Archive for April, 2003



There’s a new group in town. Those of you in the Twin Cities might find this of interest: Twin Cities Web Development User Group. Discussion’s already ramping up.


Text and Image in Medieval England.

I don’t want to miss this: Text and Image in Medieval England, a conference this October at the University of Minnesota. I’ve been out of the medieval history scene for the last several years and miss it a bit. I tend not to like to do things half-heartedly, and this is one area that could quickly consume my life if I let it. Still, an occasional refresher is in order. This conference is right up my alley.

It usually comes as a surprise to those who know me only in the web world or at work that my academic background is in French and linguistics. What I don’t usually mention is that it’s actually in French, linguistics, religious studies, and medieval history. I spent an inordinate amount of time struggling to bring those disparate worlds together, time that I now think was wasted but that nevertheless led me to a fascinating study of the Danse Macabre des Femmes. The Danse Macabre was a fifteenth century memento mori, often containing both text and illustrations, in which Death danced with people from all walks of life, reminding the reader what awaits those who do not lead a good (i.e. Christian) life. The Danse Macabre des Femmes, as the title indicates, was a version in which Death danced with women, usually female counterparts of the male characters in the Danse Macabre des Hommes but also including roles specific to women.

I was drawn to this work in part because the imagery in both the poem and the accompanying illustrations reveal a great deal about the attitudes toward women in 15th century France. Study of these manuscripts involved creative attention to minute details drawn from a variety of disciplines (skills that serve me well in the work I do now — ah, the beauty of the liberal arts). You can see, then, why a conference that addresses text and image and what they reveal about medieval society might hold some small interest for me. Gotta go.


Mac OS X Unix Package Management

A useful rundown of working with Fink and DarwinPorts: what you need to go through to install, upgrade, find, and remove packages. Nothing too detailed, just enough to give you a flavor.

I’ve never looked at DarwinPorts and haven’t done anything with Fink in a while. I just haven’t needed to work with anything that they offer. Still, when I have needed it, Fink has been a godsend. I’ll be curious to look at DarwinPorts.


Filters in Apache 2.0.

I was talking with someone the other day about post-processing some dynamically generated HTML before it was sent to the browser. They looked at me like I was crazy: you can’t do that in Apache! It only allows one handler a shot at content generation. Well, yeah, except in the mod_perl world, where we have access to the entire request cycle. And, as it turns out, in Apache 2.0, which lets you string together output filters like in a Unix pipeline. Cool stuff.

Geoffrey Young, one of the authors of the mod_perl Developer’s Cookbook has published an article on mod_perl filters in Apache 2.0 as an introduction to mod_perl 2.0. Well worth a read.

Guess who’s anxiously looking forward to Practical mod_perl. That’s right, baby.

I’m also waiting to use Apache 2.0. Until mod_perl and mod_php are stable on it, I can’t really upgrade our servers at work. Rats.

On the upside, I have plenty of reason to upgrade to MySQL 4, as Jeremy Zawodny explains in January’s Linux Magazine. This is great: I’ve been looking for a good summary to bolster my arguments in favor of the upgrade. Something that I don’t think he mentions there is that in MySQL 4 you can change a lot of the server configuration variables on the fly, without having to stop and restart the server.


PNH Developer Toolbar

Tired of managing all those web development bookmarklets on your already cluttered toolbar? Try out the PNH Developer Toolbar, a Mozilla-based tool that includes, among other things, links to most W3C specs, tools to disable style sheets, apply external style sheets, kill images, outline block-level elements or table cells, etc. Very good.

(Via WebGraphics.)


Safari tabs not quite perfect.

I’m glad that Safari has tabs now. Really glad. What I miss, though, and maybe I’m just missing something, is the ability to drag a link to a tab to have it opened there.

That’s it. I’ve got to set up comments.


New Crypto-Gram

At last, I can read this month’s Crytpo-Gram without having to go out of my way. Usually GroupWise cuts it off. For some reason it displays only so many characters, then just stops. Grrr. I have to either read the raw message text, headers and all, or go to the web. I prefer reading it on the web anyway, and I shouldn’t subscribe at my work address in the first place (since I never read it there), but I’ve held on out of curiosity: will Schneier write a shorter Cryto-Gram? Will this bug be fixed with a GroupWise upgrade?


Siesta Time!

Every workday should include a nap, a study says. “It estimates that sleepiness on the job costs the nation’s businesses about $18 billion a year.”

Well, duh. I’ve long advocated the siesta for its health and productivity benefits, although I’ve had no data to back me up. I often take the bus to lunch, and take the opportunity to catch a few minutes of shut-eye followed by a nice, invigorating walk. Somehow, though, I just don’t see employer-endorsed naps happening anytime soon, especially within the State. I can just imagine the headlines.

“Headlines.” Hmph, as if people read the news. It’s the TV news teasers that would be killer.


Thank god for oscillating fans.

I’m at work, and man it’s hot in here. I can handle heat just fine when outside, at least there’s usually a breeze. But it’s a couple degrees hotter inside at work than it is outside, and the landlord won’t turn on the air conditioning because it’s going to be in the 40s in a couple days. Okay, fair enough, ya cheapskates, but how about turning on the fan to at least circulate some air?


Someone’s brought in a large oscillating fan. Thank god. I’m tired of dripping sweat onto my keyboard.


Open Source GIS

Via Tim McGyver, a list of open source GIS tools.

I’m still looking for a reason to use MapServer. Maybe if I can attend the upcoming MapServer Users Meeting, I can be inspired. Or at the very least, make it to May’s Twin Cities PHP Users Group meeting, at which MapServer’s creator will be speaking. I’ve been trying to go for a long time now, but never seem to make it. Doesn’t help that now I live even further away from where the meetings are held.

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