Tantek's Thoughts

  1. 20040131

    1. 0902

      Top100 in CSS continued: WWDN

      • blog web

      The Top 100 redone in CSS series continues. Second at #24 on the Top 100 Technorati (yes, I had to skip quite a few of the Top 100 to find another one that was CC licensed) as of 20040131: WIL WHEATON dot NET (WWDN): 50,000 monkeys at 50,000 typewriters can't be wrong. In case you missed the previous boingboing.net inspired restyling, it is still available as alternate style sheet "Boingboing.net".

      A few points about this CSS version.

      First, I did have to add a couple of classes (but semantically named ones at that) to my blogroll in order to distinguish the sets of image links vs. text links presentationally (i.e. to avoid those little black vertical bars from showing up on image links in addition to text links).

      Second, to his credit, Mr. Wheaton taught himself web design, because he "wanted to do the whole thing himself", and he does make use of some CSS which certainly made it easier to do my complete CSS layout version.

      Third, I confess, I'm one of the folks that liked ST:TNG and the character Wil played, and therefore could certainly be called a fan. Growing up as an awkward overachieving kid who often thought he knew better than the adults around him (and he was right), what was not to like about a character in a sci-fi series that was an awkward overachieving kid who often thought he knew better than the adults around him (and he was right)?

    2. 0033

      Pizza My Heart in Palo Alto is open late night until 2am

      • dinner

      Food options after midnight in Palo Alto are slim and none. However, Pizza My Heart, located on University Avenue just north of Emerson in Palo Alto, CA 94301, is open until 2am (unofficially until 2:30am on Fridays) and serves decent NY style thin crust pizza by the slice. Surfboards, surfing photos and other random bits of surf art decorate the walls.

  2. 20040129

    1. 0815

      Orkut is it

      • web
      • friends

      Matthew Mullenweg's assessment of Orkut is spot on. As far as the centralized social networking services go, Orkut is the best one yet.

      I tried out Friendster with a fairly well cloaked account (even Amber has yet to find it. Hi honey! :). Friendster was mildly entertaining, at least until my twitchy impatience (extremely short attention span) was exceeded by the pathetically slow response times of their web servers. Speed is a feature.

      Very early on I checked out InCircle, and found it much better in so many ways. It was clearly built by someone smart who had thought about the problem area much more thoroughly. Very fast. Plus I was able to sneak working hyperlinks into a few of the fields where they were clearly not intended.

      Recently I checked out LinkedIn and was suitably impressed with the no nonsense interface, and again, the speed. I got asked to route a few messages.

      And thanks to Jonas Luster, I'm now exploring the invite only Orkut. It's very fast. It has all the features of all those other sites I mentioned, plus a bunch more. The InCircle influences/origins are quite obvious.

      So check out Orkut. And if you haven't gotten an invite yet, how about a social software technology swap? Add XFN to your blogroll or website, drop me an email, and I'll get you an invite to Orkut.

  3. 20040128

    1. 0954

      Starbucks next to gate 26 at SFO

      • travel
      • cafe

      Just noting that in the section of gates 20-32 (or was it 36?) at domestic terminal A in San Francisco Airport (SFO), there is a small Starbucks coffee stand with pastries, muffins, mini baguette sandwiches and the usual hot or iced espresso drinks tucked in next to gate 26. No cafe seating (unlike some other Starbucks airport locations).

  4. 20040127

    1. 0120

      Top 100 redone in CSS

      • blog
      • web

      I've decided to restyle my blog in the same manner as some of the blogs from the Top 100 Technorati.


      • Exclusive use of CSS for presentation — No <table>/GIF/<font> layouts (unlike many, most?, of the top 100).
      • No changes to my blog markup (other than semantic improvements I would be making anyway).
      • A different Top 100 blog redone in CSS every day or two (we'll see if I can keep this up).
      • All such style sheets that I create will be licensed under a very liberal Creative Commons License.
      • Style sheets inspired only by those in the Top 100 which provide a Creative Commons License that allow for derivative works of their designs.
      • Skipping those in the Top 100 that I have already seen redone in CSS (e.g. kottke.org :: home of fine hypertext products, redone in CSS, by Noel D. Jackson).

      This is intended to be a learning experience for author and reader alike. It will be interesting to notice and document any challenges and limitations encountered along the way.

      First up at #5 on the Top 100 Technorati as of 20040127: Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things, if you hadn't noticed already.

  5. 20040126

    1. 2314

      WWW2004 invalid

      • web

      I've been considering attending the WWW2004 conference (the 13th International World Wide Web Conference), which is perhaps the preeminent academic conference on/about the Web. Yet not only is their home page invalid, but they use nested tables and blank.gifs for layout.

