November 2006

Album Cover: Sea Change

"How could this love, ever changing, never change the way I feel?"
Beck / Lonesome Tears

Bernie's Coldplay Site v3

November 30, 2006 12:02 AM

For those of you who don't regularly check out the web design section of my site (I don't know why you would) or who aren't big Coldplay fans, I should point out my newest web design, Bernie's Coldplay Site v3:

Bernie's Coldplay Site v3 on Flickr

Since I've written a bit about the new design in the web design section and over at the site itself, I won't go into great detail here.

I should point out, though, that this is the first web design I've been a part of that required little-to-no browser-specific tweaking, thanks to the existence of IE7. The only tweaking I needed to make was to some image padding and the margins/padding around the various heading elements (e.g. <h1>), since IE7 still acts a little differently than Firefox and Opera do. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my use of margin: auto; and the box model in general were interpreted identically by all three browsers.

Overall, I'm really proud of this design because it's one of those designs that came together nicely without a whole lot of premeditation. I think it may be my favorite web design I've come up with so far. I'd love to hear what you think, though, so let me know (and no, you won't hurt my feelings if you don't like it).

Web Design | Post Comments | View Comments (1) | Permalink

How Do I Include YouTube Enclosures in My RSS Feed?

November 29, 2006 11:28 PM

Does anyone out there have experience including YouTube videos as enclosures in their RSS feed?

Every now and then I post YouTube videos to various sites and would love to update my feed generation scripts to convert them to enclosures in my feeds.

The RSS 2.0 Specification says that the <enclosure> element "has three required attributes. url says where the enclosure is located, length says how big it is in bytes, and type says what its type is, a standard MIME type."

Setting the url (URL of the YouTube video) and type (application/x-shockwave-flash) attributes is easy, but how do I figure out the correct length in bytes? Can I just put something arbitrary in there and hope that most feed readers are smart enough to grab the content correctly anyway?

I suppose I could do some experimentation, but just 'cause it works or doesn't work in Bloglines doesn't necessarily mean it works or doesn't work in other feed readers.

I'd love to get some advice from anyone who's gone down this path before. Please leave a comment or contact me if comments aren't your cup of tea. Thanks!

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Dretox

November 28, 2006 10:46 PM

Let's all get a little gangsta for a minute.

Dr. Dre last released a solo album (Chronic 2001) over seven years ago. Since then, he's been rumored to be working on a follow-up called Detox. However, that album has yet to hit stores, and it's been obvious that Dre has been focusing his attention on all the great artists that have signed to his Aftermath label.

Almost completely by chance, a few days back I ran across Get Right Music, a site dedicated to rap mixtapes. It was there that I ran across a mixtape called Dretox. I've been listening to it on repeat ever since.

If you're a fan of classic Dr. Dre beats and enjoyed the high-caliber collaborations on Chronic 2001, you will love this mixtape. From what I've read about the compilation, it's basically composed of a bunch of Detox material that Dre apparently didn't think was up to par? As I've been telling everyone I know that listens to rap music, the stuff Dre chooses not to release is better than the stuff most rap artists these days are putting on their flagship albums.

If you're interested in checking out the mixtape, you can download it directly here via Get Right Music. Once you've done that, be sure to add numbers to the beginning of the filenames so you play the mixtape in the proper order, according to this tracklisting. And if you're really a stickler (like I am), rename the "We Up To No Good" track with the "2" at the end to "Hard Liquor" (track 3), since that's the proper title for the track. Oh, and track 15 is actually titled "Finer Thangzzz," and Eve is featured on track 11 (in addition to Mary J. Blige).

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

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

Renaming MP3 Files Based on ID3 Tags on Windows

November 24, 2006 9:15 PM

I spent an hour or so tonight ripping a bunch of Pleasure Unit albums to my hard drive (I either have raw WAV copies or really poorly encoded MP3s from back in the day). Because iTunes obviously didn't know who the band was (since Gracenote doesn't), all of my files got labeled things like 01 Track 01.mp3 and had no ID3 data at all. Adding the ID3 data was pretty easy, but renaming the files was going to be no minor feat.

I decided to scour the web a bit looking for scripts or applications that would do the renaming for me. First I found some Linux scripts, but those didn't play nicely with Cygwin, so I gave up on that pretty quickly. Then I found some AppleScript stuff that didn't seem to work since I'm on Windows and not Macintosh. Then I finally found a list of Windows applications I could try, so try I did. All of them were crap. That's all I'm going to say.

