Hand Coding

Let’s have a game of Spot the Difference, shall we? I want you to tell me the difference between my blog, and virtually every other blog out there. Go on.

Most of the rest have some decent amount of content that’s worth reading.

Apart from that.

Any of the others I’ve seen have more than just their author reading them, so don’t have to resort to making up feedback.

Well it’s true, but that’s not what I’m looking for.

The horrendous design.

They’re not all that bad…

Your horrendous design

I’m sorry you feel that way, but that’s not it either. Maybe I’ll just tell you what I’m on about. The difference is static vs dynamic content. I spend five or 10 minutes per day typing out HTML by hand, copying and pasting <tags>, and fitting in my new content. Every week I have to edit every page to include links to newer material. This both sucks and blows. This is static web-design. Every other blog I know of is dynamic, with pages generated on the fly with PHP. This is my goal. This is why I downloaded Apache, PHP and Perl for learning and experimentation. I can only hope that when I feel confident enough to apply these new (to me) technologies netsoc will let me run scripts on their servers.

Me Wanty

I want to seeThe Matrix: Reloaded, particularly after seeing that trailer. I want to see The Hulk, now even more so since discovering that Ang Lee is directing. I want more immediately to see the Hulk trailer which I’ve been trying to download for several hours. I want to see Terminator III, and I want not to regret it afterwards, though I’m not all that optimistic. I want also to see Daredevil, The Matrix: Revolutions and X2.

I want broadband.

I also want to be able to put all this para-legal music I’ve just downloaded onto a zip-disk before I miss the bus, which is why I’m leaving for Daedalus (main computer building) now, and consequently writing no more. On the point of zip-disks, I’ve taken to naming mine after scientists. Today I will be transporting Pearl Jam and Pink Floyd among others, on Paul Dirac.

Ay Caramba!

I am so smart, I am so smart S-M-R-T, I mean S-M-A-R-T. The lack of post yesterday was a result of having oh-so-much-better things to do. Specifically, winning the L&H Simpsons Quiz. It’s about time we won one of these things, having come second in two of them last year. In one case our team of two lost to a team of six on a tie-break question. Anywho, that’s all past, and we can finally claim our rightful places as kings of all Simpsons knowledge. All hail Emperor Clobbersaurus!

But that’s not the best part. Oh, gather round my children and I shall tell you a tale. The prize was four front row tickets to see Nancy Cartwright. This was, of course, the main event of the evening. There were about five hundred people in the main auditorium, and the same again in another lecture hall who were watching by video uplink. Walking past the length of the queue was entertainment enough in itself. She spoke for about two hours, covering all the expected areas: how she got into voice acting, how the Simpsons started, how it’s made, and what other cartoons she’s worked on. I was surprised to find out she did the voice of Mindy in Animaniacs.


  • Her introduction, “I’m Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?”
  • Seeing her walk past as we were waiting to get in, and realising that no-one else knew that it was her.
  • An unexpected rendition of Bartman.
  • Her selection of quotes done in the various voices she does for the show (Bart, Nelson, Rod and Todd, Ralph), including a whole scene where Bart pretends to be God speaking through Rod and Todd’s radio.

I can now die happy.


I’ve magically changed this weblog into… a slightly different looking weblog! I took my final thought from yesterday and chose a colour scheme for the site. I remain pathetically nameless, but that can change. I’ll think about it over the weekend, in that florescent tomb (S)hell. For those who don’t know and can’t guess I work part-time in a service station. I sell petrol to perpetually angry people and cigarettes to idiots. It long ago lost its anthropological appeal, so now I just die a little every week. It could get me down if I wasn’t so distinctly apathetic. Sorry, didn’t mean to rant about work. It’s just that it’s going to screw up my Saturday this week and I’d really rather it didn’t.

On another note, IE doesn’t screw up my design as much as I’d thought it would. Which is nice. Unless you don’t like the design. But you do, don’t you? It’s only the bones of the final look at this stage. Picture more links for one thing, probably a blog-roll of some sort, and maybe a very transparent image background.