      And look at that, a <marquee> tag and presentational markup like align="justify" as well. I'm not sure what to make of these seemingly contradictory failings, but for now, I'm certainly postponing registering.

  6. 20040125

    1. 1601

      Meeting Devran

      • family

      I finally got the chance to meet my new nephew earlier this afternoon. When I picked him up he coo'd quietly — he was sleeping. Every once in a while he would try to stretch an arm or a leg. I can't imagine the dreams he is having. He is adorable.


      1. Eric Meyer
  7. 20040124

    1. 0150

      Welcome Devran Horatio Orens!

      • family

      Welcome Devran Horatio Orens!

      Who is Devran?

      Devran is #Tantek+.sister>:first-child which makes me an uncle as of about 9:40pm PST earlier tonight.

      My sister Aytek, her husband Steve and little baby boy Devran are all doing great.


      1. Eric Meyer
  8. 20040121

    1. 2143

      Nevermind TIA, Here comes the MATRIX!

      • freedom
      • govt

      Nevermind TIA, Here comes the MATRIX. The Feds canceled their program, so instead, a few states have gotten together to do it themselves (hey, that sounds oddly familliar).

      Yahoo: ACLU: States' Database a Privacy Threat.

    2. 1800

      Considering ETech and Real World Semantics

      • web
      • tech

      etcon butterfly I'm strongly considering attending the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference (ETech/etcon) which is coming up in a matter of weeks. I've been working (and playing) a lot with XHTML recently, and upon the urging of Rael Dornfest (ETech program chair) proposed a ParticipantSession with the working title of "Real World Semantics". XHTML is being used more and more to quickly define, author and present simple, real world semantics, and thus I think the topic certainly qualifies as an Emerging Technology on the Web.

      If you're going to ETech, please check out the ParticipantSessions Wiki page and offer up your opinion on my proposed session. There's been some amount of interest, and in the following days, if it looks like it's going to be chosen, I will likely decide to go to ETech. It is a bit of a catch-22 as it were, because only registered participants' proposed sessions will be selected! Therefore I'm asking for your help with this decision.

      I know there are other folks out there who have been discussing real world semantics, and semantic uses of XHTML. If you're attending ETech, consider co(hosting|presenting|leading) the session with me and add your name and thoughts to the proposal. And if you're attending ETech and would like to just see, hear and/or participate in this session, edit the ParticipantSessions Wiki and add a '+' at the end of the session proposal.

      I'll be making my decision in the next few days according to the level of interest (or not) accordingly. Thanks in advance for your feedback.

    3. 1642

      Classics: Macintosh Marketing Talk and Videogames Exhibit

      • tech
      • history
      • city
      • games
      • art

      Tomorrow night there are not one but two classic technology related events to attend.

      Macintosh Marketing

      Computer History Museum Original Macintosh From 7pm-9pm (again, tomorrow, the 22nd) the Computer History Museum in Mountain View hosts The Macintosh Marketing Story: Fact and Fiction, 20 Years Later. Pre-registrered seating starts at 6:45pm. However, note that Online registration is now closed. Due to popularity, the venue is now full. Take your chances with general seating at 6:55pm. Or pay $60 to become a member and get seated at 6:30pm.

      Classic Video Games

      BOLT Rx GallleryFrom 6pm-midnight the blasthaus folks are introducing their latest BOLT exhibit "A Low Tech Odyssey" at the Rx Gallery in downtown San Francisco. Entry to this opening party is $5 but that of course includes Free gameplay all night (presumably until they close at midnight). If you can't make it tomorrow don't fret. The exhibition is open (and free) Wednesdays through Saturdays noon to 5pm and runs through February 28th.

      BOLT shirt with TRON Bailing promptly when the Mac talk ends and driving up 101 to parking at 5th and Mission should only take about 45 minutes which would leave a good two hours to check out the classic videogames. Maybe I can talk them into buying my original TRON arcade game.

  9. 20040120

    1. 2358

      Vadim's blog!

      • friend
      • blog

      My good friend Vadim has finally started a blog, and has recently posted his Notes from Jef Raskin's talk, that I also blogged.

      Welcome Vadim!

    2. 1557

      Almost done with CSS 2.1 issues

      • web
      • work

      The W3C CSS working group has been working very hard on discussing and resolving the hundreds of comments and issues raised in response to last fall's CSS 2.1 Last Call working draft.

      The number of unresolved issues is down to the low single digits. I went through those remaining issues and proposed resolutions for all of them this morning. With any luck, the proposed resolutions will be received as reasonable and acceptable within the next week, and we'll finally be done, after four months of discussion, with CSS 2.1 issues.

