Archive for May, 2003

Mrs. Darcy’s Daughters

Saturday, May 31st, 2003

It’s been quite a while since I read any Jane Austen fanfic, but a friend of mine lent me Mrs. Darcy’s Daughters by Elizabeth Aston. When you write in a post-copyright fandom, you can sell your fanfic just like Real Fiction. I’d love to write some Barsoom fanfic and get paid for the pleasure.

Mrs. Darcy’s Daughters is high on plot and low on atmosphere, not unlike the Jane Austen fanfic I used to read. The Darcys have gone off to Constantinople, leaving their young sons at Pemberley and their five daughters in London for the season. These daughters bear an uncanny resemblance to Mrs. Bennet’s troublesome brood, with one telling exception - there is no equivalent of Jane.

Two daughters are saucy, one preachy, two flirty. Our Lizzy-equivalent survives her requisite crush upon an unusual Wickham-equivalent, then manages to get into an Elinor-style bind with her cousin’s fiance. Yet nowhere do you see the stoicism that marks true Austen heroines. Instead, the author goes out of her way to point out the amoral nature of society’s restrictions. In Pride and Prejudice, blame for the waywardness of the younger Bennet daughters is attributed to the unequal marriage of their parents, but no explanation is ever given as to how Mrs. Darcy’s Daughters turned out so poorly.

Since true Austenfic revolves around issues of character, it is strange to find the five sisters unchanged in the end, except for the odd marriage or two (or three). Fanfic can be literary but in this case, despite the fancy trade-paperback binding, it isn’t.

Final Tab Tweaks

Friday, May 30th, 2003

When I got home last night I noticed that my previous tab repairs for Opera 7 and IE on Windows had caused new problems for IE and Camino on Mac OSX. I suspect that the font sizes were rendering differently, so that what was taking up the ideal amount of space on one system was overflowing and pushing stuff around on the other. So I tried the old trick of sticking a red border around all my divs until I’d figured out what exactly they thought they were doing.

I ended up tweaking the pixel height of the banner some more, and now it looks fine in every browser created since the Bronze Age. Major user changes in font size would probably throw it all off again, but the worst that would happen would be the submenu floating up to some weird place. Netscape 4 is still a problem, since for some reason it doesn’t render the tabs as links on the main page or the blog. The rest of the pages are usable.

The Matrix Reloaded

Thursday, May 29th, 2003

…or overloaded. [Spoilers]

While as a movie, The Matrix: Reloaded failed on several counts, it’s still interesting as philosophy. Javageek answers the deep question, Why 23? and Ken Mondschein explains the Reload as theology. He even links a brief summary of the fake book from the original movie and explains why Keanu Reeves can’t act.

His most interesting point for me wasn’t all the gnosticism, or even the idea of a deity making love under an arch, but a more obvious detail that slipped past me completely: Neo’s power over the squid-machines implies that the “outside” world of Zion is also a simulation. He also mentions that the true status of Zion - real-world or meta-Matrix - isn’t important. I certainly agree in principle that if you can’t tell whether or not your brain is in a meta-vat, then it doesn’t matter whether or not your brain is in a meta-vat - but it does matter for the plot of the next movie whether the world of Zion and pod-people and squid-machines is real or just another Matrix.

This theory may even explain why the spinal buttons which were removed in the first movie reappeared on Neo’s back in the second - you see, it’s not his real back. And technically, he’s not the One, he’s the Six.

Tabs Evicted

Thursday, May 29th, 2003

Peep of the day: Gimli

The tab demo has established at beachhead for Jemima’s Trek at, so if you feel the need to click back and forth between tabs, you can do it there without maxing out the bandwidth here. Other content will be moved as I get it sorted and rearranged slightly.

Jade has a new story up, Over the Threshold, which won second place in the Romance category of Ripples in the Pond.

The Management Apologizes…

Thursday, May 29th, 2003

I’ve been exceeding my allotted bandwidth on Freeshell. This happens at an odd hour of the evening which corresponds to midnight GMT, at which time I’m usually eating a late dinner rather than trying to access my site. Seema first alerted me to the problem, and the link from Kalsey Consulting has driven me over the edge for the past few days.

Not that I’m complaining or anything. I’ve been meaning to move for a while now, and the tab-induced sad state of my bandwidth affairs has brought me to the attention of Irth Networks. (Check out their tab implementation.) If all goes well, I’ll be moving the site over there soon.