Eventually, I stumbled upon an Open Directory listing and randomly clicked on a link to Mp3 File Editor. I went through yet another install process, only to turn a bit sceptical when I saw a GUI that looked like it was straight out of Windows 95. However, I was pleased to find that the application actually did the job, even though it wasn't the prettiest thing I'd ever seen.

If you're looking to do some batch converting of MP3 files based on the contents of their ID3 tags (either v1 or v2), look no further than Mp3 File Editor.

Just make sure all your conversion needs will be met within 15 days, 'cause that's when the trial expires (of course).

Computers | Post Comments | View Comments (5) | Permalink

Thanksgiving Dinner 2006

November 23, 2006 10:00 PM

Being that this was the first Thanksgiving dinner I've ever cooked, I thought I better take a picture for the sake of posterity.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2006

I took all the shortcuts a cook can take, and the food still turned out delicious.

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Some Stuffing to Go with Your Turkey

November 23, 2006 6:00 PM

A coworker of mine showed me this a couple days ago.

NBA.com lists Nate Robinson (former Husky great) at 5'9". They list Yao Ming at 7'6", which means he's got 21 inches on Nate.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

Embedding Dailymotion Videos as Valid XHTML 1.0

November 23, 2006 12:44 PM

Back in May I posted about how to embed YouTube videos as valid XHTML 1.0. Well, let's pretend for a moment that you've been using YouTube for a while, but recently received notice that your videos have been infringing too many copyrights. What do you do?

First off, you do some research and eventually decide to switch to YouTube's competitor overseas, Dailymotion.

Once you've done that, however, you quickly have to relearn what YouTube already taught you. When Dailymotion offers you a link to embed your video somewhere else, of course it isn't gonna be XHTML 1.0 compliant. That would be too easy. So you take the unnecessary mess they give you:

<div><object width="425" height="306"><param name="movie" value="http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/4wnX4yO5ANFCJ4RUx"></param><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true"></param><embed src="http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/4wnX4yO5ANFCJ4RUx" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="334" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object><br /><b><a href="http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xovhh_jenny-mccarthy-on-my-name-is-earl">Jenny McCarthy on My Name is Earl</a></b><br /><i>Uploaded by <a href="http://www.dailymotion.com/bjms">bjms</a></i></div>

And you turn it into beautiful XHTML 1.0 goodness, like so:

<object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="306" data="http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/700Fkfr7ShJWH4RUx"><param name="movie" value="http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/700Fkfr7ShJWH4RUx" /></object>

I should note that I found several alleged solutions to this problem elsewhere on the web (DailyMotion's poor HTML code probably being the best of the bunch), but none of them seemed as clean, simple and browser-compliant as the solution I already came up with for YouTube videos. So if you're familiar with that previous example, this new one will look very familiar.

If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it.

Web Development | Post Comments | View Comments (4) | Permalink

Engaged

November 17, 2006 11:17 PM

I just asked my girlfriend fiancée if she'll marry me, and she said yes!

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Setting the DOCTYPE in XSL

November 16, 2006 10:03 PM

Earlier today, I wrote a bit about how to get :hover to work in IE7. The solution involved making sure the appropriate DOCTYPE was set.

Well, what happens if you're working with XML and want to use an XSLT, but still want to be sure the output will keep you out of IE7's quirks mode?

At first glance, you might think you don't have any control over the DOCTYPE, since your transformation will likely barf if you try to include a DOCTYPE explicitly. Fortunately, the XSLT spec provides several output methods for you to choose from. In dealing with HTML and XHTML, you'll most likely be interested in the HTML output method and XML output method, respectively.

XML to XHTML Transformations with XSLT Processors gives a really nice rundown on how you can specify your desired DOCTYPE from within your XSLT. For instance, if you wanted to use the HTML 4.01 Strict DOCTYPE that was one of the options for keeping IE7 out of quirks mode, you'd include the following in your XSLT:

<xsl:output method="html" doctype-system="http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd" doctype-public="-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" indent="yes" />

So there you have it, an easy way to make sure your XSLT output conforms to the DOCTYPE of your choosing.

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Getting :hover to Work in IE7

November 16, 2006 10:25 AM

I spent about an hour this morning trying to figure out how in the world to get IE7 to apply my :hover styling to a non-anchor (<a>) element. Amazingly enough, numerous searches on Google turned up absolutely nothing. I found one forum post that looked promising, but it was one of those depressing forum posts that states the exact same problem you're having, but doesn't have any replies.