Give Me a Name

I’ve just started to type without knowing what I’m going to write about. All I know is that I’ll probably end up editing later, simply because that’s not what I intend to do. I don’t have a title for this entry yet; I’ll think of one once I know what it’s about. And that leads me nicely to: I don’t have a title for my blog yet. Nor do I have a pleasing style (writing or design), or any logo, pictures or cohesive theme. Looks like a big job ahead, except that I only usually spend about half an hour a day writing this, and I only know of one person who reads it. So I want a good name. Of the blogs I read (there aren’t many yet; I’m new to this) Tom Coates has the fantastically titled PlasticBag.org, I’m quite fond of the name Aquarionics, and some of the Bloggie award nominees have great names. The name should define the site, give both an indication of the content or intent and a decent inspiration for the overall style. That’s why I want a name first, so I can build a style around it.

Of course, once I have a name and a style, I’ll have nothing else to blame when I fail utterly in representing myself properly here. Now I can just fall back on “It’s not really me“, but with the effort of design behind it I don’t think I could claim that anymore.

The fact that I have no well-defined, or even slightly coherent, personal writing style means that there’s no problem with interrupting myself with this quote from National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon:

Give me a name.

Weren’t your parents supposed to do that?

So anyway, short story shorter, I have no online identity and my offline one isn’t even worth bringing online with me. So I need to find one. Maybe I’ll start with finding a nice colour…


Okay, yesterday’s post seems to have been written in TML (Text Markup Language). That’s right, I forgot to put in the links (since corrected). The web is nothing without links. They are it’s lifeforce, its purpose, its H. So instead of being a node in a fantastic interweaving tapestry of human insight, yesterday’s post was a chunk of lonely muttering, standing on the sidelines. As a further illustration of my seeming inability to write for the web, I had to correct the markup <h2>Accessibility</h3>. How’s that for accessibility?

You may have noticed the lack of links in the above text. I’m aware of the irony.


Accessibility on the web is important. That’s been said before. A lot. Even I’ve said it before. But I haven’t devoted an entire blog entry to it yet, and I feel it deserves one. Let me start by saying that I have recently altered the some pages on this site considerably. Except you won’t notice unless you’re using a text-only browser or a screen-reading program. The reason for this is simple: this HTML document has nothing in it specifying layout or color or any other such style issues. If you’re using Mozilla, you can see the basic page, without style, by selecting View > Use Style > Basic Page Style. The style is added by use of a stylesheet, which tells visual browsers (like Internet Explorer and Netscape) how to display the page content. As it was before today, the navigation links appeared in the HTML document before the content, and the stylesheet put them on the left of the screen in visual browsers. In non-visual browsers, or in CSS-unaware browsers the links were presented first, because they were first in the HTML. You can imagine that this was annoying for the blind person who had to listen to a list of links before reaching the content, and the person with an old browser who had to scroll through the link list on every page. Now it’s different. With no change to the appearance on mainstream browsers, I’ve shifted the navigation to the bottom of the page.

There are, of course, more issues than this regarding accessibility on the web. Another that I have plans to address more fully is the issue of colour. That is colour-blindness and low- or mono-colour displays. Prompted by an occasion on which I was forced to use one of the older computers here in UCD, the issue of contrast became apparent (ironically…) The computer in question had a faulty monitor that made it virtually, and indeed in some cases actually, impossible to distinguish my link-text colour from the black background on the navigation bar. I promptly threw together a high-contrast stylesheet to offer as an alternative. Mozilla users can see it in action be selecting View > Use Style > High Contrast. I plan to research the area further, as there is no guarantee that the alternative stylesheet is sufficient for all colour-related accessibility issues to be resolved.

More information on the importance and implementation of accessibility aids is readily available. To begin with try:

Buffy’s Back

It was a struggle to omit exclamation points from the title today. I’m quite excited. I’ve spent months trying to guess if the promises of a return to the good ol’ days of Buffy would come true, and judging by yesterday’s[6] “Lessons”, it should be a great season. 7×01 was the best season opener since season four IMO, showing all the characters the way I wanted to see them. SPOILERS coming up.

