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Archive: August 2003

Spooky!

Remember I mentioned the “ZARGON” license plate?  Gail Cohen wrote me from Miami, Florida to tell me whose car that was.  His name’s Rex.  I’ve talked about moments of technological vertigo (technovertigo? technologigo?  technigo?) in the past.  This is another such moment.

So apparently Gail and Rex are both members of the International Association of Haunted Attractions, and his hobby is being an interactive actor in haunted houses.  You know the guys who jump out at you with goalie masks and chain saws?  He’s one of them.  Oh, heck, take a look for yourself.  So it turns out that terror really is his business, at least as a hobby, and I suppose it does take guts.  Just not the kind I meant.

All Tied Up

Fresh from a Taiwanese factory and several FedEx planes, I now have in my claws a brand-spankin’ new 1GHz 15.2″ TiBook.  Ahhhhh…. except for it running OS X, which I still don’t really quite understand.  Thanks to Mac OS X Hacks, I quickly located the terminal window and added it to the Dock for handy access.  <mood type="bliss"/>  I even got the built-in AirPort option even though I don’t have WiFi in the house.  So, of course, I’m in the market for a wireless access point.  Anyone have suggestions for a good one?  Bear in mind the access point will be situated inside a lath-and-plaster house, which may mean a whole lot of metal wire mesh in the walls.  Then again, the house was built in 1920, so I don’t know for sure that they were using much metal in walls back then.

Also bear in mind that I didn’t buy an Airport base station because I didn’t want to spend that much on a wireless extension to my existing wired network.  I’ve been looking at the LinkSys WAP11, as I have a LinkSys router already and the price is right, but I’ve been reading online that its range is limited and I want to cover three floors of the house, plus the front and back yards.  As long as I can good signal at a fifty-foot range from the station, and moderate signal up to one hundred feet, I’ll be more than fine.  I found a how-to on hacking the WAP11 to boost its transmission power, but I don’t know if the current firmware still allows the hack.  What does sort of bother me is that the WAP11 won’t pass through AppleTalk packets.  It’s not that I do tons of AppleTalk, but that it bothers me buying an access point that absolutely slams that door shut.  I will want to communicate between my Classic OS desktop and the TiBook, obviously.

Anyway—have need for wireless access point, need to cover multistory house, will want Mac-to-Mac communication, looking for recommendations.  The more plug-and-play, the better.  Meantime, I have to figure out how to best go about repartioning the hard drive into my usual triad of boot volume, data volume, and scratch-space volume.  And then I have to come up with a catchy name for this beast.  Oh, the crosses I bear.

Somehow I missed the fact that Opera Journal published a short interview with me on Tuesday and Wednesday.  You should probably start with part one, and then follow it to part two.  I think it got broken up because I spent some time answering the first question, but it really is short—five questions, if I counted correctly.  But not a Friday Five.

Plated

Just to demonstrate that my brain has melted, I’m actually thinking about adding a “Plate Watch” box to the site sidebar.  On my way back home this afternoon, I found myself situated behind an SUV whose license plate read “ICU PEKN.”  I was impressed.  It isn’t often you see reverse psychology employed on a license plate.

The business side of life seems to be jumpin’, as they would have said back in the Big Band era.  Besides the work for Macromedia, I have one confirmed CSS training contract and three possibles, plus what looks like three conferences between now and Thanksgiving.  I’m also hoping to sign in the next week a few more contracts to do standards optimization and strategy work for various companies.  All that, plus I’m trying to assemble a business site for myself and create or acquire the materials that are so vital to being on one’s own.

Considered in this context, I suppose the persistent light insomnia is a bit of a blessing in disguise.  Still, I’ve no cause to complain.  I think I almost had to go out on my own at some point, just to find out if I can hack it.  If so, great!  If not, then I’ll know that I tried.

At any rate, the heavy work load does make for light journal entries.

Disc Slippage

I have in my possession the separation package AOLTW is offering me.  It came in one of those paper-cardboard navy blue Oxford pocket folders I used to store all my class notes back in junior high school, at least for the classes that didn’t require a lot of note-taking.  Like art class.  There isn’t a whole lot to these agreements.  I go that way, they go another way, they help tide over the transition period, I agree to certain things, blah blah blah.  This is actually new to me, as it’s the first time I’ve left a position without resigning.

Anyway, the point is that when I pulled out the documents, I discovered something else in the folder. A closeup picture of an AOL 8.0 CS sitting on top of the first pages of Eric's separation agreement.  A little bonus parting gift from a former employer, as it were.  Just their way of saying thanks for all the work I’d done over the past couple of years.  I almost fell out of my chair laughing.

