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Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Suffering from chronic idiocy since 1977

Archive for August, 2006

Quite Distracting

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

It’s some­thing every­one is guilty of when under pres­sure: Find­ing things to dis­tract you from the (likely) more impor­tant task at hand. I remem­ber my par­ents doing “busy work” when I was grow­ing up, espe­cially when there were stress­ful things wait­ing to be dealt with.

It occurred to me that I’m guilty of the same method of pro­cras­ti­na­tion, how­ever mun­dane the sub­sti­tuted task may be. Seem­ingly out of nowhere, when a dead­line looms, the dishes need to be washed, bath­room cleaned, laun­dry done, shelves reor­ga­nized, garbage taken out, and a mul­ti­tude of projects on my less-important to-do lists all seem to jump to the front of my mind.

I brought this up to a good friend the other day, and we com­pared notes–it was her opin­ion that we often let some of these tasks accrue over time, for the sole pur­pose of hav­ing things to dis­tract us when we feel the need to pro­cras­ti­nate. I think I might agree with her, sub­con­siously of course, but it makes me curi­ous: what do you do to dis­tract your­self when the pres­sure builds? Or are you the type who doesn’t let them­selves get off-track?

Come now, be hon­est: drop your dis­trac­tions in the com­ments, if you don’t have any­thing more press­ing to do first…



Preparing for the Storm

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Update: Thank­fully, Ernesto turned out to be a non-issue, and pro­vided noth­ing more than some wind and rain (the wind is still blow­ing today, but noth­ing too severe down here).

As Hur­ri­cane Ernesto con­tin­ues to bear down on the coasts of Florida, I’m work­ing on get­ting as much work and writ­ing done before the power goes out as I can. The storm isn’t major on the scale at the moment, and isn’t likely to strengthen before mak­ing land­fall tonight, but the winds will still be strong enough to do some dam­age (and pro­jec­tiles abound in South Florida).

Rather than post updates about the storm, I’ll just point you to Dan Benjamin’s Weath­er­Dan, where he’s keep­ing watch on Ernesto, and any other storms that come our way this sea­son. Oh yeah, and I threw together the logo for him as well.

Thanks to all of you who have sent well-wishes so far, I’m sure we’ll all be safe, but it never hurts to keep us in your thoughts (that includes Scrivs: he’s in Florida too…)

See you on the other side… of the storm, that is.



Dvorak’s Cry For Help

Monday, August 7th, 2006

Writ­ing has a way of cut­ting you off from the out­side world. At least, that’s what I’ve expe­ri­enced these last few weeks as I’ve been dig­ging into my lat­est project for Apress, so I can under­stand (at least to a degree) how it is pos­si­ble for such a pro­lific author as John C. Dvo­rak to not have heard of the many avail­able resources for learn­ing Cas­cad­ing Style Sheets, thus result­ing in his recent frus­tra­tion with CSS.

Now, as I myself have only become aware of Dear John’s con­ster­na­tion (due, of course, to my head being stuck inside a Word doc­u­ment — let’s not even talk about me not hear­ing about the whole Cas­tro power switch, liv­ing in South Florida and all…), I felt that it is my duty as a respon­si­ble mem­ber of the CSS com­mu­nity to help out in some way, albeit a few days behind every­one else.

So, John: See­ing as it is purely a mat­ter of edu­ca­tion (or lack thereof), after con­sult­ing with Simon, Jeff, and Ian, it has been decided to pro­vide to you, free of charge, copies of our most recent books: Begin­ning CSS Web Devel­op­ment (Simon’s new book, and which I had the plea­sure of Tech­ni­cal Edit­ing) and Pro CSS Tech­niques (by the “3 CSS Mus­ke­teers” Jeff, Ian and myself). When read in order (start­ing with the “begin­ners” book is a safe bet) these will give you all the knowl­edge you need to over­come your deep-seated fear and loathing of CSS.

We’ll send them to you as soon as the ink is dry, and all for the cost of send­ing an note to any one of us with your mail­ing address. We’re wait­ing for you, John.



Blogger. Template. Fixed.

Sunday, August 6th, 2006

Blog­ger tem­plate ques­tions? Please search and/or post to the offi­cial Blog­ger Help Google Group—you are much more likely to get a response there than by email­ing me.

A lit­tle over 2 years ago, Blog­ger relaunched, and fea­tured all-new tem­plates designed by some of your favorite design­ers. I was lucky enough to be included in that list, and my tem­plate set, Thi­s­away, was well received and has enjoyed some pop­u­lar­ity over the last few years. That is, unless you’re an IE user who hap­pened to put ital­ics in a cer­tain parts of your posts.

Woe is IE

IE/Win suf­fers from a curi­ous bug (gasp!) related to the use of ital­ics in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions. The won­der­ful folks at Posi­tion is Every­thing have doc­u­mented this as much as pos­si­ble (or as one would want to), and, as luck would have it, their fix works on Thisaway.

Why now?

I’ve been email­ing the fix to peo­ple for quite a while now, on a case-by-case basis, and it’s also been posted to the Blog­ger Google Group, but I finally coor­di­nated with the nice folks at Blog­ger a few months ago to start incor­po­rat­ing the fix into the live tem­plates, so new users of the tem­plate would get the fixed ver­sion. Hap­pily, I can now say that as of a few weeks ago, the fix is now live, and seems to test out just as it should.

Fix­ing exist­ing blogs

What if you’ve been using one of my Thi­s­away tem­plates for a while? If you want to update your blog to incor­po­rate the fix, you have two options.

Option 1: Start from scratch

If you haven’t made any cus­tomiza­tions to the blog tem­plate (e.g. adding ele­ments to the side­bar, chang­ing the CSS, adding a cus­tom header image, etc.), you can sim­ply log into your Blog­ger admin area, select the “Tem­plate” tab, then click “Pick new” in the tem­plate sub-nav, and select the same Thi­s­away color scheme you are cur­rently using. Then just repub­lish to update your blog with the fixed version.

Option 2: Apply the fix manually

This isn’t as scary as you might think, though it takes a few more steps than Option 1. After log­ging into your Blog­ger admin area, click the “Tem­plate” tab, and then focus your atten­tion on the text edit­ing area on that page.

You’re look­ing for the fol­low­ing CSS in the upper por­tion of the tem­plate code:

.post-body div {
font-size: 13px;
line-height: 18px;
margin: 10px, 0px;

Change that to match the following:

.post-body div {

The last line of the orig­i­nal is changed, and two addi­tional lines have been added.

Click “Save Tem­plate Changes” and then repub­lish to update your blog.


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