Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Truth about high school

(via Miscellaneous Heathen)
Mr. Ironside, who had his own page in the yearbook, had been elected valedictorian in a vote carefully orchestrated by his peers and designed to embarrass him.

But when graduation night arrived, he gave a speech that transformed a malicious high school joke into an ad libbed sequel to Revenge of the Nerds.
Dissing your stupid high school classmates is always cool, but what the heck is going wrong with a world when Valedictorian is an elected position? Isn't that title supposed to be for the kid with the best grades?

Tuesday, December 30, 2003


Hope you like reading about the Stofonians. When I visited my parents house this weekend, I found the mother-load of canonical "Robertson's Planet" material. Maps, illustrations, timelines, king lists, etc. Expect my conlang pages to get a lot of updates as I scan in artwork and type in data. I already know that a lot of what I have up on the web now was wrong. For instance:
  • The Last War did not end in E.Y.E. 1835, it ended in 1858.
  • My online maps of the Stofonian empire leave out the entire elikaln of Sibinni.
I promise that after getting this out of my system, I will return to something slightly more normal like bitching about Unicode or something.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)

The Scofield reference Bible is one of the main texts of dispensationalism in America.

More comments about Scofileld's comments here.

Friday, December 19, 2003

bad software never dies; it just gets an increasingly fanatical crowd. The BileBlog

Thursday, December 18, 2003

When did Microsoft officially embrace end-user registry editing?

Something I never noticed until just now: the built-in help for the Windows 2000 command prompt (and presumably XP) actually tells you to edit the registry in order to do things like changing the completion key. We've all been doing it for years, but I'm still surprised to find it in the online help. All this time I've felt like I was using an undocumented hack. But no, "cmd /?" says:
Command Extensions are enabled by default. You may also disable
extensions for a particular invocation by using the /E:OFF switch. You
can enable or disable extensions for all invocations of CMD.EXE on a
machine and/or user logon session by setting either or both of the
following REG_DWORD values in the registry using REGEDT32.EXE:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor\EnableExtensions


HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor\EnableExtensions
and so on and so on.

Apparently regedt32 (why not regedit, btw?) is Microsoft's officially supported interface for customizing the behavior of the command prompt. (Would it have been so much harder for them to just put this stuff in control panel?)

It seems like back in my tech support and sysadmin days, any technet article that involved registry editing had a disclaimer like "we don't really support this and it might hose your machine". I see no such warning from cmd /?.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

SelectSmart Selectors

(via gammatron)

My presidential candidates:
  1. Your ideal theoretical candidate. (100%)
  2. Libertarian Candidate (66%)
  3. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (54%)
  4. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat (46%)
  5. Bush, President George W. - Republican (45%)
  6. Clark, Retired General Wesley K., AR - Democrat (45%)
  7. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (44%)
  8. Gephardt, Rep. Dick, MO - Democrat (42%)
  9. Lieberman, Senator Joe, CT - Democrat (39%)
  10. Kucinich, Rep. Dennis, OH - Democrat (37%)
  11. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (37%)
  12. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol, IL - Democrat (33%)
  13. Phillips, Howard - Constitution (21%)
Boy, am I in trouble next November..

My top ten religions:
  1. Mainline - Liberal Christian Protestants (100%)
  2. Mainline - Conservative Christian Protestant (79%)
  3. Orthodox Quaker (77%)
  4. Liberal Quakers (73%)
  5. Seventh Day Adventist (70%)
  6. Reform Judaism (68%)
  7. Unitarian Universalism (68%)
  8. Eastern Orthodox (66%)
  9. Roman Catholic (66%)
  10. Orthodox Judaism (51%)
The Seventh Day Adventist is surpringly high.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

RFCs-in-HTML Development Page

This page collects some software and proposals aimed at developing an HTML submission format for RFCs, to supplement and (perhaps) eventually replace the traditional flat-text primary format.
Even without looking at the mailing list archives (it's apparently been nothing but spam since 1999), it's obvious that nothing has been done on this project in a while. Otherwise they'd at least be using newer buzzwords like XML.

Requests For Comments

HTML-ized versions of a lot of RCFs, but not including our friend 2616 (but they do have 2068). This archive seems to have stopped being updated somewhere around 2400 or so.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1

Finally! An HTML version of this RFC, so that you can make links and bookmarks to chapter-and-verse. Generated by rfc2html, which somebody needs to run on every RFC in existence.

