inessential by Brent Simmons

May 2000


Calendar CSS: you can specify the formatting of Manila calendars with style sheets.

Also: docs on the new Discussion Group CSS feature are up.

If you use either or both of these new features, please post a note on the dg here -- I'd like to be able to link to your site.

Calendar CSS on Q: "Netscape is cranky -- look at the calendar on my home page with NS on Windows." It's a Netscape issue, not a style sheets issue, of course.


I'm working on adding CSS support to objects that are created by Manila that you can't directly modify. Manila themes will be able to specify the CSS for a site. Better CSS support means better themes.

My Handspring Visor arrived today. New toy. I'm excited.

Frontier developer needed in Boston.

More Manila widgets: Manila Clipper by Duncan Smeed, Manila Helper from Martin Spernau.

Radio stations are a topic on Scripting News and the discussion group. Were there an radio station, it would be right now playing what I call "shipping music." Music for rude boys and girls: Skatalites, Specials, Madness, Sublime, Hepcat, Desmond Dekker, English Beat, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. And of course the Clash, always the Clash, still the only band that matters.


Next question: How do you set the selected text in a textarea in Mac MSIE 5 using JavaScript? Supposedly it's impossible. That doesn't mean it can't be done. After all, getting the selected text was supposedly impossible, but there was a way.

Setting the selected text in a textarea is needed to get the JavaScript HTML Editor working that Windows MSIE 5 users already enjoy.

Manila Express for Mac IE 5 has been released. Thanks to everybody who helped test and posted feedback to the discussion group here.

Here's how I did it.

Other Manila-related bookmarklets: Manila Clipping from Duncan Smeed, ManilaPad from Ken Dow.

Check out Bookmarklets.Com for lots of general-use bookmarklets.

Late last night I did some recreational programming. Not programming exactly but investigation. I downloaded and installed Python for Macintosh. I wanted to see what it was like. (I've used Python a little on Linux, and already knew I liked Python -- it's like Frontier in some ways.) Python for Macintosh is very nice! There's a mini-IDE. You can make double-clickable applets. There are a bunch of Mac-specific extensions. Etc.

I would expect Python -- with its emphasis on readability, with the Python community's emphasis on education and teaching newbies to program -- to gain ground on Mac OS. Perhaps even more so on Mac OS X, which will probably run the UNIX version of Python. (I hope it comes bundled with OS X.)

AppleScript rules the roost. My personal difficulty in learning AppleScript comes from the difference between actual human language and a syntax that appears human, but isn't. It's a temperament thing, different people's brains are wired differently. This is by no means a general criticism of AppleScript. But it does mean that there's room for more than one newbie-friendly scripting language on Mac OS.

A cool thing happened: I went to check out the Mac Python links on dmoz. As I was reading one of the pages linked to, I suddenly realized that I was reading a page on a Manila site. Hey -- that Members box looks familiar! Sure enough, it was an EditThisPage.Com site with a HowTo on Mac Python and Tkinter. I like it when I end up at an ETP site when I'm not expecting to. What's New in GNOME 1.2. Main thing: I hope it's faster.


Mac Manila Express Bug Fix: It looks like the mangled bookmarklet problem has been solved. First delete your current Manila Express bookmarklet. Then go here, follow the instructions. Make sure it works. Try quitting and restarting IE. Does it still work? I just need a few confirmations.

If it works, this means you can put it in your favorites or toolbar favorites, you don't have to put it in the Apple Menu or on the desktop. (So far it works on Sheila's Mac and on my Mac -- which means it probably works in general.) (Update: Al Hawkins reports in. Looks like we're good to go.)

Me, I keep it in my toolbar favorites. I like having it visible, one click away. It's even easier than on Windows, where you have to right-click then select a menu item.

What was the problem? It was a double-quotes vs. single-quotes issue. No big deal, easily fixable.

Redmonk: Frontier Macros in Dreamweaver.

The Ska FAQ: "Go forth and skank." Common Shell Tools. Via Qube Quorner.


Welcome home, Dave!

Mariners beat the Devil Rays 6-3.

