The Zen of Web Standards

The Zen of Web Standarsd

Today, in the spirit of giving, I bought myself two new books. Umm yeah the giving — they’ll help me give back to the community. My fiction consumption has been pretty dismal this year; I have a list of books a mile long to read and don’t need anymore of them. So, the day’s purchases included reference books of sorts: the Zen of CSS design by Dave Shea and Web Standards Solutions by Dan Cederholm. I’ll call them textbooks for the real world.

Web design books aren’t something I usually spend money on. I’m no expert, but a lot of the design books that I’ve flipped through seemed like they’d been written by a semi-literate twelve year-old who had discovered the view source button in Dreamweaver. I’m not talking about hardcore tech reference books (see O’Reilly’s, I’ve picked those up before), but the books that help you build a decent looking site. I haven’t gotten into CSS Zen or Web Standards yet, but I figured I’d write about them now, as there will probably never be a proper review. I can’t see myself actually finishing them, they’re more likely to become dog-earred natural extensions of my desk.


Banlieue 13

Update: The movie is now playing in North American theatres under the title District B13. Go see it on the big screen. June 2, 2006

I don’t post that many movie reviews anymore, but sometimes the people need to know. Banlieue 13 (imdb) is a French flick, so it’s not something you’re likely to find in Blockbuster or your local cornerstore. You’ll probably need to send a letter to your local movie distributor asking them to shape up or buy an import.

The movie’s pacing is intense; if the first five or ten minutes doesn’t have your jaw settled nicely on the floor you can have your money back. Banlieue 13 is set in the near future, in a gang-controlled Paris suburb that has been walled off from the rest of the city. Leito needs to team up with a cop to save his kidnapped sister and rescue the inhabitants from a neutron bomb detonation. Good setup? Sure, why not.

Leito jumping through window


Recipe: Thai Chicken and Noodles

I don’t have the best track-record over the last couple years when it comes to cooking. Last year was teacher’s college, the year before that was finishing up a CS degree and running a newspaper, so it didn’t seem like I had the time to eat properly. The result was a lot of take-out and frozen dinners. We’ve been making an effort to do more cooking over the last couple months, and I’ll do the same in terms of trying to post some of the recipes.

My cooking style is relatively haphazard; I make use of what’s around and tend not to be huge on keeping track of measurements. It might be akin to a bull in a china-chop but things usually end up tasting pretty decent. Without further adieu, I present a photo-guide to preparing Thai Chicken and Noodles.

Recipe: Thai Chicken & Noodles 05

At this point, it would probably be prudent to note that I’m a pasty-white guy living in the frigid lands of Canada and thus have no right calling myself a Thai chef. But I had to call it something, and Thai only has one syllable.

Create a Flash video of your screen output

Flash Screencapture with Mac

When you’re trying to demonstrate a technique or idea using computers, I find that things go a lot smoother with a visual walk-through. In a classroom it’s relatively easy, you just go through the motions on a projector. Over the internet, video becomes your friend. There are a variety of techniques for capturing screen activity to video, but I’m going to cover creating flash videos on a Mac (most of the steps are probably applicable to Linux and cygwin on Windows). You may have seen flash videos in actions over at Google Video, or any other number of sites. It’s a relatively ubiquitous format these days.

The easiest way to create a the videos would probably be to download a program that lets you do it with a couple clicks. Screenography from Vertical Moon seems to fit the bill, but it costs $40. Now for the cheap bastards, we’ll move onto the free, yet complicated solution.