May 2004

Album Cover: No Code

"Are you woman enough to be my man?"
Pearl Jam / Hail Hail

Bloglines Follow-Up

May 28, 2004 7:38 PM

I've been using Bloglines for a little over two weeks now, so I thought today would be a good time for an update. I have to say I'm really liking it. I was afraid that there would be some missing feature that would have me looking for a different aggregator to try out. However, I have been nothing but pleased with Bloglines, as it has met my every need thus far.

Using a news aggregator has saved me plenty of time, because I'm not clicking through the links on my blogroll on a daily basis anymore, only to find that a select few have updated. Now I know which of my favorite sites have been updated, and I am able to read new content very efficiently.

A Bloglines feature that I just made use of today is the ability to save an entry. I read Mark Pilgrim's entry on How to make a good ID in Atom, and quickly realized that I should be employing one of the methods he outlined in my Atom feed. Since I don't feel like implementing the change now, I clicked the handy "save" link at the bottom of the entry (in Bloglines) and the entry will reside there for easy access until I find the time to read it again and use the information to update my feed.

If you're looking for a good news aggregator that is accessible from home, work, or wherever you might be, give Bloglines a try. You won't be disappointed.

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Firefox Theme Info Referral Bug

May 27, 2004 10:25 PM

Jonas from the MozillaZine forums contacted me via email today to let me know that he was using my blog's "Recent Referrals" feature as a guinea pig of sorts for showcasing a Mozilla Firefox bug.

Using the repro steps he provided in his forum post on the subject, I was able to confirm that there is a referral problem present when clicking on the URI provided in the information associated with an installed theme.

I loaded up starwars.com in the active tab; clicked on Tools, Options, Themes; and then clicked on the link to my website (in the information for GrayModern) and sure enough, starwars.com showed up at the top of my "Recent Referrals" list.

Interesting find (and good catch, Jonas)!

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21 Grams

May 27, 2004 10:05 PM

Watch it.

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How Frightening

May 27, 2004 2:48 PM

You know those scary movies where the bad guy/monster/ghost/lady just won't die at the end? You think he/it/it/she's dead, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he/it/it/she comes back to life and tries to kill the protagonist once more. Then, in some case, he/it/it/she does it all over again! And again!

Well, that is how I feel about Netscape Navigator. Just when you think it's finally gone for good and you can go on living happily ever after, it rears its ugly head once again. eWeek is reporting that we may see Navigator 7.2 as early as June. How very unfortunate for us all.

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Daily Dreams Part I

May 27, 2004 12:02 AM

Before I had this blog I had a personal journal called "Bernie's Daily Dream" that I posted to on a fairly regular basis. I kept it private so that I could spill my guts about some things that the public probably shouldn't hear, and most likely wouldn't want to. However, there are a few golden nuggets in those journal entries that seem worthy of resurrecting here, and the following is one of them:

Have you ever sat down and figured out the lyrics to Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby?" Man, they suck...

Next nugget I find, I'll be sure to post as well.

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Ridiculous

May 25, 2004 10:10 AM

It must be nice to threaten legal action against anyone whose website doesn't display correctly in your browser. According to C|Net, Microsoft paid Opera a $12 million settlement to drop the issue of MSN's website not rendering correctly in the Opera browser. Granted, Microsoft is trying to clear their legal plate a bit, but still, in my opinion Opera doesn't deserve that money.

Over a year ago I mentioned that Opera had a right to be concerned with the problems with MSN's website. However, I had no idea that their whining would lead to them receiving a $12 million check.

The menu system over at Microsoft.com doesn't work in Firefox like it does in Internet Explorer. Maybe The Mozilla Foundation should threaten Microsoft with legal action to help them get closer to that $1 million they're after.

Am I the only one that's sickened by the abundance of lawsuit-happy idiots in the technology world?

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Mafia Pennant Race

May 24, 2004 11:15 AM

For the last few weeks I've been reading people's comments on the current season of The Sopranos, and they've been anything but pleasant. Especially after the last few episodes, it seemed that most people had lost faith in the show and its writers. I, personally, did not feel that way, and never have. I love The Sopranos more than any other TV show today, and now that I mention it, more than any other TV show in history, with the exception of one.

It really surprised me how quick supposed "loyal" fans of the series were to write it off. In my opinion, even the worst episodes of The Sopranos (like "In Camelot" for instance) are far better than the best of any other series. Today, I realize that the phenomenon has been nothing more than the bandwagon syndrome you'll typically see with a local sports team.

