July 2004

Album Cover: Narrow Stairs

"As the flashbulbs burst, she holds a smile like someone would hold a crying child."
Death Cab For Cutie / Cath...

Up Above Tonight

July 31, 2004 3:47 PM

You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own.

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All the PayPal Hooplah

July 31, 2004 12:31 AM

I'm continuously amazed by how easily dumbfounded average computer users find themselves when faced with email that has even the slightest bit of "hoax potential." The biggest culprits in recent history seem to be the emails that PayPal users receive. I've been a PayPal user for quite a few years, and they've always been really good (almost to the point of annoying) about letting users know that they only expect to receive sensitive information (e.g. credit card or bank account information) via their secure server at https://www.paypal.com.

Not too hard to follow, right? Wrong. Apparently plenty of people have fallen prey to "phishing" scams related to PayPal emails. I've received a few of these hoaxes myself, and it's extremely easy to hover over the email links and see that http://234.343.23.99 is not the same as https://www.paypal.com.

To make matters worse, there's now a legitimate PayPal email going around that is further (notice I didn't use farther here) confusing PayPal users. Apparently the links in the email that point to https://www.paypal.com don't quite look legitimate enough?

All in all I know this attack is a bit unfair. The average computer user probably doesn't know the significance of a non-secure IP-based web address in comparison to one that starts with https:// and contains the actual domain of the company in question. However, my question is, shouldn't they? In a day and age where computers are literally taking over just about every aspect of life, people need to smarten up and take things more seriously. Learn what is safe, and apply it to the things you do online. If something looks "phishy," take extra care in exploring it, but don't use the blacklist approach before you've found at least some reason to.

I'll get off my soapbox now, but before I do, let me just clarify that yes, this post is directed at each and every grandma I've seen in an AOL commercial touting how easy it is to get online.

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The Rumbling Edge

July 29, 2004 9:43 PM

For those of us who just can't wait for official news about the latest features and fixes in applications like Firefox and Thunderbird, there are sites like The Burning Edge and now, The Rumbling Edge.

I added the latter's RSS feed to my Bloglines subscriptions tonight so that I'll get updated regularly on the latest changes in my favorite email application.

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A Microsoft Makeover

July 28, 2004 5:58 PM

Via Zeldman tonight I came across Douglas Bowman's mock redesign of the Microsoft website. This is even cooler to see than the Slashdot redesign that was featured on A List Apart last year. I especially loved the cold hard numbers:

...that 25 KB savings per page could add up to about 924 GB in bandwidth savings per day, or 329 terabytes per year.

Those kinds of figures seen on such a large scale are what make designing with CSS such an undeniably obvious piece of the future of web design.

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Video Game Extravaganza

July 26, 2004 9:47 AM

Well, I'm officially hooked on Project Gotham Racing 2 on Xbox. Who knew that even racing in the SUVs that soccer mom's typically drive could be so fun? Certainly not as fun as racing in an M3 or an S4, but fun nonetheless. I'm probably only about 20% through the game at this point, but I seriously can't get enough of it. It's a shame I'm so busy that I'm only able to commit about 2 to 3 hours a week to playing it.

On top of all that, this weekend I noticed that 2K5 has been released early for only $19.95. It took seeing the commercial about 3 times before I actually believed it. Needless to say, I placed my order the same day, and I should be receiving the game in the mail sometime this week. Hopefully I can manage to add time to my weekly Xbox allotment as opposed to dividing the 2 to 3 hours up for both games. Afterall, I'm going to need the extra time when games like Halo 2 and World Championship Poker come out later this year.

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Tabdump III

July 24, 2004 10:28 PM

I didn't think the next installment of my "tabdump" series would come so soon, but it has. I think the first item is quite appropriate since this is the third tabdump:

Star Wars Episode III's title has been announced, I'm number 48 out of 13.5 million search results for the phrase "post comments", I may need to buy another shirt online, do you love bees?, if this system crashes, so do you, millions will soon realize their nude pictures of Britney Spears are all fake, I better keep quiet on this one, hopefully XHTML 2.0 will be more appealing than XHTML 1.1, the IEBlog is warming up, and I like the way they're handling things, could this have anything to do with them recommending Firefox?, just when we thought she had forgotten how, Britney makes a smart decision, Will Ferrell in a Woody Allen film, need I say more?

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The Difference Between Farther and Further

July 22, 2004 1:49 PM

Since one of my previous posts, The Difference Between Gray and Grey, has become fairly popular, I figured I might try it again with another set of words that has bewildered me for quite some time. Those words are "farther" and "further." What's the difference? When do you use one as opposed to the other? Well, let's find out.

