Jul 102017

At the same time as I was finishing up work on the new version of my site using Tinderbox, a few threads popped up on the Tinderbox forum talking about the perceived difficulty of Tinderbox export. This got me thinking yet again about the source of all the trouble. At various times and in various moods, I have both agreed export could be a pain and been astonished at how easy it made creating complex documents. Thinking about it again led me to jot down metaphorical thoughts about car dealers and Mad Libs. I also tried to describe what I see as the fundamental difference between TBX’s export and other common tools.

Once I had those ramblings out of my system, I decided to use what I’d learned making my web site file to offer up a short series of posts that tries to show how I’ve come to think about basic export. Obviously there are other examples, instructions and information about Tinderbox available elsewhere. (The TBX help files, Mark Bernstein’s The Tinderbox Way, Mark Anderson’s TbRef,  Welcome to Sherwood, and the videos of Dominique Renaud are only a few). I try not to repeat that work here.

a map of the series

Instead, what I’ll try to do is show how working backwards from the desired output rather than forward from a note is a useful (and manageable) way to think about export. In my opinion, working this way resolves a lot of the difficulty I initially experienced.

Each of the examples in these series will begin by creating a concrete instance of the desired output. Once this instance is written, I show how to transform it into an export template that will generate the same output from any note. I’ll be using the same sample file throughout (download .zip).

You should start with exporting a form letter. All the other examples take the information it provides for granted.

You can find the rest of the examples here:

In the next few days, I’ll close out the series with a few thoughts about what’s involved in exporting to the web.

 July 10, 2017  Hypertext Tagged with:
Jul 092017

The last few months I’ve been working on moving this site off WordPress. That meant transferring all the posts to Tinderbox, setting up all the links, and creating the templates that would produce the HTML output I wanted to have. Everything except the templates was donkey work and took days and days. The templates took time as well, but I was learning about export and HTML and that was useful and exciting.

And when I was done, the file worked like magic. All my posts were suddenly arranged in a sensible way based on content rather than chronology. I could build up links (both href and visual) and could write outside the framework of a timeline. I began to imagine ways of writing that involved something I thought of as “portal posts”: single posts that would appear on a blog timeline but which opened into a system of pages—a kind of mini-, discrete hypertext—accessible only by way of that initial post. I wrote the first of these to explain some of what I learned about export. (It looked like this.)

Then I uploaded the site with a welcome message and the first of what I hoped would eventually be many of these portal posts, and almost immediately, I realized I was in trouble.

Continue reading »

 July 9, 2017  Reflections Tagged with: ,
Jul 092017

This movie refuses to pretend to be anything other than precisely what it is: a camera that stares. In practice that means it risks being mistaken for a beautifully photographed but stuffy exhibit of period costumes and decors.

It’s not. It’s a camera staring with limitless curiosity at the face of Jean-Pierre Léaud.

A good example of this is an extremely long-take from early in the film. The movie sets its gaze upon a moment of Léaud’s performance, shooting him in profile in extreme close-up as he holds a smile for the members of his court attempting to entertain him in his bedroom. At first the smile is natural and pleasant. But then subtly the joy drops out of it, and it becomes a mask for fatigue. Nothing—and yet everything—has changed. And then a tiny muscle lying under the loose skin of Léaud’s cheek begins to twitch, intermittently at first but then insistantly. The smile never drops, the eyes continue to shine, but by the time the courtiers leave, the cost of the performance—the king’s and the actor’s—has registered.

More generally though, the film stares at a face made famous when it was young. The face has aged, but the movie and those of us watching it remember that it once looked like this:

The movie stares at this face, studying how it has changed with age, and searches for what of the youth remains.

The beauty of the film is that as it stares at the aged face, it discovers (and shows) that all of that remembered beauty is still there. Changed but there. And still compelling.

 July 9, 2017  Movie Logs Tagged with: ,
Jul 092017

So I made the leap to my fancy new flat HTML blog site…and now I’m back on WordPress. The experience made me think of William Hung singing “She Bangs”. (I hadn’t thought of that in what? fifteen year?)

Tinderbox gave me the tools to punch way above my weight class: I have a site that works like a dream on my computer but making it work from a server…is not something I can do reliably.

I’ve retreated to WordPress, laughing (because the fact I’m back here is funny) but also with tail very much between my legs.

More soon… 🙂

 July 9, 2017  Moments Tagged with:
Jun 252017

For awhile now, I’ve been working to migrate this site off of WordPress. This has happened behind the scenes and has been slow going. The new site isn’t complete—most of the images still need to be placed for example—but all of the text is there and everything is functional.

What that means is that now I’m sorting out when to make the jump from here to there and how I’ll cope with the inevitable change in permalinks that I lack the skills to deal with invisibly (if that’s even possible).

The rough and still evolving plan as it stands now is:

  1. to place the new version of the site in a subdirectory for a while and to publish a link to it here. This will give me a chance to see if things work for real and for people to see the change is coming. Once the link to the new site is published, all new posts will be published there and this site will go dormant.
  2. to set up the new site to serve the root address and to displace this WordPress blog to its subdirectory. I’d publish a link to the old blog’s location on my new site. The date for the move will be announced here before it happens but will probably be in the week following step one.
  3. to write up a series of posts explaining how and why I’m going to use Eastgate’s Tinderbox to manage the new site.

So major changes and exciting times.

Stay tuned…

 June 25, 2017  Moments Tagged with: ,
Jun 212017

Oh, there are a lot of lousy people in the world. Also, a lot of terrific people. You’ve gotta remember that, and you’ve got to move in the right circles. I have days where I just want everyone to go fuck themselves or walk off a cliff, but I only say that to myself, and I smile and I walk home and I have some tea, I talk to Garson [Kanin, her husband], I might take a nap. Then I wake up and I write, and in writing, I wipe away all the unpleasantness of the day, of the people, of the city, whatever. We have it in our power to overcome assholes, and I think we have them thrown into our path to see if we have the chops to handle them.

Handle them.

—Ruth Gordon, from an interview with James Grissom (1984), (via)