entry went so badly. Basically, my creativity is limited. I only have so much of it to go around and I have many things to feed with that creativity. I was able to make it work when I was doing the main conversion because that didn’t take any creativity. Just a matter of cleaning up work from previously spent creativity. Thus I could restore content for Falcon and then turn around and do an absolutely fabulous Journal entry. Not so when I do new material. I can’t stop a photo set, and then turn around and do a Journal entry. The Journal entry ends up falling flat.

This, meanwhile, leads to a new way of planning my moves on here. If I don’t space things out and try to force it, mediocre work results. Thus budgeting my creativity, just like money. I only wish I had as much money as I had creativity. Then I wouldn’t need to have a car payment every month.

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Categories: Myself, Schumin Web meta

Man bangle number two…

May 10, 2012, 9:50 PM

So I tried another “man bangle” recently. This time, I got this one from Amazon.com:

Men's Massive Solid Stainless Steel Handcuff Bracelet Bangle Jewelry

And this time I remembered to get photos of me wearing it:

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Categories: Jewelry, Schumin Web meta