My neglect of this poor old blog has been an ongoing source of shame for me. The meager trickle of new content over the past few years is one aspect of that neglect. There are multiple reasons for the lack of output, but I will save that discussion for another time. Nearly as embarrassing has been the state of the site’s plumbing, which was still largely based on the HTML templates I cobbled together back in aught-three. Table-based page layout may have been acceptable back then, but they’ve been a thorn in my side for a number of years now. I’ve tried, at various points, to move to a tableless layout, but all the solutions I could find either were hacky, or I couldn’t figure out how to adapt them for my needs.
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 because.
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 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 ^similarTo^ code. I've also been trying to create back-links between posts (i.e., links from a post to other posts which mention it) using ^inboundLinks^, and I only just now realized why that doesn't work. ^inboundLinks^ only gathers note-level links, not text-links that link to other notes. As far as I can tell there's no way to automatically generate a list of the latter. That's kind of odd because Tinderbox knows that these links exist and counts them as inbound links for things like inboundLinkCount), but nevertheless that seems to be how it behaves.
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. ...
I've had it with Technorati. I've never used them for much more than finding out about the occasional link to my site, but over the past few months, even this small service has repeatedly failed me....
Notes about Notes
Eastgate Systems — makers of my beloved Tinderbox (a new version of which, 3.0.1, was recently released) — has launched a new website, Notes about Notes. I'll let it speak for itself: "This site collects ideas about making, analyzing, organizing, and sharing notes. The First Principle of making better notes is simple: make notes. Write it down."
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 :before and :after pseudo-elements and the content property to generate markers distinguishing different kinds of links. Why? Well, the notion of "typed" links (i.e., links that express not just a generic connection but a specific relationship between the linked elements) has been floating around hypertext theory for a long time. I've also long been intrigued by what George Landow (in "The Rhetoric of Hypermedia," 1991) identified as the need for a "rhetoric of departure" in hypertexts. Both of these ideas tie into a number of practical accessibility/usability web design issues regarding providing appropriate visual and textual cues to aid user navigation. Rather than tackle all at once, I've just concerned myself one small problem: distinguishing between internal and external links within a web site....
The past week or so, my mind has been cluttered. Lots of ideas and things to be doing, but I'm having trouble getting it all untangled so that I can actually do something productive with them. My usual tools (from Tinderbox to plain old pen & paper) don't seem to be helping me much. When I get like this, I not only don't get much work done, but I also don't have much fun because I won't let myself do those things whe the other stuff is still isn't sorted out. Bleagh,
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 today+1 week with full-fledged math support. Oh well, I guess this will just have to go on the Wish List for a future version. I think the first option still stands as a possibility (although it was the clunkiest of the three), but I have not tested that one yet either.] ...
Tinderbox 2.4.1 is now out. As I predicted, this version fixes the memory leak problem I was having a couple weeks back. There are also fixes for some printing misbehavior (which I'd experienced but never gotten around to reporting) and a few other minor issues. Tiger users will be happy about a modification to the file format that should make Tinderbox documents Spotlight-searchable (this had gone out to beta-testers a couple weeks ago). This update still is just a handful of small improvements, but they've been delivered quickly in direct response to user requests. What more can one ask for?
Why we love Eastgate
I've been having trouble with a Tinderbox file: not this blog, but the other important file in my life, a task-tracking thing that I've been putting all my work life into for the last 6 months or so. Suddenly it was perpetually consuming free memory (at a rate of 50KB/sec—I found it one morning hogging 400MB of RAM!). So I posted something on the Tinderbox Wiki in the hope that someone else had run into this and knew what was going on. No luck except for a note to contact Eastgate tech support with this.
Huzzah! Tinderbox 2.4 is out! I'm already using it (since I paid for my upgrade to 2.3.4 back in October). It has all sorts of new goodies in it: Map view enhancements like Sticky Adornments, Rules for conditional attribute-setting, improved HTML Export behaviors, even multiple pinging. I will be sorely tempted to spend the rest of this week digging into the features, but, alas, there is also work to be done.
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).
Mark Bernstein has a long post on the concept of a personal Daybook kept in Tinderbox. It's not immediately clear to me whether he is talking about an actual product made in/for Tinderbox, or if he is just theorizing. Either way, it sounds fascinating, and I want one. That and the ability to synch Tinderbox with my Palm. ...
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. ...
Eastgate has released Tinderbox 2.1, a free upgrade for anyone who has bought or renewed Tinderbox in the last year (and if you haven't renewed, now would be a good time). There seem to be a number of nifty fixes and improvements, including greatly improved antialiasing of text (a purely aesthetic issue, but one that makes a surprising difference in the pleasure of working with the program), but the big thing here is the addition of macros in HTML export. Mark Bernstein has previewed this a while ago on his blog and it sounds fascinating. Guess, I know how I'll be spending my Christmas break.
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 ^randomline export code. ...