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©Copyright: 2005
Steve Kirks

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  Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Welcome 417 Magazine Readers!

Matt Kerner was kind enough to mention me in recent interview with 417 Magazine article so I'm seeing some new visitors. Welcome!

I write about life, software, food, cooking, yard work and more. A good number of my posts center around software development and my work as UserLand product manager.

Thanks for visiting!

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  Monday, October 3, 2005

Tim Jarrett: "Why not is that Pumpkin Spice Latte tastes like ass. Worse, it tastes like sweet ass, and not in a good way."

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  Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cristian Vidmar is blogging again

Cristian Vidmar returns to blogging with a stellar post called "Movable Data". Starting from Dave Winer mini-rant about Web 2.0, Cristian explains the details in a way that is "simple", the central theme of his and Dave's posts.

Well, not exactly but the web as a platform owes a lot to RSS as the first mainstream example of movable data: a simple and safe way to make human-understandable data available to any computer and application, anywhere. Movable data, with both its technical and social impacts, is more than anything else the roots of the Web 2.0 revolution.

He goes on to make several fantastic points like:

  • "Web 2.0 is keeping things simple (like Dave says in the same post) among many other things by making all software speak the same language."
  • "The architecture I’m working at now has XML and XML-RPC everywhere, no bit of data gets in or out of any component in the system in any different format or using any other protocol. And even if it is harder to implement (keeping things simple is always hard), it makes everything simpler than ever: any player able to play with movable data is welcome, all platforms and languages are on the same level, no change on any component’s internals impacts on others."
  • "The API sets the rules of the game."

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  Thursday, September 22, 2005

Nicole Chilton: "

But, it hasn’t been an easy year, that’s for certain. Since January, we’ve had to deal with quite a lot, not all Moxie-related. Such as quitting our well-paid jobs, moving to Springfield, living with Dan’s parents while we renovated their rental property, having no money, relying on unstable temp jobs and substitute teaching, almost having to quit the whole business completely because of lack of funding, my parents divorcing, Stephanie getting married (although that was a good thing!), Dan’s sister announcing her pregnancy (although that’s a good thing, too!), my Dad moving to Texas, Dan’s cousin-in-law committing suicide, and this week, Dan’s grandma, MeeMa, passing away, and my Mom moving to Memphis to start a new job.


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MAKE Magazine: "After years of frustration and living with sub-par answering machines, I've finally decided to create my own."

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BoingBoing: "Generate multi-lingual 12-sided papercraft calendar polyhedrons"

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Traffic Management and Zach's brain

Zach asks "Have you ever been fascinated by something that seems very random?" and I have to say "yes". I found out years ago how traffic management works, based on burning desire to understand how something that controls my everyday life works.

Zach, there's two things involved: rudimentary cameras and something called "induction loops".

The cameras don't see details, but instead see objects. They detect objects moving through a "zone" of a lane headed to the intersection and maintain a green light to let traffic through or instead, trip the light from red to green as needed. They were developed in response to the poor performance of induction loops in their early form. Induction loops detect the metal of a car and trip the light, but with motorcycles (or cars that didn't pull forward far enough) they didn't work. Now the cameras do the job.

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John Gruber starring as "Daring Fireball" "Rhymes With Ditty"

John writes with a wit that I envy. His latest reminds me that Apple is more than a compay with "cool" products. They understand how to market their cool and Dell doesn't. It's not a "holy war", but the Dell vs. Apple thing makes for a good read. John, I wish I could write like you...

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Andrew Grumet "Over the summer I was asked by an editor at O'Reilly to write a couple of essays for an upcoming Hacks book. I've lost track of what's happening with the book, but in any case part of the agreement was that I could publish the works to my own site. So without further ado..."

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John Battelle "Rumors abound now that folks have found some Google beta test pages which seem to indicate that Google is testing a Wifi service."

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Jamie Zawinski: "Alaska Republican Don Young (R-Pure Evil), overlord of the GOP transportation committee, who insists that no, the money would not be better spent helping Hurricane Katrina victims."

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Delicious Library and the new Backup 3

The Unofficial Apple Weblog: "Delicious Monster releases plugin for Backup 3"

Delicious Library is my next software purchase. I've been using a trial version with great success and a plugin like this seals the deal.

