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License To rel

If you thought XFN or VoteLinks were the last (or only) word on lightweight semantic link annotation, think again.  Tantek writes about the idea of adding a license value to indicate a link that points to licensing terms.  In his post, the expression of this idea is centered around Creative Commons (CC) licenses, but as he says, any license-link could be so annotated.  Apparently the CC folks agree, because their license generator has been updated to include rel="license" in the markup it creates. Accordingly, I’ve updated my CC license link for the Color Blender to carry rel="license", thus making it easier for a spider to auto-discover the licensing terms for the Color Blender.

Tantek also said of the idea of applying CSS to documents that uniquely styles license-links:

I wonder who will be the first to post a user style sheet that demonstrates this.

Ooo, me, me!  Well, not quite.  I don’t have a complete user stylesheet for download, but here are some quick rules I devised to highlight license links.  Add any of them to your user stylesheet, or you can use these as the basis for your own styles.  (Sorry, but they won’t work in Internet Explorer, which doesn’t support attribute selectors.)

/* simple styles */
*[rel~="license"] {font-weight: bold;}
*[rel~="license"] img {border: 3px double; color: inherit;
  padding: 1px;}

/* add a "legal" icon at the beginning of the link */
*[rel~="license"]:before {content: url(legal.gif);}

Here’s my question: should the possible values be extended?  Because I’d really like to be able to insert information based on what kind of license is being referenced.  For example, suppose there were a c-commons value for rel; that way, authors could declare a link to be rel="c-commons license".  Then we could use a rule like:

*[rel~="c-commons"]:before {content: url(c-commons.gif);}

…thus inserting a Creative Commons logo before any link that points to a CC license.  At the moment, it’s highly likely that the only rel="license" links are going to point to CC licenses, but as we move forward I suspect that will be less and less true.  I hope we’ll soon see some finer grains to this particular semantic extension.

If you don’t like using generated content for whatever reason, you could modify the rule to put the icon in the background instead, using a rule something like this:

*[rel~="c-commons"] {background: url(c-commons.gif) no-repeat;
  padding-left: 15px;}

The usual reason to avoid generated content is that IE doesn’t support it, but then IE doesn’t support attribute selectors either, as I mentioned.  So don’t add any of these rules to an IE user stylesheet.  Use Firefox, Safari, Opera, or one of the other currently-in-development browsers instead.

In other news, I was tickled pink (or maybe a dusky red) to see that for sol 34, one of the “wake-up” songs for the Spirit team was The Bobs’ Pounded on a Rock.  My hat’s off to you, Dr. Adler!  I’ve been listening to that particular album recently, mostly to relearn the lyrics.  I’ve been singing to Carolyn when I feed her, and some favorites of ours are Plastic or Paper, Now I Am A Hippie Again, Corn Dogs, and of course Food To Rent.  It’s awfully cute that she smiles at me when I sing to her, mostly because I know one day she’ll grow up, learn about things like “being on key,” and stop smiling when I sing.

In the meantime, though, she’s perfectly happy to rock on! Carolyn, sitting in a chair with her lower half covered by a blanket, raises her left hand above her head with the index and pinky fingers extended, exactly in the manner of hard rockers and head-bangers the world over.

Fear The Cute!

Okay, enough talking about computer repair; it’s time for another picture of Carolyn.  It’s one of the first good ones we have of her smiling, and this is, for her, a relatively understated smile.  When she’s happy, she’ll let loose with grins so wide her eyes scrunch shut.  She actually smiles quite often, but each one is of fairly short duration—and when she does smile, we’re too busy enjoying the sudden rush of dopamine and other neurochemical whatnots our brains start pumping out.  It’s really, really hard not to smile back.  Not that we’re resisting.

I keep meaning to crate an actual picture gallery on her personal page, but other stuff keeps getting in the way.  Heck, I haven’t even created an e-mail account for her, mostly on the grounds that it does her no good until she learns to type.  I just hope that by the time she’s old enough to want an account, Carolyn won’t have to deal with the volume of spam we see every single day.  I’m not holding my breath, though.

Love the haircut, myself.  I think this may well be the first published picture for which she tries to hurt me, a decade or so from now.  Sorry, sweetheart, but it was just too cute not to share.

