About openFace
March 23rd, 2008 | View Post

The first openFace logo

Welcome to openFace!
...online archiving software

It's been over three years since I decided to embark upon my own personal content management system (CMS) specifically for powering my personal archival space on the internet, www.kevinludlow.com.

My first version of such a software package was designed under the guidelines that database designs were not only unnecessary, but also that they provided gaping security problems to the average user. As a result, my first CMS (which incidentally has powered www.kevinludlow.com for the past several years) was designed such that the administrator could use databases for support, but that the resulting website would be 'built' and hence all pages would actually be static. Given the system was driven by pluggable modules, it was titled staticMOD.

Though the staticMOD system worked well, it became more and more clear that in order for a CMS to be truly dynamic, it could not rely upon the administrator to 'build' new database remarks into the static pages. After coming to that sad realization, I discontinued building the finer features of staticMOD

In the summer of 2006, I began working on new concepts for how a true personal archival package should be built, and specifically how it should differ from the typical content management system. The system should avoid more technical features commonly used for allowing administrators to set up slashDot style websites, and should rather focus on the aspects truly desired by users: photo support, video support, personal blog, contact capabilities, and etc. Additionally that all aspects of text should be taggable in a wiki-like style thus allowing visitors to truly learn about the website owner's world.

After over a year of here-and-there planning, the first bits of code were written on the 19th of July, 2007. From then on, the software package has slowly been transformed into the vision I have had for it all along.

Some of the more interesting features, in my opinion, deal specifically with how entities are tagged throughout the openFace system. For example, say you are looking at a scanned photo over 80 years old of relatives, perhaps your grandparents. openFace has the unique ability to not only let you discern who is who in the picture, it will also tell you roughly (or in most cases exactly) how old the individuals are in the photo. Additionally, you have the ability to click on the individual and read more about them and how they pertain to my life. The same profile display will link you to various stories about the individual, any video footage I may have of them, some personal information, and of course will allow you to view all images with said individuals.

As far as the look of openFace goes, it may strike you that the website has a remarkably similar look and feel to Facebook. Though I suppose it is safe to say this is no coincidence, no portion of Facebook was used to design this website. Additionally, no codebases, external or otherwise, were in any way borrowed from Facebook. I simply feel that of the social networking sites available online Facebook is the only one that has done it right as far as a clean interface goes. My imitation of that cleanliness is nothing shy of flattery to the web-layout team over at Facebook.

To expand on the previous statements, all code was written from the ground up in Linux shells using nothing more than VIM. The codebase is primarily written in PHP, though it also relies heavily upon JavaScript, CSS, and of course HTML. To date, the entire codebase (including comments) is in excess of 16,000 lines. The entire API is also documented with the help of Doxygen.

Though there are still many features and functions on the way, some of which are even discussed in the former paragraphs, I hope you'll enjoy the first new version of my content management system personal archival system, openFace!

Advertising for Ron Paul
January 7th, 2008 | View Post

We used to always write on one another's cars in high school with shoe polish and so I figured it would be just as useful for an election.

Talking to People About Ron Paul
December 3rd, 2007 | View Post

I've become a tremendous fan of Ron Paul over the past year. I wanted to put together a short speech explaining to people my thoughts on what is likely needed in order for him to make any progress in the 2008 election.

The topic is a little dry, but I think brings up some good points.

Fenway Panos
June 3rd, 2007 | View Post

Me standing in the bleachers after the game

Tracy and I went up to Boston with the specific intention of going to a Red Socks game. In fact, Tracy actually bought tickets to the game before we even had plane tickets. I don't often go to baseball games, but it is definitely fun checking out all of the different stadiums around the country.

This game was particularly fun because the Sox were playing the Yankees. Tracy hates the Yanks, but we're going to see them in NYC in just a few weeks.

Anyway, I put these panoramas together from the middle of the game.

A view of Fenway Park from deep right field

The Gas Caps
Story circa May 4th, 2007 | View Post

A photo of N733CP, the plane I was flying in this story. Note that this picture was not taken at the same time

The following story takes place at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the Lockhart Municipal Airport, and 3,000 feet above the ground between those two locales.

On the second flight I ever made during my flight training, I was responsible for the pre-flight inspection. Though neither Dustin nor myself had a great deal of experience with these sorts of procedures just yet, I decided that I'd be able to figure it out one way or another. Of course, the 'or another' part of that was preparing to reveal itself to me.

We had been taught in the previous lesson that there is a very specific methodology to doing a pre-flight inspection. The formula is mainly just geared at making sure you don't overlook any obvious steps and so it's important to always go in order. For a person like myself who likes to do many things at once, this linearity took a little getting used to. Nevertheless, I did the flight inspection as requested and was ready to get going.

Upon completion of my pre-flight inspection, our new instructor Garrett came out to greet Dustin and I just prior to the flight. We were planning a short comfortable afternoon voyage out to Lockhart (50R) as we had done the week before. For those who don't know, Lockhart is a small town located about 30 miles south of Austin. From ABIA, it's a straight shot and thus makes for a great training facility.

I taxied out of ABIA and took to the skies, heading south towards Lockhart. When we got into the area, Garrett had me doing all sorts of aerial drills. I was mostly working on turning around a point, controlling my altitude, and some basic navigation. After about 20 or so minutes of this, we entered the pattern at Lockhart and touched down.

Garrett instructed me to taxi the plane over to the gas pump there (gas is sold much cheaper in Lockhart than at ABIA) and was planning on having us gas up the plane. As I parked and killed the engine, he got out and climbed onto the sidestep to see the top of the plane. When he came down, he very calmly asked me to step out of the plane. I did. He asked me to walk around the plane and take a look at the top of the plane and see if I noticed anything of interest.

I climbed atop the plane as requested and much to my great surprise, the plane was missing both of its gas caps!

I could tell that Garrett was pretty angry at the situation, but he did his best to remain in good spirits and was not too outwardly angry with me. We called in the problem to someone back in Austin and as it turns out, I had simply left them on top of the plane and they must have fallen onto the ground as soon as I engaged the throttle. We had to wait about 30 minutes, but someone brought them to us and all was well.

Months later I was speaking with a flight instructor who was adamant about the fact that planes cannot fly without gas caps since the lack of pressure would simply suck the gas right out of the wings.

While I'm sure it's ideal to have them in place, I had to respectfully disagree with this person's analysis.

2006 Christmas Card
December 10th, 2006 | View Post

I was just sitting around the other day and thought, what better way to spend my time than to create a little holiday card for my friends and family. I didn't really have any ideas going into it, but after playing around with some colors and concepts for awhile, this is what ultimately came up.

My 2006 Christmas card complete with Tux

The perimeter of the card were supposed to be things of particular interest to me. Starting with the top left corner and working clockwise they are: Mountain Biking, Photography, Soccer, SCUBA Diving, Sushi, Irish, Acoustic Guitar, NASA, Motorcycles, Singing, Apple Laptop, Construction, Scrabble, New Zealand, Nintendo (Mario in this case), and Computers (AMD)

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