According to a page called Irregular Comparisons, the difference boils down to that between the "distance" version of far and the "extent" version of far. When you are dealing with distance, the comparative form of the word is "farther." When you are dealing with extent, on the other hand, the comparative form of the word is "further." So, for example, you would either say "I hit the golf ball farther than anyone else" or "To further exemplify my point, I will show you my golf swing."

Isn't learning fun? Or, maybe you already knew this. If the latter is true, then isn't laughing at people who are stupid fun? :)

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Rescue Me

July 21, 2004 9:15 PM

There aren't many television networks whose name can even be muttered in the same sentence as that of HBO. That being said, however, if I had to choose one network it would be FX. The things they have achieved with The Shield and Nip / Tuck alone are worthy of praise.

Enter Rescue Me, a brave new drama starring Denis Leary that explores the demons of a seasoned firefighter. I was blown away by the premiere, especially with some of the music that made up the soundtrack (e.g. "Don't Panic" by Coldplay). The preview for the rest of the season looks astounding, and I'm anxiously awaiting next week so I can get another heavy dose of Troy / McNamara and Tommy Gavin.

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Tabdump II

July 21, 2004 10:17 AM

What's a "tabdump?" See my introduction to Tabdump I.

Do you know about the 85th Percentile Rule?, 'Rescue Me' premieres tonight on FX, Almost as cool as Dave Grohl playing drums on the new NIN record, Don't like the look of my site? Then change it!, I'm looking forward to another album the likes of 'Odelay' and 'Midnite Vultures', Other people are getting caught, too, At this point, Snoop can do just about whatever he wants, Everyone's fed up with the system, They say mother knows best, She has her own mannequin, shouldn't you?

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Gmail Giveaway

July 20, 2004 12:52 PM

I got my Gmail account from some generous people who were nice enough to send me an invite, so I've decided to pay it forward. I've got more invites than I do people to send them out to, so if you're interested in trying out Google's new email service, leave a comment for this entry and I'll send one your way. Be sure to include your email address (it won't be displayed on the site, so no need to worry about filthy, no good spammers) so I know where to send the invitation. The only thing I ask from you is that you too "pay it forward."

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July 19, 2004 12:07 AM

I went to Vancouver, BC today, and what do I have a show for it? One sunburnt arm, a pocket full of Canadian change, and a $183.00 speeding ticket issued to me by the good ol' Washington State Patrol. Yes, smokey caught the bandit. According to the ticket, I was in violation of RCW46.61.4W with a vehicle speed of 81+ in a 60. That beats my previous record by 1 mile per hour. At least I'm making progress.

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Image Map Issues with Gecko

July 17, 2004 10:53 PM

Karsten Schramm emailed me today after stumbling upon a test case I made at the end of last year in an attempt to showcase what I felt was a bug in Mozilla's handling of valid image maps in XHTML. Karsten seems to believe that the behavior I identifed is a bug in the way Mozilla, or rather the Gecko rendering engine (since it's the same in Firefox), handles the valid code.

Karsten has since written up a bug on the matter, as detailed in a comment on my site. Apparently renaming your page's extension to .xhtml or forcing the application/xhtml+xml MIME type fixes the problem, but for some reason or another that doesn't quite sit well with me. If the W3C tells me my image map is valid XHTML Strict code, shouldn't Gecko work with it? Afterall, if I do what the Mozilla developers say I should do, I completely break the ability of Internet Explorer users to access my page.

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Getting Recursive

July 17, 2004 10:35 PM

You ever feel like your life gets a little "recursive?" Sometimes I'm really excited to post about something on my blog, and then something else comes along and I end up having to store the previous thing in my head while I finish doing, examining or writing about the newer thing. At times, this recursion continues until I feel like I'm about 5 iterations deep (this might be shallow to a computer, but not to a human with my brain capacity!) and I'm about to pull my hair out. Well, that's happening now and I'm currently two iterations deep, so expect another post soon after this one.

I just happened to check the validation of my website tonight, and stumbled upon the fact that – is not a valid means of denoting an en dash (and subsequently, — is not valid for denoting an em dash) in XHTML. So while I've been going "the extra mile" to try and create a dash that writers would agree with and that web standards advocates would as well, I've been wrong the whole time.

I'm scared to even look back through my previous entries and replace all these "mistakes," since there are doubtless many to be found. I do feel good about learning something new, though. A List Apart taught me when and how en and em dashes are meant to be used (turns out I've been using the wrong one all along anyway), and a site the validator recommended I take a look at, taught me that I need to start using – for en dashes (which I will no longer use) and — for em dashes (which I mean to use all the time).

Knowing is half the battle.

