About this Site

This site is managed in my copious free time. Yes, that's mean to be satirical.

Since the site is now managed via a Drupal, a Content Management System, I have somewhat less control over the HTML produces. If it doesn't look right, contact me and I will poke at it a bit, but I've got limited control over Drupal, although I do have some control over the templates (and the content itself).

My aim for the website is to be somewhat educational and somewhat documentary of the work I've done. If you find something here which just seems wrong factually, contact me.

Some History

Originally, I wrote a PHP template manager class, class.rFastTemplate.php, and developed the entire site with that. It was fast, effective, and worked exactly the way I wanted it. It also meant everything had to be editted on the backend which was fine until my wife asked me to put up the family photos.

So I wrote some more PHP code to manage photo albums again using class.rFastTemplate.php. It was fast, effective, and worked exactly the way I wanted it. But then I found I didn't have enough time to do it all and couldn't keep up with the family photos. So, I installed Gallery 2 and life was good again.

But then I found that I really wanted to be able to manage my website more dynamically and didn't want to have to keep my astronomy photos separate from my Gallery family photos, I was looking for one ring to rule them all, uh, I mean I package to manage them all. So I installed Drupal, and life was not so good, but it looked promising.

The Drupal/Gallery integration wasn't really very integrated. You could embed Gallery 2 inside Drupal, but I didn't really care about that (still don't), in fact, it kind of gets in the way 'cause the Drupal module that embeds Gallery takes over the /gallery hierarchy which I was already using on the old site.

Then I found another problem---the Gallery image assist module could only insert Gallery thumbnail images. This was a show-stopper for the migration. I did not want to manage my photos twice, once for the albums and once for the astronomy website. After a few minor upgrades and a lot of twiddling my thumbs hoping someone would fix it, I patched the code to allow it to insert full-sized images via the gallery tags. But that was unsatisfying since the resulting images could not be manipulated via the tinyMCE Advance Image Editting tab.

So, I twiddled my thumbs, waited around a bit, updated modules and kept hoping someone would fix the problem. Then I found someone did---at least in part. The actual solution did not work for me, but most of the work was done and the broken part was very small, so I rewrote that part. Gallery could load full-size images into my Drupal pages albeit at a cost: the URLs used would definitely not survive any reorganization of the Gallery albums. But that seemed tolerable. Oh, and the other cost was that you really get the full sized image, which doesn't hurt me too much (yet) but would be more painful for dial-up users, downloading an image that is as much as 16x larger than the displayed image. Ouch. I'm unclear as to whether I can fix that without changes to the Gallery 2 Embedded API.

I spent a fair amount of time trying to work around the problem with the /gallery path take-over, but the assumption by the gallery module that it owns that path is too deeply entrenched. That meant to migrate to the new management software, I would have to change all my URLs. I had studiously avoided having to do that with every previous migration of code and update of Apache and PHP and reorganization of my pages. I had used Apache's mod_rewrite, PHP redirects, and any trick available to make the old URLs move to the new locations gracefully. Pages that haven't "existed" on the file system for years have new URLs but get redirected with "moved permanently" redirects from the old URLs. With Drupal + Gallery2 that would not be possible.

So I did the only other thing I could, which was to move the "old" pages to a layout consistent with what Drupal+Gallery2 were forcing on me and then write more rewrite rules in the "old" website to start generating "moved permanently" redirects so linking sites wouldn't suddenly break.