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  • Michael Krakovskiy 10:56 am on January 17, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: About URI scheme, , Easter, Frontpage, , , , , , , , , Mozilla, , Other Office, photo equipment, S. Thompson, , unholy product, Vermeer Technologies, web collage, Web Forms   

    Creative Time Wasting 404 

    Dear readers, let me vent some useless thoughts about HTML and share the fruit of my procrastination with you today.

    It occurs to me that HTML code has finally become a third rate citizen of the World Wide Web. Back in the day, there were horrible WYSIWYG editors that mangled poor HTML, raped it by adding their own non-HTML tags and in general produced bloated and unreadable mess. They still exist today. But now most sites are script generated, so rarely do you see clean, beautiful and handcrafted HTML code when you view the source.

    One of the worst offenders is Microsoft, of course. It gave FrontPage, an unholy product of a dying company called Vermeer Technologies (I’ve read in this book that the price of FrontPage was huge and number of copies sold – miniscule) an eternal life as a part of the Office Suite. Other Office programs always produced horrendous HTML. And now, they don’t even want developers to touch HTML directly. They added extra layers – Server Controls (again, plans for VTI extension and FrontPage come to mind) and Web Forms to isolate them from the language that can be learned in 20 minutes and mastered in a few years.

    I can’t say that positive things did not happen. For one, fewer people write in old skool all-caps HTML tags. All lowercase tags are so much more readable.

    Also now it’s probably safer to put little Easter eggs and funny notes in HTML comments. Are there more of those around? I don’t know. But the oldies but goodies are still out there.

    Famous hacker JWZ’s enigmatic page contains this haughty comment:
    <!– mail me if you find the secret –>
    <!– (no, you can’t have a hint) –>

    Smarter people than me tried, but failed to find meaning in in the 404 lines of what seems to be a hex dump. Former Livejournal user mcgroarty, for instance, wasted a good chunk of his time on this. Where is his blog now, by the way? Does anyone know?

    What I noticed though is that the page is not static as mcgroarty probably assumed. It changes with time. More than that, it seems like it is not the same data – it probably cycles through different files. You can clearly see that if you look at http://www.jwz.org through the wayback machine. Meanwhile you can see the old design featuring the Jamie’s cool terminal graphics likeness. You can see the old design get resized, then get replaced with the 404 line nightmare. Then “mail me if you find the secret” gets added. Enough people send emails and JWZ, always eager to save some time, adds “(no, you can’t have a hint)”.

    Are these 404 a cruel joke – meaning not found?

    I suspected that the 404 lines show chunks of the old green image that I mentioned, or are generated from web collage. When I looked at the famous animated compass gif (the one that replaced the Netscape diddler when you typed in about:jwz or went to JWZ’s old homepage in Netscape 1.1 and some other early Netscape version I think) I found another hidden message from JWZ:

    “You have a lot of free time on your hands, don’t you?
    Tell jwz@jwz.org that you found the secret message!

    http://www.jwz.org/
    about:jwz

    “Some people will tell you that slow is good — and it may be, on
    some days — but I’m here toò tell you that fast is better. Being
    shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out
    of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba.”
    — Hunter S. Thompson

    Oh, Jamie, I have very little free time. But whatever free time I have I usually end up wasting on stupid things.

    This does not seem to be the solution to the 404 line homepage puzzle, but the heck with it.

    Russian-speaking readers can entertain themselves with reading comments over at tema.ru. There are a couple of hints of hidden links, a few sprinkles of profanity, showing off about Photoshop mastery. Outstanding advice to journalists that was there in the earlier version is gone. I also remember seeing a completely blacked out page about his photo equipment there (you needed to do control-a trick to see it) in a very old version of the site. http://www.design.ru has its share of rowdy commentage.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 11:50 pm on June 25, 2003 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Diabaté, , , Frank Herbert, Mozilla, , Parallel Galaxy, Patrick Stewart, , , Stick, , , Toumani Diabate,   

    No Lunch For Deadprogrammer 

    I haven’t lost much weight in the last few months on the Atkins diet and I am still nowhere near my target weight. And I am not cheating, really. So the three pronged approach must be tried.

    A) Forcing myself to eat breakfast, late lunch and having no dinner
    B) Cutting down on coffee and artificial sweeteners
    C) Going to gym more often than once every two weeks.

    So, instead of lunch today I’ll do a little post. I need to come up with a good name for this kind of a post. Slashdot calls it “Slashback”. I can’t come up with something witty. Little help?

    In any case, here goes:

    Very talented brings us The Matrix and Terminator in the Russian lubok style. He’s also the one who placed Cheburashka, the Soviet Pokemon in the world of Star Wars and The Matrix. I’ve seen the images floating around in journals for a while, but they never revealed the author. Don’t you hate that?

    Nobody expects the Mozilla developers! Mozilla is rather nice right now. Two features really make the difference – tabs and popup blocking. And favicon.ico rendering that isn’t broken. Three features. And NT challenge/response support. Four. And proper keyboard shortcuts. Five.

    Tabbed browsing is absolutely perfect for journal reading. Unfortunately from time to time the browser window doesn’t refresh and becomes a jumble of screen layers forcing me to restart the browser. The same thing happens to Trillian sometimes. Does anybody know how to fix that?

    I am listening a lot to Kora music. Djelika by Toumani Diabate is oh so amazing. You really, really got to get it. This is the best coding music ever. What’s a bit funny is that Mr. Diabate quotes the theme from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” in the title piece. It’s just so awesome! Just listen to the sample at Amazon. Don’t even listen, just buy the damn CD. Did I ever recommend anything bad?

    got me interested in the Chapman Stick. At first I though it was a kind of a Theremin. I tried listening to a classical recording of Theremin, but didn’t like it.

    But it turned out that the Stick is something very different. And also hella cool:

    “… One piece, Backyard, that appears on the album was used in the film Dune. The director’s cut of the film shows a decorated Stick painted gold playing the role of the mythical “baliset” instrument described in Frank Herbert’s novel. Emmett’s recording is what we hear when we see Patrick Stewart play the baliset.”

    I really want to get a cd of “Parallel Galaxy”, but can’t seem to find one for sale.

    Lunch is over.

     
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