RSS Feed

a playground of art, photos, videos, writing, music, life


You are here

Random Quote

Every exit is an entry somewhere else.
-- Tom Stoppard

The Story of "Building My Own Blogger"

Home Page

Blog Archive by Month | Blog Archive by Story or Tag | Search Blog and Comments

My First BeatCanvas Post


Tonight was a great night. I picked up a new scanner and a new printer. Took my older sons with me and we had a great time just hanging out. Came home, spent more time together, and then after they went to bed, I worked on this site.

Let's see if the first post works... :)


Read the whole story of "Building My Own Blogger"
by Brett Rogers, 2/10/2005 1:03:50 AM

Comments Up and Running...


Tonight, I built the first stage of the comments here on Sometime this week, I'll finish them, but at least now people can comment anonymously.

How do you make it easy for people to uniquely identify themselves if they want to do more than just an anonymous comment? I've handled that two ways.

1) Allow even anonymous commenters to give themselves a display name, with "(Anonymous)" next to their displayed name so that it can't be confused with others who uniquely identified themselves.

2) After tossing it around, I think entering an email address is a good way, but that brings jitters. ("Will I get spammed?") I considered zip code and birth month /day. I've decided on all three, with the ability to change any one of them if you know the other two.

Why zip code? Because I think the next stage of blogs is local, and I expect a lot of networking through them. For this reason, I'm using a localization engine that I built last year that for those who want others to know that they are local, they can search for every registered blogger / commenter within X miles of a zip code in the US and Canada.

Once I'm very happy with and I've built the localization registry, I'll invite other bloggers / commenters to register their location (zip code only to protect privacy) so that it's an easy lookup for other like-minded folk. Then, with a protected email form on, people could send messages until they felt safe enough to share addresses / phone numbers and actually meet.

Plus, with easy identification of the commenter, I can enable other features, such as allow you to view all of the comments across articles, and give you the ability to play editor by screening out posts of a certain category. (Don't like my politics? Choose not to view those articles.)

I though about expanding that function to include privatizing some of my articles. For example, I'm uncomfortable posting about my children, what with creepy people on the web and all. So what if I could password-protect your access to a category, such as family? Then give the password to family and friends. When they choose the content categories that they wish to view, they'll be prompted that one time for the password. That would allow family to get updates/pictures of the kids and allow me to keep their privacy.

And now, time to do the dinner dishes...


Read the whole story of "Building My Own Blogger"
by Brett Rogers, 2/15/2005 1:32:07 AM

Moving In


Today is the day that I move in, here at

If you didn't know, I'm building this site from scratch. Which means that I'm not using blogger or typepad or any other blogging tool for this. I decided about a month ago to make my own dogfood, as a friend of mine would say. I'm a database web developer by trade, so why not go for it and see what happens.

I spent the latter part of my evening getting the RSS feed to work as I wanted. Woke up early this morning and got the email notification of comments going and set it up so that each post has its own title, meta keywords, and meta description when you open the page for it.

Lots of work yet to do, but all of the basic blogging elements are here. At the risk of boring you with the to-do list, I plan to blog the development of the site. So here's what is on my plate:

  • Let people register themselves and log in to the site. This will open the door to some of the items that follow.
  • Let people browse all of the comments made by registered users, regardless of post.
  • Give registered users their own profile page, with a link to their own web site (think: marketing).
  • I hate spam, as does everyone. Why it is that comments engines display a person's email address is beyond me - it's an invitation to spam the commenter. That's just dumb. Instead, I'll setup a private email form here on the site to email someone, if they give their email address. That way it's hidden and un-spammable.
  • Allow registered users to filter the content by categories. Much like Yahoo lets you customize Yahoo's home page, this would allow you to filter out my posts that weren't in your interest, such as political rants or blogging my artwork.
  • Let people choose from different BeatCanvas templates and change the look of my web site. This could get chaotic, but I like the idea. I've built the site so that each article can have its own look. This way, anyone could come here and choose from the templates available and set the look for the entire site or for just a single article.
  • I want bloggers to add themselves to my links list at left. That too could get chaotic, but we'll see how I might be able to manage that.
  • Set up a blogger/commenter directory, so that you could type in your US or Canadian zip/postal code or city/location and find those within your area. I haven't seen that something like this exists today, but why not? As I mentioned in another post, I built an engine for this on a different project last year. And I think that commenters should be treated like bloggers in this sense. It would be great to allow local and like-minded people to find each other.
  • In addition to categorizing articles/posts, I want to create "threads," which would allow a discussion across posts to be linked together. Then allow the thread to be viewed by itself, but instead of using the blog's normal order of putting the most recent posts first, it would show the thread in chronological order.
So that's the wish list so far.

