December 25, 2009

Christmas Coding

I call this: computers,phones,tech — Posted by KP @ 6:59 pm

It’s been a really long time since I had the time to learn anything new about web development. The next thing on my list has been to learn more PHP so I can learn how to write scripts and generate dynamic content on the site.

I had an idea months ago for an online quiz I wanted to put on the site: I kept reading about iPhone apps where the title of the app gave little indication of what the purpose of the app was. Some of them were actually kind of funny (and by funny, of course I mean “could potentially be raunchy”). I had visions of a quiz which would present the title of an app and the user would have to guess from several descriptions of what the app was for. My only problem is that I didn’t know any programming languages to allow me to create such a quiz from scratch.

So today, Christmas Day, after a video chat with my family, I set about learning some more PHP (like all my coding knowledge, I don’t have any fancy books, I just type “php tutorial” into Google and see what comes up). I have gained some new knowledge, and I present to you:

The iPhone App Name Quiz!

Once I got used to the syntax, things came easily. Between my work on spreadsheets as part of my very nerdy involvement in the high command of Battleground Europe, and the stage management database I’ve been designing for the last four months or so, I have been spending a lot more time dealing with calculations and logic formulas. The last programming I successfully did before this year was in BASIC, back when I was in gifted camp when I was ten, so I am happy to find that my brain is retaining things and having an easier time working with concepts like if/then/else statements.

I’m not sure what else I’ll want to do with this newfound knowledge, but now I will have one more trick up my sleeve while adding to the site.

Twas the Day Before The Day Off Before Christmas

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 1:12 am

Just a visual tour of our final day of rehearsal prior to Christmas (Dec. 23rd).

The day began with the Guthrie’s weekly production staff meeting, which last year I attended weekly, but this year got a pass on — except for this week because we’re about to load in, and they thought it was, you know, kind of important.

And this year I had backup — Nick and Ashley were with me as well, and I didn’t have to sit in the “inquisition seat” where the rising sun aligns with the narrow yellow windows to blind the person sitting on a certain side of the room. The department heads had some tough questions for me, and I had a few questions for them, but overall it looks like we’re on track.

As the meeting was concluding, our truck showed up at the loading dock, to unload the marley floor so it can thaw and be rolled out flat for a few days before it has to be laid.

Trevor came down to the rehearsal room to return the key to the truck and tells us that the truck is at the dock if we want to take pictures. I love the fact that people are looking out for our interests as bloggers, as well as as stage managers. So naturally, we went to the dock and snapped some pictures, including Nick posing on the dock.

I didn’t get a good opportunity to get a clear shot of the inside of the truck. In fact, besides the endless rows of road boxes (they purposely sent us more than we need, so we would definitely have enough, and can return the unused ones when we play New York in late February), it was hard to see much. The set seems very flat (as well it should be), and is strapped neatly to the walls. The big staircase was in there in pieces, with what look like very handy castors inserted into the banister posts.

As it turns out, the marley was most of the way into the nose of the truck, so all our many, many road boxes had to be unloaded into the elevator to get to it, at which point they ended up loading all the boxes, and our infamous platform, Fred, into the theatre. The trailer was then parked on the other side of the parking lot to await load in day. It can’t remain at the dock because the Guthrie’s dock is this amazing giant garage-door-like thing that flips up. You can kind of see it in the below picture. With a trailer parked, the door can’t be closed, and while that may cause certain logistical or aesthetic problems, I think the primary one comes down to, “Close the door, it’s f***ing cold!!!” There are, of course doors between the dock and inside, but I’m sure the extreme temperature and wind would find its way into the building, especially through the giant freight elevator.

While the marley was being searched for, Nick and I went up to the theatre to examine the boxes that had come up, in the hopes of identifying unfamiliar ones that might be concealing rolls of marley. There we found our box, and without even opening it, saw the infamous message scrawled on it.

Backstory: when the boxes were being loaded on the truck from Spoon Group in New Jersey, where they are stored, our Associate Artistic Director, Ian, called me to check about which boxes we should bring, and so forth. Ian was the Staff Director last year, and probably the person Nick and I worked most closely with on the road, and Nick and Ian got great pleasure out of antagonizing each other for six or seven months. So before we got off the phone, Ian told me to pass word to Nick that there was a message waiting for him on our road box.

Nick and I tried to get to the box when we went out to the truck at its storage lot, but couldn’t get to it. So finally, we got to see what the fuss was about. And as I thought I heard, the message was truly on the box, not in it. And here it is, with physical commentary from Nick:

In a compromise, we have saved the tape, but it’s been moved to inside the box. And here’s a shot of some of our boxes (the other side of the stage has most of them).

All this happened before noon, and by the time rehearsal started I felt like I had so much work to do and so many questions to follow up on that the last thing I had time for was a rehearsal! But it was a big day, and a very rewarding one: we did our first full run of the show. It was a great way to take our two-day break for Christmas. After rehearsal ended, everybody stayed around for maybe a half hour, chatting, hugging, saying goodbye like it was the last day of school. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we have a little over a week, and now have a greater grasp of the big picture. All that remains is to refine it.

I leave you with a picture of my desk as it has appeared for the last week or so. My mom sent a crazy springy Christmas tree. Last year I had a similarly-sized fiber optic tree, and kept it at my apartment. This one proved to be such a favorite in the rehearsal room on the day it arrived that I had to leave it for people to play with.