onLine weblog archive

Saturday, April 15, 2000

Interesting discussion over at Metafilter about the Metallica suit against napster.
Who's the new management behind It used to be Greg Knauss; is it John Grohol now? I suspect Grohol, who seems unlikely, based only on this page. Can anybody tell me?
Lane becker explains Deepleap at
We've got Deepleap doing any number of things, actually, but they all hook around around this one main idea, and all trying to demonstrate the same thing: that you should be able to do things with the information that you care about on the Web.
Wow! I have to admit I feel honored to be linked from Captain Cursor Creations, Taylor's weblog. First time I remember I hearing of Taylor, years ago, was when I got turned on by an interactive generative piece he did for Hotwired (or was it just linked from Hotwired?) called metasyntactic variable.
Rob Neyer explains the "new" baseball term, "walk-off": Eck's term gains widespread popularity
This is cool: webmutant: a weblog for web developers. And not only because he links to

Friday, April 14, 2000

From MetaFilter, a link to that story that the Wall Street Journal had online for a couple of hours about Microsoft losing Internet Explorer: Will Microsoft lose rights to Internet Explorer?
Deepleap is finally up and running. I have no review as of yet.
From Swimming with sharks, a report at on the battle over streaming media technology between RealNetworks and Microsoft:
Within the high-tech industry, it is known as "getting Netscaped."
Will 3D interfaces (like what vizbang is working on) ever have broad appeal or usefullness? I am doubtful it will happen any time soon.
I need to read this: The Social Life of Documents
More from Microsoft on IE5.5 and standards A Reply to Readers' Concerns about Standards Compliance in Internet Explorer 5.5.
Frontpage98 server admins beware: Microsoft secret password could allow access to Web sites:
Microsoft said its engineers included a secret back door including the phrase "Netscape engineers are weenies!"
Also read: ZDNet: News: MS admits planting secret password
Another article on the WaSP's reaction to IE 5.5, with this useful bit of infomation:
Microsoft's proprietary tags don't even work as advertised. "Internet Explorer's own proprietary LEFTMARGIN and TOPMARGIN attributes to the BODY tag fail randomly in IE5 for the Mac," reports Jack Miller, webmaster for As the Apple Turns. "Your page might work, and then when you click 'Refresh,' it might not. It's a wonder to behold." The only fix Miller has found consists of "violating HTML syntax principles by enclosing the <BODY> tag in another open-close tag pair (like <B>...</B>)."
Did you read this? You should read this. This is something you should read.

Thursday, April 13, 2000

A strange hobby, for sure: Overclocking.
Katz is sometimes annoying, but this is really fascinating and upsetting reading: Showdown With The Pinkertons
Creepy: Final Thoughts. For all your dying needs!

This is priceless: Amazon sued over music samples patent. That patent seems as bogus as the one-click patent Amazon holds; previewing a product before you buy? If I owned a farmer's market, I would get a patent on the way people thump melons before they buy them. There's zillions to be made in licensing!
From Wired: Enonymous Ratings Questioned.
Will it work? Mike Figgis' new movie, Time Code
The Mike Figgis film is comprised of four intertwined stories that unfold in real time over the course of 93 minutes. During production, the actors zigzagged from one story into the next, followed by four cameramen and their lightweight digital cameras, for the entire 93 minutes. They repeated this exercise seven times on seven different days.

Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Helpful to me: Tree Structures in ASP Pages. Helpful to you?
MSNBC on the WaSP reaction to IE 5.5 standards support. The articles quotes one person who posted to the Microsoft bulletin board as saying:
Your betrayal of Web standards is an almost unparalleled event in cyberspace
Yeah, unparalleled. That would be because no one ever released a browser committed to standards support before MS released IE5 on the Macintosh.
FDA panel backs impotence drug, yet still has this to say:
"There will be some people who will probably lose their lives because they pass out at the top of stairs or are operating a car" when they faint, warned Philadelphia cardiologist Dr. Peter Kowey, one of the FDA's scientific advisers.