      Next step: applying the resolutions of those issues to the working draft and producing the CSS 2.1 Candidate Recommendation.

  10. 20040116

    1. 2050

      Recent reads

      • blog
      • friends
      • med
      • cafe
      • perception

      A few recent reads that caught my attention.

  11. 20040113

    1. 1946

      Jef Raskin notes

      • tech
      • valley

      Here is my abbreviated, non-comprehensive rough notes of Jef Raskin's talk.

      Not as crowded as I thought it would be.

      I notice that Jef Raskin is using a 12" iBook on the podium.

      Apparently his iBook is not working with the auditorium projector.

      Several folks attempting to fix his problem. One finally suggested that he restart his computer. And then Jef said...

      I have to figure out how to restart the machine.

      "Are you sure you want to restart?"

      Of course I want to restart! Why does it have to ask me? I don't want to have a dialog with it!

      Why does it take infinitely long to boot?

      Not long enough to get a cup of coffee, but too long to sit there waiting.

      This machine has 512 Megabytes. How long does it take to load the memory with 512Megabytes from disk? Maybe 5 seconds?

      Why don't machines just take 5 seconds to write out their memory to disk when shutting down, and then when booting up, take 5 seconds to fully load their memory?

      [That's what the hibernate feature on Windows does and has done so since at least Windows XP, maybe even as of Windows 98]

      Because the people that make these machines don't like people.

      [Finally someone got his computer to project properly.]

      [His presentation is just a Word document that he is scrolling through with the down-arrow key.]

      [First slide:]


      Lessons Learned and Lost

      History of personal computer is remarkably inaccurate.

      [shows MacNN website first saying Jef started Apple Computer 25 years ago, then later saying Jef started the Macintosh Project 25 years ago.]

      Why can't they get it straight? (Hint .... because they don't want to?)

      Turn off projector now.

      [Why not simply switch to a blank screen?]

      [regarding history] If the parts I know about are wrong, perhaps the parts I don't know about are wrong.

      Most books and articles about Macintosh are all from secondary sources.

      I have 7 references on it. — of course that was one reference, copied 7 times.

      Another problem is oversimplification.

      It is easier to attribute each invention to one organization than to untangle the web of of innovation.

      PARC's influence was very broad and deep, but by no means the single source of all innovation.

      By misattributing everything to PARC, the real contribution that PARC made, is diminished. By giving it more credit, you also give it less. But in any case, it's wrong.

      Jeffrey Jones published a book in 1988 about Steve Jobs and he gets things completely wrong. E.g. quote from Jef against graphics.

      John Sculley's Odyssey says Jef Raskin was a programmer at Apple. I was never a programmer at Apple. Did he call me up and ask? No. Could he have? Yes.

      Some writers go beyond being sloppy, to deliberately misrepresenting history. A good example is for example, Steve Jobs boldly tells lies to employees, investors, suppliers. His nickname in the company was reality distortion field. He had a very attractive creation myth which was swallowed up by the press. Apple Computer was invented by college dropouts smoking random stuff. In my entire time there I never saw anyone using any illegal substance.

      A good story will beat out the dull facts any time. Especially when a company's PR department is giving out lies.

      There is also the halo effect. E.g. my being credited with starting Apple. When you see someone who is currently popular, being credited with something, it is likely an exaggeration.

      Whenever you have something that is too incredible to be true, it is time to find out why.

      When Apple was founded, reporters all dressed with ties. Reporters were so taken with the casual attire at Apple, that they attributed the company's products to their style, e.g. they can breathe better so they make better products.

      Cringely is one of the worst. He actually wrote that he wanted to EXPLAIN and not be a historian. How can an author hope to do that?

      Let's turn on the projector now. Oh it works!


      • oversimplification
      • use of secondary sources
      • lack of background
      • ignoring detail
      • the halo effect
      • a cavalier attitude towrard truth
      • sloth
      • ignorating extant srouces
      • a belief in magic (lack of critical reasoning)

      One of my failings as a human being is that I forgot the past very quickly.

      I wanted something like a wordprocessor except for music.

      Legend has it that the Lisa came first, and then failed, and then the Mac had to be developed. They were actually parallel projects. Lisa was actually a character generation machine, whereas Mac was a bitmap screen from the beginning. I told the Lisa team they need to have a bitmap display. That they needed square pixels.

      What happens when you want to rotate a photograph? Puzzled looks in response to 'rotate' and 'photograph'. Of course you need square pixels for this.