Love, Feline Style

Ever since the day after Carolyn came home, our cat Gravity has mostly ignored Carolyn’s presence.  We’d been somewhat concerned that there would be hostility between them in the months to come, which wouldn’t really end well because Gravity still has claws.  Those concerns are now, for the most part, erased.  This afternoon, we discovered that not only has Gravity gotten used to Carolyn’s presence, but now regards her as a part of the family.

We know this because Gravity left Carolyn a gift—a freshly killed mouse, lying on the floor right next to the bassinet where Carolyn sleeps during the day.  A small mouse carcass lies on the floor next to the bassinet.  From what I understand, this is typically how mother-cats feed their children, and start training them to hunt for their own food.  I wished there were some way to communicate to Gravity that she could have her hunting spoils back, since Carolyn’s fairly well fed even without rodent supplements.  When you think about all this, it’s really rather touching, in a morbid way.  Kat and I both got a pretty good laugh out of it.

Of course, then I had to dispose of the carcass.

So Safari 1.2 is out, and of course was released just two days after I changed designs.  So the fix for the first-letter bug that occurred with “Thoughts From Eric” in the previous design is in place, but you can’t see it working here.  On the other hand, my recently constructed test page demonstrating Safari 1.1’s bugs with :hover and generated content show that 1.2 fixed the problem.  So, that’s cool.

What is even cooler is John Gruber’s in-depth exploration of the OmniWeb beta.  The “tabbed” interface, although not what I personally think of as tabbed, is still a welcome addition; I’ve found that I basically can’t live without tabs.  (I do a sweep of all my regularly read blogs by opening them all in tabs, via a bookmark group.)  What sounds really outstanding, though, is OmniWeb’s workspaces and site-specific preferences.  It’s probably enough for me to tolerate the obsolescence of the rendering engine, which is equivalent to Safari 1.0, but we’ll see.  You should see, too—go read John’s review of the browser, which is comprehensive and detailed.  Truly excellent.

Complete topic shift: back in September, Molly was aghast at the Quizno’s television commercial featuring an adult male human suckling at the teat of a wolf.  Well, their new ad campaign has launched, and if anything it’s more wrong.  Sure, it’s a complete ripoff of the Spongmonkeys, mostly because it turns out the same guy did bothWarning: if you follow the Spongmonkeys link, I am not responsible for any psychological damage you may suffer, but it is very much like the commercial.

Is it just me, or are commercials in general getting a lot weirder of late?


More and more over the past few days, Carolyn has started smiling—they’re usually quick and fleeting, but more often she’s broken into wide grins that crinkle her eyes and pull her cheeks back.  When I’m holding her and she does it, I can feel a flood of endorphins surging into my body, attempting to get me addicted to her smiles.  There are certainly worse addictions to have.  We don’t have a picture yet, and when we do it will probably show up on her soon-to-be-created page.  Meanwhile, we do have a picture of her getting ready to head outdoors; A picture of Carolyn's eyes peeking out from under a snowsuit hood and over a fluffy blanket, the two of which are surrounding her in an attempt to keep the cold at bay. hopefully that will satisfy people’s picture cravings for a few days.

With the amount of time I’ve been spending in iPhoto these days, downloading new Carolyn pictures from our camera, there’s been a slowly strengthening impulse to publish my favorite pictures as a gallery of sorts.  I was getting pretty close to doing it when, fortunately for us all, Derek Powazek launched  Five minutes looking through the site woke me up and completely disabused me of any notion that a gallery of the photographs I take would be in any way necessary.  I want to order large prints of several of Derek’s photos and hang them in my office.  The same’s true of many pictures that Heather has taken, and now that the two of them are engaged (for which I humbly offer my very belated congratulations!), I foresee the formation of a photographic powerhouse of previously unimagined proportions.  How do they get their pictures to be so vivid, anyway?  The colors are just so deep and perfect; they make me want to cry when I look at my own pictures.

