Take me back

I created Google Cache and Internet Archive Wayback Machine bookmarklets in case you need to find a page that has disappeared or is unavailable. Find the bookmarklets in the search engines section of my bookmarklets page. Enjoy.

Oddly, this reminds me that I need to add the Back to the Future DVD set to my wish list.

CSS Cursors

I’ve been working on a testcase for Mozilla bug 163174 to help improve the various pointer styles available in Mozilla. For tests and examples of pretty much every known CSS2 and CSS3 cursor style, see my CSS cursor testcase. It’s nice that Mozilla 1.4 unexpectedly supports a number of “proprietary” cursor styles, but it would be less necesary if they’d just fix bug 38447. Indeed, the discussion in bug 189719 that added the zoom in and zoom out styles said as much.

I’m back

Did you miss me? Having my hosting site cracked wouldn’t have been so bad if we’d had better backups. Oh well, it looks like everything is restored now—it may be even better than before. The Internet archive is a terrific and worthy project, but having my most recent updates in the cache feature of Google was priceless. Watch for more changes coming soon.

GIF free

As of today the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) is no longer patent-encumbered in the USA. The patent for LZW compression that Unisys owned has expired in the USA, but the patent is still in force in other countries until 2004. Use of the PNG file format instead of GIF is still recommended for static images. It offers superior compression, better image quality, and alpha transparency. And it’s patent free.

View-source magic

Ever been surprised when someone you find absolutely brilliant doesn’t know something extremely basic that you thought everybody in the field knew? I felt that way when I saw Jon Udell making a big deal about the view-source protocol:

Don Box notices a cool IE feature. The view-source: protocol is supported. I tried it and it worked. Even cooler, I wasn’t in IE at the time, I was in Firebird. I guess we should call it a browser feature :-)

I’ve been using the view-source: prefix to view the source of URLs since Netscape 3! I’m fairly certain that Netscape invented it, so spinning it as an IE feature kind of rubs me the wrong way. I am glad that most browsers support it. I have a view source web development bookmarklet that makes it even more convenient. Until Mozilla came along, using view-source: or saving the page was about the only way you could view JavaScript .js files in the browser. If you tried to open the URL for one in Netscape 4 you’d just get a blank window. Using the view-source protocol also makes it easy to experiment with how different query strings affect the source of a page.

The bathroom effect

An article from The Salt Lake Tribune describes the new Pixar headquarters: “Pixar resembles the coolest community college you ever attended.… The semi-controlled chaos of the work environment, like the building’s design, is guided by the Pixar philosophy that good things come from creative people bouncing ideas off each other.… They are geeks with the neatest playground in the movie business.”

Leaving creative idea bouncing to chance wasn’t sufficient for Pixar CEO Steve Jobs. To help encourage interaction between the 700 employees, he wanted there to be a single bathroom in the building.

Here’s the “bathroom effect” theory, as Greenberg explains it: “If you have bathrooms that are scattered throughout the building, you use the bathroom nearest to where you’re sitting. If there was one bathroom, all kinds of people would come together and talk with one another all the time — you’d meet different people if you were waiting in line. It would enhance communication, and you’d be talking about things outside of work.”

Mercifully for the bladders of Pixar’s caffeine-addicted staffers, the central atrium has eight restrooms on two floors — four men’s and four women’s (with the silhouettes of “Toy Story’s” Woody and Bo-Peep at the entrances). The atrium also boasts Cafe Luxo (named for the swing-arm lamp that starred in Pixar’s first short), break rooms with an unusual number of toasters, the mailroom, conference rooms, pool and foosball tables, and an open area for the occasional concert or lecture.

via Peter Lindberg’s weblog. Also see his post about the Disney Process.

Word of the day: mondegreen

Mondegreen, n., the misunderstanding of a word or phrase that gives it a new meaning. This occurs frequently with song lyrics.

A few examples: during catechism, some of us misheard the phrase “Cant (or Chant) as you can, not as you can’t” as “Can’t as you can, not as you can’t”. I found it encouraging when thinking about fasting—do what you can. I was amused to see that the latter half of the phrase “blessed art thou amongst women” was misheard by Irish boys as “a monk’s swimmin’”. My mom tells me that the hymn “Lead on, O King Eternal” was often sung “Lead on, O kinky turtle” as her class hymn in college.

Palm Acquiring Handspring

Wow, when Handspring was started in 1998 by Palm founders Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky, I’d have predicted it would be the other way around. According to the press release, Palm and Handspring are joining together “to create a stronger competitor in handheld computing and communication solutions.”

Apparently times are tough in the Palm device market. I was sad to hear that HandEra discontinued the HandEra 330 and TRGPro products. I think the 330 was one of the cooler Palm devices.

Perhaps the old devices will go up in value. William Gibson—yes, of Neuromancer fame—mentioned that a character in one of his futuristic stories uses the Apple Cube and then noted that the Cube retains value years after being discontinued. I know my Palm IIIxe is still going strong, but then I have to admit it isn’t as insanely great as the Cube.