Thomas Gardner Society, Inc
technology and practice

Note 02/29/2024): This custom-built site is undergoing modification. See Our tools are: SeaMonkey/Composer/ & WordPad - HTML/Javascript/CSS; MS Paint (original) - images, graphics.

Note 12/30/2023): The latest issue of Gardner's Beacon which is XII, 2 goes into the activity for this year. There were two main themes, technology and its impact on our records. Namely, for that second, changes necessary to adjust to the baptismal record finding. All the children but Seeth were born in the old country. So, that delays the arrival time. But, was Thomas Gardner as we were researching a conflation of two individuals? Don't know yet. The site will be modified to consider that Thomas Gardner and family arrived in Salem sometime before Seeth was born. So that would be the early 1630s. There is another Thomas Gardner to research (see the WikiTree writeup on this). Now, with regard to technology, we are setting up to argue that the former work in knowledge (expert) systems is very much needed to firm up the current situation. Not only was it effective in the past, projects have continued over the years. Say tuned for this. With respect to what is new, we intend to utilize the "pilot" facilities this year in an experimental fashion. Results will be posted. Always, see our blog for reports on our work.

Note (09/16/2023):
Wait, that was a little premature. The focus to that last bullet was on how web presence might be better handled. Still goes, folks. My favorite mathematical site is sill there and in use on the subject of mathematical physics. I have seen plenty of other good example. As opposed to, say, those over-complicated site with more noise than message. Arg. So, now, a mere month after the last bullet, Nov of 2022, OpenAI released their ChatGpt system upon the world. We did not pay attention  until Feb of 2023. Our first attempt at the system was captured in a post (02/02/2023 ChatGPT) which is funny, as soon after we found out that Thomas Gardner may have not been at Cape Ann in 1623/24. But, then, he may have been. It's an open issue. In any case, we started discussion with our colleagues at Sperry Univac's Knowledge System Center which was operating in the 1980s and have made several determinations that need to be written up. For one thing, AI is much more than ML/DL (and all of its variants). As well, people are the key here and will require more of a focus. Stay tuned. This will be technical. For now, we are collecting position papers at the portal: Larry Walker goes back the early days of computing where he applied his degree in mathematics to system design and testing at Control Data and Univac. He rose in management to be head of systems development for Univac's major computer systems. Later, his Knowledge Systems Center pioneered commercial use of AI (with the expert system focus). We will be tracing out the history of AI from the non-academic viewpoint, bringing to fore work long ignored.   

Note (10/07/2022): Final technical note, after looking at Concrete CMS and Drupal. These were considered earlier and have progressed as has WordPress. And, each of the three has solid use by well-known customers who have access to talent. As we work our configuration, we will be looking more than slightly at the issues which is best done with multiple parties to inspect. Say, like the infamous flyoff when new technology is being assessed. This type of thing is going to be even harder for computing. That is, bridging the cognitive gaps (or hats). Our put is called truth engineering. The ability to think at bare metal went away with the newer methods (we can recover). Is there some equivalence? Too, the internet's evolution can now be seen more readily given the experiences of the last half decade (and a little more). For instance, we can point to one paper discussing Concrete CMS versus WordPress, from the viewpoint of the former. It shows the flexible, parametric approach. Then, we have what we call AIn't coming forth. What we have here is mathematics and parameters mixing in an unlimited number of ways. WordPress, Concrete CMS, and Drupal represent parametric modes that are phenomenally complicated. The potential error are covered over. We'll explain. And so, we have the situation where there is no human talent with the evolutionary wherewithal to handle the issues, except as a guider of the AIn't ways, if they are done correctly. ... It's almost like we've stood still the past decade and one-half with lots and lots of noise being added. Where is the value if only marketing is thought to be the major player? Tsk.

Note (10/06/2022): Over the past few days, we got the old sites in sync with each other: Portal (this one), the legacy site, and our tech blog (here with the tech subdirectory). Then, we started a site subdirectory here at which to develop and test our new configuration with WordPress as the backbone helping with the flow of all of the rest as they process content and its presentation. So, see which points to the current (GB_XII_2) and prior issue. This is a start. Our Introduction page shows the current portal front page which we will reconfigure as the first step and then work through all of the other accumulation over eleven years plus. The theme is content vis-a-vis configuration. 

