The Plywood Piano


Suppose you like to play the piano but you aren't happy with the Steinway sitting in your living room.   It's a little too big and hard to move around.   An idea pops into your head - 'Hey - why not build my own piano!".   You have looked inside the Steinway - there's  just a  bunch of wires and little hammers - what's so complicated about that?

You happen to have some plywood and rubber bands sitting around, so off you go.

Months later, you sit down to your plywood piano and even though it looks rather dreadful, you are able to plink out a rendition of 'Fur Elise'.  You are encouraged.   Yes, there are other things you should be doing with your time, but this plywood piano is so much fun to tinker with.

That's a short description of what I have been doing the past few months.  My 'plywod piano' is a content managment system for websites and blogs.   It's written in php and uses text files instead of a database.   

The Steinway in the livingroom is WordPress (it could be Wix or Squarespace - any one of the 'full-service' website frameworks that I have worked with over the years.)  They are all amazing but just a little ponderous and heavy to work with.  I felt like a little kid who wanted to draw pictures but was required to only use an Etch-a-Sketch.  I kept wishing there was a simpler alternative.

Then I took a course in PHP programming.  (Thanks, Teamtreehouse.)  Suddenly light bulbs started going off in my head.  It was as if someone replaced the Etch-a-Sketch with a box of crayons.  Now I could draw whatever I wanted.

Pretty soon PHP was running my life - I wrote a desktop app to keep my daily journal, my to do list, passwords and addresses.   It expanded to keep track of all the websites I was working on, the versions, credentials, update logs, and finally my client list and invoices.  

Although it seemed that PHP was designed to be used with a database, I found MySql to be a lot of effort.  When no one was looking, I cheated and used 'plywood' instead - plain text files.   The nice thing about text files is that they are so easy to access.

So why not write a blog engine too? 

SInce all my friends are in other lines of work, there was no one there to talk me out of the idea until it was too late.   The piano is now sitting in the livingroom!

I'm in the process of describing the process I took, in case there is anyone else out there with too much time on time on their hands.  These pages will probably be changed around from time to time as I fix and improve my piano.  

So all you DIY'ers - stay tuned for more!!

Check out the demo here.  Please forgive the preponderance of cats.  Srsly.


Category: general

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