Since we can’t sail, this is a good time of year to catch up with maintenance on the ol’ boat log. I’ve completed some stuff over the past few weeks that might be of interest to you, our loyal readers.

New Logo

The most visible change (though still fairly subtle, I suppose) is that I’ve updated the site logo. I’m not a graphic designer or anything, so graphics work is a frustrating and time-consuming process for me, but since we started the boat log in 2009 I’ve actually learned quite a bit. For example, I now get why image editing software has layers. This is probably painfully obvious to real designers, but I have to imagineer this sort of thing. I use Paint.net, which is a free alternative to Photoshop. I find it easier to use than Gimp, and much more free than Photoshop.

Anyway, here are the logos:

Old:  Old Logo
New: New Logo

Aside from being bigger, I’ve figured out how to make it more legible without having it look pixelated. I also adjusted the flow of the right side of the banner, added a drop shadow, increased the size of the swallows, gave them more definition, and made it look more like they were holding the banner (kind of).

Fortuitous TattooSwallows are a traditional sailor’s tattoo. To a ye olde sailor, birds were a welcomed sign, indicating that the ship was nearing land, and birds are therefore symbolic of a safe return from a voyage. Swallows in particular fly home every year (at least folklorically, as referenced in the terrible song about the Mission San Juan Capistrano), which is also nice imagery for people engaged in a dangerous career at sea. Sailor Jerry-style tattoos are back in vogue at the moment, which often feature swallows, in addition to ships, stars, hearts, and pin-up girls.

I’ve never for a moment wanted a tattoo, but if I were to get one, it would probably be something like the image to the right (which I also made in 2009 as a potential site logo, before figuring out a lot of things in Paint.net).

New Log Browsing Tool

As we have more and more log entries, it’s started to become more difficult to find old log entries. Surprisingly, this is something we actually do; I’ve said before that this is a working boat log and not just a blog, and we find ourselves having reason to consult the old entries from time to time.

In order to make it a little easier, I’ve added a category to each entry, and Jen and I went through and tagged all the old stuff. This has allowed us to add a new browsing system on the Log Book page to view by type. You can select a type and press “apply” to query the system, and the ten oldest results will be shown. If there are more than 10, and Ajaxy pager will let you view more without having to reload the whole page. The tagging isn’t ideal, since almost everything is filed as “Fortuitous Sailing Log,” but at least the infrastructure is there now for us to expand this as necessary in the future. The “browse by date” function is still there too, and chronological reading is also possible by using the “previous/next” links at the bottom of any entry.

These types of advances have resulted from a deeper understanding of the software gained through my work as the Windjammers Sailing Club’s webmaster. They have a lot of specific requirements that have pushed me to learn more about this stuff.

New Links

I’ve expanded the Links page to include blogs that I read regularly. I’m not sure if people still makes links pages, but I’m perfectly comfortable being a little old fashioned in that regard. At least it doesn’t use the blink tag, frames, and animated GIFs like a web page from 1995.

Check these out if you’d like to read more about sailing stuff:

Cruising Stormy Petrel Folks from our sailing club who decided to sail away.
Dock Six Chronicles bljones’ hilarious blog on sailing, two-burner meals, and rums.
Good Old Boat Karen and Jerry’s blog from Good Old Boat Magazine.
SV Fortuitous Another Fortuitous!
The world encompassed Alchemy‘s preparations for sailing away.

Let me know if I’m missing any.

Single Spaces

I’ve taken Farhad Manjoo’s article in Slate to heart, and am in the process of converting to only one space between sentences. He makes a compelling argument, but I’m more swayed by the fact that behind the scenes, this site actually makes two spaces with a space plus a  , which unfortunately means that any sentence that happens to start on a new line is indented. As Peter Cetera said, it’s a hard habit to break, but I’m trying.

Drupal Update

This is completely boring (and hopefully transparent), but I’ve upgraded to the latest version of Drupal 6 to make sure that the site was as secure as possible. Drupal is the content management system (CMS) on which sailingfortuitous.com is built. Updating it is extremely frightening as it requires deleting a lot of stuff and hoping it all comes back and works after the upgrade, but it was made much easier thanks to this guy’s patch files: http://fuerstnet.de/en/drupal-upgrade-easier

My choice of Drupal draws jeers in certain nerd circles, but it was kind of random in the beginning, and it’s done pretty much everything I’ve needed it to do so far. When we first started and I was running the site on a Pentium III 500 in my house I used it because I found an ISO of a pre-configured LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) with Drupal installed, which it made it really easy to get going from scratch—and scratch building it was half the fun for me (no generic Blogger site here). I’ve put enough work into it at this point that it doesn’t look like so many stock Drupal sites, and I have no intention of changing.

Please Give Us Feedback

Let us know what you think. There’s a Contact Us link in the header and a comments section on every article. We love feedback.

Thanks for reading. I’ll do my best to keep up with new content over the winter.

 

 

“Prepare to fend off the bridge abutment.”