Note (09/30/2022): We are back to the technical choices which are many. Lots of levels, plus new stuff (AIn't). Say, app or not; simple or hugely complicated; and more. In the meantime, we'll use WordPress for mobile's sake. GB, Vol. XII, No. 2. We are embedding links in the text; this table tracks status of the PDFs. 

Note (07/21/2022): Time flies for old folks; it drags for the younger. Which is better? In the earlier age experiences, there are demands, almost unceasing. The pressures of work and accomplishment loom large for most, for one thing. Then, there are the unknowns for any who is not following some predetermined path, say those put forth by one's ancestors, especially those of the immediate generation. But, even then, times change, too; we see lots of shuffling twixt generational views. What constants can we observe over time? Well, the upcoming 250th is an example. There has been much written about this event over the years, mosty by professionals. Now, with technology we will see the human touch, via family stories and such. So, to perturb that, we now have another factor. The artificial, in terms of this thing that we can call AIn't that gets a lot of press and attention. People have lots of questions that have been unanswered. In short, though, the gist of the matter is that a convergence of abilities of humans and computers has set the stage for comparisons as were not available before. Too, we see more mathematics available in a broader sense due to computational mathematics. The recent Turing award by the ACM was to a guy who has worked in mathematical library development and maintenance over the years. John has had that focus, too. So, the imaginations gone wild as we see with claims about AIn't really can be attributed to observational modes that are out of balance due to several factors that we can handle. And, will. It's our future. That is, we the people, society, and the TGS, Inc. in particular. We can use the Gairdner Group's (of Canada) focus on biomedical issues over the past few decades as an example. We are claiming that we can weigh in on the artificial by using knowledge from people over time. This knowledge referenced here comes from historical studies that touch upon all subjects, from more than a philosophical view. Computational prowess? Yes, it is real. Meta (and Zuck) are quite valid in a sense; are they sound (different sense)? Another issue. We have our work cut out for us. But, then, so do the rest of humanity. One question, who can lead in truth engineering?       

Note (03/09/2022): We have been paying close attention to the technology of software especially those things going under the guise of AI (which we are calling AIn't). In October, we had a post about how dumb AI might be. What is being done is an one-trick pony type of thing, so we will be getting more into that. In January, we looked at Harvard's view while discussing technology as our focus. At that same time, we began a study of U.S. History with Harvard as a prime thread which has turned up some interesting information. Back to the content vs configuration theme. Those topics are on the content side. The configuration studies continue with a different type of technology under observation. We will use going to a mobile mode as the means to work out some open issues. In terms of service, we expect to offer these via a shared server mode. Some argue for the cloud. Any of those wrap you into their handcuffs. We will revisit some work done back in 2012. Right now, from that work, we expect to dive deeper into Drupal and WordPress. So, plenty to do. ... Since November of 2021, we have had a mobile device which allowed us to catch up. Mostly, we puke for some of the choices made that were imposed on the rest of by the elite of computing; expect that our technology status (the whole of it) will be a daily part of our being, TGS, Inc.'s mission.

Note (10/12/2021):
We are now officially off and running. There will be tech posts (CMS, again ) and other posts in the regular blog. Right now, we are in a survey mode with respect to where we have been, our requirements, and where the world is with regard to this stuff. Then, we can play around with design and futures.

Note (10/11/2021): We have been busy with operations, process, and data management. Yet, there have been some technology posts at the blog. The lastest (A(rtificial) I(ntelligence) researched properly - from July 10, 2021) points back to earlier posts. Now, we are getting serious enough to schedule time and energy to relook, again. With respect to the roll your own, that still applies. However, we found out that emembership at was done using Drupal which we looked at earlier (we will pull our notes). In fact, we did a demo using the resource. We did our own plus pushed out demos of three packages. Guess what? One was hacked. Drupal. So, we dropped that one, then. But, they look tighter now. Also, the mobile world has caused lots of changes. A fact? We are only now getting smartphones (5G is causing our old flip phones to become unusable - oh well - technically, they are still going after 16 years - they were the roughed type that a firetruck could run over). All along, we have maintained our data in JS and text. And, HTML/CSS, of course, for the major handler. Looking forward to doing some real digital work.

