Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant

Rambly Rambles, Updates, and Stuff

After almost two years of web searches, guides, tutorials and mucking about, I finally have a stable install of Django on OSX. For anyone who has gone the painful route of trying to get Django running smoothly on a Mac, I highly recommend free and open source Bitnami DjangoStack, which installs and is ready to go in just a few clicks. The stack includes Django 1.0.2, but will be updating to the latest release shortly, as one of their developers told me after I posted about the stack on Twitter.

Unfortunately, my adventures with Django only lasted a couple of days, as I was tossed into the deep end of the pool with Drupal this week. I’m working on building an e-commerce site, but the theme system in Drupal has my brain tied in knots. That’s what I’ll be working on for the next couple of weeks.

In other news, music is the future of journalism. Or Google Wave. Or tablet computers.

About a month ago, I traded my brick of a Creative Labs Nomad Zen Mp3 player for a Sony E Series Walkman. My Nomad lasted more than 4 years. If my Blackberry had better audio output (the volume on the Blackberry Pearl doesn’t go loud enough to be heard over the sound of the subway) I’d have used that, but I heard about the Walkman from Dave Winer’s Scripting News blog, and I love it. No, it doesn’t sync with iTunes, but I don’t want it to. The Walkman makes it easy to take in the podcasts I love while I’m walking or on the Subway. That’s all I want it to do.

On the subject of podcasts, I regularly listen to Dave Winer and Jay Rosen on Rebooting the News, Dave Stanton & Co., on Journalism Now, as well as some basic news analysis like Talk of the Nation, NOW on PBS and On the Media. I also listen to the New York Times Front Page podcast, just to see what the Grey Lady thinks is important today.

I also discovered that the New York Public Library has a great digital collection that can be checked out and downloaded online. My recent bedtime stories (audiobooks have been my salvation from insomnia since I was very young) have been the works of Orson Scott Card. I read the Ender’s Game series when I was in middle school, and again in high school, and again in college. But I never read Card’s less famous work. I’ve enjoyed Lost Boys, Hart’s Hope, Enchantment, and the Alvin Maker series immensely. Just my brand of fantasy+philosophy+sci-fi. I’m currently listening to Songmaster.

I realized something recently about my reading habits online. I use Google Reader to collect most of my news and information. Sometimes, I don’t have enough time to read everything, so I “star” things that I want to read later. The problem is, sometimes when “later” arrives, instead of reading and synthesizing something, I just bookmark it in Delicious. So now I have over 2,000 bookmarked items, a large part of which I haven’t even read. Lame.

In the same vein, I’ve been thinking about how I use Publish2. Most of the things I link to on P2 are blog posts and news articles relating to journalism. What people are doing and thinking and seeing for the future of the industry. I want to be able to share more fluidly, and while P2 can import shared items from Google Reader, not everything I share among my GR social circle is P2 material. At the same time, maybe I should go back to the slow method, take my time to add comments and quotes and tags, so my links will be more valuable.

On the subject of links, I have to confess that one of the reasons for this blog post was to test out Apture, a plugin that lets me add videos, images, Wikipedia, links, maps and more with just a few clicks. I have to say, I’m likin’ it. Another reason is that I’ve been out of the blogging groove for a long time, and this is yet another attempt to get back into it. I’ve been busy, and sometimes Twitter is so much easier, but I really think that it’s important to maintain the practice of long-form writing.

I think this blog design is one of the problems, though. It’s intimidating to think that I have to find images of a certain size for each post. And the design makes me feel like each blog post has to be an essay, instead of a few short paragraphs of thought. I’m not sure what the solution might be yet, but don’t be surprised when things start looking different around here.