If you use Mac IE 5 and have a Manila weblog, you can help with a small test. "Henderson leads off game with HR for 78th time in career."

News.Com: FBI warns of new Outlook computer virus.

UpsideToday: Komodo meets Mozilla. "On Wednesday, Activestate, a Vancouver, Canada, company specializing in Perl-based software development, announced that it will use the open source Mozilla browser as a framework for building its new Perl- and Python-integrated development environment, or IDE."


I almost never make coffee at night. Tonight I made coffee.

Lola Ray Lewis is awake.

Last night Sheila gave me a personality test about how you are at work. I got very balanced results. Which I could have predicted in advance, I always end up being pretty much equal parts this, that, and the other thing when taking these kinds of tests.

But I'm not one of those people who say "moderation in all things." I have no aesthetic attraction to balance. Quite the opposite: I'm friends with the out-of-kilter. The dis-equilibriate and I do lunch regularly. Acausality and I send our kids to the same school. When I party, I like to have drinks with my pals discontinuity and dissonance. The hyperbolic and I, well, we just like to chill.

This ain't for no reason.

Of course, the end result of the test is to give you a personality type. I could have been an Organizer, Catalyst, Motivator, etc. etc. It labelled me a Developer. No surprise: that's my job title.

Despite my late-modernist tendencies, I can be fearlessly sentimental, which I don't mind telling you, bobouleh. Case in point: moments ago I saw a squirrel racing across the lawn, carrying a nut in its mouth. I felt it in my heart. That's completely ridiculous, all out of proportion. Which is probably why I don't mind.


CNET: OS Death Match: Corel Linux vs. Mac OS 9.

Last time I was in the Bay Area I discovered a station that played '80s music -- the good stuff, Billy Idol, Madness, Thompson Twins, Culture Club, etc. Question: if you know what station I'm talking about, whose call letters I don't recall, is it available on RealAudio? Update: Mark Ward wrote to tell me it's 104.9 KLOZ -- which I'm now listening to via Windows Media Player. Cool. At the moment I'm writing this they're playing the Cure... And now it's Soft Cell's "Tainted Love." Okay, I'm happy.

Check out the calendar -- a new feature that's coming is CSS classes in the calendar HTML, so you can use style sheets to format your calendar.


***MSIE 5/Mac

Mac MSIE 5 JavaScript question: How do you get the selected text? With MSIE 5 for Windows one calls document.selection.createTextRange (). With MSIE 5/Mac, I get an error that document.selection is not an object. Support for Manila Express and for the JavaScript HTML Editor in Manila depends on being able to get the selected text.

Here's a feature I like about MSIE 5/Mac -- you can put "folders" in the favorites bar. Update: artboy informs me you can do the same thing with Netscape/UNIX.


Utterly shameful. What should have been the double-play ball that would have sent us into extra innings went right on by second-baseman Mark McLemore. Fudge.

So, like last night, Mariners lose in the bottom of the ninth. 4-3.

Edgar es muy caliente. He hit a two-run home run earlier to give the Mariners a 3-0 lead. Eeeeeeeeeeeeedgaaaaaaaaaaaaaar.

Mariners lost yesterday, 4-2. Jay Buhner tied the game in the top of the 9th -- but then José Mesa blew it, giving up a two-run home run to Cal Ripken in the bottom of the 9th. Nuts to José Mesa.


I just ordered a Handspring Visor. I've never owned a PDA before. Update: Seth Bokelman loves his Handspring Visor.

A new version of Archipelago was released.


Travel day today for the Mariners. They won yesterday 8-4. For the second day in a row Rickey Henderson led off the first inning with a home run.

BBC News: Theatres go dark for Gielgud. "Theatre audiences across London's West End are remembering acting legend Sir John Gielgud, who has died aged 96."

PR: PHP 4.0 released. According to the press release, it's faster.

ZDNet: Jini: Sun's incredible disappearing act. "Sun's Joy has one explanation for all of the missing products. At a Silicon Valley conference this month, he blamed Jini's lack of momentum on telco deregulation, which he says has inhibited the establishment of a standard, persistent network."