Last night, and for probably the third or fourth time this season, I found myself thinking "that was one of the best episodes ever" after watching the incredibly dramatic "Long Term Parking." Today I see comments all over the Web touting the genius of the episode.

I think the following statements from Classless Warfare sum up the phenomenon most clearly:

"If you haven't been watching, you're missing the best season since the second."

"I was of the opinion this season sucked, until last night's episode, which ruled."

I guess the pennant is still a possibility...

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The Difference Between Gray and Grey

May 23, 2004 9:45 PM

In the third grade I was entered in a spelling bee. During one of the earlier rounds, I was asked to give the spelling of the word "gray." Having a photographic memory, the image of a gray coloring crayon quickly came to mind. On its side, as is customary of most crayons, the crayon's color was written. The spelling I saw on that imagined crayon (which most certainly came from an actual experience in my past) was g-r-e-y. So, that is how I answered the question.

When I was told my spelling was incorrect, I returned to my chair and tried to fight back tears (I really wanted to win, and didn't feel I deserved to be leaving the event so quickly). Not minutes after I had sat down, one of the teachers in the room spoke up and said that she believed my spelling of the word gray was not incorrect. After some research (I believe we were in the school library, so it didn't take long), it was decided that my spelling of the word was acceptable, and I was allowed to continue participating. I eventually ended up winning the spelling bee — something I was very proud of at the time — but that is neither here nor there.

The point of this story is, there are two acceptable spellings of the word gray. Prior to today I was under the assumption that "gray" was the more popular of the pair, but after two quick Google searches for "gray" and "grey," I realized the difference seems to be very slight (on the Web, at least).

So what, then, is the difference between the two spellings? According to Google Answers, the two words have almost the same meaning in all cases, and g-r-a-y is simply an American derivation of the original spelling g-r-e-y. According to Flak Magazine, the difference can be chalked up to the same happenstances that led to organize/organise and judgement/judgment. Apparently e.e. cummings and Prince are partly to blame as well. However, among the several hypotheses for why gray and grey exist, I believe the following to be the best:

Gray is a color.

Grey is a *colour*.

So next time you're faced with the choice of spelling the word "gray," feel free to go with whatever spelling best suits you at the time. I think I'll continue to use g-r-e-y, just because it's been so lucky for me in the past.

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Where Syndication Could Lead

May 22, 2004 2:58 PM

While reading a Slashdotted article today about the future of web standards, I began to really think about how the future of the Web will look. I was a little surprised at how quickly the meandering of my mind led me to a future where web browsers are no longer used and web designers are about as popular as phonograph repairmen.

What's even more surprising is how little meandering was necessary to reach such a conclusion. If you take a look at the way the Web is changing today, you'll quickly notice that more and more commercial websites are providing syndicated (apologies to Jason Kottke) content. For the most part, this content is the meat of the website served up in a raw format that can be used virtually anywhere, thanks to the beauty of XML.

Now if you step back a bit and think about what the main purpose of the World Wide Web is, you'll realize that it is a source (and a very large source at that) of information. People flock to the Web in herds and herds because they are after content of some shape or form. Now, we web designers of the world may think that people are as turned on as we are about the pretty ways we've displayed our content, but the fact of the matter is, Joe user really doesn't care.

One of the main reasons my site has been popular recently is because of a post I made about the next version of Firefox. I can pretty much guarantee you that close to 100% of the people who entered the realm of my website to find that information would have been just as happy to see it displayed in a chunk of Times New Roman text as they were seeing it in the actual design of my site.

What this means is, web designers may not have a future at all. It's possible that web browsers as we know them today may not have a future either. As news aggregators become more popular and content providers keep adding more and more feeds (in Atom, RSS, or whatever format it may be), web browsers' main purpose may become finding those feeds. However, I am guessing that at some point the aggregators will become (and maybe some already have?) smart enough to find all feeds at any given domain. This also could mean that Google will no longer return hypertext links as search results, but feed URIs instead. Wow!

The beauty of syndication is that all the content someone is interested in is presented in a homogenous way. Like I've heard it described before, it's just like someone reading a newspaper. The reader would much rather see all the articles in the same font and layout style than to see different font sizes, colors, and presentation with each piece of information.

This whole evolution makes sense, when you think about the history of HTML. It started out as a subset of XML that ended up looking and feeling a lot more bloated. This was mostly the fault of the browsers like Netscape and Internet Explorer that, back in the early days of the web, played nice with unclosed tags and the other unfortunate elements of what today is known as "tag soup."

Fast forward to today and we've gotten smarter. Over time, thanks to the devotion of the W3C and many other intelligent people, HTML has slowly slimmed down to become a believable subset of XML again. This is mostly due to the advancements of CSS and XHTML.

