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08/29/2003

Okay, I'm frustrated

Okay, the half-a-template disappears on save phenom struck again. I had just gotten my archive pages in line with the others stylewise, when this weird error took down the whole blog. Argh.

August 29, 2003 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

08/24/2003

Familiar Furniture

Today I tweaked some more and now have some pics embedded. It feels good to have some familiar furniture around the place.

I also prototyped a Wild Keys skin, as I think things are going well enough to slide that blog over here as well.

Ah, the question of permalinks. I could put a redirect on the old archive pages--there aren't that many.

"What, though, is the forward-compatible way to do this?"

She reaches for Zeldman....

August 24, 2003 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

08/23/2003

Thoughts Like Slippery Silk

I was reading AS Byatt's intro to the 1991 reissue of her first novel The Shadow of the Sun, and my brain caught fire with recognition.

Byatt talks of the influence--both positive and negative--of her mother (curious in the context of a novel about a young writer in the shadow of her father). Byatt wrote the novel at a time when my own mother was experiencing an almost identical conflict -- hungering for the life of the mind and a literary/academic career on the cusp of the sexual revolution. So, I think, I must pass this book on to Mom, she'll see herself in it. As, of course, I was seeing myself in it.

Then I'm struck by Byatt's talking of all the metaphor and myths that form a sort of jacquard weave in her writing: the Raleigh excerpt she uses for her title, the hint of Yeats: silver apples of the moon, golden apples of the sun -- and all through her commentary, an awareness and irritation with the traditional motifs of moon and sun as feminine and masculine forms of creativity.

Byatt writes, "The sun has no shadow, that is the point. You have to be the sun or nothing." She expresses great conflict over the image of woman's creativity as the colder, reflected light of the moon:

...I was afraid that my light was a lesser one, a cold one, that could only mildly illuminate, however hauntingly. But I did go on from there, to Queen Elizabeth as Corn Goddess [in The Virgin in the Garden], to van Gogh's Death the Reaper working happily [in Still Life], to a poem in Possession by Randolph Henry Ash about the Norse Creation myth, in which the light that gives life....is a female sun. And in his poetry, too, Ash accepts that the 'golden apples' of the underworld dark goddess Persephone, are, according to Vico, the corn that springs from the furrow. It is interesting to reflect, looking back at those first suns, moons and corn how instinctively they were found, how long, although I had all the material for doing so, they took to understand and work out. [my emphasis]

This last bit reaches back to something she says at the beginning of the essay: "I didn't want to write a 'me-novel' as we scornfully labelled them then, literary sophisticates, inexperienced human beings. But I had the first novelist's problem. I didn't know anything--about life at least."

Whether you are young or old or middle-aged, like I am, I suspect this must ring true for you, if you yearn to be a writer. This a fiber of the most snarled-up writing thread: "Write what you know." The experienced writers say this to the less experienced ones because it is true, to a certain extent, that, as Flannery O'Connor put it: "...anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days." This notion that one already has enough "material" to write from is the thing that young writers most dread hearing. It squashes all their grand plans and contradicts one of the best impulses of writing: to write what you wish you knew.

But, I digress from what I meant to say originally, and that's good, because part of what I meant to say has to do with the slippery, flighty nature of what we think, when something excites our minds. (I assume this happens to everybody, not just the children of the mood- and attention-disordered.) Tracking a new idea is like trying to sew straight on silk; the fabric itself constantly slips under the presser foot and a seam that started neatly joined can double up on itself or separate entirely.

Hmm. Pretty image, but yet another digression. Here's where I repair the seam:

Reading Byatt's description of her influences and accrued meanings made me think about mine. There. That's no so difficult. Where she has the Corn Goddess I have the triple goddess and Lady Ragnell and many tales of transformation and misleading appearances. (In my notes I go on to explain some of these "influences and accrued meanings" but as that is more or less the reason behind 'Wild Keys' I will leave those notes for now.)

I was saying yesterday to some wonderful writers [on a closed list I won't reference] that I am ever interested in "the stories we tell over and over." I mean by this both the myths and fairy tales and adaptations and remakes that we as a species keep re-spinning, but also the tendency of a particular artist to retell the same story over and over in different ways. (Think of Robin McKinley and her Beauty and Rose Daughter ....) In this context, telling a story over and over is a good thing, not a sign of being in a rut or lacking in some sort of creative breadth. Returning again, perhaps with a different emphasis, even a different judgment or conclusion, to certain motifs, or situations, or structures, is a good thing in a writer. Too often we damage ourselves by resisting this tendency to revisit and rework.

Too often we don't emerge as writers at all out of fear of our own tropes betraying something embarrassing or--gasp--human about us.