These two sentences, from Running Linux 3rd Edition, page 562, are a marvel of clarity and understatement. "Running your own web server is easy. It consists of two tasks: configuring the httpd daemon and writing documents to provide on the server." There's a whole world hidden in there. When I read it, I laughed. (It's a good book, by the way.)


Sheila's site has a new, simpler URL:

Josh Lucas has added XML-RPC support to Turbine, a product of the Java Apache Project.

Mariners lost 4-3 yesterday, but not without a fight.

Seattle P-I: Microsoft won't speed up its virus fix. "Even the German government's threat to stop using Outlook because of its vulnerability to such malicious programs won't speed the forthcoming free fix, said Lisa Gurry, an Office product manager."

Unix Programming FAQ.


John's posted a picture of Lola Ray Lewis.

The story about the armored van strike in France reminds of a time Sheila and I were in Paris and unable to get cash from any cash machines. Very frustrating!

Thinking like Americans, we had gone to Paris expecting to be able to withdraw cash at will. We had an account with a national French bank, Crédit Agricole. (We were then living in Grenoble.)

After about a week in Paris the cash machines stopped allowing us withdraw money. It turned out that there's a limit to how much you can withdraw if you're outside your department. Since our account was with Crédit Agricole de l'Isere, we were limited to something like 3,000 francs per week outside our department. (I don't recall the exact details.)

So we had no cash left, having blown it all on books in English at the Brentano's on rue de l'Opéra. (And on cocktails and sandwiches at Harry's.)

We went into a Crédit Agricole branch near our hotel and told them we couldn't get any money from the cash machines. The fellow behind the counter didn't speak any English, which we found rare in Paris, but it was okay. He explained the situation about the limits. Then shrugged and told us we can't get any money, then turned back to some paperwork.

We're fuming at this point. I won't let him get back to work: there must be a way we can get some money. I'm trying to draw him out, to tell me how I can get some of our money -- but all I get is that Gallic shrug, that Beckett-like nothing-to-be-done thing. After six months of living in France, Sheila and I were both a little tired of that.

Finally I asked him if I can write a check to the bank and get cash. The teller looked utterly defeated. Which I knew meant it was true, here was the solution, we could get some cash after all. And so we did.

Anyway: this moment turned the tide for us. It was our first major victory. After six months in France, we started to get the hang of things.

So if you're in Paris, and you see a Crédit Agricole not on but near rue Cler in the 7eme arrondisement, think of me and Sheila winning our own personal Battle of Paris.

You know what we did with our cash? My memory may be faulty, but I think that night we ate at Burger King on the Champs-Elysées and went to a movie starring Jeremy Irons. Just to celebrate.

The movie we went to was directed by Louis Malle, who also directed Atlantic City, one of my all-time faves.

Happy Birthday Rona!

I hate Pink Floyd. Iggy rules. I wanna play lacrosse.

Does anybody remember a TV series in the late '70s about Lucan, a boy raised by wolves? I don't think it lasted an entire season. It may not have lasted an entire half-season. Lucan was incredibly strong and fast, and highly ignorant of civilization. A condition every 10-year-old boy aspires to.

(Aside: that stuff's fine for kids, but it freaks me out when adults go for that Rousseau noble savage junk when presented in more sophisticated forms.)

I couldn't find anything on the web about Lucan -- but I did find the unofficial Quark home page (Quark was another short-lived late-'70s show). Adam Quark, played by Richard Benjamin, was a garbage collector in space who had one mis-adventure after another. I loved this show. I wish Nick at Nite would show it -- a 4-hour marathon would do the trick, there were only eight episodes.

Update: Sheila and Mark Staben both pointed me to a page on Lucan. At least it proves I wasn't dreaming!

PR: VA Linux Servers Support Victoria's Secret Cannes 2000 Fashion Show Webcast. Ah, Linux is a force for good in this crazy, messed up world.


Sheila on the anniversary of the Mt. St. Helens eruption: "I remember looking out the living room window and seeing a big mushroom cloud of ash, which then settled all over everything like a fine powder."