What made things more frustrating was that there are blog posts galore touting IE7's addition of support for :hover on all elements, yet no matter what I tried I couldn't get it to work!

Eventually, I recalled reading something on the IEBlog about how a web page's DOCTYPE would dictate the CSS support in IE7. The gist of it is, if you want support for :hover on all elements and not just the <a> tag, make sure you're using a strict DOCTYPE so IE7 doesn't kick in to quirks mode.

Whereas the following HTML resulted in my :hover effects working in Firefox but not IE7:

<html>
 <head>
  <title>Test</title>
  <style type="text/css">
  <!--
   table { background-color: #DDD; }
   tr:hover { background-color: #000; color: #FFF; }
   p { background-color: #EEE; }
   p:hover { background-color: #CCC; }
  //-->
  </style>
 </head>
 <body>
  <p>
   This is just one of those paragraph things.
  </p>
  <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0">
   <tr>
    <td>This here is a table row.</td>
   </tr>
   <tr>
    <td>This is a table row too.</td>
   </tr>
  </table>
 </body>
</html>

...simply adding the HTML 4.01 Strict DOCTYPE to the top of the HTML document made IE7 obey my :hover rules as well:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">
<html>
 <head>
  <title>Test</title>
  <style type="text/css">
  <!--
   table { background-color: #DDD; }
   tr:hover { background-color: #000; color: #FFF; }
   p { background-color: #EEE; }
   p:hover { background-color: #CCC; }
  //-->
  </style>
 </head>
 <body>
  <p>
   This is just one of those paragraph things.
  </p>
  <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0">
   <tr>
    <td>This here is a table row.</td>
   </tr>
   <tr>
    <td>This is a table row too.</td>
   </tr>
  </table>
 </body>
</html>

The sad things is, once you know the answer, it becomes a lot easier to find it. After coming to my realization, I found the following tidbit over at MSDN:

Internet Explorer 7 and later, in standards-compliant mode (strict !DOCTYPE), can apply the :hover pseudo-class to any element, not merely links.

Hopefully this post will help others bridge the gap without having to jump through all the mental hoops I had to.

Web Design | Post Comments | View Comments (220) | Permalink

If I Never Hear It Again It Will Be Too Zune

November 14, 2006 11:07 PM

Take a deep breath. Let's get it out of our system. All together now...

Zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune zune.

All done now? Good.

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Things That Make You Go Hmm...

November 14, 2006 8:19 PM

Did anyone else notice the price of gas mysteriously drop right before the elections? Now that the elections are over, the price seems to be climbing steadily to where it used to be. What's up with that?

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

More Pay, More A's

November 12, 2006 11:27 PM

I don't think I've written about this here before, but one of my life goals is to become a teacher. My mother has been teaching elementary school for many years (as long as I can remember), and my grandfather was a Chemistry teacher at Puyallup High School for many years.

One of the things I learned growing up in a family of teachers (other than to pay close attention to spelling and grammar) was that teachers aren't paid very well. I picked up on this directly while attending a teacher strike with my mother during the late 80s (I still remember my picket sign that read something to the effect of "Booth shot Lincoln, and now he's trying to kill Washington"). I knew at that time how much my mother loved to teach, so for her to step away from that meant that something wasn't right in the world.

I picked up on the fact that teachers are underpaid indirectly while attending school myself. The lack of any type of family savings meant that my only hope for going to college was via scholarships and college loans. As I eventually did make it through high school and then on to college, I learned more about the lack of funding in education. At the same time, I was coming into contact with teachers and professors who changed me in profound ways and taught me things beyond the formal reach of their positions. I know I wouldn't be who I am or where I am without their help and guidance. I really can't say enough about them.

When I spotted a headline over at Slashdot tonight that read More A's, More Pay, I couldn't help but scoff a bit at the post's contents:

The Dept. of Education just launched the first federal program that uses bonuses to motivate teachers who raise test scores in at-risk communities, awarding $42M this month to 16 school systems.

First off, one of the major problems I see in the way the government in this country approaches education is that everything revolves around test scores. Why? I can't speak for everyone, but I do know that while studying for tests might have expanded my short-term memory retention a bit, what I took away from my education didn't come from tests or test scores. We need to stop looking at our educational shortcomings as numbers and realize that real people are involved – the same people that will power the economy, protect our country, and teach subsequent generations in years to come.

