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Monthly Archives: October 2008

My friend was just saying the other day “God has a reason for everything.” On the day of reckoning, all will be revealed. I only wish I knew the reason for this.

I was just listening to the E. Nomine, in German. Then I really listened to it. “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” I hurt, and I think I’ve forgotten how to forgive.

“Some days are diamonds some days are stones”

John Denver lyric, quite relevant today. Just want to crawl under a rock and hide for a week.

Stop wallowing in self-pity, suck it in and move along. The show must go on. Have things to do, projects to complete.

Five years ago, I was interested in installing a photo gallery. I’d seen many websites use a free gallery viewer called “coppermine.” I followed the link, and I read the requirements. I gave up after reading the first one because they were talking gibberish to me. As slowly as I read it, I had no clue what most of the alphabet soup meant.

Today, I revisited the coppermine website’s, help installation page.

I not only know what all the alphabet soup means, I am confident that I can install this baby. The state of non-confusion is like taking a chug of Jolt Cola. Whatta rush!¬† There’s one little hitch. It’s that blasted CHMOD requirement again. Maybe I ought to hook me up with a Linux server. Time to check my piggy bank.

Here’s the wonderful world of guestbook code:

1. If it’s free, it’s got ads. To remove the ads, it’s going to cost denaros.
2. If it’s free php code, do-it-yourself installation, there’s always a catch.

For example: winnguestbook. Great free source code, with a gazillion options, took me almost a half hour to FTP to the site, then it times out, in mid-copy. Then I discovered that Godaddy does not support large FTP-ing. SO I went and installed SmartFTPclient. For some reason SmartFTPClient refused to talk to Godaddy. Gave up on that one.

Next…Phpjunkyard had a nice smallish PHP code. I read the install directions before installation. Good thing I did because I saved myself more falling-off-the-cliff-like-the-cartoon-coyote. The main file requires I CHMOD to 777. Fine, I did that once for a Geocities file. It was easy. I go into Godaddy to look for the permissions button. None to be found at the FTP screen. And the Permissions button is greyed out in the FileManager screen. That’s odd.

Not so odd. A google of CHMOD and Godaddy shows that I because I live on a Windows server, I am not allowed to CHMOD. The command is only allowed on their¬† Linux servers. Maybe that’s why Linux was priced higher! In any case, because of that Godaddy restriction, I can’t install the phpjunkyard code on dihansite. The original Bravenet guestbook is beginning to look more attractive every day. Or just add generic guestbook code with a recapcha box, and take my chances.

I am not yet defeated. There must be The Perfect Free Guestbook out there… somewhere. I just haven’t yet found it.

Wiki’s maze of rules has the lawyers beat, hands down.

I finally got through creating a wiki article that may pass possibly muster. It has to pass tests of style, content, and of course, formatting. The formatting part was easy. Just a couple of new symbols to learn. The style and content, well that was hard. Several pages of wiki restrictions forced me to do some critical editing of the copy.

I viewed it in the sandbox test area, and It’s looking pretty good. Just a few more additions and it should be smooth sailing. One of these additions is a picture. I vaguely know about copyright law. But oh my stars, I know nothing about wiki copyright rules. Fair use, Non-free content criteria? wiki has pages and pages explaining what is “free”, and not. They’re definitely writing in English, but it’s blathering foreign language.

A little mention here and there about publicity photos. A smattering of “you have to include this piece”, but not a single cohesive example. It sounds like they would prefer I use a snapshot photo that I take myself, over a publicity shot from a press kit. My brain cells are fried. I’m going to sleep on it, and if it’s as incomprehensible tomorrow, I’ll just have to wing it.

Nope, that’s not the start of a joke. That was one of the precious memories in my life. It shows how we as individuals are all interconnected in a wondrous fashion. God puts people in certain places, for reasons unknown to us, until we look back, and see the wisdom of His acts.

It was the middle of July, 2002. Dad was in hospital for several weeks now. His life hung in the balance. I had hope upon hope for a miraculous recovery. I was taking the Metro-North train down to visit him. I did this every other day. Mom was there on a daily basis.

I must have looked a fright. My clothes were probably wrinkled, my hair wild and unkempt. I had dropped several pounds, and my pants and clothes were bagging around me. I looked as depressed as I felt.
I was standing on the platform when I saw him. He was a youngish man. If I remember nothing else about him, it was his bright purple and orange tie-dyed t-shirt that caught my eye. He was heavy-set, and of average height. He had an ease about him that said “I am happy to be alive. I am content.”