Now that this somewhat long but necessary shift has occurred, we see another on the horizon. The nature of the beast is changing once again, as XML is replacing XHTML in a lot of cases (or playing nicely alongside it), and content is being viewed and tracked externally to where it lives.

There's a good chance that the future may look completely different that what I've laid out here, but I believe there's an even better chance that a lot of what I've said can and will come true in due time. All it takes is a good look at the past and a solid understanding of the fundamental purpose of the Web to see that things are going to change in a lot of different ways. As a web designer, it's all pretty difficult to take, but as a user of the Web and a sponge for information, it's all pretty easy to believe.

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Color

May 21, 2004 3:40 PM

There are people who know color and there are people who don't.

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Gmail Swaps

May 20, 2004 2:47 PM

If you're a Wired reader, there's a chance you caught an article today called My left arm for a Gmail account. If not, you're missing out because the website it references, Gmail Swap is hilarious. I've been anxiously awaiting another "Invite a friend to use Gmail" link to show up when I log in to my account, and now I'm even more anxious 'cause who knows what I might be able to get for it!

Some of the funnier things up for swap on the site include:

  1. A picture of a 46G bra
  2. Sacramento Kings playoff tickets
  3. A foot-high "papier mache willy"
  4. Pearl Jam's 'Ten' on CD (This guy means business!)
  5. An inflatable penguin
  6. Someone's student loan debt (Oh, to pull something like this off...)
  7. William Hung's personal cellphone number
  8. A bag of dry Arizona air
  9. Poems by Pablo Neruda Awesome!
  10. Nude pictures of someone's dog Uhh...

Just about the only tempting swap I see right now is the copy of 'Ten,' but I already own that so it looks like I'll probably just be giving any other invites I receive to my friends. And no, I won't ask them to take nude pictures of their dog.

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Under the Radar

May 20, 2004 11:20 AM

I spotted some Mozilla-related news that some may not have caught (unless they read MozillaZine as religiously as I do). It's not only news...it's great news. According to the mozilla.org staff meeting summary from May 10th, they are currently shooting for a "1st week of June" release for Firefox 0.9. Awesome!

Another thing that caught my eye is that while feedback has been good for Thunderbird 0.6, one of the biggest issues among users is a missing global inbox for POP mail. Since this is my least favorite thing about Thunderbird, I was very happy to read that it's been acknowledged, and even more importantly, that it is being worked on (by David Bienvenu).

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The Show About Nothing

May 20, 2004 2:46 AM

Tonight I was informed by my trusty desk calendar that "according to recent estimates, 99% of the universe is nothing."

I guess that should explain why Seinfeld was the phenomenon that it was.

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When Accessibility Really Matters

May 19, 2004 2:00 PM

One of the things that seems to get paired more than anything else with the benefits of web standards is accessibility. If you're big on accessibility, you've no doubt heard of Bobby, and the number 508 probably has more meaning to you than it does to most people. You've also no doubt heard of how important it is to make your website(s) as accessible to everyone (most relevantly speaking, the blind) as you can.

Now, I got to thinking about this earlier today and realized that accessibility isn't always a top priority, and sometimes it doesn't need to be a priority at all. I can certainly understand why complaining about the accessibility shortcomings of a web application like Google's new GMail is important, and why such applications should try to be as accessible as possible. That being said, though, there are certainly other sites on the Web whose owners should not be losing sleep at night because their site isn't accessible (myself included).

Now if you're one of those people who sees the frequent threesome of XHTML, CSS and 508 at the bottom of your favorite websites and blogs and thinks they should be mutually inclusive, you are probably ready to burn me at the stake. Let me just say that I believe in accessibility and that in a perfect world, all sites would be completely accessible. However, after spending quite a bit of time ensuring that my site is rather accessible (through the use of font sizing, web standards, acronyms, link titles, alt tags, etc.), I've come to the conclusion that it may have all been for naught.

Consider the fact that my blog probably sees no more than 100 visitors per day (this number is extremely generous). How many of those visitors do I think is blind (or has a visual impairment)? Probably less than 1%. That may well be equal to or maybe even less than the number of users visiting with Netscape Navigator 4. I make no attempt to appease users of that particular browser (mostly because I wish it never existed, but also because of the percentages involved), so should I really be devoting the extra time it takes to make my site screen reader friendly? Your answer here may vary. My answer is yes, just because I'm a nice guy and I try to take the high road on all occasions, but at the same time, my dark side knows that I am probably doing more time wasting than I am accessibilizing (I love new words).

