Thursday, September 2nd, 2004

Of course I ate macaroni and cheese as a kid, but I still like it now, even from a box with that powdered cheese you mix with margarine and milk. I guess that means I'm not really an adult, but today I mixed in some fresh tomato, something I doubt most Kraft kids like.
Sunday, September 5th, 2004
I've automated my links page to make it easier to sort through the sites by type and by frequency of my visits. I'll add more links in the coming days, not so much for you but so that I can easily find my favorite sites when I'm away from my computer.
Tuesday, September 7th
Proving that there are indeed gay people everywhere is the group Log Cabin Republicans, gay men and lesbians whose admiration for the likes of Ronald Reagan persuades them to set aside their distaste for things such as the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment because they believe that core Republican values are more important than any single issue. However, I read that even they are uncomfortable about endorsing President Bush (not that they're about to endorse Kerry instead). As far as I can tell as of today, they haven't made their decision.

Do Log Cabin Republicans think that Bush worries about not getting their endorsement? Perhaps it's more likely that he worries about actually getting it. In an article released today Bob Knight, from the Culture and Family Institute, writes that "LCR is just part of the radical, leftist crusade to transform America into Sextopia" and that "It's time for the Republican Party to realize its mistake in giving Log Cabin any official recognition." It seems to me that if those dirty left wing cocksuckers fine young gay Republicans do actually endorse Bush, the president will have to decline their endorsement to save face with a more important wing of his party.

I can appreciate that Log Cabin Republicans "work within the[ir] party for change." I just wonder if they appreciate that their voting for Bush will likely result in laws and Supreme Court justices who meet the approval of Bob Knight and Concerned Women for America.
Wednesday, September 8th
If I'd waited a day before posting yesterday, I'd have had the news I was looking for: the Log Cabin Republicans have decided that they cannot endorse the President. Not endorsing Bush however is not an endorsement of Kerry. I wonder who Patrick Guerriero will be voting for.
Sunday, September 12th, 2004
My sister and my cousin are the big genealogists in our family, but I thought it would be kind of cool to put my family tree online, and so I did. My great-great-aunt did a lot of genealogical research, even writing a book, The Henry McDaniel family, 1755-1975, about her ancestry.
Thursday, September 16th, 2004
I've had the Mozilla Firefox web browser installed on my computer for some time but had stubbornly continued to use Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 for the most part, starting Firefox only once in while to see how my site looked in it. Today however I've finally made the switch to using Firefox as my default web browser.

The thing that clenched it for me was that for the past week or so IE has been locking up sporadically. Before you say it was something wrong with my computer and not IE let me tell you that it also happened at school too. And near as I can tell it wasn't just with one site, although there are of course a set of sites I visit regularly. It wasn't enough of a problem to keep me from doing what I wanted to do, but it was annoying, and today I decided it was annoying enough to make me switch.

However, Firefox also has some nice features not in IE. I really like the tabbed browsing instead of having multiple windows, although if you prefer multiple windows, Firefox of course lets you do that too. I like Firefox's built-in pop-up blocking (yes, I know that SP2 is supposed to add that to IE), which works better than the free version of Pop-Up Stopper I'd been using. Firefox's find feature is much more nifty than that of IE (speaking of which, doing a find for "it's" in IE always seems to make IE crash, at least for me). I'm sure I'll discover other nice features.

There were a few things on my site that either displayed differently or just didn't work right in Firefox (or for that matter in Opera, another browser I have installed), but some of that was due to ignorance on my part about CSS. For example, the menu on this page is an unordered list (<UL>) that displays as colored boxes because of CSS. IE didn't display the bullets that a normal unstyled list gets, but Firefox did until I figured out I had to add "list-style: none" to the CSS entry for <LI> (I'd had it on the id tag but not specifically on the <LI> for that id tag). Also my JavaScript in my galleries page wasn't cross-browser compatible until recently.

One last geeky thing is that Firefox's use of <ALT>-B for the "Bookmarks" menu as opposed to <ALT>-A for the "Favorites" menu in IE was driving me crazy (since I'm a big keyboard shortcut user), but I found a terrific page that explains step-by-step how to find and modify the browser.dtd file to change the names and accesskeys of menu items, so now my Firefox has a "Favorites" menu instead of a "Bookmarks" menu, along with the IE-compatible "Add favorite" and "Organize favorites" items. Yeah, I could have just gotten used to Firefox's key choices, but it was more fun to figure out how to change them.
Sunday, September 19th, 2004
I switched my default browser from Microsoft Internet Explorer to Mozilla Firefox the other day. I'm sticking with Firefox, but there are a couple features I miss about IE.

Much as web designers rant, however justifably, about how IE violates web standards, most of those complaints are about design, not user interface. Web developers have to use workarounds and take additional steps not so much to make their sites functional in all browsers but more to make their sites display the same for all browsers. Now you could argue that functionality is dependent on display, such as in the case of Eric Meyer's cool pure CSS menus, which simply don't work in IE, but for the most part the reason IE's rule breaking annoys so many designers is aesthetics.

IE's rule breaking obviously isn't of much concern to its many users. Sure, a few are switching because of concerns about IE's security. However, the vast majority of web surfers go about their business quite happily with IE. Some might call these people naïve, but surely a few count as power users who simply like some IE features.

And that's where I come to one feature I've found myself really missing just in a few days. I'm not talking about having to learn a new access key for the menu containing my bookmarks but rather a feature that impedes my work. Firefox's find text feature, though nifty (it finds as you type), is not as functional as that in IE because Firefox doesn't search inside <TEXTAREA> input boxes on forms. IE's does.

