Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Style Sheet for RSS

So, I was reading “XML Family of Specifications: A Practical Guide” (a totally comprehensive book, it turns out - more info than I would actually want to read about XML… but it seems to be a good reference).

Anyway, I’ve come up with a plain, readable, style sheet for the RSS format (an application of XML). This style sheet — if RSS authors include a link to it — will make otherwise garbly RSS files readable from most of the newer web browsers.

I'm planning to work up an XSL template, too — but that might not happen for a while.

As an example, check out my newly revised RSS for the Activist Network.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Balloon Sculptures

Cool balloon sculptures - a bunch of photos of some amazing sculptures (no giraffes!) made from balloons. Warning: one x-rated balloon image, and one racist balloon sculpture, are, unfortunately, to be found amongst all of the otherwise quite good and family friendly works.

Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Male Feminists

I contributed the following post to a discussion on "Male Feminists" on rabble.ca:

Regarding males taking women's studies because they're "gay or trying to pick up girls":

As a guy who has taken many feminist courses at university, my smarmy, sarcastic, retort has always been "yeah, a course where we learn about all the evil stuff men have done and continue to do to women is a great place to 'pick up chicks'." ;)

In reality, the women's studies courses were the most personally challenging and intellectually exciting courses I took at university. The instructors weren't 'disinterested academics' - they had a strong personal interest and engagement in the topics that created an amazing environment of shared growth in understanding.

And, no, I never did get a date from any of those courses :)
(although there were many wonderful people, some who remain good friends these many years later).


As to whether men are "pro-feminist", "real feminist", "pro women" or whatever: I am a feminist, man. I am consciously working to eradicate sexism and patriarchy from myself and society. I try to reject social divisions based on sex or gender (and most other social divisions, too).

Am I free of male privilege? Am I free of sexist behavior? Do I consistently ignore sex and gender in my treatment of others? No - but is anyone else completely free of sexism in this patriarchal society? I'm trying, and making mistakes and learning. This is a daily struggle - made easier by conscious engagement (and mutual support) with those around me.


So, why do some feminist men feel more radically feminist than the women in their lives? Maybe because we have the privilege of being able to get away with it - safe while being vocal. When I proclaim my radical anti-patriarchy views, it doesn't threaten my job. It doesn't stop me from getting a date. It doesn't threaten my social ties.

Maybe there's an element of machismo in taking a 'hardcore' stance or seeking the status of 'biggest' feminist. Maybe we're fitting our expression of feminism into the traditional 'male protector' role. Maybe there's a sense of needing to 'prove ourselves' by taking an extreme position.

Whatever it might be, I try to temper my male impulses with continued dialogue. There's always more to learn and experience.

Monday, October 7, 2002

My Blog's Pedigree

This blog now has a "Blog Pedigree".

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Figuring out how to search the current site

A bookmarklet for searching the current site (using Google), that my buddy over at Splorp came up with, inspired me to think about how to provide a way to tell software how to use a website's local search engine.

So, I've launched a discussion/project on Search Query Interface Discovery. My hope is that it'll provide a standard way to identify local search engines that can then be used by tools like my buddy's bookmarklet - or maybe even be built right into web browsers.

Friday, September 27, 2002

Sleep-In at the Park: Vigil for our homeless

I participated in the Alberta Coaltion Against Poverty's "Sleep-In at the Park - Vigil For Our Homeless" on Wednesday night.

I've posted my comments and observations from the vigil to Alberta Indymedia.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Cree Language Dictionary

Nehinawe:Interactive Cree Language Dictionary

Coming out of discussion on the Cree List, I've created a draft/prototype/experimental/bail-'n-twine online dictionary for the Cree Language.

Users can register on the site to be able to add directly to the dictionary.

Monday, September 9, 2002

Hold Your Ground - Volume 2: Call for Contributions

Activist Network The followup to last year's surprisingly successful benefit CD for the Activist Network is being put together now. We're looking for Alberta-based recording artists to contribute "songs with social significance" to this project (there's a PDF poster calling for submissions).

I'll be working on the graphics and layout for the CD again. Right now I'm looking for photos of Alberta activism (from any time - including ones from decades ago if we can find them).

Please contact song@activist.ca if you want to contribute to this project.

Friday, September 6, 2002

I am a knitting junky.

I am not in control of the situation.

I've got four separate knitting projects on the go right now. I'm almost done my shoulder bag (just have to attach the shoulder strap (knitted i-stitch cable). I'm finally making good progress on the baby toque for my friend's recent family expansion. I'm working on a one-foot square for a blanket for the anti-poverty sleep-in. And I've started on a sweater/hoody (from a pattern that I'm modifying).

