Archives » May, 2002

May 30, 2002


So now there’s a site that shows where all the bloggers are in New York City, organized by subway stop. Nice. Maybe I should open up it would be organized by dirt road, suborganized by cattle ranch. And at least there would be one dot on the map!

Until then I’ll just have to point to one of the existing Carson Valley sites, complete with a quote from Ronald Reagan. Another nice touch – “NOTE: Links on this site are not underlined but are green!” Indeed.

Or. Or.

May 24, 2002

SUVs support terrorism

Oh, I love me some Cory Farley. In this article he says that energy conservation should be a national security issue, and that driving an SUV is basically supporting terrorism. As a driver of a Chevy Metro (40+ MPG) I must say that I agree.

It’s good to see that all the liberals haven’t been run out of town.

May 23, 2002

Into the great something

Yesterday I dove in and decided to start learning PHP. I’ve been doing ASP for a couple of years now, and I’ve gotten to the point where it all comes so naturally that it’s hardly a challenge anymore. So that’s why I’m moving on to PHP. I’m not going at it entirely, though. My host, Brinkster, doesn’t support PHP, so you won’t be seeing any here. And ASP will still be good for whipping an application up really fast, or when I want something to be top quality. But PHP and MySQL seem to be what everyone else is working on these days, and I don’t want to be left behind by not learning it. Plus it’s a new challenge. Not to mention typing echo is easier than typing Response.Write

May 16, 2002

Creative Commons

Thanks to Doc for pointing out that the Creative Commons is now open. I’ve been hearing about this project for a while now, but every time I’d try to go to the website it would just say “Coming Soon”. Now it has come. And none too soon. In this age where the Big Companies are trying to grab ever more control over their copyrights and limit the usage of what they produce practically down to nothing, it’s good to see that some people are still on our side. It’s important to keep the public domain and free use of documents flowing. It’s that environment of sharing that the Web was created for, and that’s slowly being taken away from us through measures lke the CBDTPA. It may be hard for the Bigs to comprehend, but there are some people out there that actually want to share the works they’ve created, and Creative Commons look like it’s just the initiative to promote doing that.

It’s nice to see some lawyers on our side too. I’ve suspected for a while that Lawrence Lessig was a genius that really understood technology, and looking through these ideas confirms that. (Yes, I know Lessig isn’t the only person behind Creative Commons, but I think you have to admit he’s the “celebrity champion” that will get it recognized.)

It remains to be seen if CC can really take off, in the way Open Source and the GPL did for software, but I think it’s a brilliant idea nonetheless. Now we just wait to see how many people think it’s brilliant, and actually use it.

May 14, 2002

Doc on the toilet

Doc is blogging from the toilet. He’s a strange cat.

Winer CSS

Dave Winer is trying to learn how to replace <font> and <table> tags with CSS1 and 2. As a challenge he linked to this slide and asked how it could be done in CSS. Luckily, it was a pretty simple page so I was able to toss something together; you can see it here. Not only is it valid XHTML, but it separates the presentation from the content. There’s a few extra <div> tags breaking the site into chunks, but they take up far less room than the tables, fonts and blockquotes. And once the markup is divided up like that, you can write a stylesheet to do just about anything with it. I didn’t go the extra mile and create “the most beautiful CSS rendering you can conceive,” but I think I did a bang-up job of duplicating the look of the page.

Anything more complex than that, though, and I would have been sunk. I’m just dipping my toes into CSS positioning myself.

May 8, 2002

Money upfront

I’m trying to get my wife Viola to start writing again. Actually, I’d like to get her to start a blog, but there’s not much shot of that. She wouldn’t have a clue what a “blog” even is, and probably wouldn’t understand it if I told her. But she really is a good writer, she just doesn’t realize it. Or doesn’t want to admit it, whichever.

Actually, she’s said she doesn’t want to put the time into writing unless there’s some money in it. I haven’t quite turned her on to the idea of writing first, putting it out there, building a reputation, and then making scabs of money. It’s a concept she doesn’t quite get. She wants to be paid up front. Can’t say I blame her, though. As I start thinking about starting up some kind of computer/web design business, I realize I’m putting off thinking about the hard part, the part where I go out and network, market, get clients, and get new work. I’m just thinking ahead to the part where I sit down and start working, doing the fun stuff.

And of course the payday. Always thinking about the payday. I guess I’m just like my wife after all.

May 2, 2002

Pride in Web Design

The whole validation debacle has gotten me thinking, though, about the place pride has in web design. Some people seem to do web design just because it seems easy to them, and a good way to make a few quick bucks. They can fire up Front Page, slap together a site, and toss it out there to the world without giving it much thought. I used to be like that, and I used to think that I was doing a good job. But I didn’t necessarily have a lot of pride in the work I put out.

I was then fortunate enough to get involved in communities of passionate designers, places like Evolt and Webdesign-L. It was there that I learned not only new techniques, but also the way to approach web design as a craft. Like a woodcarver or a sculptor, you have to throw your whole being into a site and be happy with nothing less than perfection. Validating my code is an important part of the work I do on the Web. For one thing, it affirms to me that I’m doing it right, that I know the rules and I’m following them correctly. But it’s more than that. It’s a way that I can know I’m putting out the best product possible. It’s knowing that other people can look at my markup and say, “This guy knows his stuff.” It’s knowing that I’m keeping the wide range of browsers and users in mind, and creating sites that they can all be happy with. It’s just this intangible pride that comes from running my site through the validator, and seeing the magic words:
Congratulations, this document validates as XHTML 1.0 Transitional!

That’s why this Blogger thing cheeses me off a little. I know most people wouldn’t care. I’m sure there’s going to be people coming to this site who don’t even know what markup is or why it should be valid. But, to me, putting out an invalid site feels like I’m doing a disservice to the Web. I want to be out here making things better, not throwing out invalid pages. It’s the tiniest imperfection, but it still gnaws away at me.

I guess it’s that sense of pride, that regarding of web design as a craft, that separates amateurs from professionals in my mind. Of course, I may be taking a big leap of hubris to call myself a professional web designer, but that’s another issue.

I feel so dirty

I feel so dirty. I just put a footer on my site that says it is Valid XHTML. And that’s mostly true, but it’s not true on this weblog. The blog pages don’t validate, since they’re run through Blogger, and Blogger creates invalid code. Most prominently, the Permalinks are an ID attribute that begins with a number. Big no-no in W3 Land! So what do I do? Do I wrangle with Blogger and find a way to make it validate? Do I accept that there’s a lie on my site and leave it the way it is, even though I supposedly care so much about HTML standards? Or do I create a new footer just for the blog pages, or some sort of disclaimer? Tough choice, that.