November 2004

Album Cover: The Future

"The maestro says it's Mozart, but it sounds like bubble gum."
Leonard Cohen / Waiting For The Miracle

Amazing Race in Stockholm

November 30, 2004 11:14 PM

Even though my favorite team got eliminated tonight, The Amazing Race was a great episode tonight.

The main reason I loved the episode so much was that their final pit stop was a few feet from a hostel I slept in during my choir tour back in 2001. The teams ended this week's leg on land, a few feet away from the af Chapman, a hostel that has hosted over a million visitors. I still remember learning to play a fast-paced card game (which I cannot for the life of me remember the name of) on that ship, and eating a big breakfast up in the main cabin before a day of sightseeing through the winding alleys and roads of Stockholm.

I think I am way overdue for an international vacation. Then again, I'm way overdue for a lot of things.

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Navigator's Ugly Step-Cousin

November 30, 2004 12:01 PM

Well, the moment I feared has arrived – Netscape Navigator's ugly step-cousin has finally reared her head. Her name is "Netscape Browser" and boy is she ever ugly.

The new Netscape Browser has made its way into the wild for people who signed up to be testers, and people across the web are already responding. While some at Neowin think it's "butt ugly" (like me), there are of course those design illiterate folks who say "wow...not bad, in fact I like it!" Funny.

Then there are the confused, like Anton Philidor, who says the "war is now truly over, and peace reigns," apparently having missed the past few months of Firefox vs. Internet Explorer media coverage. He was promptly given a kick in the butt though, so that's good.

Thanks to screenshots from Henrik Gemal, we can see the grotesqueness firsthand. A quick look at the main user interface shows, among other things, a terrible anti-aliasing job around the upper edges of the browser and the ugly, tealish green color we've all come to expect from Netscape.

Some of the icon work is pretty abysmal, especially the Tab Browsing icon which makes it look like someone got a little trigger-happy with the blur tool in Photoshop. The Site Controls dialog looks pretty freakish, too, with yellow and red text in a sea-green UI.

In my opinion, the dashboard is way too cluttered and inconsistent. Nothing looks like any other app you'd typically find on Windows and the little icons displayed on individual tabs make absolutely no sense at all as far as intuitiveness goes.

All-in-all, I'd have to say that Netscape has surpassed my expectations ;)

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Michael Jackson's Moonwalker

November 30, 2004 9:22 AM

Haha. I'm listening to Bad right now and it's reminding me of playing Michael Jackson's Moonwalker on Sega Genesis. What a great game.

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Basketball Exciting Again

November 29, 2004 5:17 PM

It looks like this may be a great year for basketball. I can't even remember the last year I was excited about the Sonics (think George Karl), and while I've remained true to my Tarheels through thick and thin the past few years, I didn't expect much of them.

Already this year, the Sonics are 13-2 and surprising everybody. The 'Heels are ranked 9th in the AP poll, and a win against 8th ranked Kentucky this coming Saturday could really give them an early season boost.

I didn't anticipate saying this again, but basketball has got me pretty excited. A strong Sonics or Tarheel season would be great – let alone a strong season for both!

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Close, But No Validity

November 29, 2004 5:26 AM

Robert Scoble pointed out that the new MSN Search Beta is "the only engine of the three biggies to display in XHTML strict." Okay, so what? Does it validate? It's one thing to add the appropriate DOCTYPE to the top of your page source. It's a whole other thing to actually make sure your source conforms to the DOCTYPE you chose.

Along those lines, though, it is unfortunate that none of the major search engines actually produce valid code (at the time of writing). I'm especially surprised that Google doesn't, given that they have such a simple, streamlined interface. They seem to pay more attention to valid sites in terms of page rank, so it's a bit ironic that they don't practice what their algorithms seem to preach.

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Thankful for the Fools

November 25, 2004 1:22 AM

"Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them, the rest of us could not succeed."

– Mark Twain

Blathery | Post Comments | View Comments (0) | Permalink

Approaching Thunderbird 1.0

November 24, 2004 8:52 PM

I decided to take Asa Dotzler's advice tonight and download a pre-1.0 nightly build of Thunderbird.