      We spent weeks and weeks playing with the curves for mouse movement acceleration. Steve Jobs wanted a system where mouse position controlled acceleration (instead of position), so if your mouse was anywhere off center, your pointer would be moving. We had tried this and it didnt' work, but Steve insisted that we build it. So we did, he tried it out and said why did you guys waste your time with this? You should have never built this.

      One button vs. three buttons. The thing with one button is that you never have to guess what the button does. I really should have started with a two or more button mouse. But I was an art student, and there was this incredible design ethos, dating back to Bauhaus, that you didn't put words on the design. It is too busy to have labels. If we had two buttons, labeled 'select' and 'actuate', it would have been easy to learn the two buttons.

      Turn on the projector again.

      Long list of what I thought computers were going to be used for in 1979.

      Let's do some Q&A:

      Q:Where can we find out what really happened? (in the story of the Macintosh)


      Their sites are pretty accurate.

      Jef decides to continue talking.

      I'm a strong believer in head mounted displays.

      Shows photo of himself with a head mounted display attached to his glasses.

      How can we improve input?

      Fingers get tired.

      Direct mind input.

      Computer of the future will be about the size of a cig pack, with a head mounted display, and something un-intrusive for input.

      Most of the research in the industry is absolutely dreadful.

      E.g. icons vs. text labels question — depends on context.

      Prevalence of untestable (and often undefined concepts).

      Diane Crawford quote.



      I'm hoping that some of you will not do what you're told, and try to do better.

      Let's do some more Q&A:

      Q: [asked by Tantek] Do you have a URL for your presentation?

      A: Just go to Google and type in my name.

      No I don't have this particular presentation anywhere, but all the details of it and more are on the site.

      Q: The Mac was a big change back then, it seems changes now are not as big.


      • The Mac has gotten harder to use over the years.
      • Windows has gotten easier to use.
      • There is now epsilon of difference. I can move back and forth easily.


      • Hardware has advanced.
      • Interfaces have not kept pace.
      • Microsoft doesn't think they have to.
      • And Apple doesn't know how.

      Most of the machine speed has been eaten up by the software world.

      The way Apple fixes things, they put out another feature. Add another button.

      When people can't find things among their windows, they add a button to push everything apart [Expose].

      MacAddict article on how to fix your mail program says to open a command shell and then type in a pageful of commands, and don't forget the -f or else you might erase everything.

      This is what Apple is touting as their latest interface?

      This is what I tried to get away from with the Macintosh.

      You don't need "are you sure?"

      How do you get rid of "are you sure?"

      [Tantek blurts out] Undo.

      Yes, Undo.

      Cut/Copy problem. You cut, then the phone rings, then you come back and cut again, and wait didn't you already cut? Oops.

      Why not Move/Copy?

      Let's go home.


      1. Guy Carberry
    2. 1722

      Jef Raskin at BayCHI tonight

      • tech
      • valley

      Tonight my friend Vadim and I are going to check out the monthly BayCHI talk at Xerox PARC, titled Twenty Years with the Macintosh: Lessons Learned, Lessons Lost and given by Jef Raskin. Jef Raskin is best known for working on the user interface of the original Macintosh.

      There's complimentary tea and coffee beforehand at 7pm, and the program starts at 7:30pm. This will probably be crowded, so probably best to show up early to grab a seat if you're interested.

  12. 20040111

    1. 1329

      Unbroken and rolling

      • blog
      • friend

      Leave it to Matt (Happy Birthday and welcome to your 20s!) to link to one of my permalinks that I thought (and searched) no one had linked to. I'll re-add that particular ID to an appopriate element. Presto! Unbroken.

      And how else would you hierarchically represent a list of days, each of which has a list of one or more entries for that day?

      Blogroll readded as an XFN enhanced Xhtml outline. And just a bit of cleanup styling. No layout inspirations yet.


      1. Wayne Burkett
  13. 20040108

    1. 2359

      Nothing to break

      • blog

      To be filed under "Getting Away With It".

      If a permalink anchor changes and there was no one hyperlinking to it, did the permalink really break?

      My permalinks used to be datetime absolute, that is, they used to incorporate the full year, month, day and time, e.g.


      When I started this blog 17 months ago, I did this originally so that it would be possible to aggregate all postings validly into a single page without having duplicate IDs without changing the markup, while simultaneously conserving the necessary context for the IDs to carry the sufficient information in a datetime independent context.

      But notice the duplication of "2003" and "12" in the above URL.

      Turns out I never got around to producing a global aggregation of my posts, and now, I'm not sure that's how I would do it anyway. My blog markup structure has been evolving from the start, thus a simple cut and paste aggregation would not have worked anyway. Perhaps an example of premature overdesign.

