It's alive!!! Yes, after months of working to establish a location for the site, and a few days assembling the data, our Web site is finally up, running, and ready to be announced to the world at large. Our e-mail addresses also work, so you can use them to get in touch with us for as long as this site persists. Joy.
2000 (and a little 1999)
We've recently returned from two weeks in California, Baja, and visiting Eric's parents—and boy, do we need a vacation. Nevertheless, we're going ahead with a New Year's Eve party here at the ranch, featuring the usual motley assortment of friends indulging in general silliness. In other news, Webmonkey has republished one of Eric's old articles. Imagine his surprise when he first heard about it from a co-worker.
Some of you may have seen the CWRU Y2K parody page during the 33 hours it was the actual university home page; if not, go check it out. Here's the amazing part—apparently we executed the parody so skillfully that it was mistaken by some people for an actual Y2K glitch! Among them: Wired News and the Washington Post. For more information, feel free to read the official press release from CWRU.
Time marches on, as does progress... Eric has reached yet another milestone in his major project, and hopes to be able to talk about it publicly Real Soon Now. It isn't that it's a secret, exactly, but it is something which he doesn't want to talk about until it's completely finished. Stay tuned. Kat has managed to survive her intensive courses, and is even now preparing for the rigors of integration...
Separation stinks. Then again, so does being sick (sometimes literally).
Eric is back from one of his pseudo-yearly trips to California, where he got a lot of things done and had some very interesting meetings with a number of people. (No, they weren't venture capitalists.) Many of these people were very generous with the freebies, so Eric's closet now has a few more T-shirts (as if he needed them) and his bookshelf is a little bit richer. He also stopped by Ragged Point again, and the food there is as good as ever. All hail Roger!
A note from Eric: I've rearranged [the home page] a bit in order to make it more legible in Navigator 4.x. The earlier display problems were, so far as I can tell, due to the fact that Nav4's rendering engine is as mind-bendingly awful as one could put in an officially released browser and not actually be thrown in jail for it. Even now, the display in Navigator is less than optimal, but at least you can read all of the text. My only other option was to use some sort of browser detection script to customize the content, and I'm just not willing to do that.
Well, the fish is out of the net now! O'Reilly & Associates has officially announced the upcoming publication of Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide. There are also listings at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Fatbrain.com, and Amazon.com; the Amazon.com sales ranking as of today is really funny: 729,716. That's up from its earlier ranking of 729,769!
Never content with one major turning point at a time, Eric recently decided to leave CWRU to take a senior position with a Cleveland-area information technology firm. More details will be made available after his last day of work at CWRU, which will be Friday, 17 March 2000. In the meantime, today's Amazon.com sales ranking of CSS:TDG is 727,582. Woo! Smokin'!
From Eric: One day to go... and in other news, CSS:TDG currently has an Amazon.com sales ranking of 70,931. I have no idea what caused it to jump so far, but am I arguing?
Eric has officially left CWRU, which means that he's technically unemployed until Monday, when he starts work with a firm known as The OPAL Group. He's joining a start-up division, which means it has all the advantages of an ordinary start-up with the established-company luxury of having a list of clients already waiting; literally, the best of both worlds. CSS:TDG continues to move up the Amazon.com sales rankings, at one point reaching 51,270. (I've heard that the book has already sold well over 2,000 copies—and it hasn't even gone to the printers yet!)
At one point today, CSS:TDG hit an Amazon.com sales ranking of 8,423. This appears to confirm the suspicion that these rankings are simply randomly generated numbers.
Now it's just silly. CSS:TDG hit an Amazon.com sales ranking of 3,923 today, depsite having fallen from 8,423 to 26000-plus in just a few hours, and then rebounding to almost 7,000 in a few more hours. We don't know what the heck is going on, but it's kind of morbidly fun to track the numbers anyway.
Kat is back in Cleveland! Eric could be happier, maybe, but he isn't really sure how. Other good things happening: orders for CSS:TDG have already passed 5,200 copies, and the book won't be available until the beginning of May. Looks like we might have a winner on our hands, folks...
