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Archive: 26 September 2003

Dynamic Mental Static

An interesting idea: Pixy’s fast no-preload rollovers, which I first heard about in a presentation at Seybold.  It seems to me there’s one potential drawback in this method, which is that it requires that your links be an exact size, or at least never be taller than a certain size.  Since I spend a lot of time thinking about techniques that will work well even if the text is scaled up 300% or more, this “drawback” is probably more of a concern to me than to the rest of you.  I don’t mean to denigrate what Petr has done—it’s a clever technique, and has a great deal to commend it, including reduced server load.

So, Eolas.  Their claims of inventing plug-ins or applets or whatever put me in mind of a similar yet much dorkier situation surrounding the new movie Underworld, summarized rather well by the guys at Penny Arcade, as usual.  Of course, Microsoft itself patented style sheets back in the late Nineties, so it’s not like they’ve never been down that road themselves.  I’ll freely admit that Microsoft never did anything with said patent, and that puts them a step above Eolas in the trudge toward something resembling the faintest shadow of a moral high ground.

One of the reasons I’ve not gotten too worked up about all this is I still have this idiotic faith that reason will, eventually, prevail.  The British Telecom “patent” on hyperlinks came to nothing, so far as I can tell.  Whether this was due to a court throwing out the claim, or the collective will of the Web ignoring it outright, I’m not sure, but that’s sort of the point: it was never a big deal.  I keep thinking whatever process got us there will similarly operate in the Eolas case.  I can’t do much about it either way.  Hey, maybe Eolas did patent the process of whatever it is they claim to have invented years after other people had already done it.  Great.  As soon as I secure a patent for my novel method of representing complex information using only the integers one and zero, I am so going to clean up in the courts.  (Hat tip: Chris Lilley, ca. 1999.)

Of course, we also have ISO and OCLC poisoning the community well in different but still deeply distasteful ways, so maybe I should reconsider my faith in reason winning the day.  Is it time to pull out the term “morons” yet?  How about “scummy bastards?”  Somebody let me know.  Meanwhile, I generally find relief from goofy humor and mind games (of the good sort), so let’s try some of that on for size, shall we?

Davezilla shares a semi-coherent translation on a snack-food packet (for more such goodness, please to enjoy the site of Engrish).  I’m reminded of one of my favorite business cards of all time; it came from a fortune cookie factory in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  This card stated, in bold red capital letters near to bursting with pride, “WE SPECIALIZE TO MAKE ALL OCCASIONAL COOKIES.”  Sadly, this glorious bit of prose no longer graces the new cards they now hand out, which instead inform us that they are happy to offer novelty adult cookies.  I sometimes wonder if that simply means that the fortunes come with the words “in bed” already printed at the end of the phrase.

The page I’m about to point to is best viewed with a fairly wide browser window, because it’s peppered with some very wide images, but “The latest works” is very much worth visiting if you’re fascinated by optical illusions.  I’m always intrigued by examples of the brain percieving motion where there is none, and sometimes wonder if this capacity is in some weird way the neurological basis for conspiracism.  Note that not all the examples may work for you; only about half to two-thirds did for me.  But the ones that did… wow.  I expect it’s the closest I’ll ever come to being a synaesthetic.

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