You’ll still get to experience some small portions of my photography, though.  I’m slowly working through the final steps of a meyerweb redesign, and you can see the wireframe if you’re at all interested.  If you hit major layout errors, you can let me know, but four things to keep in mind:

  • The font size is what it is, or at least will be what it will be.  In other words, I’m going to size fonts as I think appropriate for my site, taking into account everything I know about browsers, users, CSS, and the pros and cons of various font-sizing approaches.  Telling me that I’ve made the wrong choice will not change anything, because there are almost no objectively wrong choices in this area.  There are only tradeoffs.
  • If your browser window is too narrow in the IE/Win series, then the sidebar will likely start overlapping the content.  This is due to the bugs in IE/Win’s handling of width, so try widening or maximizing your browser window to see if any observed overlaps are fixed.  If not (and your resolution is higher than 640×480) then let me know.
  • I know that some of the sidebar content repeats, is badly out of date, or points to non-existent resources.  It’s mostly there as a placeholder so I can resolve layout issues without having to get all the data assembled first.
  • The journal entries aren’t very well laid out yet.  I’ll get there soon.

The new design will let you experience (some would say suffer through) bits of my photography because the masthead will contain slices of pictures I’ve taken.  I apologize in advance.

Too Darned Cute

As promised, here’s a picture of Carolyn.  A closeup picture of a baby girl's face in profile, looking off to the left with an expression not unlike wonder.  Or perhaps hunger. She’s six weeks old today, and though the picture is from a couple of weeks ago, she’s no less adorable.  The yellow cast to the picture is due to my penchant of shooting with no flash and a built-in “Vivid” filter on the camera.  I’ve switched it off recently, and although non-flash pictures still come out yellowish, it isn’t as pronounced.  Overall, it’s fine with me.  I like having warmer tones in my photographs.

I noticed a pointer to “What is Mac OS X?” over on Simon’s site, and eventually got around to following the link.  A lot of good information can be found there, there’s no doubt— I particularly enjoyed the startup sequence breakdown, the mere appreciation of which would seem to firmly establish me as a total geek— but as Simon says, the site’s design seems… familiar, somehow.  Almost like I’ve seen something very much like it before.

Actually, a few people wrote to inform me of the “design theft;” apparently the site got some major exposure by being mentioned on Slashdot recently.  I’m flattered that people recognized it as being a design I came up with, and I’m grateful that they took the time to let me know about it.  However, this isn’t really theft, so please don’t report it to Pirated Sites.  As I state in my newly established FAQ, meyerweb designs (but not the images used in them) are freely available for non-commercial use.  Credit is not even required, although it’s always appreciated.  I always meant to get around to explicitly assigning them to a Creative Commons license, but since I’m planning to redesign soon and will retire most of the themes when I do, it may not happen.  Or, then again, maybe when I retire them I’ll license them.

Anyway, I do get some nice namechecks from Amit, the site’s proprietor, on his About page.  One correspondent said he thought Amit was claiming to have come up with the designs himself, and I suppose one could read the text that way, but I didn’t.  As far as I’m concerned, Amit is welcome to use the design for his site so long as he doesn’t try to sell the design or otherwise make money off of the design itself.  And that goes for anyone else.

Appropriate Selections

Okay, a lot of you have managed to come up with puns and jokes similar to the one I first saw at Jay Allen‘s site, and Dunstan Orchard has taken the whole theme to the (il)logical conclusion.  One of the most common puns I’ve seen is:


Amusing, yes, but here’s the problem: that describes any element with an id of ericmeyer that is the first child of another element.  Now, I can be described that way; I am the oldest of my parents’ two children.  But it doesn’t describe Carolyn, unless we accept the convention that a child’s id should be given a value with his or her father’s name.  Such a convention would limit every father to one child, which might make for excellent social policy but seems unnecessarily restrictive from a structural point of view.

So, while this particular little joke validates, it doesn’t do what the author(s) intended, probably due to the widespread lack of understanding about what :first-child actually does. A closeup picture of Carolyn, showing her hazel eyes and shock of dark hair to full effect. You’re supposed to be describing her, people, not me!  Every time you write an inappropriate selector, it makes the Baby Carolyn cry.  You wouldn’t want to make her cry, would you?

A selector that does describe her is:

#ericmeyer :first-child

…which is functionally equivalent to:

#ericmeyer *:first-child

Both will select any element that is the first child of another element and is also descended from an element with an id of ericmeyer.  This would also select the first children of any children that I have, so first grandchildren (and so on) would be members of the same set.  Thus, it might make slightly more sense to use the following:

#EricMeyer > :first-child

…which is to say, any element that’s the first child of an element whose id is EricMeyer—more precisely, any element that is the first child of another element and is also the child of an element with an id of EricMeyer.  I suppose that this particular selector could describe many children, as I expect I’m not the only ‘EricMeyer’ (and yes, the capitalization matters) in the world to have had a child.  But it should, at least within the confines of my docu—er, my family tree, select Carolyn uniquely.

