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Archive: April 2003

In Memoriam

Carol S. Meyer, 59, died Thursday, April 17, 2003 at home.  She left us after a courageous and eloquent battle with cancer.  Carol celebrated life, touching many lives through her caring, teaching, and loving support of others.  She was a wife, mother, and best friend to her family.  She is survived by her husband, Art; son, Eric, and his wife Kat; daughter, Julie, and her husband, Joe; two sisters, Bonnie and Shannon; two brothers, Steve and Mark; and numerous family and friends.

Carol taught elementary school, having spent the last two decades at Bellville Elementary School.  She held several leadership positions within the Clear Fork Valley Teachers Association.  She enjoyed gardening and was a Master Gardener for many years.

Friends may call at the Ontario Home of Wappner Funeral Directors Monday, April 21, from 4-8 p.m.  A service celebrating Carol’s life will be held at the First Congregational Church in Mansfield at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, conducted by Rev. Clifford D. Schutjer.  A reception for family and friends will follow the service.  Memorial contributions may be made to the Community Health Access Project, 445 Bowman Street, Mansfield, Ohio 44903.

Renewals

The css-discuss archives are back into active and complete form, although the URL changed slightly.  If you’re looking for something in the annals of our little community (1,966 members and counting), go to it.  The archive makes for a handy way to publicly link to list posts… say, if I wanted to point out a post I made about the issues with creating a monthly calendar without using a table. The archive upgrade happened a little while ago, and I’ve been utterly remiss in mentioning it.  I’d like to thank the fine folks at Incutio for their support and services in keeping the archive going and growing.

This is kind of cool: a design generator for CSS columnar layout.  Simon says that it “appears to use Big John’s source ordered columns technique,” which wouldn’t surprise me.  Either way, it’s an interesting tool.

Spring is well underway hereabouts, and the days are once again sunny and beautiful.  Cleveland is an interesting city; through the winter we’re one of the least sunny spots in the country, but during the rest of the year we’re one of the sunniest.  Right now, there’s a flawless blue sky backing up barely-budded trees swaying in the wind, and I wish this spring could last the better part of forever.

Master of Your Cascade

The CSS1 support chart known as the mastergrid disappeared when Web Review’s servers got shut off, which has apparently caused some anguish in the community.  Anguish no more!  It’s back online now, thanks to Netscape DevEdge.  Actually, there are three charts now, with more planned for the future.

There are also plans afoot to (finally!) get the charts expanded to include browsers that have been released since the end of 2000.  You know, like two three major releases of Opera, three of Netscape, Mozilla 1.0, IE6, and so on.  I don’t know if Linux browsers will be added or not, but I’ll see what can be done.  Also, I’d really like to add Safari, but since I don’t have Jaguar, I’m kind of stuck until I can find time to upgrade my laptop.

The charts are also now licensed under a Creative Commons license (specifically, Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 1.0) so that they can always be available to the community, regardless of what happens in the future.  They can also be extended, should somebody wish to undertake the effort, without removing the extended works from the community.  I’d like to thank the folks at Netscape for not only giving the charts a home, but also for being very supportive of this licensing approach.

So Square It’s Hip

I thought Squidfingers was cool, but Jesse Ruderman’s bookmarklets are about a zillion times cooler, only in a really geeky way.  Want to see, in the status bar, the document-tree path of whatever element your mouse pointer is over?  Jesse’s got your back.  Look up the WHOIS record for whatever site you’re visiting?  Check.  View style sheets, see the generated source, show the values for named anchors, kill off CSS temporarily, go up a directory level, view whatever cookies relate to the site you’re visiting, sort tables, view HTTP headers, zoom images, or even resize fixed-pixel layouts?  Oh yeah.  And that’s only a fraction of what Jesse has on tap.  My only real problem is that there’s nowhere near enough room on my personal toolbar to hold all the bookmarklets I want to install.  Even with dropdown folders it’s going to be a tight fit.

That reminds me of another cool bookmarklet I saw a while back but never pointed out: Simon Willison’s Image Drag.  Visit a page, click the bookmarklet, and drag images around to see if you like them better in other spots.  Wow.  Talk about making design-change previews easier!

Those bookmarklets, plus the features that Henrik Gemal just recently wrote about, makes Mozilla a nearly ideal Web development environment all on its own.  Invest a little time in setting things up to your liking, and the Web is your oyster.  Amazing stuff.

Tentacle Alert

Holy cow, there’s some cool stuff over at Squidfingers.  One of his offered patterns may well find its way into the next redesign of this here site.  And, if you’ll notice, the pages are very structural markup that’s laid out with CSS.  No layout tables for our cephalopodic pal!

(Last week, while watching a video on octopi, it occurred to me to wonder if scientists who study octopi and squid tentacles are called cephalopodiatrists.  Do cephalopods ever get tenticular cancer?  And is it illegal in Georgia to cuttlefish?  Even stuffed ones?  Even if the stuffing is a really nice Gulf shrimp stuffing?)

I’m currently reading a book called Conspiracy, which is actually an exploration of people’s readiness to believe in conspiracy theories and the roots of such theories.  For a couple of days, though, I couldn’t find the book anywhere in the house.  I began to wonder if it had been stolen by the Illuminati or something, but then it turned up on Kat’s desk.  Very suspicious.  Maybe she’s actually an agent of the Illuminati, keeping an eye on me to ensure that I don’t uncover the real truth.  Yeah, that seems reasonable.  I’ll need to look into making some tin hats to block out their mind-control rays.

The book I read before Conspiracy was James Gleick’s Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything.  Ironically, it took me almost a month to finish.

