Friday, February 15, 2002
Standing out in the crowd. Archaeologists explain why they think our ancestors started decorating
themselves with jewellery about 40,000 years ago. [BBC News: sci/tech]
Now we have weblogs ;)(9:35 PM) ¶
The Doc Searls Weblog : Thursday, February 14, 2002: "It's mostly about sources. We're all sources for each other here, and don't have the pressures of space, deadlines, commercial agendas or formats to restrict who we source or the stories they tell us. Here we not only link endlessly to countless other sources (which far outnumber those in the average BigPub piece), but we can vet ideas about what might be true, in faith that others who know more will correct us, or pick up the story and carry it forward."
Doc's weblog is always good reading but today it is especially good. Follow the link above and enjoy.
What's interesting to me is that there are likely plenty of bloggers out there who are deeply interesting but I have no way of knowing about them because they haven't moved on to my radar or anyone else's.
I have something like 3 or 4 regular readers. My wife, my friends Chris and Andrew and... well, I sometimes get email from people who have read something here and liked it and I've once or twice found myself linked elsewhere. But, for the most part, I'm writing for myself here. I'm happy a few people come by and see what I'm thinking (or at least what I'm reading as I don't take as much time as I'd like to write these little bits from my own brain) but I have no illusions over who my actual audience is.
Now, given that, how many other webloggers are out there who are also writing in the void? There may be some fantastic writers out there who are just not being found by the "mainstream" bloggers. How do we find them? How did you find me? If I say something deeply pithy, how do I get it out into the mainstream? What happens to a blogger when they suddenly have an audience? Do they change what they write or how they write?(4:30 PM) ¶
Thursday, February 14, 2002
Radio as a Python IDE(9:24 PM) ¶
I am just loving the Olympics this time around. I never thought I'd get into snowboarding but the half-pipe was a lot of fun to watch. And NBC is keeping Bob Costas only to interview guy and framing-the-sections guy and he is just fine in those contexts so I have no beef with him. In fact, his buying that bar a round of drinks was very funny so maybe I'm warming up to him. But the coverage has been very good and aside from the occasional diversion into someone's life story, it's been mostly back to back sports and that's all I really wanted. And I can't wait for Skeleton sledding next week...(9:07 PM) ¶
Six Million Dollar Man feature proceeding. And Richard Anderson reprises his role as Oscar! I love it! (Yes, I am also a child of the 70s)(9:02 PM) ¶
Al and Sam, together again...sort of Excellent! (Yes, I am a Quantum Leap fan. Sue me. ;)(9:00 PM) ¶
BBC News | ASIA-PACIFIC | China arrests foreign Falun Gong activists. My friend's second cousin is an American who emailed before going to a protest today. He has not been heard from since. The article above doesn't mention any Americans arrested in the latest set of protests but we assume he is among them.(8:17 PM) ¶
Mysterious Force slows Pioneer 10: "As it moves further away from our solar system, pioneer 10 is slowing down. A mysterious force is reducing its speed by 6 mph per century. Not much, but baffling when you consider that effects like gravity and solar radiation decrease rapidly with distance. Other possibilities have also been ruled out."
The above was posted via newsisfree.com to Radio and then to blogger from Radio's blogger bridge. Very cool.(3:54 PM) ¶
Scientific American: News In Brief: Diminutive Dinosaur from China Sheds Light on Bird Evolution: February 14, 2002: "It demonstrates that major structural modifications toward birds occurred much earlier in the evolutionary process than previously thought," Mackovicky asserts. "Furthermore, these findings help counter, once and for all, the position of paleontologists who argue that birds did not evolve from dinosaurs."(1:12 PM) ¶
Wednesday, February 13, 2002
Well, I bought Radio.(9:31 PM) ¶
JP Brown's Serious LEGO. Damn, I want to do this kind of thing...(8:30 PM) ¶
'Use It or Lose It,' New Alzheimer's Research Concludes [Scientific American] I heard about this on NPR on my way to work this morning. Very interesting though not completely unexpected.(8:23 PM) ¶
Dave Winer writes: "Thanks to Zeldman for the pointer to a table-less three-column liquid CSS-based site that degrades gracefully (that's a mouthful). Now I've been trying to figure out why this is so important. I wrote XML-RPC for Newbies, to help people understand why it's so important to geekish Web developers. Would a designer please write a Table-less CSS Templates for Newbies, to explain why tables are evil. I don't get it. Or is this just gymnastics, which is cool, but tell us so, please."