ZDNet News: Microsoft's 'Clippy' a security nightmare? "Yet the friendliness of the Office Assistant hides a great deal of power. In fact, it's essentially a back door for Microsoft to allow macros that can take control of a PC and help out users."

ZDNet News: Looking for a pot of gold? Go to Seattle: "Boosted by lucrative software jobs and a bullish stock market, high-tech workers in Washington earned an average of $105,000 in 1998, the last year for which there was comprehensive data." New Jersey (!) came in second, California third -- but neither were even close to Seattle. Forget the analyst's reasons for the salary difference -- it's the rain.

Get to the root of Linux's file system. A quick tour of Linux's directory structure. Via

Archipelago: My trip to San Francisco or Marvin, the taxi angel: "Of course, just for an added tweak, everyone around me slept like the world would stop if they didn't fulfill their sleep mission. Bastards."


It's a girl! Congratulations to John and Indigo.

Halama pitched a complete game shutout in 86 pitches, facing just 29 batters. It doesn't get much better than that. In other Mariners news, they've signed Rickey Henderson.

The Dewbie: "My primary goal with Linux in general is to get it up and running, so that I can get t-shirts."

Sprezzatura: Go to Italy. "Italy is every bit as romantic, as sensual, as grand, as intimate, as disorganized, as luxurious, as simple, as sophisticated, as earthy, as its reputation claims; except that everything is more so than anyone can imagined: a certain drama attaches."

Mariners beat the Twins 9-5 last night. Mariners regain first place in the AL West.

Don't click here unless you want to be grossed out. If you can stomach it, it's oddly enthralling.


The 2-hour season finale of Beverly Hills 90210 conflicts with a new Voyager and a new West Wing. We've got two VCRs. As insane as it sounds, we may watch one of the shows and tape the other two. Hello, my name is Brent and I'm a TV addict.

People say that TV is mostly garbage -- and they're totally right. It's worse than garbage, so much worse than garbage that there are no words for how bad it is. But there are a few, very few, good shows. (No, 90210 isn't one of them -- the season finale is a cultural event.)

It's good that TV is mostly worse than garbage. If it were mostly good -- were high quality the norm, not the rare exception -- we'd be in a lot of trouble. Imagine that there's something genuinely worth watching every hour of the day. The economy would collapse from the loss in productivity. I kid thee not.


The slumping Mariners beat the Twins last night 14-0. A good sign, perhaps. Let's see what happens against the Twinkies tonight.

Prince reclaims his name. At long last.

John Van Dyk has posted a request for comments regarding a Manila Metadata Plugin.

I just discovered DevShed, which calls itself "The Open Source Web Development Site." (Maybe I'm the last to discover this site?) At first glance it looks useful.


Slashdot: Making Linux Easy With Eazel's Andy Hertzfeld.

osOpinion: Microsoft Gamble of a Lifetime: "The Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS) hatched by the crew in Redmond promises to deliver all Windows services to a browser near you. In fact, in the long run, you likely won't be able to buy Microsoft products in stores at all. Everything will be available online."

I think it's great that Mac OS X is a UNIX-ish operating system. Totally cool. I look forward to running it on my G4. On the other hand, the more I see of Aqua the less I like it. I'm seeking less cuteness, not more, on my desktops. I already can't stand the cuteness of Windows, its My this and My that. Aqua's different from the Windows desktop, yes, but on another level it's looking like more of the same. Note: Apple's marketing department probably does not have people like me in my mind. Microsoft's marketing department doesn't, surely.


***Nightly Updates Change

Important note for Frontier server managers: a change has been made regarding automatic nightly updates. They're no longer run when your overnight script runs, but at a semi-random 5 to 55 minutes later, to disperse requests to the root updates server. See Nightly Updates Changes on the Frontier site.

Apache stats

The Most Read Sites Yesterday page doesn't include the static versions of Qube Quorner, Scripting News, and this site. It's easy to count stats for sites served by Frontier -- but the static versions of these sites are served by Apache.

