28 May 2008

Omniture Web Analytics and Blogger

I moved recently. Both my blog and my person. One of the side effects of moving to a new home was that my little Pentium II webserver in my basement had to retire. I no longer have my own IP address. So I had to find a new place to host my blog. Blogger or Blogspot worked out well for me because I could keep my own domain name.

One thing I have struggled with, switching from my own install of webpress to blogger, is trying to get Omniture's javascript code to work with my blog. I tried fruitlessly to get the code mixed into a template. I could never get it to render correctly. Maybe someone with more Blogger template experience could get it to work, but I could not. But I finally figured out an easy way to go about it. You can add a HTML/JavaScript page element to the layout of the blog.

Blogger has lots of different types of page elements you can add, such as polls, slideshows, or a blog archive. They also have a page element labeled HTML/JavaScript. This page element allows you to add any third-party JavaScript functionality to your blog. I can't believe it took me this long to find it.

Now knowing where I could place JavaScript code it was pretty easy to deploy. The one catch was that I had to make a small change to the Omniture code. The Omniture code comes in two parts. There is the base code and the configuration code. Generally the configuration code includes the base code. I hade no where to save a javascript file for the configuration code to include. Therefore I removed the link to include the code and just pasted the code above the configuration code. This required that I add <script type='text/javascript'></script> tags around the code, but other than that it was a fairly painless process.

Yes, this means that I am now collecting statistics about you as you read this. It is fun to see where people are coming from and what pages they look at. It looks like Google collects stats about everyone using blogger already too. Thanks for visiting. Come back soon.

19 May 2008


I have had a little downtime for the last few days and thought I would read a good book while I couldn't do anything else.  Candace has suggested that Elantris is the best fantasy book that she has read, so I picked it up and read it over the last two days.

Elantris is Brandon Sanderson's debut novel.  For an initial novel I think he did very well.  The story was intriguing and well thought out.  I appreciated it's originality.  I am not a big fantasy reader, but the world that he created seemed realistic and original.  

The novel is written, not from the first-person, but from a limited third-person who focused on three main characters.  This was a different style that took me a while to get used to.  Each chapter switched scenes and main characters.  This abrupt change bothered me until the climax of the book neared.

The characters were developed very slowly.  New perspective into the world and the characters was added until the very last page of the book.  There is no way to guess the end because you don't know enough to guess it until you're there.  That was just fine though.  Nothing was added that was out of line with a very possible reality which made it feel like the characters were real, and reacting to real situations. 

The author created an extreme amount of names that I could not even begin to pronounce.  I just skipped over them connecting that certain set of letters with the character or place described.  This is OK I suppose, it is a whole new world and I was reading to myself, but it was a bit distracting.

There were quite a few one-liners.  Sentences that put forward philosophical or otherwise interesting statements intending to suggest a real world bit of truth.  They seemed a little bit out of place at times but I appreciated them none the less.  If a story doesn't teach you something it's not really worth reading.  Beyond the one-liners there was a good fight between truth, lies and when we should use each.  There was also good discussion on the role of religion in one's life.

Overall, Elantris was an excellent book.  I would definitely recommend reading it if you enjoy fantasy novels. Brandon Sanderson has other novels that he has written now which have also been highly recommended to me.  You can learn more about them on his website.  Brandon is also doing some interesting things with immediate eBook publishing.

18 May 2008

The Brothers Karamazov

I finally finished it.  It has taken almost three years, but I finished it.  The book: The Brothers Karamozov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  It took so long to read mainly because I have not had much time to read.  The other reason it took so long is because the book is not meant to be read fast.  There is very little plot.  The plot is there mainly to create situations to more fully develop the characters. This is not a novel like most you find today.  The plot does not keep you reading, the ideas do. 

The Brothers Karamozov is a novel exploring humanity, truth and the meaning of life.  Perhaps what I liked best, and found very refreshing, was the authors ability to be objective.  He put forward both sides of almost every point of view.  I can't say the author was actually objective though, he was biased towards both sides.  As Ivan forcefully tried to deny God, it seemed as though the author agreed.  As Father Zossima and Alyosha explained their faith in God, you could feel the author's faith as well.  This is perhaps the best written piece of literature I have ever read from that regard.

