Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
January 4th, 2006
Planet Xavier


Almost done

You might be wondering why it’s taken me so incredibly long to finally blog about Planet Xavier’s long-awaited and long-needed redesign. As usual, the answer is procrastination. It takes effort to write well, y’know. (No, “stream of consciousness” is not good writing, no matter how many periods you stick in it.) I seriously intended to redesign that site since I set it up more than a year ago, and I’ve blogged about my plans numerous times, but my original plans for the site were so complex and wide-ranging that I was never able to get it done, because it was just too easy to put off. The plans originally included excluding certain entries at the push of a button (isn’t at the push of a button), a robust theming system (isn’t robust), automatic school closing information (isn’t automatic), dynamically-updated weather information (doesn’t work), automatic large image resizing (doesn’t work), a blog submission form (didn’t happen), a preferences panel (didn’t happen), automatic inclusion of news items from St. X’s website (isn’t automatic), and more. As I’ve just noted, I had to change my plans somewhat. I essentially pulled a Longhorn, yanking features out so I could get something – anything – out the door by the first quarter of 2010. I could’ve designed and built the pX you see today in about a week, but instead it took me about a year. Apparently doing smaller things to delay bigger – and more important – tasks is the bad form of procrastination. In the time since I first placed the redesign on my to-do list, I’ve incrementally improved and grown pX, made quite a few contributions to Wikipedia, designed a website for my parish from scratch, similarly designed one for my dorm, translated Mozilla Thunderbird for the Summer of Code, upgraded this blog to the latest version of Movable Type, and attended my first quarter at Stanford. Are these really the smaller things? Don’t think so; it all took me plenty of late nights. Though I’ve finally gotten something of a new design up, there are still several major kinks to work out:

That said, there are some long-needed changes that the new design brings in: In addition to the goals that I didn’t meet with this redesign (listed above), I’m also planning to eventually include an automatically-updated listing of the most recent threads over at the St. X Forums, with Peter Franklin’s permission and cooperation, of course. That should be fun. Hopefully I’ll be able to work out the kinks and improve the new design before I return to college next week, but don’t hold your breath: I haven’t gone cold turkey on procrastination yet, and doing so is not on my New Year’s to-do list.


  1. On a whim, Minh decided to stop procrastinating and finally redesign the site like he said he would eons ago. Do you like the new design? If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch; Minh wasn’t able...


  1. I was wondering how you implemented the LiveJournal log in. I also use MTLJPost and that would be a really good feature to use. :)

  2. Actually, that’s not a part of MTLJPost; it’s provided by the OpenID Comments plugin. Once you install that plugin, you can insert a <$MTLiveJournalSignOnThunk$> tag in the appropriate part of your Individual Archive template, and the plugin will handle all the signin stuff. You can read more about OpenID at its official website.

  3. I'm pretty sure that the blocking of LiveJournal entries will have little to no impact on pX. Roughly 3 people out of 220 on this planet use LJ.

  4. Hehe, actually, the number’s more like 70. But most of the active LJ users here are from the Class of 2005, so they don’t show up in the main listings or roster. In any event, I’m going to reënable the LJ in a day or two, once my host fully recovers from the concussion it got this weekend.

    And by the way, you can sign in using your LJ username now – don’t worry, it’s completely secure, since your login information still goes through LJ’s servers.

  5. Minh, I've been meaning to respond to this post for quite some time now and I regret to say this is my first visit here in a month. I think you know what procrastination is all about so I hope you understand

    I wanted to congratulate you on a job well done with pX. It looks like you put a lot of work into it and even if you didn't, it turned out great anyway! I was looking today for some possible delegates for the 2004 section but it's more difficult than I originally thought. The three(!) people I know who have a blog from my class have told me they don't manage their blogs anymore and don't plan to. My searches haven't turned up many results either but I suppose it's not easy when people use specialized nicknames on LJ or what-have-you.

  6. Actually, I’ve found quite a few people from your class on MySpace and the like. The thing is, though, that I don’t want to syndicate them without explicit consent, because they’re complete strangers to me, for the most part, and what’s more, they’re older than me. So if they disapprove of what I’m doing, well, it’s not going to be as nice as the confrontations I’ve had before.

    That said, I can e-mail you the list of people I have so far, so you can contact them about it if you’d like. Most of the blogs I’ve found so far are, of course, empty. But I’ve found some that are maintained more actively than I maintain this blog, so there’s some hope.