"Life is brought down to the basics: if you are warm, regular, healthy, not thirsty or hungry, then you are not on a mountain... Climbing at altitude is like hitting your head against a brick wall - it's great when you stop."

Chris Darwin

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Laying it out

Parts of the site now has new layout based on the techniques and ideas behind 3 columns fluid layout by TJK design website relying on Faux Column technique and stylesheet branching to keep things compatible and manageable.

Being anal retentive tinker I am, I couldn't go with the solution as it was, of course. Instead I had to roll up my sleeves and incorporate some changes. As I get the rest of the kinks ironed out, the whole site will switch to new layout. After Ajax, RSS is the next web 2.0 technique employed by the site.

Housekeeping the information

Pretty complete rework of info page. Most of the information is the same, but organization is improved and some more information is added. Also some of the dead links have been removed.

ABC goes Ajax

I added nice javascript code tablesort.js which uses Ajax technology to turn static tables into sortable ones. While I was at it, I also tweaked table css a bit to produce nicer looking table. Also, I couldn't resist adding title attribute to grade link to show link description as tooltip. All this is currently in action on 4000m peaks in the Alps.

Cherry-picking in the Kunlun

On the climbing side, few Finnish climbers have been in Kunlun for a while, doing a couple of first ascents. Hats off! The expedition has a blog at: Kunlun2007.

Farther Than the Eye Can See

I recently saw a document film called Farther Than the Eye Can See It’s a true story about blind climber summiting Everest. I have to say I was scared when watching him cross numerous crevasses using unstable ladders in Khumbu Icefall. Somebody once said that many of the most incredible feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they are impossible. After seeing the doc, I must admit there might be some truth to it.

Keeping to the theme, I was wondering whatever happened to Stephen Daldry’s film Everest. It’s filmatization of infamous 1996 incident on Everest (you know, that “Into Thin Air” deal)? The crew went to summit Everest few years back with several elite climbers acting as stuntmen (David Breashears, Ed Viesturs and Veikka Gustafsson among them). Gotta admire the strive for authentity.

High Exposure

Speaking of David Breashears, if you haven’t already done so, do yourself a favor and read High Exposure.Breashears, DavidSimon & Schuster2003For generations of resolute adventurers, from George Mallory to Sir Edmund Hillary to Jon Krakauer, Mount Everest and the world's other greatest peaks have provided the ultimate testing ground. But the question remains: Why climb? In High Exposure, elite mountaineer and acclaimed Everest filmmaker David Breashears answers with an intimate and captivating look at his life.For Breashears, climbing has never been a question of risk taking: Rather, it is the pursuit of excellence and a quest for self-knowledge. Danger comes, he argues, when ambition blinds reason. The stories this world-class climber and great adventurer tells will surprise you -- from discussions of competitiveness on the heights to a frank description of the 1996 Everest tragedy.06848654590684865459High ExposureBiographyen It ranks very high on my list of best biographies, climbing related or otherwise. It’s full of interesting, and sometimes funny, anecdotes related to his previous filming projects. Best known of them being Everest and Cliffhanger .

Book-keeping

I did a pretty substantial change on a publishing side. Earlier details of books referenced in this page have been stored either directly in source document or in manually maintained xml-file that was used as central book database. While solving one of my requirements (reusable data), manually maintaining xml-file was not the most convenient of solutions to achieve this.

I finally got bored to this and did something I had planned on doing for ages, namely switched over to real book collection management database. My choice of application for the need is Bookcat. It has neat features for data input, including internet lookup from various sources, nice lookup tables that help to standardize the way the data is stored, can store every piece of information I need and can export xml.

The latter makes it relatively easy to extract the data I need to be used on the site. Furthermore, it uses Microsoft Jet database engine (Access), which while not being too great a database fulfills one of my paramount requirements: it's open in a way that I can access the database directly to perform maintenance tasks using all sorts of SQL trickery should I need to. Furthermore, not being a big fan for doing the same tasks again, this makes it possible to transfer data to different database system should I want to do so at some point. Finally, this also makes it possible for me to write code that accesses data directly from the database rather than relying xml-export function.

Right now there is only one entry making use of Bookcat data, but now that I have all the code needed for this in place, it is just a matter of inputting the data in Bookcat, then replacing book data stored locally in source file with reference to books (I use isbn as key). Now, if only I could figure out a convenient way of reading xmp or iptc metadata from image files with xsl. Or failing that, creating xmp-sidecar files for images.

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