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Buy me a Merkur, baby!

Kevin Kelly: "Even before Gillette announced its over-the-top Mach 5 blade, I made the switch from my Gillette Mach 3 shaving razor (using a standard from-a-can shaving cream) to this "classic" safety razor (with a badger hair brush and good shaving soap) and am amazed at the difference."

I asked my wife to add this to her "gifts for me" list. I'd love something unique and personal like this and, while I own a Mach 3, I've never been happy with it, assuming it was part of my "shaving sentence".

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It's hard to code and write

It's hard for me to code and write on my weblog. I spend a majority of my time in front of a computer so the coding takes it's toll. Sure, I read plenty in my aggregator that I like and want to share. Most of it passes under me, the "river of news" moving under the bridge I'm standing on.

It's liberating for sure, not to be required to post something. On the other hand, it stares me in the face like a failure, taunting me. I refuse to be drawn in.

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  Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Backup 3: Free for All!

I just finished installing Apple's third revision of Backup, their free backup tool that comes with the .Mac service. Best news of all (from the Read Me file):

If you do not have a full, active .Mac account, Backup 3 functionality is limited. If you have a .Mac trial account, you can back up only 100 megabytes (MB) per backup. If you do not have a .Mac membership at all, you can use Backup 3 but you will also have a 100 MB per backup limit and you can't back up to iDisk. To purchase a .Mac membership, visit the .Mac website at www.mac.com.

Finally, the software is usable if you don't have an account with Apple. I was about to discontinue my subscription, but today they announced major enhancements to .Mac including a gigabyte of storage. At $100 a year, it's a steal for what you get. I think I'll finally start podcasting, now that I have a place to store large files easily and with a high bandwidth limit.

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I think I'm done making changes for the short term. I'm much happier with the new layout, even though it's "boring" and rather plain. It took me about an hour to write which points to how much I've learned in the last year about XHTML and CSS. No, it doesn't validate. I'll eat that elephant later.

I've been playing with some custom macros to do things like generate Technorati tags and also pull random images from custom folder. I'm reminded how easy it is to script for the web using Radio compared to Movable Type or Wordpress. In those environments, you have to know Perl or PHP, languages with a much steeper learning curve than UserTalk.

For example:

Take a look at the differences between UserLand's DocServer and SixApart's Template Tag Reference for Movable Type. The differences are huge with the SixApart site offering a one or two line description of the tag. UserLand offers the DocServer categories on the first page and, as a bonus to seasoned developers, allows easy access using the verb name as part of the URL like this:


Wow. Still on $40 a year.

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If you're a visitor to the website an not the RSS feed, you'll notice that I changed things up a bit. I'm using a simpler base template with very plain CSS, hoping to save some bandwidth. While the RSS file is the largest data draw from the site, there's a lot of needless traffic from the HTML side.

Radio has made this pretty easy on me, allowing remote editing of my templates, backups of my old theme and even direct editing of the CSS--even though I'm accessing it remotely.

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Testing the wrap attribute for text areas

Playing around with Radio code a bit...

From Chapter 9 of "HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide": The wrap attribute

"Normally, the browser sends the text that you type into the text area to the server exactly as typed, with lines broken only where the user pressed the Enter key. Since this is often not the action desired by the user, you can enable word wrapping within the text area. When the user types a line that is longer than the width of the text area, the browser automatically moves the extra text down to the next line, breaking the line at the nearest point between words in the line.

With the wrap attribute set to virutal, the text is wrapped within the text area for presentation to the user but is transmitted to the server as if no wrapping had occurred except where the user pressed the Enter key."

This text was entered using Safari on MacOS X 10.4.2 with the text area wrap attribute as "virtual".

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  Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tim Jarrett on Nada Surf

Tim Jarrett: "Two years ago, a Nada Surf review would have begun by mentioning their 1996 novelty hit “Popular,” and their subsequent fall from grace (and the majors). Today, any review of a Nada Surf album has a different reference point: their brilliant 2002 release Let Go, held by Blogcritics and other reviewers to be one of the top 5 albums of 2003 after it was re-released on Barsuk."

Simply put: I agree. A fantastic album. Thanks to my brother-in-law Blair, I found out about this band earlier this year.

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