November 2002 Archives

Thanksgiving is over, so I put away the theme. Anyone looking for leftovers can do so, provided they’re using a browser that supports switching stylesheets. In Mozilla, select View, Use Style, Thanksgiving, from the menu.

We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner with my family last night. Wow, those people sure know how to cook. Always good to see everybody — I wish we got to more often. Anyway, a busy day today (No, I’m not going shopping. I’m not insane.), so I’ll keep this short. Have a good weekend.

Inspired by Mark Pilgrim’s (Pilgrim! On Thanksgiving, get it? Oh, nevermind.) Halloween CSS, I decided to do a Thanksgiving theme for this weekend. All the changes you see were done entirely with CSS.

This halloween costume has some rough edges. The logo to your left is no longer a link back to the home page. I made the image that was there display: none and added the turkey as a background image. In theory, I could have just replaced the logo image, but I wanted to see how much I could change with just CSS.

Anyway, a fun little holiday experiment. Happy Thanksgiving!

Screenshot of anti-leech website with pop-up blocking software ad Anti-Leech is a company that sells javascript code which will detect whether a user has pop-up ad blocking software. If they do, the user is redirected to a page telling them they cannot access the site unless they uninstall their blocking software.

And that’s what makes this picture so very, very funny. :-)

Friday, Angela & I drove up to Lawrence, KS to see Kris Delmhorst perform. It was a great show, definitely worth the drive. The show was put on by West Side Folk, a volunteer organization that books folk artists for venues in Lawrence. This particular concert was held in the Plymouth Congregational Church. The church was beautiful — the high, curved ceiling and ornate decorations added a touch of opulence to our simple gathering. It was small, but not in a bad way. There were plenty of pews, and it seemed like every seat was a good seat. I wish Oklahoma City had an organization like West Side Folk.

The opening act was K.C. Clifford, with her fiancé David accompanying on guitar. They put on a good show. I don’t remember the name, but there was a song she wrote for her parent’s that I thought best demonstrated her talent. “The Barbie Song” was a huge hit with the crowd. We found out later that they live in Oklahoma City, so hopefully we’ll get to see them again.

There was a short intermission, during which refreshments were served and donations were gladly accepted. :-) I’ve decided I’m going to start wearing a button that says, “Donations gladly accepted.” Why not? It’s a great statement — ambiguous, yet completely true. It makes no promises as to the worthiness of the cause your money is supporting. It’s not begging, it’s just letting people know they won’t be turned away if they are looking to donate. And, who among us would not gladly accept a donation? Come to think of it, “donations begrudgingly accepted” would just be silly. Personally, I would greet every contributor with a smile, a thank you, and a hearty hand shake. Just something to keep in mind next to time you see me…

Kris Delmhorst played next. She is a gifted singer/songwriter from the Boston area. Kris has a talent for imagery that is complex yet recognizable. Accompanyed by Steve Mayone, her set included a mix of folk, blues, and gospel. She played a lot of great songs from her two albums, as well as some new stuff she plans on putting on an album real soon. Kris is also very funny — she told stories about her days of singing to chickens, and the various ways people have misinterpreted some of her lyrics. This show was well worth the drive.

Afterward, we drove to Olathe, KS, where we had reserved a room at the EconoLodge. This motel holds the distinction of being the worst place we’ve ever stayed. The room was comfortable enough, except for the table whose top wasn’t attached to its base. What really makes this place bad is the guy (the manager or owner, I assume) who calls each morning to harrass the guests. The first morning he called to ask when we would get out of the room so they could clean. The next morning he called at 10:15 to ask if we were staying another night. When I said no, he told me we had 30 minutes left to check out. An odd statement, considering our check-out time was 11:00. While we’re packing up to leave, the cleaning staff knocks on the door — right at 10:45. I don’t appreciate being made to feel like I’m inconveniencing them by making use of the room for which I paid. That’s not a good way to treat customers. We filled out their comment card, and complained on EconoLodge’s website.

The rest of our trip was nice. We did some shopping in Olathe and some gambling in Kansas City. We played “Cosmic Mini Golf” at the mall in Olathe. It was indoor miniature golf played under black lights with glow-in-the-dark equipment. We also passed by Jeepers, which has what I consider the best tag line ever — “Donations gladly accepted.” No, that isn’t it. :-) It is, “Food, fun, and a monkey!” Talk about marketing genius! You can go anywhere for food, or fun, or some combination of the two. But, throw in a monkey, and now you’ve got something! It makes me wonder how many years they struggled, only offering food and fun, until someone with some business sense thought, “…And a monkey!” And, all of a sudden, they’re living the American dream…

Update: The code shows up now. I think I proved my point. :-)

Slashdot today had a link to the Interface Hall of Shame. A good place to visit for anybody who designs UIs, or for people who like to laugh about how frustrating computers are. Where I work, we recently overhauled the interface for our customer information software. We eliminated the 20+ tabs in favor of a tree structure. The response from the users has been favorable.

I was intrigued when I heard about this: SportsML, a form of XML designed for reporting on sports events. I like the idea, but after looking at it, I’m not impressed by the implementation. If you look at the examples, you see that most of the data is stored in attributes of the tags. Like this:

<event-metadata event-key="g.12312451" start-date-time="2001-09-22T14:00" site-key="s.14" site-name="Madison Square Garden" site-source="" event-status="mid-event"><event-metadata-ice-hockey period-value="3" period-time-remaining="02:00" /></event-metadata>

If you’ll notice, there’s no actual content between the tags, it’s all embedded within the tags. In my opinion, part of the power of XML is the ability to provide content accessible to all UAs. In theory, an advanced UA would be able to load the DTD, load any style sheets, and display the document as it is meant to be. Less advanced UAs would simply ignore the tags they did not understand and display the raw data in between the tags. It might not look good, but at least the information would be available. Of course, tagging all of that data would be very messy, so maybe this way is better. It just doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of XML.

This is kind of fun: Cookin’ With Google. Playing with it, I’ve had mixed success. Seems to work better the fewer ingredients you give it.

Well, it looks like I was wrong: Tara Sue Grubb didn’t win her election. I still think it’s a good idea, it just may need to be implemented differently.

I wish I had found this before the election: PriceGrabber’s “Candidate Shopper.”

The information it provides is incomplete, but it has a lot of potential. And, somehow, a shopping site seems an appropriate place to choose a candidate. :-) Seriously, though, I could see providing links for contributing to candidate’s campaigns. I hope they work on this for 2004.

Speaking of elections: Big round of applause to Fox 25 for resisting the urge to run election result tickers/split screens/etc. during 24 last night. They gave updates during commercial breaks (when they would normally do a news promo) instead. It was a good decision on their part.

I finally finished my story about our trip to Las Vegas. Bandwidth Warning: there are lots of pictures, and I didn’t take the time to make them all as small as they should be. So click the link, go watch 24, then come back & enjoy. :-)

Aarolyn Nicole MabrayOn Friday, my brother Wayne & his wife Kim had their third child, Aarolynn Nicole. This is a very lucky girl — starting life with two loving parents, two wonderful brothers, and a big extended family that’s already crazy about her. Today, they got to take this beautiful girl home.

Congratulations to the whole family!

Update: Ok, so I guess we see what happens when you put a big picture in a small story. :-) This should help.