Archive: January, 2002


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Thursday, January 31st, 2002

I *heart* Jeffrey Zeldman

Wow! Jeffrey Zeldman likes my site:

"Jeremy Keith’s lovely site makes good use of the ability to switch CSS-based visual themes, and shows what a talented designer can do with this technology."

Woo-hoo! D’ya hear that? He called me a talented designer!

I haven’t been this excited about a link since Glenn Davis awarded WordRidden a Project Cool Sighting (shortly before selling off Project Cool, that is).

For all the people who followed the link from Zeldman’s site, welcome. Have a look ‘round, play with the theme-switching widget and share your thoughts.

For everyone else who may not know who Jeffrey Zeldman is, he’s friend of the japanese children and author of one great book, soon to be author of two.

What Video Game Character Am I?

I am an Asteroid.

"I am a drifter. I go where life leads, which makes me usually a very calm and content sort of person. That or thoroughly apathetic. Usually I keep on doing whatever I’m doing, and it takes something special to make me change my mind."

What pre-1985 video game character are you?

Wednesday, January 30th, 2002

Macromedia gets mean

Oh, dear. I know that it’s a dog-eat-dog world in the WYSIWYG HTML editor market, but Macromedia have just upped the ante.

I just received an email from them. The email started with some patronising questions:

"Are you having trouble getting started building websites? Are you wrestling with accessibility issues? Do you have e-learning needs?"

No, no and no would be the answers.

Then the email gets down to the nitty-gritty by announcing this offer:

"Dreamweaver is £139 + VAT — for a limited time! "

Sounds like good value (if you’re interested in that sort of thing). Where’s the catch? Here:

"To qualify, you must have a valid FrontPage, GoLive, or NetObjects serial number".

In other words, if you are using one of their competitors’ products, they’ll flog you a copy of Dreamweaver on the cheap.

What’s next? Adding a clause to the licence agreement stipulating that you agree to delete any software on your hard drive that doesn’t originate from the house of Macromedia?


There’s a very neat little piece of software for Mac OS X called PixelNhance.

It allows real-time editing of images; brightness, contrast, saturation, that kind of thing.

It’s especially useful combined with iPhoto (in the preferences panel of iPhoto you can set double-clicking to open images in another application).

Best of all, it’s free.


This is even better than the real thing: a game of mini-golf in Flash.

My best score so far is 35.

Tuesday, January 29th, 2002

Please don't let me be misunderstood

There’s a magazine called "Cre@teOnline" which bills itself as "The Web Designer’s Bible".

Time for some bible bashing.

This month’s issue is dedicated to web browsers and standards. Great! You can never have too much discussion about this kind of stuff.

Needless to say, Jeffrey Zeldman is interviewed. Unfortunately, the journalist who did the interviewing didn’t bother to actually listen to him.

This is a direct quote from the article:

"Zeldman manages to cut down on the work needed to accommodate the browsers by using XHTML. This technology is a form of XML metalanguage (for a full description, see issue 20) which browsers perceive as HTML. This is particularly useful, because it enables different style sheets to be included in XHTML documents, which correspond to different proprietary requirements in different browsers.

"At, the layout of the page is done in HTML 4.0," explains Zeldman. "There is a style sheet for all browsers, including IE3 and Netscape 4." Zeldman can use the different style sheets defined in the XHTML document to provide tailored content to specific browsers."


There’s Jeffrey Zeldman patiently explaining that his site is coded in HTML 4.0 and yet the journalist continues to talk about XHTML (which he has somehow mixed up with CSS).

For the record, a web page coded in XHTML is like a web page coded with any other DOCTYPE. It is simply HTML respecified as XML. It does not have any magical, browser sniffing powers.


What’s sad is to think that there might be web designers out there who want to learn more about XHTML and CSS. This article will only confuse them.

By the way, don’t bother going to Cre@teOnline’s website if you use a Mac: it throws up JavaScript errors all over the place.

But you can get to a website with a very similar domain name.

Sunday, January 27th, 2002

LEGODEATH: A Museum of Horrors

More fun with LEGO including "Ages Of Execution" and "Torture Classics".

Mission Statement Generator

This is hilarious and slightly frightening.

Catbert’s Mission Statement Generator gives a random "Mission Statement" every time you load the page. That’s the hilarious part. What’s frightening is that most of them sound exactly like the real thing. I can just imagine execs finding this site and using it as a goldmine for drafting mission statements.

