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Archive: May 2003

Yeah, But It’s a Dry Heat

I’m off to Las Vegas to speak at TODCON MX, so come say “hi” if you’re there!  I did a quick check of the weather forecast for Vegas and the high temperatures are projected to be over 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day I’m down there.  Holy mother of pearl, that’s hot… especially for a pale Northern boy like me.

So apparently Internet Explorer for Windows won’t be developed as a standalone product any more, but (if I read the article correctly) will instead be bolted even more deeply to the operating system than it is already.  Yeah, that sounds like a great plan.  Because, you know, the security of their existing products has always been so exemplary.

Spanning the Globe

This afternoon I wrapped up an interview with a guy from Radio New Zealand’s Digital Life programme, who was calling me from tomorrow morning.  (They’re eighteen hours ahead of me.)  I noticed almost no lag despite the distance; after watching the one-second-plus pauses in conversations between anchors at CNN Center and field correspondents in the Middle East, I expected a similar effect.  There was a very slight delay, it seemed, maybe a quarter-second or less, but no more.  We were separated by roughly ten thousand kilometers (six thousand miles) of linear distance and probably thirteen thousand kilometers (nine thousand miles) of surface distance as we talked, and yet the conversation was no different than if he’d been sitting across town.  Just wow.  I’ve been promised a transcript of the interview, so I hope I was reasonably coherent.

Yesterday’s entry drew some responses, all of them basically telling me to stop worrying.  I appreciate that.  I think I’ll still fret for a while anyway, just because it forces me to think about what I really want to do.  If I find other things more interesting than CSS, then I need to admit that and move on.  If not, then I need to stop dithering and get back to work.  Probably the latter, but one should take stock every year or so.

On this, the second anniversary of starting at Netscape, Microsoft agreed to settle an antitrust lawsuit by paying AOL a large pile of cash, and furthermore let AOL continue to use IE in the AOL client for the next seven years for free.

Well.  Perhaps the reflections upon my career and its future will come in handy after all.

My Dull Surprise

I’m continually amazed by what interests people.  The most recent examples: Simon Willison’s CSS tutorials and Stuart Robertson’s “The Search For the Missing Link.”  This is in no way a denigration of the work either man is doing—it’s top-notch stuff, and is not only well presented but is obviously striking a chord with readers.  I’m just saying that it never would have occurred to me that people would be interested in those kinds of things, so even if I’d had the ideas, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to write them up.  (Exception: Simon’s CSS makeovers of the Winer and JWZ sites, which I wish I’d thought of first.  Oh well.)

This bothers me, because it hints at a personal failing.  If I’m not talking about the things that interest people, if I’ve lost touch with what people want to know, then how can I be an effective teacher and author?  Why should anyone bother to listen to what I have to say?  For a communicator like me, this is a real problem.  I thrive on the exchange of information, both incoming and outgoing.  Of course I can always consume knowledge, but that isn’t enough.  If I can’t provide it as well, the meal is unsatisfying.  The important thing is the sharing.

Am I bored with CSS, and having that stunt my abilities?  Is this a lurking fear of being eclipsed by newer (and generally younger) contributors to the field and eventually forgotten?  Have I just been in the game too long to stay in touch with the audience?  I’m sure people out there would be happy to tell me that I could still see what the audience wants if only a massively swollen ego weren’t blocking my sight, and for all I know they’re correct.  Maybe it’s time to move into a different area of study, and see what happens.  I hear they’re taking applications at that truck driving school.

It was two years ago tomorrow that I started work for Netscape, by the way.

Valid Relaxation

The W3C‘s HTML validator has a new beta that includes a significant change.  It will now attempt fallback validation if it can’t find a DOCTYPE or character encoding.  In other words, if you run a legacy document through the validator, it will warn you the document is invalid because it couldn’t find the stuff it needed, but make a guess at the right DTD and character encoding to use and try validating against those.  See, for example, the validation run of a “non-DOCTYPE” test page.

Personally, I think this is great.  It makes the validator a lot more friendly without giving people the idea that their invalid documents are okay.  It removes one more annoyance from the path to validation, and that can’t be a bad thing.

I spent the three-day weekend producing a few metric tons of screenshots, pounding my head against the desktop over the inline formatting model (again), blowing up some virtual giant robots, and all the other things that make for a good holiday weekend.  Last night Kat and I went with some good friends to see A Mighty Wind, which we all thought was a hoot.  Or, more properly, a hootenanny.  Eugene Levy’s character, Mitch, was just amazing.