As I was working on something late last night, FX showed a program called “UFOs: The Best Evidence Ever (Caught On Tape) 2.”  Leaving the odd punctuation aside, how is it that there was more than one of these shows?  I mean, once you’ve shown the Best Evidence Ever, then shouldn’t the next show be called something like “The Next-Best Evidence Ever?”  Then I saw Denis Leary doing a Quaker State commercial, which seemed really sad somehow.  That was immediately followed by a double shot (sorry) of ads for a “natural male enhancement” product.  As if I don’t get enough of that kind of spam in my Inbox—now I’m getting it on TV as well.  So when do we get mainstream-media spam for breast enhancement products?  It would only be fair.

Exhausted

When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me, “Did you sleep well?” I said, “No, I made a few mistakes.”
—Steven Wright

The link I posted to the CSS mastergrid now redirects to a registration page (apparently DDJ thinks you need to register with them to have to dig for a resource that isn’t as useful as it was before they got hold of it), so I’ve removed the link from the archive.

Also, I forgot to mention that part 2 of the interview with Mike Davidson of ESPN was posted last Friday.  It gets into the nuts and bolts of redesign a bit, and Mike tosses out some strong opinions on CSS and validation, among other things.

I think I’m the last to find out about this, but BlogShares is kind of interesting.  This site is listed on the exchange, which surprised me no end, and while it isn’t doing as well as scottandrew.com (which is where I found out about all this) I’m amused that there are already people who “bought” shares of meyerweb.com.  If nothing else, it’s an interesting tool to see who’s linking to this site, and I like the overall presentation a little better than Technorati‘s design.

Speaking of which, I went off on an egorati hunt (a term I first heard Tantek use) and found wherearemylegs, which looks a bit familiar.  Cool!  I’m always interested to see how other people adapt my design ideas to their own needs.

Since I was up way too early this morning anyway, I decided to rework some of the Raging Platypus‘ buttons in CSS-styled text.  So you can steal these buttons, too.  The work isn’t an exact copy, nor does it cover everything the Plat created.  That wasn’t really the point.  Oh, and I also threw in a recreation of Dave Winer‘s “XML” button.

I’m wondering if “platypus” is particularly hard to type in general, or if it’s a special challenge to me today because I’m so tired.  Given that it took me four tries to get “challenge” spelled correctly in the previous sentence, I’m thinking it’s the fatigue.  I’m also using annoying sentence construction, like starting out clauses with “I’m wondering” and “I’m thinking.”  As if I remain frozen in those states until you come read this entry.  By the time you get here, I’ll have moved on to something else.  And yet, it makes things sound more personal, doesn’t it?

Yep.  Definitely fatigue.

Restless

Last night, for a while I lay in bed having trouble falling asleep.  When I finally did drop off, I dreamed that I was lying in bed and having trouble falling asleep.

That was weird.

Mark Pilgrim has a nice entry on his site about creating a tab interface out of a simple unordered list and CSS.  His approach uses float: left; instead of display: inline;, which has some advantages and drawbacks.  Mark also says, “This CSS stuff is hard; don’t let anybody tell you different.”  Well, I’ll tell you different, although you can always reject what I have to say.  CSS is challenging, certainly, especially if you have old design habits to unlearn.  CSS doesn’t always act in intuitive ways.  Its learning curve sometimes seems too steep a climb for many people.  But CSS is very much consistent, once you dive into it far enough, and once you adjust to its way of doing things it becomes not so much easy as very, very powerful.

Some enterprising soul(s) managed to dig up the URL of the copy of the CSS mastergrid at ddj.com, but I wouldn’t get too used to it being there.  Plus the file isn’t using CSS to style the grid any more, which is really rather funny in its own way, but also makes the charts harder to use.  While I have suspected for a while that webreview.com would go away, the changeover was completely without warning, so I don’t even know who to talk to about fixing the problems.  It’s a touch frustrating.

I also found out, in the process of tracking down the new chart URL, that someone thinks I look like Luke Skywalker.

That was more weird.

Deluged

I’m back from User Interface 7 West, which was a most excellent time; and a four-day vacation at Ragged Point, which was a more excellent time, but in a completely different and much more relaxing way.  Upon my return, my personal e-mail account contained 2,280 messages, of which almost precisely half were spam.  The work account had 1,300+ messages, and I’d already downloaded 500+ while on the road.

I’m a little behind, is what I’m trying to say.

If you sent me a message recently, odds are it will be a while before I respond.  If I don’t respond in the next couple of weeks, your message was probably lost in the spam, so consider resending it after that time.  Yes, I know, Spam Assassin, Cloudmark, blah blah blah.  It’s more fun to complain about the spam, really.  Besides, deleting it manually is a good workout for my speed-reading and snap-evaluation skills.

I did notice a number of messages about webreview.com rerouting to Dr. Dobbs Journal, and the disappearance of the CSS support charts (a.k.a. “The Mastergrid”).  Yes, the charts are now offline, although since they hadn’t been updated in over two years this is not what I’d call a deep tragedy.  Fans of the charts will be glad to know I’d already been working (slowly, ever slowly) toward finding the charts a new home and getting them updated.  I’ll certainly make an announcement here once there is actual news, but for now, let’s pause a moment in silent tribute to the late, lamented Web Review.  They gave me my first paid writing gig and the charts a home, and I’ll always be grateful to Dale, Chuck, Derrick, and all the rest of the staff.

Oh, and for those interested in my RSS feed, you can pick the flavor you like best from the Eric’s Archived Thoughts page.

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