Willow is in exactly the right situation; being punished mostly by herself (“I want to be Willow”), learning to deal with magic rather than quitting; I didn’t want to see her in another rehab-like situation. I want her to be Willow. She had some good scenes with Giles, including the humour that was so lacking last year (Willow: “Is there anything you don’t know everything about?”, Giles: “Synchronized swimming. Complete mystery to me.” – great), and some scene-setting for the coming season (Giles: “The hell mouth.”, Willow: “It’s gonna open. It’s gonna swallow us all.” – ominous). Xander didn’t get much of a look in, but he usually gets a Xander-centric episode one or two eps into the season. I’m waiting to see what they do with him.

Buffy has finally stopped whining, so I can actually enjoy when she’s on screen. Her overprotection of Dawn is a nice change since she pretty much ignored Dawn all last season. I loved their training session (Dawn: “But he’s new. He doesn’t know his strength. H-he might not know all those fancy martial arts skills they inevitably seem to pick up.” – self-referential gold). Buffy is great at the ‘mom’ thing (Buffy: “Go. Talk with your mouth full”, or Xander: “How exactly do you make cereal?”, Buffy: “Ah, you put the box near the milk. I saw it on the food channel.”, or best of all Buffy: “And stay away from hyena people, or any lizard-type athletes, you know, or if you see anyone that’s invisible.”)

Things I wonder about the coming season:

  • Is the new principal a Good Guy (in the know), or a faux Big Bad? I reckon he has to be one of them, and I think Good Guy is the way they’ll go, since Snyder was evil.
  • What was up with the Istanbul bit? No further allusions to the episode opener. Must be important.
  • Will Spike be even remotely similar to who he was? I like Spike so I hope they don’t just completely change his character.
  • Anya’s not doing real vengeance. This looks like she’ll rejoin the scoobies later.
  • The Scrappy Gang: How will Dawn’s new friends fit in?
  • That ending! What’s it all about? Obviously Istanbul, Willows sensing of the Hellmouth and this shape-changing companion of Spike’s are related to the season arc.

Things I didn’t like:

  • Waiting
  • Xander’s near absence

Favourite Aspect:

Dawn. She was fantastic. She’s mirroring the old Buffy so well, except for the whiny angst that weighed Buffy down in the early seasons. Michelle Trachtenberg is excellent, and somewhat hotter than before. Admittedly it’s skewed by being a Dawn-centric episode, but nearly all of the good dialog was Dawn’s (“Favorite activities include not ever having to do this again” being among my top choices; Michelle’s delivery was spot on). She seemed kinda useless, or at least unused, last year but that’s all gonna change this year, with the formation of Dawn’s own ‘Scrappy Gang’. Or so it seems.

Overall a quality offering. No major events of magnificent proportions, like “Becoming, part II” or “The Body”, but a solid episode with a decent premise and an above-average season opener. Bearing in mind that I don’t give half-marks, this gets a four star (out of five) rating from me. Roll on next week.

[6] Yes it aired in America back on September 24th, but the earliest I get to see it is on Sky One, who aired it for the first time on British TV last night.

Half Re-Design

Being, as I am, quite lazy about such, and all, things, I’ve done part of the site redesign. ‘Site’, at this stage, is four (count ’em! FOUR) pages. I’ll put some old (last week’s) posts into an archive soon, probably keeping from just the previous Monday’s post on the front page. I’ll archive the rest by the week. When I do that split I’ll throw together a slightly different style-sheet for the local section (downloads for UCD students). With the modifications I’ve made sure that the site is totally readable and navigable without the style elements. The HTML source has no inherent style whatsoever; not even a <br> tag to force a line-break. All of the style is in the stylesheet. I also re-wrote sbrophy’s page in valid HTML4.0 Strict with embedded style. I guess I was in the mood for standards compliance!

I didn’t post yesterday because my day off kept me away from the college computers and my mother’s work kept me away from my home computer. I did get online for a few minutes at a friends house, but only to order a new computer from Dell. It’s a pity it wasn’t for me 🙁