Entries from October 2002

Server move

Ah, another season, another server.

In my constant quest for quality hosting, I've moved the BeatnikPad to a brand-spankin' new server. Tell me: does the site load quickly (or quicker) for you? From where I stand, it's smokin'!


So. The Queen herself, with Prince Phillip in tow, is visiting Winnipeg on October 9th. In of itself this information wouldn't be a reason to mention it, except for the fact that the man himself (no, not the Queen) is planning a visit to the school.

Liz and PhilApparently, and I only know this because I was told this during the instructors' meeting on the royal visit, he likes architecture. That's why he's coming to the new downtown campus where I work: he wants to see how the architects will merge the old, 1900's stone facade with the new, glass and steel design.

At any rate, this again would be of minor note to me (and possibly to you) except that, just like any royal visit, there will be photo-ops. Apparently the college wants to have instructors with a student or two in all of the small video editing suites on the first floor of the school, so his, er, eminence (?) can "chat them up".

So I may have a chance, if I really want, to meet the guy. The big problem is I know absolutely nothing about British royalty. I know their names, and I know their scandals, but I feel quite sure that wouldn't be proper conversation material. At least I know that I wouldn't want to come thousands of miles to have some snot-nosed Web designer guy remind me that my son once had aspirations to be a tampon.

Tomorrow we have a campus-wide "royal protocol meeting", where the students and staff get to learn all of the strange and bewildering protocol that we need to follow whilst in the presence of Phil. It should be interesting.

And I'll let you know what my decision is on whether or not I'm chosen to meet him. Anyone got anything to share that I should know about the guy?

The Redesign Blues

I've got the redesign itch.

The present BeatnikPad design is quickly approaching its one year anniversary, and I'm jonesing to update it. Part of what I had promised myself I'd have finished already is a code update to separate the layout from the content, like I did with Renée's site. Everything would be XHTML for content, and cascading style sheets for layout, as it should be.

So, today I sat down and farted around with a few layout ideas. To be honest, I still really like the present design, but I was tossing around the possibility of retiring this look and feel and trying something new. If I'm going to rip apart the code I might as well put on a new coat of paint while I'm at it, right?

But I'm not 100% happy with what I've done, and I'm feeling rather indecisive. What do you think? I started off with this fairly clean layout, then tweaked it into this attempt, and then ended the morning with this minor revision.

Like any of them? Think I should stick with what I've got? Think they all suck? Hit me with your worst...


Note to self:

  1. Somehow, somewhere, I picked up the habit of appending "dude" onto the end of sentences. I am appalled and blame everyone but myself for this despicable habit.
  2. beatnikPad: Less pretention, more jokes!
  3. I will stop referring to Mel Lastman as "that guy that kind of looks like Hans Moleman".
  4. People are not beyond redemption for watching The Bachelor: I need to remember this.
  5. Coffee and a cinnamon bun do not contain the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals.
  6. After use, return toilet seat to the down position.
  7. Just because it's rocking your world, doesn't mean the whole bus wants to hear your interpretation of James Brown's inimitable funk skills.
  8. Your class doesn't care about Toronto. Stop mentioning it.

I have to stop here or I'll be here all night.

Happy Birthday, MT

Happy Birthday, Movable Type.

And with that, Mena and Ben have released Movable Type 2.5. Seeing as how things are extra-geeky around the BeatnikPad these days, I've already upgraded to the new version, and have also added in the TrackBack functionality to the site.

A bunch of people have e-mailed me asking, "Why haven't you implemented Trackback on your Website? It's the wave of the webblogging future!" And the answer is, "Because I'm a lazy dog."

But, here it is. For those of you who have no idea what the heck Trackback is (or don't use Movable Type to power your Website), I apologize for stealing a minute from your life. It's back to regular programming (The Prince arrives!) tomorrow.

(PS: Don't forget to check out the booty-shaking Kung Log, which has been updated to support Movable Type 2.5's new XML-RPC implementation. Sweet.)

prince and cuban missles

A few thoughts about the Duke of Edinburgh's visit to my school:

  • He actually spoke to a group of us, asking us "are you instructors or students?", and then cryptically remarking, "where are the builders?" I think he was referring to the architects, who he had just met 25 minutes earlier.
  • For an 81-year-old racist, sexist, homophobe, he seemed pretty spry. (I particularily like the "slitty eyes" comment.)
  • Man, he's short.

At any rate, I'm glad that's over. I kept imagining some of the more, er, "dude-ly" of the students pulling a major breach of protocol, "Dude! I have all of your albums!", but the surprisingly short visit passed without incident.

And now, for something completely different: Read a fascinating article in the Boston Globe about the Kennedy tapes during the Cuban missle crisis. Really interesting.


Thanksgiving Day (and the other major North American mealfests) have always been a bit strange for my family. I suppose it's because the concept of a "Chinese" thanksgiving meal always seems to hold a few unorthodox surprises.

Don't get me wrong: there is turkey, and a lot of it. But I don't think we've ever had a thanksgiving dinner with normal kinds of trimmings. A good example would be cranberry sauce: we've never had it. Because of that I've never understood how the presence of fruit enlivens turkey. It kind of goes in the same category for me as ham and pine pizza. What's next - grapes and baloney? Kiwi and headcheese? Yikes.

