Monthly Archives: September 2002

Chic Geek Jacket

I’m normally not the most up-to-date on the latest fashions, but after reading this review and visiting the product’s well-designed website, I’d like one for the two months when it’s going to be cold in Houston :). Version 2.5 (you gotta love clothes that have version numbers!) looks very stylish and like something I would actually wear.

So, if I start buying clothes to match my geeky ways, does that make me a closet geek?


To those of you, well all of you, who have been getting 403 Forbidden errors when you try to access this website, I sincerely apologize. I turned the site ‘off’ when I was upgrading the gallery to everyone but me, but since everything looked normal to me, I forgot to turn it back on. No need to adjust your set, everything should be groovy now. Thanks again to those who emailed and called letting me know something was wrong.

Gallery Update

I’ve updated the Gallery to use Jesse Mullan’s photo.dat hack, so things should move along a bit faster now. Let me know if you spot any problems.

Catching Up

Photolog lovers–I’m finally catching up with some of the pictures taken since 9-19! I’m going a little out of order, just because there are so many to do, but I think you’ll enjoy it. There are over two hundred pictures to add! Anyway give me some time; there will also be a lot of photos from the Kemah Jazz Festival this weekend (schedule) and I’ll try to add those as they come. For now, I hope 9-24-2002 and 9-25-2002 tide you over.

Yummy Site and Birthday

Before I cram for my pyschology test, I have to get one more post in. If you haven’t yet been exposed to the Big Pink Cookie formerly known as Blah Blah Blog, run your mouse over there. BPC was one of the very first blogs I started reading, I believe from a link from H-town blogs where the name caught my eye, and it’s had me hooked ever since. On top of that, today is Christine’s birthday! Ack, I always take to long to write these things and now midnight has passed. Let’s make this a happy belated birthday =). Happy thirty-three Christine!

Em and En Dashes in Movable Typo

Several users of the MTCurly plugin have written in or commented about the module catching em dashes written in as two hyphens. In the PHP function I have parsing the text on this site, I actually have this rule running. Well, it’s a pretty trivial task to do this, but when I was thinking about it the issue of en dashes bothered me and I decided to reread one of my favorite ALA articles, A List Apart: The Trouble With EM ‘n EN.

While the majority of people will just want to use the em dash, I think the possibility of having en dashes generated automatically as well would be very convenient and encourage more widespread adoption of them. But how do you notate an en dash using only the characters on the keyboard? I thought about this and came to the conclusion that there should be two optional addons to the code, one for changing two hyphens into an em dash, and one that changes two hyphens into an en dash and three into an em dash. Get the updated code. I’m curious to hear some thoughts on this.

For those who aren’t familiar with the proper usage of em and en dashes, here’s a quote from the ALA article, which I think is the best summary of the matter on the net, by Peter K. Sheerin.

The em dash (—) is used to indicate a sudden break in thought (“I was thinking about writing a—what time did you say the movie started?”), a parenthetical statement that deserves more attention than parentheses indicate, or instead of a colon or semicolon to link clauses. It is also used to indicate an open range, such as from a given date with no end yet (as in “Peter Sheerin [1969—] authored this document.”), or vague dates (as a stand-in for the last two digits of a four-digit year).

Two adjacent em dashes (a 2-em dash) are used to indicate missing letters in a word (“I just don’t f——ing care about 3.0 browsers”).

Three adjacent em dashes (a 3-em dash) are used to substitute for the author’s name when a repeated series of works are presented in a bibliography, as well as to indicate an entire missing word in the text.

The en dash (–) is used to indicate a range of just about anything with numbers, including dates, numbers, game scores, and pages in any sort of document.

It is also used instead of the word “to” or a hyphen to indicate a connection between things, including geographic references (like the Mason–Dixon Line) and routes (such as the New York–Boston commuter train).

It is used to hyphenate compounds of compounds, where at least one pair is already hyphenated (as in “Netscape 6.1 is an Open-Source–based browser.”). The Chicago Manual of style also states that it should be used “Where one of the components of a compound adjective contains more than one word,” instead of a hyphen (as in “Netscape 6.1 is an Open Source–based browser”). Both of these rules are for clarity in indicating exactly what is being modified by the compound.

