Thursday 29 April 2004

playing with wordpress

I’m a faithful user of Movable Type but have begun to try out other blogging tools. When photomatt told me about yesterday’s 1.2 beta release of WordPress, I figured hey, I’ll give it a try. So I installed it on a test site.

Installation is truly very easy, just a matter of creating a MySQL database, modifying one PHP file, and uploading everything to your server. The only glitch I ran into was that I uploaded all the WordPress files to a distinct WordPress folder – and by default it attempted to use that folder as the blog folder. Easy to fix, but Matt tells me this is the first release of WordPress where the option to have your blogs in other directories is available – so that’s really a nice added feature.

The interface is great, and one feature I think I’m really going to love is that you can set it up so posts can be sent in via email. This is a great solution for a lot of clients who don’t want to muck around with browser-based forms when typing to an email address is all that’s necessary. Sweet!

Another impressive bit about WordPress is that the developers are focusing on localization and internationalization features within the software, which I think is one aspect, along with easy install and a very usable interface, that will help WordPress find its own glory among today’s diverse weblogging solutions.

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Posted by:   site admin | 02:23 | Comments (30)

Monday 26 April 2004

IM software wars

In a reasonably interesting but inaccurate article off the AP newswire, Companies Launch War Over Web Messaging, Anick Jesdanun describes some of the intriguing competitive issues emerging from IM software such as AOL AIM, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger. Jesdanun’s got a few interesting quotes, I liked this one:

“Google would be smart to roll out an IM strategy and to do it fairly quickly”
– Paul Ritter, analyst for Yankee Group

One issue where Jesdanun failed miserably:

“Still missing, though, is a way for users of different services to reach one another directly . . . ”

Um, cello-o-o! There are quite a few successful software products that do this. For Windows, Trillian rocks mighty mighty, and on the Mac you’ve got Fire and then there’s the Jabber Foundation open source project – probably some other cross-platform stuff out there we might wish to inform Jesdanun about so next time ’round the coverage will be more accurate.

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Posted by:   site admin | 03:44 | Comments (34)

Sunday 25 April 2004

welcome back, bones

Some people have been wondering when my alter-ego site, wear-her-bones, would be back online. There’s been some trouble getting the current ISP to move my stuff to happier server grounds, so while the old URI points to the old site, I am beginning to rebuild the site on the new server. You can check out wear her bones as it stands today. Hopefully, by the end of the week or so, I’ll have the DNS properly pointed to the site’s new home.

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Posted by:   site admin | 07:37 | Comments (12)

help with XFN – friendly blogroll

Built-in post obsolescence update: Within a minute of posting the following, Simon Willison sent me a fix as well as some suggestions on customizing the individual names. You can take a look at the final PHP file here.

I’m still interested in looking at other examples of modified PHP scripts for blogrolling, so if you’ve got an interesting one to share, please hit the comment link below.

My original post:

Hey everyone, I’m working on perfecting my blogroll. I’m using to generate an XML document, which is then worked over with Phil Ringnalda’s cool PHP script. I modifed that format-wise with ideas from Ethan and help stripping out those bizarre extra slashes that show up even on site with help from Drew.

Since I’ve been a pest to them, I’d figured I’d put out a public plea: help me fix my blogroll! I don’t know much about PHP except that I’m a danger to myself every time I start digging around in it! There are two problems I’d like to address if at all possible:

  1. My XFN information is being stripped out of the XML file, I’d like it to make it to the final document, because isn’t that the point?
  2. I’d like to truncate and/or customize the individual blog titles a bit – is there any way to do this within the PHP script? The XML file gets written over each time someone on my blogroll updates their site, so it’s a dynamic document being delivered via, where the descriptions are generated.

Here’s the current XML file, and here’s the PHP blogroll script. I look forward to your insights!

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Posted by:   site admin | 04:19 | Comments (9)

Friday 23 April 2004

TravelBlog: Los Alamos and Berkeley, April 13-16 2004

Left the house last Tuesday before dawn. Flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico, rented a car. The destination: Los Alamos, to speak at Los Alamos National Laboratory about Web standards. Warren, who organized the speakers for the event, sent along directions for the scenic route, which passes through the Jemez Mountains.

Taking I-25 north for a bit, I turned onto State Highway 505. The terrain at this point was dusty, empty desert with tremendous distant mountains all along the horizon. The vista became more interesting the closer I got to the Jemez Mountains. I passed several pueblos, including the famous Zuni pueblo. Turned off onto State Highway 4 and then things started to really get interesting. Entering the Jemez National Monument, the earth and mountains become an insanely deep red – even more red than the earth up in Sedona. Continuing on, I passed through the Jemez Pueblo. Many of the homes have large hornos (ovens made of clay) outside.

