a jaundiced eye:
the weblog

what's on your mind?
some really old stuff
another site
Building Dynamic HTML GUIs

where i'm writing

09/ 6/2020

Cascading Style Sheets:
Separating Content from Presentation
by Owen Briggs, myself, Eric Costello, and Matthew Patterson.

The O'Reilly Network:
JavaScript: Why You Don't Know More About It;
JavaScript: How Did We Get Here? and
My SXSW Swag

Apple's ADC Internet Developer:
An Updated Browser Sniffer and
Modifying Styles

New Architect /
Web Techniques
Debugging Web Applications;
Why DHTML Will Win;
Finding the Right Search Engine;
Save Your Site From Spambots;
Wrenching Decision;
Building a High-Volume Newsletter Server and
the Mailman followup

The Secret Life of Markup,
XSS, Trust, and Barney and


Coming soon (we hope):
Dynamic HTML Bible, with Scott Andrew LePera, Eric Meyer, Porter Glendinning and Eric Costello

The Head Lemur interviewed me recently at Pixelview

I was interviewed for:
Derek Powazek's Design for Community

I was tech reviewer for:
Mac OS X for UNIX Geeks by Brian Jepson and Ernest Rothman
Apache: the Definitive Reference, 3/e by Ben and Peter Laurie

I contributed to:
Unix Power Tools, 3/e

I edited:
We Blog: Publishing Online with Weblogs by Paul Bausch, Matt Haughey, and Meg Hourihan.

Molly Holzschlag's Special Edition Using HTML and XHTML

Zeldman's Taking Your Talent to the Web

The Art and Science of Web Design
by Jeff Veen

XHTML: Moving Toward XML
and XML: A Primer
by Simon St. Laurent

XML: Extensible Markup Language
repurposed as The XML Bible
by Elliotte Rusty Harold

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web
by Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville

...all of which simply proves that I can't decide what the hell I want to do when I grow up. :)

what i'm reading


Though it seems that I've been writing more than I've been reading, I've been busy at reading, too. I've just been bad about tracking what I've been reading. For one thing, I've been feeding an interest in natural history and genetics by way of Mapping Human History, by Steve Olson, which was interesting; The Third Chimpanzee, by Jared Diamond (author of Guns, Germs, and Steel) and various other online resources. Nice to see that science is progressing, as usual, far faster than the society around us.

At Michael's urging, I read To Reign In Hell, by Steven Brust, which was a strange fantasy/sci-fi retelling of the Paradise Lost story, but entertaining. That led to a collection of Harlan Ellison's work, The Essential Ellison: a Fifty Year Perspective, which I have yet to dive into but which made me laugh on the first page, so it promises to be good.

Continuing the interest in middle eastern and european history, and finding Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations astoundingly depressing, I put it down and read Warriors of God, James Reston's tale of Richard the Lionhearted and Saladin in the Third Crusade, which shed some light on why the Arabs think of Europeans as uncultured thugs: they were. In the twelfth century, anyway. At the moment, I'm reading The Bible Unearthed, about the wide variance between the historical claims of the Bible, and the evidence provided by archaeology. Never mind the lies about the sun stopping in the sky, or the fallacies about who was living in Nod when Cain (human being number three, remember) went to live there, and so on. This is more an inquiry into whether any of the history was true once you strip away all the fantasy. And so far, it's not looking good for much of the stories before the seventh century BCE.

Because I hate it when I can't read a language well enough to use a dictionary, I also started learning how to read Arabic. It's an interesting script, very complex at first, but amazingly simple after just a few hours. I hope I keep up the study, but I hold little hope of ever being able to write it, at least not without the right pen. The whole right-to-left thing is very strange, and my left-to-right handwriting has gotten bad enough (the result of ten years of typing, five years of Palm Graffiti, and general atrophy). Oh, and I read Robert Bringhurst's excellent Elements of Typographical Style, which I really must put into practice. Fantastic book.
posted 18:31 PM


