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Switcheroo

I’ve converted “Thoughts From Eric” over to use WordPress, dropping my lovingly hand-crafted XML/XSLT solution for something packaged.  Since there’s no actual package, I guess I use that term somewhat loosely, but then I was also being very loose with the term “lovingly,” at least as pertains to XSLT.  I decided to go with WordPress because it’s all driven by HTML+CSS layout, and it uses PHP to generate the HTML.  I don’t know from PHP, but I can figure it out well enough to hack in the features I want, and the CSS-driven nature of the layout means I can do my own thing in a jiffy.  In this case, that meant bending the PHP files to produce markup consistent with the old meyerweb, and then applying my existing style sheets to the result.  Thus the visual consistency between yesterday and today.

Some changes that may or may not be of interest to you:

  • By default, comment posting will be disabled but trackbacks will be permitted.  I expect things to stay that way until I decide what my policy will be regarding anonymous posting, comment spammers, and the like.  I’ll open up commenting on the occasional question post—I expect to put up one later today, in fact—but I won’t be opening up every post for comments.  I’ve taken note of how that’s gone at some other sites, and have rarely liked what I’ve seen.
  • All feeds will continue to use excerpts; I will not be publishing full-content feeds, mostly because if I did y’all would saturate the outgoing pipes.  Yes, dammit, bandwidth does still matter.
  • Both RSS feeds have lost their word-count and category information.  As soon as I figure out how to recreate those in WordPress, they’ll be back.  I had them figured out for WP1.0.2, but the very same functions seem to silently fail in WP1.2 beta, which is what I’m using.  I’ll get it worked out eventually.
  • The RSS2.0 feed now includes <pubDate> elements for your sorting pleasure.  FeedDemon users of the world, rejoice.
  • About 300 back-catalog posts (roughly speaking, December 1999 through October 2002) all got dumped into the “General” category.  You might not want to try to read that category all in one shot.
  • I’ll likely fiddle with the categorization of old posts as I come across them, so don’t do anything that depends on a post being in a particular category.  No, I have no idea what that might be.
  • The old archive pages still exist, so your permalinks won’t break.  If you want to update them to the new URIs, that would be appreciated, but if not, no big deal.
  • The vast majority of posts, including posts up through last month, show as having been published precisely at midnight.  That’s because the old archive file didn’t carry time information for those posts, not because I’m an obsessive-compulsive night owl.
  • Posts now show their categories, and clicking on said category names gets you a list of every post in the category.  Right now, that means a page that shows the full post content for every post in the category.  I plan to create a condensed-summary category view at some point.
  • I’ll probably also continue fiddling with the layout, displayed information, and various other aspects of the post and archive pages.  Just don’t refer to a particular layout idea in a debate unless you grab a screenshot, that’s all.

That’s about it.  I just thought some of you out there would be interested in the details.

Linkapalooza!

Because it’s Friday and my brain is fried.  It won’t be as over the top as one of Owen’s magnum opii, but still, it should be a spot of fun.

  • Like you haven’t seen it already, but hey: Dave Shea‘s A Roadmap to Standards.  It’s definitely worth reading, and I’m not just saying that because somewhere near the end he recommends more than half my book catalog.
  • Seeing itself might get a massive upgrade in the near future thanks to laser light and mirrors.  Hmmm… how much fun would it be to have a complete CSS reference overlaying the world?  Yeah—not very.
  • It occurs to me that Simon St. Laurent might be interested in the possibilites that a full-color personal display might bring filtering the world, considering the thoughts he had with regard to this DVD player.
  • You could, of course, view DVD alterations as a way of correcting or filtering a piece of work to conform to your worldview.  Sometimes, as the British Medical Journal points out, corrections can be a good thing.
  • And I wonder what Jack Valenti thinks of a DVD player that alters copyrighted material?
  • Ro collected 300 images from around the Web and they’re… well… familiar.  It’s almost an art piece.  I like the use of negative letter-spacing for the title.
  • A note for OS X users: Panic, creators of the inestimable Transmit, have released Stattoo.  Looks veeeery interesting, although it’s so rare for me to have any appreciable portion of my desktop visible that I’m not sure how much use I’d get out of it.
  • Now here’s a tool we all can use: a list of the changeover points from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time all over the world.  And you can even find the change points for the last five years.  Woohoo!
  • Elena, the radioactive Russian rider, had to remove her photojournal because a few million too many people went to check it out.  Thankfully, there are a number of mirrors available.
  • Of course, if you wanted to get close to the high-Geiger action yourself, you could join a Chernobyl tour.  I didn’t see any mention of oversized earthworms or Matthew Broderick, though.
  • Tom proposes a geographical metaphor to measure your memetic cluefulness.  I put myself somewhere near Bingen, mostly because I like the sound of the word “Bingen.”
  • You may as well join the memtic herd, think of badgers, and then visit Kenya.  How long will you be able to stay?

