[permaculture] Software thoughts (Was: Help and conversations for possibility AND action)
jedd at progsoc.org
Sat Jan 20 21:44:27 EST 2007
On Sunday 21 January 2007 6:42 am, Lawrence F. London, Jr. wrote:
] As far as me installing it myself, on ibiblio, Drupal and possibly Joomla are
Fairy nuff -- I do recall having some Fun installing these in my
test environment a while ago - the integration into a database
backend is necessarily complicated by the wide range of options
on where that database exists and which variety it is. The cost
of versatility -- things this powerful surpass the 'insert the CD and
hit OK' approach. I'm sure they could be made easier, but the
general rule with software is that you install it once and use it
forever, so understandably many developers rather put their time
and resources into making it easier to use, than to install. This
hikes up the cost of entry for non-geeks, but at the same time
also hikes up your potential returns once you get over that hurdle.
] I had thought wikis were classed as cms's but I see they are .... wikis.
I think we've touched on this previously. I certainly put wiki
features as a subset of a CMS, but the distinction is probably being
blurred, partly as technologies change, partly by most observers
out there using the terms interchangeably. Most wikis are $-free,
tiny, easy to get your head around, not very versatile / expandable.
Some CMS's are enormous, cost megabucks, include knowledge-base
or expert system functionality, scale and expand in ways that would
make your toes curl.
Most people would benefit from keeping a diary - to track what
they've done on their bit of land - from simple stuff like ensuring
crop rotation over a 4 or 5 year cycle, through to long term planning,
irrigation layouts, tracking water usage and growth patterns, and so
on. On paper this works reasonably well for small areas, but obviously
has scalability issues. On a computer there are immediate advantages
just from writing everything into a text document -- you can search
for words much faster than you can with bits of paper.
I see wiki (or blog) technology as being similar to lots of documents
that you can use search functions to find key words, and pages where
certain sets of words are located. But there's no *meaning* implicitly
attached to those words, so it's up to you as a human user to work
out what magic incantations you need to utter in order to find the
information you're looking for.
Recently I started experimenting with using the GIMP as a means
of tracking plantings in one of my plots. The GIMP, like Photoshop,
works on layers - for people who haven't used either, the manual
analogy would be lots of transparent sheets of clear plastic, and you
can draw different things on each sheet. You can make changes to
one sheet - say for your plantings for Spring this year - that you
can remove from the pile next year. And you have separate sheets
that show your bed layouts, your irrigation runs, your perennials,
etc. These tend to change less often, and you don't want to redraw
them every time you remove a tomato plant (f.e.) -- that's why they
get their own sheet. You can see as many (or as few) of the sheets
as you want, while scrawling on any [other] specific sheet.
I've posted a few images that explain this better, in case anyone has
some ideas on this, or is curious about how it looks / works. I've
no idea how most people handle this in their own environment, but
I'm sure there are some pretty inventive methods out there.
In any case, these are JPG's (about 250kb each) of my desktop, with
various layers (sheets) turned on and off. The first one shows the
entire layout of my plot - much is yet to be filled in. It's in big
oblongs because I designed this years ago (before I was properly
enlightened) and because it's mostly used for vines, which require
straight lines to run trellises along. No complaints
Zoom in to just beneath the middle of the above picture, showing
location labels, perennials, irrigation and bed borders:
This has location labels and irrigation piping removed:
This shows only irrigation and bed layout:
Because all the above are scaled down and compressed images, they
look a bit fuzzy. If you're curious, a less-compressed, higher quality
version of the above pic showing everything is provided:
(Not that the net isn't already overpopulated with screen dumps
that show how good various KDE/GNU/Linux desktops can look.)
Of course, these are all graphic images, so I can't easily search on
'tomato' and find (within those images) where I've grown tomatoes
in the past four years, or where my black krims are this year. To
be honest, I don't know of any low-effort method of tracking that kind
of information within a computer-based system. At the moment I
track that kind of thing in a large document that has a section for
each type of plant I have in the ground, and a paragraph for each
new planting that shows date and exact location of same. I expect
that over the years this information will be less use to me, as a
routine settles in, but it might be of use to other people in similar
environments - hence the imperative to have something portable
But tracking (textually) what I plant, when I plant it, how well it
grows, when I fertilised it, when the first and last frosts arrived
each year, what plants prefer which parts of the garden -- I see this
stuff as exceeding the abilities of a wiki, and, unfortunately,
also a vanilla flavoured CMS. And at this point I'm very definitely
rehashing earlier ramblings of mine.
Wrt Apples - my apologies, the Grand Marnier (always go with your
first guess) doubtless made my mental meanderings more murky
than usual. Robyn was on the mark, and I'll respond separately
on that one.
OTOH, you have encouraged me to put more effort into acquiring
a bunch of heirloom apple trees this coming winter.
Entirely agree about the aesthetic imperative - at the very least it's
a marketting tool for PC -- or rather, avoiding highly visible and
ugly messes is to our advantage.
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