inessential by Brent Simmons


Server Maintenance Tonight

André writes: "On Sunday morning, starting at about 1:30 AM Pacific we will perform maintenance work on our servers at Exodus. This includes the servers hosting EditThisPage.Com, Weblogs.Com, Www.UserLand.Com, Discuss.UserLand.Com, and My.UserLand.Com. The downtime will vary from server to server. We expect the last server to be back online at about 5:00 AM Pacific."

Manila templates

I'm working on templates for newbies over the next two weeks. The idea is when you create a Manila site you choose a look you want.

You've probably seen Marc Canter's list. I'm looking for more pointers to well-designed Manila sites. I'm also interested in looking at existing services that let you create a website and give you a choice up front about the appearance -- the idea is to look at prior art for user interfaces. People will want to be able to choose a look, but not without seeing it first.

Talk about appearance and templates wouldn't be complete without a pointer to, the big daddy of all themes sites.


array: "the vibe here, for the moment, seems much calmer."

Seventy Seven: "The problem is that he paid a web designer to create his web pages. Now he is pretty much out of luck if he cannot get access to his web designer. That is why I offer Manila sites."

ps aux|grep purple: "A Panda bear walks into a bar. Sits down at a table and orders a beer and a double cheeseburger..."

Favorite Books

It's been going around -- people's top ten books lists. Could I resist? No way.

In no particular order:

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera. Choosing one book by Kundera was difficult. This one may be most representative of his novels. But you can't go wrong by reading Life is Elsewhere, the Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Slowness, and so on.

Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino. My one favorite book ever. Marco Polo tells Kublai Khan of the impossible cities he's encountered while travelling.

The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka. As a teenager I struggled to interpret this book (symbolically, as religious allegory, as the byproduct of an Oedipus complex, as cultural criticism) in the way they teach in AP English. Only years later did I begin to understand that its opacity (as metaphor) and its brilliance are totally linked. "This was no dream."

Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth. The funniest book I've ever read. The analyst's-couch monologue of a man caught between desires lofty and lecherous.

Where I'm Calling From, Raymond Carver. A big collection of short stories by a master of the form.

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov. A field guide to American motels in the 1950s.

Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges. I'm not even finished this book yet and it goes on the list. The first sentence of The Library Of Babel: "The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps an infinite, number of hexagonal galleries, with enormous ventilation shafts in the middle, encircled by very low railings." It's because of Borges that I'm trying to learn Spanish in my limited spare time.

The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick. It presents an alternate universe where the U.S., having lost World War II, is divided into Japanese and German territory. But a third alternate universe, not like our own but one in which America won WWII, intrudes. The background itself isn't as important as the people and the intersection of realities.

A Susan Sontag Reader, Susan Sontag. Reading "Against Interpretation," "On Style," "Notes on Camp," and "The Pornographic Imagination" was an intellectual awakening. I wish I had read this in high school.

The Mezzanine, Nicholson Baker. Aesthetics of the very small.