No Foolin’

Gmail appears to be for real, so my idea that it was a joke was flat wrong.  Of course, some would say “flat wrong” has been a recurring theme of mine for the last few days.  (Or longer.)

Building Blocks

Imagine my surprise to discover that an off-hours bit of work done with a couple of colleagues got a mention in the mainstream press.  XFN, which seems to be spreading through the blog world and is generating some very good feedback, was mentioned in a Seattle Times article titled “Social networking beginning to take shape on the Web.”  I’m amused that years upon years of work on CSS, which is arguably a cornerstone of the modern Web, netted me (so far as I know) exactly zero newspaper coverage, while something to which I made minor contributions merited ink within a month of its launch.

With that article still fresh in my mind, I received something like my fourth or fifth invitation to join LinkedIn, which was mentioned in the very next paragraph after the bit about XFN.  Since I’m rather interested in social networking technologies these days, I decided to set up an account and experiment a bit—do some compare-and-contrast between LinkedIn and XFN, from a user’s point of view.  It’s interesting, but I’m not sure I quite grasp the point of it.  Are links intended solely to deliver prospective clients to vendors?  Or is it supposed to be a way to show who you know, and thus who they know, and so on?  For myself, I’ve decided to limit my connections to people with whom I’ve had some contact professionally.  So if you’re a member and want to invite me, go ahead.

One of the people I did invite to link to me is George Nemeth, Cleveland-based superblogger extraordinaire.  I dropped by his site to see what he’s talking about, and spotted a link to a LEGO® recreation of M. C. Escher’s Relativity.  The same people also did Ascending and Descending, and a few others besides.  Color me impressed!  From there, I visited some other LEGO®-sculpture sites, finding at one point a really large model of a stegosaur, which was even more impressive, both from a sheer achievement point of view as well as a testament to the amount of free time some people have available.  And check this out: the guy who came up with a model of the Nebuchadnezzar, a mostly working badger, and a whole bunch of other LEGO® sculptures besides, lives right here in Cleveland.

Like how I came full circle with that one?

Roadmarks II

Random observations and thoughts from the drive from New York City to Cleveland:

  • There are these signs along Interstate 80 in northern New Jersey that read, “UPGRADE – MAINTAIN SPEED.”  They come just before each hill, and I thought they very nicely captured what it’s like to be a computer user.
  • Peppered along the Pennsylvania stretch of I80 (all six hours of it), there are signs that read, “BUCKLE UP – NEXT MILLION MILES.”  My first thought was, As compared to what reference point?
  • In the middle of Pennsylvania, we discovered that hunting season is underway.  There were a lot of cars pulled off to the side of the interstate, and we saw quite a few men wearing faded camoflauge and bright orange vests, which seemed like the ultimate in contradictory clothing choices.  Later on, we saw a truck with a deer carcass lashed to a platform extended from the back bumper, right underneath the rear window and its stickered slogan: “Life’s a bitch – then you die.”
  • I’ve decided that if you’re a civilian and driving a Hummer, you’re basically piloting a giant self-propelled declaration of just how big a jerk you really are.  (I considered words other than “jerk” but this is, at least most of the time, a family site.)  As a civilian, you have no reason to own one, and even less reason to have it on the road.  That goes double for the H2, frankly.
  • On a very related note, I spotted a bumper sticker that said, “Supprt OPEC: Buy an SUV.”  No kidding!  I can’t tell you how pleased I was to learn that Saturn plans to introduce a gas/electric hybrid next year.

Roadmarks

Random observations and thoughts from the drive from Philadelphia to New York City:

  • A New Jersey license plate reading I4GOTT.
  • Back home in Ohio, gas pumps give you all kinds of directions, almost to the point of silliness.  After you insert your credit card and quickly remove it, they’ll tell you to LIFT NOZZLE and SELECT GRADE and BEGIN FUELING.  Out here on the Eastern Seaboard, the pumps read your card and tell you to OPERATE PUMP.  That’s it.  I guess if you can’t figure it out from there, it’s not their flippin’ problem.
  • There was a big sign right after we got on the New Jersey Turnpike that read “URGENT MESSAGE WHEN LIGHTS FLASHING – Tune radio to 1610 AM.”  There were no lights anywhere near the sign.
  • If you’re the driver of the large white Durango that was cut off twice by a yellow hardtop Tracker approaching the Verazzano Narrows Bridge, and almost cut off a third time getting onto the Belt Parkway East, early this afternoon, I’m really, really sorry.  Between the dense fog and the unfamiliar territory, we kept realizing we had to be in your lane at the last possible instant.  I swear to Doug it was nothing personal.