Oh, and I want to figure out how to make Dr. Seuss inspired socks!

Friday, August 30, 2002

The Knitting Revolution calls you to gather

on Tuesday, September 3

In the face of growing corporate oppression, the Revolutionary Knitting Circle is boldly gathering on:

Tuesday, September 3, 6:30pm,
at the Old 'Y' (223 - 12 Avenue SW; Calgary).

There, we will strike a blow against the will of corporate rule!

At this subversive event - in defiance of manufactured dependence on corporate 'goods' for our survival - we will be freely sharing skills to enable each other to produce our own clothing and other subsistence needs. So, too, will our time together serve to build the bonds of community that have been shattered by corporate devilishness - and to break down the social walls of our society that would divide us.

In a show of allegiance with our city's noble anti-poverty activists, many at the gathering will be pouring our labour into valiantly crafting revolutionary one-foot squares. These spirited squares are to form the basis of blankets to carry our powerful message of resolute defiance against the foul forces of poverty.

As the range of our courageous skills of craft spreads, so to do those skills expand in scope. A daring revolutionary will be bringing the knowledge of the "cable-stitch" to be shared by all who would use it to confront those who would defy us! Certainly, there is a most clever metaphor to be found in the knowledge that a "cable needle" has no stopper, but rather is pointed on both ends!

All revolutionaries are called upon to seek throughout the land for the means of production. Our inspiring arsenal of yarn and needles must continue to bourgeon that we may overthrow those who would keep those tools out of the hands of the people. We will strive to provide for those without, and gratefully take in the contributions of those who - through extraordinary effort - can make provision for both themselves and others.

A special call is made to seek the opening of the eyes of men to the cause. Our brothers remain too few in seeing the grand nobleness of the Knitting Revolution!

Truly, it is the duty of each one of us to spread this glorious message to all who might hear it that we may speed forward our revolution to its inevitable victory!


My hope comes from the courage of your hearts,
Knitter G.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Odd dream where I end up becoming a Catholic priest

I dreamt that I was being ordained as a Catholic priest. Oddly enough, the ordination ended up taking place in the gym of my Jr. High School.

Meanwhile, some people were trying to kill me before I could be ordained (and there was some sort of torture involved - but nothing graphic). I was slithering along the gym floor trying to avoid my would-be killers, who were also slithering because everyone had to be lying on the floor during the ordination ceremony.

Needless to say, I was pretty stressed out by the time I got to the actual ordaining part - and then I was told I had to give a sermon that morning.

There were a group of about 8 of us who had to give sermons - the ones in front of me were all pretty boring so I was determined to give a 'riled-up' talk (I forget what my topic was). I was going to read from a book I had written (hah - you can tell by that statement alone that this was definitely not reality) which was considered inappropriate by some of my fellow sermonizers, but I justified it by saying that I had written it, so it was my words.

Monday, August 26, 2002

CapsBeep is now Free.

Since I haven't released a new version for a few years now, I figured it was about time I released the CapsBeep utility for free (instead of the US$10 shareware I was charging). [Download CapsBeep]

CapsBeep is a Macintosh (System 7 thru OS 9) control panel that modifies the behaviour of the caps lock key.

Its options include a warning beep when caps lock has been pressed (especially useful for those using keyboards on which the caps lock key does not 'click'), and an option to use the shift key to 'reverse' the caps lock so that if both caps lock and shift are active, you will get lower-case characters.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Knitting obsession

About a week ago, I was up until 5 in the morning trying out some new (to me) knitting techniques. I had a couple knitting magazines with various interesting patterns in them (and a glossary of terms, abbreviations and standard stitches, thankfully).

So, now I'm doing cable stitches, ssk decreases, yarn overs, etc. and I can read knitting patterns.

This stuff is totally addictive, especially for an obsessive compulsive like myself...

Friday, August 23, 2002

Giving stuff away requires a license?

Under the category of Corporate Power is Stupid:

In Edmonton, ESPA's "Free Store" project is being shut down as an unlicensed business. All it is is a free space where people can give stuff away and get free stuff. No cash, no barter - just free.

So, being the responsible people they are, ESPA are challenging this decision with a phone/e-mail campaign you are encouraged to join.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Making web pages accessible

Finally started adding more info to "Conscientious HTML Tips" again, including an additional reference for the Designing for Accessibility tip (an online book:"Dive Into Accessibility").

