Home of the PinFeed Almanack
Committing bloggery seemed a good way to learn about web-site development. . .
I spent the past three decades writing code for banks on minicomputers. For a
programmer, that's much akin to being marooned on a desert island: it left a
gaping hole in my understanding of HTML, and no answer for friends and family
who expected 'the computer guy' to know something useful. But having a hand-
built website is in some measure legitimizing.
A builder of a hobby-site is not necessarily an informed pundit, and I don't
have a profound bon mot to offer every morning after breakfast. So this is a
sort-of blog. There's an opinion or two ventured, but it's not a site for
political rants, and I hope it never includes anything indiscreet, so it can't
really be a blog.
Calling it an 'Almanack' is not a commitment to any sort of calendric
regularity, it's simply an homage to Ben Franklin, the prototype for all
bloggers. 'PinFeed' is whimsical, for sure, but it also invokes a serious
thought about how technology evolves, and how we think about it.
The idee fixe of the Almanack is the question of what makes a thing 'good
- 'pinfeed' is a common term for the workhorse data-center printers that
have cranked out millions of miles of 14.825" greenbar reports; they're
expensive and noisy, their output is ugly (see the holes and stripes on
the Almanack page), they don't do pictures, charts or graphs, and lasers
made them obsolete two decades ago; so why are they still swallowing
thousands of cartons of stock every morning in lower Manhattan?
- Like pinfeed printers, Microsoft(r) has been disparaged and declared
obsolete many times, but they still dominate the market; not just 'the
desktop market', or 'the business market', or even 'the pc market'; they
- QWERTY keyboards are not nearly as efficient as Dvorak, but try getting
anything but qwerty on your next laptop.
The alphabet, the calendar, English, internal combustion, financial markets. . .
The Almanack ponders (obsesses over?) stuff that survives, succeeds, or
dominates despite being disparaged, obsolete, or sub-optimal.
But the real purpose of the site is in building it. The point is to create a
flexible page with some dynamic content and interactive controls, using basic
tools. I've avoided code-generators and page builders that hide the complexity
of HTML, CGI, stylesheets, and the rest of the plumbing, although they would
make it a lot easier to set up the site. Real bloggers, like most site-owners,
are concerned about content and cosmetics. I want it to work, but it's my
sandbox, so it doesn't have to be pretty.
Depending on how your browser is set up, clicking on a link should open a new
tab or window. Most of the links will try to re-use the same window, if one
is already open. The left-hand frame has no scrollbar, so you have to use
arrows to see the oldest links.
The 'Downloads' section is for open-source or public domain program code that
I've written to share. Anybody can use the links to grab a copy of a file, most
of which can be compiled or executed using the instructions in their file
headers. There are descriptions that might pass for minimal documentation, but
most of the programs are simple enough to be self-explanatory. Drop a note if
you'd like to get support or offer feedback regarding a piece of code.
The 'Almanack pages' list is the archive of past unpurged issues. A page might
have something to do with the 'Pinfeed' theme, or not. Click on an old essay
to replace the current page.
The 'Picture Gallery' is all family stuff - nothing offensive, but nothing much
of general interest, either.
And 'Outside Interests' are simply things I found interesting at some point -
links may be broken.
If you have a support question, or a comment on the site, please write: