It's more than a house. It's an adventure.

Thursday, November 06, 2003


It was, well...different. Rather confusing at the end, I think know what happened but needed help from my friend to work it out. Definitely more action-oriented than Reloaded and far lighter on the "deep" stuff.

The final fight scene was way over the top, "contrived" doesn't even begin to cover it. It really seemed like they just did crap for the sake of doing it. Some of the new characters I don't really understand why they were there. And what really confused the hell out of me was that Gloria Foster was not playing The Oracle. I know she died, but I thought I had heard that it was after all her scenes had been completed.

Some of the other action scenes were just mind-blowing. I know it's all computer graphics but even so, just the idea of it was amazing.

The guy whose mind got taken over by Smith (oops, spoiler if you've not seen Reloaded) did a decent job replicating his speech style (cadence, etc.) for the most part but needed a little more to be truly convincing. I also wish there had been more of the Merovingian.

Worth seeing to complete the trilogy, and I'm sure I'll get the box set when all 3 come out on DVD together, but think about catching a matinee instead of paying full-price for a weekend evening show.

Might have helped if I had gotten around to seeing The Animatrix.

Far too many repeated elements from the first 2 movies. You need some continuity but there was a lot of it IMO. Going all the way back to a setting very reminiscent of one of Neo's first Matrix experiences (the dojo) was an interesting touch.

In the final analysis, yes I did enjoy the movie. But it wasn't what I was expecting.

I think I was looking for answers tonight. But didn't get them all - not many of them, even. I think the answers were in Reloaded; they just got realized in Revolutions.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

The next browser feature I'm after

This won't appeal to the mass population but it'd make my life a lot easier. I spend a good chunk of my day pointing at one server doing development and testing. As it's a shared server, I can't make global changes to the configuration, and even application-level changes I need to justify to several people and then hope they agree. What I'm running into is my browser caching files and not getting the latest versions when I'm coding/debugging things. So I find myself clearing the cache manually 2-3 times a day just to make sure I'm getting the right stuff.

What am I proposing? Much like the "cookie whitelists" we see today in browsers such as Mozilla, Firebird and even IE, I would like to be able to configure my browser cache settings on a per-site basis. It would probably be buried under an "Advanced" tab in an Options dialog box or in a "developer's toolbar" much like the Web Developer toolbar for Firebird. In it would be a list to which you can add the domains where the browser should never look to local cache, but rather always retrive the page from the server.

Now, I could mitigate the need for this by setting up my server to send no-cache type directives in all HTTP headers, but as I said I don't run the server in all cases. I could also, in my ASP pages, set the headers for each page to do the same. I do have control over that. But I have lots of Javascript in external files which are linked in, and that technique can't be used there. Same for images. Putting the power in my browser lets me cover all my bases and not have to coordinate with anyone else.

Widespread use could cause bandwidth problems for users and site operators alike, to be sure, but in a development scenario that's not too much of an issue as compared to live sites. And there are lots of other browser features that could be abused as well.

Amazing menus

I'm not a big fan of application-style menus on web pages/sites/apps, but Mezzoblue has a very attractive take on them. Amazing the things you can do with just a little CSS work. Doesn't function in IE, however — this is one of those things I ranted about a couple weeks ago. People won't do great stuff like this menu example because IE has, well, stopped doing anything interesting.

Are popups gone?

MPT takes a glance at one of the interesting things that has come out of the recent Longhorn screenshot releases. Longhorn's web browser (I'll refrain from calling it IE as there's no indication what it will be labeled upon release) has a built-in pop-up blocker. Welcome to Y2K, Microsoft.

Many people are asking now "does this mean popups are gone forever?" I certainly hope not. While the functionality that allows a web page to bring up a new window is definitely abused, there are legitimate purposes for pop-ups. Luckily LWB appears to have a whitelist much like the current browsers that block pop-ups. I assume that this can be pre-configured and locked down when configuring desktops for a corporate rollout, allowing internal web-based applications to keep using pop-ups and similar functionality.

The other big deal in Longhornland is XAML, but I haven't read enough about it or XUL to be able to say anything yet

Big, big game

I've been spending a fair amount of time with SSX3 since I received it about 10 days ago. Huge game. I've only scratched the surface of all the objectives you can play towards, and with only 2 characters so far. A very elaborate world has been built, and it's quite immersive. And as with the previous games in the series, the soundtrack is great.