IMDB: Trivia for Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

When an Elven Warrior falls off the Deeping Wall, the scream is the famous "Wilhelm Scream", commonly used in scenes where someone is hit or is falling to their demise.

Domain name of the month

Title: Website: Guns don't kill computers...
Content: shootin' stuff, NES, Goonies
there are some things that just need to be shot. Take soccer balls, for example. Nobody likes soccer balls. Sure, the Europeans pretend to like soccer, or "football" as they stubbornly insist on calling it. You know what? They're faking it. Why? Just to confuse the rest of the world. Also, 95% of all computers are practically begging to be shot. The last time your Compaq froze didn't you want to pump it full of hot lead? Of course you did.

The Wilhelm Scream

Apparently its even older than the Star Wars fans were able to dig up: 1951!

Monday, December 15, 2003

The Wilhelm Scream

So it didn't go unnoticed when a particular scream appeared once in each Star Wars movie -- The stormtrooper plummeting down the Death Star chasm; a trooper tossed from the freezing platform by an enraged Wookiee; a normally tight-lipped Weequay plunging into the grisly maw of the Sarlacc. It had to be more than coincidence. There had to be a story behind all this.

Watch the movie. After hearing that scream dozens of times, you'll think you're playing a video game. Which makes me wonder, where can I find a list of games that use this? I bet it's not limited to Star Wars or Lucas-related games, either.

Joel on Software - Biculturalism

Unix culture values code which is useful to other programmers, while Windows culture values code which is useful to non-programmers.

I missed this when it actually happened, but ESR's online version The Art of Unix Programming reached 1.0 in September: "the content that went to Addison-Wesley's printers". I'll have to read more of it before I can tell what is different from the previous draft.

Accessible Header Images With CSS And XHTML

Offers a couple of different hacks around accessibility problems with classic "Fahrner Image Replacement". Plain old FIR is good enough for me, currently. If you only use it to replace the page header, the text of which is identical to what is in the <TITLE>, and the CSS to do all of this is marked as "@media screen" to make non-graphical devices ignore it, do you really care if it disappears in weird situations like when somebody is using a graphical browser set to not download images?

Friday, December 12, 2003

Again with Blockquotes

No, I haven't discovered some previously unknown CSS pseudo-element that lets you stick a ">" character at the start of every line in a blockquote. It's just a background image, unfortunately.

On platforms without fixedsys it will not look like the same font as the text, and will not line up one-to-one with the lines either, as shown by these screenshots. (Mac screenshot courtesy of iCapture).

I am going to start lobbying the W3C right now to correct this gaping hole in the CSS spec. Of course, MSIE wouldn't support it anyway.

Lorem Ipsum - All the facts - Lipsum generator

(possibly via Novarese)
Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old.
The apparent source of "lorem ipsum" is actually quite profound and wonderful.
Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur? Cicero
But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness. No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful. Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure? Cicero

More Stylesheet Wankery

I've changed my mind about blockquotes. Now they look like this:
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum Who Said It

Thursday, December 11, 2003

slacktivist: Left Behind Archives

(via Miscellaneous Heathen)
It's easy to dismiss these loopy ideas as a lunatic fringe, but that would be a mistake. The widespread popularity of this End Times mania has very real and very dangerous consequences, for America and for the church. ("Premillennial dispensationalism" -- the technical terms for what these prophecy freaks teach -- teaches that the Sermon on the Mount does not apply to Christians living today. It also undermines the core of Christianity -- Jesus' death and resurrection, and the hope of that resurrection. These are not tangential matters for Christians.)

The cultural standard bearer for these Very Bad Ideas is the "Left Behind" series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. These books have become so popular that every pastor in America is now confronted with the task of gently, pastorally explaining to their congregation why the theology of these books is misguided and misguiding.

I'm not a pastor, so I won't be pastoral here. These books are evil, anti-Christian crap.

The Limbaugh Lunch

Yesterday I took my first "Limbaugh Lunch" in a long time. This consists of getting in my gas-guzzling, environment-destroying car; crusing through a greedy capitalist fast food chain to load up on the greasy fried food that is making America's children so obese; and eating while driving around listening to Rush Limbaugh. The only way it could be more Rushtastic would be if I drove an SUV, or if I was smoking or taking prescription painkillers.

This used by my usual way to get roadgeeking and railfanning done. I used to do it about once a month. I had to stop for a long while because the windows of my old car got to the point where they wouldn't roll down anymore, so it was impossible to do the drive-through thing.