Signs and Importants

Spotted in and around Cedar Falls, Iowa:

  • The license plate 007 JFK.  Because Iowa plates are formatted as three numbers followed by three letters, this is likely a random occurence instead of a vanity plate; typically vanity plates aren’t allowed to be in the same format as the random plate series, for fear of platespace collisions.  Maybe that was a poor choice of words.
  • Two minutes later, a license plate reading 152 EGO.
  • A sign attached to a traffic light stating “OBEY ONLY YOUR SIGNAL.”  The one the CIA transmits via my fillings, or just the one I get on the car radio?  (The same signs were later spotted in the Chicago area.)
  • A gas station called “Kum ‘n’ Go.”  Seriously.  It has great big signs at each station reading “PAY AT PUMP.”
  • A whole bunch of people (as in a few dozen) standing around the downtown Cedar Falls area with nametags on their chests and clipboards in hand, looking at the buildings and putting pencil to paper.  It turns out they were design students studying the downtown, which is award-winning, but it was still just a tad creepy.  I couldn’t help wondering if they were collecting information for TIPS or not.

Spotted in the Minneapolis International Airport:

  • Restaurants called “Miami Subs” and “Malibu Al’s” adjacent to each other.  Doubtless they were related, probably had the same owner, but it was still strange to see in Minnesota—particularly since elsewhere in the airport I passed a “Maui Tacos.”
  • Pay-to-surf WiFi.  I thought about ponying up the money just so I could use Airport in the airport, but my cheapitude got the better of me.

I also noticed a lot of attention being paid to Jeff Veen’s article on the business benefits of standards, coincidentally published on the same day I delivered a talk on that very subject at the University of Northern Iowa.  Jeff’s piece is a great overview of why using standards can save you money, so if you haven’t read it, you should; this is an important and often overlooked aspect of the whole standards movement, even though it’s the thing that is most likely to drive more standards adoption.  Tristan Nitot published an article with a very similar title on DevEdge back in February, and it might be worth revisiting.  Of course, I believe so strongly in this that I founded a consultancy with a core goal of helping organizations figure out how to save money by better using standards in their Web sites, both internal and external.

Off the Wire

The TiBook’s Ethernet connection is all wireless now, thanks to the Netgear MR814 I installed yesterday.  I discovered that the one place on the front porch I really wanted to have access is a complete dead zone, which is highly annoying.  The rest of the house and the back yard all give me anywhere from 75% to 100% signal strength, and even the other half of the front porch wavers around 75%.  But the part where we have the really comfortable chairs set up, not to mention several short tables for drinks and such, is just a huge cone of silence.

Eventually, I realized it was probably our screen windows.  I’m pretty sure ours are a metal mesh, not vinyl, and if I’m correct it means they’re forming big impenetrable barriers to any WiFi signal.  My experiment of walking out into the front yard and immediately getting 50% signal seems to confirm this.  In all honesty, it’s probably just as well that there’s at least one area of the house that cuts me off from the Ethernet line.

To celebrate, I’m sitting here on the active side of my front porch, enjoying the sunny, breezy weather and listening to the cicadas while I share with you a few amusing and/or interesting things I’ve collected from various sources in the last few days:

  • You may recall the Bork edition of Opera, and of course there have long been scripts that alter content to sound like Yoda or any number of other distinctive speech patterns.  A close cousin to the Jive filter is Tha Shizzolator, courtesy everyone’s favorite rapper/porn artist, Snoop Dogg.  I found its translation of meyerweb highly amusing—I love the fact that it turns a reference to Doug and Tantek into “bomb diggity muthas”—and can hardly wait to see what it does with this entry.  Societal note: if you are offended by certain “naughty” words, or live/work in a place characterized by easy offense, you may want to avoid the Shizzolator.  I’m just sayin’.  Interesting technical note: the entity &para; becomes &pimpa;.  I have no idea why.
  • I never enjoyed the group pictures taken ad nauseam throughout my senior year of high school, but at least none of them ended like this one did.  Takes ponding to a whole new level, really.
  • Speaking of group photos gone horribly wrong, this one also features a soaking.  The difference is in the liquid vector, and of course there’s a little more intention behind this one.  I just hope that was the last picture in the series, instead of the first one.  There’s one guy toward the left side of the group who seems to be a little more aware than the rest.  Or maybe he just had forewarning.
  • Badger aerobics were never so… odd.  I got this from Jeff Veen, who was dead on when he said, “Every single person you know is about to send you a link to this.”  You may as well just get it over with now.  How long can you stand to let it run?  I timed out after roughly five minutes.
  • This little Flash movie is funny in certain ways, and yet not funny in too many others.  Likely to be offensive to people who have an aversion to inconvenient truths.
November 2014
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