Have some of your own? Have additional thoughts about this? Let me know in the comments.


Read the whole story of "Building My Own Blogger"
by Brett Rogers, 2/17/2005 8:37:43 AM

Categories and Threads


This afternoon, I had a conversation with the PR person of a company to which I've consulted before. They're considering blogs and RSS feeds to improve communication with their clients. Part of the challenge for them, though, is that some of their content should be private to protect their competitive advantage. How does a company act transparently without giving away business? Moreover, is that really the right question?

As I build this site, I'm thinking through these questions. Corporate blogging is up and coming; it's a means for better communication externally - and internally too. Make no mistake - ultimately, blogs are marketing. If email newsletters were push marketing, are blogs to be regarded as pull marketing? Should a company have both? I believe that they should. Email newsletters don't have to be "spam."

I spent a few hours today working on beatcanvas, adding in Categories and Threads. I'd work for 20 minutes at a time, and then do something with the kids for a bit, and then come back to it. I actually like working this way. I get 20 minutes of thoughtful work, and then 20 or 30 minutes of time away. This allows me to back-burner some of the problems I could encounter before I continued.

Blog Categories aren't new. I know that TypePad offers them. Steve Rubel uses them well.

But I haven't seen anything in the way of Blog Threads.

A "thread" offers a trail of crumbs between posts. Where two posts in the same category might have nothing to do with each other, two posts in a thread should read like a continuing story.

There've been lots of times in reading the blogs of others that I wished for a thread. I wanted the background on the current post to put their current comments into context. It happens a lot with Glenn Reynolds and Jeff Jarvis. They tend to have "threads" that span months.

Next up on the agenda for me is the consideration of users registering and customizing their own page. I've set up the database for privatizing categories. ("My Kids" is my first private category, which will require a passcode to view it.)

I think corporate blogs must have privatization control. Companies strive for good PR and for secure transparency. Blogs can offer these, but the current tools on the market don't offer them. But they'll have to offer them. And companies will need to hire good story-tellers. Imagine product development threads, open to the public for ideas and input. It makes a company and its products "buzz-worthy." Which is smart business...


Read the whole story of "Building My Own Blogger"
Tags: typepad
by Brett Rogers, 2/20/2005 7:24:23 PM

Work work work work work...


Doing a lot of work on the site today and I'm just about done with the Login feature. Probably release it by the end of the day - as soon as I'm done with revising comments so that it uses your login.

One thing I want to do with the Login feature is to let users define themselves by issues, interests, and activities. When filling out the profile page for this, it will display your answers.

So like for abortion, the answers would be:

1. Abortion is always wrong.
2. Abortion is always wrong, except when saving the life of the mother.
3. Abortions will happen, and the government shouldn't fund it or legislate it.
4. Abortion should be available to all women, but parents of minors should be informed.
5. Abortion should be available to all women and girls/minors.

So I'm thinking of other issues and the answers to those. The purpose of this would be that you could find like-minded people.

If you have any suggestions, leave them in comments!


Read the whole story of "Building My Own Blogger"
by Brett Rogers, 2/27/2005 3:41:47 PM

Ah, Politics...


Bella commented earlier that my choice of images to represent Right-Wingers and Left-Wingers was offensive. The images were in my links list in the left-side column.

Other than the proverbial donkey and elephant, what images can you select for these two polar extremes?

Right-Wingers are often labeled as "jingoistic" and as people "wrapped in the America flag." Coming from left wing folks, these aren't intended to be compliments.

Left-Wingers, on the other hand, are often seen as protesting and flag-burning, so to go with an obvious polarization, my image for the Right-Wingers was a flag waving, and for the Left-Wingers it was a flag burning.

As I posted them, I thought it was a bit over the top, but I posted it to see if anyone responded. Bella did, and took me to task for it, and rightly so (or is it leftly so??).

