Typogridphy — A Typographical and Grid Layout CSS Framework [via hacker newspaper via raganwald].

Literate Haskell with Markdown and Syntax Highlighting

Last one today, I expect: Literate Haskell with Markdown and Syntax Highlighting.

Arrows in JavaScript

Arrows in JavaScript.

Arrows generalise computation schemes from the sequential version provided by monads, and are thus hard to bend one’s head around. It’s interesting to see them in JS.

Depression FTW! But not in an emo sense…

Upsides of being down — the positive side of depression.

Having spent most of 2006 and 2007 going through this myself, I can, I think, agree. It was unutterably awful, the worst experience of my life bar none (happily, both my parents are still alive) and I would not choose to repeat it but on the other hand, on the other hand, I am, somehow, improved, I think. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say more resilient but yeah, with a better perspective, less rose tints (but also no yawning chasms of nihilism), and a bit more serious. But don’t worry: not too much more.

To explain why depression has not been “bred out” through Darwinian natural selection, theories have suggested that rather than being a defect, depression could be a defence against the chronic stress that misguided people can put themselves under. It is possible that depression defends us against the tendency to deny our true needs by chasing unobtainable goals and helps to bring these needs into sharper focus. More specifically, the proposed benefits are as follows: removal from a stressful situation, introspection, problem solving, the development of a new perspective, and reintegrating this with the community upon recovery.

On a related but geeky note, it’s very annoying that the otherwise excellent Guardian Unlimited fails (yes, epic) when it comes to search. Go to the front page and search for “upsides of being down”, the title of this article. It’s a hit but you have scroll down a long way to see it; google, on the other hand have it right at the top, on the day it was published — damn, they good! So come on, Simon, sort it out. ;-)

One way not to conduct Internet voting

USA Democratic Party “global primary” for Democrats Abroad badly run, insecure, untrustworthy — just like almost all (all?) electronic voting systems in use today.

There are well-known risks at every stage of the episode, so I repeat: that whole process was neither secure nor well-run; moreover, its collection of personal information using unsecured Web pages exposed participants to the risk of information theft, and delivering notionally secure information by email is painfully bad judgment. The episode proves nothing except that well-intentioned people continue to make elementary but serious errors in designing and setting up processes that must be safe at every step if they are to be meaningful.

Don’t like getting to sleep at night? Read the RISKS digest avidly.

font-family: sans-serif;

I have Firefox configured to not allow pages to specify their own fonts: instead, everything just gets rendered as sans-serif. I do this to make the web more legible.

This morning I realised an unintended consequence: my view of Gimboland differs from everyone else’s! While I was seeing it in beuatiful clean sans-serif, everyone else saw Georgia, or Lucida, or one of a list of several possibilities specified by the style sheet. Not what I wanted! So, for now, I’ve switched Gimboland’s style-sheet to specify sans-serif. To my mind this ought to be nice & clean (assuming your fonts are reasonably sensible); you may of course disagree – do let me know if you care to. And you can, of course, override the font in your own browser if you don’t like it. ;-)

This is, by the way, part of my ongoing effort to make Gimboland look OK across platforms & browsers. I think I’ve sorted out the alignment in the header, and now the only thing to do is work out why the sidebar overflows horizontally under Windows (even in Firefox, I think?).


Handy & cunning: netrenderer: how does such-and-such-a-URL look in IE7? Handy for those of us who avoid Windows like the plague as much as possible…

(And yes, I know Gimboland’s still a bit broken. Ah well.)

A treat for everyone who prints Gimboland to read on the bus

Sweet. I’ve just discovered the joy of media="print" Cascading Style Sheets. Now if you print (or, yea, print preview) any of the pages on Gimboland, the printed version won’t include sidebar, footer, most of the header, or a comment entry form (if one is present). Tidy!

This is achieved using the strip-it-down magic that is my print.css.

Seems to work great under Firefox. Slightly less optimal under IE7 but hey, who cares? I haven’t tried it with Safari or Opera yet. Any takers?

OK, I’ll stop being such a fucking snob

Yesterday, I saw how this blog looks in IE, and I was dismayed. So OK, I’ll try to do something about it. Sigh…

But seriously, IE users, what are you doing? Haven’t you seen Firefox? It’s so much nicer it’s just not true – and the plugins, oh, the plugins! Just having adblock should be reason enough for migrating, not to mention DownThemAll, gmail manager, PDF download, and VideoDownloader. Oh yeah, and IE Tab for those pesky pages that just have to be viewed in IE. So – no excuses, nothing to lose and everything to gain… Come! Join us!

Yahoo UI library for fluid layouts with CSS

Potentially useful: Intricate Fluid Layouts in Three Easy Steps.

This is a CSS library, from Yahoo (under a BSD license), which claims to do flexible page layout, with multiple rows and columns, arbitrary nesting, etc. well – ie works across browsers, works across font sizes, etc.

I certainly spent a long time on getting the layout “right” (or at least satisfactory) with gimboland-reloaded, and only really concentrated on getting it right in Firefox. I think there are issues in IE, and I haven’t even seen it in Safari. As I’ve said, I’m not so bothered, but I must admit to being tempted by a tool which claims to do this work for me.

I’m not going to apply it here, however (at least just yet). In particular, the following excerpt from the comments on that page is +1 Insightful, IMHO:

Like Andrew said, this is a step backwards. In order to change the look of the site, I now have to touch the structural layer. So now presentation is being relegated back to the markup, which is just all kinds of bad.

Nate Cavanaugh

The point being that for YUI to work, your desired rendering structure must be reflected in the document source — so for example, if I want the kind of layout I have here, then my structure must be “header, footer, and ‘container’ are siblings; main and sidebar are children of ‘container’”; whereas in the current source the header, main, sidebar, and footer are all siblings at the same level which is, well, just a bit nicer. :-) Still, I’m not 100% convinced it’s still not worthwhile, so I’m keeping the link around, hence this post. :-)

(Expect more “stuff I just want to bookmark” posts from now on (again) — unless I start using deli.cio.us or something, I suppose.)

go faster stripes #2: sidebar comments & better tagging

The sidebar’s getting chunkier, with the addition of comment previews courtesy of simple-recent-comments.

I’ve also switched tagging tool; I was using category tagging, which is a deliciously simple solution let down by the WP interface for setting multiple categories – c’est clunky! Now I’m using Ultimate Tag Warrior which has a much slicker super-whizzy AJAX-o-matic type interface and also, to my eye, slightly more beautiful tag clouds. However, I do now need to hack lightstats further to examine tag tables rather than category tables – no biggie, just a little SQL tweakery some time. Oh yeah, and now all posts will have the category “Uncategorized”, because I just don’t need categories to be visible any more; so I need to fix the RSS feeds to list tags not categories, and redirect all /category/ URLs to the front page, or maybe to /tags/.

go faster stripes #1: flickr sidebar

I’ve added a flickr feed to the sidebar, using the flickrrss plugin. Nice plugin: I can control how many images to get, their size, whose images to get (user, group, everyone, etc.), refine it by tag, and cache the thumbnails on my server so they’re not fetched from flickr for every hit. Sweet. It can only handle one such feed, unfortunately, but I guess I can live with that. :-)