September 2003

Album Cover: Plans

"And it came to me then that every plan is a tiny prayer to Father Time."
Death Cab / What Sarah Said

Problems Building the 'Bird

September 29, 2003 10:31 PM

I'm not sure if I've posted about it here before, but for some time now I've been getting my hands dirty with the Mozilla Firebird source code. I've successfully built a private Firebird build and have tweaked the code a bit locally on my home computer. However, I've yet to contribute any patches to any of the currently open and unresolved Firebird bugs in Mozilla's Bugzilla.

Just recently a semi-major change was introduced to the way Firebird is built using GCC and MinGW tools. Since then, I've had no luck at all trying to build the 'bird, and I've described my problem in detail over at the Firebird Builds forum at MozillaZine. Turns out other people are running into the same problem and there's even been a bug filed.

Part of the overall problem lied in the fact that there was no Win32 version of the Firebird Tinderbox to look at over the course of the day/week to see if the current source was building as it should. It has since been brought back to life, but rather ironically, it has been green (meaning its building fine) for quite some time.

I have been hoping for quite a while that the promised move from SeaMonkey (code that stems all the way back to the scary Netscape Navigator days) to Firebird (formerly known as "Phoenix") would happen sooner than later, but it's turned out that the latter has been the case, hands down.

Hopefully as the release of Firebird 0.8 nears (0.7 is already on its way) the Firebird codebase will become more important and be more heavily guarded. Until then, us lowly code-tinkerers will have to deal with the trial-and-error approach to building and "hacking" what may someday be the de-facto browser of choice for everyone.

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Sunday by Sunday

September 28, 2003 11:22 PM

As I sit here listing to Tool, I'm reflecting on yet another Sunday that has come and gone. Sundays are such strange days. Today was stranger than usual because I didn't get my Seahawks fix. I did happen to see the Viks trample on the 9ers and the scoring show the Colts put on, but I still missed my Hawks. I caught the final episode of season 3 of The Sopranos tonight and it was just as good the 2nd time around. K Street was intense, as usual. Don't know what I'd do without HBO on these Sundays.

And as far as my site goes, as promised, the contact form and commenting implementation are now complete. This means you can easily get in touch with me if need be, using a simple form, and you can comment on any of my posts as well. I look forward to hearing from at least a few of the 10 people who read my blog each year ;)

That's all for now. Think I'm going to crawl into bed.

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

The First of Many

September 28, 2003 3:19 AM

As you can see I've yet again redesigned my personal website. If I had even a single dollar for every time I've gone back to the drawing board on this thing, I'd be making a living for sure. I am already liking the freshness of the new design, and the skins/themes seem pretty cool, too. The overall organization of things hasn't changed much, but the presentation has as well as the readability.

You'll notice that a few of the site's new features aren't quite implemented yet. I'm adding comment capabilities to all my entries, and finishing that up is simply a matter of migrating some PHP code over from my Coldplay site. I also need to finish up the contact form so I can get away from posting my email address online (I get enough spam as it is). Each blog entry from here on out will have an optional title included with it, though, as you can see from this entry. All older entries are simply untitled.

If anyone has any comments about the new design, please let me know (once the contact form is fully functional, of course). I hope to get to the remaining feature implementations soon (perhaps even before the weekend is over).

And, although completely off the subject, I have to add a few words about a movie I caught earlier today, "Lost in Translation." What a flick! Bill Murray is awesome in it, and both the direction and the storyline were, as the English might put it, "spot on." I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and recommend it to anyone who's looking for something to do or go see this weekend.

Over and out.

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K Street

September 24, 2003 11:26 PM

HBO has provided me with yet another sweet addiction. This time around they've got me hooked on a show called K Street, and it's oh so good. At first I couldn't tell if it was real or not, and I was leaning toward the former. However, after this past weekend's episode, I realized that a lot of the backstabbing that was going on just wouldn't be possible given the fact that a show would be airing the following weekend thus spilling the beans. Then I noticed in the credits that while a good deal of the characters were playing themselves, there were a few exceptions.

The thing I like most about the show, though, is how good it is at making you believe it's real. You see these big-time politicians (like Howard Dean and Orrin Hatch) mingling with the main characters in tense, sometimes unbelievable situations. Then you've got these really complex and mysterious characters that slowly unravel before your eyes as you take in each episode (e.g. Francisco Dupre) and only leave you wanting more. Thanks to Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney I can add 'K Street' to the likes of 'The Sopranos,' 'Six Feet Under' and the Seahawks in terms of the what makes me crave Sundays.

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The Home Team

September 14, 2003 4:54 PM

All I have to say today is "Go Seahawks!"

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Intersmash Design Challenge Revisited

September 12, 2003 6:22 PM

Today is the day that a winner was chosen for the Intersmash Design Challenge I posted about a few entries back. I had a faint hope that maybe not a lot of people entered and that maybe, just maybe, I'd win that $15 gift certificate to Amazon.com.