Question: what's the most expedient way to count page reads for a virtual host served by Apache? I could turn on logging for those sites; I could run a script on the Linux box or in Frontier. If there's something off-the-shelf I could use, I'd be happy to not have to re-invent the wheel. Any ideas?

What I want, exactly, is just one number per site, the number of page reads for the previous day. I want to get this number every night at midnight or just after.


Shooting trouble -- not the Windows way: "The first response of some newcomers when encountering a problem in Linux is to reboot. Don't."

Linux Journal: Python Programming for Beginners.


Highlights of Jobs' WWDC keynote: "A public beta of Mac OS X will be 'widely available' this summer, but the final shrinkwrapped version won't be out until January of 2001."

Apple - Mac OS X - Microsoft Internet Explorer. "One of the first fully-functional Carbon applications, IE for Mac OS X is 'a testament to the strength of the Apple-Microsoft relationship,' according to Dick Craddock, Microsoft product unit manager for Mac Internet products." Wasn't the Mac IE 5 team disbanded? I'm not about to trust any of this. (I like Mac IE 5 alot -- which is why I'm pissed at the confusion.)

wwdc2000.Weblogs.Com calls itself "The ultimate independent Apple WWDC weblog."


BlueGreen: "Environmental News and Opinions." According to the description page: "It is a site that anyone can contribute to, very easily. In a cliche, it's 'environmental information by the people, for the people.' Anyone can post something at any time." I've come to trust the editor, Dru Jay, from reading misnomer, and expect good things from this site.

News.Com: Oracle inks deals to boost portal push. Whenever I hear the word "portal" and the name of a super-huge company used in the same sentence, I cringe and tune out. But maybe this is interesting. But maybe not. (That's razor-sharp analysis for ya.)

Luke's been following the news from Zimbabwe. I confess to not following it closely, it seems so far away. But these days, nothing's far away.

There's a news site for REALbasic developers.

Whatdidyouhaveforlunch: "A bowl of cereal is NOT an appropriate food to eat during the morning commute."

I saw an ad on TV for last night. The site looks pretty boring, but I doubt I'm part of the target audience.

Jeff's got pictures of Soul Detour's show last Saturday. UserLand's Jake Savin plays what looks like a 5-string bass. Update: Jake posts details about his bass.

John posts his book list. Some of the books he mentioned would be honorable mentions on my list -- particularly White Noise, The Great Gatsby, and J.D. Salinger's books. About writing like Raymond Carver -- I tried to write like Raymond Carver too. When I wasn't trying to write like Donald Barthelme (whose 40 Stories would be an honorable mention on my list). That was the '80s. I don't know who college students these days emulate. (If you know, let me know -- I'm curious.)

John also asks what's my take on the Mariners. They're in a slump. Three main factors: the number one and two starters are injured; Kazuhiro Sasaki is having trouble with his control; the offense is stranding runners on base. Every team goes through slumps -- that's why they play 162 games. The Yankees were just swept by the Tigers, for instance, knocking the Yankees out of first place. I except both the Yankees and the M's to regain first place. I do expect the current slump to last a few more days, but they'll start coming out of it before Moyer returns in about two weeks.

My foot is improving: I can walk on it normally now, though slowly. I don't have to walk on my heel.


More about templates

People are talking about Manila templates on the discussion group. If you have ideas or pointers, please join in.


I went to the hospital last night. Around midnight I slipped on the ancient hardwood floor in the living room, and a splinter an inch long drove into the bottom of my foot.

It took several shots to anesthetize the area. Ouch! Needles in the bottom of the foot! Also got a tetanus shot in the arm.

Got home around 3 a.m. Now I'm up, hobbling around, off to visit Mom. Happy Mother's Day!

View from the Foot

While at the hospital, before the splinter was removed, Sheila asked, "What if we see Al Hawkins?"

"Run away," I replied.

"On your foot?"

"Yes... He is in Portland, right?"

(This is just by way of teasing EditThisPage.Com's resident critical care nurse. Not that the conversation didn't happen, mind you.)

