Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Last Random Thoughts of 2005

Well, I meant to finish all my reviews and do a retrospective of the year before heading off to the New Years parties... heck, I intended to get all my writing done earlier this week. But time snuck up on me, and I ended up busier than expected with "real life". So I don't have any reviews for you, just a final linkdump. I plan to be home before the new year hits us with a loud thwack, and I may post again before the end of 2005, but if not: Happy New Year! May 2006 be a much better year for everyone.

New Heroclix Previews: Black Lightning, Geo Force, and Katana... And more previews: Mary Marvel, Manhunter, Speedy...

Local Cover.

Iron Chef Godzilla against challenger King Kong. Via Querldox.

Kaja Foglio has found the move to webcomics to be good all around.

If you haven't already, you can add yourself to my Frappr map.

Another edition of There's No Such Website!

Doctor Who writer, both TV and books, and the guy who wrote me into a book, Paul Cornell is now blogging.

The tortoise and the ... Hippo?

The mystery of Dinner for One.

Steve Martin joins Huffington Post with a rather odd post about leap-seconds.

The Million Dollar Homepage is almost full.

Diane Duane finds Statler and Waldorf on the balcony.

Wil Wheaton apologizes to his parents.

Mt St Helens continues to burble.

A first-person account of the depressurization of flight 536. KIRO TV also has a video taken in the cabin, after the initial panic, that shows the Alaska employees keeping everything calm.

How not to spend your winter vacation. I have to wonder at any 16-year-old who has enough money (that according to the article, his parents had given him) to not only get a flight to the Middle East, but then pay for taxi rides and a flight from Lebanon to Baghdad, along with hotels along the way.

For my mother-in-law, a picture of a pug.

The RIAA commits racketeering in Michigan. I have no desire to ever buy an album from anyone associated with the RIAA again. If it means I must go musicless, I think I'd prefer it to letting scum like the RIAA bully people.

And to kick off the celebrations: New Years Superstitions.

-by Tegan at 9:29 AM Seattle time - Permalink  

Friday, December 30, 2005

More CSS

Warning: Lots of techie/nerdie commentary ahead. Folks not fascinated by CSS should just skip this one.

Wow. It's almost the end of the year, and I'm still thinking about this stuff. My latest CSS venture is the website of the store I work at. So I'm actually getting paid for thinking about this stuff at the moment.

Anyway, I embraced CSS and threw out all the tables on my blogs, and I learned the mantra of "tables are BAD". But with the store website I ran into a big issue. I have a lot of tabular data... and most of the pages were massive tables nested into tables.

But I'd learned the mantra, so I ruthlessly went through the pages and started to throw out all the tables there, too. Until I realized that there is no way in CSS to properly display such data. Indeed, it doesn't make any sense to throw out tables if you are using them to display tabular data. Tables were made to display tabular data.

So I went through and removed all the tables that were being used for layout purposes only, which is what all the objection to tables really is. I left in all the tables I was using for data, and started to figure out how to use CSS to style them.

And immediately ran smackdab into another problem.

Because I was trying to preserve the layout of the original website (which was designed by the owner's daughter and works well for our purposes), I used CSS to put in margins that center the content a fixed number of pixels in. I like the look, it makes the page easier to read, and I thought it would work great.

And in Firefox and Opera it does look fine. But a bunch of the tables looked very odd in Internet Explorer. I was at work when I discovered the oddity, and the lightbulb lit in my brain after I'd stewed about it while serving customers. All the tables that looked wrong had the width set. All of them had a percentage, and the tables that looked the worst had the larger percentages set. So if I had set a table to be 100%, it needed a horizontal scrollbar in IE, but looked just fine in Firefox and Opera. That's because IE decided that the 100% meant the width of the browser, not the width of the bit of the page it was in, and yet still honored the left margin! ARGH!

I tried to Google a workaround to fix the problem, but virtually any discussion of tables on the 'net is about why you shouldn't use them to make page layouts, or barring that, really basic "how to set up a table" tutorials. I don't even know for sure that the problem in IE is a bug. I do know that I want some of the tables to span the width of the content part of the pages I'm building, but I can't use the most obvious method because it breaks for anyone using IE to view the site.

I'm still working out options. I think I want to standardize all the tables on the whole site, and that suggests to me using a fixed-width table instead of liquid tables. I'm fond of liquid layouts, because it makes more sense to me to let the user have more control over what they are viewing. But perhaps for a retail site, I need to sacrifice user control to make the site look more uniform?

I must ponder this some more. But in the meantime, I removed a lot of the table width tags to make the page look a little better until I get I chance to figure out how to actually fix it.

-by Tegan at 9:48 PM Seattle time - Permalink  

Harry Potter and the Massively Condensed Story

So hubby-Eric and I went to see the latest Harry Potter tonight. I wasn't expecting it to be terribly good, because so much happens in the book that a full adaptation would take WAY more than 3 hours, but I didn't expect it to be quite this bad.

Don't get me wrong. I liked what I saw. But what was left out was so mismatched that the movie felt like the book in fast forward with lots of the bits ending up in the wrong place. I can't imagine that anyone who sees the movie without first having read the book will have any clue as to what is going on most of the time.

Completely gone was the entire house elf subplot... no Dobby, no Winky, no clues to the plot through them. Almost missing was the Rita Skeeter subplot, and it fizzled out after starting to build, like someone thought it might make the final cut then decided to drop it. Hints of the tension between Snape and Karkaroff emerged, but Karkaroff's choice to run away is gone. Nothing at all about Hagrid's secret being revealed, and what it cost him. The entire betting subplot with the twins and Bagman is gone, although as if to make up for it the twins take bets on everything else. The Triwizard winnings and what Harry does with them is also gone. The elder Mr. Crouch... Harry finds him dead but DOESN'T BOTHER TO ACTUALLY TELL DUMBLEDORE, which I assume is why he went up to the office.

It's like somebody took a bunch of scenes from the book and said "Harry goes to find Dumbledore in this scene, and in this other scene he goes to Dumbledore's office and peeks into the Pensieve, so we'll just combine those two," even though it makes no sense, plotwise, to do so.

Each scene was well-done, for a movie adaptation. But instead of feeling like a movie, like it was telling a story, it felt like just a series of scenes. And while I'm sure I will look back at it and think of the characters as the definitives for their roles, and while I think the acting was overall excellent, it still just wasn't much of a movie.

-by Tegan at 6:55 PM Seattle time - Permalink  

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Mini Linkdump

Whoa. Take a peek at the upcoming Metamorpho Heroclix.

Aaron Williams sends some love to Doctor Who.

Polite Scott awards the Best Comic Book Medicine of 2005 awards.

No single guys should read this link. Via Modulator.

Panexa: "can contribute to developing inhumanly powerful tongue muscles, capable of licking through steel."

-by Tegan at 6:25 PM Seattle time - Permalink  

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Random Thoughts

Good review of manga The Dreaming. I just bought this one on the strength of the on-line preview.

The Register reports that a scene from Doctor Who was the top TV moment of 2005. The scene was from the top-rated episode The Empty Child, which was the most chilling Doctor Who episode ever.


This article is almost enough to make a person take up art. I know it makes me want one of those tablets.

Want to know where all your energy goes? Try a kill-a-watt to find out which appliances cost you the most to run.

Museum of Hoaxes shows us the pothole pictures.

Um. Iron SpongeBob? Via Making Light.

-by Tegan at 5:37 PM Seattle time - Permalink  

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Boxing Day Party

Maybe it was the absence of a real Christmas, but the Boxing Day party yesterday evening at our house was the most fun I've had in ages.

We originally planned it as a slightly informal get-together to watch the new Doctor Who on the CBC. Before the telecast, hubby-Eric also decided to show another 2005 episode of Doctor Who, The Unquiet Dead, which is set on Christmas Eve.

My sisters arrived early and while my little sister snoozed, my older sister requested a viewing of the Narnia cartoon, which hubby-Eric had found thanks to our comic shop owner. So we started the evening with the cartoon, which was truly awful in some ways and pretty cool in other ways. I did have some fun MST3King it.

After the video, we made dinner, and wondered if anyone else intended to show up. As we were digging into the pizza, people started to arrive bearing mostly leftover Christmas candy. And one friend, Denise, brought gifts.

For Eric, she had a board game based on Oz - Off to See the Wizard. Eric was delighted, as it was in excellent shape. Chalk one up to Denise!

Then she gave me my present. I opened it with a little trepidation... and it was a Battling Bush Bop Bag. I just about died on the spot laughing, but we couldn't wait to get the thing up so we could bop it around. My little sister Lisa and I blew it up, with many jokes about "blowing" revolving around us, to the point where we had difficulty breathing because we were laughing so hard. The rest of the evening was punctuated by frequent bopping noises as people walked past the thing and took a shot. While many jokes were made, we managed to keep them confined to the bop bag itself and avoided the deadly political discussions that might have arisen.

After blowing up the bop bag, Eric entertained the crowd with Paul Dini's Christmas Video in the hopes of making everyone start saying "Tank! (and also Flamethrower)" It went over well enough, especially the last bit where Rashy goes nuts.

We then watched "The Unquiet Dead"... well, most of the crowd. I went up to my room to hide and Denise and Lisa followed me. We got into a discussion of vintage soda pop, and decided to go together on the purchase of some cases of pop that you generally can't get in the stores. We put together a preliminary order right then and there, and worked out how we intended to divide it, too.

After "The Unquiet Dead", we had a few minutes so Eric showed the Children in Need special again, then we watched "The Christmas Invasion" on two TVs in two rooms. While it was going, people asked me to burn them DVDs of the show so they could watch it at home.

After the show was over, everybody cheered, then Christmas Creature Comforts came on and we watched. I was ok until I noticed that the slugs were blinking. Slugs don't blink. It didn't help that people pointed out that slugs also don't have teeth and don't talk. The blinking really bothered me. I went a little nuts and I sorta forget what happened after that.

Oh, right! We showed the BBC red button special (without the interactive bits). I think it's called Attack of the Graske. We managed to get a cap of somebody going through the game, which isn't nearly as fun as playing it, but is fun nonetheless.

The party broke up after that, with everyone grabbing some Christmas candy before they left. Eric and I did a quick tidy-up and that was the evening. And I had an absolute BLAST. Best Boxing Day Ever.

-by Tegan at 7:49 AM Seattle time - Permalink  

Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing Day Thoughts

Mark Evanier gives us Holiday There's No Such Website!

Elayne Riggs points us to The Queen's Christmas Message for 2005.

Johnny B discovered that The Grinch Won Christmas.

The Museum of Hoaxes debunks another myth.

Savage Chickens savage blogs.

-by Tegan at 11:14 AM Seattle time - Permalink  

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Whatever Else

I'm off to be with my family. See you tomorrow.

-by Tegan at 8:25 AM Seattle time - Permalink  

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