I didn't end up winning, but rightfully so. The guy who did, Daniel Sheppard, came up with a pretty cool idea that was much more customizable than mine. In fact, one of the listed benefits to his approach was that it "doesn't require 'trial and error' placement of containers," which my approach certainly does. Interestingly enough, though, the idea Daniel used of placing two images on top of one another was one of the ideas I came up with when I first started working on the project, but I wasn't able to pull it off.

Hey, at least I got some sort of honorable mention for zaniest filler text ;)

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Tackling CVS via SSH

September 11, 2003 4:45 PM

Well, it has certainly been an interesting week. On Friday I met with my Trilute colleagues for an overdue company meeting. Now that the schoolyear is ramping up again, we've seen a lot of interest in our website and especially the Performance Library Database.

Something I've been meaning to do for quite some time now is get CVS running on our main server. Our hosting provider gave it a shot earlier this year, but to no avail. So, after I brought up the need for it again to them, they lived up to their reputation and gave me my own personal testing box to get it setup on.

What follows is a story of trials and tribulations, but I'll save you the gory details. After a day or two of reading countless web pages with CVS and SSH documentation, I was able to get CVS up and running on the server. Cvsweb wasn't that hard to get running either. Now I'm just mimicing those steps on our real server to try and get it working so we can actually use it. True to form though, it hasn't been as easy the second time around.

I've run into what look like permission problems, where when I import a module, it seems to work fine but throws in some extra "file or directory not found" messages. Then, in turn, my checkouts do not work, because something has thrown a wrench in the modules. I'm confident I'll have it all ironed out soon, and I can tack on "CVS Administrator" to the list of responsibilities on my resume.

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

State of the Music Industry

September 04, 2003 12:45 PM

After seeing several mentions of changes in the face of music today, I figured I'd post something here about it. Nothing profound, of course, as that would require me to actually use my brain, and I've already been doing that too much lately.

It's interesting to see blurbs on sites like Slashdot that shed light on the correlation between online file-swapping and CD-sales. Amazingly enough, it seems that even though file sharing has declined quite severely this summer, CD sales continue to nose dive. I wonder how the RIAA explains that one.

I think, if anything, the current situation has been brought about by several factors. One, the economy still sucks, so people just aren't going to go out spending their money on mediocre music (of which there is always a plethura). Two, online file sharing has made consumers much more wily in terms of the music they buy. Now, rather than basing a $18 purchase on one single they heard on the radio, they go online and take a listen to some of the other album tracks, which, for the most part, aren't as good. They then feel good, 'cause they've been a smart consumer and have saved themselves $18. Three, the RIAA has just plain pissed people off. Instead of taking the "US-plunges-into-Iraq" approach to scaring the bejeezus out of computer savvy consumers, put your money to good use and try and embrace those consumers by reinventing the way you do business.

I can't even remember the last time I bought a CD. And it isn't because I'm at home downloading albums and burning them either. I don't have the patience to wait for my archaic 2x burner to get the job done. The fact of the matter is, there isn't any enticing music out there right now. When there is, I will head to the store and buy it. And now, it looks like I'll be better off when that time comes, because big music lables are being forced to lower the cost of CDs (it's about time).

Moral of the story? Let's make the switch back to vinyl ;)

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Intersmash Design Challenge

September 01, 2003 12:57 AM

While reading Zeldman.com today I noticed a link to the Intersmash Design Challenge. It looked interesting, so I decided to give it a shot. I think I was in it more for the challenge (and the knowledge) than I was the $15 gift certificate to Amazon.com, but that doesn't hurt either.

After a few dead-end attempts at achieving the dual-column nested image effect, I stumbled upon an idea that seemed to make sense, even if it involved a constrained environment. What I did was create the dual-column layout (the really easy part), and then create two spans using CSS that hug the middle margin of their respective columns. The spans were set to a width and height that would allow enough nested space for the image later on (which bizarrely enough was a pre-supplied picture of David Hasselhoff).

Once these spans were setup correctly, I could insert them in roughly the same position in both columns to create the nested space. They didn't need to be exact because the outer margins that pushed the text aside would allow a little breathing room. Once the spans were in place, all I needed to do was insert the absolutely-positioned image of Hasselhoff inside the nested space, thus making it appear that the image itself was pushing the outer text aside. You can see the finished result or take a peek at the trickery involved if you so desire.

It's a rather simple approach to a somewhat complex problem, but the actual implementation involves some complexities that make me think I might not win the competition. For instance, any changes in the content will require that the spans be repositioned, and changing the dimensions of the columns themselves might create further problems as well. However, I made the assumption, since the rules of the contest were rather open-ended, that anyone who implemented the technique would do so after the content had been placed and finalized. If so, throwing in the spans and dropping in the image with some absolute positioning becomes an easy way to achieve the dual-column nested image effect so often seen in print media.

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