Spam Theater.

Posted by DmentD | Entertainment,Site | Wednesday 17 November 2010 11:03 am

Sometimes the most unintentionally amusing items come through the spam filter on this site… almost universally as a result of the translation from whatever language they were written in.  Thought I’d share this one (for some reason I imagine someone in a smoking jacket, wearing a monocle):

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Whassahappanin’, Hotstuff?

Posted by DmentD | Cakes,Coolness,Friends,Homebrew,Links,Promotion,Rambling,Site,Stress | Tuesday 30 March 2010 11:07 am

Much goings on… er, going on in the last few months.  Once more, and to no surprise to anyone, I have sadly not reported any of it here.

Let’s see.  First and foremost, Sweets got laid off from the bakery she was at — who took her on as an extern when she was in culinary school, then hired her to do cakes, couldn’t give her a lot of hours, then realized that they were perfectly happy using the free extern labor from the school instead, and let her go.  Tears and curses aside, it was a fantastic learning experience for her and gave us the motivation to…

… start taking the first steps to get Curious Confections off the ground.  The first serious steps.  We spruced up the site — making it more making it professional in appearance — added a menu, and lightened up some of the ambiguous language about actually making product for sale.

Sweets is going to make Curious Confections a part-time job for the interim, while maintaining a second part-time job at an established business.  I will be moonlighting after work hours and on weekends as a CC employee.  We’ve started getting a few orders in — some of them steady — and friends and co-workers have rallied to the cause by ordering stuff from us, and pressing our business cards into the palms of everyone they know.  The goal is to eventually get enough business to pay Sweets a salary, making CC her full-time job.

We need all the help we can get to make this first step successful, allowing us to grow and evolve to the next level, and then the level after that, ad infinitum.  We’re trying to maintain a fine balance between slow, steady growth so we don’t overextend our current reach, and reaching just far enough outside of our current comfort level to force us to evolve.  Just as too much water, sun and fertilizer can kill even a healthy plant — we don’t want to die on the vine from too much of a good thing burning us out too early.

Sweets is also taking the role of food blogger more seriously.  There are a few reasons behind this: foremost, she really enjoys writing about the stuff we make (out of pride and great satisfaction), it’ll help direct more traffic and attention to Curious Confections, it’ll bring her and CC to the attention of other food bloggers (many of them local), and she can be a part of a community of like-minded people (which is always a good thing).  A fresh audience and new friends can work wonders on so many levels.

All cake, baked goods, and Curious Confections related projects will henceforth be posed over there, and links to said posts will be posted here.  I may even pop in and write about the things I have my snobbery badges in: coffee, beer, homebrew, and South Louisiana food.

On the topic of homebrew, we have two batches of beer in bottles ready for consumption by this weekend: the Belgian Devil (a Duvel-like Belgian golden ale), and the Bayou Headsucker (a crisp, clean, refreshing kolsch ale).  The Headsucker was specifically brewed for the crawfish season this year, and our first boil is this Saturday.

You may have noticed the unusual beer names.  Good for you.  We’ve decided to cater to my infantile obsession with zombies and theme all the beers that way.  Our “brewery” is named Ol’ Shambler Brewery.  While making labels for beer that will eventually be drunk, then have the labels stripped right back off again may seem a bit needless, we wanted to have fun with this hobby from start to finish.  To that end we have enlisted (entrapped!) two of our talented friends, Marty and Kim, to help design and color said labels… and they’ve done a hell of a job so far.  I’ll post the artwork separately, another time – gotta’ save some stuff for other posts!

We’ve also started fermenting our first mead — a traditional, sweet-semi-dry variety — using raw, unpasteurized orange blossom honey from a local apiary.  It’s coming along nicely, but won’t be ready to drink for till about this time next year.  Sadly meads, hard ciders, perrys, and wines of all stripe are not “young” beverages, and require an extended conditioning period ranging from a few months, to well over a year depending on the style.  Our patience should be rewarded, and is all the more motivation to have a number of batches going at once.

The downside to home brewing is equipment and supply storage.  It takes up some space, man, and it’s a struggle to store everything so that it 1) isn’t underfoot, and B) isn’t unsightly.  I don’t want to just plonk it all down in a spare bedroom and shut the door, but I don’t want it to sit in the garage or attic gathering dust and who-knows-what-else.  I also want to have access to everything as I need it without having to go dig it out of a storage area.  We have plans to, eventually, build cabinetry into the bar — when we build the bar — to store homebrew gear and fermenting batches out of sight, but accessible.