So for now, I've changed the images. You can scroll down to view the change. But these images are only good for the next four years, and Bella, who heralds from Iowa, is certainly pained to be portrayed as a red stater, I'm sure. The change is temporary until I can be more brilliant or be supplied with better iconic image ideas from my readers.


Read the whole story of "Building My Own Blogger"
Tags: politics
by Brett Rogers, 2/27/2005 10:12:13 PM

Login - Released


I need your patience... some of the more robust features of are on the way. The first step is in place: login.

To give a quick recap, I'm building my own blogger to give me more versatility and to give the reader a richer experience. If you've been reading beatcanvas, that's about all that non-registered people will have. Which is fine, and much like other blogging tools.

But by registering a login, access to some pretty cool features are coming.

This being the first night out, login could be buggy, so I ask your patience. Gotta run... the younger boys' mom is in the hospital (she's okay!) and we're going to see her, now that she has a room.


Read the whole story of "Building My Own Blogger"
by Brett Rogers, 2/28/2005 7:47:09 PM

To Do List


The image at right is for a friend of mine. I love my juicer, and use it about 5 times a week. Today's breakfast was orange/grape/green apple juice. Yummy! I'm trying to convince him to buy a juicer. His wife wants one, but he is unconvinced. But he'll be converted.

Here's the list of To-Do items of the first phase of work here at

  • Profile Page - those who register through login will get their own page devoted to a description of themselves. This is good for blog marketing.
  • Comments Search - registered folks will be able to search the comments across posts.
  • About page - yeah, I know, the About page at left goes nowhere. That's coming...
  • Writing - um, ditto...
  • Email Forms - registered readers will be able to email commenters through an email form here on the site. No commenter's email address will ever be displayed here - that's just a recipe for spam.
  • Archives - this main page only holds 15 articles/posts. I need to build the archive page.
  • New content should ping weblogs, technorati, etc - it doesn't yet, though I've researched it a bit.
After I'm done with this list, I'll stop enhancing the site for a while, but will still post daily. And by the way, I'm really enjoying the comments of everyone.

Tomorrow, I'll post a list of the To-Do items for Phase Two.


Read the whole story of "Building My Own Blogger"
by Brett Rogers, 3/1/2005 8:58:17 AM

Comments Search


You can now search the comments...

Give it a whirl!

ETC: You can search articles. Emailing commenters works, although you must be a registered beatcanvas user to email. And the About page is done for now...


Read the whole story of "Building My Own Blogger"
by Brett Rogers, 3/2/2005 8:44:36 AM



I worked on the archives for and got them up and running. You can see them in the left column. Started work on User Profiles, but ended up talking to my teenagers instead - more fun.

I only have a few more items left for Phase 1, and then I'll take a programming hiatus from beatcanvas for a few weeks to work on writing a support software package for a client. (Of course, I'll still post to the blog here...)

I learned today that my consulting contract with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has been extended through June 30, although I suspect that I'll be working there through the rest of the year. It's nice to have steady work.


Read the whole story of "Building My Own Blogger"
by Brett Rogers, 3/4/2005 12:27:11 AM

Coming Attractions


I have a favorite playlist in my Windows Media Player that I call "Optimism." Tonight, I hopped onto MusicMatch and downloaded Boston's "Don't Look Back," which seemed to me to sandwich perfectly between the B-52's "Love Shack" and Squeeze's "Tempted."

It fits well - or at least it moves easily from "Love Shack" to "Don't Look Back," but I forgot that its ending is one that seques into another song, so it just kind of drops off and then the perfection of "Tempted" begins. A little awkward, but I like the song too much to leave it out.

You know, music is so much fuller with headphones on. I'll be getting lots of that starting tomorrow night. The older kids go up north to visit their Mom in Minneapolis. And then, I'm on my own for a few days till they return on Thursday.

I have a few things to do in the meantime. A former client needs me to add a few enhancements to their quoting system that I developed for them. The red pepper painting simply must be finished. And I'll be doing some work here, on

I hope to release a feature that I call Graffiti.

It's basically a second blog here, but it's one that you commenters and readers will run. If you register yourself on this site, you'll be able to add articles/posts to the Graffiti section and others can comment.

Should be fun... I look forward to seeing what people have to say.

In the meantime this evening, I'll hang out with my sons and try to recover from dinner.

