I was young and I needed the money

A while ago I was digging through some boxes and found the remainders of my old comic strip. I trot them out whenever anybody gives me half a chance, so some of the people reading this have already seen them. If you do a Google search on “Spectre Collie,” most of the links are to Precambrian web index sites that were linking to my old version of the comic.

But I noticed that they were more yellowed than I remembered, and some of them were water-damaged. I’d scanned in a bunch of them right after I graduated college and started up a website, but all that was lost in one of my computer upgrades. I dug through all my old floppy discs the other night looking for any remnants of the stuff from my old website, but it’s apparently gone for good. (It’s kind of a shame, too — I had 3D models of space billboards and everything.)

So I scanned in some of the remainders of the comic strip and put them back on the internets. And added gratuitous AJAX to the whole thing, just because I could. It’s all right here.

Update: I just noticed that the page only works in Safari, and is non-functional in every other browser. Sweet. So I took out all the complicated hijinx and just made it a normal page. It’s still reading entries dynamically in PHP from an external XML file, so it’s at least a little bit over-engineered.

Minor Update

The “Weblog” link at the top of the page now takes you to an archives page that lists recent activity on the site. Could be useful to see where comments have been made; mostly it’s just me dinking around with the site.

The “Links” page is still sketchy, until I figure out something useful to do with it and how to make it work with WordPress. The idea is that it’s going to be a “hey, this is neat!” repository so I don’t have to make a whole post just to say “hey, check this out.”

Every time I change this site, I die a little

I had big dreams for this website, once upon a time. It wasn’t going to be just the place where I ramble on about computer mice and “Alias” that it has become. I was going to write all kinds of fancy web apps and gadgets in PHP and whatever else came along, making it kind of like the original Brunching Shuttlecocks site. I was going to write my own blogging engine, so I could get practice writing. I was going to do travelogues for the places I went, with a fancy photo gallery and write-ups like a travel magazine. And I’d be able to post random pictures, movie reviews, short stories, whatever else I could think of.

But then I gave up my own blogging engine because WordPress is simply better. And now Flickr’s taken over for the photo hosting, and it does much cooler community stuff than I could’ve thought of. All my travel photos are now up there, and I can’t even do a detailed write-up because it’s been so long I can’t remember where half those pictures were taken, and why they were significant. All the other stuff I’d planned fell to the wayside because I never had time.

My only consolation was that I could at least make the thing look nice, and so I wrestled with CSS to finally come up with something not great, but at least somewhat “different.” And that was fragile and broke under different browsers. So now I’ve even given up on that and just went back to the default WordPress theme, gave it a sickly gray-green background and added some old pictures, and I’m sticking with this.

And of course even this isn’t cross-platform like a website is supposed to be. I’ve tried it out, and the score-card is:

  • Safari for Mac: looks pretty much how I intended
  • Firefox for Mac: not bad, but it doesn’t handle fonts as well
  • Firefox for Windows: exactly like Firefox for Mac, except the halftone-image collie is missing from the headerbar
  • Opera for Windows: pretty good overall, although there are some weird spacing nitpicks
  • Internet Explorer for Mac: no surprise that it totally chokes on the spacing, but considering I didn’t put any IE-specific workarounds in, it’s usable
  • Internet Explorer for Windows: header, spacing, links, fonts, all completely fucked up

Now it’s no surprise that IE doesn’t render the webpage well; I’m about the 10 millionth person to bitch about Internet Explorer’s lousy CSS compatibility. But for it to render the page differently on the Mac and Windows versions? That’s just wrong.

So my plan is for standards compliance through petulance. I’m not going to put any of the workarounds to get it to work in IE; they wrote a crappy browser, so they should be the ones to fix it. I realize that I’m not running amazon.com or anything here; as I said, it’s just a place for unfocused rambling. But I used to think that if I’m going to try to learn something (e.g. webpage design), I should learn to do it right (e.g. accessibility, standards compliance, and cross-platform compatibility). Well, screw that.

P.S.: I realize that the “Weblog” and “Links” links are broken. I’m still working on that.

Adventures in the Blogosphere

Saints of Notre DameI found out tonight that I’ve already got a free account on flickr because of my DSL provider. So this is little more than a test post.

I’ve got to say I’m not all that impressed with flickr and can’t see what the big deal is yet. The iPhoto plugin just makes it tolerable to use, not actually fun. But considering how everybody’s all crazy about it, I’ve got to try it and see what all the fuss is about.

Now that I’m living in San Francisco and using a Mac mini to make a weblog and a flickr account, I’m running out of stereotypes.

Great Moments in Typography

In lieu of actual work on making the website more solid, I found this cool plug-in for WordPress that generates headline images on the fly.

I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it running, because it’s gimmicky, slows site access down, and makes everything a little bit more fragile (mostly because my headlines can be as long-winded as my posts). But for now, it’s neat. This is the kind of thing that keeps me interested in having a website in the first place; all the gadgets and cross-links and standards and plug-ins and web-apps you can play around with.