The abstract on the back cover of my copy of the book put forward an interesting statement that I wanted to discuss briefly.  "Rebellion and The Grand Inquisitor present what many have considered the strongest arguments ever formulated against the existence of God."  The two chapters mentioned are very interesting.  The first questions how God can exist with all of the atrocities which are committed against the innocent.  The second is a wonderful story where Christ appears to the Grand Inquisitor.  The Grand Inquisitor puts Him to death because He is not helping to bring peace to the world.  Christ taught freedom of faith.  The Grand Inquisitor was forcing peace through forceful unification of faith.  These ideas are brought out as Ivan, the scientific brother, talks with Alyosha, the believing brother.  It is Ivan's voice through most of the two chapters but in the end you are left with a lot to think about, not the author's agenda.

I found the quote on the back of the book interesting because when I was done reading both chapters I was left thinking that Ivan had some serious questions to which he did not have any answers, but if he understood God and his plan for his children better they would no longer be questions.  I did not find the chapters to be arguments against the existence of God, rather I found them to be arguments revealing the ignorance of man.

The entire book was wonderful.  Every chapter held a series of gems to ponder on. If you have a lot of time I would highly recommend The Brothers Karamazov.   You will need to set aside time to read as well as ponder over the nature of God, the devil, and especially, man.

09 May 2008

Big Bang

I read a poem a few days ago that really got me thinking. I didn't realize how influenced I had been by the educational system, and the current thinking of the time. The poem is from the children's book, Science Verse, by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith. It is titled, 'Twas The Night.

'Twas the night before Any Thing, and all through deep space,
Nothing existed-time, matter, or place.
No stockings, no chimneys. It was hotter than hot.
Everything was compressed in one very dense dot.

When out of the nothing there appeared with a clatter
A fat guy with reindeer and something the matter.
His nose was all runny. He gave a sick hack.
"Oh, Dasher! Oh, Dancer! I can't hold it back!"

He huffled and snuffled and sneezed one AH-CHOO!
Then like ten jillion volcanoes, the universe blew.
That dense dot exploded, spewing out starts,
Earth, Venus, Jupiter, Uranus, and Mars,

Helium, hydrogen, the mountains and seas,
The chicken, the egg, the birds and the bees,
Yesterday's newspaper, tomorrow's burnt toast,
Protons and neutrons, your grandma's pork roast.

The universe expanded. The guy said with a wheeze,
"Who will ever believe the world started by sneeze?
So let's call it something much grander, all right?
Merry BIG BANG to all! And to all-Gesundheit!"

I thought this a very funny poem when I first read it. The irony was clear. A sneeze triggering the creation of the universe. Then I thought a little further. The irony was that I believed that the universe started as a tiny speck and is expanding due to the release of infinite mass and energy from an infinitely small point. As I thought even more, what I found to be most interesting was the fact the because the Big Bang is the best model that has been presented thus far, it is accepted as absolute truth by the masses, those who are not astrophysicists.

Is the universe expanding? There is a good chance. Is it certain? No. Could it be that the universe is orbiting, like everything else in the universe, and that we are moving away from the center right now in an elliptical movement. Maybe. I suspect this would give the appearance of expansion from a single point, given the extremely large orbit and our extremely small ability to observe. Perhaps the universe is expanding because a creator at the center is creating more. Maybe we don't understand what we are observing. It wouldn't be the first time. I suspect there are all sorts of other theories out in the world right now. Some much more extreme than what I just said, some much less extreme. My point being, lets not close our mind because we can not understand everything. Maybe everything did explode into existence, but we will never know the truth unless we keep our minds open and explore all possibilities.

Alexis de Toqueville stated, "I am unacquainted with [God's] designs, but I shall not cease to believe in them because I cannot fathom them, and I had rather mistrust my own capacity than His justice." I love this quote. I know God exists. I don't understand how He does everything, but that does not change the fact that He exists and is doing things that I don't understand. Not understanding why and how God does things seems like a poor reason not to believe in Him.

Well, just some random musings. I hope they almost make sense to someone. I know I exist. I know God exists. I know the universe exists. I think it was always here and is just being reorganize.