Tag Archives: Techiness

I’ll clump web design talk and gadget talk here, I guess.

Website work; touching on web design canon

I’m still working on the site. In getting things validated, I discovered a highly annoying problem derived from using w.blogger in conjunction with BlogWorks XML—all my posts had double the open and close paragraph tags. Looking at the source code of any archive (or letting the validator do so), any opening paragraph was coded as a <p><p>, and closing tags were done similarly. Also, any lists (<ol> or <ul>) were surrounded by paragraph tags, which does not make for valid XHTML.

I had some trouble using Brinkster’s database querying tool to get the double-opening paragraph marks replaced. I could do the closing tags easily enough with UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = REPLACE (post_content, '</p></p>', '</p>rn');, but couldn’t do the opening tags.

So I wrote another ASP script, downloadable here. Directions are in the ASP file, but you basically just need to update the connection variables—your username, MySQL server, password, etc. The usual. (Should I start making a page of these little things?) It replaces all doubled opening and closing paragraph marks, blockquotes with paragraph marks right before them (which causes funny formatting), and the cases of lists being surrounded with paragraph tags. Have fun, report errors.

Mathias recently posted a beautiful web design canon suggestion that has served as a bit of a whip cracking for me. I used to be very meticulous about directory structure and expanding abbreviations, but I’ve slipped lately. No longer! The webmistress is back—at least while she has time to be.

However (don’t say “uh-oh” yet), I disagree slightly with some of the points he makes. Yes, titles in anchor tags are useful and necessary, but only on links where the text of the link doesn’t explain the relevant information, as Mark originally suggested. Adding titles to every link seems redundant unless you’re actually providing extra and useful information about the link. That’s nitpicking, and maybe Mathias implicitly meant “where it’s not redundant”, but that may be an important distinction to make.

I’d also disagree (a little more strongly) with the forced capitalization of headings. I know good and well that this is the newspaper work getting to me, but I’ve picked up what I’ll call the French style of titling: first word and proper nouns only. (So-called the “French style” because, well, that’s how all the French articles I read in high school were titled.) But it’s also an acceptable, “official” style for publications, and shouldn’t be knocked.

While I’m at it, I’ll chomp lightly on the relative linking, although I’ve just changed my navigation links to be relative. I’ve changed hosts and servers (but not domains) so much over the past few years that absolute linking was a must to keeping this site maintainable. So while it’s a good suggestion, and one that probably should be made, I totally understand/sympathize with folks like David being set on absolute links.

To Mathias’s web design canon suggestion, I’d add an emphasis on relative font sizes (particularly now that I’m going blind!) and defining acronyms and abbreviations. Even if you have a hardcore techie crowd, and write primarly hardcore techie posts, it never hurts to define an acronym/abbreviation for those who are learning or whose heads are already too stuffed with acronyms to be able to sort out all of them without additional research. Particularly those who are learning or new to the field at hand, though. I can’t recall how many times I’ve wished medical website would define the obscure acronyms they use so I could better understand the context of what I reading…

Wa-pow, biatch!

I’d like to preface this by saying that Markov chains are awesomely cool entities.

I’ll also say that I found the opportunity to program them to be fascinating and fun.

I’ll even toss in a (*Grin*) for the grade the testing script gave me. Not perfect, but we’re definitely entering “time sink” area, and I can’t afford that this week.

Now I’m going to bitch about how many miniscule details fucked that shit up every step of the way.

Holy shit I have lost too much sleep for a project that was supposed to be review. And since I bombed the first 40% of the project, the best I can get will be about a 75%, methinks, despite my recovery. I feel a hell of a lot more comfortable with the ideas I needed to learn to complete this, but holy hell…

First, though: Math.random() sucks.

Spaces at the end of lines when justifying text are no-no’s. Insert un-zestily odd looping conditions to fix. (This one haunted me on my run (!!!) and subsequent campus walk last night.)

Unevenly distributed spaces are a no-no. Java’s Math.random() sucked ass for generating unweighted values in every attempt I made to use it. Discussion is brewing in the forums as to whether we should be able to evenly distribute the spaces (the test script checks for this) or if we have to randomly distribute the spaces (the specs say to do this). It does not seem possible to have both. I have done the former, for now.

Somewhere along the way I lost my ability to comment a book’s worth of notes into code; maybe because the program isn’t very large in terms of objects being manipulated and I can keep it all in my head. Bad practice, nonetheless. Bad Lissa. That’s all that’s left to do, barring a change in the above tidbit.

Have I mentioned that Math.random() sucks? Is my clock (used a seed) sitting perfectly still?

Hours, hours spent tweaking loop conditions and the order of statements and doing old-school outputting of variables to debug…

Another nice thing, however: since I’m going to be working on my next project over break, at least it’s an interesting one. We’re duplicating and extending the functionality of the UNIX cal command.

Or maybe I’m just a dork…

Moving towards integration–a done list and a to-do list.

I want my operating systems to like one another.

I want my Thunderbirds to be just as sexy and useful in Windows as in Linux. No mismatched signatures, profiles, accounts, or preferences.

I want Trillian to be chirpy, sleek, and transparent. I want CenterICQ to be silent, simple, and easy to ignore.

I want XP’s bootloader to manage the operating systems and LILO to manage my kernels.

I don’t want to be pissed when I have to boot into Windows to do Thorn work, fit an equation to a trendline in Excel, catch a glimpse of a layout in Internet Explorer, or do work on SQL Server. I don’t want to be pissed when my files are in Linux on an ext3 partition, and I need to edit them.

I want to read RSS files without having to syncronize my subscriptions and my subscriptions everytime I reboot. (If this makes no sense, then, well, just imagine a list of things that automatically update; but wait–that list is redundantly stored on your hard drive, and additions to one of those lists has to be done manually to the other! Grr.)

So I re-installed Windows today. I gave up the security of NTFS for FAT32 and am working on getting basic apps installed again, like InDesign, Acrobat, and Photoshop. I hate Adobe. Bloated, complicated *mumble, mumble*…

I also just need to take a day and get things running the way I want them to in Linux. I can’t get PPP working with my 2.6.* kernel, meaning I can’t sync my PDA; no one else that I’ve been able to find online has been having this problem. I’m also tired of IceWM, and want to try something new, like Blackbox. I want to go ahead and patch my 2.6.5 kernel for APCI (power management for my laptop), and I want to get the wireless drivers installed and working with PPTP.

Next on my list of things to do? Download PDFs of the articles from Social Psychology and Human Sexuality (Roy Baumeister) and flagrantly break copyright laws to post them here. Some of the articles are actually more interesting than the “No shit, you mean men tend to have more of a short-term mating strategy, while women, who have a higher parental investment, tend to focus more on long-term strategies? Wow…” articles. Not to slam on Buss, because his ideas seem to have merit, but his was undoubtedly the longest, most painful read of the whole book. But these are good things to know. Knowledge is power and all that.

Eric

My laptop has just been through an impromptu naming ceremony and is now named Eric, despite the potential problems of such a name (I have an acquaintance by the same name). Eric’s a good name for my sexy laptop; it fits. At least my acquaintance/buddy won’t call me and ask, “Why are you calling your sexy laptop by my name?”

If, by some odd chance, I do get a call from said acquaintance, I have a list of people three names long (who would have handed over my phone number for that express purpose) that will be on the receiving end of my revenge. And it will be nasty.

(Only one class tomorrow! *Doing that disgustingly violent and cheerful Happy Dance*)