Finished Volume 3 of A History of Religious Ideas, by Mircea Eliade. Also blazed through Wittgenstein's Poker, which I didn't enjoy as much as I had hoped I would. Still reading The Metaphysical Club, which I am enjoying, and Among the Believers, which it would be hard to describe as fun, but which is a fantastic book. I can see why Islamic folks protested their protrayal by Naipaul, though. He's pretty harsh, essentially blaming Islam for the backwards nature of Islamic countries, though it's difficult to argue with his conclusions. Any time you turn away from a reality that displeases you in favor of one which you posit simply for the sake of hiding your own failures, whether it's based on a centuries-old book or science fiction, you're bound to have trouble making the factory work, or dealing with modern banking, or any of a number of other things that make wealth and help people grow. But to be fair, Naipaul does a good job of representing Islam as a most attractive (if vague) ideology to someone wishing for a return to the calm of the village before modernization. His most damning comments seem to come when he suggests that for the people of Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia, civilization and wealth just somehow happen, and that they fail to grasp the causal nature of hard work, materialism, and wealth. I'm sure it's common for many people, not just in those countries, to assume that the TV just happens, that gasoline comes from gas stations, and bread from the supermarket. But it's far more frightening when people who believe such also want to destroy the mechanisms and infrastructure required in order that they might have those things, and damn the entire process on which that infrastructure was built. There's a fundamental disconnect and an ignorance that Naipaul suggests will never be righted precisely because Islam (as practiced in those countries, anyway) is so closed to the truth of science and logic and everything that has happened in the West since the Renaissance. Anyway, thought-provoking book.
posted 15:33 PM


Okay, it's been a while. Since last entry, in no particular order, I read The Godfather, which was surprisingly like the movie, almost to a ridiculous degree. But the movie is better. On Ken's urging, I read Cormac McCarthy's Child of God, which is amazing. Pure lyric brilliance. I can't wait to read something by McCarthy that isn't about a serial killer, though. For background, I grabbed a copy of Inventing the Internet by Janet Abbate, which was a bit dry but quite good; discussed a lot of stuff I hadn't seen elsewhere, such as the fact that ARPA had to convince BBN to open the source to the IMPs that formed the prototype of today's routing systems. BBN wanted to keep it closed, to make it easier to manage the network. Let's see. I'm still reading Philip Roth's American Pastoral but I'm finding it difficult to get into. Maybe just the time of year, or maybe the shocks of the past month, I dunno. I'll probably pick it up again. I've been reading about my ancestors (mostly just my ancestor's bosses and their creditors and the lawyers they pitted against one another, but still interesting) in Edward Hartley's Ironworks on the Saugus, which has been interesting to me but would likely bore the average reader to tears. Over the vacation in Maine, I read Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, which was just weird. But at least I know what it's about now, and can get all the oblique references. It seems strange to think of now, but I spent a great deal of time reading about Microsoft back in August, and with the exception of Adam Barr's Proudly Serving My Corporate Masters, every single book I read pretty much sucked. Breaking Windows was okay, but the rest of them just sucked and I wish I could have the time back.
posted 09:48 AM


Got a slew of books from amazon (doing my part to fix the economy) but haven't had a chance to read any of them. Instead, I've been reading The Mists of Avalon, one of Heather's favorite books. It's strange, such a different story than The Once and Future King, one of my favorite books. Stuff waiting in the queue: My Ears are Bent, by Joseph Mitchell; Where Mathematics Comes From by George Lakoff and Rafael Nunez; some more Philip Roth, some Cormac McCarthy, and The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton. Also read Away Offshore, another Nat Philbrick book about Nantucket. As it turns out, my family only spent a few years on Nantucket, before moving to Martha's Vineyard, so I suppose I need to get a book on Martha's Vineyard instead.
posted 17:54 PM


Boys, it's been a long time since I updated this part. Rest assured I'm still reading, usually three or four books at once. Since the last update, I've read Nat Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea, which caught my eye because my mother's family is still hanging around Nantucket. It was a pretty interesting tale, and fairly well told. I've getting sick of these mass audience books, though; I really need something with a bit more meat and historical depth to it. Now I need to read Moby-Dick again. I'm reading (slowly) Eric Durschmeid's The Weather Factor, which my Mom got me after I made a comment about how I thought Jared Diamond could have touched on how the weather affected history. The book itself is pretty cheesy, but covers some interesting events, like the Kamikaze that sank the Chinese fleet off the coast of Japan in 1281. Another book I just finished was The Nothing that Is: A Natural History of Zero, which, frankly, was really boring. I'd expected better. It's as though Robert Kaplan couldn't decide whether it was to be an accurate historical record, a playful philosophical treatise, an existentialist dirge, or a mathematical puzzle. The reader is left with the feeling that Kaplan doesn't really have a clue where zero came from, and didn't really want to tell us if he did. I finally got around to reading a Terry Pratchett book, The Color of Magic. I can see why people like him - he's nuts. Sort of like a Douglas Adams for the gaming/fantasy set. Lastly, I just finished Philip Roth's The Human Stain, which I thought was just amazing. Roth can really grab your attention and your sense of wonder. There were a few flaws in the book ("what happened to Delphine Roux?") but overall, highly recommended.
posted 15:42 PM

