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Femion » 2007 » July

Two Weeks of php

July 30th, 2007

One week later: Image Sets.

Don’t ask about the titles. I’ve had to test this thing a million times and I usually just named it after the first thing that came to mind. And Killer is not an indication of my murderous tendencies, I just happened to be thinking about Whales at the time.

I designed a system for only allowing one person to edit captions at a time and making the captions un-editable. Also, fixed most of the bugs from the last time but there are still a lot there.

It’s now going to be integrated into the Coady website and tested further. Yay.

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June/July issue of the CSJ + life update

July 29th, 2007

csjjunecover.jpg

I’ve actually been done with this issue for over a month now, but I’m still waiting for Tony to sign off on it. The writers of this month’s features have been bugging me, but Tony isn’t, and I’m trying to decide whether that is a bad thing. I’m only a day away from the submission deadlines for my final issue with the CSJ.

I’m also only a month less a day away from returning to Dal. I move back to Eliza on the 28th to attend residence leader training camp and to be there for frosh week. I’m a bit nervous about being a frosh leader. I’m looking forward to meeting the new Elizans but I’ve never been very popular, and I don’t like to ‘party’ (in the sense of drinking). I guess I should assign myself to seeking out the other non ‘partiers’ and recruiting them into our circle of MST3K and ‘awesome’ movie marathons, inane running jokes, and midnight DQ trips. My two best dorm friends are moving back into rez along with several others (including Andy). I can’t wait to get back.

However, I’m currently in a situation of having to plan out my life for the next two years. My parents are moving to Tuscon, Arizona and are renting out our house in Antigonish from January-August. I wouldn’t want to live in Antigonish next summer anyway. Although my job at the Coady is great, it’s just a very boring location.

Which means I’m going to have to at least sub-let for the summer in Halifax. The idea of living on my own, cooking for myself, working, for an extended period of time is a bit daunting, but I suppose it’s one I’ll have to face someday. I definitely don’t want to be dependent on my parents forever.

I think that I will be driving down to Ohio for Christmas this year with my parents as the go out to Tuscon. I’ll see relatives (hopefully) and then fly back to Halifax on my own. I’m hoping to fly down to Tuscon for February break, and I also hope to add a trip to Las Vegas, to jolt my confused memories of the bright lights from my childhood, but primarily because I want to see Cirque du Soleil and Penn & Teller. I know. I’m such a fangirl.

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One Week of php

July 23rd, 2007

Before last Monday, I didn’t know very much about computer programming. I did do some dabbling in Javascript, however, my approach was like an evil kid, catching a fly, pulling off its wings and claiming to have invented a new species (ie. I pulled scripts off of other websites, and chopped them up and edited them to suit my needs, without really learning any code).
At the Coady, I’m part of the ‘web group’ - that is, all of the people at the Coady who know anything about webdevelopment: IT guy, librarian, who knows what he does guy, me, and my boss, Janet. (I’m not sure if Janet knows anything about web design, but since she’s the communications manager and the website is a form of communications, she’s on it.) Last meeting, they brought up the point that the media page is devoid of media, and I volunteered to make an image gallery. I knew that I should probably use php to do it, but I had no idea exactly how.
Janet went on vacation two Fridays ago, and the following Monday, realizing that I wouldn’t be able to do much more work until she got back and approved the documents I’d put together, I loaded up w3schools and started reading through the php tutorials.
Monday evening, I had created this: The Name Game.
One week later, I’ve created a way to make image galleries out of user-uploaded jpegs, with a navigation system modeled after facebook.com’s albums.
If you want to see an example, the first image set I made was Blossoms, a set of photos I took of my dad’s orchard back in the spring.
Go ahead and try to make your own image set. You’ll need 10 jpegs and a lot of patience (depending on the size of the images). You can save your gallery by saving the URL at the bottom of the image gallery page at the end.
My supreme efforts are thwarted by the fact that it looks so lame at the moment, but that’s nothing a little CSS can’t change. Once the finishing touches are done, IT guy’s going to put it on a secure location on the Coady Website. There’s a lot more things that could be improved on this project. I could allow for pngs to be used and let the user decide how many images are in a set. I could also try to figure out how the user could go back and edit the images and captions, but that’s a whole other level of complexity. And there are many bugs I need to fix, such as that the Set name can’t handle underscores or spaces.
Though it may not seem like it, there were a lot of things I had to learn for this project. I had to learn loops and conditions for the final image gallery page. I had to learn the file copying, and resizing images and how to apply some algebra to get the files to resize to 500 pixels for both landscape and portrait. I had to learn how to use forms and devise a method of passing $POST variables on to the next pages. Finally, I had to learn how to use MySQL for the captions, which I think was the most difficult part, because that involved installing MySQL and a server on my computer, learning command line entry stuff, and how php interacts with MySQL.
So that is my forray into php. I’m not sure I’ll have much use for it outside of the Coady Image Sets, but if I’m feeling ambitious, maybe I’ll use it to make a Facebook application or two. Or maybe, armed with the confidence that I can teach myself a programming language, I’ll work my way up the programming language ladder, and I won’t feel guilty about taking a journalism class instead of computer science.

