Draco Torre

writing code, writing words, creating magic

Draco RegexTest Intro

I started a new open source developer tool, Draco RegexTest, for creating, testing and organizing regular expressions. This tool is aimed at developers or content scrapers doing regular work with regular expressions. It includes productivity features such as storing expressions, removing or inserting escaped characters, auto-escape and auto-insert common sequences. Draco RegexTest is currently in working condition for MS Windows desktop, but my to-do list still has much to cover. Find the source on GitHub at github.com/Dracotorre/Draco_RegexTest_Windows/.

At previous employment, I spent two or more hours each day (sometimes all-day) crafting or updating regular expressions. Having to copy-paste expressions or source text into a test form ate up considerable time and energy, so naturally I built software to help automate the process specifically for the job, including automated background testing of a set of expressions against multiple source texts. These days I don’t create nearly as many regular expressions, but being able to conveniently store and re-use expressions comes in handy. Taking what I learned, I decided to create a generalized regular expression tool with productivity in mind.

"Draco RegexTest screenshot"

Sandy Ridge Bike Ride

"Near top of Sandy Ridge"

For my second trail ride of the month, and the year, I took to the Sandy Ridge trail system located between Sandy and Zig Zag, Oregon near the Bull Run watershed. After nearly a year of being off the bike due to health issues, I’m getting back into shape by riding as often as my body allows. The trails in Sandy Ridge are a bit rugged, so my 17-mile ride feels about right. Some of the hand-built trails include whoop-dee-doos, jumps, and bank swoops. I took an expert trail down some technical switchbacks revealing my skills still intact. I may need to return to take some video clips of some of the more interesting terrain.

"bridge over creek"

The map at the trailhead and sings posted along the trails indicate preference to ride the forest road up the ridge and choose a trail back down. This serves a traffic purpose during busy days, and also highly recommended since many trails are quite steep. The service road is pleasant, too, and gated limited traffic to service vehicles.

"service road"

"ridge top road"

At the top, several signs warn riders when entering the expert riding area with trails titled, “Rock Drop” and “Communication Breakdown.” I took “Communication Breakdown” which includes a very rocky section and a series of tight switchbacks down to “Two Turntables” and “Hide-and-Seek” trails, which include zippy bank swoops and jumps.

"view"

"Two Turntables"

Rename or Move Blog Location in Octopress

The default location for your blog posts in Octopress reside under /blog with your post index on the landing page. Moving your posts up a level or renaming “blog” to something else requires some modification. For this tutorial, I’ll show all the changes to rename “blog” to “stories” with a home page as I have done at www.KandyFangs.com.

rename the “blog” folder to “stories” and move your index

To have a home page, move the index.html from the root into stories and add an index.markdown to your root for your home page. You’ll also need to edit this index.html to replace an instance of “blog” with “stories” as described below.

changes to _config.yml

Basically, search for “blog” and replace where needed.

  • change the “permalink:” key for your blog structure by date or category.
    • permalink: /stories/:year/:month/:title/
    • permalink: /stories/:categories/:title/
  • change “category_dir:” key
    • category_dir: stories/categories
  • change the “paginate_path:” key to match your structure.
    • paginate_path: “stories/posts/:num”

changes to files

  • update the blog index file, index.html, you moved into the “stories” folder. Update the line under pagination:
    1
    
    <a href=“/stories/archives”>Stories Archives</a>
  • update your menu in /source/_includes/custom/navigation.html
    1
    2
    3
    
    <ul class=“main-navigation”>
          <li><a href=“/”>Home</a></li>
          <li><a href=“/stories”>Stories</a></li>
  • update the archives page title in /stories/archives/index.html to “Stories Archives”

The Noise Age

Databases connected on the net improve access to information and allow quicker dissemination between scholars. News delivers within minutes shared by observers, journalists weighing in within hours. Education reaches out to remote students. Employees stay connecting outside of the office. Access to information comes with a price including how to manage it.

Technology allows all of us create and share our work and art to potentially all interested. Write and publish a book, with or without a publisher (Bowker 2013 stats on self-published books). Artists try to become marketers, shouting upon millions of soap boxes and sharing related materials, trying to build platforms (Michael Hyatt, “Why you Need a Platform to Succeed”) within a giant sea of noise. Consumers wade through the noise by focusing on their niche, a section of the web. Sometimes we’re not even sure what to do with the tech, and play with, building canvases of noise (Pinterest) to pass the time, even if at the expense of the hard work of others.

In 2009, Kristine Catherine Rusch asked, “What’s Louder Than Noise?” Rusch pointed out the decline of the “Great American Novel” a book discussed by many and familiar to nearly all Americans, along with the disappearance of the “household name.” Building a brand means choosing your niche and learning how to stand out from the noise.

On the web, trolling and flaming (Urban Dictionary definitions) flourishes, and we make changes at the cost of openness as noted in “The Bullies of Goodreads” by Nathan Brandsford.

People love to make noise and respond to noise. We are not all that different from the hooting and howls of apes. Chit-chat and quick reactions take precedence over thoughtful discourse. When a person doesn’t know what to say, they often feel the need to say something, anything, and make more noise. We add to the noise, using social media services, sometimes spreading copyright infringement (Wikipedia) or ignoring ethics (Slate.com, “Facebook Unethical Experiment”).

Employees, staying connected inside and outside of the office, become distracted by noise. Some employees tweet or post on their employer’s dime (The Telegraph, “Twitter time-wasters annoy bosses”) to chat or self-promote, and an occasion express their dissatisfaction with their job or paycheck (Fireme tweet tracker), adding their ignorance to the noise. While stuck on a problem, a quick check on social media becomes a growing distraction for students (USA Today, “Students say social media interfere with homework”) robbing time from study.

Matt Gemmell points out that “Letting Go” of frequently checking email and social media results in more creativity and productivity. Before reaching the information age, we must wade through a period of uncertainty while learning to master the information.

Welcome to the noise age.

Cindy Vaskova’s The Dorley Cycle

From the start of The Dorley Cycle web-serial, Cindy Vaskova’s writing flows like a dream into a horror drenched in madness. A touch of the surreal at times, and quick jabs of horror in others, the web-serial dishes out single shots for Friday Flash stitching together a journey. The series is great for those looking to take a quick trip during lunch break, or enjoy several pages at a time.

Jackson Dee (unnamed in the first episode) returns to the fishing town of Dorley finding a mermaid caught in a fishing net on the beach. The strange sight is a reminder of the stories from childhood about the monsters in the sea. The second episode continues with a brief argument between Jackson and the mermaid about those old stories of the siren’s call. Jackson promises to let the mermaid go, insisting that he is not bad, but watches himself bash the mermaid with a rock. And so begins Jackson’s descent into horror uncovering the town’s dark secrets.

At Chapter XI, Jackson faces a monster and gets sucked inside a reality-twisted Chapter XII where he must distinguish the truth to fight his way out. And Jackson does only to find himself in a prison cell. Even weekly visitors thrown off by the warping are swept back in by the end of the episode, and a smooth follow-through for those with good memories or reading in the same sitting. I love stories that distort reality so the reader experiences the character’s struggle within the mind and the strangeness of the environment. Vaskova does a nice job. For this reason, Chapter XII episode is my favorite so far.