      Thus I've dropped that original design constraint and simplified my permalink anchors for this month as of today. The year and month have been omitted since they are already present in the URL, and the day is preceded with a lower case letter "d" to both provide a clue that it is the day (just as the time is preceded with a 't'), and to make the ID valid, since IDs must being with a letter.


      Here is an article that explains why shorter URLs are better for users.

      My permalink anchors for the previous two entries have also been changed to shorten the markup and URLs. Hence the rhetorical query at the beginning of this post.

      Perhaps this should be filed instead under "Obsessions with detail and optimization".

  14. 20040107

    1. 0624

      Naked and new

      • blog

      Another year another blog structure rewrite — in progress.

      A minor retitling.

      Just a shell of an inline style sheet, and the beginnings of a structure. Navigation, blogroll, badges all to come.

      No scripts either, and none expected. This year I will be drastically cutting back on embedded scripts.

      Finally, a policy change. Starting with the 2004 directory, tantek.com/log will be open to robots.

  15. 20040106

    1. 2253

      Reviewing and resolving

      • blog
      • personal

      Five plus days into the new year and I have yet to catch up from recent holidays and happenings.

      2003 review

      A little over a year ago I warned that 2003 would be stranger than 2002. How else can you describe (from local to global):

      2003 was a year of changes.

      2004 predictions

      2004 will be a year of conclusions. Here is a brief list of a few random things I see being wrapped up one way or another this year in no particular order:

      • Google's IPO. It's been rumored too much to not happen at this point.
      • California's outstanding 12-14 billion dollar deficit. Arnold will terminate it.
      • Iraq self-rule. Condoleeza Rice mentioned something offhandedly about May or June 2004 while discussing something unrelated about Iraq.
      • Dean's run for president. His nomination is all but a given. However, when has a president not been reelected after a victorious war (especially after the humiliating capture of the enemy leader)?

      2003 resolutions

      Last year I said I would reduce my coffee and sugar soda intake by at least 50% each. I think I reduced my coffee intake somewhat, skipping it for days at a time, but I don't think I cut it in half. Productivity pressures seem to reinforce caffeine habits. I think a better balance is possible.

      My soda intake, on the other hand, has almost disappeared. I went from several sodas a week (when at work, or eating out, etc.) to just a few sodas a month. I noticed that after a certain amount of consumption reduction, the bottom fell out and all of a sudden I was drinking almost no soda at all. Soda drinks have become a special occasion of sorts. Mountain Dew's summer-time limited availability orange soda just reinforced it. There's still nearly a case of LiveWire left in the fridge.

      I've certainly spent more time with folks with good attitudes, and spent less time meeting, or otherwise involved with, those that have more than their fair share of negativity — negativity that should be introspectively confronted rather than externally propagated.

      This past August I changed my job. I am no longer working on anything related to television or set-top boxes. My manager, job function, group and division have all changed. This past December my team and I changed buildings as well. I don't have many other specifics to provide although Robert has spilled a bean or two. What hasn't changed: I am still a representative to the W3C, I am still working on and with open standards, and I am still working in Mountain View, thankfully.

      Perhaps best of all, I was able to let go of enough pain to let love in. And just in time to meet someone very special. Thanks to Amber for a wonderful 8 months plus.

      2004 resolutions

      Changes came and changes went. Some too quick to anticipate, others too oblique to predict. These are the changes that I will make.

      The themes for 2004 are closure, efficiency and essentials. Thus I resolve to:

      1. Finish more than I start.
        Books, projects, specifications, standards, etc. I've started many of these during recent years and finished few. This year I will finish more than I start.
      2. Spend less time handling papers.
        No I'm not talking about books, magazines, newspapers. I'm talking about receipts, bills, statements, special offers sent in the mail. I'm redoing my processes for handling all of these as they come in and get filed. Which brings me to:
      3. Recycle more paper than I file.
        The same papers that I mentioned above. I'm resolving to hang onto fewer such papers. I'm in the market for a decent continuous cross-cut shredder that doesn't blink or cough at staples, paper clips, plastic windows, or card stock. Any suggestions?
      4. Cook dinner at least once a week.
        When you're a busy professional living in a city brimming with great restaurants, it's very easy to fall into the pattern of eating out by default. Cooking for yourself however is typically more healthy, more economical, more satisfying, more relaxing and often more fun too.
      5. Take monthly breaks.
        Spend at least a couple of days in a row each month stepping back, relaxing and regaining perspective.

      What are you going to finish this year? How will you become more efficient? And which essentials will you choose to re-emphasize?