Right off the bat I see more visual changes than I ever did in the transitions between versions 0.7 and 0.9. As noted over at Neowin, the default Thunderbird skin has been updated and looks quite nice. I haven't received any new email since I installed the new build, so I can't yet verify whether the New Mail Notification issue I mentioned here earlier has been fixed or not.

All I can say at this point is that the install process went without a hitch and I'm feeling optimistic about the aforementioned fix. If anything goes wrong over the next couple of days, you know I'll post the details here. In the meantime, you should give the latest nightly build a try as well.

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Protectors

November 23, 2004 6:12 PM

I just saw this over at Wired's Furthermore section:

Safety in Numbers

A pod of dolphins circled protectively around four people swimming 300 feet off a New Zealand beach to fend off an attack by a great white shark, according to a report Tuesday by the New Zealand Press Association. The four were swimming when several dolphins began herding them by doing tight circles around them. When one swimmer, Rob Howes, tried to drift away, one of the larger dolphins herded him back. It was then that Howes spotted a 9-foot great white shark swimming toward the pod. "I just recoiled. It was only about 2 meters away from me, the water was crystal clear and it was as clear as the nose on my face," Howes said. "They had corralled us to protect us." If the report is accurate -- and a spokeswoman for the environmental group Orca Research says the behavior fits these marine mammals -- then dolphins are treating us with a lot more respect than we're treating them these days.

That has to be one of the coolest stories I've heard in a while.

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Stupider by the Minute

November 23, 2004 11:48 AM

On the Saturday night before Halloween, some lowlife scum broke into our car and stole our stereo sans faceplate (which was stowed away nicely in our office). I have a feeling said lowlife scum was/were upset to find, other than the faceplate-less stereo, only the remnants of a previous break-in that had happened a year before.

Last night, lowlife scum struck yet again, easing their way into our car with what must be a master key – something that seems to be the tool of choice among the scum that have broken into our car thus far. This time, they got away with nothing more than some sunglasses – an item I didn't anticipate having a need for until mid-2005 anyway.

At this point the break-ins serve as nothing more than humor to me, but I just have to ask – what on earth possesses someone to break into a car with the Club on the steering wheel and a gaping hole where the stereo used to be?

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: ignorance better be bliss.

Miscellaneous | Post Comments | View Comments (3) | Permalink

New Mail Notification Fixed

November 22, 2004 11:37 PM

One of my biggest pet peeve bugs in Thunderbird, and one that has been around since the release of version 0.8, has apparently finally been fixed. If you'll remember, that particular release brought us the ability to send all incoming mail to a global inbox (kinda like Outlook Express has) – the only downside being that the New Mail Notification popup wouldn't always appear when incoming mail arrived. This should, from here on out, no longer be an issue. According to Bug 260076, the latest nightly builds contain the fix, and so will Thunderbird 0.9.

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Blogging Bottleneck

November 21, 2004 8:27 PM

I've been so busy with work the past two weeks that my blogging has taken a serious hit. That combined with the fact that I can't seem to pull myself away from Halo 2 on Xbox Live for any good chunk of time means that I've had little time for anything else, let alone posting to my site.

Unfortunately, this lack of blogging has led to what seems to be a "blogging bottleneck." I'm the type of blogger that usually feeds off of things I read elsewhere for writing inspiration. When I've found the time to keep up on my blog subscriptions, I've stumbled upon many entries that I felt the desire to comment on. Luckily, Bloglines recently added a feature where you can keep an entry "new," so that it appears unread until you decide to stop holding onto it.

Because I don't anticipate having the time to devote individual blog entries to each one of those items anytime soon, I've decided to comment on them here in short form. Finally being able to mark those items as "read" will make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside (the exact opposite of what I felt as I froze my butt off at the Seahawks game tonight). So here goes...

Earlier this month, Asa Dotzler asked, "will developers support [Firefox] as we work to make the Web a better place?" in response to an article he read at ZDNet. My quick and dirty answer is yes. Web developers have always, generally speaking, designed for the browser(s) of the day...simply because they have to in order to make everyone happy. If a lot more users are using Firefox, then developers will have to take that into account when choosing which browsers to support. The good news for the developers, though, is that this will make their job easier as opposed to situations in the past when supporting other browsers actually made things more difficult.

