Our culture doesn't get smarter, it just finds new ways of being retarded.
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I first wrote about the Mix-o-matic, the iTunes smart playlist that serves up the vast majority of my music listening, back in 2007. It's still my go-to playlist, but it has evolved quite a bit in the past five years. It's hard to imagine a geekier topic than yet another exploration of the intricacies of my playlist system, but because the Mix-o-matic plays such a central role in my listening habits, it's hard for me to write about music without referencing it, and if I am going to do that, I figure I should at least be referencing the current incarnation of it and not its ancient ancestor. ...
Uh-oh. it looks like the Tinderbox 4.6 HTML export is building links differently than it used to, which means permalinks are going to be broken until I can tweak my templates. But I am updating the main page anyway, just 'cause.
Adventures in wi-fi poaching
Day 7 without internet, and panic is starting to kick in. Yesterday, I made a solo expedition down the Lister Meile, a long shopping street extending, spoke-like, from the Hannover Hauptbahnhof out to the edge of List (our neighborhood), ostensibly for the purpose of obtaining a couple useful things (money and a subway map), but really an attempt to track down an Internet café or otherwise get myself online. After a couple hours of marching past closed shopfronts (it was a Sunday after all), I finally managed to land in a restaurant that, while not exactly advertising itself as an Internet cafe, did offer free wireless access. For the price of a cappuccino and having to endure an episode of MTV's That's Amore! with German subtitles, I was able to connect long enough to do some emergency email maintenance and download some new podcast episodes (which should make my return flight a little more bearable). I did not get around to uploading blog entries, however. Ah well....
I still love my iPhone (and not in an entirely wholesome way, I'm afraid), but I am starting to regret that my purchase puts me into the same class as a bunch of greedy, deluded whiners. The outcry over the iPhone's price-drop was bad enough (note to whiners: you stood in line to buy a phone; of course you got overcharged for it). Now you've got people screaming for Steve Jobs's head on a pike because the latest iPhone software update bricked some unlocked phones and squashed the (unsupported, officially discouraged) third-party apps some hackers had managed to get onto their phones, just like Apple said it would. While I've learned not to begrudge people the right to turn their own stupidity into multimillion-dollar lawsuits, what's especially bizarre about the current crop of iWhiners is that it includes normally sensible people like Leo Laporte and the entire staff of MacWorld. I'm not giving links to any of these clowns, but if you want details, try any of the following worthwhile anti-whiners:...
Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires
Taking the above Proverb of Hell to heart, I finally acted upon my desires and bought an iPhone this week. I had held this particular desire pretty much from the moment it was announced, but I don't think I started actually nursing it until the TV ads appeared last spring. Before that, I was prepared to be very reasonable: "it's a new product, it will have bugs, better to wait until the second generation, yadda yadda yadda." The moment I saw the ads, all that went out the window. It was pure "Gimme, gimme, gimme! Mine mine mine!" And there were just too few obstacles. I'd been saying I needed my own phone for over a year, and I was already leaning toward something in the "smartphone" category (as an owner of several Handspring/Palm PDAs, I was seriously considering buying an almost-new Treo off a colleague right about the time the initial iPhone announcement was made.) AT&T is, for better or worse, the only cellular carrier in these parts anyway. Add to that all the glowing reviews, the cool factor, and, finally, the price cut, and my desire had become irresistible. I placed my order a week ago Thursday, and by Monday afternoon, I had the object of that desire, at last, in my hands. And while I admit to having slaked my lust a bit that first night, the next morning I found myself stricken with a nasty gastrointestinal infection that put me in no kind of condition for such dalliances for the next three days, and Friday was spent doing little more than digging out from the load of missed work from my illness....
Christmas in July
iTunes has been besieging me with Christmas music lately. Why this happened and how I fixed it cannot be explained, however, without delving into the maze of twisty little passages (also known as playlists) that I use to manage my iTunes and iPod listening experience. So strap on your spelunking gear, here we go!...
Strange but true technology fixes
I was rather amazed some months back when I discovered, while trying to solve a faculty member's printing woes, that the consensus fix for gunked up inkjet cartridges is to nuke them briefly in a microwave and even more surprised when it actually worked for said faculty member. I think, however, I've found an even less likely (and less advisable) computer fix. Shortly after getting my MacBook Pro last May, the latches that keep the laptop closed stopped working. It was one of those irritating problems that one never fixes because doing so would be more inconvenient than just living with it. ...
