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

Design, random musings, and the Web. 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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