Eric says: Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide has been published and is available. I have held a copy in my hands (I got two last night via Federal Express); somehow I expected it to be bigger. I suppose that's probably an effect of the book's psychological significance. Preorders, as of the end of April, totaled 6,307. ...wow.
We're back from Europe. Our time there was both wonderful and productive, but the actual travels to and from Europe were not wonderful, nor even vaguely pleasant. We're starting to suspect that we carry some kind of combined travel and weather curse. (But we're still not Rain Gods.)
CSS:TDG will be entering a second print run soon, thanks to strong sales. It's had an Amazon.com sales ranking as high as 113, and there are rumors that it went higher when we weren't looking. On a related note, the recently published Amazon.com editorial review of CSS:TDG is very kind indeed. Here are a few quotes: "...enthusiasm for [CSS] spills out of the pages, making a strong case for even the most skeptical reader to give CSS a whirl and count on its future... attention to both detail and architecture helps readers build a well-rounded knowledge of CSS... This fine guide delivers on its promise as an indispensable tool for CSS coders."
Kat graduated from her midwifery program today. She is now officially a midwife!
Kat's finally feeling better after a week of illness... which is why it took so long to post the notice about her graduation and update the text related to her.
Eric says: The site got a facelift today (thanks to Molly Holzschlag for letting me steal her ideas). I hope you like it, and let me know if you see any major problems. Note: the reason the site looks so bad (but not totally unreadable) in Navigator 4.x is that I did my best to create standards-compliant markup and styles, and Nav4 doesn't deal very well with that sort of thing. If you're using Navigator 4.x, please restrict any bug reports to pages where there is no text, or the layout is so mangled that it's impossible to read the text. As for the long silence since the last update—okay, so we've been a little busy lately. I'll try to be more forthcoming with news in the future.
Big news a-comin'—stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the humor of CNN.com, a new page on the site.
Okay, the Big News: we actually went and bought a house, and take possession of it today. Pictures won't be forthcoming any time soon, since we have a lot of work to do and furniture to buy, but at least our address and phone number will finally settle down into something permanent.
Of course, work on the house and the attendant move continue to dominate our lives. While we were away for a week, the nearly 2,000 square feet of hardwood floors were refinished, and they look great. The yard's been ripped apart until it's something like what we want—not finished, by any stretch of the imagination, but much better than it was. We still have some distance to go, but things are pulling together. The actual move is looming ever closer now, and hopefully we'll get everything lined up for departure on schedule. In fact, we've been so fixated on the house and moving that I completely neglected to post the fact that Kat passed her certifying exams a week or two back. I never doubted that she would, but of course the waiting for test results is always quite stressful for the person doing the waiting...
It is often amazing how fast time flies past. No news posts for the last month definitely doesn't mean no news—it's just that we've been too busy to do updates. In brief: we moved into the house and had some work done, Kat had outpatient surgery, and Eric signed more contracts to speak and write on the topic of CSS. That's about it, but it's certainly enough.
Another month, another lack of updates. Our house is coming along quite nicely, although it's nowhere near where we want it to be. I'm told that's how it goes. As my friend Bruce D. told me, "Now you have a kit which is never finished and to which you'll never have all the parts you need at any one time." The big challenge now is trying to find bedroom furniture to match the ceiling fan we bought. Salespeople give us really odd looks when we tell them this. Kat's recovered completely from her surgery, which is great. I got back from Vancouver a week ago; nice city, but lots of rain.
We're back. Again. Not that twelve days in San Francisco and Ragged Point is anything to complain about, really, but we discovered that we miss home after a while. This even though the weather during our trip was as close to perfect as one could possibly ask, and the venues were nothing to sneeze at either. My talks and other activities at Web2000SF were what scientists call a "huge peck o' fun," but even better was meeting and greeting so many cool people. Some I already knew well via e-mail, like Molly; and some I'd met before, like Tantek and Jeff and Sherry (from Terry!); but many others were effectively met for the first time—Bryan and Lori and Jennifer and Steven and what seemed like dozens more.
