Ex Bibliotheca

The life and times of Zack Weinberg.

Tuesday, 27 August 2002

# 7:30 AM

I can't resist pointing out Teresa's delightful article on lost fandoms, specifically those of the nineteenth century.

But I really am going to bed now.

# 7:20 AM

I hardly ever make HTML coding errors anymore while writing these entries. It's a little scary; I expect to make errors, but time and time again the W3C's validator gives them a clean bill of health. I suppose this means I am a web monkey now.

(Addendum: one disadvantage of rounding times to the nearest five minutes, is you can get collisions. Need to do something about that.)

# 7:20 AM

I've plugged Stefan Gagne's work before, but allow me to do so again: both Unreal Estate and Penultima are amazingly nifty. The latter requires Neverwinter Nights, which I do not have, so I have not actually played it, but the text visible when you run strings(1) on the modules is funny enough that I'm sure the games are worth playing just for the jokes. (I am considering purchasing NWN just to play Penultima with, but they get my money only when the Linux version is actually released, not while they're still just making noises about doing one. Yeah, I could install Windows on the disk partition that is waiting to have Windows installed on it, and play that version, but that wouldn't be nearly as convenient, nor would it give Bioware any incentive to finish the Linux port.)

# 6:35 AM

Electrolite commented on a post on Poor Man, and in the process registered a complaint about the page style which spawned a whole series of interesting comments and a response from Andrew Northrup. All in all, an interesting excursion from political commentary (standard fare on Poor Man and pretty common on Electrolite) into graphic design.

But I would like to register a complaint in this context. The issue Patrick had with the Poor Man template was, in a nutshell, poor choice of background and text colors. Now, if the page author doesn't do something special, HTML leaves the choice of colors up to the reader's browser, which has nice handy controls for setting them to something the reader can read. Same same font, text size, and so forth. But you will notice that almost all web pages that have done anything at all with page layout, have explicit color choices. Is this because it's easy to dink with the colors, and has a nice obvious visual impact? Perhaps. However, there's another problem, which is: if you're doing your web page layout with CSS the way it appears to have been intended to be done — with div and span and all the positioning in the CSS instead of the HTML — and you want even one block somewhere which is a different color, you have basically no choice but to specify the color of every last block element, or you will get hideous smears of color all over the place.

Or, at least, I have not been able to avoid these smears, and believe me, I have tried. Since I think it's more important to leave font and color choice up to the reader than to write HTML4/CSS2 the way they were intended to be written, I don't do it the "right" way. It's endlessly frustrating, though; CSS seems to go out of its way to make obvious simple things that the author would really like to be able to do, very hard.

In other news, Seth Schoen as usual has lots of interesting things to say including some short comments on the EFF benefit at the DNA Lounge which I am now even more disappointed to have missed. But I'm pleased to see that Seth too reads Electrolite.