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what i'm thinking


I am amazed that nobody seems to have picked up on the fact that the "debate" over Iraq that seems to be taking place in the halls of power in the US is, for the most part, taking place between George W. Bush and friends on the one side (the "hawks") and friends of his father's on the other side (the, what? "other hawks"?), and that the basic question of whether or not there should be a US-led regime change in Iraq is never questioned. Seems to me that there is far more here than meets the eye. The suicide hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, one of our "best friends" in the region, and from Egypt, who the USG is now taking to task for imprisoning a democracy advocate. Could it be that by taking Iraq out of Saddam Hussein's hands, the Bushes are merely trying to ensure that should Saudi Arabia fall, we'll still have access to the oil from Iraq? This whole thing feels like a play for an alternate partner in the Middle East, driven by fear of violent Islamist revolution in Saudi Arabia. (It brings to mind the Iranian Revolution of the late 1970s, no?) What I can't figure out is why Bush alienated Iranian moderates in that dumb "axis of evil" speech.
posted 18:24 PM


May he never have to deal with another goto statement again. RIP, Edsger Dijkstra.
posted 20:00 PM


Way back in another life, I used to work for a company called imonics. Their domain name, imonics.com, expired back in 1996 or thereabouts. I've been waiting for years to snatch it up, if only so I could have my old email address back. Well, NSI never released it, refused to allow anyone else to register it, and now NSI has sold it to a Korean guy named SON CHANG GYU. I only know this because I noticed yesterday that NSI has set up a new domain called LAME-DELEGATION.ORG, and imonics.com had landed in it. Today, it's gone. So, if there are any domains you've been particularly interested in, watch out! If they end up in the LAME-DELEGATION.ORG domain, they're probably likely to disappear into someone else's clutches. And quickly.
posted 12:31 PM


How about before we go trying to liberate a whole country — Iraq — we first liberate just one man, one good man, who is now sitting in an Egyptian jail for pursuing the very democratic ideals that we profess to stand for. (nyt, registration required).
posted 11:36 AM


There is this guy who lives around here somewhere, who I have never met, who apparently fixes air conditioning and heating units, owns a trailer, doesn't keep up with his mortgage, may live with another man, is apparently not listed in the phone book, and shares the same name as me (if you don't mind the different spellings of the last name, the different middle name, and so on).

What this means is that I get a random phone call once a month or so from some bored banker or collections agency worker or distraught, climate-controlled octogenarian, asking me to call them back so that I can pay my outstanding bills, fix their air conditioner, or otherwise aid society in its quest for a nice, cool place to count its money.

This wouldn't be at all annoying if bored collections workers, as a rule, didn't tend to doubt my heartfelt and sincere protestations of a confusion of identities, but it is very difficult to prove, over the phone at least, that you are not a trailer-dwelling air conditioner repairman with a roommate and bad credit.
posted 18:49 PM


There is a Champéon in France.
posted 13:53 PM


James McNally reviews the CSS book in Digital Web. I think he liked it. You might, too.
posted 12:20 PM


The owner of the company whose site so curiously resembled ours has written in again, to let us know that the site was, indeed, pirated, and that they've taken it down. He says he will be pursuing the "designer" with "some gusto". I wish him luck. His company claims to recognize the importance of having a powerful and unique identity. It must have been extremely embarrassing to find that theirs was a weak, bastardized copy of a previously existing powerful, unique identity.
posted 11:02 AM


Last week, this company was found to have stolen, as of sometime last fall, our site's design, copy, general layout, and various other stuff, including scripts and graphics, which we launched nearly a year prior. They then proceeded to modify it in bizarre and unexplainable ways (I love the drop shadow on their bastardized version of our logo, for example).