"This drug is clearly going to kill some people," agreed Dr. Robert Califf of Duke University, saying most at risk are men with serious heart disease who take other medicines that lower blood pressure.
Perhaps a good weeding is in order: E-Tailers Seen Going Out of Business in Droves.
The Brand New Broken Homes are up for a slammie! Vote now!
Zeldman on The Web Standards Project at
The WaSP organized a petition drive, collected thousands of signatures, and helped persuade Netscape to build the next version of Navigator/Communicator around this standards-compliant Gecko rendering engine.
This link from Ed's Weblog. Are you starting to wonder if this log is all about Ed?
A helpful tip from Ed's Weblog:
I discovered today that, at least for CSS with IE5, the order in which you specify styles of a, a:visited, and a:hover matters. If you define a:hover before a:visited in your CSS, then a:hover will not be applied to visited links. If you specify a:hover last, a:hover is applied to the link, regardless of the visited state. I'm not sure if it is supposed to work that way. I didn't think that it mattered where in the css file that a class was defined.
The Web Standards Project talks about their IE 5.5/Windows press release in the most recent Word From The WaSP:
Microsoft claims, wearing a straight face, that delivering "most" of a given standard does the job. Wrong! Putting up "most" of a fence does not protect your privacy. Putting up "most" of a firewall doesn't keep the crackers out.

Tuesday, April 11, 2000

Online Recording Studios!
Now on Harmony Central you can collaborate with anyone, anywhere, for free. All you need is a computer (either Mac or Windows) with an audio and/or MIDI interface and an Internet connection. Emagic, Harmony Central and Rocket Network will supply the rest!
Soon, I will try this out. Sorry for the delay, J.
Cool: The Code Project - Free Source code and Tutorials
To continue the discussion with Ed, I should say first of all that Ed is right. Users don't care about standards (because they haven't a clue as to what they are), and the WSP release would be stronger without such misleading language.

Second of all, I am sympathetic to Ed's other arguments, but I think we still disagree fundamentally. We may both want to see IE improved with full standards support, but we don't agree on what should motivate that improvement. Ed says:
Microsoft is under no obligation to do anything for the good of the greater internet. It would be great, even smart if they did. Their only obligation is to their shareholders.
But by what criteria can we label it "smart" for Microsoft to do something for the good of the greater internet? Based on Ed's comments, I assume he means "smart" as "good for business." If that is our only hope, then we can forget full standards support in IE. Microsoft, like Netscape, has shown that they will use browser exclusivity as a weapon in the browser war. Too much common ground between browsers lessens any advantages Microsoft has garnered; standards effectively level the playing field.

And here is what I don't understand about Ed's argument: he says that they have no obligations but to their shareholders, which implies a sort of ruthless business philosophy that holds everything subjugate to profits, but at the same time dismisses as "malarky" a suggestion in the release that Microsoft is pulling back from standards support now that Netscape finally has a new entry in the browser field. It's good business to lock us in; it's bad business to open up. By Ed's own description of Microsoft's "obligations" it makes perfect sense. Hasn't history shown that they are a ruthless and predatory company?

I admit it: I was naive in thinking that MS was moving towards standards in a move of benevolence. It seems now that they were only doing so when it was safe, when they lost no competitive edge. Now we have nothing to look forward to from MS but more browser specific features which further fragment the web, and in all likelihood, make Microsoft and their shareholders more money. And how can we blame them, if that is their only obligation?

