August 2002 Archives

Ok, I lied, I wasn’t happy with traditional. I tried <br />, but that didn’t work. <br class="clear" />, however, did work, where “clear” is this:

.clear { clear: both; }

I was also able to clear up a couple of other problems in Netscape 4.x. By adding width: 100% to my h1 selector, the headings look more like they’re supposed to. And a -20px top margin for my timestamps in Netscape 4.x, while newer browser get a top margin of 1em, puts the timestamp in the right place.

Ya know, I think I’m getting the hang of this whole web thing… :-)

Scroll down a bit and look to your right: Voila! Valid XHTML. Why? Because I can… And, because everything is better with an X, I, or E at the beginning of it. :-)

Still just “transitional” instead of “strict.” Strict wanted me to give up the <br clear="all" /> tags that are making my sidebars line up correctly in Netscape 4.x. I’ll see if there’s a workaround, but it’s not a big deal — I’m happy with transitional.

Björn Höhrmann is my hero. He figured out a CSS way to make borders disappear in Netscape 4.x.

Now I can move News Goat to the next phase — XHTML.

I just posted another music review — it’s available here, there, and everywhere.

This review would have been up last week. I was entering it via Movable Type on Blogcritics, went to preview, and got a database error. I tried to go back, but there was no going back — it was gone. Sigh. Then, what with our trip to Texas (which I’ll write about later), and the Mensokie being due, and my being frustrated by the whole thing, it took a while to get back to it. But now it’s done, and everything is right with the world

Except my company is blocking Zeldman again, and I have no idea why

A couple of items I keep forgetting to post:

An unordered list + CSS = A pure CSS tabbed menu. If you’re using Netscape 4.x, don’t bother looking — it’s not pretty.

From Slashdot: Tara Grubb, North Carolina Libertarian candidate for the House of Representatives, is running on a pro file sharing platform.

The important thing here is, she has a weblog. I’m going to be watching this race, to see if I was right.

Twenty-six years ago today, something very special happened. I didn’t know about it at the time — I was still waiting for my chance to emerge. But, based on what I know now, I believe that some part of me then knew about and celebrated the event.

Twenty-six years ago today, a little girl was born in Oxnard, California. And through the magic of life, the universe, and everything, that little girl would grow up to be many things: a college graduate, a professional programmer, a business owner, and, most important to me, a wonderful wife. I don’t know what else the world has planned for that little girl — now a lovely young woman — but I intend to be there for it all, cheering her on.

Happy Birthday Angela, I Love You…

I think I’m finally starting to understand Movable Type’s TrackBack system. It took a while, because every time I thought about it, it made my head hurt. What finally helped me understand it is this tutorial on putting a TrackBack system in your homemade weblog. I suppose this is a feature News Goat will have someday.

Lately, I’ve been considering not only replacing OKMensa with Movable Type, but News Goat as well. It has such great features, and someone has already done the work for me. So, I had to ask myself, what is the real focus of News Goat — the writing, or the software?

Much to my surprise, I decided it was both. I like writing — it’s a way to get all those strange thoughts out of my head. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I like checking my stats and seeing that I’m not the only one who visits this site. I’m just that vain. But, I think I would get bored with the whole thing if all I did on this site was write.

Because I also like programming. I like tweaking things here and there to make the whole thing better. And the only way I’m going to move up from an average programmer to a slightly above average programmer is to practice. In the past, I’ve tried giving myself programming projects, but I always got bored with them. This project, though, has been different, and I don’t know why. Maybe because the better News Goat is, the more it encourages me to write. And the more I write, the more ideas I get to make News Goat better. It’s a vicious cycle. :-)

So, I’m going to keep plugging away at News Goat for as long as it’s fun. If it stops being fun, I can always switch then. By that point, you’ll probably be able to just think at Movable Type, and it will update your blog. I’m sure Perl has a module for that. :-)

I’ve found a type of junk mail that is actually useful — campaign junk mail. I’ve gotten three pieces so far, and I already know three people I won’t be voting for. :-) I think I’ll throw together a web page where I can rank the candidates running for the various offices. Should be a slightly better way to decide who to vote for then my usual, “Eanie, meanie, miney, moe” system.

Of the material I’ve received so far, Tim Green’s looked the most professional — it’s like a small newspaper. Unfortunately, he’s running a smear campaign against pretty much everybody, and I have no patience for such things, especially when they use misleading statistics to invent facts. He claims his opponent has never represented a client in an Oklahoma court. This claim is based on his survey of nearly 3,000 attorneys in the state. If you read the fine print, though, that’s 3,000 surveys mailed — he never says how many were actually returned. That makes it seem like he can’t be trusted.

Of the three, Ray Young’s was the only pamphlet with the URL prominently displayed. I had to search the others multiple times for their web address. That, unforunately, was the only redeeming quality of his brochure. Consider this quote:

Supported legistlation providing for 75% of teacher’s heath insurance to be paid by the state

That’s right, our state pays for “heath” insurance because of the dangers of candy bars. Next please.

Marvin Smith’s campaign slogan is “Marvin Smith Has The ‘HIVES’.” It doesn’t matter what “HIVES” stands for — every time I look at his picture, I’m trying to see his rash. I’m sure when this idea was pitched at the campaign meeting, everybody just laughed and laughed. Now, when they go campaigning, they can’t find anybody willing to shake his hand.

I haven’t said anything about their web sites, because there’s nothing there worth talking about. It’s all brochureware — a waste of cyberspace. Tim Green insults the intelligence of his visitors by claiming a guestbook is a forum. The others don’t even try that hard. Don’t get me wrong — there is a place on the web for “brochure sites.” But, in my opinion, campaign sites should be more. A candidate is asking to be hired for the office — most employers would not hire based solely on a resume. I want a glimpse into the real person. I want to see something that doesn’t look like generic marketing hype. Is there any candidate brave enough to campaign that way? I guess we’ll see what’s in the mail tomorrow.

Speaking of junk mail… Cam links to an interesting way to stop junk mail. How much fun would it be to file that form against one of the candidates sending me brochures, then tip off their opponent…? :-)

One other thing… I’m thinking about moving OKMensa’s forums to Movable Type. I’m still contemplating whether it will do everything we need it to do — I may install it just to try it out. It has nice features, and I keep reading about cool things people are doing with it. And PHP-Nuke is such a headache to customize. The tricky part would be moving the old stories and comments, and maintaining the old system so that bookmarks, links, etc. still work. We’ll see.

That’s it… as of right now, I’m a corporate accountant. I’m not qualified, but I’m starting to think that doesn’t matter. Pay me a couple of million, and 2 + 2 can be absolutely anything you want. Payments and revenue, debits and credits… they’re all just numbers. And numbers are interchangable!

What gets me about this is, after everything that has happened in the last few months, they still call these things “accounting errors.” That’s right, “Enron lied, WorldCom lied, but not us! We made an accounting error! We can’t tell the difference between payments and revenue! We’re really that dumb!” I’m just so sick of “spin control” I could stay home from work tomorrow. They cheated, everybody knows they cheated, so why not admit it? Just once, I’d like to hear a CEO say, “Sure we knew it was wrong. But, it kept our stock prices up, and we really didn’t think anyone would notice. Boy, are our faces red!”

But seriously, if you’re looking for a corporate accountant, I’m available for tax season, birthdays, and bah mitzvahs. :-)

I just noticed that this page has been heavy on posts, light on interesting content. So, here’s my attempt to make amends, at least to anyone interested in CSS: A searchable archive of the css-discuss mailing list. This was announced on the list a few days ago, and just recently made public. It is a wonderful resource for all things CSS.

One other thing about the css-discuss list: Those people never quit! They don’t sleep, they don’t eat, their entire lives revolve around CSS. While that’s handy for me and everyone else on the list, it can’t be healthy. Y’all take today off, I’ll get caught up, and we’ll start fresh again tomorrow. :-)

One can never link to one’s self too often… My review at

Eric sent out a press release about the launch of tomorrow. No mention of me in it. :-) It refers to “…over 100 of the web’s best writers…,” but that certainly doesn’t include me. I’m just the dork hanging out with the cool kids, hoping they don’t ditch me.

According to Eric’s latest announcement, the launch of will be tomorrow. Although I’m sure the opening will almost entirely revolve around my review, some people might also be interested in the interview of some guy from the RIAA. :-)

I didn’t put in a question for the interview, although I’ve always wanted to ask someone from that association what the color of the sky is in their world. But I thought that might get things off on the wrong foot. :-)

In an effort to be a better citizen, I’m trying to find out what state and federal districts I’m in, so I can research the candidates I am able to vote for. It’s kind of tricky, since Oklahoma was completely redistricted this year. Some of the maps are better than others.

Let’s see… I appear to be in State House District 43… And just barely in State Senate District 23. The map of U.S. Congressional Districts isn’t detailed enough to be sure — I’m probably in 4, but possibly 3. All the political web sites still have the old districting information, so this PDF is the only source. Guess I’ll have to wait till everything gets up-to-date to find out for sure.