Note (12/15/2020):
As a reminder, we try to keep What's New current. As of today, we are finishing out 2020 and preparing for the next. Several changes are on the horizon. We will put a tip jar on the site to encourage support. This portal itself will be reconfigured somewhat as will the main site. This particular page was started to trace our technical activity. As such, it will be put into a more current, archive framework. We have several examples that have come up that agree with what we had planned which is encouraging to see. One thing to note, our focus is substance and not flash. BTW, DARPA, itself, is now realizing that they have to establish a way to handle a 100-year program view. Yes, sustainable methods are one key. There is more. And, so, given our interest in truth engineering, we will use the Thomas Gardner Society, Inc. work to facilitate anything to do with preserving for the future which includes, definitely, more than a short-term viewpoint. Also, working on a 'tip jar' as starters for handling read access and membership privileges.  

Note (09/15/2020): The past couple of quarters, we have been in a user mode where we could see technology in action and learn about what to bitch when things were done stupidly. And so, we'll get to this, again. The older discussions will be pushed down but accessible. Up front will be heavy looking at Spinoza's Ethics to pull out lessons for our computational age. You know, Spinoza and Descartes were cohorts on the planet with Thomas and his peers over here. That's interesting. Our focus, for a while, has been using the whole of the 400 years of history as a means to understand current situations and choice options. About a decade and one-half ago, there was a disturbance (will not disruption, at that whole theory is wrong, people) that went along with a schizoid way of computing. That is, the larger modes of old which are still around below the cover and being harped about in terms of legacy slowly giving way to the personal which really took off with IP's TCP was let loose with other capabilities that we, the US Taxpayers, funded over the years. About five years ago, there was some type of maturity being demonstrated by the personal side (so-called smart phone) which now has morphed to a hand-held computer for which telephony is a secondary concern (pushed to a card). Needless to say, for delivery of capability, that looks promising, albeit there are limits of concern (and not just talking battery - nope, let's get to the essence of computing). ... Jumping over coming discussion, let's say that our technical focus is back (Spectral issues).

Note (08/09/2019):
Started a GitHub project (PortalToTruth) today (09 Aug 2019). We'll be transitioning over to that mode where we can leverage work on Truth Engineering and a new type of family site that stresses holistic modes in the 'digital village.'


Improvement to website using our own construction  (TGS, Inc. discussion)                               return to: Home, Demo
Trade-off: Get or buy off the shelf versus roll you own (driven by content handling and expectations)
Side-effect: Learn computing from ground up experimentally (or computing exploratively)
Motivation: Computing for every man as our right, plus demonstration of this with relevant content. 
Examples/Technical (DevLog): Continuation of log at Main site - devlog
Discussion: We are now twenty plus years into the web (WWW) and have seen ubiquitous solutions in about every corner of human activity. Mobile devices provide power rivaling desktop workstations (even that of compute servers).  'Embedded' has entire new definitions and examples pending; reminder: this approach has been around for a long time, and pre-existed the Internet. HTTP enabled advances far beyond what was expected. But, with the evolution, one can trace the problems that arose, some of which were foreseen or could have been given the effort. One huge change was that requirements, which had been central to computer system development, lost its punch as a throw-out and respond to criticisms (and failures) became the vogue. Quick releases carried lots of risk that many times came to fruition; we are lucky that it was not much worse (as we seen has happened with social media's promise of maximum chaos). But the form followed the functionality that has increased without bounds, it seems. Just the simple configuration of HTML/CSS/JS has changed tremendously. This triad is mentioned as it will be the focus and tool for the start of the necessary work which has not been defined. Rather, we need to look at the situation and try to settled on what is to be done. There are good examples, such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy which has clean and elegant look as well as fulfilling a huge commitment with regard to content of a superior nature. Examples, on the other side, can be found with any of the extremely managed site of commercialized mayhem and, perhaps, other sites whose intent is to lure (evoke reaction). In between is an endless, and growing, set of examples. And, we will pull some of these together (first example).