The point of all of this is don't get caught up in the hooplah of making sure your site is accessible to everyone. Chances are, by sticking to web standards, you're doing a lot to enhance your site's accessibility without the extra effort. Realize who your visitors are, and make sure the people you want to hear what you have to say (or see what you have to show) can do so without any hindrances. You'll be doing not only your site's visitors, but yourself, a huge favor.

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May 18, 1980

May 18, 2004 11:02 AM

24 years ago today, on May 18, 1980, I was only 7 months and 2 days old. My mom and dad, ever since I was old enough to listen and understand, have told me that on that very day, they held me up on my Oma's balcony to watch as Mount St. Helens erupted, thrusting pillowed, dark smoke into the Washington sky. I don't remember it, unfortunately, but I've always liked thinking back, as each anniversary of the eruption has passed, and knowing that I was there to witness such an amazing display of the power of Mother Nature.

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I Am Your Baby's Daddy

May 17, 2004 10:00 PM

This is just one of a million reasons why I love Coldplay.

If that link isn't working, you can also visit my Coldplay site to see just what I'm talking about.

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Web Browser Load Time

May 17, 2004 11:55 AM

If you hadn't guessed based on previous posts, I am fascinated by the process of web browser development, even though I haven't ever really played an active part in it (unless you count working on themes or submitting bugs).

This is why David Hyatt's latest blog entry, Testing Page Load Speed, is so interesting to me.

In his post, David goes into detail about what types of processes are involved with loading a web page, and into even greater detail about the time thresholds involved in ensuring that pages display quickly while at the same time refraining from displaying content before it is ready.

Anyone who is even half as interested in the process as I am should give David's post a read.

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Gallardo

May 14, 2004 2:10 PM

What I wouldn't give to be an Italian policeman.

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This One Goes Out to Chong

May 13, 2004 5:17 PM

Some Asian Kid Doing a Belly Dance

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Bloglines

May 13, 2004 2:38 PM

I finally decided to take the news aggregator plunge today. I signed up for a Bloglines account, which I will be using fairly regularly for at least the next few weeks to keep up-to-date on the blogs I read on an everyday basis.

The main reason I chose to forego the news aggregation route for so long is that I, like Jeffrey Zeldman, appreciate the efforts that each blogger puts in to his or her design, presentation and visual style. Reading blog entries in an aggregator like Bloglines takes all the fun out of that, as every single entry looks pretty much the same. Another downside (which I've already run into once, and could potentially run into more in the future) is that there are blogs out there that don't yet adhere to the syndication methodology necessary to allow me to read all the content I'm interested in using an aggregator alone.

There are definite advantages, though. For instance, as I was setting up my subscriptions I noticed that Asa Dotzler had added an entry to his blog. I was notified almost immediately. That will definitely come in handy with blogs like Surfin' Safari and Ben Goodger's weblog, which are updated so scarcely lately that I feel like I'm almost wasting time checking them. However, I am so interested in what those two have to say (about pretty much anything), that I am very thankful for this new automatic instant notification feature.

Another advantage is that I can now subscribe to the Atom feeds that Google has made available in its new beta of Google Groups. For instance, I was able to subscribe to newsgroups like alt.fan.jenny-mccarthy, alt.music.coldplay and alt.music.pearl-jam, newsgroups of which I've been unable to keep up on for quite some time now.

One interesting thing I noticed about my personal feed is that links always show up without spaces around them when displayed in Bloglines. I didn't notice any other feeds exhibiting this behavior, so I guess I'm going to have to revisit my feed generation code. Oh, and by the way, is it bad that I subscribed to my own feed? I think that falls on the same level as sending emails to yourself (which is something I do quite often). Hmm...food for thought.

Before I go, anyone who is interested in taking a look at the list of feeds I subscribe to should take a look at my public Bloglines folder.

I'll be sharing more thoughts on Bloglines once I've had a chance to pound on it a bit more.

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Internet Traffic Report

May 12, 2004 11:40 AM

This is pretty interesting. Internet Traffic Report provides real-time reliability ratings (based on average response times) for Internet traffic on the major continents. How useful the information is, I'm not one to say, but it's interesting to look at nonetheless.

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Googlicious

May 11, 2004 12:35 PM

I just read via Slashdot that Google now has its very own blog. Cool!