Anyway, I know this isn’t interesting to anyone but myself (like everything else on this site), but I want to check out the candidates I can vote for. For one thing, I’m interested in their web sites. I’d love to design a candidate’s web site. I think if a candidate were willing to have the right kind of site — something more than the “brochure” sites they all have — that it could actually win them the election. A blog, for example. How refreshing would it be to read exactly what the person thinks, before it’s been homogenized by 50 speech writers? Or to follow exactly what they go through on the campaign trail? The national publicity alone could be enough to put someone in office.

I sure hope not. :-) As mentioned, I’ve changed News Goat to use the perl module HTML::Template. It seems to be working fine. I had a little trouble, but that had nothing to do with the module, and everything to do with my lack of understanding perl subroutines. I don’t think there’s any real difference as far as processing time or bandwidth, but I think it will be useful to me. I can create an HTML file, then throw some variables into it to make it dynamic, rather than using a thousand print statements in perl.

If you’re curious, you can take a look at the template, or at the really ugly perl code.

I sent in my first review, mostly so I would stop editing it. :-) Blogcritics is supposed to go live this Monday, at which point my review should be available there. It’s also available on OKMensa, for no particular reason.

I’d been thinking about joining Amazon’s Associate Program. I was considering this because I thought, if I’m going to be reviewing music, it’d be nice to make a little money, assuming anyone is dumb enough to take my advice.

Problem is, I don’t really want to encourage people to shop there. They have a great website that I browse often, but there’s still the whole problem of them patenting things they shouldn’t. And, besides, when it comes to CDs, you can usually find them cheaper at other places. So, I don’t feel comfortable profiting from sending people to Amazon. Unfortunately, Amazon is the only large web site with a decent program. Barnes & Noble’s program has too many restrictions, and is only interested in new customers. I do plan to sign OKMensa up as an associate, which I justify by the fact that A) They need the money, and, B) “Mensa has no opinions.” But I’ve run into a snag with that, so there’s no telling when that will happen.

Then I had an idea. If I could find out the associate IDs of charities, I could use those in my reviews. The good would offset the bad. There would be balance in the force. Or something. Anyway, turns out I’m not the first person to think of this.

This is probably something I will build into the next version of Blog Goat. You’ll have a list of IDs, and when an Amazon or Barnes & Noble link is dropped in the entry, one of the IDs will be added to it. And the world will be a better place, one link at a time. :-)

There is a haiku contest at Consolation Champs. The prize: a book on CSS by Eric Meyer. And, since one can’t own enough computer books, I had to enter:

head { float: left; clear: none; }
#my { position: absolute; }

.errors { display: none; }

I’m proud to say it is the first entry that validates.

A few weeks ago, the Librarian of Congress set royalty rates and reporting requirements for Internet Radio broadcasters. $0.07 per listener per song. That is $0.07 higher per listener per song than traditional radio stations pay. Already, small, independent broadcasters are being forced to shut down, because there is no way their advertising revenue would cover that cost.

This is rediculous. Congress has extended the moratorium on Internet taxes over and over again because they understand it could kill an industry that is still in its infancy. Yet they decide to kill webcasting before it’s really even born. Why? Because CARP, which is made up almost entirely of members from the major recording labels, told them to.

There is a ray of hope, and a point to this entry. You didn’t think there was either, did you? Some U.S. Representatives, including Rick Boucher from VA (who I increasingly wish represented Oklahoma), have introduced the Internet Radio Fairness Act in an attempt to save small webcasters. Take a look at it and, if you support it, I suggest you let someone know.

I know, this blog is getting annoyingly political, and I apologize. I rarely even listen to web radio (it’s blocked at work). I’m just tired of the recording industry getting every law they want to protect their oligopoly. And, I like using the word oligopoly.

Plus, we need web radio, because normal radio just keeps getting worse. Matt wrote about one of his favorite stations in Tulsa being switched to a “more popular” format, and something similar happened recently in OKC. Coincidentally, both stations were owned by Clear Channel, the Microsoft of radio.

Anyway… just so this entry isn’t a complete rant… I’m working on a small change for News Goat. If all goes well, no one will even notice it. I’m going to make use of the Perl module HTML::Template, which simply seems too useful not to use. It seems to fit in with the philosophy behind CSS CSS separates layout from content, while HTML::Template separates logic from content.

Oh, one more thing — oligopoly.

I think I’ve made it clear why I do this blog. I don’t care how many hits it gets, or if anyone even knows it’s on the Internet.

Now, having said that… this is just too cool. :-)