Among the things I saw while railfanning were a UP unit still in SP red and gray paint but with yellow and red road numbers that looked like they were just stuck on, and a CSX switcher near the ADM and Mead plants. I took a really crappy picture of the switcher with my cell phone. You can't even make it what road number it is. I have increased the brightness and contrast somewhat, at the expense of making it look even fuzzier.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Hacking and Refactoring

The open-source movement and agile programming may be converging. While reading Martin Fowler's excellent book "Refactoring", I realized development by refactoring is a sharp description of the normal style of open-source hackers.

Bruce Eckel's Web Log

I love Bruce Eckel (I learned Java from him, after all) but I have to admit this is a strange format for a blog.

TechnoTourette: I don't want to hear about it Mr. dotnet

(via John D. Mitchell)
It is a MS marketing manager wetdream when all the people with the most traction on a competing community can't seem to be able but babble their heads off about csharp and dotnet in every public space they have the privilege (our duty) to appear.

Worse is worse

The notion that worse is better has become something of a truism in the programming industry. The usual examples are the C language (worse than lisp, but it dominated anyway), Unix (or more recently, Windows) as opposed to Multics or VMS, and (in a completely different arena) VHS tape over Beta. Each of the dominant technologies, it is pointed out, was worse than the alternative, but the worse technology became the standard anyway. The moral to the story, or the reason that people bring the principle up in argument, is to convince whoever is on the other side of the argument that we should set our sights on the quick and dirty, less elegant solution to a problem, because "worse is better."

Of course, this received wisdom is just so much crap.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

I can hear a train going by, presumably on the Norfolk Southern line a few miles away in downtown Norcross. You can hear them pretty well when its cold outside, even over the sound of a computer, TV, furnace, and the omnipresent background roar of Spaghetti Junction. I actually can't remember the last time I went railfanning, its been so long. I better take advantage of my current work location in Midtown with its proximity to Howell Junction and even the Inman/Tilford area within a lunchhour's drive. I can actually look out my window every day and see NS and Amtrak trains going past Peachtree Station. Sometime in the next six months my employer will relocate and I'll really never get to go down there again.

Heal Your Church Web Site

"Design tips for church and charity websites and webpages."

Monday, December 08, 2003

Code Style: Font sampler

The Code Style font sampler is a reference point to the most common fonts available on Web users' computers.

Thursday, December 04, 2003


I don't know if this is a well-known design rule or not, but it should be, and I've just implemented it: the colors used for permalinks should be consistent with those used for "visited" links, even if they can't be automatically identified as such by the browser. A permalink never points to content that the user hasn't seen already (except in blogs where the permalink is also how you get to the comments... but that's a different issue). The permalinks here were previously way too prominent, and I couldn't reduce their font size without breaking my previous decision to use 100% for everything.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Font guide for webmasters

Ironically, for a site intended to help people write portable web pages, this looks a little funky in Mozilla.

How to Design a Commercial Website

  • Your website is an advertisement.
  • Make it enjoyable.
  • Actually sell something.
  • Give something away.
  • Gather email addresses.
  • Let your visitors contact you.
  • Optimize each page for the search engines.
  • Don't neglect the little things.
This is about as far from the academic/W3C/blogger/CSS-P culture as you can get. Pure, mercenary capitalism drives you to create text-based and accessible(er) websites. After all, the seach engine is the most common text-only browser.

Source Ordered Columns

I think I got this from Zeldman. Can't really remember, though. At first I thought this guy must be onto something revolutionary, until I got to the punchline:
Many site designers would like to have three source ordered columns, and have the two side cols be of a fixed width while allowing the center col to fluidly fill the remaining screen space. Sadly, this just isn't possible.
No miracles here, folks.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Remember how on an audio tape recorder, in order to record you had to hold down the "record" button while you hit "play"? How many VCRs carry on that metaphor? I just realized how strange it is that I own one that does.

I recently become aware of the following:
  1. There exists a Sunday comic strip based on The Simpsons
  2. Simpsons fans tend to hate it
  3. It does not appear in the Atlanta Journal Constitution nor in any of the newspapers that I read when I visit relatives in other cities
Does anybody out there have The Simpsons in your paper? Does it suck?

Marissa Marchant - Music

(via Miscellaneous Heathen)
4 album set available for $2000.00 and $1000.00 for one cd. This is how much music should be worth, if there is talent there. They are cheapening music and talent, by selling it like it is fried chicken at kfc.

Wow. I haven't listen to enough of the music to make many comments about the presence or absence "talent", but anything is only worth the amount of money that someone will pay for it. Who is paying 1000 USD for this woman's music? This has to be some kind of joke, right?

Quote of the Day

The ascot is the new dickie.
Mo Rocca

My archive from June 22nd still can't be Googled for some reason. Maybe being re-linked from here will make the spider crawl over it, although you'd think that the archive index would do that. I was trying to find this posting and I had to go dig for it manually.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Computer illogic

Despite great promise, technology is dumbing down the classroom.

(via Slashdot)
Take the much vaunted effort to close the "digital divide." Popularized by the Clinton administration, this initiative was aimed at the poor, who were supposedly being shut out of social and economic opportunities because they had fewer computers than wealthy families do. This campaign has been so appealing that, according to a recent U.S. Department of Education report, computers are now more prevalent in poor schools than in wealthy ones. Yet political and education leaders haven't stopped crying about this terrible "divide." Meanwhile, the schools' new technology riches took the real divide between rich and poor children -- the educational divide -- and widened it.
One of the most common selling points for computers in schools, even in first and second grades, is to prepare youngsters for tomorrow's increasingly high-tech jobs. Strangely, this may be the computer evangels' greatest hoax. When business leaders talk about what they need from new recruits, they hardly mention computer skills, which they find they can teach employees relatively easily on their own. Employers are most interested in what are sometimes called "soft" skills: a deep knowledge base and the ability to listen and communicate; to think critically and imaginatively; to read, write and figure, and other capabilities that schools are increasingly neglecting.

Does anybody else find it easy to confuse those Weatherpixie images on people's blogs with something that is supposed to be a picture or representation of the blogger? If so, the most disturbing contrast can be had by comparing the image on the main page of Dreaded Purple Master with the real picture on his bio page. | Business | This little piggy's coming home

The only real picture of the old pig that I've been able to find is on this page. For some reason I read this article already and missed that photo. I didn't notice it until I found the link to it from Dreaded Purple Master.

Peachtree Street - Additional Footage

Video clip of an interview with one Cecil Alexander features some still photos of the Pink Pig.

I rode the Pink Pig

This article features what was apparently a Rich's ad, with a drawing of the Pig. | Photo gallery | Pink Pig

Why is it so hard to find decent pictures of this thing? This is a picture of the real pig, the old one, not the thing I rode.

My caption for this picture: 4-year-old Luke Woodall peered out from the inside of the giant pig monster that had swallowed him a few minutes earler, shortly before being dissolved by its gastric juices.

I wonder if that kid is related to the Woodall brothers I went to junior high school with, Chuck and Tony. Chuck was a huge Nelson-like bully of a kid. I can still remember the day that Chuck first grokked the concept of nerdness: "Man, all them retards is smart!". Before that, he had simply called all of his victims "retard".

Wal-mart Mob Tramples Shopper

A mob of shoppers rushing for a sale on DVD players trampled the first woman in line and knocked her unconscious at a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

On Thanksgiving day, I went out and bought a paper so we could look at all the sake ads for Black Friday. There were ads for really cheap DVD players at several stores.

I heard about this on the MJ morning show (I know, I know, schlocky nationally syndicated corporate radio show and all... it was either that or listen to the regular guys make jokes about Ozzy's childhood abuse story.) Somebody called in to tell MJ about how they'd witnessed a guy in New Jersey pull off his own artificial leg to use as a weapon in a DVD-player-related confrontation.

We ended up sleeping in friday morning and going to Wal-mart and Lowes on friday night. Things seem to have died down a bit. Wal-mart was pretty busy, but Lowes was absolutely normal. The next day we went to Lenox Square, the throbbing heart of all Atlanta shopping. It was no more crowded than any other saturday. Later that night I went back to Wal-mart for 1-hour film that I dropped off the day before and forgot to pick up, and it was still much more crowded than The Mall. I wonder what this says about the economy.

Dahlia and I rode the Rich's Pink Pig. From the pictures that were on display, the original Pink Pig (at the long-defunct flagship Rich's store downtown) was a marvelously unique ride. The car was suspended from an overhead track, giving the illusion of flight. The new "pig" is basically an electric train, just like every other kiddie train ride at every other mall. Oh well. One of the things I planned to do this weekend was to take my daughter on her first train ride, and this was sorta close.