3.5 stars

Swedish Emergency Room in Ballard was quiet and clean. Everybody was nice. Yes, there was waiting time -- but not as much as one might expect for a minor injury on a Saturday night. I was there between two and three hours. Paperwork on my part was minimal, just signing three forms: a sign-in form, consent for getting a tetanus shot, and a discharge form. The nurses and the doctor appeared competent, not hurting me uneccesarily but getting the job done.

If you have to go to the emergency room, and you have a choice between Swedish in Ballard and somewhere else, pick Swedish.


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.


Sheila: "A little wildlife adventure (plenty for me, thanks)..."

Manila Recent Updates Page: "If you're hosting Manila sites on your Frontier server, you may want to provide a page that lists the most recently updated home pages on your server."

You know you live in Seattle if...

About dog: "Dog is intended as a replacement for the obscure utility 'cat'. In addition to emulating all of the behavior of cat, dog also has some functionality that would normally require a freaky perl hacker to spew out line noise for perl to interpret. This includes extracting ranges of lines of text and strfry()ing text." Via velocity.


New feature: reports showing the most read Manila sites can be generated in HTML and XML formats.

Mariners face Oakland tonight. Yesterday's 7-6 loss to the Rangers in the bottom of the 9th was -- sports cliché coming, wait for it -- heartbreaking, to say the least. Let's hope Gil Meche finally gets some run support tonight.

Sometimes you get an email that makes your day. I just got one from someone I never heard of (a nobody, I'm sure) telling me about the sex I've recently had with a variety of members of my family -- but especially my uncle. In all caps -- and rhyming! It's almost like a deranged, vulgar Dr. Seuss, beautiful and funny in its own way.

osOpinion: Remaining obstacles to World Domination: "InstallShield for Linux is more important than M$ Office."

The good news is that Garret's back. The bad news, I'm sure you know by now, is that they're fighting major fires in New Mexico. If you can help, please do.


We've released changes to Manila and the Control Panel to defend against the ClientSideTrojan bug. Here's a story about the bug and the changes we've made.

PR: Aestiva First to Market with "Server-Jumping": "Torrance, Calif. Aestiva announced this week a new scaling technology known as 'server-jumping.' An innovation of Aestiva's Webputing technology team, server-jumping enables dynamic sites to span multiple computers in support of hundreds of thousands of users in the same way 'static' sites have historically been able to do."

Red Hat, Inc. Announces Red Hat Ventures Investment Unit. (Via LinuxToday.)


I'm installing fixes on UserLand servers for the client-side trojan horse bug mentioned on Scripting News earlier tonight.

These fixes are also going out through the manila.root updates process.

It's very important -- if you see something that looks like a bug, please post a note on the dg or send me email. Thanks!

Idle thoughts... Does Amazon check referers? If not, there's a good chance I could get you to buy a book, thanks to the one-click system.

CNNSI: Seattle 13, Texas 3. "The Mariners gave the Rangers, who had scored 72 runs in their previous eight games, a taste of their own medicine. Seattle was 19-for-45 (.422) in the contest with three home runs and two doubles." "This site is dedicated to the advancement of Lunch as the most important meal of the day. None of those pussyfootin' tree hugging breakfast lovers need to apply, or the satanic overlords of Dinner. No, lunch is where it's at, baby, and don't you forget it."

Tonight the Mariners and Rangers go at it again, the second game of a three-game set. Time for the M's to make up for last night's 10-1 embarrassment. It's harsh when your number 1 and 2 starters are on the disabled list.

Press release: UserLand Submits SOAP 1.1 to World Wide Web Consortium.

More SOAP Quotes.

Milan Kundera, from The Unbearable Lightness of Being:

The fantasy of the Grand March that Franz was so intoxicated by is the political kitsch joining leftists of all times and tendencies. The Grand March is the splendid march on the road to brotherhood, equality, justice, happiness; it goes on and on, obstacles notwitstanding, for obstacles there must be if the march is to be the Grand March....

What makes a leftist is not this or that theory but the ability to integrate any theory into the kitsch called the Grand March.


Mariners face AL West rivals the Texas Rangers tonight. Update: Mariners got trounced, 10-1.