In other Google-related news, I was granted the option of inviting someone to sign up for a GMail account today. Who was the lucky invitee? My girlfriend, of course ;)

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Thunderbird and Norton AntiVirus

May 10, 2004 8:14 PM

I had quite a scare this evening. After eating some dinner I sat down at my computer and brought it back from hibernation. I noticed that Thunderbird was sluggish to "come back to life," and that whenever my mouse pointer was anywhere over the user interface, it displayed as an hourglass. After 25 seconds or so, I was presented with a pop-up alert from my virus scanning software, Norton AntiVirus, notifying me of a virus that had been automatically removed from my computer. Having seen these types of messages before, I wasn't all that concerned, even when a second pop-up appeared immediately after closing the first.

I noticed, however, that after the two messages had gone away that Thunderbird was still unresponsive. I decided to close it down and try a restart. When I did, Thunderbird launched without a hitch. It didn't take long, though, for me to realize that two of my three main inboxes were completely empty. This concerned me quite greatly, as information pertaining to projects I've been working on and several emails I had yet to reply to had completely disappeared. Almost immediately my thoughts turned to those two virus notifications I had received, and I immediately opened up the Norton AntiVirus interface to see if there was anything I could do about my missing inboxes.

After a little hunting, I came to the conclusion that Norton AntiVirus's solution to "repairing" the viruses it had found was to delete the inbox (in my case, inboxes) that the virus was found in. As you can imagine, this is not very desirable. Luckily, I was able to find the Quarantined Items management panel in the Reports section. From here it was possible to restore any folders or files that Norton AntiVirus had removed during its "repairs," and it didn't take long to spot my two Thunderbird inboxes, which I subsequently restored to their original locations. Since nothing ever goes smoothly the first time around, I then launched Thunderbird, and watched as my inboxes were immediately "repaired" yet again. Having learned from my mistake, I restored the folders again, disabled Norton AntiVirus temporarily, relaunched Thunderbird, removed the two obviously infected emails (which were the same for both email accounts), and enabled Norton AntiVirus. I then breathed a big sigh of relief, as I have my Thunderbird inboxes back.

The irony of it all is that I've specifically set Norton AntiVirus up to ignore any and all email, and to scan only files on my computer. Now I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, emails are actually files on my computer, but I assumed Norton AntiVirus would be smart enough to recognize that Inbox files in my Thunderbird application folder are email related files. I guess I was wrong. I now think that when telling Norton AntiVirus to abstain from scanning emails, you're really just telling it to stay away from Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Outlook Express. If that is the case, it's a real shame, because Thunderbird is quickly becoming a popular email program, and it's certainly worth its weight in gold when compared to Microsoft's email products.

It's a real shame that this kind of thing can happen to any computer user who has done things to protect his or her computer (like installing an antivirus program or using an application like Thunderbird that is so much safer than the Outlook variants). I think a majority of users wouldn't have been able to recover their inbox(es) and would have resigned to the fact that their inboxes had been lost for good...

WHAT IN GOD'S NAME!?

Norton AntiVirus Screenshot

...Just appeared as I was writing this entry.

Goodnight.

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Now I'm No Longer Nothing

May 06, 2004 11:07 PM

For more months that I can count on both feet, I've been checking the official Nine Inch Nails website for any semblance of change. Today, it seems, that change finally happened. NIN.com is nothing no more.

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Hungry for the 'Fox

May 04, 2004 7:49 PM

I've noticed an upswing in visitors to my blog over the past two weeks, and I'd have to say a majority of my visitors are coming looking for information on Firefox 0.9. According to the Firefox Roadmap, we should expect to see version 0.9 (code named "One Tree Hill") by the end of this month. I think the main reason people are so itchy is that a new version of Mozilla Thunderbird was just released a few days ago.

Be patient, though, because if what The Burning Edge's Bigger Picture reports is true, it will definitely be worth the wait. Besides some of the upcoming features that I've mentioned before, we can look forward to the following:

  1. Nesting of quotes (CSS quotes property)
  2. Ability to search textboxes and textareas using Find in Page
  3. Major import handing from Internet Explorer
  4. "Connection Refused" errors will no longer trigger Internet Keywords (I ran into this one quite a few times...pretty annoying)
  5. The inclusion of Talkback will allow for more efficient fixing of crashers

Who knows, by the end of May there may be (and probably will be) a whole slew of other great features that sneak their way in. This is an exciting time to be a Firefox user, as we are just now seeing the browser turn the 1.0 bend and really start to resemble the mature browser that will one day overtake the goliath we now know as Internet Explorer.

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Braveheart

May 01, 2004 3:00 PM

Thanks to our Netflix account, I introduced Katie to Braveheart last night. As long as I live, I don't think I'll ever see a better movie.

We're off to visit my brother, his girlfriend and her kids today down in Spanaway. Since the weather's supposed to be nice all day, we're probably going to have a barbecue and play some badminton. It should be fun!

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