In a way, I felt bad about the situation at "Real World CSS," my Wednesday presentation. I didn't have any network access, so the presentation suffered, and the room was packed to overflowing (and fire code violations) by interested audience members. The interest was profoundly gratifying in an ego-centric fashion, but it wasn't the best job I could have done, and the environment was less than ideal for those trying to find seats. The Friday talk was less of a hit—especially among those who didn't want to hear that the user controls the browsing experience—but there was very good attendance without the need for sitting in the aisles, and a lot of appreciative comments and exclamations from the audience, so that was good. It was interesting to be giving a talk called "CSS For Anarchists" while the President of the United States of America was giving a speech a floor above me. As I've always said, timing is everything. I don't know how many background checks got run on me, but I'd like to know. Fortunately, the Secret Service decided to not arrest me for seditious activities or some such thing. In sum, I don't know about others, but I had a darned good time.
So did Kat, who got to play tourist and jaunt down to L.A. without me to see various college friends. It was a short jaunt, and she got back in time for the election. Being on the West Coast, we could watch most of it unfold without the massive sleep deprivation which the network anchors, all based in the east, were obviously suffering. We were watching ABC when Florida was moved back into the "undecided" category for the second time; the sense of history-in-progress was fairly palpable. Or else we were starting to experience sleep deprivation ourselves.
I'm not going to comment on the election process beyond this: the whole situation is intellectually fascinating, and I'm very ambivalent about how I'd like to see it resolved. In process terms, I mean; I know who I'd like to see win—but if you think I'm going anywhere near that particular bear trap in a public forum, you've got another think coming. The closest I'll come is to say that, as I write this, I'm finding that every time a campaign spokesman from either side opens his mouth, my opinion of him drops. Every time. That's just, you know, depressing.
Just a side comment: the format of these posts has shifted from "third person objective reporting" to "whatever Eric feels like saying, generally at some length." You probably noticed that already, but I thought I'd mention it explicitly. Mostly because I can.
Some thoughts on the ongoing electoral fun:
"...don't assume that no matter who wins and no matter what happens, it's going to be bad for America. It might be quite good, because it might be sobering for the country to realize we're in a completely new era, nobody's got a lock on the truth, we're all trying to understand the future."
Wise words from Bill Clinton in a recent CNN interview. Of course, in observing that nobody has a lock on the truth, he's espousing a very liberal point of view. As far as conservatives are concerned, they do have a lock on the truth, and anyone who doesn't agree is either morally corrupt, weak-willed, or just plain dumb. This from the ideological camp which gave us Rush Limbaugh.
Things are settling down at long last. Kat and I have no significant travel plans for the near future, which in its own way is quite a relief. It's nice to look at a calendar and know that (barring unforseen events) we won't be leaving the state until 2001 at the earliest. This blissful state of affairs will let us concentrate on things like properly configuring the steam radiators in our house, for example. Or try to figure out which painting or other piece of art should go where. I'll be able to set up a regular writing schedule for the next book, and even play the occasional video game to relieve my frustrations at Word 98 for being... well, for being Word. Kat and I can go on dates, even have friends over for parties and family over for the holidays. It's all so domestic, we can hardly stand it. (Don't worry, I'm sure we'll figure out a way to survive.)
I hope your Thanksgiving was as convivial as ours. We had over both sets of parents and siblings and their partners, a cousin, and some friends. We may have missed our first Halloween in the new house, but I think we more than made up for it with our first Turkey Day. And major thanks to Alton Brown for giving us the secret to crowd-pleasing turkey. Even Dad was impressed.
The extended weekend was useful in some other ways as well: I got more work done on my next book, and wrote (or started to write) some new articles. It turned out that I'd been away from writing too long, and pounding the keyboard for a few hours (okay, it was probably close to 20 of them) did me a world of good. Does this mean I'm becoming a Writer? I hope not—it would break my poor mother's heart to know I'd gone so wrong.