Asa also tried to explain why he thinks a lot of Internet Explorer users are downloading Firefox 1.0. He may be right, but from a personal perspective I just have to say that I typically use Internet Explorer when I want to run a download directly, as opposed to saving it to disk. Firefox generally makes it difficult to run an executable directly, more often than not forcing you to save your .exe instead of running it. This is great for security, but not so great for the hard drive space I am so anal about ;) If there are others out there like me, this most likely skews Asa's theory a bit.

Forever Geek makes a great point about "beta" websites. What's the deal? I agree that Google should get the most blame on this one. It's one big step backward toward those stupid "under construction" icons you used to see all over the Web back in the 90s.

They've also linked to a hilarious list of the top Firefox extensions that don't exist. Just in case you feel like helping out with "MajorityNow" or "DDDownload" they've also provided a link to a nice howto for writing Firefox extensions.

Okay, I'm now almost all caught up. There is one thing I want to blog about that will require its own individual entry (and possibly more). But more on that when the time comes. I'm off to resume my alter-ego, Master Chief.

Blogging | Post Comments | View Comments (1) | Permalink

Firefox Avatars and Buddy Icons

November 21, 2004 11:31 AM

Both Asa Dotzler and Chu Yeow have recently linked to rakaz's excellent collection of Firefox avatars and buddy icons.

If you're looking for something unique to use as your avatar in web forums or on applications like AIM, rakaz's gallery is the place to go. He has a ton of unique, professional-looking avatars to choose from.

And while I'm at it, I'll give him props too, since his website has one of the better designs I've seen in a while (check out the comment form at the bottom of this page).

Great job, Rakaz, on a set of amazing Firefox avatars and a great website.

Browsers | Post Comments | View Comments (1) | Permalink

Buying a Browser

November 15, 2004 8:18 PM

In an article at the E-Commerce Times, Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox is quoted as saying about the Opera web browser:

Opera is not free. Firefox is free. But people will pay for Opera if they see value.

I disagree. It's one thing to give Internet Explorer a run for its money through grassroots marketing and the promise of a more secure browsing experience. It's another to convince people who can browse for free that they should instead pay $39 to do so.

Just so I can end on a positive note, though, I do have to give Opera props for a sweet website.

Browsers | Post Comments | View Comments (4) | Permalink

GrayModern 0.6.2

November 09, 2004 11:20 AM

I have released an incremental update to the GrayModern theme for Firefox today to coincide with the release of Firefox 1.0.

GrayModern 0.6.2 is available for download and should appear at Mozilla Update shortly.

As always, more information is available on my projects page and in the MozillaZine Theme Forum.

Browsers | Post Comments | View Comments (70) | Permalink

Vote Again

November 08, 2004 9:13 PM

Okay, for this Tuesday let's vote on something that actually matters...

What is the bigger release? Firefox 1.0 or Halo 2?

Oh, and feel free to go with a tie if the decision hurts your head too much ;)

Elsewhere | Post Comments | View Comments (4) | Permalink

C Ing I 2 I

November 07, 2004 10:20 PM

While there are those who disagreed with my sediments last week, it looks like Trent Reznor and I were on the same page:

november fourth.

one step closer to the end of the world. the one-two combo of corporate greed and organized religion apparently proved to be too much for reason, sanity and compassion.

it's a sad and shameful day to be an american.

What significance does this have, you might ask? About as much as those Kerry/Edwards stickers that are still stuck to people's back bumpers.

But so what?

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XHTML and Table Height Revisited

November 06, 2004 4:01 PM

About a year ago I posted to my blog about my inability to center content vertically on a page while still complying with the XHTML 1.0 Strict DOCTYPE. Last week, John Wood dropped by to enlighten me with a solution.

