I was at the Museum of Science and Industry today for their Holidays of Light exhibit. It was the first trip there for me in about 4 months, which is a long time for me. The exhibit was great as usual. There’s a tree representing each of over 60 countries, decorated with ornaments representing that particular country. The larger tree in the middle of the rotunda is decorated with ornaments representing many of the museum’s exhibits. I took plenty of photos, and plan to post them to my new virtual tree in the next few days when I get the design and database up and running. Keep your eyes peeled here for the link.

Some other changes at the museum include the entire west pavilion being shut down for the construction of the new Science Storms, opening in spring of 2010. That’s going to be a rework of the old Hall of Basic Science, with a weather related slant. The centerpiece of it will be a 20′ tall tornado. Also, the southern balcony is under construction. The body exhibits are also being reworked and will open next spring.

Also of note was the Mechanical Cabaret Theater. This was a showcase of cam and pulley driven animated scenes. One of my favorites was the cat lapping up poisoned milk, as the sign described it. After about 10 licks the entire wooden cat collapses. In true Museum fashion, the museum inner workings of the display are completely exposed, allowing the curious mind (mine included) to look at what exactly causes all of the motion.

The former Robots and, prior to that, Time exhibit hall now is an exposition of where new technologies may take us. There is a lot of interesting content there, and it looks like they’ve set it up so they can keep it up to date very easily, which will be critical to keep the information fresh.

Finally, the Omnimax theater refurbishment has been completed. There are new seats in the theater, new carpeting and a DLP projector that displays movie theater-style pre-show questions and answers, instead of the old slide based system. I saw the Grand Canyon Adventure which was excellent, like every Omnimax film. The film was also shot exclusively for Omnimax (or they have outfitted the projector with a lens that corrects for it) as there was no distortion near the edges of the field of vision as I have become accustomed to seeing with Imax films being played on an Omnimax screen. The movie had spectacular views of the canyon from top to bottom. It also included plenty of the Imax signature flying-over-the-edge-of-a-cliff scenes designed to make everyone in the audience jump a little.

It’s done. Just over a weekend of work and I have re-designed both the blog and photos section of the site. Here’s what it used to look like.

That was from the summer of 2002, when I started at Purdue. Then, the site ran on Greymatter and didn’t have a photos section. Now, I’ve upgraded to WordPress and I’m using Gallery 2 to handle the photos.

About all that made it through the re-design was the backwards “b” logo (short for “by” and styled after the @ symbol) and the content. The tweets and random photos in the old design were added last-minute and didn’t fit the available space very well, which is what prompted me to start redesign the site.

I started with a WordPress theme called Grey Matter (purely coincidence) and customized it to my liking. I then adapted it for use with Gallery 2.

WordPress was a breeze to customize the theme, Gallery 2 was a little trickier. I feel like all of the documentation for it is not entirely up to date. For a challenge, I threw in some integration between Twitter, Gallery 2 and WordPress. You can see the results of that in the sidebar at the right with the random photos and recent tweets available on each page.

Something to note with the design, having the links and sidebar to the right makes the site much more accessible to small-screen devices, that tend to ignore layouts and just display content top to bottom. With the links at the left, the small-screen user has to scroll past all of them before they get to the page content. I’m noticing a lot of this as I find more and more uses for my new smartphone.

I didn’t want to bring out my just repaired camera in the rain at my high school’s football game since there was on and off rain. After I left the house it ended up being dry for the entire night. Oh well.

I went to the game anyways because it was #4 vs. my high school at #25. I expected a better game than what I saw. Since I had my phone with me and no camera, I decided to micro-blog the entire game with my commentary and score updates. I also went for the “total experience” and blogged the band and fan reaction. You can find all of that under the “Twitter” link at the left. Whether or not anyone was paying attention to it is another question, but I’m sure someone got some use out of it.

It was a little tricky. Trying to keep to keep track of the next play while typing up the last one on a tiny keyboard. You’ll notice some spelling and grammar errors that I blame mostly on this. I thik I got it figured out by then end I was even to get some player names in, picking them up from the field announcer.