Well, I've learned something today. What I learned was this: when your ham-and-provolone-on-white-bread sandwich suddenly begins to taste like a banana, it's time to throw it out. Now I share this lesson with you. No, don't thank me—that's just the kind of guy I am. I basically can't help myself. (Neither can anyone else, I suspect.)
I'm starting to get back into the swing of article-writing, with two new articles in front of editors as I type this, and another two or three pieces brewing on my hard drive at home. Whether or not those simmering pools of language ever see the light of day is another question, of course; sometimes a piece which starts out full of tasty promise ends up being the fallen soufflé of writing, if you follow me. All the ingedients seem correct, and the cooking process is roughly the same as all the other dishes I make, but nevertheless I occasionally end up with something that, if writing results may be equated with food taste, closely approximates a cigarette-and-coffee omelette. Or worse.
At any rate, I keep getting Election 2000 stuff in my mailbox, but recently it's swung from being solidly anti-Democrat to become sort of a turgid bipartisan mix of shrill laughter masking pessimism, vitriol, and bleak resignation. It's kind of like hearing the body politic whistling past the graveyard, and the tune is just as fractured as you might expect. So if you've come across any particularly funny election-related humor in e-mail, do me a favor—delete it, will you? You'll feel much better.
Not much has been going on in life recently. I mean, sure, we got a Christmass tree and decorated it, and we put up lights all over our front porch and got light-sensitive electric candles to put in our windows, and we've been having friends over for impromptu (and not-so-impromptu) gatherings in front of our fireplace. But beyond that, nothing. Except for the hilariously flaming play we went to see over the weekend, which was not only thoroughly enjoyable, but filled with killer outfits to boot. So except for that, really, nothing. Wait, did I mention the emergency plane landing on our street? Just kidding.
Actually, I wanted to draw your attention to two things. The first is a Web site which will allow you to get more closely in touch with the realm just beyond this world: Heavens-Above. It's not a cult, it's a way cool predictor program. Trust me, give it a whirl, because it's too cool for words. The second thing is the conclusion to a review of a video game, if you can believe that. I'd played the demo, and I fully identify with the reviewer's emotional reactions to the game. While clicking a mouse and staring at little colored dots on a monitor, I was suddenly given insight—sharp, deep, and painful—into what fighting a war demands of the men who must do so, and of what it means to be a soldier. Just playing this game brought that home to me in a way nothing ever could—and yes, I've seen Saving Private Ryan.
Thanks to the addition of another negative review on Amazon.com, my book's approval rating effectively dropped to 90%. If I were a politician, I'd no doubt be wetting myself, but as it is I'm feeling downcast. This morning's radio show, which was plagued by technical problems and good-old-fashioned boneheaded mistakes on my part, didn't much help. In the grand tradition of my countrymen, I'm going to assign blame for my glum mood on external factors: the approaching holiday, which almost never fails to depress me; and last week's long-awaited resolution to the electoral situation. It's not for me to judge to the outcome, but my reaction to the players and tactics used in the whole long process were almost uniformly negative (I grumbled about this at the beginning, and things only went downhill from there). Lord knows, I wanted to find someone to respect in the whole thing. Only at the end did I get it, and that was while watching Gore's concession speech. So in other words, the only thing which gave me any hope was the loser's exit speech. Oh, that's just great.
Ever tried to count your blessings and then realized you didn't have the energy to bother? Just wondering.
Christmas at the folks' house was nice as always, and this year we had the super-special added bonus of clear skies over north central Ohio. That meant that we could enjoy the sunlight glinting off of (and refracting through) the hoarfrost and the snow, both of which dazzled throughout the morning. It also meant that we could observe the partial solar eclipse around noontime, using a pinhole camera I constructed out of some gift boxes that happened to be lying around. Pretty nifty.