Tinderbox 3.6 !
Mark Bernstein just announced Tinderbox 3.6, which has a slew of interesting new features. Mark mentioned some of the salient ones:...
I have become everything I hate
I've had an Intel MacBook Pro for several months, but until today I had kept it untainted by that other operating system. Today I kissed innocence goodbye and installed Windows XP within Parallels Desktop. Aside from the disquieting knowledge that I've got a piece of pure evil residing on my beloved Mac, the process went very smoothly. Besides the official documentation, I also followed an article from Ars Technica that, while somewhat dated (it's for version 1.0), was helpful in explaining some of whys of the process. ...
I am back from vacation and although I have a backlog of stories to tell about that, instead I am tinkering with my templates. I've shifted a couple things around on the individual post pages and added a list of "Possibly related" posts using the new
Tinderbox 3.5 is out, and I'm very excited. Mark Bernstein has been previewing features such as automatic link discovery and common words for a while now, and they've had me pretty interested, but the thing that made me drop everything and download it immediately is actually the new support for OS X's font panel. One of my private grumbles about Tinderbox in the past has been the limited text formatting options for notes, font panel support should take care of that complaint nicely. ...
Coed naked web design
The First Annual CSS Naked Day got underway a few hours ago, and as you can see, I couldn't help but join in. Of course, this exposes my shameful secret—I'm still using tables for my column—but other than that, I'm not too embarrassed to let Donut Age prance around in its birthday suit. (via, simultaneously, CavLec and WaSP)....
File under: Geekery .
Bomb the blogosphere!
The politics of web standards
This is an idea I've been turning over in my mind for some months now, and while it's still resisting a really clear formulation, I want to try to put something down about it. It seems to me there is a tension in the web design world that might be best described as a difference in political philosophies. What's especially interesting to me is that I don't know which side I am on. I see viable arguments for each and, so far, no plausible way of completely reconciling the two....
It's a LibraryThing, you wouldn't understand
Via Diane Greco: it's LibraryThing: social software for your bookshelf. del.icio.us-like tagging; Flickr-like blog widgets; Amazon-like book reviews; commenting on others' libraries; discussion fora; author pages; RSS feeds; Z39.50 library searching; &c.; &c. This is heroin for book junkies. Of course I signed up right away and have been furiously cataloging my library ever since.
Got news today that two Microsoft updates for IE may break websites using certain ActiveX controls. As far as I can tell, the only reason to even launch IE nowadays is to use websites (like FEMA's disaster-relief page or the US Copyright Office) that require it to access their stupidly platform-dependent services. Now, in order patch their own security flaws, Microsoft has broken who-knows-how-many such services, and I guess it will be up to web programmers out in the trenches to mop up the mess that ensues....
To type or not to type (links)
Perceptive readers with good CSS2 support (sorry, IE users) may have noticed funny things going on with my links lately. I have been playing with the
I have finally succeeded in creating a table-less web design. Not here (yet), but for a site I manage at work. When I inherited this site along with my job three years ago, it was a disaster. It had been set up with FrontPage, using all sorts of proprietary FP stuff, but then edited in other programs to the point that all the FP stuff was broken anyway. I spent significant parts of the next year and a half repairing, cleaning up, and generally making sense of the site, including doing my best hammer the original FP theme into more-or-less standards-compliant code. ...
From MapView to HTML
[Update (5/28): Damn, I knew I was going out on a limb by posting these ideas without testing them at all. Turns out two of the three rely on a feature of Tinderbox that does not exist: namely, mathematical operations on attribute values. Oops. What's odd is that I was so sure that I had seen this somewhere: I could half-picture a page from the manual with + = / and * on it, but when I went back to check, nothing. I guess I was confusing the fact that you can use computed dates like
I've been tinkering with and tweaking my stylesheet, templates, and sidebars. Nothing very earth shattering, but I would not be at all surprised if I seriously screwed up something along the way. ...
Double the feeds, double the fun
Jill is happy when she figures something out, and so am I. My RSS 2.0 feed is now up (see sidebar) and even validates! For variety's sake, I'll continue to offer the 0.92 feed in its headline-only form. ...