Here's my take: tables are fine for layout if your readers are not in the least disabled and are using browsers over fast connections (most browsers wait for the closing table tag to render the page which can take a very long time over slow connections.) But if your users are on slow connections, are disabled, or simply have their own needs for viewing content (more on this in a sec), tables are very limiting. The original intent of HTML was markup, that is, taking content and defining what it is, not necessarily how it was to look. This latter decision was left up to the user (remember those horribly complicated style preferences in the old web browsers?) We've drifted from that and now people are marking up their content full of styles and rules for display and making their pages largely a single thing which cannot be altered.
Tables do not degrade well for blind users. They are read row by row, left to right. For most users it means that they have to sit through useless information which is horribly repetetive. Take Dave's own Scripting News site. A blind user would have to sit through the entire left blogrolling column before getting to the content, every single time they load the page. What a nightmare! With CSS, this information can be placed last in the HTML and yet displayed in the same place making the content come first.
Of course there are workarounds (invisible skipnav techniques, for example) but these are kludges. Table-less design allows for pure content leaving the look and feel to a separate file and making the content far more accessible. If the Web is truly the medium for all people, then we need to be aware of all users, including the disabled.
One caveat: it's not a panacea. I still use tables for layout if I cannot achieve a goal using CSS. There are times when it makes sense. But I still design so that I am following all of the guidelines of Section 508 and the WCAG 1.0. To do less would be a disservice to the web community.(8:20 PM) ¶
Toddlers Cannier than Scientists Thought" One-year-olds are supposed to learn by copying adults - but now it seems they only copy us if it what we are doing makes sense to them."(8:09 PM) ¶
TidBITS: Printing Digital Photos, Part 1 Excellent article!(4:48 PM) ¶
So, I haven't linked to my friend Donna's website in awhile, so here she is. Donna is one of the many great reasons to like Canada. Skating is another. But let's not go there.(1:21 PM) ¶
Design for Community(9:18 AM) ¶
Three magic little words "Whenever a phone solicitor calls in the middle of dinner, don't get sore. Don't slam down the receiver. Don't hang up. Just say, "Hold on, please." Then gently set the receiver on the table and go about your business." Brilliant.(9:16 AM) ¶
So, today is the last day of my Radio demo. Do I purchase or do I let it go by?
- News aggregates automatically in my chosen RSS feeds. One stop shopping (of course, I can do this via other sources, notably NewsIsFree.com, which also lets me post directly to my blog)
- I can easily theme my site using a variety of looks and feels (then again, Radio's templates make it somewhat difficult to design my own site the way I want it through a somewhat convoluted interface and with blogger I have much more full control which has worked well for me).
- An RSS file for my site is automatically created and weblogs.com is updated when I update my blog. (So what? What, exactly, does that get me? My readership hasn't changed as far as I know and I never really did this for a wide audience but friends, family, and interested parties. I am not interested in becomming a popular blog so what do these features really gain me? And I can still achieve both of these goals using blogger pro.)
- Neat little calendar on my site to go to past days (and I can do the same thing, less attractively, with blogger.)
- Posts are mirrored to my blogger-based blog. (So what? Why do I need two blogs at all? In fact, it would be much easier if I *only* had the blogger blog and not the radio-hosted one.)
- Ability to build my own services (so what? I can't think of a single one I need or want. This is a neat idea which I have no need for.)
- Extremely handy method of adding images to my blog. (I know HTML, I did fine doing this manually before).
- Yet one more application I have to leave running and one which spikes the CPU ever 5-10 seconds. Just watching in top and with a load monitor running, I see a 20%-40% hogging of the CPU ever 5-10 seconds. (So what? It's UNIX. I haven't noticed any slow-downs on the front-end and UNIX is designed to handle these situations gracefully and does. And leaving another app running means little. Again, UNIX handles this just fine and I have a boat-load of RAM.)