Here are some real world examples of mission statements, taken at random from Brighton New Media companies, that could have come from Catbert:

"We help businesses to find their voice, project their personality and fulfil their potential through strategic branding, corporate communications and internet solutions."

"We completely engineer high standards in resources for 100% customer satisfaction"

"We provide creative and technical solutions that meet clear communications and business goals."

Actually, I lied. One of those is from Catbert’s Mission Statement Generator. Can you spot the fake?

Me neither.

The Enron Corporation

So everyone is boo-hooing about Enron’s collapse and how people lost money because the company’s real financial situation wasn’t apparent.

What was apparent, and has been since 1999, is Enron’s complicity in human rights violations in India.

Quite frankly, if you are willing to work for, or invest money in, a company like Enron or Exxon, then you deserve to lose your money.

But does anyone get upset about human rights violations? Not as long as there’s money to be made it seems.

Saturday, January 26th, 2002

The horseradish challenge

Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentleman. Watch a grown man attempt to eat an entire jar of horseradish in less than 10 minutes.

And if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Space News

Could it be that black holes don’t exist after all? Stephen Hawking may have to rewrite his books.

A new theory proposes the existence of "gravastars" that solve many of the theoretical problems traditionally associated with black holes:

"It would be surrounded by a thin spherical shell composed of gravitational energy, a kind of stationary shock wave in space-time sitting exactly where the event horizon of a black hole would traditionally be. The formation of this condensate would radically alter the space-time inside the shell. "

Most intriguing of all is this speculation:

"Mottola says that if you scale the size of a gravastar up to around the size of the visible Universe, the pressure of the vacuum inside roughly matches the pressure that seems to be accelerating the expansion of the Universe. So our Universe might be one big cosmic gravastar: a giant shell trapping the Milky Way and all the other galaxies we see. "We might be able to entertain the really radical notion that we — and everything we see in the Universe — could be inside such an object," Mottola speculates. "

ICQing Argentina

I just had a nice chat via ICQ with a gentleman from Argentina.

He’s planning to move to London in search of work. The work situation in England isn’t great right now, but then again, the economic situation in Argentina is a heckuva lot worse.

He’s obviously very talented so I think he should be able to find a place at a company in London.

Friday, January 25th, 2002

Picture to HTML

This is very nifty.

The PIC2ASCII converter lets you upload an image and then converts it to text.

Have you ever wondered...

…what would happen if you were using the toilet on an airplane and flushed while still seated?

Well, this woman was obviously curious. Never underestimate* the power of vacuum suction.

(link courtesy of simply stated)

*or "misunderestimate", as Dubya would say.

Thursday, January 24th, 2002

The Mirror Project | Jeremy Keith | In The Black Bunker

There’s a new picture of me up on The Mirror Project. I took the picture yesterday at band practice in the aptly named Black Bunker rehearsal room.

That makes two.

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2002

To catch a thief

Here is a fantastic tale of ingenious detective work.

Would be thieves of iMacs, beware! You’d better make sure that the previous owner doesn’t have a smart hacker brother who (with help from an online community) can activate Applescripts to delete sensitive information and report back with your phone number.

Enjoy reading the story, mostly pieced together from newsgroup postings, but whatever you do, *don’t* touch those Applescripts. You really don’t want to try this at home, kids.

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2002

Sheer tastlessness

This banner ad is shocking for two reasons.

Not only is it the most tasteless exploitation of tragedy I’ve ever seen on or off the web, it is also stunningly tacky and badly designed.

This ad was briefly in circulation on many affiliate sites before it was pulled (no doubt due to public outrage).

Can you believe that somebody thought this was a good idea to begin with? I mean, was there a board meeting? Was there a committee of execs that signed off on this?…

"Well, we couldn’t find a graphic designer with the requisite lack of human dignity and professional pride so I threw this one together myself. Whaddya think, guys?"


"I love it!"

"It’s a winner!"

tasteless graphic

Monday, January 21st, 2002


I’m impressed.

Here’s a very nifty flash game. It’s not so much the great gameplay that I find impressive, it’s how compact and quick to download the game is.

Have fun.

Saturday, January 19th, 2002

Book round-up

Seeing as I’ve been issuing film reviews, I thought it would only be fair to go through some of the books I’ve read lately.

I finally finished "The Cogwheel Brain" by Doron Swade, which I’ve mentioned here before.

The book has an unusual structure. The first two thirds of the book are straightforward biography, detailing Charles Babbage’s life and his doomed struggle to get his analytical engines built. The last third of the book recounts the modern day tale of reconstructing part of Babbage’s machine in the Science Museum in London.