Jemez Springs is a town right outside of the Jemez pueblo, a very pretty area in a slim valley of cottonwood trees by the river, with stunning, sheer cliffs all around. It’s an interesting little town, its history based around healing hot springs found there. The Bodhi Manda Zen Center is right next door to a drying-out retreat for Catholic priests, which I found somewhat humorous – and oddly comforting. A few B&Bs, a bar, and some specialty shops make up this small town.

A little farther along the road is the Soda Dam, a natural dam made up of calcium carbonate deposited over millions of years. The deposits look like water, falling.

Driving north, I began to travel higher into the mountains. The air was crisp and clean, and some snow covered the ground. I entered the Valles Caldera National Preserve, which is an odd but stunning bowl in the earth created from massive volcanic activity. After leaving Valles Caldera, the roads climb even higher into thick Aspen forests, with fields of snow and small ponds. There were very few live inhabitants around, but lots of roadkill, which also meant I got to see some great birds of prey – one hawk I saw had a truly impressive wingspan, which I failed to grab a picture of quickly enough before he flew off.

Climbing over the top of the mountain, the road became very steep and winding, to the point where suddenly I was switch backing right down – the final curve was one of the sharpest ones I’ve ever driven around. And then quite suddenly, there’s a quick turn off and the Los Alamos National Laboratory property begins. A few miles along and I found myself in the town of Los Alamos, which is rather small and easy to navigate. I found my hotel very quickly, got checked in, and then went over to the Bradbury Science Museum.

If you find yourself in Los Alamos, you must visit the Bradbury Science Museum. It focuses mostly on the history of Los Alamos and the making and testing of nuclear weapons. It’s a difficult place to visit, no question, but everyone would do well to experience it. Met up with Warren there and some other folks and Warren piled us all into a comfortable government van. A native of the area, Warren gave us a very interesting tour. We drove around the perimeter of the entire laboratory property. The land is very odd, with porous, sand-colored mesas on one side. He pointed out where Los Alamos has tents set up – apparently they are preparing low-level radioactive waste such as workers clothes, masks, gloves and sorting through it to send it to its final resting place somewhere deep in Colorado.

The event itself went well, with a warm welcome party and delicious Mexican dinner the night before. I was the opening act, with Jeffrey Veen following. We had a good morning – unfortunately I had to leave to drive back to Albuquerque and catch a flight to Oakland. I had enough time to take the scenic route back – which was just as gorgeous as the day before, although a lot of snow had melted as the weather got warm. My flight to Oakland was easy, and I got settled in to my hotel in Berkeley, ready to enjoy the Waterside conference, which is my literary agency’s yearly gathering for computer and technology book authors, editors, and publishers.

It’s usually a great place to meet up with fellow authors, and this year was no exception – I enjoyed the company of Dave Taylor, Laura Lemay, Deb Shadovitz, Danny Goodman, Christian Crumlish to name a few
of my faves. Dave did an excellent presentation about self promotion for authors, focusing on weblogs, newsletters, and other practical but extremely important ways for those of us in the “industry” to get our stuff out to readers. Xian talked about his upcoming book, The Power of Many, which is something you’ll want to put on your wish list right now. The event concluded with a dinner cruise around the San Francisco Bay, with close-ups of Alcatraz and a magnificent sunset behind the Golden Gate Bridge.

For a four day trip, it was quite a whirlwind. As you can imagine, I’m glad to be home for a couple of weeks!

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Posted by:   site admin | 04:29 | Comments (22)

Wednesday 21 April 2004

no lemons from this meyer

And speaking of new stuff, Eric Meyer has two new books out. But I’ll let him tell you about it in this great interview with Russ from Maxdesign and the Australia-based Web Standards Group (WSG).

Readers will enjoy Eric’s dry wit, which is well-aimed from the start with a dig at yours truly. Certainly gave me a laugh. That aside, it’s an interesting read, with thoughts from Eric about his new books as well as CSS hacks, image replacement techniques, and CSS3.

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Posted by:   site admin | 05:21 | Comments (2)

new books, articles, and events

I’ve updated some pages on my site to reflect more recent books, articles, and events as well as provide some support files that have been inconsistently represented on publisher sites. Hopefully, this will help folks get to what they need faster and more easily.

Check out:

  • Upcoming books – Topics on Movable Type, HTML and Web Design, and small business web sites
  • Articles and columns – Web standards, development, design, and Dreamweaver MX 2004
  • Upcoming events – Seybold, UI9, INTRACOM – Web standards, CSS, Web standards in CMS, Web standards for document management in intranets, and you got it – even more standards.


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Posted by:   site admin | 05:05 | Comments (4)

Tuesday 20 April 2004

motherly advice: speak freely

I spoke with my Mom, a professor emerita for Kean University and leading thinker in her fields of multiculturalism and women’s studies for some advice.