For those who would question whether the site was actually stolen as opposed to merely having had a great influence on some impressionable designer, feel free to view source. The DHTML menus are still composed of DIVs named "expertisemenu", "processmenu", and "proofmenu", despite their labels on the stolen site being named "products", "services", and "admin"; the footer DIV is inexplicably named "midfunk" on both sites (I'm not even sure we knew what midfunk was supposed to be when we launched ;); you can see my comments in the script that runs the menus (such as "silly browser specific values"), about which I presented at Web2001 nearly a year later; the graphics for the "case studies" section are tiny versions of the logos of the companies they originally represented, namely Sports-Expo.com, TomPaine.com, RedHat Center, McKinney and Silver, and one other I can't make out. The complex, three-way mouseover behavior on the menu buttons, icons, and so forth is exactly the same (it should be - it's the same source). And, of course, "Are you ready?" which once posed its query as the lead out from "Image is only the Beginning - Today's Web means Business". Even the three curved corner boxes in the main graphic were reused by the thief. Anyway, the site is now listed in pirated-sites.com.

They have taken the site down, claiming they bought the design from a third party, which is, I suppose, possible. You may, if you ware a Web designer, wish to check out their other site, which offers a variety of other designs for license. Not, as you might suspect, to patronize them as a customer, but rather to verify that none of the other designs they offer for sale or license were acquired under similarly lax circumstances.
posted 13:39 PM
Quite a weekend. Jeff and Leslie dropped by on Friday, on their way to the Outer Banks, and Jessamyn and Greg stayed the weekend, and a good time was had by all. A bizarre intermission was brought about by an accident in front of the house that took out a telephone pole, which CP&L had to replace, bringing down our electricity for a good three hours, which time was spent on the porch watching the show. I got pictures, and will post them as soon as I can get them downloaded off the cam. And, of course, after the three days of three square meals, copious cocktails, and general merriment, I need a good long nap.
posted 12:55 PM
obligatory fake webcam pic


the soundtrack


Been cracking up to the Beat Farmers lately. Loud and Plowed and Live! is a hoot. Takes me back to the days at the Inn when we used to sit around laughing at the liner notes.
posted 21:45 PM


Heather and I got the Hank WIlliams, Jr. box set, Bocephus a few days before we went to SxSW. Fun stuff. Since SxSW, though, I've been listening to some mixes Pableaux gave me at the Gingerman Pub during the Adaptive Path anniversary party. And here I was, thinking maybe I was one of the only Web geeks who'd heard of Mike Cross. Hee. I haven't heard Elma Turl in a long damn time. And, of course, Scott's Walkingbirds mini-CD (which really ought to have been titled "don't put it into a slot-loader"; as a weird aside, CDDB seems to think it's a Celine Dion album!). I think things must be looking up. I'm listening to more music now than I have in the past eighteen months.
posted 19:03 PM


Went out and got the O, Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, and that inspired a binge that includes the first two by Gillian Welch. If there was ever a woman whose singing could make you weep, it's Gillian Welch. Go out and listen to Orphan Girl, the first song on Revival and I dare you not to sit with the tears welling up in your eyes.
posted 11:52 AM


Finally got the power cord for my tape deck, only to find that one side (it's a dual) is stuck shut with a cassette inside. Oh, well. At least I got to listen to the Sex Pistols again. Other music in my life lately: Sigur Ros, Derek Trucks (thanks, Brant), a great mix from Jeremy (thanks, Jeremy, especially for that Shellac song) and some other old stuff I had on tape (Dinosaur, Jr.'s Bug, Screaming Trees, and so on).
posted 17:44 PM


More Whiskeytown. Gram Parsons. Old Steely Dan. New Radiohead. Coldplay. Lousy collection of Go-Betweens stuff without their best songs on it. Nothing yet sticking in my head. Some days, I wish I had a good static or white noise generator. Saw various histories of punk (May must have been the "history of punk on cable" month or something) and wanted to break everything. Unfortunately, all of my punk is on tape and vinyl, and I accidentally threw away the power cord to my tape deck when I moved, so I've been sitting here humming "Holidays in the Sun" and wishing I had a really loud electric guitar.
posted 16:50 PM


Godspeed, You Black Emperor!
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
Subtle and dynamic, symphonic and sophisticated, so many adjectives to choose from. Just listen, preferably in a dark room with surround sound.
posted 17:25 PM