August 23, 2003 in narrative designs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

08/22/2003

Courseware

Liz has posted her notes--and so much more--on how she used MT for her intro to multimedia course site. Templates, stylesheets, hacks--it's all there. Wow, Liz!

I'm loooking forward to taking apart Liz's structure and seeing how it works. As a complete newbie to MT (via TypePad) I think it will let me learn a lot of interesting stuff. Some I may adapt for Hit Those Keys. Certainly Dramatica Unbound, coming up in October, will benefit. The Dramatica Basics course is also due to be retrofitted. I have over a hundred pages built in the old format, plus 2-3 chapters yet to dust off and post to complete the course.

August 22, 2003 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3)

08/21/2003

And NN4 is now treated kindly

My husband and I occasionally host events for the board of trustees. One member of the board is disabled. I can be sure that on the morning of our party, the grounds crew will have installed a ramp to make our front door accessible. The rest of the year the ramp is in storage because the people who make such decisions think it doesn't look pretty enough to be in place all the time. To the bemused observer, it looks like a lot of trouble to go through, for one party guest.

Don't get me wrong. It is absolutely right for the ramp to appear. Not only that: I would be content to have it remain year round, ugly as it is (and it really is butt-ugly) because accessibility should be there, always, all the time.

I like the fact that TypePad is standards compliant and accessible all the time. But I notice that the standard stylesheets look pretty bad in Netscape 4. I know Netscape 4 is an eccentric visitor, who only comes to dinner once a year, but I'd like that trip up my ramp to be smooth. Very smooth.

Which is to say, I have my Netscape 4 stylesheet working (I think). I haven't fully smerged all the styles, but the important things work. Rah.

August 21, 2003 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Digital Housekeeping

After days upon days of physical housekeeping (largely consisting of turning my eleven-year-old's bedroom into a reasonable facsimile of a Paris cafe) I've been turning my attention to the untidy hard drives. The family's shared eMac is probably a hopeless case, but I should have some control over my own laptop. Should. Dreadful word.

It's a known feature of attention disorders that those suffering from the condition (I resent that word, too--suffering--I don't suffer, I just do differently) work best with their organizational cues visible. This shall be my excuse for the blizzard of files on my virtual desktop. How can I know what I have unless I can see it all at glance? The makers of OSX, with their tidy Unix brains, would be horrified.

I am willing to acknowledge, though, that there's such a thing as too many files (and too many applications). I actually enjoy practicing a kind of asceticism when it comes to how many apps I have kicking about. I still haven't reinstalled Word on this machine after upgrading it to OSX and since I'm also limping along with Safari and Mail instead of IE and Outlook Express I am enjoying an almost completely Microsquirt-free existence.

However, at the moment, there's a bit of a merry war going on between Tinderbox, Ulysses and good ole SimpleText. Each has its virtues: the sorting and sifting power of Tbox, the lovely elegant interface of Ulysses. Oddly, though, and despite the fact that it requires a boot of Classic, SimpleText is winning. I think only the fact that it has a limit on how large a file can be would keep me from using it for everything.

So now I have the chaos of not knowing whether the latest snippet has been lodged in a Ulysses project, a Tinderbox note, or is a SimpleText singleton floating around my desktop somewhere. I wish I could make my finder like a Tinderbox note--then I could map everything I'm working on and turn it all into a virtual desk blotter, with lovely colored regions for different projects. Are you listening, Apple? I need a finder like a desk blotter, with leather corners to tuck notes to myself in, and the option of shaking the whole thing like an Etch-a-Sketch and starting all over with a clean field.

August 21, 2003 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lulled into a false sense of security

"If it's not one thing, it's another."

Safari, you s---. Or, alternatively, IE5 Mac, you s---. Since I switched my laptop over to OSX, I've been using Safari more than IE5, so almost all my tweakage testing has been on Safari. So, things look good there, but wonky in IE. God knows what it all looks like on the PC. Fah.

I usually assume Mozilla gives me a a fairly close approximation of what things look like for the PC user, and I'm okay there, but there are still so many variations. More stylesheet tweaking.

August 21, 2003 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

08/19/2003

TypePad and MT for learning sites

I don't know if the estimable Liz Lawley has noticed my IP tracks all over her MT design for a class, but I've been trying to learn from a master how to go about setting up the different pages and options in a course site.

Anybody else out there using MT or TP for courseware? Suggestions and insights welcome.

August 19, 2003 in methods | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Still tweaking

Still tweaking behind the scenes. I somehow managed to delete half a stylesheet while making a small change. Managed to reproduce this mistake several times, in fact, so there's something a little tricky about the advanced template editing publish and save options...

(Or maybe a little coding knowledge is a dangerous thing...)