I mean, it’s not as if it’s about the content.

Fun with Internet Search

An idea stolen from Rain, here are some of the recent search phrases that have shown up on my stats page:

  • creepy looking guys
  • creepy guys
  • hairy guys
  • a doctor and a working plasma lightsaber picture
  • brian posehn
  • collie homegrown
  • covenant spectre [I actually know what this one means, which is scary]
  • most photogenic [keep searching, buddy]
  • Lisa. Carol. Fremont. venture
  • creepy guys [soon I will be the #1 search result on Google!]
  • big ass banging [ditto!]
  • cigarette ashing ticket car
  • gall bladder infection antibiotic
  • real zombie sightings
  • fuck you ea
  • half-life 2 sucks ass
  • sarah michelle gellar grouchy side
  • real sightings of angels [they’re hiding behind the zombies]
  • ass parade
  • industrial accidents-severed hands
  • real christian chicks naked/ sightings of
  • walnut creek sucks

I love the internet.

Don’t Panic

The website should look different now (actually, it should look better, but I don’t want to be too optimistic), so don’t be alarmed. I’ve been messing around with WordPress themes for a while now, hence my complaints about CSS and anal-retentive web designers, and this is the result.

I just noticed that it looks like ass on Internet Explorer for the PC, but I guess that’s to be expected. Please, people: get Firefox. If not for yourself, then for the people you love.

It also doesn’t scale that well, so if you’re using a screen resolution less than 1024×768, your browser’s probably going apeshit with the pictures and the floats and the thing and LADY! And I doubt that it’ll work on a cell phone, but really, if you’re using a cell phone to read my blog, then I’m afraid that you need help way beyond the capabilities of XHTML and CSS standards.

It’s all still in progress, so some parts are bound to be broken or missing — if you see something that’s clearly off, or if the navigation is weird or confusing or there’s something you should be able to do but can’t, please let me know either through e-mail or the comments. This is just a personal website, but the whole point of it is to learn how to do all this stuff correctly.

CSS is the instrument of Satan

I’ve been reading all this evangelism about Cascading Style Sheets online, and seeing examples of how interesting things can be done with it, and tutorials and utilities to make it easier. And based on all this, I can only come to one of two conclusions: 1) I’m stupid, or 2) it’s all a pack of filthy, dirty lies.

Since the first is obviously crazy talk, I’ve got to wonder why all these people are lying to me so bad? They keep going on about how tables are evil and it’s possible to do anything you want with CSS, but every attempt I make fails miserably. Even when I copy and paste the code directly from a working page. It’s starting to give me an inferiority complex.

So I’m going back to using tables. It’s easier, and it’s a lot more calming than my ranting about how “float” doesn’t, and “position: absolute” makes things explode, to people who just have to nod and wonder why the hell I’m getting so upset about a mark-up language.

I still say, though, that it’s the most insidiously sadistic thing ever created by man. You can tell that CSS was designed by and for anal-retentive, compulsive people. People with the mindset that every pixel and every color has to be absolutely perfect, even if it means writing pages of mark-up to get it perfect. And what better way to drive people with that mindset insane? By taking the standard and implementing it differently, in subtle but important and sometimes unpredictable ways, in every single browser. It’s ingenious, really.

Good with Computers

Okay, so after two days of being a virtual shut-in, I finally got the website up and looking like ass. Why all this CSS stuff gotta be so hard? There’s still plenty that looks crappy and some stuff that just plain doesn’t work, so this’ll probably still be a work-in-progress for a while. But I’ve got to go outside and see the sunlight, and then get back to writing my anti-technology manifesto.

Being unemployed is a hoot.

New Blog Format

Well, I’ve finally given up. Instead of working with my homegrown attempt at a blogging system (which would’ve been awesome if I’d just kept working at it), I’ve decided to go with WordPress to do the website. It’s a really impressive set-up — incredibly simple to install, more full-featured than any of the commercial packages I’ve seen, it’s free, and it looks to be extremely customizable.

Plus, it lets people add comments! I’ll see if I can set-up convenient macros for “quit yer bitchin'” and “geez, you like to hear yourself talk.”

Of course, it bugs me that I can’t write a half-assed version of what is already written and better than I would’ve been able to do. Just the principle of it; what kind of programmer am I, anyway? But maybe it’ll give me the time to do any one of the ten thousand other projects I had planned to finish if I only had the time.

Welcome! Smiles, everyone! Smiles!

This is my new website. It’s going to have pictures from vacations, stuff I’ve written about movies, any useful software I manage to write, and whatever else I can think of. It’s mainly intended as an outlet so I don’t go on lengthy tirades on message boards, but if there’s an audience for it, all the better. Notice how the pictures change when you move the mouse over them; that alone is worth the trip!