I found this last part, while interesting, wasn’t quite as engaging as the stories of Victorian invention and politics. Then again, I’m a stickler for Victorian science.

Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable book.

By the way, if you want to find it in the States, you’ll need to look for "The Difference Engine", not to be confused with the William Gibson/Bruce Sterling book of the same name.

On the subject of books with alternate American titles, I also read "Tyger, Tyger" by Alfred Bester, also known as "The Stars My Destination".

Actually, I was re-reading the book but it had been many, many years since I had first read it.

It holds up remarkably well and isn’t as dated as other science fiction books of the fifties. The main character, Gully Foyle, is especially well rounded compared to the one-dimensional figures found in most sci-fi tales.

It is a powerfully imaginative book full of vivid scenery and characters. The story is basically "The Count Of Monte Cristo" transposed to a future world where teleportation by thought power has become a commonplace mode of transportation.

The story, however, is really just a vehicle for the fast-paced writing that sweeps you off your feet.

William Gibson would agree, I’m sure.

Friday, January 18th, 2002

Black Hawk Down: Shoot first, don't ask questions afterwards

For anyone planning to see the film "Black Hawk Down", perhaps you should read this article first.

Thursday, January 17th, 2002

Weird Science

Today was… different.

I took part in an experiment at the university where Chris is studying Psychology.

I had to look at some pictures on a computer screen, some of them cute and cuddly, some of them quite disturbing, and rate each one according to how negative or positive I found them.

It was sort of like "Am I Hot Or Not?" for cognitive science.

Wednesday, January 16th, 2002

Jonathan Ive talks design

The Independent has a great interview with Jonathan Ive, the designer of the iMac, the iPod and the iBook.

It’s always interesting to hear the thoughts of a designer in another field to see how closely they correlate to web design:

"He’s scornful of those who use "swoopy shapes to look good, stuff that is so aggressively designed, just to catch the eye. I think that’s arrogance, it’s not done for the benefit of the user.""

Tuesday, January 15th, 2002

The Lord of the Rings : The Fellowship Of The Ring

I’m going to chime in pretty late in the day with my thoughts on The Fellowship Of The Ring.

Of course I saw the film as soon as it came out but I didn’t want to just post my initial reaction.

I saw it in Arizona in a very small cinema. I found it puzzling that the six screen cinema at the shopping mall couldn’t spare a single screen for the highest grossing film in the country, forcing myself and the rest of Sierra Vista to make the trip to the rundown theatre on the outskirts of town.

If I had arrived a couple of minutes later, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get a seat. As it was, the only seat available was in the second row.

Now, this wouldn’t matter in one of those modern cinemas where everything slopes down and there are no bad seats. But this was not a modern cinema.

The seats were uncomfortable and there was no air conditioning. By the middle of the movie, it was extremely hot and stuffy.

I’m recounting all this to show that viewing conditions were far from ideal. I don’t think it would really be fair to judge a film seen under those conditions.

That’s not the only reason I wanted to see the film again, though.

The first time I watched the film, I found it hard to enjoy it on its own merits. I kept comparing it to the book.

I’m sure it’ll come as a surprise to nobody that, being the geek that I am, I’m a big Tolkien fan.

Geek List:

Star Wars… check, Monty Python… check, Open Source programming languages… check, Macintosh computers… check, Tolkien… check.

So, of course, I was being very academic and comparing book and film, scene by scene. Even as I was doing it, I knew I was being unfair to the film. After all, nothing can ever compare to the images conjured up in my own mind by the book.

Still, even under such unfavourable conditions, I enjoyed the film. It didn’t blow me away, though.

That was three weeks ago.

I went to see The Fellowship Of The Ring again today. It blew me away, completely.

I was able to enjoy the film on its own merits (and in comfier surroundings). It is a superbly cast, well paced, beautifully directed work.

To any fellow geeks out there who were less than impressed on first viewing the film, I urge you all to see it a second time.

No, it’s not the same as the book. It is however, completely true to the themes of the book and it shares its spirit.

"Google effect" reduces need for many domains

Here’s an upbeat article from Dan Gillmor.

He argues that the rise of Google means the decline of Network Solutions (as well as the practice of domain squatting). It’s certainly true that the practice of paying ludicrous sums of money just to get hold of a short, snappy domain name is a practice of the past.

Still, if you’re advertising on a short attention span medium like television, you’re going to need the shortest, snappiest domain name you can get. But if you’re advertising on television, you probably already have it.