He was smiling at nothing in particular, and his head turned toward my direction. As I caught his smile, I smiled back. It was not a flirtation. It was just an acknowledgement between two humans. I don’t remember how it began. Maybe he asked me about the train schedule. We exchanged first names , and pleasantries. His name is Mike. The train arrived. I got on first, and took a seat. He had some stuff to stow away. I saw him nearby and out of politeness, I indicated the seat next to mine. He took the seat.

It was an hour and a half of train ride, and not a minute of silence passed between us.

As the train passed a little island with the remnants of a castle on it, Mike asked the conductor about it. The conductor was happy to oblige. He said it was Bannerman’s island, once long ago, owned by a wealthy family, now abandoned and in ruins.

Mike and I exchanged mini life stories. I discovered that he was Jewish by birth, Buddhist by conversion, which is sort of the opposite of me, as a Buddhist by upbringing, and Christian by rebirth. Mike was here for a Buddhist weekend retreat. He told me of how he admired “Master” (I forget the exact honorific and name he called his teacher). He said that Master was in a high position, but at the end of the ceremonies, he too, was sweeping and cleaning alongside of his disciples. He was impressed with Master’s down-to-earth qualities. Mike told me of how his parents lived in Florida, and that he ran a delivery service down there.

I told him about my father’s illness, and that I was riding down to visit him. Then Mike looked at me, smiled, and gently said “Don’t worry, your father will be okay.” I don’t remember if I got teary then, or just felt it. I well up every time I think about those words, and the way he spoke them. He said it with such conviction that I felt a deep sense of relief and happiness. Yes, I thought to myself, Dad will be okay. For that hour and a half, my spirits lifted.

At Grand Central, we parted ways. His friend was waiting, and was immediately greeted with a hug, so I waved to him a final goodbye.

A few weeks later, I had the privilege to watch Dad pass into the embrace of our Lord. Mike was right, Dad is now at peace; he is …okay. I often thought of my Buddhist friend. I tried to find him on the internet, looking up the event, and the day. I never did locate him or his identity. At times, I thought he was an angelic messenger from God to watch over me on the train ride. I believed that for many years.

Fast forward to 2005. I was working part-time at a doctor’s office, my first paying job after a long hiatus of full-time motherhood. The commute was long, the position was low. The doctor is considered a maverick among his specialty, and many insurance companies dropped him because he did not play by their rules. I’d admired this doctor’s work from afar. It was an opportunity for me to watch a real scientist up close. Little did he know, I would have practically paid him for the honor of working for him. He was single mindedly determined to find a cure, or something that would alleviate the symptoms. He is a true healer. I didn’t get to interact with him much but I got to chat with his physician’s assistants.

The doctor is a Buddhist. His physician’s assistant, John, newly hired, was an old acquaintance of the doctor, and also a Buddhist. I figured, hey, Buddhists are quite the minority in this county, and there must not be too many monasteries or temples in this little town, so it didn’t hurt to ask the question.

I told John my story about a young Buddhist I met on the train, years ago. I told him Mike wore a tie dyed shirt. At that mention, John’s eyes lit up in recognition. He continued to described Mike to me. Apparently Mike was famous for his colorful garb. John told me Mike was an accomplished guitarist, until he was taken by an ailment that prevented him from playing. I didn’t know that, and it saddened me to think about Mike’s lost art. John said Mike never dwelled on his own problems, and despite his setbacks, was usually of a sunny disposition.

John gave me Mike’s full name, and email. I was stunned that John actually knew Mike! I found my imagined angel; he was real, and not a figment. I emailed Mike to thank him for the words he gave me. He did not write back. Even with no reply, I’m glad I was able to finally tell him how he touched my life, at a time, when I didn’t even know that I needed the kindness. God, in His ever so unusual way, sent a Jewish Buddhist to give comfort to this Christian who lacked faith.

Here’s a digression into why and how I came to build

The short version: Some people make things with their hands. I like the challenge of shaping a website. This is the first site in which I’ve had design assistance, and from the subject, no less!

Site building began in Scotland. More specifically, in the village of Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel. Does that sound vaguely familiar? It’s intoned by Duncan MacLeod, in the opener of “Highlander”, the TV series.

When I started to make a Youtube about “Highlander”, I searched for a cover of one of Highlander’s theme songs “Dust In the Wind.” As sung by Kansas, it’s a really sad depressing theme and I wanted something uptempo. lists 102 MP3 versions for sale. I narrowed it down , by only auditioning male vocals. David Fourie’s cover was number 78 on the list.