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Gmail Notification

July 17, 2004 9:01 PM

About a month ago, I started looking around for applications that would give notification whenever I received email at my Gmail account. The first thing I found was a program called GTray. It looked very close to what I was interested in finding, but there were a few things I noticed that made me a little iffy about downloading it, like the bugs people were mentioning in the comments and the fact that it was tied into IE pretty heavily (this may have changed since then). So, I decided to hold off and wait either for a stabler version or something better to come along.

Something better did come along. While reading Asa Dotzler's feed, I found a link to the Gmail Notifier extension for Mozilla and Firefox. I installed it tonight, and while I don't have enough experience with it to comment on stability, it is great to have something built into my browser that will notify me whenever I get new email. Now I just need to get more people to email me there ;)

On a related note, I clicked on a "New Features" link while logged into Gmail tonight and learned that they have added support for importing contact lists, the Safari browser, and most importantly (in my opinion, anyway), signature management. If you'll remember, this was one of my only complaints when I first started using the service.

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More Gmail Problems

July 17, 2004 1:02 AM

I had a heck of a time tonight trying to connect to the Gmail website to check my email. Then, after I finally managed to get in, I was unable to logout due to a server error. All I got was:

Gmail is temporarily unavailable. Cross your fingers and try again in a few minutes. We're sorry for the inconvenience.

I have a feeling the recent surge of invite giveaways is starting to tax the Gmail system. Hopefully things stabilize pretty soon. Other than the connectivity issues, Gmail has worked extremely well for me.

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PHP 5 Released

July 14, 2004 10:23 PM

As you may or may not have heard, PHP 5 was released yesterday. I've already begun salivating while thinking of projects that could benefit from the new feature set.

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Stupid and Funny

July 14, 2004 9:28 PM

Okay, one of these is stupid and the other is pretty funny. I'll let you decide which is which.

While reading about alternatives to table-based design tonight, I came across the following at About.com:

If you use tables for layout, you are writing invalid XHTML. Tables are only valid in XHTML when displaying tabular data.

A few minutes ago, my brother called me up and told me to take a look at This Land.

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Grohl / Reznor

July 13, 2004 8:55 PM

There's awesome news floating around the Web the last couple days. Apparently, Dave Grohl has teamed up with Trent Reznor for the upcoming record from Nine Inch Nails. MTV News reports:

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl played drums for Nine Inch Nails during a session at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California, on Friday. The performance will likely make NIN's upcoming album, Bleed Through, for which no release date has been set.

This has me even more psyched for the new album. Trent never ceases to blow my mind.

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Gmail Problems

July 11, 2004 8:23 PM

Unfortunately, I'm unable to log in to my Gmail account this evening. Apparently I'm not the only one having problems. You gotta love the error message, though:

Sorry, something didn't work correctly.

File that one in the book of error messages written by codemonkeys ;)

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July 10, 2004 4:45 PM

Google is just cool.

Oh, and thanks to autodiscovery, you can now subscribe to my blog's feed simply by referencing http://www.bernzilla.com/.

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The Other Side of the Apex

July 10, 2004 3:38 PM

Anyone who has read my blog before knows that I am a big fan of Firefox. The people I know personally who stop by my site often make fun of me, wondering why on earth I post so much about this browser that they've never (or hardly) even heard about.

The truth of the matter is, I am obsessed with web browsers. It isn't just a Firefox thing. However, the reason I post so much about Firefox is because it happens to be my favorite web browser. This wasn't always so. Afterall, how could it be? Firefox (aka Phoenix and Firebird) hasn't even been around for very long. For a very long time I was a full-on Internet Explorer fan and supporter. If you'll believe it, I even used to deny one of my former co-worker's claims that Mozilla was a better browser than IE. Afterall, tabbed browsing made absolutely no sense! ;)

So while you might expect me to sit here on the side of those Firefox fanatics who absoltely despise Internet Explorer and quickly bring up things like lacking PNG support and pop-up blocking while bashing Microsoft's dominant browser, you'd be wrong. Just as quickly as I turned into a "Mozillian," I could turn back into a Microsofti...um, Explorerian...um...Internet Explorer guy. All they have to do is compete like they did back in the days of the first Browser Wars and they'll quickly have my attention.

The thing about Microsoft's Internet Explorer team is that they've been a sleeping giant for a very long time. You can think of them as the football team that goes up 56-0 in the first half and doesn't want to completely trounce their opponent in the 2nd half for fear of looking bad. Then again, we are talking about Microsoft here. Okay, so maybe they do want to trounce their opponent, but they have next week's game to think about so they're taking it easy. Yeah, that analogy fits a little better, I think.