The only thing I don't like about it is some of the things that have been removed from the previous games. For example, your characters all start at the same skill levels and you have to buy increased attributes. Acheiving a goal doesn't increase anything - you merely gain trophies and money, which you can then turn into the attributes of your choosing. But I'm still loving the game.

Making the switch

Unfortunately, not me. Doug over at Stopdesign has switched from a PC back to a Mac. His experience gives me hope for my own conversion, whenever that may happen. Wish I knew of a place I could rent/borrow a Mac from for a week or 2 to give it a more through test drive than what I can get at CompUSA.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Site update

Ripped shamelessly from my home page.

I've made some small tweaks. I'm rolling back a little to HTML 4.01. Some pages are still XHTML but I've been migrating back to HTML 4.01. Just not enough browsers do XHTML properly for me to push the envelope.

Users of browsers which support stylesheet switching will notice that I have an alternative stylesheet called "Curved." Give it a spin. I'm not done with it just yet but it's coming along nicely.

These pages work best with a reasonably standards-compilant browser. This is also a testbed for ideas I have around some more "cutting-edge" ideas. I recommend using Mozilla or one of its derivatives for all your browsing needs. Text-only browsers such as lynx will also do well, as everything is laid out logically. That is, there are no formatting/layout instructions in my HTML, that's all encased in the CSS files.

Health insurance needs attention STAT

Found out this week that for thse second consecutive year, our medical insurance plans are going up significantly in price. Last year it was more money coming out of my paycheck every week and a 50% increase in my doctor visit copays. This year, I'll again be spending more money out of my paycheck, but I haven't heard about copays yet.

The most appalling change, however, is that I no longer have a $5 copay on prescription medications, but rather will pay a percentage of the cost of the medicine. We were told that it'd hoped this will encourage us to use the bulk prescriptions by mail service that's available to us and "more closely examine what prescriptions we have and evaluate which ones we really need." (paraphrased). This sickens me. I feel very lucky that I'm single and have no "constant" medications I'm on. How does someone "choose" whcih prescriptions they need when their doctor is telling them they need all of them?

This whole plan will only serve to push people into not seeking medical attention until it's far too late, and dropping prescriptions will only increase the chances of them needing attention.

I can only hope that the company acquiring us has a better plan and rolls us into it very quickly after the buyout is complete.

Usability and timing

Very interesting item on Surf*Mind*Musings this morning. Something I had never thought about in usability before, and I never would have imagined there'd be a way to really quantify it. It's not just about minimizing the number of steps it takes to do something - it's how long each of those steps takes.

An example from my project at work, worst case: point, click, go to pop-up window, point, select from a drop-down, click OK, point, select from a multi-select box, click OK...there's more but it's getting tedious now. But I'm not sure the task can be distilled down to fewer steps. There's a lot going on there. Perhaps if we'd defined what needs to be done before talking about how it would be done, we could have done better.

Lost count

Bravenet lost the counter for my Dakota page, which of the 3 pages I have is the one that gets the most hits. Erg. One of these days I'll get real web hosting with a real counter.

More stylesheet fun

EditCSS is a great extension for Mozilla/Firebird that Mike turned me on to. It adds a sidebar to your browser which loads a page's CSS into an editable field. You can then edit the CSS and see the results immediately.

I'm going to attempt to get back to my alternate stylesheet sometime this weekend. I got bogged down for a couple weekends with some other stuff.

My friend Troy is trying to get me to look at Topstyle Pro. I probably will check it out but it'll probably be more useful to me at work than here at home.

CSS oddness

Trying to figure out where I messed up my CSS. I previously had set my border-colors for the sidebar navigation in a class that's common to both. But that seemed to break. I've had to explicitly set it in each ID now, for each pseudoclass. I think it was only messed up in Gecko though.


Eric has gotten his RSS (mostly) working so he's showing up in my Bloglines listings. He got to see Alien last night, I didn't because all my friends who would have gone with me bailed.

Remember when you had to tell your friends "I can't go, my parents won't let me"? s/parents/wife/g and things almost hold true. Almost.

Javascript and CSS tomfoolery

QuirksMode is a (new?) site with lots of information on and samples of Javascript and CSS. About all I don't like about it is that it uses frames. Then again, my current project at work uses 5 frames in a very odd layout.