I’m chasing down ICC profiles for examples, and am behind on writing for the book. Time to ‘hunker down’, and forgo the pleasures of sipping the nectar of the blogs. At least for a week or two.

In the meantime, here’s stuff:

  • Update: In light of recent discussion, I point you to Boy’s Toys and Women’s Work: Feminism Engages Software, published in Chicago University Press, 2001.
  • Update: WordPress has put out another release, this one required because of security fixes.
  • Some folks have posted notices about jobs in my post on opportunities. An interesting assortment of jobs, including one for the Oprah show. All positions are diversity friendly. In order:
    • Seth points out that his company is hiring. They need an eclectic assortment of skills, including C++, GIS, math, statistical natural language processing, and so on. The job is in Cambridge, Ma.
    • Elaine writes that her company is also hiring. This one requires Visual Studio, certification, and a CS degree, though I wonder if experience might not make up for not having a degree. The job is in the Seattle area.
    • Aruni point out that Oprah is hiring! In Chicago, of course.
    • Lawrence writes one of the better job requirements, and is looking for a PHP developer, preferably in Virginia. Experience with MySQL, HTML, CSS, REST, and XML.
  • I helped a friend repair his WordPress installation tonight after it was badly hacked. Every one of his theme files was hacked. A word to the wise: use FTP to move theme files between your desktop and the server, and do not make files writable in order to edit within WordPress. Also make sure you have upgraded to the most recent of WP. Finally, check for the use of “error_reporting” in any of your template files. Chances are it was added by a hacker. Believe me, if you’ve been hacked, you’ll be able to see it in the templates.
  • Apple got a lot of flack on Safari 3 last week, and probably deserves it. But going beyond the initial release, one nice thing about the browser is true color management. Word has it Firefox will have this in 3.0, too. Another upside/downside to Safari 3 is that the old Browser Object Model (BOM), the original “DOM 0″, seems to at least be partially dropped. This means JavaScript libraries using object collections such as document.images will break.
  • Ethan Johnson writes about scrapbooking in his weblog and I mentioned that I didn’t know much about it. He’s put together a nice overview on scrapbooking, with examples. It seems as if each scrapbook page becomes a physical metaphor of sorts, if I understand it correctly. So tell us: are you a scrapbooker?
  • Unfortunately, Papa Scott got caught up in the Flickr restrictions for German subscribers, which automatically sets German speaking subscribers into SafeSearch, and then doesn’t allow them out. Papa Scott says I’m right on the problems with centralized service.This is a very unfortunate event that wasn’t handled well by Flickr. Yes, it may have to follow government guidelines, but a heads up was in order.

    We knew this was happening, though, when the Yahoo board voted down the anti-censorship statements. Look for more events of this nature with all of the centralized services. I rather expect that if 2006 was the year of Web 2.0, by end of this year, we’ll see moves back to Web 1.0 decentralization.

    I’ll look for my code I used to migrate off of Flickr next week, if anyone needs it.

  • Bad Astronomy has a terrific story on Eta Car:

    So Eta Car is ticking bomb. It could go off tonight, or in the year 3000 … but it won’t be much longer than that.

    Note that the lobes appear to be tilted away from us by about 40 degrees or so. That’s a good thing. When stars like Eta Carinae explode, they tend to shoot of(f) beams of energy and matter that, at its distance of 7500 light years, could kill every living thing on Earth. But since it’s pointed away from us, all we’ll get is a spectacular light show.

  • The Man of Mystery sent me a link to a video on the live mantra birth in Japan, and a reference to it also appeared on Cephalopodcast.

Instead of hanging with your social network, dogging the blogs, or twittering away online this weekend, why not go outside for a walk. Look at the sky and contemplate how lucky we are that Eta Carinae is pointed away from us. Feel the wind, smile at complete strangers, and spend some time listening to songbirds before they’re gone. Make yourself a nice dinner and treat yourself to dessert. Enjoy the company of those around you or, if you’re alone this weekend, read a really good book or watch a favorite movie.

Don’t you all feel the need for a break? Sure you do. Have fun.



Adult wim: Robot Chicken Wars. A must for Star Wars Fans. Originally linked from another site, which pulled the video. This is the link to the originating site.

Adult Swim is a Joost channel, so it might be on Joost, also.

(Thx to Bad Astronomy Man)


Marathon 2.0

I must admit to being confused about Molly Holzschlag’s recent posts, including the latest. Today she writes, in clarification of her post where she calls for a moratorium on new standards work:

Perhaps there is a better solution than pausing standards development. If so, I’d like to know what you think it might be. One thing is absolutely key and that is there is no way we are going to empower each other and create the Web in the great vision it was intended to be if we do not address the critical issue of education. And stability. And these things take time. It requires far better orchestration than I personally have been able to figure out, and while the W3C, WHAT WG, WaSP and other groups have made numerous attempts to address some of these concerns, we have failed. We haven’t done a good job so far to create learning tools and truly assist the working web designer and developer become informed and better at what he or she can do. We haven’t done a good job sitting down at the table together and coming up with baseline strategies for user agents and tools.