I help administer a bunch of servers, both Frontier and Apache. One of the beautiful things about Frontier servers is that they're easily scriptable via XML-RPC. Making changes, getting status reports -- all this can be and often is done via XML-RPC.

But when it comes to Apache, I'm editing a config file via emacs. As peaceful as I find this to be (I really do enjoy switching into this mode), it's too slow. First I have to switch which computer is in front of me, then open the file, then make a change, then save the file, then stop and restart Apache. I'd like to be able to script Apache from Frontier, to send an XML-RPC message saying, "Please map this new virtual host to this folder." Or: "Give me stats on this server: how long it has been up, what are the last 25 hits, how much memory is free, how much disk space is available (etc.)." Or: "Enable PHP for this virtual host, so that all .phtml suffixes get processed by PHP." And so on. Then we could build a web application that manages the several Apache servers we maintain. We'd get easy-to-use status and configurability from a central location.

Update: I wonder if Tenon's iTools for Mac OS X supports XML-RPC? I couldn't find anything on their site about it.

I've gone back from News Items to the traditional way of doing Manila home pages. I like the News Items feature very much -- but it doesn't fit with the style of this weblog, which is both personal and outward-linking. It makes sense for sites that are more strictly news-oriented, but this site is not so strict.

From Susan Sontag's "The Aesthetics of Silence":

The narratives of Kafka and Beckett seem puzzling because they appear to invite the reader to ascribe high-powered symbolic and allegorical meanings to them and, at the same time, repel such ascriptions. Yet, when the narrative is examined, it discloses no more than what it literally means. The power of their language derives precisely from the fact that the meaning is so bare.

Nabokov, in his lecture, writes about the role of the number three in Kafka's "The Metamorphosis":

So, the only emblematic or heraldic rather than symbolic meaning is the stress which is laid upon three in "The Metamorphosis." It has really a technical meaning. The trinity, the triplet, the triad, the triptych are obvious art forms such as, say, three pictures of youth, ripe years, and old age, or any other threefold triplex subject. Triptych means a picture or carving in three compartments side by side, and this is exactly the effect that Kafka achieves, for instance, with his three rooms in the beginning of the story—living room, Gregor's bedroom, and sister's room, with Gregor in the central one. Moreover, a threefold pattern suggests the three acts of a play. And finally it must be observed that Kafka's fantasy is emphatically logical; what can be more characteristic of logic than the triad of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. We shall, thus, limit the Kafka symbol of three to its aesthetic and logical significance and completely disregard whatever myths the sexual mythologists read into it under the direction of the Viennese witch doctor.

John points out that three's the magic number.


Happy Birthday to Dave!

iRights is using the News Items feature. If you're using the News Items feature, send me a pointer or post a note on the dg. Thanks!

More News Items sites: 77, TechSupport, WebWerks, blackholebrain, Philly Future.


New Manila feature: News Items: "News Items are a new way of working on a Manila home page. Instead of working on individual days, you create, edit, and post individual News Items. If you enable this feature, instead of saying how many days are displayed on a home page, you say how many News Items are."

I'm playing with the News Items feature on Members can create News Items -- just sign up, click the News Items link on the left. It's just for play, nothing serious. Don't be shy!

Don't forget -- when you're finished editing, you've got to click the Release button, or I won't post it to the home page. Clicking the Release button lets me know that you're finished editing it.

Question for DNS admins: I need to set up PTR records for UserLand machines, but we don't own entire class C ranges on our Exodus and Seattle LANs. This issue has always confused me. I can't just go and set up can I, since we only have a subset of that class C? Or can I? What's the process here?

Sheila and I did some digging in the yard yesterday. At first I thought: how refreshing to be able to clear my mind, not do something that requires the skills I use in developing software. But I was wrong about that, my mind wasn't cleared at all -- instead I thought about things much the same way. What's the elegant solution to tilling a patch of soil? We tried one way, and it was slow, we understood the problem better, we did some performance optimizations. Etc. Anyway, what was refreshing was being able to apply similar processes to a problem very different from software. Also: the consequences were different, we could screw up and I wouldn't get email from anybody telling me my yard has bugs.