So it seems to me that the only thing that would get Microsoft to really commit to standards support would be a recognition that IE is first and foremost an internet tool, and that the internet is bigger than Microsoft. Think of it as internet environmentalism. To go back to a metaphor I used yesterday, we expect logging companies to be responsible in their harvesting of timber; can't we similarly expect Microsoft to be responsible in how they do business in the internet environment? We can and we should!
From The Brunching Shuttlecocks | Fuzzy Logic Functions: An Overview:
while holdon

while (EXPR) BLOCK holdon (EXPR) BLOCK

This works like a standard while loop at first, but at some point the function realizes it's been bringing personal issues into the evaluation in an inappropriate manner and begins to evaluate the expression named by holdon instead in an attempt to appear reasonable.
Thank you V.
A new source code security hole in IIS has surfaced, as reported by

Here is the Microsoft Security Bulletin (MS00-006) which will take you to the hotfix.
This story explains why all those links didn't work...

Monday, April 10, 2000

Joel on Software: Things You Should Never Do, Part I
The consensus seems to be that the old Netscape code base was really bad. Well, it might have been bad, but, you know what? It worked pretty darn well on an awful lot of real world computer systems.
This is where Joel is just plain wrong. Netscape 4.x does not work well at all. It crashes on Macs, it crashes on PCs, and its html rendering engine is a piece of crap.
You know what I wish? I wish you could assign a "scrollable" property to an absolutely positioned DIV tag, so its potition could be set relative to the window instead of the document. That would make achieving the trailing ad, or the roving menu MUCH easier.
If you like Napster, check out Gnutella
Gnutella can withstand a band of hungry lawyers. How many realtime search technologies can claim that? Not Napster, that's for sure. Just to emphasize how revolutionary this is: hungry lawyers are probably more destructive than nuclear weapons.
I can't link directly to the page where from this quote came, because they are using some lame publishing system that creates unique URLs per user session.
As a developer, I am conflicted about sites like this: How Web Servers' Cookies Threaten Your Privacy.

On the one hand I know that some companies do violate reasonable privacy guidelines, but I also know that there are completely legitimate uses of cookies. Should we boycott their usage just because some people abuse them? I can't convince myself that is a reasonable conclusion.
Wow! An excellent resource for information on Improving ASP Application Performance.

And then they went and lost...
Ed comments on today's release form concerning IE5.5 and its poor standards support, but this time he is all wrong.

It is entirely legitimate to call for Microsoft to support standards of its own volition, and ridiculous to suggest that critics of Microsoft's current browser offerings need either to get an MS job or develop another browser. The internet is bigger than Microsoft, and MS should therefore be developing their browser with the interests of the greater internet in mind (standards support!) and not only their own interests (proprietary lock-ins). It is no different than asking logging companies to be responsible in their harvesting of timber, or imposing zoning restrictions on commercial developments: everything exists in a greater context.
Users are losing patience? Huh? Users don't care about browser compatibility. Period.

Every time a user complains about some site not working in their browser, or that the text on a web site is too small, or any of the countless other problems caused by browser incompatibilities, they are complaining about the lack of standards. They may not even know what a standard is, but they know that the web doesn't work like it should, and we know that is because there is not enough standards support!

I use IE almost exclusively on the PC because I agree with Ed that it provides the best user experience. But that doesn't mean that it can't be improved.
'Opto-chip' breaks speed records. I wish there were more things about which this could be said:
"This is a technology that has bandwidth to burn," Dalton told reporters gathered at the University of Washington.
Recieved this spam the other day:
I am looking for quality individuals serious about earning $10,000 per month. This is a NON MLM business that can be operated entirely from your home. For more information please call (800)934-3473 Ext.9797. Have a great day!
If you have an extra 5 minutes today, why not call their toll free number! But only if your are serious about earning $10,000 a day. If you just want to dabble at making $10,000 a day, this is not for you.
I may be late to report this, but MetaCrawler has a new look.
I just discovered this blog: Usability and Human Factors for the Internet. It has a good collection of usability links.
I don't find such things as interesting as I should: NET ABSTRACTION, which makes collages out of sites whose URLs you enter; netomat, which is a "meta browser" for visually exporing web content; mod7 daily headlines, which creates "graphic interpretations" of daily headlines.
5k contest as of April 9

Sunday, April 09, 2000

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