In the meantime, I’m still playing with PHP. I upgraded my binaries with the OS X 10.1 version from Marc Liyanage’s site, and used his second image demo to make this cool button:

Just the Snark, Please

Wednesday, May 28th, 2003

Which Agent Smith are you?
By Madeline Elster

Tabbed and Sevved

Wednesday, May 28th, 2003

I think I’ve partly fixed the Opera 7 problem now - the tabs are in the right place, but the title is too high. [I spoke too soon - my Opera fix broke IE, so it’s been unfixed.] [Now it should be fixed, though IE6 and Safari have yet to be tested.]

While I was at it, I fixed my links to the Sev Wide Web. They used to serve rotating Bluffy, Sev Trek and contest cartoons. They don’t seem to do that any more but the list of Sev Space themes is always growing: check out Sevmen, The Sevtrix, Sevgate, Fraud of the Rings, The Sev Files, Sev Wars and Hairy Plopper.

Which Peep are You?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2003

Which Lord of the Peeps Character Are YOU?

Which Lord of the Peeps Character are you?
Quiz by Lauruu.
Check out the Lord of the Peeps site today!

I’ve been “reading” The Fellowship of the Peep for days now, and I’m still not up to the Council of Elrond. I love the quotes; I wonder where he’s getting them.


Tuesday, May 27th, 2003

As you can see, the pure css tabs have been implemented on all my main navigation pages. Here the tabs are floating buttons, but their position should still be the same as on the other pages. Styleswitching for the blog has been disabled, but there is a new demo blog for that. All twelve stylesheets were downloaded with every new blog hit, so they were a bandwidth drain that had to go. If you really want a different stylesheet, vote for one in the comments section and I may adapt the winner to the new tabbing format.

Each tab section has a slightly different style adapted from previous stylesheets rather than coded up fresh. If you’re interested in the previous style, there’s a demo javascript in the style section somewhere (now part of About), and most old pages are still around, renamed index_notab.html or the like.

The TOS, MIS, VOY, Jade and MJB pages are various adaptations of my original Trek stylesheets, which I designed almost three years ago to work in any browser. TOS now, appropriately, bears my favorite original-series command-yellow theme. MIS has become the home of the Borg Species List and so got the Borg green and black styling. The new VOY color is green, from a stylesheet I made for Jade a while back and always liked, though she preferred blue. MJB has never objected to the orange. (To shorten the tab list, Jade and MJB tabs are available only on the Home page and their respective pages.)

Most of the other styles date from a later period of boxy style and fun tricks with borders which influenced some of my tab design choices, especially that of placing a margin all around the tabbable text rather than bisecting the page with the tabbing line as at diveintomark. Buffy is still the simple, snake-that-ate-Sunnydale green that I slapped together for her during my brief vamp fanfic phase last year. The home page and this one surviving blog style share my favorite sushi-inspired colors. The new About section incorporates the old style pages and uses the basic tabbing style I put together for the original demo.

Since I enjoy bright, bold colors on my main pages, I’ve always been concerned to ensure readability of my story pages. Fan fiction is all too often found against busy background images or in white text on a black background. I prefer a sans-serif font, black text and a slightly off-white background. I made a special story subclass (a div) to make those changes to story pages without having to break out of the tabbed navigation scheme. So far I’ve marked up MJB’s two stories and the Voyager quotes in the story style, but full incorporation of stories into the navigation scheme will have to wait until their conversion to XML so I can run them through XSLT.

I used PHP on my home server (which is to say, my old Powerbook running OS X and therefore Apache) to insert the tab lists and new headers and footers automatically. I wasn’t sure Freeshell was up to the stress of serving PHP, so I just used wget to transfer the HTML versions over here.

The most difficult part of the conversion process was integrating the blog style into the tabbing stylesheet; that effort seems to have broken Opera 7 in the new pages though the demo works fine. I suspect the changes I made to integrate the blog header and description (”Cheating on the Kobayashi Maru…”) have broken it, either by allowing the h1 to grow too big or confusing it with the body margin-top of 20px, though neither seems to correspond to any known Opera 7 CSS issues. It shouldn’t be too hard to fix.

Netscape 4 doesn’t choke nearly as much as I’d expected, except here in the blog where it displays its usual problems with MovableType stylesheets (upon which this one is based). I haven’t decided whether to reinsert my basic stylesheet for Netscape 4. I should check the logs to determine my current percentage of readers stuck in the past.

MovableType 2.63

Monday, May 26th, 2003

I’ve finally gotten around to upgrading to the latest MovableType version. This is a test post. The new, tabby site design will be up later tonight. If I extend the tab style to the blog, the styleswitcher may be turned off or moved to a demo blog.

The first test was a failure, since I forgot that the path to perl is nonstandard on Freeshell. This should work, though.