- I cannot make the aggregator run when I want it to. Sometimes I get a free minute and want to see what's new but it's been less than an hour since the last run and I have to wait. I have found no way to make it go manually. (I'm sure there is a way or there is a way to hack this functionality in. And there's nothing stopping me from still using newsisfree.com and so forth.)
- It costs money while other things which do what I need are free. (Well, true, but $40 isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things and to achieve the same functionality I have to cobble together a number of other resources into a loose confederation of software packages which is a pain. And Radio is being actively developed. New features are coming out all the time.)
- Very hard to find certain items in the documentation. For example, I remember an announcement for a spam-free email link but I cannot find it at all at Userland's site. I've done searches for "spam-free" and "spam" and "email" in radio userland's site, I've wandered the discussion boards (I did find a message about someone having trouble with it but nothing about it itself). For the life of me, I can't find it at all. OK, I finally found it by searching scripting.com's archives. Why is there nothing about this on Radio's site?
The Bottom Line
Honestly, I don't know. I do know that I have been blogging more and reading more since using Radio so it is clearly making my blogging-life easier but it's not clear to me if that is Radio's doing or the fact that I never bothered to get the other tools doing what I need them to do.
If I can find a way to NOT have the radio blogger and only have this publish to my blogger blog (or if a reverse bridge allowing posts made to my blogger site to come over to the radio site existed) then I'd be truly content.
Any thoughts out there? I'd love to hear from you. (9:01 AM) ¶
Monday, February 11, 2002
ZDNet: Story: How schools are tricked into using PCs--when Macs are better. Simple, to the point. I haven't yet read the feedback after the column to see what the other side says. It will be an interestind debate, to be sure.(3:00 PM) ¶
Diary of a Start-Up: "This is a story that will teach you something about building a software product, about profitably running a company, and about what can happen if unqualified organizations obtain control."(8:24 AM) ¶
Sunday, February 10, 2002
JSPWiki: WikiRPCInterface: "Here's an idea: Let's define an XML-RPC or SOAP? interface to Wiki. I don't exactly know what we could do with it..."(6:39 PM) ¶
My radio trial is about to end and before it does, I wanted to see whether I could duplicate the functionality by using newsisfree.com's service.
On the plus side, I can blog many articles at once. But they are all treated like one big single element rather than individual elements. Not that big a deal but still something that bothers me.
I'll have to keep on playing around with all of these to see what works for me. So far, Radio has been working very well. But as the time for me to pay for it looms, I start to question whether I am paying for services I can otherwise do for free or whether there truly is some extra value to be had.(10:49 AM) ¶
Simple error means big change "Scientists hail new research which claims to show how simple genetic changes could produce entirely new animals."
Deaf go mobile phone crazy "The mobile phone has become popular among what at first may seem an unlikely user group - people who are deaf or hard of hearing."
Study Hints at How Genetic Mutations Led to Macroevolutionary Change
Uncertainty over Heisenberg's bomb making ends "Newly released documents show unequivocally that the renowned German physicist was building an atomic bomb for the Nazis"
Inventor Of Artificial Hand Sees "Bionic" Replacement Parts Becoming More Human
Chandra Scores A Double Bonus With A Distant Quasar
Hubble Spies Backward Galaxy "The galaxy is perplexing astronomers by rotating in the opposite direction than normal."(10:45 AM) ¶
Review Of Netflix DVD Rental Service Hmmm....(10:40 AM) ¶
Something Awful Rejected Valentines!(8:50 AM) ¶
Call Centers: America's Sweatshops. "Customer Service Representative, Technical Support Analyst, Help Desk specialist, no experience necessary. That's what Lisa saw as she skimmed over the want ads for technical support jobs. She was working her way through college, not enough experience to take a job as a Database Administrator yet. Getting her feet wet in the tech field, that's what she was looking for. What she found however was something completely different. Below you'll read some statements from former and current Call Center employees, and a few statistics about the industry." [kuro5hin.org](8:41 AM) ¶
maudlin: Dictionary.com Word of the Day. maudlin [Dictionary.com Word of the Day](8:40 AM) ¶