Right now I think it's safest to lift the entire stylesheet out of the editing field, plock it down in a text editor, input the changes, and then copy the whole chunk back into the text editing window. That way the styles below the insertion point don't go missing. (I figure I must have somehow highlighted below the insertion point by mistake, but the fact that I did this several times in an identical fashion makes me wonder if I'm the only one kludging up their stylesheets in this fashion...)

I've also been doing similar tweaking behind the scenes on my course sites. I'm becoming more confident that I can make an almost seamless meld between the static pages on my core site and the dynamic pages with TypePad. This pleases me.

August 19, 2003 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

08/10/2003

And the tweak goes on...

Well, I've finally got the template around to an approximation of the Hit Those Keys standard. There are some things I still prefer in my original design (the #hrule div, which makes for a better transition between the header and the main container), the fact that a workable alternate for N4 is provided, and I haven't yet bothered to figure out how to add in more photos and things.

I tried linking the v4 styles and importing the TP ones, but it didn't work--the browsers weren't picking up the advanced stylesheet. I tried an absolute path and a snippet of MT code and neither worked. Mmm.

I like the sidebar styling a little better in the TypePad template. It's a little tighter. But I have to keep my css buttons....

I also created and did a little preliminary tweaking for Dramatica Basics and Dramatica Unbound sites. I haven't yet decided if the static pages will continue to live in my directories at sff.net and just the dynamic pages will live on the TypePad server.

Which reminds me--backups, archives. I'm used to having duplicate files on my desktop. It's a little scary, having files living out in the ether.

However, I won't miss cobbling together external comments, stats counters, and hand-coding the permalinks. (I know, I'm supposed to let Tinderbox do some of this for me, but I got tired of fussing with the html export. I do too much late-stage editing.)

August 10, 2003 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

08/09/2003

TypePad satellite blog

TypePad is so enticing I decided to give the service a trial run. I've opened up a development log to record my progress as I write new material for my online workshops and design new sites for their delivery. I'm hoping to also prototype the materials for Dramatica Unbound in TypePad or some combination of Dreamweaver and TypePad. Anyway, the more technical/theoretical mutterings will probably shift over to the worklog, while Wild Keys will remain a personal log and writer's notebook. At least, "This the theory that I have, that is mine."

August 9, 2003 in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Noodling Around

If anyone besides me has latched onto this page since I went live last night, you may have noticed its expanding and contracting column widths, minor color changes and an occasional complete wonk-out.

I'm accustoming myself to the basic style sheets, getting a feel where they and my own design intersect and where my own flourishes might undercut the basic functionality built in here. I'm still trying to enable background images to show up, but so far, no luck. Since both designs use xhtml and many of the same css tricks, I'm sure I can eventually marry the two in a fashion I like.

In the meantime, I'm in tweak heaven.

August 9, 2003 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

08/08/2003

Not another blog!

Well, I had to try TypePad. And what better way to begin than a log of my work at Hit Those Keys? I anticipate using this space to note my progress designing both the content and sites for my workshops, and also the design and development of websites for Rabbit's friends and relations.

August 8, 2003 in announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bang!

PMACOn the 27th and 29th of July, theater goers at the Experimental Theater of the Paul Mellon Art Center, witnessed the premiere staged readings of Ben Firke's latest comedy, "Bang!"

The company did an excellent job of bringing across the teen playwright's taut vision of two young, embattled artists. Joe and Paul create quite a bang when they cross pencils with their irritable and autocratic art teacher. Determined to prove that comic books can be art, the two labor on such creations as "Einstein Man" — who with his amazing powers of relativity can transcend time and space — and "Manatee Man" — whose adventures sounded good but end up looking like "Pottery Barn in the Everglades." Discouraged, but not beaten, the artists receive a boost from none other than Superman himself, who reminds them of an important criteria for art — that it express something! Their resultant collaboration, set in a high school art classroom, is a tour de force that wows the town. Hit Those Keys rating: 5/5 stars.

The playwright's parents were pleased to observe their other offspring, Marian Firke, in several dramatic roles on the theatrical evenings in question, including a cameo as a fellow student artist in "Bang!", The Waitress and The Police Officer in another student play, and a strident and judgmental Rhyming Parent in "Robin and the Robin." On the 28th and 30th of July, the young chanteuse also charmed audiences with her appearance as Lucy (in excerpts of "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown"), getting warm applause for her masterful, operatic rendition of "Schroeder." Hit Those Keys rating: 5/5 stars. Fancy that.

In other news, 19-month twin nephews took over the household this week and entertained us all with demonstrations of their rapid acquisition of language and motor skills. We were honored to be considered as "benchies" (adventures) and accurately identified by our real names.

August 8, 2003 in works-in-progress | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack