Singing the Praises of Templating

I’ve had this blog for about four years now, and I’ve made a bunch of changes to the look and feel of the site over this time.

However, about two years ago – when I started getting serious about this – I rebuilt this blog on standards (CSS, valid HTML etc) and tried to make it as modular as possible.

I am still hosted at Blogger for the day-to-day blogger output, but I have a bunch of home-grown apps that I generate on an as-updated basis one of my home Linux boxes. These areas (such as Top Ten Lists and Reviews) are databased at home and pushed to my web site as needed. (PHP/mySql for those who care.)

So, I need templates to keep things sane.

Which I’ve done.

I just did a major CSS upgrade of this site (added/changed alternate style – another boon), and – once done with the CSS coding – all I had to do was update two template files (one at Blogger, one on my local box) and republish.

And everything is completely up-to-date and in synch.

I love it when I accidently do something correctly…god bless the template gods.

Firefox Updates

I like the Firefox browser as much as any web-savvy geek, but I have one quibble with it: The patchless-upgrade process.

I began with a pre-lease version of Firefox, upgraded to 1.0, then downloaded and installed the bug/security-fix releases 1.01 and 1.02. While it’s not biggie for me with a fast connection, it is problematic that one has to download a ~4.5M upgrade for each point release.

It’s a full install each time (which does keep one’s preferences and so on, so that’s good).

That’s a pain.

I’m guessing the reasoning is to completely replace the older (broken in some way) engine and get the new one installed, instead of band-aid patches that will leave the browser more brittle. I’m OK with that, but I this may keep folks from upgrading in more timely manner, especially the dial-up folks.

Show Me the Way, to the Next Whiskey Bar

For those of you unfamiliar with The Whiskey Bar, it’s a very much left-leaning blog with terrific writing. Liberal, but not the foam-at-the-mouth, diss everything Republican and so on liberal. Thoughtful and well researched.

The Whiskey Bar was great reading during the 2004 election season, but the bar abruptly closed around the time of Rathergate.

The Whiskey Bar re-opened in January, but with a different format: Collections of quotations and lifted written passages tossed together to make a point.

Finally, on March 24, Billmon – the saloon keeper – finally posted some original writing explaining why he went off the grid, why he came back and so on. Brilliant stuff, whether you’re a liberal or not.

One compelling passage:

To paraphrase Hannah Arendt, the peculiar vulnerability of historical truth (which means political truth) is that it isn’t inherently more plausible than outright lies, since the facts could always have been otherwise. And in a world where the airwaves are overloaded 24/7 with the mindless babbling of complete idiots, it isn’t very hard to make inconvenient facts disappear, or create new pseudofacts that reinforce whatever bias or cultural affinity you want to cultivate – particularly if the audience is already disposed to prefer your reassuring lies to discomforting truths told by strangers.

And that’s just a taste.

Billmon’s point is that the Democrats lost because Rove and his minions really understood how the game is played today. The Whiskey Bar doesn’t like this new game, but he gives the Rovarions credit for playing this game well.


XML Quagmire

I’ve been followoing the issue of XML standards/bifurcation and so on for too long now, but I’m still uncertain about the ramifications of it all.

Comment: Yep, binary is better – faster.


  • Is this flavor of faster necessarily faster enough to matter?
  • Is it better to have mulitple XML-binary formats? Sure, better for each one but…overall?
  • Look at the whole Atom vs. RSS/RDF issue. Does XML really want to go down this road?

This sounds like a spanking for the non-ASCII XML folks.

It is, but with a caveat: Remember VRML?

It was brilliant, flexible, easy to code (for a programmer) and in ASCII. And required a plug-in, much like Flash does. XML requires SOME sorta of parser, as well, both not browser native, let’s say.

Flash is not easy to code for a programmer (no JS-like code to hack). It’s compiled to … uh, a binary.

I just don’t know. I really don’t.

But I’m glad to see this XML-thingee starting to (finally!) gain traction with the masses. The next year or so will be interesting in this space.

Not so Incredible(s)

Well, I saw The Incredibles yesterday, and, well, I just wasn’t blown away.

I expected to be blown away, and that’s part of the let-down. If you’re expecting steak and get hamburger, the meal’s a letdown, now matter how good that burger is.

I had the same experience with National Lampoon’s Animal House: I first saw this when I was in college, on campus, and the college had a pretty high-profile frat presence (so, for example, there were lots of togas in the audience). But after hearing all about it, enduring food fights in the cafeteria and so on, how could the movie live up to the expectations? It couldn’t. I liked the movie, but wasn’t blown away.

Today, however, it’s one of my (guilty pleasures) favorites.

Other factors prevented me from saying “This is the damn best thing ever!” about The Incredibles:

  • I’m not a big fan of superhero movies: This is a superhero movie, and that’s just not my favorite genre. I never read the comic books or watched many of the cartoons as a kid; as an adult, I’ve still yet to see any of the Batman movies, and I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the first Superman movie on TV (and was unimpressed). Just not my bag.
  • The animation “wow” effect not in evidence: This is not a knock against the movie, just a simple fact. When Toy Story first came out, that was a “wow” (and it had a good story, as well). And Shrek (the first) was the first movie I ever saw on DVD, so there’s that. I still remember the first song I ever heard on CD – Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” – man, that still blows me away. You really do remember your first time…
  • Crappy Extras: Again, Shrek is the winner here. The entire disk of extras on The Incredibles were, for the most part, yawn-inducing. I was quite surprised.

But don’t get me wrong – the movie was fun to watch and I recommend it. It just didn’t measure up to my expectations in many ways, but that’s my problem, ya know?

Hmm…a steak does sound good…

More Music

American IV: The Man Comes Around
Johnny Cash

As stated many times before, I’m not a country music lover.

Is this even “country” music? – Cash covers pop and traditional songs in his own inimitable way.

A co-worker told me about this CD.

She lent same to me.

I ripped/copied same.

And then I purchased same – giving back. This is good – BRILLIANT – music.

To me.

All music

I dunno. My musical taste seems all over the board.

I like classical.

I like blues.

Not a big fan of jazz.

Not a big fan of rap.

Not a big fan of country/country and western – yet a lot of what is interesting to me lately/recently is, I guess, sorta country based.

OK, I’m getting old.

Am I also getting to be a redneck?

Johnny Cash has a distinct voice that – sadly – I’m just “getting” today.


Yet I welcome the “country” infusion, most of which I’ve discovered over the last half-dozen years or so.

Strange. Weird.


Damn! I’m Tired!


Yep, it’s Friday night, about 10pm, and I’m ready to pack it in.

Geez, how old am I???

Hectic week – all over the place – including loading a truck (yes, I’m a programmer. Don’t ask).

Some good code written; some good processes put into place/thought about.

Nice dinner this evening. Pasta. Mussels. Nice bottle of Pinot Noir (Oregon, not that California stuff…like I’d really know the difference [here I might]).

Mind racing; body racing in the opposite direction (toward the bed….).

All in all, good week and – especially – night.