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Friday, September 08, 2000

We are cleaning out the house today in preparation for a yard sale tomorrow morning, which creates endless struggles between K. and I, since I want to keep everything and she doesn't. Here is something we came across that I couldn't part with:



[Drop shadow and slight tilt my homage to Grant.]
David Lehn and Hadley Stern expose the 216 browser safe palette as a myth in this Webmonkey article. In their research they have uncovered what they call The Reallysafe Palette, the only 22 colors guaranteed not to undergo any inappropriate color shifts on "Windows and MacIntosh (sic?!), Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator, 8-bit, 16-bit, and 24-bit compatible for GIFs and BGCOLOR." Very interesting stuff, for geeks at least.
Even when I can't necessarily do the programming I can usually guess how most DHTML feats are accomplished, but I can't figure this one out. It's beautiful too, and one of a whole bunch of new DHTML experiments at i.am/bald.
From Dave Pawson's XSL Frequently Asked Questions, a section on generating tables with XSLT.
"Three design and advertising gurus take a no-holds-barred look at three content sites" in Sites By Design.

Thursday, September 07, 2000

More rambling (continued from here, which was a continuation of this):

So we were rolling along at Schwa, making ends meet, not in debt, having a good time of it, when we suddenly got an offer from a local promotions company to buy Schwa. Well, not actually to buy it, but to basically hire us away from Schwa, letting us retain ownership of our company (so we could still do some hosting and service a few clients) while we became employees of this other company. There were incentives, and we would have been foolish to not accept the offer. Of course we were promised a certain level of control over what would be "our" group in the company, but that sure didn't work out. We realized we have radically different views of the web than any interactive division of a promotions company should have, and we discovered that in business, if it isn't in writing it doesn't mean a thing. A year later, this past February, we submitted our notices and left.

While we were there I did some work that I am still quite proud of, but I found I was extremely dissatisfied, then not only building other people's web sites, but building them for the profit of someone else's company. And doing it 9-6, and currying disfavor because we didn't work longer hours. And we were doing sites that were essentially online sales promotions, and sales promotions is perhaps the worst form of marketing. So it was a huge relief to be free from that job. Aaron moved on to pursue teaching and writing, and Derek and I reformed Schwa as a contract web programming company, set up offices in our homes and I have been happy as a clam ever since. So to speak. Tomorrow I will tell you how happy a clam can be, and why. [continued here]
You may or may not care, but yesterday we finally got pre-approved for a goodly loan to buy a building in Queens. Now we have to find the building. NY here we come!
Some beautiful photography I have come across recently:

Bill's Lepidoptera Photos - Butterfly's and moths, mostly taken in Richmond VA, where my folks live.

Dragonflies and Damselflies of Minnesota. [thanks Stewart]

Children of Mexico - Some photos by Jay Phillip Schomer, who also takes excellent crystal photography.





My insect photographs set is going to quadruple in size over the next few days as I process all the photographs I took over the weekend (it might even quintuple, though I seriously doubt it will sextuple). Added today: a moth, some sort of odd fuzz bug, a spider, a larva, and a leaf spider. I am going to have to invest in some entomology books soon so I can identify at least some of these insects.

Wednesday, September 06, 2000

The second item in my collection of incorrect descriptions of cookies comes from a story at CNET.com:
Cookies are small files that Web sites transfer to customers' computer hard drives through the browsers they use.
A week ago I started and did not finish a little sermon on making money on the web, and if you read it you know I kind of rambled. Following, I continue to ramble in the same vein (you might want to read the previous post before reading this):

It seems that in today's modern world, the media covers little on the internet but companies that are intended to be sold, companies that may indeed be "owned" by somebody, but are really only intended as bait for some big sugar daddy to come along and buy. That's not ownership. Ownership is zeldman.com, glassdog.com, kottke.org, metafilter.com, scripting.com, blogger.com, assembler.org. Those are all sites built with a passion, created and cared for by people who are doing something for the love of it, not for the potential profit of it*. But you know, you hardly hear about it. The internet is a revolution, providing a worldwide audience for anybody with a library card, and people are building amazing and beautiful things for that audience, yet all the media can talk about is how much Yahoo's stock is worth. Pshaaaw. But I'm sorry, I started this to talk about the joys of ownership and here I'm ranting about media coverage.

Aaron, Derek, and I started Schwa 4 years ago as an internet development agency because we wanted to build websites for a living, and we had barely enough connections to think we could get things rolling with minimal investment (since we didn't have any money). Our first project was a content management system (we called it a publishing system) for a magazine that wanted a web presence, but had limited resources. We designed and developed their site, and also built an administrative web site for them that allows them to cut and paste text from their Quark docs, build issues article by article, preview, and then finally publish to their site. It was very rewarding, as we were learning the technology and doing our first real programming as we built the site.

When we were finished, Aaron wanted to make the system a product and try to market it as such, selling it to other magazines who wanted a quick, flexible route to getting online. Both Derek and I resisted the idea, arguing that Schwa was a service company, and we didn't want to product-ize our work. If a client needed a site, we wanted to provide our services in helping them discover what exactly they needed, then building a custom solution that suited them exactly. I am not sure what to think about all that now, but I do think I was a bit short sighted. Even while we were building Schwa as a service oriented web company, I would occasionally daydream about building my own web site venture instead of building somebody else's. Derek would remind me that client work provides variety, and that having only one project would grow monotonous and tiresome. I also never had a vision for what my own web site venture would be, so we continued on our course building sites for our clients.

Then things changed; I'll tell you that story tomorrow. [continued here]

* I know, I know, some of those sites I listed are businesses attempting to make a profit. But they are companies that speak in a human voice, and that are founded and run by people with a passion for the web, not a passion for a buck.
From ASP Today, Handling ASP VBScript Errors at the Page Level:
Sure, IIS allows us to automatically redirect to an error page, but I lose a lot of information about my page in the process. The ASPError object of IIS 5.0 is nice, especially with the line number and page properties, but not very practical. I have to trust that IIS will handle all of my object cleanup. I also lose all of my variables that are in my page. I want to handle the errors myself. What about handling errors in the pages themselves? Like in a VB program? That is what I want to discuss in the rest of this article.
Kaput.org features some excellent DHTML experiments.

Tuesday, September 05, 2000

I spent a long labor day weekend in Chattanooga, and have only this evening returned to St. Loser, Misery. I took close to a 100 photos of various insects while down South, and I think a few of them may even be worth looking at. More tomorrow.
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