I also seem to remember years when my mom just said to hell with the turkey and we had such innovative thanksgiving meals as wonton soup, rice, and chop suey. Wontons just don't seem to suffuse the eater with the same warming glow that turkey provides.. and chop suey? Let's not even go there. At least I could get up from the table afterwards, free from the swooning effects of a turkey tryptophan overdose.

(Just had a thought: do they celebrate thanksgiving in Japan? Or Korea? Or East Timor? And if so, what do they eat?)

My kvetching about thanksgiving aside, here's raising a, er, fortune cookie to all of the fine folks that hang out at the BeatnikPad. Thanks for visiting, for writing me e-mails and comments, and for giving me a damn good reason to keep this site going. Have a safe and happy thanksgiving.

Where stuff happens

Freshly posted to Jason Perkins' Workspace Exhibit:

My Workspace

Il fait froid (and linkage)

Damn, but it's cold. And this is only the beginning.

  • The always swank and well-dressed Lana has moved to a shiny, equally swank new home: Place and Thyme. Go and say hello.
  • The generous and most kind PJ (thanks for the magazine!) has also relocated. I owe you a coke.
  • In other Web news, the world shakes its fist in the air (while bellowing, "nooooo!") as Dennis Mahoney and Tobias Seamon put their visit-worthy site 0format on the shelf. When will they return? "Sometime in 2003." I say: crap.
  • Why sign-off is a ridiculous thing.
  • Mena Trott, 1/2 of the squeaky-keen Movable Type team, has also launched a wonderful redesign of her personal site.
  • LiteBrite.

My god, am I just totally not ready for winter.


Lately, I've been feeling tired.

Scratch that, I'm weary.

These are the times when I wish (just slightly) that I could regress to the party-going, drug-taking, responsibility-shirking person I was ten years ago. I am definitely in need of a life vacation / psycho-emotional enema.

Ah well. There's always the Sopranos, and the Iron Chef.

Standards, baby, yeah

I've been working (for the weekend - sorry, couldn't help myself) on some course material that I'll be teaching late next year on XHTML, standards, and using cascading style sheets for layout. Luckily, there's no end of great, inspiring stuff online to help communicate the power (and non-stop geek cool) of the separation of design and content.

Some good recent 'uns:

If your interested in reading a great, great book, Eric Meyer: on CSS kicks it hard. How can one man know so much?

I'm working on some CSS stuff that you'll hopefully see in the near future. It's time to get this party started.

an idea in search of help

I've been working on and off on an idea for a Web service that I think is pretty interesting - cool, even. Here's a few hints: it involves Weblogs, personal opinions, and the power of word of mouth.

I don't want to let the cheese out of the container just yet, but I need some help. Specifically, I need some PHP / MySQL / programming help, as some of the stuff I want to implement is out of range of my only adequate programming skills. Knowledge of XML-RPC, Weblogging software (Movable Type, Greymatter, Radio, etc.), and the mighty comedic prowess of Don Knotts is crucial.

Okay, the last one is negotiable.

If you're interested, drop me a line with your e-mail address, and a 50-word essay on why Three's Company makes you squirm with happiness. No, this doesn't pay a single cent, but you'll be respected by hundreds, adored by tens, and loved by one: me.


Our deepest condolences to Leslie Harpold, mourning the loss of her beloved cat Marco.

My name is bruce…

Dear god, this is why some people shouldn't be allowed to bear children if they're going to be allowed to name them, too:
It seems to me that the name "Scatman" is a great one. you know: after semi-singer and comedian Scatman Crothers.

I keep envision having a son named Scatman. I can imagine everyone he meets saying, 'What a cool name.' Which is good because that way they'll have something to like about him even if his personality is really off-putting. Or if he's shallow or a bully when he's like 13, when he should be getting into punk rock or something. At least they'll think he has a hip name.

But don't use it, cause I thought of it.
Brought to you by Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing: A Primer on Parent Cruelty.

Link unearthed over at the Backup Brain.

Geburtstag Sushi

Today is my sweetie's birthday. If you feel like it, pop over to her site and say happy birthday. I'm sure she'd like that.

Oh, and if you're in the celebrating way, you owe it to yourself (and the celebratee) to go out for sushi. But, you knew that already, right? That is all.

book upgrades, please

Part of the reality of life working the Web (besides eyestrain, unrealistic deadlines, rampant coffee breath, and bewildered clients, that is) is the fact that the Web presents a constant learning process.

There's always new, fast-spreading technologies to learn, freshly spun techniques to master, and the inevitable software upgrades to manhandle.

In the last six months there's been new versions of Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Fireworks, Cleaner, and other major software packages released. PHP was updated a bunch of times. Flash introduced a new, more robust version of Actionscript. XML, RSS, and RDF was added into the alphabet soup that is my brain. Mac OS X was upgraded and got even better.

Throughout all of this, I bought books. I rely on books to help me keep up with the march of technology, and now that I'm teaching a lot of this, I rely on them even more. But I'm getting a ton of old books for old versions of software and programming languages that are now, basically, obsolete. What to do with them?

I wish more book publishers did what Ted Landau is doing with his excellent Mac OS X Disaster Relief. Now that the latest version of OS X has been released, Mr. Landau is releasing an update to the book, available free on his Web site.

If more book publishers offered "upgrades" to their books for a reduced price (or free), just as Mr. Landau offers for his book, and software producers offer for their products, I would be a happy man. And book buyers wouldn't have to keep tossing books in the recycling bin.

Anyone have a need for old computer books?

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