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Prediction: a shift to the right 2004

As I begin using my Treo 600 more to access the web, I'm becoming more aware of the annoyance of wordy top and left-hand navigation areas when I have to scroll past them to get to the main content of the page. I made the decision to avoid this in my own designs long ago after testing sites in screen readers. As more web users gain access through narrow, linear browsers, I expect a general design trend of main content moving up and left while navigation and less important content moves down and right.

Posted on January 30, 2004 at 08:53 AM in web design & documentation | Permalink | Comments (4)

Congratulations, Justin! 2004

He's celebrating 10 Years of Links.net which I linked to back in the very first piece of MetaGrrrl content. (I don't call it the first post because it appeared on its own page as an essay. The first "reverse-chronologically-laid-out-writing-with-expectations-of-subsequent-similarly-formatted-entries" was a week later).

10 years since he started, 5 years 4 months since I first wrote about the connection I feel with him just from reading his site, and he still inspires me.

This weblog wouldn't have started when it did without the bold risks he takes and blazing love he gives out to the universe. Keep shining, Justin!

Posted on January 29, 2004 at 08:04 PM in The Web | Permalink | Comments (0)

Empathy. No, Really. 2004

I've been busy. Really busy. At work. It's the biggest product beta test ever for my main product and I'm the first and pretty much only point of contact for the customers who are beta testing. I have to hold a whole lot of details in my head, respond to lots of email quickly, and keep at least token progress happening on my other duties. It's a workout and I come home wiped out mentally.

I've been playing some Civilization, reading, watching movies, surfing the web, but mostly taking long showers and going to bed early. I've been listening to the same songs over and over while I stare out the window on my commute, even when the train is going under the bay. Also I find my stress-relieving technique of spinning long, incredibly convoluted fantasies kicks into high gear and all I can say is thank goodness for cute actors. Remarkably soothing to contemplate them, really.

So, with all this going on, my capacity to create intelligent, insightful posts that will give you intellectual satisfaction and a sense of purpose is pretty much at a standstill. Good thing no one was counting on me for that, eh?

Uh, point? What was my point when I started this post? Oh, yeah, empathy.

One thing that happened during this period of frequent mental vacancy and arms sore from too much typing which I didn't post about at the time is that TypePad got a big update and I leapt into it like a little kid on Christmas morning, but, alas, no change to the method of inputting the date of a post. I totally understand, really, I do. The Six Apart folks work way harder than I do and have been keeping at it steadily for years. It's fine. I have plenty of recent posts to deal with and anything within the last 5 years isn't too painful to set using the current method. It does mean you won't be seeing any more of my early years showing up in the archive for a while though.

I've hardly even played with my new Treo much.

You know I'm wiped out when I have a brand new device which will allow me to blog from anywhere and I've hardly posted at all.

Posted on January 28, 2004 at 08:49 PM in mundania | Permalink | Comments (0)

um, listen. 2004

Some great graffiti I saw in Emeryville.

Photo taken January 26th, 2004. Sometimes it takes a while to get it together to take the time set up your tools. Heh.

Posted on January 26, 2004 at 12:00 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Treo 600 Tips 2004

So far I've only collected one tip for Treo 600 use. A guy on the Muni said "Get the program Snapper to handle your POP3 email."

Any other recommendations or warnings anyone would care to add?

Posted on January 25, 2004 at 11:10 AM in tools | Permalink | Comments (7)

Mobile, technically 2004

So, this post is coming to you from my new mobile phone/PDA. Based on the trend among my friends and friends of friends, I opted for a Treo 600. I must say, its pretty swell so far.

Posted on January 23, 2004 at 11:01 PM in tools | Permalink | Comments (1)

I know who's got my vote. 2004

I put my heart on my sleeve. I let people know who I am. I want this country changed. This country is owned and controlled now, by the government and corporations. That's not good for ordinary people, and I don't think it's good for ordinary people, and I've stood up and said so.

- Dr. Howard Dean (from an interview with Diane Sawyer)

The biggest threat to democracy is not terrorism. It is unchecked corporate power.

Posted on January 22, 2004 at 10:26 PM in politics & philosophy | Permalink | Comments (2)

Swinging like a triplet from Belleville 2004

I just got the French version of the soundtrack to Belleville Rendez-Vous (a.k.a. Les Triplettes de Belleville). It is The Shit(tm). See this movie. Buy this music (or in the American version if you prefer).

Posted on January 19, 2004 at 08:35 PM in music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dinah on the back porch 2004


[When I uploaded this to Flickr on November 30, 2005, I said, "(wow, have I lost a lot of weight since this picture. I look so much less like Jean Teasdale now.)" Looking at it on February 12, 2012, the main thing I notice is the happiness in my face. That was a great apartment! Loved that view.]

