Wednesday, November 20, 2002

OK -- getting the hang of this now. So here's where I'm at right now. I have four new servers I'm in the middle of installing/setting up -- Solaris 8 + Apache. Also, I'm trying to get up a Linux install on a new PC -- but the thing is TOO new and I'm having trouble with the video card, which XFree86 can't handle. Oh yeah, and there's a Library system to take care of too.

But what I'm really into is e-books. We have a collection of ebooks -- I'm calling them web books because they are all HTML and I like to emphasise that. Actually, the collection is all my own work -- at least the HTML is; the books' content is all someone else's work and the scanning & proofing was done by others (Project Gutenberg). But what fascinates me is the process of creating a usable web book from a (nearly unusable) plain text file. I have scripts to do much of this of course -- converting text into headings, converting ASCII quotes into nice curly-quotes, splitting the text into multiple pages, stuff like that. I wrote these texts, and over the several years I've been doing this, they've evolved into something quite sophisticated. But in addition there's always a lot of hand editing required -- both before, with the plain text, and after, to correct the things the script couldn't manage. Lots of work. Sometimes a web book takes me just 15 minutes to create. Other times, I can spend up to two hours on a web book. Most recently, I've been working on Charles Dickens, and his Sketches by Boz was a bugger.

But even so, the rewards are there -- I genuinely feel like I've created something, and find the results strangely pleasing. Occasionally I even read some of them!
How does one start? Is there a protocol for one's first blog entry? A form of introduction? Who cares. Apparently there are 750,000 blogs out there. Who'd going to read this one. Well, me for one. I'm a sys admin at a University Library, and this will (maybe) be useful to me in keeping track of where things are at. It will be useful too that the things is anonymous (I hope!) -- I will be free to say what I want without fear of (a) upsetting anyone; and (b) getting into trouble with my superiors.

That's it for now -- let's see what the thing looks like before proceeding. (This is in line with my personal philosophy of incremental implementation.)