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On my own in Antigonowhere: Part 2, the food

July 11th, 2007

I suppose at this point I should explain why I am alone in Antigonowhere. It’s not a long story. They’re going down to New Jersey to help Dad’s new colleague move to Nova Scotia, and in the meantime they’re going to New York. They went to the UN a few days ago. They didn’t take me.
So while they’re gone, I’m on my own for meals. After having just about as many peanut butter sandwiches and enough-salt-to-kill-an-octopus TV dinners, I decided that I would cook all of my meals while my parents are away.
However, it takes me forever to chop things and I never plan things out correctly. I make almost every single possible mistake when cooking. I’ve burnt spaghetti sauce.
I did all my cooking on the weekend for the week ahead. I made curry and tortillas. It was fun. Too much fun. I had the sudden urge to make deserts, too. So I went to the Sobeys and got the ingredients to make cheesecake. And here’s how it turned out:

cheesecake.jpg

Not perfect, but pretty good for me. With the leftover ingredients I made lemon bread, and I still have some fancy Italian cheese remaining, that I have no idea what to do with.
In the end, three things can be learned from this venture:
1. I have too much desert than can be eaten.
2. There is no real point in spending 15$ for ingredients when I could buy a 6$ cheesecake already made.
3. I didn’t mess up on any of my projects. yay!

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On my own in Antigonowhere Part 1: new job

July 9th, 2007

07.05.2007_Social_064.jpg

This picture was taken at the Coady Welcoming Social on Thursday. It’s one of my favourites out of the batch. It started with me taking the picture of one person in the group and having another participant push themselves into frame. After that people just kept adding to the pose, which attracted more cameras. Half the people in the photo are looking in the lens of another camera, and some don’t even seem to realize that their photo is being taken. I like it because it sort of represents my life right now: spontaneous and chaotic but going well, feeling like an outsider in the midst of strangers.
How did I get there? Let’s just say that Atlantic Superstore and I parted ways. It was a very crappy job for a very crappy amount of money. Next year I am so planning my summer job ahead of time before wasting another two months of my life to a miserable part-time minimum-wage job. At the end of June, dad forwarded me a faculty e-mail about an internship at the Coady. I was the first to apply and miraculously happened to be the best qualified.
They were looking for a communications intern, someone who could edit, produce brochures, set up interviews with local media. They also wanted experience with Adobe Photoshop and Indesign. Although I frequently play around with Photoshop for the graphics on my websites, I’m no where near a professional (look at above header graphic for Chere Milankie for a prime example of my shoddy workwomanship) and I have no experience in PR or business. But I told them about my work at the Community Science Journal and they were impressed.
I’ve been at the Coady for one whole week. To clarify, the Coady is an International Institute branched off of St.FX founded by Reverend Moses Coady that brings in students from around the world (mostly from third world countries) to teach them about International Development stuff like microfinance and fostering democracy. So far I’ve only seen them play cards, musical chairs, and sit around talk about their lives in classroom, but it’s their version of Frosh Week.
The Coady was founded by a priest, maintained by nuns and many of the students, or ‘participants’ as they are called, are Fathers or declare themselves as ‘married to the church’. I know it seems like a strange environment for me, but it’s really not uncomfortable. They’re surprisingly tolerant of different beliefs. In fact, Subha Gora, the Indian woman chosen as the Coady class of ’07’s representative, comes from the charity and disaster relief branch of India’s Atheist Center. She was going to give a talk at the Welcoming Social about what atheism and development to her, but they told her to cut it out of her speech because it wouldn’t be well received by the 99% Catholic Antigonish population.

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Independence/Confederation Days

July 4th, 2007

Happy July 4th all American readers, and Happy Canada day to Canadian readers. It’s a day to run to the St.FX football field behind my street for the final quarter of the Canada day concert to watch the surprisingly-good-for-small-town-budget fireworks, or watch Hayden Panettiere on PBS. It’s a day to celebrate the freedom that comes with being a citizen of these two countries by choosing not to participate in the parade in the town square in honour of our beloved leader (of course this does not occur in Canada, we’re not that left-wing). It’s a day to thank the government of Canada for funding my two summer jobs (I have an internship at the Coady now which is sponsored by Service Canada, and my editing job is paid with Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council), for funding the universities that mean my education is affordable and my father is employed, for the police force that shuts the students living next door up when their parties go past twelve a. m., and for universal health care, which fortunately I haven’t had to really use so far.
Finally, I think it’s a day to realize how lucky I am. I will probably never be a refugee. I will probably never be too poor to feed myself. I will probably never loose a limb to a landmine. I will probably have a good career and not be homeless, and I will have the defense of the law and my human rights will be respected. All this I got for free. There are people who risk their lives or their families and years to get a Canadian or American citizenship. I got both just for being born.
So, here’s to the 4330:1 odds of getting dual citizenship (I got this statistic by multiplying the probability of being born a Canadian citizen by the probability of being born an American citizen. The real statistic is probably much smaller). It’s not as impressive odds as winning the lotto, but I’d say the prize is still worth a lot.

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