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 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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