Why does that matter, you may ask. Well, this very blog, though not maintained with a blogging tool, is updated via a database and web forms. After I type this entry up, I look at my blog in a browser, and I notice some mistake that I want to edit (say I misspelled "TEXTAREA" as "TXETAREA"). I go back to the page with my form, and I could scroll down in the <TEXTAREA> until I see the word so I can fix it, or, in IE, I can type <CTRL>-F, type "TXETAREA" and hit <ENTER>. Boom, the word is highlighted, and I type my correction over it. In Firefox, I type /, type "TX" and it beeps at me to say there's no occurrence of "TX" on my page. Well, yes, there is, it's just inside the <TEXTAREA>.

Minor problem? Yes. Easy enough to work around? Yes. But features that help power users are important, which is why, for example, Firefox goes beyond IE's <CTRL>-<ENTER> for automatically adding the "www" and ".com" to a domain typed in the address bar to adding additional keyboard shortcuts for appending ".net" (<SHIFT>-<ENTER>) and ".org" (<CTRL>-<SHIFT>-<ENTER>). Your grandmother doesn't care about typing the URLs of non-profit organizations more quickly, but I do.

Copying and pasting, IE vs. Firefox

You can use any table, but here's the one I used.

Sure, you have to resize some columns,
but the data is still tabular.

You might as well retype all the data.
(Pasting as text works somewhat better.)
Perhaps a more important problem occurs when copying information from a browser window and pasting it into a Microsoft Office product such as Word or Excel. If I am using IE when I copy a table from a web site and paste it into an Excel worksheet, all the information is transferred nicely into individual cells, and all the formatting is the same. If I use Firefox, all the table's data ends up in one cell in Excel. Not user friendly at all. Should Mozilla care about supporting the patriarchy integration with standard business productivity products? They should if they want business people to use Firefox.

However, Mozilla does a lot of things better than Microsoft, and one thing is having a site, Bugzilla, on which users can report bugs or make feature requests. (Click here to vote for Mozilla fixing the copy/paste to Excel bug.) Microsoft may also have one (I didn't search for it, though, and didn't have to search for Mozilla's since they make its existence so clear), but Mozilla, as the underdog, has more reason to listen to its users. That's just one more reason to use Firefox instead of IE.
Monday, September 20th, 2004
As and Queer Day, among others, report, Jimmy Swaggart is worried that gay men are going to hit on him. So worried that "if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died."

There are so many things wrong with Jimmy's saying that, but let me just name a few:
  1. Jesus teaches us to love our neighbors. Whether Jimmy likes it or not (or whether gay men like it or not), gay men are his neighbors too. Jesus wants Jimmy to love us, not kill us.
  2. Jimmy doesn't seem to remember what his mother taught him about accepting compliments and saying no, thank you. Suppose a gay man did come up to Jimmy and said, "Jimmy, I find you incredibly sexy. Will you fuck me I love you. Will you marry me?" Assuming Jimmy doesn't want to accept this kind offer (Jimmy's fellow televangelist Paul Crouch is alleged to have said yes to a similar offer eight years ago), all Jimmy has to say is "Thanks, but no thanks."
  3. I know that even Paul Crouch allegedly gets offers of gay sex, but somehow I think it'll be a cold day in hell before some gay man hits on Jimmy Swaggart. It's dangerous to speak for other people, but I'll go out on a limb and say for all gay men that Jimmy Swaggart is not our type.
By the way, doing a search for pictures of Jimmy, I came across his interesting CD Then Jesus Came. If I believed in the same God Jimmy does, I might not mention this, but I have to confess that the first thing I wondered when I saw his CD's title is what Jimmy was doing to Jesus before He came.
Tuesday, September 21st, 2004
Recently I saw an ad (I'm not allowed to say where [10-09-2004: I'm allowed to say now -- it was an ad served up by Google]) for The Coradella Collegiate Bookshelf, offering four free e-books as an enticement to pay $29.95 for their collection of 175 classics. The free books they offer are by Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau, authors whose works are all in the public domain. And sure enough, at the bottom of the page is a statement that "The Coradella Bookshelf is a collection of copyrighted e-ditions of public domain texts published by"

Why would anyone pay for copyrighted editions of works that can be had for free at Project Gutenberg? Is it because the Coradella version is in PDF? No, wait, Gutenberg offers PDF versions, and besides, although a PDF reader is available for Pocket PC, I think Microsoft Reader is a more useful program for reading e-books, especially on Pocket PC. And Cordella's "unique two-page layout" doesn't seem to be what e-books are all about, especially if one uses a Pocket PC. Perhaps I'm missing something (such as the "hyperlinks to chapters" that "make finding your way around these editions easy"), but I can't see what Cordella adds that would be worth anything to someone who knows about Project Gutenberg.

Still Cordella's offer is a bargain compared, for example, to the $4.95 that wants for an e-book edition of Pride and Prejudice. That edition does contain some copyrighted material including an introduction and some notes on Jane Austen and the text, but if it's notes and background you want, an e-book version of an annotated edition would be worth more.
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004
Andrew Sullivan points out a report that the Social Security Administration wants to remove language protecting gay and lesbian employees from its next labor contract. Without that language, the SSA could say to any gay employee, "We don't like gay people. You're fired," and there'd be nothing to be done about it.

Many Americans think that firing someone just because he or she is gay or lesbian is illegal, but that's true in only ten states. If you're thinking about voting for Bush, think about your gay relatives and friends. Do you really want a president who thinks it's okay to fire us for being gay?
Thursday, September 30th, 2004
I'm taking GER361 at UD (read how and why here) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and it's been fun for many reasons, one of which is that today we got to have class outdoors. Dr. Schellhammer made us promise not to tell anyone. One of my classmates took a picture of this rare event, so I decided to take one too. No one reads my blog, so posting it here doesn't really count as telling anyone.
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