As I was about to purchase his song, I saw other songs in the same album, some in English, others, in a language I had no clue what it was, but the tunes were catchy. I liked enough songs that I bought the entire album. Little did I know that was the start of something really huge.

I discovered that the language was a South African language called “Afrikaans.” Unlike the other languages native to the continent, Afrikaans had European roots, which is why some of the sounds sounded familiar, given that American English retains many Dutch based words.

I liked the sound of Afrikaans so much, I searched for other music. Between Youtube and the music site, I must have checked out dozens of groups and singers. My favorites were a boy band, Hi-5 and a soloist, Dihan Slabbert. I bought “Versoeking”, the album in which Dihan was not a participant. It wasn’t until a little later that I discovered that Dihan was actually a former member of that very group. I think it an eerie coincidence (which I like to think of as a Divine steering), that with no prior knowledge, I chose just those two, out of all the other vocalists.

My ultimate goal, in building websites is that it forces me out of my comfort zone, and opens me to a larger scope of knowledge. I learned a tremendous amount of technical stuff, as evidenced by my mumblings on this blog. I learned a lot of current and not so current events: I was aware of the dissolution of apartheid, but not really aware, nor of its implications. Some of the current backlash, reminds me of the U.S. in its infancy of anti-discrimination laws. And Geography. I can locate Pretoria and Cape Town, which is significant, considering my poor geographical sense. I watched youtubes of beautiful jacaranda trees in bloom, and magnificent historical state buildings in the capital. And the heated debate over a burgeoning political system trying to steer a course.

On a more trivial note, I learned some really useless things (for an American in America) like… given the musical cue, I can sing the South African National Anthem. I learned it mostly phonetically at first, but once I knew some Afrikaans words, it got easier. I can also recite the Lord’s Prayer in Afrikaans. And I can recognize and translate certain words sung in Afrikaans pop songs. Like some people pick up useless statistics, I pick up words in a foreign language, spoken thousands of miles away. It adds a quirky new dimension to my life.

A secondary, but not less important reason for building the dihansite: I wanted to share my enthusiasm for Dihan’s music with as many people as I can. And I wanted to repay him for the good vibes I get from his music. This is my way of sending Dihan Slabbert a really large and public “thank you” card!

One would think that it would be easy to put a guestbook on site, yes?


Here are my options:

1. Make my own guestbook.
I can code PHP only marginally, but not enough to filter spambots and other evil whatnots from my sending junk to my guestbook. I want a guestbook now, not in five years, when I’ve mastered PHP. Also, there was a tutorial site that said there is the potential for malicious code to wipe out my site if I don’t have the right protections in my guestbook. Is there nothing safe from code crackers?

2. Get a Bravenet guestbook. Free and cusomisable.
Yep, I went down that avenue. I got the guestbook looking and working very well. I made the colors and buttons match my site, and it’s got a neat feature that allows me to merge the guestbook right into the site. In the past, the Bravenet guestbook was only an external link.

I knew there was going to be advertising, but I’ve had a Bravenet guestbook before, and the adverts were unobtrusive, two references and links to Bravenett. It was a very nice fit until…I saw it on the site. After I made my first entry, at the very bottom there was a big honkin’ ad with a cartoon image of an obnoxious “get a talking character”. By big, I mean about 300×250 pixels, nearly an eight of a page large!

How much is it going to cost me to get rid of that ad? Bravenet is charging $6.95 per month, or I can get a yearly discount for about $55.00/annum (or R462). Highway robbery! That’s about as much as I pay Godaddy for space and registration. Nix on a Bravenet guestbook.

3. Find a free guestbook.
Now we’re talking. looks just about right. There’s one piece of the installation that looks a bit daunting. The first instruction says “build a database.”

I’m thinking about that one. Somehow, that reminds me of a Roman emperor telling his architects to “go build an aqueduct.” I’m sure “build a database” is even harder than it sounds, but I’m willing to give it a go. The sleeves are rolled up, ready to dive into the mud. GO!

We’re baaack!


As the actor computer hackers say in the movies when they pass the next level: “WE’RE IN!”
We have database, and we’re going to build some fields! Yeah, baby!

I stumbled my way into godaddy’s database build function, and I checked a box for which I had no clue what it does. I’m sure I could delete the whole database and start from scratch again and not check the DSN box. This is where my one mainframe SQL class comes in handy.