What’s on my mind is that I sometimes find myself teaching military and related institutions about web standards. I have mixed feelings about that, because I want to serve my country but am at great odds with our current leadership.

My Mom offered these thoughts and advice, which to me sum up the bottom line: Freedom of speech is paramount.

Re: Teaching the military. . .

When someone is a teacher, who knows what perspective students come from? I am sure I have taught many covert racists, Nazis, political right-wingers of various kinds, Ku Klux Klanners in the course of my career. Of course, I worked for the state and the law reads that unless someone stood up in class and advocated the overthrow of the government or made an explicit racist/sexist statement I had to teach them . . .

In your case it is somewhat different. You are a private concern, so I understand your dilemma. On the other hand, you are a citizen and the military serves the government, so in serving the military you serve the government, which then makes us parallel because I taught for the state which was part of the government.

In my classroom I was theoretically free to express my opinions by right of academic freedom. But I would always take care to inform my students when I was going to express a personal opinion as opposed to factual data or scholarly information I was presenting to them.

Are you free to express personal opinions?

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Posted by:   site admin | 06:11 | Comments (10)

Sunday 18 April 2004

venturing into ebook land

Hey everyone – sorry I’ve been quiet – I’ve just returned from a busy but fun trip which included a visit to Los Alamos National Labs and a visit to Berkeley, too. All in four days, so I’m a bit wiped. I’m writing up a travelblog because the trip had some really high points I want to share – hopefully that’ll be out later this week.

In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about a cool new ebook from DMXZone. A collection of tutorials by me and the lovely and fabulous Rachel Andrew has been organized into a very helpful book for anyone wishing to learn how to use Dreamweaver MX and MX 2004 with web standards.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Web Standards, CSS and Dreamweaver but were afraid to ask is best for beginner to intermediate audiences. It’s priced at $29.00 USD.

A happy reader writes:

“I bought this book and was very pleased with the content and examples provided. The best feature was the fact it was easy to read (I have glasses and struggle with some layouts) and found the writing style very clear. It was well worth the money and really convinced me to move ahead and focus more on CSS and a standards approach. Great Work, Gordon Currie.”

Read about the book, view the TOC, and purchase it directly from DMXzone in PDF format, code samples included.

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Sunday 11 April 2004

nick drake sunday morning

photo of coffee cup

Peaceful Sunday mornings
were made
for Nick Drake
and great coffee.

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Posted by:   site admin | 08:33 | Comments (13)

Thursday 8 April 2004

.NET framework and standards?

A friend writes:

“ Our new IT boss has decided that we should move to the .Net framework for our development environment and I’m very afraid (as I think I should be.) I’m having trouble finding resources and information surrounding design, UI, usability, web standards and accessibility standards in this environment and I have a feeling it’s because they don’t exist.

If I’m going to build an argument against the Net environment, I need it to be a strong one that is well document. Any thoughts or information you could pass my way would be greatly appreciated. ”

I’d like to help my friend out, but I’ve been very fortunate to not have to deal with .NET problems, so any thoughts you have to help with this would be awesome.

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Posted by:   site admin | 04:39 | Comments (15)

Wednesday 7 April 2004

bush mosaic

Please see this astonishing mosaic from the American Leftist: Moving Image: A mosaic of soldiers who have died in Iraq.

Props to matt mullenweg for the reference.

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Posted by:   site admin | 06:51 | Comments (21)

Monday 5 April 2004

new article: social networks

A fresh edition of my Integrated Web Design column is up at the newly re-designed InformIT. While the site still has a ways to go in terms of conformance, it certainly has been improved dramatically in terms of usability and load times.

Please check out “ Social Networking: The Relationship between Humans and Computers is Coming of Age ” and let me know what you think.

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Posted by:   site admin | 12:51 | Comments (4)

Sunday 4 April 2004

funnel clouds

photographic image of a funnel cloud

If you’ve never seen one before, it’s a pretty haunting image to say the least.

A funnel cloud is a vortex of condensated water vapor and air spinning at high velocity. Funnel clouds can form under cumulus clouds if there is enough humidity and vorticity in the air. Landspouts and waterspouts are funnel clouds which reach to ground level, but are usually weak, as opposed to tornadoes.

Tucson is having some unusual weather for this time of year. It’s been raining for about five days now, with storms expected to last through the week. I guess what we lost in fire this past summer we make up in wetter drama now.

Definition source:

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Thursday 1 April 2004

foolish things

It’s April Fool’s day and I’m afraid a few web standards project folks have gone wonky.

First, Doug Bowman and Dave Shea have swapped site designs. This is truly funny. Then, WaSP reports, among other things, a correlation between non-standard markup and erectile dysfunction. This is also funny.

Share your foolish things, fools! Hit that comment link below.

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Posted by:   site admin | 11:06 | Comments (7)

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