Cutting the Fat – Making a Seamless Site

I’ve spent a good amount of time making custom edits to ghost which is a fantastic blogging platform, but also a great stepping stone for web development. While the main visuals of The Unknown Artist Hour were put together by a collaborator and I, the structure isn’t too far off the default layout that comes with ghost. It just looks good.

I have used another theme or two while I figured out the best performing and attractive templates, but in the end the original theme only needed a good kick in the pants by a web developer (which was oddly enough just me) to get it running with ajax and steamrolling through pages. Since then I’ve integrated it with the radio station hog-tying some back-end and front-end resources together. However it is the back-end that’s really powerful and that’s where I’ve really been delving into. It was only a little while ago I figured out how to take over the templating engine and since then I was left to my own devices to make something great. Namely to improve the integration between the station and the website.

And that’s how I’ve arrived at artist pages, created right out of the same data used to make requests it was 100% compatible with the templating engine. A dream come true for me because hardly have I ever found a solution to a problem that was meant for the platform I was using. *However* its also nice for the future because the url can hand off the data that was used like a regular api, which is not like the original server behavior at all and is a cheeky addition to my toolkit for the future.

Everything is possible with a good cup of Joe.


Awesome and Yet Chaotic Code

I’ve learned several new things this week. One: I have the capacity to come up with awesome ideas and their instant solutions in code Two: I exaggerate a lot. Now I’ve had humbling moments before, but there’s a particular point where a developer faces his code and goes…that was stupid.

Specifically I was show-casing my station to one of my uncles, granted he is older. I know he hasn’t programmed in a variety of languages. However, it doesn’t take much to recognize a problem, specially when it spits into your face. This happened on the newer part of the website I’ve been diligently working on Make A Request and it killed my momentum in a split second. In that moment my show-case became two programmers trying to figure out went wrong. He started counting off what I should do to debug it and I of course was rebounding all of his suggestions: no it’s not this…I can see the code it is fine (but of course it wasn’t) it’s executing and following the flow I’m expecting…

At this point I’m tearing my code apart, in a panic, re-writing every line, checking all the if statements, checking the database. Then the real problem becomes very clear. I had made a literal fool out of myself, nothing was wrong with the code, I had earlier made a massive change to the website, and it wasn’t reflected in the piece of code I was using. I had never gone back to update it, I grabbed the old copy of the code changed one line then all the stress was gone.

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Conversation Killer: Is This Really Radio?

Since volunteering at a local campus radio station and putting together this radio station I’ve run into a few perplexing  elements about radio. Most of it seems to deal with a kind of identity crisis meanwhile making conversations confusing.

One of the primary examples I have seems to hog-tie itself with a follow-up question: “Do you broadcast?” Followed by: “So what channel are you on AM/FM?”. Sometimes but not often the second question or third follow-up at least acknowledges the existence of the internet and the potential internet broadcast. The sad part about these questions is that at least from where I sit; yes some people miss that possibility, yes some people don’t associate radio to do with anything online, but I know for a fact my station is online only. At the very least when talking about my station in comparison to others (including the one I volunteer at) I make sure to mention where to listen in online as opposed to ever mentioning a frequency or band to tune a radio to so that there’s no confusion as to where it exists. Part of this awkward element might have to do with people’s interpretation of the word broadcast or their familiarity with the internet. For those who’ve ever touched radio as a business its not far off to understand a live-stream as a broadcast through the internet as opposed to through the air with high frequency waves. More often than not people with hands on tech experience will find broadcast mentioned related to packets sent over the internet. People with tech experience associate it as a technical term and the identity of radio stations seems stable in their minds. There are some ways however I’ve had this posed to me which wrecks my motivation to speak, usually because it cuts down to: “Is this really radio?”. The answer to that so far as I’ve learned above really depends on how much experience a person has with radio related material. Without having the chance to at least answer, this phrasing turns into buzz-kill. Especially when it comes as a passing comment when people walk by the station on campus, can’t help but feel crushed.

For all the poking and prodding people may do without understanding I’m at least glad to have some opportunities to explain. There have been a few times where I’ve had the chance to hammer home the concept of radio and I’ve been happy to do it. So if you have any questions about what really goes on check out: