February 2002 Archives

I was able to check out News Goat in some different browsers. Audrey & the Palm both display it without the CSS formatting — just one long column, starting from the left column. Not pretty, but functional. Then, I found that I still had a copy of Netscape 4.7. After correcting a minor error I had made, it was readable. Not exactly how I have it designed, but not bad. Looking at it at work with IE 5.5, some of the fonts were a little big, so I dropped them a size. I’ll have to see how it looks at home before I decide whether to keep it that way.

I have once again caused a web hosting company to disappear. This time it’s, which currently cannot be reached. I told the guy to cancel my account and give me a refund (according to the 30-day money back guarantee their website claims), but he’s refusing to give me a full refund. sigh People like that make me tired. Fortunately, I paid with a credit card, so it really doesn’t matter what the guy does — the credit card company will make it right. Actually, dealing with this guy has been amusing — I’ll put up a complete story about our adventures, soon.

Well, here it is — News Goat without tables. With a little mangling, I was able to get it to look correct in Netscape 6.2, IE 6, and Opera 6.01 on Windows. I have no idea how this looks on older browsers and/or different platforms. Chances are, it’s pretty bad. If it looks horrendous in whatever browser you’re using, let me know. A screenshot would be nice, but I’ll settle for just knowing the browser version and OS.

In theory, since I still have the files for generating the table version, I could modify my script to display that version to other browsers. There are philosophical issues with doing that, so we’ll see…

The Mensa website saga continues. I ordered an account from, and was told I would receive my website information within 3 days. Well, that was Monday, and I’m still waiting. Angela & I talked about it, and she made a good point — the reason we’re having trouble finding a good, cheap web host is because we insist on using the free domain National Mensa has given us. So, we decided to cancel the account with swhu, get cheap hosting from, and register our own domain:

We found nothing but good reviews about Cyberwings. We have a good feeling about this company. So good, in fact, that we went a little nuts. :-) With hosting so cheap, we thought, why not move smartgoat there? And, with domains so cheap, why not register a few more? They say we’re crazy, but we have a good time. :-) It’ll be nice for Crafty Goat and News Goat to have their own domains. And Mystical Meatballs? You’ll just have to wait and see… :-)

One of the nice things about this is, all these domains will include MySQL databases. That will make some things much better. And our current host is just too slow. This should be fun — at least, for a geek like me… :-)

March is approaching, and no one is looking forward to that month more than I am. :-) I haven’t written about work in a while, mostly because I haven’t had anything good to say. I’m finally so fed up with the whole thing, I’m breaking my silence.

Shortly after the layoffs, I was told I would be spending some time with the RAD team. The RAD team is a development group, in a different department from the rest of development, that is supposed to create quick solutions to problems. At first, I was just supposed to learn some stuff related to work I would be doing. Then, when the guy I was learning from decided to quit, they wanted me to learn all I could from him before he left, so that whenever they hired a replacement, I could pass on the knowledge. Then, they said they needed my help until March, to keep the project moving until a replacement could be hired. Then, when they hired a contractor to do the work, they decided they needed me to keep up with what the contractor was doing, so that someone would know what he had done. And I couldn’t do this from my cubicle, I had to sit at a cubicle next to his.

So, after all the “thens,” what have I been doing for the past month? Almost nothing related to the RAD team. I attend meetings, review the contractor’s work, and occasionally get him access to things he needs. All things I could have done part-time, sitting in my own cubicle, between bouts of working on real work.

Which brings us to yesterday afternoon. The RAD Team team leader (who, because of layoffs and resignations, no longer has a team), came & asked me to take a look at a program that was generating errors. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get it to work, without any success. I mentioned the program to Angela, who thought it sounded familiar. Today, she mentioned it to one of her coworkers. Turns out, one of my coworkers was already working on the program.

Either somebody thought things were taking too long & thought they could get a “RAD Team Quick & Dirty” solution from me, or they didn’t know this was already being worked on. Either way it was stupid, and a waste of my time. I think that’s what bugged me the most about it — it was the culmination of nearly a month of wasting my time. I had enough of that at the NWS…

But, good times are on the horizon. The RAD Team has hired someone, and he starts on Monday. Of course, he’ll need a place to sit… ;-)

Finally remembered to add Arts & Letters Daily to the list of Goat Places. This is a blog that finds really fascinating stuff — the kind of stuff people should be reading.

I fixed the problem I was having with Blog Goat. It seems that, when I was programming it to generate the date-based file name, I went a little overboard. :-) Now it’s even easier for me to make my dumb mistakes disappear…

In other news, I found a new host for the Mensa site — hopefully. I picked They were the cheapest host that provided everything we need. I hope it works out — so far, the ordering process has not gone smoothly. We’ll see…

This is the type of layout I want to use for News Goat. Most of the multi-column layouts I’ve seen blend the columns when you shrink the browser way down. With this, the columns fall below, which seems like a more elegant solution.

As mentioned previously, I’m looking for a book on CSS. I’ve been researching them, and I had it narrowed down to two — Cascading Style Sheets: A Definitive Guide by Eric Meyer and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) by Example by Steve Callihan. Based on the various online reviews, I had almost decided on the Callihan book. It’s newer, and the Meyer book doesn’t cover much about CSS2. Then, I went to Callihan’s site. Ugh. Then, I went to Meyer’s site. Wow. This guy is doing the kind of stuff with CSS that I want to do. This demonstrates the differences between knowing a language and understanding how to use it.

So, I ordered the Meyer book. It’s an O’Reilly book — you can’t hardly go wrong there. And, I figure I can pick up the CSS2 stuff later, when it’s better supported.

I can’t wait to remove the tables from News Goat… :-)


I’ve just been reading about CSS, and what I’ve learned is I’ve got a lot to learn. Columns without tables — who knew? Well, I guess a lot of people knew, they just didn’t tell me. :-) My search for a good CSS book begins…

As an employee of a telecom billing company, this story amused me greatly. What I wonder about is the reference number that doesn’t mean anything… Does that mean that particular reference number is meaningless, or all reference numbers are meaningless? Sounds like a feature my company would ask for. :-)

Our Mensa site is gone again. Apparently, the reason it disappeared in the first place is Sweethomes stopped paying its co-locator. So, they turned off the servers. Some persistent people convinced them to turn the server on for one day so they could get their data.

Fortunately, we were able to get all of our data. So, the hunt for a new web host continues…

Our Mensa website has magically returned. It, and our web host disappeared off the face of the Internet nearly 2 weeks ago, then returned this afternoon, with absolutely no mention of where they’ve been.

And, of course, nothing has changed. I’m still getting some strange problems. Occasionally, quotation marks are showing up with backslashes in front of them. And in some places, quotation marks are being inserted into links where directory names are supposed to be. But only occasionally. Very weird. I’m going to contact Sweethomes — again — and see if they can explain what’s been going on.

Speaking of Mensa… we hosted the monthly Second Friday dinner at Taste of China. Angela’s parents were coming in for the weekend, so they met us there. We had a small turnout, but the food was great.

Speaking of Angela’s parents… They helped us do some remodeling this weekend. Or, at least, they started to. While installing a light kit on a ceiling fan, Angela’s dad got a nasty cut on his thumb. They headed back early to get his thumb taken care of — after he insisted on finishing the ceiling fan. :-) Some people are too tough for their own good…

Speaking of remodeling… On Sunday, Angela & I installed recessed lights in the main bathroom. It was our first heavy duty remodeling job, and it turned out really well. Before this, the bathroom had a couple of old looking globes hanging in front of the mirror — it didn’t give off good light, and it took up a lot of the mirror. The amount of light/mirror space is much better now.

Speaking of a 71 foot long Slinky… Well, if you weren’t speaking of it before, you will be now… :-)

A variable that can only be true or false: bouillon
A three dimensional array of bouillons: bouillion cube

If anybody visited this page between the time of the last entry and this one, they probably noticed the duplicate entries with different date/time stamps. After I uploaded the original entry, I noticed a typo, so I opened the file from the archive, fixed it, then saved and uploaded. I didn’t realize Blog Goat would give it a new file name. I’ll have to fix that…

I realized that I didn’t give much in the way of information about Blog Goat when I announced it the other day. So, here ya go…

Blog Goat generates the correct file names, and stores all the necessary settings in the registry. Your FTP password is encrypted in the registry — it’s not great encryption, but it’s better than plain text. Entries can be saved, then uploaded whenever you want. Soon, I plan to make Blog Goat available to download from here. I don’t know that anyone would actually want to use it, but if they do, they can have it.

I’ve already started making a list of features I want to put in 2.0. Settings for multiple weblogs, uploading images, dragging & dropping links and/or images automatically generating HTML, downloading entries for editing. Plus, there are a lot of little things I need to do to make it cleaner and friendlier — like providing status messages when it is uploading the files. All in good time…

There is also more I would like to do with News Goat. I’d like to add some pages (about, downloads, etc.). An RDF feed would be cool, for those who are in to the whole syndicated headlines thing. An online “Blog Goat” interface and the ability to have comments on entries will probably wait until the database version of News Goat. And, of course, I would eventually like to learn enough about graphic design to come up with a cool looking layout.

In other news, our Mensa website has been down for a few days now. So far, I haven’t been able to contact the host to find out what’s going on. We’ll see…

In honor of my 25th birthday, Oklahoma City declared this “Big Trash Day.” Isn’t that nice? :-) Angela & I thought that was funny, so that’s been the joke all day. She even made me a “Big Trash Day” cake, complete with garbage trucks. How cool is that? :-)

Angela & I took the day off. I have this tradition — I don’t work on my birthday. Seems like the kind of thing everybody should do, if they can.

Angela got me some really good gifts — a cordless optical mouse and a pen drive. The mouse is great — it’s nice not to have to worry about cords or mousepads. And the pen drive is just the coolest thing ever. It’s a little gadget, about the size of a lighter, with a removable cap that reveals a USB connector. Plug it in to any computer, and you’ve got a 128MB drive. I really think these things will catch on for portable storage. It’s much easier than burning a CD, and you can transport stuff back and forth without both computers having the same equipment (except for a USB port, which just about every computer has these days). And it works on just about any operating system, and you can get ones as big as 1GB. And it’s a cool looking keychain. :-)

So, I’ve had a really good big trash day. Happy big trash day to you, wherever you are. :-)

This is it — Blog Goat 1.0, being used with News Goat 1.0. I should have started on this earlier, so the time on this could have been 2:22, but perhaps I’m the only one who thinks that would be cool. :-)

We had a nasty ice storm this past week, so Angela & I got to spend the day cleaning up broken tree limbs. Bernie escaped the backyard 3 times — by the third time, we were a little disappointed when he returned. ;-)