The biggest problem, though, actually does have to do with numbers. Instead of using student performance as a means to more pay, what about making more pay a means to better student performance? By putting more money into education, more people (myself included) will see teaching as a viable career that isn't burdened with risk and uncertainty. In turn, there will be more teachers and more talent and passion in front of today's youth.

This isn't rocket science. It's a good thing, too, because we probably don't have as many rocket scientists as we used to.

Now for a bit of an aside. Does anyone know the proper way to write A's in the context of the title of this post? I've never been a fan of using an apostrophe, because it doesn't seem correct and the apostrophe doesn't serve its typical purpose. However, if you leave the apostrophe out, you end up with "As," which can be read in more than one way.

I'd Google it use Google to find the answer, but good luck finding relevant results with a search for 'As'.

Miscellaneous | Post Comments | View Comments (8) | Permalink

Web 2.0 is Flat Out Weird

November 12, 2006 7:32 PM

I'm not real big on the whole Web 2.0 thing, simply because I just see the web evolving. I guess I haven't seen anything truly worthy of a point release (figuratively speaking). However, if I can take off my nonconformist hat for a second, I just have to say that Web 2.0 is really, really weird.

There's a whole lot of evidence I could give to back that statement up, but I'm hoping a majority of those who read this will be able to think of a few oddities on their own.

I will say, though, that Follow That Page (via Digg) is, at best, a Web 0.5 feature. I remember a similar service in the mid- to late-nineties that alerted you via email when a website changed. In fact, I think I actually set something like that up on my Jenny McCarthy site. Why revert back from web feeds to something so old school?

Oh, and if I had the choice, I would have majored in Web Science (again, via Digg) instead of Computer Science.

And finally, I hate to break it to all the Digg fanboys out there, but Kevin Rose hasn't "demolished the old internet" and most certainly hasn't "built a brand new one" (yet again, via Digg). There probably wouldn't even be a place for said fanboys to make such claims were it not for people like Tim Berners-Lee.

But like I said, Web 2.0 is weird.

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

No Feingold in 2008

November 12, 2006 5:35 PM

It's been an interesting week. There's quite a bit I could blog about, but this one, unfortunately, takes the cake.

My favorite potential candidate for the 2008 presidential election has decided to bow out.

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

Creepy PS3 Ad

November 08, 2006 10:14 PM

I don't know about you, but this ad creeps me out:

Video Games | Post Comments | View Comments (0) | Permalink

The Real Truth Goes Without Saying

November 03, 2006 1:17 PM

After the whole John Kerry debacle, it seems like there are a whole lot of people talking about how smart our troops are. Why do they feel compelled to say this? If they really are intelligent, just like any other absolute truth, it should go without saying. Kerry's comments (taken at literal value and not followed-up on) should be seen as outrageously off-base, and that should be the end of it, right? Well, apparently not. Accuracy in Media has a column dedicated to proving just how intelligent our troops are, which includes the following tidbit:

According to a U.S. Department of Defense document, Who is Volunteering for Today's Military, "nearly two-thirds of today's recruits are drawn from the top-half of America in math and verbal aptitudes."

I especially enjoyed this simple rebuttal over at Newsvine:

So, on a global level...not so great...but for Americans, not so bad. That's reasuring [sic]...

Really, just like any other cross-section of America, you're getting what you'd guess you're getting. There will be smart people, smarter people, dumb people and dumber people. Our troops don't have to be intelligent across the board for us to be proud of them, just like Americans don't need to be intelligent across the board for us to be proud of our country and the people in it.

What bothers me most is the need to argue points that are supposedly so obvious. To me, it just shows an underlying fear that maybe it isn't so obvious, or even worse, isn't so true. You won't hear the Chicago Bears telling you how good they are at football. They get on the field and show you. And if someone out there says they aren't any good, that person will get laughed at. The real truth goes without saying.

All that being said, I did get a kick out of the Jon Carry banner.

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

Spoofed

November 01, 2006 6:44 PM

I just got spoofed for the first time here in my blog's comments:

Bernie Zimmermann
November 01, 2006 4:49 AM

Sorry just realised that I was blabbering about a whole load of crap!

PS. I am a gimp.

That showed up over in the comments on The Difference Between Gray and Grey, but it has since been removed.

Not necessarily because I'm not a gimp, but just 'cause I'd never spell realized with an 's'.

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