Barbecued chicken, pineapple, lots of veggies... yummm...


Read the whole story of "Building My Own Blogger"
Tags: music
by Brett Rogers, 3/19/2005 10:44:46 PM



I tweaked the beatcanvas site so that on the left side now you see "Stories." Pretty much all blogware shows content in reverse dated order, so that the most recent entries are first. But that makes for a lousy story - stories are never, "The end... The princess kissed the frog... Once upon a time." But that's the oprder in which a blog tells a story.

I wrote beatcanvas' blogware to show "threads" - which would show the entries in true chronological order. "Thread" is an overly geeky term that no one would understand. Pardon my nerdness. "Story," on the other hand, is universal...

If you click on any story links here at beatcanvas, you get the tale of whatever the topic in proper dated order - from start to finish. I think this is the right format to tell the story of each painting, and for other things as well. Enjoy!


by Brett Rogers, 10/14/2006 11:54:30 AM

Tags, Stories, and a Quote


I'm working on re-implementing tags within the web site this morning. One thing that's important, I think, in blog platforms but is glaringly missing is the notion of story. A story should be told in order. In the past, I've used that with the story of each painting - a reader could click into a story link here on the site and see the blogged progression of each painting - earliest post to most recent. Blogs, by nature, show the most recent post and then walk backward through history from there.

I wrote to SixApart (the makers of Typepad) about a year ago and asked why they didn't offer something like this, but in my request I called it a thread. That was too geeky of me - I should have called it what it is: a "story" - and they rejected the idea and said, "That's what tags are for." Which is true, but tags show in typical blog order. And they should. Tags are topical, and not necessarily well-represented when read as a story.

But some elements of what's displayed across multiple posts in a blog and tagged should be shown as a story. That just makes more sense. Like someone's weight loss. Or a painting. Fill in the blank for yourself.

Know of a blogging platform that allows you to choose the sort order of tagged posts? I'm interested to see how they do it, if you know of one.

So here on beatcanvas, I'll have tags, but I'll continue to have stories and they'll be separated. Stories appear in chronological order. Tags appear in reverse chronological order.

Another thing I've done here recently is introduce a random quote generator. If you go to the home page, you'll see a random quote pulled from a list of about 600 that I have. Refresh the page and a different quote appears. It's dynamic every time.

This morning, one of my favorites popped up:

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
-- Jack London
With a club... amen. If you want it, find a way to make it. Don't settle.


Read the whole story of "Building My Own Blogger"
Tags: blogs
by Brett Rogers, 6/10/2007 11:11:20 AM



I "finished" with tags and stories. You can check it out here.

I haven't tagged every post appropriately, but I will be. Just as I'm not done entering all of my favorite people, places, and things in the Thumbs Up section. Lots to do.

I say "finished" above because all projects are never really done; you just find interesting places to pause. The one thing I want to do yet with tags is to set up RSS feeds for them. But it's nice to have them working now.

The one page on the site not done at all is the Search page. Because beatcanvas is my own doing, I can set up search for both posts and for the comments made. I don't think other blogware allows for search of comments. But frankly, all of them should.

I had lunch with a friend today and we discussed an idea that I gave him two years ago and more recently two months ago. He's the PR guy for a local business I know pretty well, and he gets it. He understands that the world is participatory. Businesses ignore these trends at their peril. But good for him and the company he represents that he is on the ball.


Tags: my life
by Brett Rogers, 6/11/2007 10:43:35 PM



I finished my blog's search engine. It synthesizes both posts and comments into an integrated search, plus allows filtering by media (pictures, video, and sound files) and a search by commenter.

Personally, I like the search results. If there's a picture in the post, it grabs it and shows that along with the initial text in the post.

You can check it out here.


Read the whole story of "Building My Own Blogger"
Tags: programming
by Brett Rogers, 6/12/2007 6:49:24 PM

Blogroll Tags


As I leisurely rewrote my web site over the past few months, I implemented a new blogroll. The format is longer than a typcial blogroll, and so I grew concerned about having tens or eventually hundreds of blogs listed because it would be exhausting to find anyone.

Well, no more. I implemented Tags, to make filtering the list easier.

Check it out! I'll begin adding more folks to it in the next week.


Read the whole story of "Building My Own Blogger"
by Brett Rogers, 6/28/2007 5:52:07 PM