Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Celebration of Darkness

Nope, it's not Halloween. Today is a post about the wonderful light-absorbing material recently made by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. It is three times darker than the previous standard for black. Made of carbon nanotubes, it absorbs 99.9% of all light. Unfortunately for Matrix fans, it is probably too expensive to make a trench coat out of.

BBC News

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Global Warming Strikes Again!

In case you didn't know, all unusual meteorological phenomena is now being attributed to global warming. This means "unseasonable" or "unusual" heat, cold, rainfall, drought, wind, hail, snow, flies, locusts, frogs, or any other element we usually associate with "weather". Presumably it also includes this example of snow in Baghdad, although oddly enough, global warming is never mentioned in the article.

Friday, January 11, 2008


CSS is to web designers what 9/11 is to Rudy Giuliani -- it's like the answer to everything. In actuality though, it's turning out to be a huge pain.

Okay so here's my issue. I'm working on a web design project, the first one I've done since college. I downloaded a trial version of DreamWeaver CS3 which is working AWESOMELY -- I like it SO much better than my lousy MX 2002 student version. Only one thing isn't working that well -- my links aren't behaving right. And I can't fix them. Well i can, but it's needlessly complicated.

See my blog? how there are different links and they're all different colors and when you put your mouse over them they turn into other different colors, and sometimes when you click on them they change colors again? All that is accomplished with CSS (short for Cascading Style Sheets).

Styles are great things for print designers like me. Basically they work by formatting large blocks of text all at once. Say you're designing a newsletter or something, and you want all your headlines, subheads, body copy, and captions to have the same look. What you do is set up some styles, you know:

Headlines, subheads, body copy, captions

So once you have your styles set up, to apply a style you just select your text, select your style, and click "Apply Style". At least that's how it works in a page layout program. In DreamWeaver it works basically the same way -- very user friendly, only instead of clicking "Apply Style" you select your "Class" (a CSS style that can be applied to multiple objects) from a drop-down menu.

Now the awesome thing about HTML is it's hyper-text. That means you can link to other pages or objects on the Internet from the page you are writing. Back in the day, all links were the same color: blue. And all visited links were the same color: purple. Google still follows this convention.

But not everybody can use default colors. What if all the text on your website was blue? The links wouldn't stand out very well. It would be great if you could make your links, say, orange or something. The "link", "alink", and "vlink" attributes were invented to make this possible. Placed in the <body> tag, they change the colors of links, active links, and visited links, respectively throughout the whole page.

But what if you don't want all the links on your page to be the same color? What if you want the links on the blue background to be light blue, and the links on the white background to be brown? CSS makes that possible.

But how?

I don't know how. That's my problem. I want all the links in the body copy to have the same link color, all the text in the sidebar to have a different link color, and all the text in the footer to have another color. You'd think you'd be able to define your link colors when you define your style, since in the mind of the designer the two are inextricably linked, but you can't. Your style is a "class", and the link behavior is a "pseudo-class". The two are apparently only loosely connected, if at all. What I need to figure out is how to link the two together.

(A side note, using the <font> tag only solves the problem in IE, not in Firefox and DEFINITELY not in Safari.)

What do I do?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Indian Sports Car

Meet the Tata Indica V2 Turbo, a sport compact from India with a whopping 70 hp! Now with anti-lock brakes and airbags! Speed meets safety!

So what if it seems underpowered? I guess it's kind of appropriate for a country with no traffic lights.

What am I doing up at 3:30 am? Why, installing a trial version of DreamWeaver CS3, of course!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Quiz: Famous or Unknown Artist?

Try this quiz to test your expert art-critiquing eye. Which paintings are by famous artists, and which are not?

Sorry, you won't be able to beat my score of 100% -- the same score I got on my Art History final in college. :-)

Courtesy of Coudal Partners blended feed.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

13 Things I Did in 2007 for the First Time

2007 was chock-full of new experiences, but I haven't counted them all yet. I'm sure there was at least 13. Let's see....

1. Early in the year, I drove a hundred miles an hour for the first time.
2. Then, I learned how to downhill ski. (A tip for those who are thinking of doing this -- learning to turn is more important than learning to stop.) Thanks, Emily.
3. Then in the spring, I went rock-climbing. Thanks, Emily.
4. In July, for the first time, my employment was terminated by my employer (unless you count the paper route). Getting laid off led to even more new experiences!
5. I bought an iMac to build my portfolio and just in case I had to freelance for a while. Yes, it was my first Mac.
6. Later in July, I visited my grandma who lives deep in Canadian country -- Halifax, Nova Scotia.
7. I saw a moose on the way there.
8. Also on the way there, we witnessed a robbery. (They took off in a white Kia Amanti.)
9. And I called the police. (Actually, I called the police about a drunk driver -- not the robbery. Someone else talked to the police about the robbery.)
10. I went wading in the North Atlantic. (A tip for those who are thinking of doing this -- keep moving or you will freeze!)
11. In August, I drove myself all the way to Minnesota!
12. I decided to try living there for a while.
13. I traded my sporty Acura RSX for a used pick-up truck.
14. I had to learn how to drive a manual transmission.
15. In October, I went up to the North Woods on a scouting trip.
16. I shot clay pigeons with a 12-gauge.
17. I drank a whole beer -- but not on the scouting trip. (A tip for those who are thinking of doing this -- your body can metabolize approximately one beer every hour. Remember this and you can stay quite sober.)
18. I had a job interview. Yes, it was my first job interview, a phone interview with a guy in Texas.
19. I got a temp job to make some money. Woo-hoo! Ten bucks an hour!
20. I moved into an apartment to get rid of some of that extra money I had lying around. Woo-hoo! My own place!
21. I went to a Halloween party. Yes, it was my first Halloween party.
22. Finally, when I went home for Christmas, I saw my first nephew for the first time.

I think that covers most of it. 2008 is sure to be another exciting year. Why, just the other day I saw a Harry Potter movie for the first time. I still have a lot to learn and do this year. Maybe this will be the year I get engaged, or even get a girlfriend! Maybe I will join a rock band, or move to the big city! Maybe I'll get in a car accident, or a plane crash! Maybe I'll come up with a great idea that will make enough money for me to be set for life! Maybe I'll develop some real ambition and discipline! Yes, it's sure to be another exciting year.