Category: Web

  • helen blog, now at!

    I have called my blog “helen blog” since the tail end of my Blogger days, and kept the name when I made the switch to WordPress (a very good switch for me, it turns out). It seems fitting that it finally gets to actually live at, and I decided to do the right thing and move to HTTPS while I was at it.

    .blog is available for “landrush” applications through Automattic, which runs the service. is great, and I keep my WordPress-specific thoughts over there for a number of reasons, but I like running WordPress for myself so I remain a user. It’s humbling, really. The trepidation of hitting the switch on a domain name change, navigating the HTTPS waters – even before getting to the WordPress part, running a site can be hard. And then there’s the WordPress part, which I’m always trying to make better.

    I have to thank two tools in particular for making this a relatively easy move (for a developer). First is wp-cli, whose search-replace command saved my sanity. The other is Let’s Encrypt, which makes running my personal site over HTTPS practical. With those, I have to give a shout to this site’s host, SiteGround, which provides wp-cli by default and Let’s Encrypt through cPanel even for shared hosting, making all of this as painless as possible. They also have supported using PHP 7.0 since beta, which combined with this site running nightlies, makes me quite the tester of my own breakage 🙂

  • Final Projects: Website Construction I [TH481A], Summer 2011

    Had a really great two weeks with my summer session students this year. After 15 hours of instruction on everything from digital content for musicians to file and folder organization to HTML basics to a PHP/MySQL powered events calendar, here’s what they came up with:

    All in all, I think they came out pretty damn well! When I think about the wide-eyed look these conservatory-trained musicians all gave me when I started going on about tags and servers on the first day of class to the new efficiency with which they are all editing in Textwrangler/Notepad++, saving, uploading with Filezilla, and viewing in the browser, I’m selfishly proud of myself and also very proud of these students, all of whom are my age or a little older (no extremes this year).

    To the students: Congrats, everyone! I know you’ll all keep tweaking away at your websites and discovering more and better things to do with them. The course website will continue to function and your accounts will remain. I may miss things on the forums after this month unless I set up email notifications on new topics somehow, so stick to email if you have an urgent question. I wish every one of you could stay for the next two week session as well. For those who are continuing on, let’s just say that you will be subjected to my zealous love of WordPress and really be thrown into the deep end. Get ready 🙂

  • Project Reed Quintet

    This past weekend, Adrian and I went down to NYC for a rehearsal of this new reed quintet project he has going on. A reed quintet consists of oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, and bass clarinet; basically, like a woodwind quintet but without the sad reedless instruments of flute and horn. It’s a pretty cool sound and they’ve got a really solid group together. I tagged along to hang with some other friends in the area and to take some preliminary photos as they gear up for a music festival retreat and coming gigs. I’ll also be doing their website in the near future… once they decide on a name. In any case, I just spent a good chunk of time tweaking up one of the photos, so here’s a public preview of an awesome up and coming group!

    From left to right: Benito Meza, clarinet; Doug O’Connor, saxophone; Merideth Hite, oboe; Adrian Sandi, clarinet; Harrison Hollingsworth, bassoon

    Reed Quintet

  • Coming up: Web programming certificate

    I finished my master’s over 2 years ago and, though I am always learning about something by reading or doing, I’m beginning to feel the itch to do some structured learning again. The last time I did a class it was cake decorating and I ended up successfully making a 3-tier wedding cake this summer. This time, I’m going to do something that will hopefully also help me professionally: a web programming certificate offered by the O’Reilly School of Technology. Not that the cake decorating wasn’t useful – knowing me, I still may end up a pastry chef/restaurateur someday.

    If I finish it, I’ll end up with a Certificate for Professional Development from the University of Illinois. It was half off for a few days and my mother loves the idea of me doing some non-music schooling, so for the cost of one grad school credit (seriously, one credit is currently $1,040 at Eastman) that’s not coming out of my pocket, I can get a piece of paper that proves that I know more than how to play the piano. Sure, books are way cheaper and the classes may or may not be of the best quality (I get the feeling I’ll finish the HTML/CSS basics one in an hour), but my gut tells me that as a person with two degrees in music but a job in web development, a certificate in web programming can’t hurt.

    As I get started and move on, I’ll try to remember to blog some thoughts – maybe using a WordPress for iOS beta?! (I got into the testers group! Woohoo!)

  • Great read on higher ed websites as prompted by that XKCD cartoon

    But even then, some colleges’ home pages are saturated with features that do not so much reflect guesses at what visitors need, but what various campus interests want. Greenfield said “home page politics” — different departments and personalities jockeying for position — have a strong influence on what an institution’s site ends up looking like. After all, he said, if a president says he wants a letter and a mission statement out front, what Web administrator is going to say no?

    No Laughing Matter at Inside Higher Ed