Here endeth the lesson.

At another time of year, I might have struggled with what kind of music to play for Carolyn.  Big Band?  Classical?  Hard rock?  Some blues, maybe?  “Weird Al”?  Fortunately, there is no dilemma, as we’re pretty much playing holiday music front to back.  Jiminy Cricket sings “From All Of Us To All Of You” about twenty times a day.  Good thing I have a fondness for that record.  I’m still going to get Handel’s “Messiah,” Bach’sBeethoven’s “Ode To Joy,” and a few other pieces from Bombastic Dead White Guys into the mix.  Plus “Santa Baby” as sung by Eartha Kitt.  May as well start with the confusion early!

I’ve just read, much to my confusion, that Diana Krall and Elvis Costello were married in Elton John’s mansion, thus forming a Weirdness Trifecta.  I mean, hey, if they’re happy with each other, I’m all for it, but those just aren’t names I would have put into the same sentence.  Ever.

A Multitude of Blessings

First off, our deepest thanks to everyone who’s linked, commented, e-mailed, or has otherwise expressed happiness over our happiness.  We may not respond right away, but your good wishes and blessings for Carolyn have meant the world to us, and one day will to her, as I’m keeping a copy of everything for her memory box.  So watch your language!

The first night with Carolyn went very well; she let us sleep for a few hours at a time, and only woke us when she was hungry.  It’s obviously too early to say what kind of baby she’ll be, but so far she’s pretty quiet, fairly mellow, and just as precious and cute as every parent fundamentally believes their baby to be.

Lest you wonder, this isn’t going to turn into a baby blog.  I won’t ignore her presence, of course, but I’m not planning to have her take over this journal.  Much. I have plans percolating in the back of my head to set up a page for Carolyn—what else would you expect?—where we can put up pictures, share the latest baby news, and all that kind of fun stuff.  I never had a page about pets or babies, even when I first started out on the Web, so I guess this is my chance to make up for lost time.

I haven’t quite decided if I’ll come up with a unique design for Carolyn’s page-to-be, but if I do, I guess I’ll have to use CSS like Jay Allen proposed (and which was just too darned funny; why didn’t I think of that?).

I’ll have to think carefully about what I post about her, though.  Derek Powazek pointed out to me a few weeks back that today’s kids are really unlucky, because anything they do that’s posted on the Web gets archived and preserved pretty much forever.  So if I write a post about the contents of her diapers or something similarly stupid and personally embarrassing, it could end up printed out and taped to her high school locker.  And all of her friends’ lockers.

Maybe by then kids will be so used to the lack of historical amnesia that it won’t bother them, or even occur to them to try such tactics.  Maybe my concerns will seem as dated and goofy as parental concerns about their children being persecuted over the family’s having emigrated from Germany instead of Poland in the late Thirties.  I can hope, but in the meantime, I have to act as though it will continue to be a concern for decades to come.

I’m used to taking a long-term view, but the focus of that view has certainly changed in the last twenty hours.


Kat and I are now parents.  Earlier this evening, we welcomed four-day-old Carolyn Maxwell Meyer into our home and our hearts.

Kat sits in a chair and feeds our new daughter for the first time.

We named her Carolyn in honor of my late mother, a plan which we conceived (so to speak) shortly after Mom was diagnosed with cancer.  We kept it to ourselves for a while, hoping to make it a surprise.  Last Christmas Eve, realizing that Mom would almost certainly not live to see our first daughter, I told her what we planned.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  It was a tacit admission that Mom had only a few months to live, and that she would never, despite our best efforts and a good deal of medical intervention, get to be a grandmother.

The middle name, Maxwell, is in honor of Kat’s late grandfather Max.  It was he who gave Kat her middle name, and instilled in her a deep love of jewelry.  Kat remembers him taking her for long walks through Brooklyn and talking to her like an adult, and how he would let her play with gemstones on black velvet workpads in his workshop.  Both Kat and her mother loved Max very much, and Kat had decided to honor him with a namesake long before we even met.

We’ve had Carolyn home for just a few hours, and already the cat is annoyed.  But she’ll adjust.  In the meantime, we’re still trying to grasp that this tiny little person is actually ours, and that she’ll be staying for quite a long time.

February 2017