...And they disappeared in a puff of logic...

Hello again, folks. Yes, we vanished for a while due to some server issues at our hosting provider. I've spent the better part of three days frantically clicking on the non-existent site, mailing admins, and navigating call centres on foreign shores to hear vague promises of "we are aware of a problem and have submitted it to our administrators." In the next week or so, we'll actually be moving to another server, so I'm praying this shouldn't happen again.

In the meantime, I have to thank all the people who wrote to me to express their feelings when the site disappeared. I must admit, I wasn't prepared to hear that outpouring, and how much DIYPlanner meant to so many members of our little community. Rest assured, if we vanish again, we will be back.

D*I*Y Planner's First Great Template Contest

We're going to try something new here at the homestead. We have quite a burgeoning number of template designers among us, and so many have demonstrated a creativity that goes far beyond the simple "to do list on steroids". We like that. We want to encourage that. And so, I'm happy to announce our first template design contest.

We've procured a great little set of products from fan-fave Levenger that almost any self-respecting productivity junkie would love.

Levenger Card Wallet Writer

Levenger Walletini Pen

First up is a black Levenger Card Wallet Writer. It's like a small leather business card wallet that sports a thin outside pocket, a spacious one inside for a stack, and (this is neat) a card holder to keep cards ready for writing. It's like an ultra-small version of their index card briefcase.

Of course, you'll need a pen to go along with the small size, and so accompanying it will be a shiny new Walletini Pen. We're also including a small stack of fancy cards to get you started: they have lines on one side, and a grid on the other. The prize package goes for a retail cost of $76 USD.

The prize goes to the best template submitted from February 15th to March 15th. Read on for the rules.

...and we're back.

I hope everyone enjoyed the little commercial break there.

We were smacked around a bit by our hoster when we bumped up against our database size limit. It took us a while to track the problem down and correct it, but we're up and running again. We've also had some flaky Internet connectivity on our own ends as we poked around.

Nevertheless, things all appear fine now, so, resume your normal levels of camaraderie, support, and template-making.

-- The D*I*Y Planner Team

The Wheel Comes Round

I'm being called away to a conference tomorrow, so I'll have to disappear for a few days. In the meantime, I'd like to mention a few of the goings-on around here.

First of all, we have a new member on the team. Please put your hands together to welcome Sara Anderson. Although she hasn't been with us long, she's shown some real determination in helping our little project. If this were a 30's gangster film, I'd say the kid got moxy.

When this site began, there was an underlying philosophy behind the way we wanted the content to work. We were a bit tired of all those "me too!" sites out there that acted simply as echo chambers for links, and so we determined that our writers would only write original articles. This, we've done to various degrees of success over the past seventeen months. But I was always aware of something missing by not highlighting other interesting sites and projects.

Wonkiness, thou art my bedfellow...

Welcome back, folks. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our resident Drupal wizard Mr. (small "e") eric Farris, we've managed to upgrade in record time. That being said, there's going to be a slew of bugs, formatting errors, missing elements, and gremlins sitting atop our wings while we plug through the new site and test everything.

Please, if you find any bugs, leave a comment on this post. We'll scout them from here, and fix them as soon as possible. Tomorrow, we'll talk a little about the upgrade, and what's new.

Major Upgrades in Progress

We're working on upgrading our content management software, Drupal, to a brand new version, and will be needing to take the site offline on Sunday (February 4th). Hopefully, it shouldn't take us all day, but in a worst case scenario, we should be back by mid-afternoon on Monday.

There should be quite a number of site improvements visible after we complete the move, including some speed increases, as well as the inevitable bugs and strange side effects. Rest assured that we'll be working on them until they're all resolved.

Thanks for your patience, folks. We'll be back very soon, and better than ever.

New Notebooks & Notetaking Forum

It occurs to me that a lot of the chatter here recently is on the subject of notebooks and journals of various shapes, configurations and sizes. Most of the postings were going into General Discussion, so I've decided to create a new forum specifically for Notebooks & Notetaking. I've moved a few posts into there from other areas, so if you can't find a particular thread on the topic, please take a gander there.

Monthly and Yearly Classic/A5 Calendars for 2007 Released

2007-2008 CalendarBetter late than never, they say, but that rarely applies to calendar production.

Regardless, I'm pleased to announce that the 2007 monthly and yearly calendars for Classic and A5 size paper have finally appeared on the D*I*Y Planner Classic/A5 release page. Sorry for this, folks, but the old Mac G4 that I use for design refuses to do much any more.

Time to render and export 90-odd calendar PDF pages from InDesign on my barely breathing circa-2000 Mac G4: 7 minutes. Time to render and export same on my still functional but even older Mac Powerbook G3: 29 minutes. And then I print, find an error, fix the error (usually 15-20 minutes, including saving the file), and export and print again. That generally makes each fix cycle nearly 1.5 hours. Whew -- I really need a new Mac if I want to keep making D*I*Y Planner releases.

Given the technology issues, I can't say that this version has been as well-tested as I would have liked. Please let me know any errors (leave comments on this entry, or contact me via my form), and I'll fix them as soon as possible.

A Quick Status Report

I haven't been having much luck with technology since the New Year, and it's affected a few things around here.

First, regular visitors may have noticed that our site seems to disappear from the radar every few days. There are some problems with our ISP switching our host server, and we're trying to rectify that. On the bright side, the whole affair has given us a good reason to port the whole site over to the shiny new version of Drupal, version 5. Our good friend and co-founder eric (small "e") Farris has re-joined our little team, and is valiantly porting the site into the new architecture. When Drupal 5 is finally released in a few weeks, we should be good to go. Trust me: there should be some drastic improvements in this site.

Speaking of which, suggestions for a possible re-design are very welcome. Feel free to leave them in the comments.

Second, my poor seven-year-old Mac G4 --the computer used to design the D*I*Y Planner templates-- is on the verge of shuffling off this mortal coil. Among its many terminal ailments is a faltering hard drive, and this has led to losing a few weeks worth of template development, including the 2007 calendars.

The good news is that I've been working diligently on my two-week-old template backup via a seven-year-old PowerBook G3 Pismo (oy!), and the calendars are almost ready again. They should be fit for release within a day or two. Then I'll respond to everyone in my burgeoning 300-strong email queue, I promise. (Note to all: Adobe Illustrator and InDesign CS2 should not be run on a Pismo unless you don't mind taking plenty of coffee and dog-walking breaks. However, these do help keep one awake while watching the hypnotically spinning beachball, especially if said dog-walk takes place in -40C weather.)

More good news, though: the aforementioned eric is also hard at work on some letter-size D*I*Y Planner templates, a subset of the most popular forms, including calendars. More on that later.

Bear with us, folks. We're doing our best, even if it takes us volunteers a while.