I noticed recently that my RSS feed had not updated in my aggregator (NetNewsWire Lite) even though I'd made several new posts. Then I noticed that, in fact, NNW had downloaded the updated feed, but was not showing the newer articles. Further digging revealed two issues, at least one of which was contributing to the problem: 1) There was an unencoded angle bracket in the Napster post (Tinderbox assumed that I was manually adding an HTML tag , which is usually right, but not this time), and 2) there were a pair of (properly encoded) em-dashes in my last post, that a validator said were not legal (which, I think, has something to do with what's allowable in RSS 0.92). Damn those pesky entities!...
Geekiest Valentine's Day gift ever
ThinkGeek is selling men's and women's tee-shirts with the following geekarific love verse: "Roses are #FF0000 / Violets are #0000FF / All my base / Are belong to you." If there is a special geek in your life, s/he will find this adorable... and maybe even explain it to you. (via bsag—who chronicled an even geekier version of the poem last year—via Anja)....
File under: Geekery .
Lack of exercise
Jill has a nice post up summarizing and expanding on a number of bloggers and researchers who argue that blogging helps with their non-blogging writing as well, that blogging is writerly exercise. If so, I guess I have been a couch potato lately, and my writing muscles are getting all soft and flabby... ...
Jill Walker has been redesigning her blog (the new design looks very slick by the way) and has posted on a few of the CSS tricks she has learned in the process (fonts, positioning, columns, round corners), she has found along the way. I've stolen one of them for Donutage: the Owen Briggs Universal Font Definition. Briefly, it amounts to setting
File under: Geekery .
File under Revised
In describing the new look of Donut Age, I mentioned a revision of the Categories and 'File Under' links. Turns out my first implementation had some problems in it (namely, none of the 'file under' links were working due to capitalization and punctuation discrepancies). I had been building the links by adding the value of the Category attribute onto a site-relative path to make a proper HREF for the category page like so: ...
As mentioned earlier, I've been making a number if changes to the site design. The most obvious is the new three-column layout and some added content: On the Road in Us for my travels this semester and Donutarians in Them for some of my donut-themed brethren in the blogosphere....
Observant readers may notice that the previous post contains some unconventional link locations. This is not intentional, but seems to be due to a problem in Tinderbox with notes that contain embedded images. I'd never seen it before, but that was the first post that used an image. What happens (at least to me) is that the fist link I make is fine, but each time I add a link, all the previous links "slip" one character from their original position. It seems to happen in Tinderbox, not during the HTML export. ...
My blogroll is configured to sort by most recently updated, but oddly, some of the entries (Flickwerk, bobblog, and Management by Baseball) always seem to be stuck on the bottom, even when they are updated. Curious.... Maybe I should go look at the documentation....
File under: Geekery .
It's the end of the semester here, and I've been snowed under with work, so I haven't been posting. I did tweak a few technical matters with Donut Age: the date format has changed, I messed with the stylesheet, and most importantly I switched from
I got my first piece of blog-related fanmail over the break, from Bob Torres of Bobblog.net. I should be more jaded (or less self-absorbed) than this, but it does give me a thrill to find out that someone actually reads the little text missiles I launch out into the world. A long, long time ago, I was referred to as a list "elder" (or something to that effect) on the Baseball (and lesser sports) Discussion List. I no longer remember what was under discussion at the time, but I remember the little surge of pride I felt at the idea that my opinions were valued there. But I digress.......
I fixed my problem with creating an automatic index of "category" pages. It involved getting pretty intimate with Tinderbox export codes (incidentally, the Tinderbox Wiki has a very useful reference page for export codes). The process was non-obvious enough that it might bear recording here (non-Tinderbox readers may want to skip to the next post)....
There's been a lack of updates here for the past week because I've been monkeying with the blog design and getting myself into trouble. First, the good news: the blogroll is now powered by Blogrolling.com. Also, with the help of a pointer from Mark Bernstein and the Tinderbox community, I've randomized the tagline in the upper left corner, using Tinderbox's
For years, I've been grumbling about websites that put most of their useful information in PDF documents that must be downloaded and read in Acrobat Reader or, more recently, the Preview utility in OS X. Manfred Schubert's freeware PDF Browser Plugin (found via Macworld) has come to my rescue to provide seamless PDF viewing from within all my browsers. Huzzah! It works great in Camino (and I assume other Mozilla-family browsers) and fairly well in Safari (it hangs momentarily before rendering the PDF). There's a known incompatibility with IE 5, which could be solved by downloading an older version of the plugin, but I've practically stopped using IE for anything except compatibility-checking my websites so I'm not going to bother.
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