John, you're exactly right. Adding CSS height declarations to the html and body elements allows for standard-compliant code and the desired effect. The following code validates as XHTML 1.0 Strict:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE html
 PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN"
 "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en">
 <head>
  <title>Table Height Test</title>
  <style type="text/css">
   <!--
    html, body {
     height: 100%;
     margin: 0;
     padding: 0;
    }
    table {
     height: 100%;
     width: 100%;
     background-color: #CCC;
    }
    td {
     text-align: center;
    }
   //-->
  </style>
 </head>
 <body>
  <table>
   <tr>
    <td>
     Centered Content
    </td>
   </tr>
  </table>
 </body>
</html>

Thanks for sharing that with me!

Web Development | Post Comments | View Comments (21) | Permalink

How BitTorrent Works

November 05, 2004 6:26 AM

While adding a few B-Sides to my site this morning, I stumbled upon a news article called "File-sharing network thrives beneath the radar" that gives an excellent overview of how BitTorrent actually works:

Let's say you want to download a copy of this week's episode of "Desperate Housewives." Rather than downloading the actual digital file that contains the show, instead you would download a small file called a "torrent" onto your computer.

When you open that file on your computer, BitTorrent searches for other users that have downloaded the same "torrent."

BitTorrent's "file-swarming" software breaks the original digital file into fragments, then those fragments are shared between all of the users that have downloaded the "torrent." Then the software stitches together those fragments into a single file that a users can view on their PC.

If you still don't get it after reading that, then I don't think you were ever meant to ;)

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Shut 'Er Down

November 05, 2004 5:23 AM

In the "tiny flame war," as one site visitor called it, that's going on in the responses to my first post on Wednesday, someone named Andrew suggested that I shut down my blog.

That's a first.

Blogging | Post Comments | View Comments (3) | Permalink

Gettin' Political

November 03, 2004 8:28 PM

After the resounding response to my earlier post today and the response I got from another post about two weeks ago, it's easy to see why political blogs are so happenin' right now. Fear not, though, this will never be a political blog. Furthermore, there will never be a "Politics" category at this site.

I debated whether I should respond to today's comments, but I've decided against it. I think some very eloquent people made some excellent points that cover the main points that I would have tried to make, so there's really no need for me to elaborate.

Before I end this post, I just want to say that there are a lot of beautiful things in this world, and a lot of beautiful people. They more than make up for the things in this world that I disagree with or just don't appreciate. If we all do something each day to further our knowledge and understanding of the people and things around us (beautiful or not), I think it can only make this big planet of ours a better place in the long run.

Blathery | Post Comments | View Comments (0) | Permalink

Ignorance Better Be Bliss

November 03, 2004 8:37 AM

I am ashamed and embarrassed to be an American today.

Elsewhere | Post Comments | View Comments (36) | Permalink

Classes and Objects in PHP 5

November 01, 2004 10:39 PM

When I first started using PHP during my final semester of college, it was especially interesting given that I had already learned (or at least thought I had) the ins and outs of dynamic web programming by developing in ASP and ColdFusion. The most noticeable difference right off the bat, for me at least, was PHP's resemblance of the C programming language.

As I moved from the academic world into the vastly different business world and started working more and more with C++, it became quite clear to me how much of the object-oriented idiom of development had been lost on me due to a focus on web programming languages.

Luckily for me, I paid attention in my Computer Science classes and actually did quite well in them, so somewhere along the line I managed to store a lot of OOP knowledge in my head even though it would lay dormant for quite some time.

As I spend more time coding in C++ and less and less (unfortunately) in PHP, I continue to realize the disconnect between the two languages that makes it difficult for someone proficient in one to immediately pick up the other. I suppose this is much harder for a proficient PHP coder than it is a C++ coder, but I still believe there is a disconnect from both sides.

Times may be a changin', though, with the release of PHP 5 and the complete rewrite of classes and objects.

I'm confident that anyone who is just now picking up PHP and learns to program keeping version 5's class and object implementation in mind will have little problem at least grasping the OOP fundamentals required to delve into C++ development.

If you're at all interested in PHP or C++ and have some under-utilized brain cells and some time to kill, give PHP 5's new class and object model a read-through.

Web Development | Post Comments | View Comments (2) | Permalink