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blog platforms and backups

Confession: I've never really liked WordPress. However since v3.2 there have been some improvements that don't make me loathe it as much.

First, I can finally change the font used for the visual editor relatively easily. It requires adding in a function, borrowing editor-style.css from the default WP theme and hacking it up slightly, but the point is it can be done.

Second, the redesign of the admin interface is one that's not a big chunky browser-dragging mess; it actually loads fast and doesn't stutter all over the place.

Third - and this is the best part - you can finally download backups in date ranges. It used to be that when pulling down a backup it was all-or-nothing. Now you can download backups in a span as short as one month if you want.

Something I've been wanting to do for a while but couldn't was export every single one of my blog posts as individual emails. Impossible? Not at all; I've done it.

My very-brief explanation of my process of 'converting' blog posts into emails is like this:

  1. Export the WordPress XML backups.
  2. Post those files to a public web location.
  3. Instruct an email client to pull the files down from that public location as pseudo-feeds.

The mail client doesn't care where an XML comes from as long as it thinks it's a real feed. It isn't as it's just a flat XML file, but the mail client knows no different, and the whole thing worked. After pulling in all the "messages", you can then push them to the cloud via IMAP.

Later on I may post a grotesquely-detailed document on how to do this. Won't be free because I had to figure out all this crap from scratch, as there is zero documentation anywhere on how it's done. And believe me, I looked.

The Lawnmower Man

The Lawnmower ManThe Lawnmower Man is a 1992 movie which unfortunately has not aged well. This is one of the "cyber" sci-fi movies of the 1990s, and the idea of what 'the computer world' was back then does not translate well now.

If I remember correctly, the reason I rented this movie is because Stephen King's name is on it. If you look at the movie poster at right, it does say "Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man".

But does the movie have anything to do with King's The Lawnmower Man short story from 1975? Barely. King in fact sued the producers of the film for attaching his name to it, stating that the film had "virtually nothing to do" with his original short story. Did he win the lawsuit? Yes, but it took him two years to do it. The studio had to cough up 2¬Ĺ million in damages.

Anyway, the point is that if you were expecting The Lawnmower Man to be any good because of a King storyline, you'll be sorely disappointed as it's nothing but 1990s-flavor Hollywood sci-fi schlock.

Back when I watched this movie in the 90s, I loved it and thought it was really cool. When I tried watching it again recently, I couldn't even get halfway through the film.

Just about every 5 minutes I was wincing at Hollywood's idea of what "high tech" was. Here are two examples:

Almost every time the lead character does something on the computer, it talks to him. When he records a journal for example, the computer says "journal started" or something like that. And of course the computer's voice is a monotone female.

The "secret lab" the lead character works in has the worst lighting imaginable. Dark, subdued, cool blue lighting is all you ever see, what you see of it. Scientists in this movie never have to see what they're working on, apparently. And to note, this same crap is still practiced today in modern TV cop dramas. CSI in particular is notorious for this. The lab is ALWAYS dark. Yes, the one place where bright light is needed more than anywhere else, and it's dark - but it looks cool! Yeah, that's just ducky.

I got 47 minutes into the flick, could not stand the schlock any further and had to turn it off. Being I know a fair amount about computers now compared to the early 90s, what the movie tries to pass off as usable high tech is a complete joke now - almost as much as Bad Guy Brimley's fax machine. And heck, even if I didn't know jack squat about computers, I'd still think the tech is a joke in The Lawnmower Man.

Aside from the tech crapola, is the movie any good? Not really. Although you can follow along with what's going on easily - which is a plus - there's way too much filler and not enough story, so things are dragged out just to fill screen time.

I turned off the movie right before the movie goes into total CGI mode, where is where all the budget went; I know from that point forward it's not a film but basically a cartoon until the end.

Maybe someday when I'm in the mood for cartoony film CGI of the early 90s, I'll watch the rest of the movie.

Rich's Sound - Single Coil Strut

This is what may be the first in a series of posts on how I get my specific guitar sound. I receive many questions on the subject, so hopefully this will answer a few of them.

In this installment, I'm going to talk about why I prefer a single coil pickup over a humbucker.

To begin, I'm not opposed to humbuckers and in fact own a guitar with humbuckers in it, so I don't want you to think "Rich never plays guitars with humbuckers in them", because I do. You don't see me playing a humbucker-equipped guitar often simply because I prefer the single coil sound. If you happen to play a guitar with one or more humbucker pickups in it, I'm not telling you humbuckers are "bad". I'm just saying that the single coil sound is what I prefer.

What I appreciate most about single coil pickups is the brightness of the sound. Humbuckers by nature have more midrange tone in them and to me sound "flat" because of it compared to a single.

A Stratocaster guitar in SSS configuration allows me to use every setting on the guitar whereas I can't do that with a humbucker, or at least not easily. In an HH configuration I'm usually limited to two settings that I can make work for me, that being bridge-only or neck-only with the middle setting (bridge+neck) being altogether worthless concerning my specific sound. In an HSS configuration I can only use 3 settings. Bridge, middle+neck and neck because the H combined with the S doesn't do anything for me.

For guitars with humbuckers that have a split-coil option, I run into the same problem. My Schecter C-1 Class even though HH does in fact have a 5-way "mega switch" selector from the factory that splits the coils into singles to get 5 tones, but again, of those 5 I can only use three that actually work for me.

Singles on their own using wide spacing is the "natural" way, so to speak, that a Stratocaster guitar works. The single coil pickup defines the personality of the Stratocaster guitar as far as I'm concerned.

Again, I'm not saying that humbuckers are bad, because they're not. But a lot of the sound you hear from my playing is a direct result of single coil pickups. Yes, they're bright, clacky and twangy, but that's the way I prefer them.

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