We all have our favorites. Books, web sites, restaurants, plays, movies, orchestras, composers, concerts, hiking and biking trails, places to run, companies, travel destinations etc. Occasionally, I write about these “favorites” even though they are not really recommendations — in fact some of them I did not even enjoy — but rather it is a way of sharing information. I started documenting some of the favorites in a database that can be viewed through the related links below. When it comes to favorite web pages, I started that list in 1995 and it grew to more than 1,000 “Favorite Places”. I called them places because in a sense they really are destinations.
After e-tirement from IBM in 2001 one of my (too many) goals has been to “get technical” and make improvements to patrickWeb. I have really enjoyed working on this. The site, started in 1995, has been re-built with what is called a “LAMP” software bundle or “stack”. That means it uses Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. All of these are free and open source. I used Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 to build the web pages and MovableType to post the blog entries, but I have now converted everything to WordPress. I will write some more about the LAMP technologies another time. The thing I am most proud of is converting some key sections of patrickWeb to being database driven. That means that instead of “updating” a web page with new information, I update a database and then the web page is constructed to always use the latest information in the database. There are many advantages to this approach including flexibility in what information is presented on a page and how it is sequenced. A good example of this is the motorcycle log in the hobbies section.
Each of the favorites sections — books, composers, concerts, plays, restaurants — includes a database retrieval for just the particular category although the favorites database includes records for all of the categories. A blog “Favorites Update” page can include all the records in the database for all categories but only for the last thirty days or for any particular time period. The page is formed using a SQL query. (Structured Query Language — invented at IBM by Donald D. Chamberlin and Raymond F. Boyce in the early 1970s). Using SQL, a page might contain favorite Cuban restaurants visited in the past year rated better than “3″ and concerts that included “Clint Black” between 2002 and 2004 — or whatever. Very powerful, and fun to create. At some point I plan to build a page on patrickWeb that let’s any visitor create there own queries into the favorites database.