Other sources also specify the use of an en dash when referring to joint authors, as in the “Bose–Einstein” paper. Some also prefer it to a hyphen when text is set in all capital letters.

While quoting the above article, I noticed what may be an error in the source where it looks like in the paragraph about en dashes em dashes are actually used. I’ve corrected it in the quote above. Typos happen, I’ll drop Zeldman an email. (Time to break out the spel chequer.)

I’m also considering adding a few other things to the next version of the plugin, so if you have anything you’d like to see in there let me know.

Lexus SC 430

I saw one of these on the freeway today, in “Absolutely Red.” All I can say is, I want one! Either that or a Mini. (A note on the Mini USA site, it’s one of the most usable flash sites I have seen. It lets you link to each page individually, and even has forward and back buttons. It still has non-standard interface chrome, which I tend to dislike, but it’s very well done. Cool.)

Database Backend for Gallery

Gallery, in my opinion, is the best photo management software out there for web right now; it really does everything you could want such a package to do. However, it’s relatively old, as far as web projects go, and development decisions made long ago are starting to really limit it. With version two of Gallery Bharat, the main developer, is fixing everything he wishes he had done right the first time. I’ve been following the new code on the CVS pretty closely and from what I’ve seen so far it’s really quite nice.

Bharat (page has sound) is doing things right the second time around, but the project isn’t moving terribly fast. One of the biggest hassles in trying to deal with Gallery as it stands now is interfacing with the serialized data files. It’s almost impossible to hack unless you get really knee deep in the code. Also, due to the flat-file nature of the data files, things get slower the bigger they get. I had to disable the random picture on the menu just because it was adding about a second or more to the time taken to generate every page! With the data accessible through SQL, I could write a random photo block in five lines of code that takes almost no time to run, not to mention all the other fun things you could do with the data in a proper relational database. Check out the Zeitgeist for an example of some fun things you can do with SQL and PHP when you’re bored.

Anyway, it looks like a temporary solution may be available soon. I’ve contacted the developer and I’m looking into implementing this her as soon as possible. Cross your fingers :).

Grenade at Iris Jazz Resort

After a hard day, I really wanted to kick back and relax. Usually I do this by either taking pictures or listening to music, it was a hard day so I decided to do both. I got an email from Kel earlier saying his band, Grenade, had a gig tonight at my new favorite jazz venue, the Iris Jazz Resort off of Richmond. I caught the last couple of songs from their next to last set and I it was quite good; I think both of the people in the audience enjoyed it.

Seriously, there were probably between around fifteen or twenty people there, but the crowd was nowhere near what the music deserved. Since I left I’ve rationalized the reasons there were so few people there: it’s a Wednesday, not that well-known place (yet), last set, school night, et cetera. It just made me a little disheartened with jazz’s state of popularity. Oh well, maybe there’ll be more people at the Kemah Jazz Festival this weekend. If you go there and see a guy running around with a digital camera, say hi to me.

Busy as a Bee

Today has been one of the busiest days I can remember, which is nice because I like having things to do, but is subconciously stressing just because there are things right after another. I’ve had my two hardest classes, a meeting with David Caceres, and now I have to go take a test. After that there’s a two hour rehearsal for the big band, and after that who knows what. On a more interesting note, I had a good talk with David about possibly starting a blog on his site. This would be espescially interesting because I don’t know of any full-timu musicians, much less jazz musicians, who have blogs.

Behavior Analysis—French Fries and Computers

Someone pointed out to me the other day that, without fail, I always eat french fries with my left hand. As I looked down at my left hand digging into the fries and then at my completely idle right hand, I was perplexed. Why was I eating my fries in such a particular fashion? Nature or nurture? It was obviously a learned condition, as I don’t know anyone else who does it, but the real question was how had I learned it?

As much as I analyzed my daily patterns, I couldn’t nail it down. Finally, it dawned on me: the mouse. Years of eating while I was on the computer had trained me to eat hand foods with my left hand and compute with my right. While this isn’t effective with a command-line interface, where I do a lot of my work, for browsing or reading it is just fine. Lately I’ve begun to notice there are several benefits to being able to eat with one hand, multi-task with the other. I’ve found it especially useful when driving, but that warrants a whole other article :).