Ah irony, thou cruel and playful mistress.  Why do I love thee so?

You’d think they could have sent along a bunch of them for me to use.  Like, six or maybe eight of them.  You know?

Platelets

Note: e-mail delivery has resumed. Yay!  Now I can go back to deleting mountains of spam.  If you were holding off sending me mail, there’s no reason to wait any longer.

Kat and I were driving to the other side of town today when we passed a car with the license plate “IB COOL.”  My immediate reaction was: “If you have a vanity plate stating ‘IB COOL,’ I can just about guarantee that you aren’t.  At all.”  Then we noticed this plate was affixed to a Buick Reatta.  I smugly rested my case.

The whole thing put me in mind of another recent license-plate incident.  A few days ago, I spotted a car with the plate “ZARGON.”  The plate bracket stated “Lord Zargon” across the top, and “Terror is my business” across the bottom.  I thought to myself, That takes some guts.

I don’t know what it is with me and license plates.  Sometimes they even make me see colors.  You’d think I’d have more important things to do on the road than look at license plates, like maybe watch out for other cars or traffic signals.  It seems almost like I’m stalking through traffic on a hunt for a license plate unlike any I’ve ever seen, something new and fascinating and life-altering.  I don’t know what that looks like, I can’t know until I see it, and then I’ll know.  It’s like license-plate hunting is in my blood, where I can’t get it out and I can’t resist the call.

In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t own a magnetic harpoon system.  Yet.

Out On The Tiles

Note: I’m having e-mail troubles.  I can currently send mail, but I can’t receive it.  I don’t know if the mail server is accepting messages or not, but if you get a bounce, please wait a day or two before sending again.  If you don’t get a bounce, assume the message will eventually reach me, and that I’ll respond as soon as I can.  The hope, of course, is that this will only be a temporary glitch.

Two days after announcing I’m available for hire, too.  Hey, timing is everything!

Jesse Ruderman has created a nifty little game using JavaScript.  What’s particularly clever about it is that he’s only using a single image, and (with CSS) is shifting that image in the background of each tile to show the appropriate section.

Thanks to Modulo 26, I now have a whole bunch of kanji representations of my name.  I kind of like them.  How does your name look?

Feedback

Yesterday’s announcement has generated a fair bit of attention, which is certainly a good thing for a new startup.  My deepest thanks to everyone who wrote words of support and congratulations, through all the e-mail and many a weblog.  Your collective enthusiasm has definitely made today one of the best in months, and eased my mind quite a bit about the step I’ve taken.  And those of you who got in touch regarding contracting my services get extra-special thanks!  (What are the rest of you waiting for?)

I mentioned that one of my clients is “a major and highly respected name in the industry,” and I’m proud to say that client is Macromedia.  My work is actually in two different areas, both of which relate to CSS, and I’m looking forward to talking about the projects in more detail once they’ve been completed.  For now, let me just say that Macromedia is serious about using CSS well, and in doing the right thing.

I’m hoping that this weekend I’ll get the consulting site material together and ready for launch—I don’t even have a design yet.  What I may do is use a variant of a meyerweb theme as a first look and then, like Zeldman did earlier this year, redesign in public, commenting on my choices and techniques as I go.  I don’t know if a business site has ever done exactly that kind of a redesign before, and it seems like it would be an interesting experiment.  To be honest, I may chicken out and just jump from one design to another instead of evolving it over time, rather than experiment with a business site.  We’ll see what kind of feedback I get on the idea.

Speaking of feedback, I need to pass along some tidbits readers sent in response to my discussion of governments and open standards:

  • Bob Sawyer wrote to say he’s created a discussion forums for Webmasters at the fledgling Built For The Future, which looks like it could be just the kind of resource people need.
  • Felix Ingram sent in a link to a fascinating Wired article on standardization and its distinctly political nature.
  • Rob Lifford pointed out the Texas Governors’ site is accessible, and even has a dedicated statement about the use of W3C standards.  That jostled my memory and I remembered that the City and Borough of Juneau, Alaska‘s site did something similar a while back.
  • Paul Martin speculated that, until recently, standards use and accessibility have been almost entirely the concern of hand-coders, the people who know the nuts and bolts that make a page work.  If that’s so, then the WaSP was absolutely right to concentrate on getting tool vendors to clean up the markup they generate.

I’m going to take the weekend to concentrate on responding to e-mail, doing some writing, and fleshing out the new site, and should be back bright and early Monday morning to regale you with more random stuff.  Enjoy your weekend!

August 2003
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