I don’t keep up with the daily effort of the WHAT WG group, because I’m not really a designer by trade. I do keep up with specifications once they’re released, and am acutely aware of the necessity of valid markup, and not using worst practices (I promise to stop using STRIKE, for instance). I’m also aware of accessibility issues, though I find it frustrating how little we can do since many screen readers just aren’t capable of dealing with dynamic web pages.

I do try to keep up with the JavaScript effort. Mozilla is usually very good about providing readable documentation of new advances, and though it is typically ahead of the game, at least I’m aware of what’s coming down with the road. The same with what’s happening with CSS, PHP, RDF, and other technologies and/or specifications I use in my development.

If there are perceived barriers in acquiring the necessary knowledge to work with the newer specification, it can be because people heavily involved with some of these efforts can come across as arrogant, impatient, and even intolerant–the ‘elitist’ that Molly refers to. Over time, though, such ‘elitism’ usually gets worn away. I used to think the people associated with RDF were elitist, but I’ve watched in the last few years as folks interested in RDF/OWL/semantic web fall over their own feet rushing to increase understanding of, and access to, the concepts, specifications, and implementations. Express even a mild interest in RDF and *whoosh*, like the debris left by a flood, you’ll be inundated with helpful suggestions and encouragement.

Issues of arrogance and elitism aside, the concept of halting effort on specifications while waiting for the rest of the world to catch up just doesn’t make sense. Yes, it can be overwhelming at times–CSS, HTML, XHTML, XML, RDF, DOM, ECMASCript, PHP, Ruby, etc, etc etc. So much to absorb, so little time. But that’s not going to change by halting work on improving and extending specifications.

We do need to have more consistency among the user agents, such as the browsers. But we have browsers now that don’t implement, properly, specifications that have been around for years. In fact, it is because of this that we have this alphabet soup, as we try to remember which browser handles which piece of which HTML specification, correctly. Don’t even get me started on how user agents handle JavaScript. Or CSS.

I don’t know much about the intimate details of the HTML5 process, other than the whole point of the effort was to bring about a common point on which we could all intersect–authors and developers in what we use, user agents in how the implement the the specifications. Once this place of mutual agreement is then reached, we can continue to move forward, each at our own pace. It doesn’t make sense, though, for all to stop moving forward because some developer in Evansville, Illinois, or Budapest, Hungary, is still holding on to their tables.

Consider a marathon. In marathons, all the participants have to agree on the rules, and have to make sure they’re following the same course. But once the rules are defined and the course is laid out, then it’s up to the individual participants to do what’s necessary to complete the course. Some people put in more time and training and they complete the marathon sooner than others who can’t put as much time in, or who perhaps don’t have the same level of physical conditioning. Most of the people that participate, though, don’t care that they aren’t first or second or even in the first hundred. Most people have their own personal goals, and many are happy just to finish.

Think, then, how all participants would react if those putting on, say, the Boston Marathon, were to tell the participants that those in the front needed to slow down, or stop, so that those in the back could catch up?

The web is like a marathon. The specifications define the rules, and the implementations define the course. It is up to the individuals to determine how fast they want to run the course.

Molly says, because a developer in Evansville, Illinois or Budapest, Hungary is still using HTML tables for layout that the web is ‘broken’. I think what she’s really saying, though, is that the web works too well. There is a bewildering wealth of technology we can pick and choose from, and it can be both intimidating and exhausting trying to stay aware of all of it, much less stay proficient in any of it. It also seems like we’re surrounded by people who know it all.

They don’t, though. No one knows it all. The same as no one runner wins every marathon. None of us can know it all, and none of us can afford to be intimidated by those who seem to know it best.

No matter what we do with web specifications and new technologies, there will always be those who push to be first; the expert, the most knowledgeable–the ‘leader’ if you will. Then there is the rest of us, doing our best. This state of affairs is not broken, it’s just the way it is. It’s OK, too, because we don’t need to finish the race at the same time. What we web developers and designers need is what the marathon runners need–a set of rules by which we all participate, and a consistent course on which to run.

And here I got all this way without once mentioning Microsoft and IE.


Undermining Sicko

Sheila Lennon has been following the release of Michael Moore’s Sicko on the internet, including the defiant postings on conservative weblogs.

Hard to say where the film came from, and normally, I imagine that Moore would be happy about a wide distribution of this incredibly important film. However, there is a down side to all of this, which is most likely why the accessibility of this film online is being touted on the conservative weblogs: if the conservative (read that ‘corporate’) think tank controlled weblogs can adversely impact on the box office for this film, this undermines Moore’s ability to continue providing movies such as this. In addition, it undermines the message of the movie. Not doing well in the box office could be interpreted as people not being concerned about this issue, which could lead our current crop of weak willed elected officials to believe they can safely accept that HMO’s campaign money, as they sweep universal health care under the carpet.

I do like seeing the discussion about health care, at Metafilter and so on. It does virally add to the noise about this film. But it needs to happen in such a way that the discussion leaves the discussion boards, and the computers and hits the street, and in particular, the voting booth. That’s why this movie needs a killer opening night. If people download to watch and go to see it in the theater, cool. But the former without the latter is not going to generate the noise we really need to make.


My kitten


This photo is just dying for a lolcats.