So now here come Firefox the backup quarterback (Mozilla, the starter, went down at the beginning of the 3rd quarter) and Opera, some unknown halfback who all of a sudden is running through holes that weren't there in the first half. So what is Microsoft doing? They're pulling their starters back off the bench and saying we need to compete with these guys again or they're going to send us home with a loss. So that is exactly what I think is going to happen (and perhaps already is happening).

After showing its first market share decline in over 4 years, the Internet Explorer team is starting to respond to criticism and actually make changes *gasp* to their browser.

There are a lot of smart people at Microsoft. As long as they follow the specs (like they used to in the days of the first Browser Wars) and listen to their customers, I believe they can once again leave the other browsers in the dust. And if you're reading this and shaking your head because you have a bad case of Firefox tunnel vision, just remember that it is innovation and competition that will contribute to a better browsing experience for everyone. As a web developer I can appreciate the idea of IE catching up with the times, because it means I'll be able to design and develop to spec again (using, let's say, the latest CSS spec) and know that a majority of my users get to see my site(s) the way I intended.

If that's not exciting enough to support the advancement of Internet Explorer, I don't know what is.

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Firefox 1.0 Release Date

July 06, 2004 11:30 PM

Via a post at Asa Dotzler's blog I saw that Ben Goodger has updated the Firefox roadmap.

According to the roadmap, Firefox 1.0 is scheduled for a release in September, and D-Day (i.e. Download Day) is officially set for September 14, 2004. If you're impatient though, fear not, for the first 1.0 release candidate is due out August 10th, with two more scheduled to follow the two weeks before D-Day.

Can't wait!

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Do What Slate Says

July 05, 2004 5:32 PM

MSN's Slate says that you should stop using Internet Explorer and switch to Firefox. So, what are you waiting for?

Interesting, semi-related note: while IE users are purported to make up a 95% portion of Internet users in general, the statistics for my blog are actually a near mirror image. 90% of my visitors are using a Mozilla browser, while only about 7% are using IE.

Therefore, I'm not sure just how useful this post will be, but it still doesn't hurt to try.

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Coach K, Don't Go!

July 03, 2004 10:34 PM

Coach K is Duke basketball and Duke basketball is Coach K. You can't separate the two. The Lakers should know that. Shame on them for making the offer, but I can't say I blame them.

The Lakers don't deserve Coach K, but I don't think they deserved Phil Jackson either. Money talks, though, so needless to say I am as worried (okay, maybe half as worried) as the crazies that Coach K and his family may make the wrong decision. He seems above that though, and he should know that the legacy he's already created at Duke goes above and beyond anything he could ever possibly accrue in the NBA. Or is it? I can't think about it.

Coach K once said:

Discipline is doing what you are supposed to do in the best possible manner at the time you are supposed to do it.

My words of advice to Coach K are similar:

Wisdom is knowing what you should refrain from doing at the time you are bribed with $40 million dollars to do it.

Don't go, Coach K, don't go.

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And They Came in Droves

July 02, 2004 6:37 PM

You've doubtless heard that the Department of Homeland Security has recommended for security reasons using browsers other than Internet Explorer.

People have really taken the recommendation to heart, it seems. I read the following over at Wired News today:

Downloads of Mozilla and Firefox – an advanced version of Mozilla – spiked the day CERT's warning was released, and demand has continued to grow. According to Chris Hofmann, engineering director at the Mozilla Foundation, ...downloads of the browsers hit an all-time high on Thursday, from the usual 100,000 or so downloads on a normal day to more than 200,000.

With numbers like that, it makes Rafael Ebron's goals seem less lofty and, dare I say it, even probable? This is great news for those of us who already know how great Firefox is in comparison to Internet Explorer.

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Tabdump I

July 01, 2004 8:25 PM

Jason Kottke has Remaindered Links, Mark Pilgrim has b-links, and I have "tabdumps," or at least that's what I'm going to call them. Why? While reading my subscribed feeds in Bloglines, I'll often open a new tab (click here if you don't know what I'm talking about) for each entry or link I find that I'm interested in. Occasionally the number of tabs I open gets into the double digits. In cases like those, I'll be doing a "tabdump" here on my blog so others can share in the delight of a random dump of what I feel are cool links. So without any further delay, here is my first tabdump:

Plugins, reloaded? (sorry, I had to say it), Microsoft's answer to the iPod, Postgres gets a shot in the arm, I'm armed and dangerous, and blogging at the same time, Now we know what the $7 buckets of popcorn have been paying for – night vision goggles, the cab driver I rode with during CES will now have to find something else to cuss about, about 19,000 words worth of pictures of the first private space flight.

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