That, my little ones, is all I have to ramble about at this time.  Be good to each other, even if it means being naughty.  Especially if it means being naughty.

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We Done Been Moved.

Posted by DmentD | Site,Stress | Friday 13 March 2009 9:49 am

If you’re reading this, then the site move has been completed.

The ever gracious Mensa had previously been hosting this site and CuriousConfections.com (as well as his own) on essentially a rented virtual server, and acting as tech consultant and server admin.  Due to being a busy little fucker, and broke as any smart sonofabitch going for his Grand Poobah Degree (in succession: masters, Ph.D, GrP.D), he has opted to throw me under the train, and kick me to the curb like a rented whoo-ah.

So, I’ve moved to a new host.  A bigger host.  A host that likes a post-coital cuddle before announcing that there is cab fare on the dresser, nowgettheFUCKout!

Ahem.

Just so you know.

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This And That.

Posted by DmentD | Cakes,Links,Site | Thursday 22 January 2009 11:00 am

Just a few notes:

Twiddled with this site a bit.  The format is just a little wider — optimized for 1024 wide and beyond… I’d love to apologize to all you still running a desktop in microscopic mode, but I’m not.  Join us in this century of cheap, large monitors.

I bashed the gallery about the head and neck with a broken bottle.  The navigation bar over there on the left goes bye-bye when you enter the gallery,  giving me more space, and I took advantage of this new screen real estate, as well as refining some of the styling code — and consequently made it play nice with Internet Explorer.   As always, my header pic up top will bring you back to the main site from anywhere.

Finally… FINALLY, I finished the front-end for Curious Confections (it’s no longer just a parking space for a gallery).  Just a matter of getting off my ass and doing it.  That is now the official, semi-professional/semi-informal site for the baking projects and jobs that Sweets and I do.  It’s also the place to send people who want to see our work, and to send prospective customers.  *hint hint* I would appreciate anyone within the sight of my voice here to pimp us relentlessly to everyone you know, are acquainted with, pass on the street, etc — preferably in the Austin area.  Send them to Curious Confections — there is a distinct lack of foul language, and dick and fart jokes there to scare them off.  We want to bake yummy things for people!

That’s all I gots for now.

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Growing Pains.

Posted by DmentD | Aggravation,Rambling,Site | Monday 15 September 2008 3:21 pm

The new site makes me very happy.  I’ve been tinkering with it nonstop since I decided to make the changeover, and especially now that the changeover is official.  There is one issue that will affect only a small portion of my readership, and that is because they are still using Internet Explorer to browse the web.

Now, I can’t tell you what browser to use (but shame on you if you’re still sailing the Intarwebs on that leaky tub IE), but I can tell you that at this point DmentD.com may never be optimized to work perfectly in IE… and here’s why: Microsoft has deemed it unnecessary to bother conforming to the ever changing world of web design standards and conventions.  MS picks and chooses what it feels is optimal to them, makes up a fair amount of their own shit, and discards the rest.

The case in question here has to do with integrating my gallery into the WordPress front end here.  The gallery is optimally viewed in an environment that favors a landscape page design, whereas I utilize a portrait page design that employs tightly controlled design elements.  In FireFox, and indeed on the other non-IE browsers I’ve tested the site on (including, I would like to add, an iPhone), the gallery merely extends gracefully past the confines of the right border of the page design as needed because that content is”floating” above the page design itself.  IE, however, triggers a “float drop” (a phrase coined specifically for this little anomaly), causing the gallery to appear below the navigation bar because it is wider — by narrow and wide degrees — than the space allotted for it.

There are workarounds (not solutions, mind you, but the equivalent of using a coat hanger to keep your muffler from dragging the ground as you drive), but none of  them are readily applicable to this situation.  I s’pose I could find or build another theme that is laid out better for these circumstances, but I like the one I’m using, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time making it pleasing to me, and to selectively quote GonzO:

I found out that I don’t really care, on a personal-site level, about standards, language validation, or other such nonsense.  I care about people reading what they came to read, not using excessive amounts of bandwidth, and being able to use the entire site. This should happen across any platform, and on any browser, you can think of, though I no longer test in IE or even in Windows for that matter. The site will not fit if you’re using anything less than 1024×768, so sorry to all the dudes out there still using a 4mb video card, but COME ON and get with the program, already.