Be Heard

Do you still avoid PNG images because IE/Win doesn’t support the alpha channel?  If you’re like most Web designers, the answer is “yes.”  Thanks to Owen Briggs, I came across a petition asking Microsoft to change that.  Will it change anything?  Who knows?  We can but try.  You will have to allow a cookie (to prevent petition stuffing) and give them an e-mail address, but you can withhold your e-mail address from public exposure.  If you want to see real and widespread PNG support on the Web (and any designer should, once they fully understand what PNGs can do) then you should go sign the petition.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s important.

Scratch One Town

All I can say, having been a bysitter to a group of people watching the series finale to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, is this: if there is indeed a Hellmouth in Cleveland, it’s more than likely under the Peter B. Lewis Building.  It makes a certain degree of sense, especially when you consider the Law School is immediately adjacent to the site.  Before the building’s construction, there was an empty field containing a few abstract sculptures that may actually have been, upon reflection, demonic symbols or powerful wards of some kind.  Now they’ve been removed, which probably means creeping evil, lowered bowling averages, and all manner of ickiness.

While we’re on a pseudo-religious bent, the prophetical power of Scrooged continues to be demonstrated, as it was several months ago.  Yea, the words of the most reverend Mitchum shall lead us from the valley of the miniseries, and unto the Kingdom of Schmaltz.

Ghostly Echoes

Eight years ago today, my life was fundamentally changed by a single sentence.  Ten simple, unexpected words were the gateway to several months of anger, confusion, and grief.  And regret, so much regret.  In the end, it really was all for the best, but it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time.  I learned a great deal, and changed in ways I never would have believed possible.  In retrospect, the benefit was worth the cost, even if I hadn’t been aware I was going to be paying.

One month ago today, my life was fundamentally altered by a single event.  It was somewhat expected, of course, and had been for sixteen months.  That didn’t make it any less final, but it did make it less difficult in many ways.  There was very little unresolved by the end, so there was very little to regret.  Whatever needed to be said was said; whatever needed to be done had been done.  We gave as much love as we could, and had no doubt she knew how much we all loved her.  If there is anything that can ease the path from this world, I have to believe that it’s love.

There will be regrets to come—words and events and feelings we can’t share, tiny pangs when we wish we could tell her what’s happening in our lives and hear the pride in her voice; a feeling of absence when we want to turn to her for comfort or advice and know that it isn’t there.  These are selfish desires, I suppose, but not ones easily put away.  Perhaps the process of healing is really one of substitution, as we find other sources for the same feedback.  Perhaps it’s a slow process of forgetting the details of what we miss so dearly, so that it becomes blurry and shrouded in a haze of elapsed time.  The edges soften, and stop cutting quite so deeply.

I’m just guessing, of course.  It’s only been a month.  Ask me again in eight years, and I might know something.  For now, I just keep moving and keep doing my best to make her proud of me.

Advance Planning

Regional linguistic variations are funny.  The BBC News UK Web site has an article with this lead paragraph:

US President George W Bush has launched his bid for re-election, filing papers declaring his intention to contest next year’s vote.

Here in America, the usual meaning assigned to “contest,” at least in this context, would be “challenge” instead of “strive to win”—so to us Yanks, the implication is that Bush is already preparing to challenge the results of the next election.  Sounds like an Onion story, doesn’t it?

Speaking of linguistic variations, I now have in my possession copies of Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide in Polish, Bulgarian, and Korean.  Two of each, in fact.  The surreal part is that all the examples and screenshots are still in English, while the main text is in something not English.  I have to wonder how that affects the book’s utility for local readers.

So not only will I be speaking at The Other Dreamweaver Conference (TODCON) next month in Las Vegas, I’ll be giving two technical sessions and delivering the conference keynote.  Some other speakers you might know will also be there, including Molly Holzschlag, Murray Summers, Massimo Foti, and Angela Buraglia, among others.  It should be an interesting time, what with me giving talks to all those Dreamweaver power users when I, you know, don’t actually use Dreamweaver.  Haven’t touched it in years, in fact.

We’re headed off to see The Matrix Reloaded tonight, and as expected it’s already causing hugely polarized reactions among those who’ve seen it.  I have pretty low expectations, so I ought to be all right.  As with the first one, I expect a lot of goofy exposition and nonsensical backstory mixed in with some eye-popping special effects sequences.  Hey, it worked well enough the first time, so why not draw from the same well?

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