I love the way that Google democratises the web. It makes no distinction between a short, snappy corporate domain and a long, convoluted page buried on a university site.

Thank you, googlers.

Monday, January 14th, 2002

Which Kevin Smith character are you?

Excellent! I am Silent Bob, apparently:

"Needless to say, you are a man of few words. But when you do actually open up, you offer humorous and wise advice to all who surround you. You are known for being the quiet ring leader in hair-brained schemes that always seem to go wrong, but when it really counts you usually hit the nail on the head."

Which Kevin Smith male or female are you?

Biz Stone: Wrong Font

Take a look at this picture of a storefront, it’s a great example of how not to choose a font.

Sunday, January 13th, 2002

Home sweet home

I’m back.

The flight back to England wasn’t nearly as long as the flight to the States. It was a lot more comfortable, too: Jessica and I had seats in the exit row which meant that we had plenty of leg room.

So, despite the temptations of many in-flight movies on a little fold-out screen, I spent most of the flight "resting my eyes".

I also spent some quality time with my iBook, installing and playing my new game. I saw somebody else on the flight with an iPod. I should have offered him my MP3 collection for perusal.

Anyway, after one day of feeling groggy, I hope I’ve managed to avoid any serious jet-lag.

As a souvenir of my holidays, here are some pictures from Arizona.

Thursday, January 10th, 2002

On the road again

The packing is just about all done and I’m ready to return to the somewhat milder climes of dear old Blighty.

Goodbye, tacos, burritos and enchiladas. Hello, baked beans on toast.

Expect the next journal entry to be from the comfort of my flat in Brighton… once I’m done with my ten hour transatlantic flight.

Wednesday, January 9th, 2002


I’m back in Arizona after a pleasantly uneventful Alaska Airlines flight.

It was raining and cold in Seattle. It’s warm and dry here in Sierra Vista. The climates of both locales are living up to their reputations.

Since getting back, I’ve been sorting through the pictures I took in Seattle. This task has been a whole lot simpler by Apple’s new (free) iPhoto software.

There may be some divided opinions on the merits of the new iMac but the response to iPhoto has been overwhelmingly positive.

Monday, January 7th, 2002

Apple introduces G4 iMac

I want one.

That is one beautiful machine. You can expect to see this showing up in Pottery Barn, Habitat and Ikea catalogues by next season.

Music and snow

Now I can check two things off my “must do” list for Seattle.

Last night, a bunch of us went out to The Crocodile to see The Walkabouts. The band is from Seattle and I had seen them twice already in Germany (where I think they have a bigger fanbase). They were pretty good. It’s certainly a great venue.

Then today, I went skiing. Conditions were pretty bad (not that I’m any great judge of these things) but I really enjoyed myself. I fell over a lot and I’m sure I’ll be aching all over by tomorrow but it was good fun.

Actually, I probably enjoyed myself more than Jessica and Jeb who were babysitting me.

Saturday, January 5th, 2002

Pictures of Seattle

Here are some snapshots of Seattle taken over the last couple of days.

Friday, January 4th, 2002

Greetings from Seattle

I am now further west than I have ever been in my life.

I still can’t see the Pacific Ocean but the Puget Sound is close enough.

Jessica and I flew into Seatac early Thursday morning. My brother in law, Jeb, picked us up and whisked us away to downtown Seattle.

Jeb works in a big skyscraper in the middle of town. He took us up to his office on the 43rd floor and showed us the view. Very impressive.

We left Jeb to his cubicle and set off to explore the funky older part of downtown Seattle.

The Pike Place Market is great. There’s so much wonderful fish and seafood getting thrown around, sold, cooked and eaten. We had some deep fried oysters for lunch which were absolutely delicous.

We did all the other touristy things too. We rode the monorail to the Space Needle and looked at the strange Experience Music Project building.

We met up with Jeb again in the evening and went to a Japanese restaurant. It was one of those places where the chef cooks everything right there on the table. It was a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds.

That was just the first day. Admittedly, I was a bit too tired to appreciate everything fully (I had started the day in Tucson, Arizona in the wee hours of the morning). Thank goodness for the ready availabilty of caffeine in Seattle.

Today I am fully rested and ready to revisit the Pike Place Market.

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2002

LSSU's Banished Words 2002

Happy New Year!

As we turn our back on 2001, let’s hope we can leave some unwanted baggage behind.

If you’re feeling a bit more sentimental, then here are twelve stories from 2001 to get all nostalgic about.

Ah, nostalgia was better in my day.