Posted on January 18, 2004 at 03:00 PM in Dinah - introduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Boy, do I feel stupid. 2004

So the reason I've been getting fewer & fewer benefits from being in the Amazon Associates program? At some point, at least a year ago, probably longer, I misremembered my account ID and have been entering it wrong ever since. What a dipstick.

Posted on January 18, 2004 at 01:29 PM in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Year's Walk 2004

Here's my first SF Bay Guardian column of the new year.


And, in case that archive link has problems, here's the column itself:

Being There

MY FAMILY HAS a fine tradition: on the first day of the year we take a walk and renew ourselves with fresh air, green grass, and rolling California hills. I grew up on the northwest side of Martinez, John Muir's hometown, and I always associate Jan. 1 with hiking through Rankin Park and the beautiful Franklin Hills, one of the great open-space treasures of the Bay Area. When I went off to college, I headed south to UC Santa Cruz and walked under the redwood trees, listening to the sound of water dripping from branches and watching to be sure I didn't step on a big, golden banana slug. Before moving to San Francisco, I lived in the South Bay and strolled along shoreline trails among birds with the wind blowing in the tall grasses.

Without leaving San Francisco, you can take an excellent nature walk through Glen Canyon, the Presidio, Stern Grove, or Golden Gate Park. All fine places, but they don't scratch that old itch for open, grassy hills and twisted oak trees. So look a little farther afield and contemplate these options.

Just north of Novato is Olompali State Historic Park, with views eastward over the Petaluma River Valley and San Pablo Bay and trails up Mount Burdell. The trick to getting there is that you must pass it going north on Highway 101 and then carefully make a U-turn at San Antonio Road and drive south on 101 to the park entrance. Dogs aren't permitted, but humans and horses can find great trails to explore. This is a perfect spot to contemplate the lives of Bay Area residents before the coming of the Europeans. The Miwok made this place home from about 6000 B.C. until the 1850s; consider the concept of an 8,000-year sense of home as you walk these paths.

In the East Bay are the pleasures of Tilden. Located in the Berkeley hills, this beautiful park boasts more than 2,000 acres in which a variety of activities can be enjoyed. For the first walk of the year, though, save the steam train, carousel, and petting zoo for later and instead set out on one of the many trails (a good map is available at the East Bay Regional Park District Web site). These paths wind among eucalyptus trees and over hilltops with amazing views, and some also take you along roads as well. Don't underestimate the beneficial effects of removing from your field of vision the constant barrage of advertising we experience in urban environments. Get out to the green places and find some stillness. (Note that Tilden's South Park Drive entrance is closed through March to protect migrating newts. How cool is that?)

When it's big vistas you need, it's hard to do better than the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve to the south of San Francisco off Highway 35 in San Mateo County. Fill a backpack with a picnic lunch and a bottle of water, put on your hiking shoes, grab your windbreaker, and lose yourself for the day wandering and admiring the views. From the highest points in your explorations you'll be rewarded by incredible 360-degree panoramas of the entire Bay Area. You won't get the lovely show of wildflowers that spring brings, but the waving grasses and soaring hawks make this place beautiful year-round.

Perhaps, like me, you've been dazzled by the beauty of New Zealand, which stands in for Tolkein's Middle-Earth in The Lord of the Rings films. I've daydreamed about traveling there someday, but in the meantime, and on my current budget, it's good to be here in northern California. It's worth stepping outside into the brisk air of a new year, opening our eyes and discovering the lovely realms at our doorsteps. But I'll leave you with a warning from a great adventurer, Bilbo Baggins: "It's a dangerous business going out of your door; you step into the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."


MetaGrrrl is the nom de Web of Dinah Sanders.

Posted on January 14, 2004 at 10:02 PM in the big room with the blue ceiling | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Are You Lookin' At? 2004

Normally I get a hundred or two hundred hits a day on my website. Today I've gotten 450 so far. Only some of them are me working on this project, so what is going on?

Tell me (in the comments), what brings you to MetaGrrrl this fine day?

Posted on January 12, 2004 at 09:21 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (15)

Kai's Example Dilemma 2004

A good analogy is like a diagonal frog. - Kai Krause

[Found via a link on kottke.org to the Edge's interesting list of laws]


Also from that article are these by Tor Nørretranders which make me want to read more of his writing:

Nørretranders' Law of Symmetrical Relief

If you find that most other people, upon closer inspection, seem to be somewhat comical or ludicrous, it is highly probable that most other people find that you are in fact comical or ludicrous. So you don't have to hide it, they already know.

Nørretranders' Law of Understanding Novelty

The difficulty in understanding new ideas originating from science or art is not intellectual, but emotional; good ideas are simple and clear, but if they are truly new, they will be hard to swallow. It is not difficult to understand that the Earth is not at the center of the Universe, but it is hard to believe it. Science is simple, simply strange.