Overview: This is a saga related to life, humanity, society, technology, science and the gamut. Notice the sponsoring organization. Essentially, it deals with activity over 400 years. That is, the view (our Mission) starts with the Mayflower era and the people/events outside of Plymouth and, even, beyond the borders of Massachusetts. It traverses the whole of the U.S. history (covering all cultural levels and geographic regions) through the long centuries to now, with its social media. Along the way, we will look at people and their families who have endured and helped resolve the conflicts of which humans are so prone. Families? Yes, descendants, by blood and meme, who have thousands of families that they can look back to, and, in fact, ought to be allowed to without the contrivances of technology's purveyors getting in the way. How to do that? We have, on the one side, non-profits (like us) who want to do it right; on the other, we have monetarily driven attempts to corner markets. In between is the truth of the matter (sound familiar?). Computing and technology are central; too, though, are human talents not even addressed as of this time? So, the theme, right now, is to try to establish some way of working that spans the time, the activities, and the social aspects while honoring human intelligence and respecting rights proposed as essential by that later crowd of guys to pranced around Philadelphia. As, we have, to boot, the 800th of the Magna Carta as a a reminder of our past which document's purpose still applies (we need a modification for STEM and more).
Requirement: We started our site on Microsoft's OfficeLive in 2010. A couple of years later, we saw the emergence of Office360 and decided to not go that route (New era - March 2012). So, I went looking for web hosts plus did a survey of the approaches of the time. I settled on Hub (Linux, etc.). And, steered away from the heavy database usage. Hence, I had to build my site by hand, meaning HTML (so, I dropped back to about 2000). Also, we had our look established. I snapped images off of the site and built an interface using these. The color and layout is close to what we had on OfficeLive. But, the idea was to have enough to keep working. The left image shows the state of the system, at that time. OfficeLive allowed an asp-based website configurator which I used. After all, the intent was content management not coding. I got thrown into website building when going off of asp. What to use?

First cut(2012)

First CSS (2014)

Mobile - responsive 2016)
HTML/CSS (structure)

Light foot (2017)
Quite frankly, the whole notion seemed to be loose structure supported by database entries. That is, build the page on the fly. Later, I looked at frameworks and tried a few (Drupal, Concrete5, Joomla, and more), including Wordpress (technical blog). Of late, I see that bootstrapping has come a long way. That might be interesting.

But, it gets back to the decision about buy versus build. Or, off the shelf, whether free or not, which ties one into the work of others versus roll-your-own. Since I am looking for simple, doing something that way looks appealing, especially if it ties in with trying to show how to learn coding. There are pros and cons for either choice. With the cloud, people are getting even more remote from their stuff. I, at least, can log into the host that is being access from the web. Too, files are more than a metaphor. The unstructured database can be a problem. Balance is important.

Leaving these types of decisions to academics might provide something useful. Rather, though, we see the large vendors establishing the protocols and what have you. In fact, things have changed so much in the rush forward, one has to wonder if we need to step back and look at things. But, that is getting ahead of ourselves. We want to show those who do not know code, or fear it, that they can learn, enough to know what is going on with these decisions and their discussions.

Advancements: We have been stepwise through several advances. But, some pending improvements finally make sense. Why? Manual work is fine until scaling becomes an issue. So, we are there, finally, after trudging along for awhile. Our intent all along has been to add facilities to the newer format. Of late, we added an image index that provided links to content through the years. This approach uses simple CSS extensions that support scrolling with simple container definitions and the ability to float. The footer used some javascript. But, there is a lot more to do.  The trouble is that one needs frameworks. And there are plenty of these. Of course, one might grow one's own. I have done plenty of that; but, there is too much to do to just sit around and have fun hacking code.

Editor/IDE: The tool set requirement is minimal. For editing HTML (in a WYSIWYG fashion), I use Sea Monkey's Composer. Otherwise, one can edit HTML files with any editor, say Wordpad. Same goes for CSS or JSS. What brings more power would be the workbench tools that come with a browser. And, any of these will allow writes within the code to go to a console which can be used to watch the computer do its thing.

