Some announcements

I feel a slowing down in this November of 2008. So I have some announcements to make. Yes, I’m still writing. My plan for this month just happens to include writing more on miscellaneous stuff, to take a break from the technical stuff.

Even if you aren’t interested in the American election, I’m guessing there’s still going to be a flurry of activity around the world, what with global temperatures, economy and wildlife news abound. This means even if I had a picture of a naked nubile nymph in this first post of November, it would probably get washed out in the torrent of news. (No, I don’t have that picture here. Stop looking.)

I’ll still put in some programming articles (got a couple of them lined up). They’ll just be disproportionately outnumbered by some travelling notes I took some 4 years ago. I’ll talk about that a bit more. But first …

New look

Polymath Programmer had undergone a third change of clothes. Technically, it’s more than that (I was fiddling with the WordPress themes). But it’s the 3rd time I outsourced the design. Well, technically, it’s the second successful makeover, since the first outsourcing job was a flop.

Anyway, this time, I got the Men With Pens to help out. This time, I really like the theme look. They were attentive and competent with design work. If you need help with writing in general and design work, get them to help. And don’t be cheap either.

Videos in XHTML don’t play nice with RSS

I’ve been using a WordPress plugin called XHTML Video Embed to help me with embedding videos. As far as possible, I try to emit proper XHTML tags.

This said, videos are troublesome beasts. The problem stems from the use of object tags and embed tags. XHTML doesn’t recognise embed tags as valid, but it’s the only way I can get my articles to look the same on my site and in RSS feeds (when read).

What happened was, if only object tags were used, SmartCast must be turned on in FeedBurner, and the video will appear in the RSS feed at the top of the post. No other position, only the top. And if there are images, the first image won’t appear. I’ve always wondered how other people were able to get multiple videos and images in the same post, at the intended positions, regardless if it was read on the site or from the feed.

So I’ve fiddled with the options in WordPress and FeedBurner countless times. I’ve studied the PHP and XHTML required to display videos. I’ve pinged my site and re-synchronised my feed so many times, I feared I’d be banned.

So I made a tough choice. I decided to use whatever embedding code was provided by the video host. *sigh* Since I use videos sparingly, I thought my site would be mostly XHTML compliant. That will have to do.

I want to thank SaltwaterC for adding in Capped TV as an option for the plugin. I’m really grateful. I just wish I can help more. Couldn’t find a donate button anywhere… So if you care about XHTML compliance, and not so much about whether the video appears at the intended position (or even at all) in the RSS feed, go get the plugin. You can always add in a hard link to the video in your post.

Project Polymath

Project Polymath is a new type of university, aiming to, as far as I understand it, create more generalists of greater breadth and depth of knowledge. Go check out their Facebook page.

I quote:

The current trend in society is towards hyperspecialization, and in some circles, the word polymath has even taken on a negative connotation …

… we see fewer polymaths now not because the knowledge we must obtain to make discoveries is deeper, but because of the dominance of this negative attitude towards obtaining broad knowledge.

I’m thinking of writing up a manifesto. I don’t know, it seems fashionable to do so *smile* One of my key points is, “We need more generalists!”

Trip to the past

It’s been nearly 4 years since I travelled to New Zealand. That was the very first trip on my own, and on an airplane no less. I wrote the articles and posted them on an earlier site of mine, but the site’s defunct now. So I thought it’s a good time to revive them here, with some minor editing.

I’ll be posting the day by day events on the actual date itself, disregarding the 4 year lapse. So you’ll have 1 post daily for about 10 days, starting on the 5th. Here are some highlights:

  • My fumbling at airports
  • An almost unhealthy obsession with walking around places
  • Paragliding at Queenstown and glacier walking at Fox Glacier
  • How I was starving, broke and almost couldn’t come back to Singapore

Exciting narration, coming up…