About this site's lack of design: Yes, it's supposed to look this way — I'm helping create a new sandbox theme for WordPress (see it on GitHub).

Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Suffering from chronic idiocy since 1977

Archive for September, 2003


Zen Inspiration

Tuesday, September 30th, 2003

The tal­ented Andy Budd has cre­ated the lat­est CSSZen­Gar­den design, and it’s a real win­ner in my book. And my opin­ion has noth­ing to do with the fact that Andy cred­its my Gar­den design as par­tial inspi­ra­tion (for the head­ing styles).

I really enjoy Andy’s use of color, as well as his logo for the Gar­den, and it’s inspired me to com­plete work on my sec­ond and third CSSZen­Gar­den sub­mis­sions, which have been sit­ting idle long enough. I might even make an attempt at a cool look­ing logo myself, to join the ranks of Mr. Budd and Mr. Hil­horst.

The CSSZen­Gar­den con­tin­ues to be a dyna­mite dis­play of the flex­i­bil­ity of CSS design, and a good chal­lenge for design­ers to boot.



Web Host Suggestions

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003

MacOS.net is moving.

For var­i­ous rea­sons, some finan­cial, oth­ers tech­no­log­i­cal, and a few weird ones thrown in for good mea­sure, we’re plan­ning to move all our servers from our cur­rent loca­tion in South Florida.

We’re look­ing at a few co-lo ser­vices right now, as well as con­sid­er­ing drop­ping our own servers and switch­ing to Linux-based servers man­aged by whichever host­ing firm we select, but I’d like to hear your sug­ges­tions from your per­sonal and pro­fes­sional experiences.

The front-runner in our search so far is West­Host, whose Vir­tual Ded­i­cated Server (VDS) option looks very entic­ing. We’d love an option like that, but we’re con­cerned with speed and flex­i­bil­ity as well.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and sug­ges­tions, espe­cially regard­ing West­Host (and their VDS con­cept) or any other firm which offers a sim­i­lar ser­vice at a com­pa­ra­ble price. I’ve got a few days to gather com­ments before we have to com­mit to a deci­sion, so fire away!



Of Navigation Lists

Saturday, September 20th, 2003

After find­ing Accessify’s ter­rific new tool List-o-matic, I decided it was about time I updated the pri­mary nav­i­ga­tion of this site to reflect my high opin­ion of unordered lists as nav­i­ga­tion. In most browsers, you should not notice any change at all (unless you are view­ing this site in a text-only browser, with style sheets off, or with a screen reader), how­ever: if you are using a Mozilla-based browser (Fire­bird, Netscape, Mozilla, Camino, etc.) you might very well notice the same (minor) dis­play glitch I’m get­ting on my test machines.

The bot­tom of the navbar has a 1-pixel bor­der on most browsers, but for some rea­son I can’t get it to work prop­erly with the Mozilla fam­ily. This shouldn’t be rocket surgery, but I’ve now spent 3 hours try­ing every­thing I can think of to fix the glitch, to no avail.

Part of the prob­lem is styling the new markup to look the same as the old div-based markup, with­out break­ing the rest of the exist­ing lay­out. I just can’t under­stand why I can’t track this thing down (heck, it’s even work­ing prop­erly in IE5/OS 9!).

If any­one hap­pens to know what I’m miss­ing, please send your sug­ges­tions my way. Feel free to just drop a note in the comments.

UPDATE: After find­ing what I thought was a solu­tion, then real­iz­ing the error of my ways (damn IE6, damn it to hell!) I have (for now) used a cop-out fix: I added a class to the first H3 in the side­bar, so I could treat it dif­fer­ently in all browsers. If any­one has a bet­ter solu­tion (e.g. one that doesn’t require chang­ing the markup) please let me know.



MTSETUP Alpha Testing

Monday, September 15th, 2003

New on the list this week is a lit­tle project I’ve been think­ing about for a while, but never started work on (until this weekend).

When I first dis­cov­ered Mov­able­Type, I mar­veled at its abil­i­ties, at the free­dom it gave to its users. I was then per­plexed at its lack of any kind of auto­mated setup script to assist folks who might not be too com­fort­able with edit­ing even a few lines of a con­fig­u­ra­tion file. The thought crossed my mind to cre­ate on myself, if only to help speed the process of set­ting up mul­ti­ple MT instal­la­tions, but since that wasn’t a process I was actively engaged in at the time, the idea was shelved.

Fast-forward to the present: Web­graph is using MT for quite a few per­sonal and com­mer­cial projects (pay­ing the licenses of course), and we’re doing more instal­la­tions than before — enough to make me revisit my idea.

This week­end, I set about cre­at­ing a basic script that would take input from an HTML form, and write out a basic mt.cfg file. It is in very early alpha stage, but I believe it is ready for some brave alpha testers, since my input alone will result in a project which serves only our spe­cific needs, and I believe this sort of util­ity is best made in the pub­lic interests.

Thus, I present to you MTSETUP 0.1a — the ini­tial ver­sion has been built in PHP (since we use it on all our servers), though I intend to port it to Perl and ASP once the fea­tures and func­tion­al­ity have been decided upon.

If you would like to add your name to the list of alpha and (future) beta testers, please send me an email and I’ll get you started.

I’ll set up a sep­a­rate page for MTSETUP soon, but in the mean­time, a quick descrip­tion of its cur­rent behavior:

MTSETUP 0.1a / PHP Edi­tion
MTSETUP uses a stripped-down ver­sion of the stan­dard mt.cfg file dis­trib­uted with Mov­able­Type, elim­i­nat­ing all the com­ments, and leav­ing only the con­fig­u­ra­tion lines. All comments/instructions are moved to the HTML form. The form ini­tially hides most of the set­tings (via the DOM) and every set­ting that is dis­abled (com­mented out) by default in the stock mt.cfg file has its input field dis­abled by default in the HTML form (this is intended to pre­vent new users from enabling a fea­ture by mis­take). After sub­mit­ting the form, the script writes the con­fig file to a new sub­di­rec­tory, ready to place in the default MT directory.

A few notes of inter­est: I am not a mas­ter PHP devel­oper, so there are many items at this stage which can (and will) be opti­mized (for one thing, I’m sure there are quite a few oppor­tu­ni­ties for using arrays). Also, cur­rently the script only writes a new file, it does not read in exist­ing CFG files (this is planned for a future release). Finally, the script does require that it’s con­tain­ing direc­tory is set to world-writable (chmod 0777) so it can cre­ate the sub­folder and CFG file.

I’m com­pletely open to com­ments and sug­ges­tions, and even PHP tips for those of you who may be so inclined.

“To Infin­ity, and Beyond!”



Silence Observed

Thursday, September 11th, 2003

We shared in the moment of silence this morn­ing, and chose not to post about it.

Oth­ers show their sup­port in their own way:

What­ever your polit­i­cal views, it is dif­fi­cult not to feel for those who lost loved ones two years ago.


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