Also of amusement is Steve Grand's

Grand's Third Law

The more carefully one makes contingency plans, the more bizarre the actual
circumstances will turn out to be.


The Alan Alda bit is really good too.

Alda's First Law of Laws

All laws are local.

In other words, something is always bound to come along and make you rethink what you know by forcing you to look at it in a broader context. I've arrived at this notion after interviewing hundreds of scientists, and also after being married for 46 years.

I don't mean that laws are not true and useful, especially when they have been verified by experiment. But they are likely to continue to be true only within a certain frame, once another frame is discovered.

Some scientists will probably find this idea heretical and others may find it obvious. According to this law, they'll both be right (depending on the frame they're working in).

Another way of saying this is that no matter how much we know about something, it is just the tip of the iceberg. And most disasters occur by coming in contact with the other part of the iceberg.

Alda's Second Law of Laws

A law does not know how local it is.

Citizens of Lawville do not realize there are city limits and are constantly surprised to find out they live in a county.

When you're operating within the frame of a law, you can't know where the edges of the frame are—where dragons begin showing up.


And I like this one by Esther Dyson

Dyson's Law

Do ask; don't lie.


Oh, and this one from Philip W. Anderson

Anderson's Law

More is different.

Damn, this is a good article.

Posted on January 11, 2004 at 11:13 AM in quotes | Permalink | Comments (1)

Dear Chickenshit... 2004

To the person who knocked over Chris' motorcycle last night and didn't leave a note or insurance info:

Regret to inform that you are not mature enough to own or operate a motor vehicle. Please turn in license and keys to any police officer.

Posted on January 11, 2004 at 10:58 AM in warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

Acceptance of Ambiguity 2004

It is not a bad thing in a tale that you understand only half of it. --Isak Dinesen

[Thanks to Uncle Larry for the quotey goodness]

Posted on January 10, 2004 at 12:36 PM in quotes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oh, that old excuse 2004

According to the CDC there are 1,000 to 2,000 cases of bubonic plague worldwide each year. Can you imagine having to tell your boss that you're out sick because you have bubonic plague?

Posted on January 7, 2004 at 09:51 PM in random synaptic firing | Permalink | Comments (2)

Offloading Memories 2004

Steven Johnson has an interesting post from December about projects to extend our memories through storage of more of the data of our lives (e.g. all our email, phone calls, sites visited, etc.). It got me thinking about what I'm doing with this site and so I left a comment which, in the interest of preserving all my writing which I think is of any significance to telling my story, I reproduce here:

I'm finding as I begin the daunting task of filling in the rest of my life before the blog that not only would having more data be daunting, it would yield a less perceivable portrait of me. Filters can add value to data, I find, so I see a lot of benefit in the fact that while I have almost all my journals, many of the personal letters I ever received in my life, and lots & lots of other memorabilia, I do not have everything. What I saved, what survived the moves I made does reflect my perception of what is important to me and therefore contributes to a portrait of me.

I do wish I had every piece of real writing & art I ever did. Not the "Dear sir or madam, please close my account as I have now paid off the balance in full" stuff, but the creative writing pieces, the letters I sent (as opposed to the letters received many of which I have), the little art projects (sometime around 1990 I did this great little animation piece in Hypercard which I deeply regret having lost), etc.

It would also be great to have a picture of me from every month of my life and a picture of every place I ever went to school or lived or worked and a picture of everyone I've ever interacted with regularly. Pictures do bring back memories, which is to say, they remind me of stories and the stories is what I really want to preserve of my life.

(Cue Tim Burton's new movie "Big Fish"...)

Posted on January 7, 2004 at 09:24 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

tick tock 2004

There are no beautiful clocks. Everything to do with Time is hideous.

-- Robert Aickman

Thanks to Hudak for quotey goodness.

Posted on January 5, 2004 at 09:06 PM in quotes | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Productive Day 2004

It's been a good day. I didn't sleep too late. Visited with friends at Derek & Heather's brunch to welcome in the new year. Had a bit of a walk with Chris getting there & back. (Oh and I should mention we had a lovely long walk to a party on New Year's Eve). It was a beautiful day. Perhaps I should have been out in it, but I was able to get myself into a productive groove and so wound up spending most of the day and evening here at the computer.

Managed to get all my posts from November 1998 into TypePad. These were done pre-Blogger, so they had to be added by hand and I'd never gotten around to adding them into either Blogger or Movable Type. Given that the posts I was able to import from Blogger to Movable Type still have to have titles and categories added, it's not that much more work to add the whole post, but it's still time-consuming, especially since I've been taking the time to confirm that links still work and the images are migrated.