So, I apologize to the IE users, you’re just gonna have to scroll down a bit more than everyone else.  I’ve got more important site tasks to work out than fixing the gallery display in one browser, only to have it broken in another, and so on, and so on, ad infinitum.  If you’re particularly upset about this, you can always just bookmark the direct link to the gallery and use that.

And having blathered on about all that, I also want to point out that I am still working on the backlog of fixing broken links and images in the remaining posts, and assigning them to appropriate categories.

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Bim, Bam, Alacazam!

Posted by DmentD | Site | Wednesday 10 September 2008 9:34 am

Welcome one, welcome all to v3.0 of DmentD.com!

The last major overhaul of this site was about five and a half years ago (January 2003), and it opened to thunderous fanfare — the crickets were a nice touch.  It was a growth step that took me away from obnoxious, poorly cobbled together page design to a more conservative, blog-based concept.  With the (at the time) expert and ground breaking programming assistance of Mensa, we managed a scratch built posting/display system that was flexible enough for a programmer to expand upon in any direction he chose.

Five and a half years later, the programmer has shed his diapers and is flying at light speed in directions nobody could have expected.  He has, more than once over the last few years, looked at the code for DmentD.com and said “who wrote this pile of crap?”, only to remember it was him.  I have done my best to reverse engineer his work and add features of my own, and when spam started becoming an issue, Mensa did his best to graft sophisticated engineering onto a cinder block.  Dr. Frankenstein would shake his head in embarrassment.

With a pile of behind-the-scenes features left to do, and a programmer with ever increasing demands on his time that didn’t include having to bang his head repeatedly on his desk in frustration trying to do me the favor of making the ‘old girl’ watertight again, I was quietly disheartened.  I decided to just let things be for a while.

I recently, however, set up a new domain and site for Sweets.  I used WordPress, and Gallery2 (which I was successfully using on my site… the only large-chunk brand-spanking new code I’ve had in ages, and from an outside repository no less), and was shocked at how quick it was to install, how very simple it is to configure, and how modular it is.  There are plugins aplenty, the styling is easy to tweak, and best of all, it requires very little programming skill to make some surprisingly major changes.  I know, I’m late to the WordPress party.  Shut up.

Hmm.

So, I quietly worked on this revamp.  Utilizing the mad-genius skills of GonzO (and numerous bribes of alcohol), all my old blog and other data has been migrated over, and I just need to  go back through all the posts and fix broken links and pictures.  My old familiar friends are still in place — the random quote, the gallery image, the blogs — along with a few new faces.  I’ve signed up for, and added a Twitter feed to the navigation bar so I can keep everyone up to date with the progress of my bowels in 140 characters or less.  There are the native WordPress options to jump to a category, view posts by month, search the entire site, and subscribe to RSS feeds for everything.  The gallery is now integrated into the blog itself, making image posting a downright treat to do.  Behind the scenes is a really dynamic spam filtration system, and an administration control panel that is slicker than whale shit.

For those of you who like to comment on my shenanigans, your first comment will require moderation, and as long as you don’t wipe your cookies out in your browser, you should be able to comment without impediment.

There is still a lot of mopping up to do from the data migration, and I’m sure I’ll be tweaking and fiddling a considerable amount in the weeks to come, but basically this is the dealio.  Just be sure to take your shoes off when you come in, the carpet is new.

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Comments And Spam.

Posted by DmentD | Site | Wednesday 26 March 2008 11:41 am

In an effort to thwart the ever increasing threat of (and in the recent case, actual presence of) spam in the comments, Mensa has instituted a temporary blockade consisting of the need for all comments to be approved by me before they’ll appear at all.  This means that you will not see your comment right away, and that you shouldn’t panic and post it multiple times because you think it didn’t go through.

There is also the capacity for me to blacklist spammers from the site entirely.  Should you find yourself unjustly staring at the blacklist page, just email me from the station you are blacklisted from and I’ll clear that up.

Future refinements to this system are in the works, and your patience is appreciated.  It’ll eventually get to point where I won’t have to approve each and every comment.

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Gallery Updates.

Posted by DmentD | Cakes,Site | Wednesday 5 December 2007 1:04 am

Ok, I’ve finished migrating the existing HALLOWEEN pages over, as well as migrating and expanding upon the CAKE gallery.

Also added a NEW CAKE to the gallery as well.

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