The industry has evolved several IDEs which are development environments. They get complicated real fast. Doesn't everything? But, as my simple little website shows, one can do work and still not need complexity. That will come on its own. It's like pushing a wheelbarrow versus have a little bobcat do work. Would you believe that I can point to a post-Doc biology moving dirt by hand? Lots of it.  

One of the hardest thing about code is that everything has to be specified. And, in the distributed world, finding the particular source for a value can be extremely difficult. CSS allows local overrides. With JS, one controls the environment, to an extent. But, your code may be dependent upon some other bit of code. Other than that, though, it is open.

Exercise to find where things are defined and why are always worth doing. CSS is a huge parametric system that gets larger by time. But, it also is quite capable (there is a 3D graphic engine written this way). And, CSS is like a database, too. One writes the CSS statements that will be subsumed with in a HTML file and presented to a browser. In short, this is coding albeit a high-level type. Note please, that plenty argue that we ought to be working at this level, anyway, due to complications that arise.

So, we will do some structure changes with code using CSS and JS. Too, we'll pick up existing examples and modify them. Lots of them. That is, coding is never tabula raza. After all, lots of stuff has already been done. And, reuse is something to be respected. One can take any page presented on a browser and look at specifics.

In a sense, this is 'computing for peasants' which is not derogatory. Let's say, not ivory towered. Top-down versus bottom-up will apply, always does. But, we can teach people to know how to open up and look at what is flowing on the web; it would be part of a truth engineering outlook.

Examples: We have started to collect approaches starting with a simple (scroll-options - only HTML/CSS) touch. The first is fully parametric making use of control 'float' of images which forces a scroll-bar with a manual slider. Not fancy. Works.

Javascript: Finally, bit the bullet. It became too cumbersome to add entries, manually. So, reduced the string for the write by pushing more control to CSS. Then, cut the text by removing duplication (most of the link's URL). After that, a list with a pair for each entity, was nicely dense. A simple loop around a little string manipulation did the trick. Further? Since we want to get to search and filter, there will be some generalization. Buy off the shelf? What, and not have fun?

Configuration: Til now, all of our web pages have been, for the most part, thought of as building toward a book that included hyperlinks. As such, pages were mostly static except for things related to the mouse, such as 'hover.' Then, we could use SeaMonkey's editor plus some textual editors and worry about Content (see above). Too, we just pushed up via FTP from our local server to WebHostingHub. Early on, we had only HTML, with a footer script for 'date modified' added in once we got to HTML/CSS. You know how tedious it is to go through pages and change notices based upon years? All along, there was the intent to build further. And, not go off the shelf (a whole discussion that must be had - at some point). So, recently, we put in a 'image index' using adaptive techniques which are required for mobile. I do not have one yet but looked at this site recently and liked that the browser wars have settled down. That effort helped with maintaining the images. But, Chrome kept complaining when I was in the 'development tools' area about 'document.write' (which is still valid to use in the static mode). Well, on looking further, there is one war now about how to replace this facility. Given our thrust, we never had a problem. To make this short, the decision was to go with elements and properties (innerHTML). That has already been done for the footer for this site. The 'main' site has not been reconfigured yet. We intend to write about all of this as we start to bring in other modifications.

Technology: The industry rushes along in a lock-step. At each of the decision points that we are documenting and discussing, there were options based upon the current state of the art. Well, mobile apps that came in post 2008 have really changed in tone as the concept of services and resources to meet these evolved. For good mobile apps, there are corresponding views of web apps that require only a browser. Our main work entry has been via a laptop with simulation being used to assess mobility and such. We are about to step into the distributed world of apps where we handle any type of platform. BTW, this site represents a minimal 'roll your own' bit of capability sufficient to handle what we needed so far. Of course, we have a stack of new requirements to look at. However, we can continue in this mode and bring in new features in a stable manner. The main problem is trying to figure how to do this minimally as there are a whole lot of options with no clear winner. We'll have some commentary in this post: Techie stuff. Mostly, we'll have links to other areas as we proceed that will have more details.