So, there's still December 1998 though the first half of August 1999 to put in from my hand-coding days. Then the Blogger stuff from August 1999 through March of 2000. After that I had gotten it all into Movable Type, which is made by the same fine folks who make TypePad and so all that migrated fine and much of it has titles and categories.

Oh and there's still all the side stuff; things I did which weren't part of the main blog. I've gotten a bit of that in, but there's still more to go.

Once I do all this, then I can weed through all the data on my old host, confirm I've got everything migrated and then I'll take it down. Given that I'm paying for the hosting, I might just pull the data off and close the account, but it's kind of handy to view it in situ with all the Movable Type code running. Assuming I can be a little tougher about making progress on this project, I'll probably still spend a couple hundred bucks on extra hosting. Oh well, as hobbies goes it's fairly cheap.

Posted on January 4, 2004 at 10:28 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Reveling in unproductivity 2004

As I think must happen every year as a result of holidays and my work schedule getting a little loosy-goosy, I have switched back to being a night-owl. Last night I went to bed around 1am but didn't fall fully asleep until 3ish. Then I slept until 1pm! I guess I needed it. Tonight I had dinner at midnight.

Obviously I didn't get much done this morning - though I woke up very well-rested which certainly counts for something - and the rest of the day hasn't been startlingly fruitful either. I totally forgot that today was my opportunity to go pick up my new glasses which have been ready now for a week or more. I guess I'll go into work late some morning or get them next Saturday. While Chris was out for a motorcycle ride I did get some minor cleaning done around the house, but I can't say I've even got the place back to a neutral thoroughly clean state, let alone made any headway on the neglected to-do list.

This evening around watching more of the first season of Kids in the Hall and the old John Cusack film "Better Off Dead" I did finish entering all my bills in Quicken and balanced my bank statements, so I guess I can have a gold star on the calendar for that. Still, it's a bit sad to look at the piles of papers and think about projects I've hardly put any work in on during my extra days off in the past couple weeks. Oh well, sometimes doing nothing is just what one needs.


Heh. And now it's a quarter to 2 in the morning. I started writing this post a little before 1am and then just went over to IMDB to check the spelling of John Cusack's name... Another hour gone by and no progress on any projects. I can tell already that Monday morning is going to be very tough.

Posted on January 4, 2004 at 01:35 AM in mundania | Permalink | Comments (3)

Toes still tapping, mouth still smiling 2004

Go see Les Triplettes de Belleville. It is so good. So weird. So wonderful.

(Lance, if you haven't gone yet, I'm dragging you down to the theater).

Posted on January 2, 2004 at 11:52 PM in Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Best Weblog of 1660 2004

Congratulations to Phil on completing the first year of publishing the diary of Samuel Pepys on the web! Lovely project, beautifully realized.

Posted on January 1, 2004 at 05:18 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1)

I wanna be more like Jason Kottke again, damn him. 2004

So, yes, I got all excited about these sidebar list things in TypePad (and earlier sidebar content in cruder form), but I've gotta say I really like what Jason's done with his site in integrating his links and media reviews in with his full size posts. Like the good designer he is, he talked about the decision and gave the rest of us the chance to learn from his process. (Kevin Fox is always really good about doing that on his site too). Guess I'll put in a TypePad enhancement request to be able to run in "Kottke mode".

Posted on January 1, 2004 at 04:31 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

He most definitely did. 2004


I saw Star Wars 10 or 11 times in 1977. Han shot Greedo dead under the table without warning and Luke was definitely in love with Leia. I think the big reason Lucas doesn't want to release the original is that it shows he didn't have the whole story in mind from the very beginning.

Posted on January 1, 2004 at 04:20 PM in Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

52 magazines or bust 2004

Jason Kottke has a great conversation (now closed) going on his site about which new magazines he should try out this year. His goal is to read a new one every week and dozens of people have made fascinating suggestions. If you're looking for a magazine recommendations (hello serials librarians!) this is an incredible list.

Posted on January 1, 2004 at 01:46 PM in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blog (noun) A weblog or similar brief journal usually containing links and commentary thereon. Term coined by Peter Merholz.

Visit Typepad or Blogger to start your own. (I began with hand coding, then switched to Blogger when it first became available, then to Movable Type when I wanted more control over my weblog and to have it hosted at a place of my choosing (Hurricane Electric). Since 06/2003 I've used Typepad, a hosted service built by the same folks who made Movable Type, which I love because I don't have to maintain the underlying system).

You may write to Dinah @ this domain.

Except where otherwise noted all content is copyright 1965-2018 Dinah Sanders. Please do not repost my writing or other creations elsewhere. Instead, copy a tiny bit and link to the rest. Thanks! Images are copyright of their original creators. MetaGrrrl logo and photos by Dinah are copyright 1965-2018 Dinah Sanders. Inkspot Books and the Inkspot logo have been Service Marks of Dinah Sanders since 1993.