Moving to XHTML

So, after a late night of reading through discussions on web design and standards, I'm thinking I need to finally learn and make the transition to XHTML (version 1.0, I figure) in my work. Anyone know of any web browsers that would hose?

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

"The Assault on Hoth" in Lego!

This display was set up by a group of Legoists for the Brickfest 2002 event.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

On the entertainment industry's stupidity when it comes to digital technology.

For "content providers", supporting and pushing digital technology == big profits.

Remember how during the dot-com craze there were all these "e-businesses" that were having terrible losses. That none of the big names was making any profit?

At that time I was working in the stock photography industry. An industry that embraced digital delivery (to the extent where traditional stock media are about as accessible as 8-tracks now). The company I worked for, EyeWire, made big profits off of web sales of digital content (stock photos, video, illustrations).

Two simple lessons stand out from my experience there:

1) Customer service is the backbone of the business. You can have a crappy website (we didn't - but it did have it's problems as with any service), but if your customer service will do whatever it takes to get the product to the customer as quickly as possible, you will have customers and those customers will stick with you.

2) Make it as easy as possible for the customer to get your product in whatever form they want it (without technical constraints on usage - only legal constraints), and make it easy to pay for the product in that process.

The entertainment content industries don't comprehend either of those. If they did, they would likely already be making more from digital delivery sales than all of their traditional modes. (IIRC, for the stock content industry, web sales overtook 'hard goods' sales around 1999-2000)

There's something else that comes to mind: If you treat your customers like they are criminals, they will come to see you as a criminal. Case in point, the audio recording industry whom many (if not most) of us now perceive as thieves riding on the backs of musical artists.

Friday, July 26, 2002

I was interviewed about misleading websites

On Thursday, July 25, I was interviewed on CBC Radio's The Calgary Eyeopener. They've provided the interview in RealAudio format.

Their description:
"Web Wary
"Calgary webmaster Grant Neufield is afraid visitors to his site are being badly misdirected. Type in the wrong suffix and you could wind up taking a radical right turn. Jeff caught up with him this morning."

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Recovering

I'm starting to come out of my shell, post-G8...

Although my eyes are still dark from sleep-deficit.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Cool Lego building

Speaking of the Christian Bible... I just came across an incredible Lego construction: "Abston Church of Christ". This is a massive project - done over an almost 2 year period. It's got amazing details, and an incredible set of documentation.

There is a construction diary, and an extensive set of photos and explanations. Very cool.

Burn it down, and salt the earth

I sent a fun little e-mail to good buddy of mine today. Here's a cute little clip:

I will destroy mine enemies before me.
I will plunder the wreckage of their homes and bodies to feed my inevitable victories.
I will salt the earth whence they stood, lest new enemies should grow from the foul soil.

Surely mine shall be a vengeful and righteous path.

Ezekiel 21-
15:
I have set the point of the sword against all their gates, that their heart may faint, and their ruins be multiplied: ah! it is made bright, it is wrapped up for the slaughter.

Jeremiah 34-
20
: I will even give them into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and to the beasts of the earth.

Nahum 1-
4:
He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers...
5: The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.
6: Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.

Deuteronomy 29-
23:
And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein...

Monday, March 18, 2002

My friends had their baby over the weekend!!!

Excitement in the extreme!

Sunday, March 10, 2002

First Knit

I learned how to "cast off" last night, so I finally finished my first knitting project!

I had started out trying to do a square, but it ended up a little more abstract than intended. However, I seem to have the general idea now, so next time my square should actually be square (fingers crossed).

Tuesday, March 5, 2002

Japanese Powerpuff Girls!

A whacked out range of cool riffs mixing Powerpuff imagery with other icons, especially from Japanese animation.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Skeleton in my closet

It's a little known fact that I was once paid to work as a mime - in a shopping mall.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Technology to music

An old friend of mine from out East is continuing some very interesting - and frankly, quite geeky - musical work involving aging technology such as old dot-matrix printers. The National Post has published an article on that work titled, Dot Matrix Symphony: Turning defunct technology into art.

Having seen one of the earliest performances of that work back in Ottawa, I can say I knew him when... (how's that for a cheezy statement?)

Teachers Strike

I attended a rally for striking teachers in Alberta, Monday morning. I've written a brief article about it, posted to the Alberta Independent Media Centre, titled "Massive support brought out for striking teachers at rally in Calgary."

I've also posted a bunch of photos of the rally and the march. I also did a QuickTime VR panorama from the center of the rally.

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Creativity

One of my old schticks: William S. Burroughs on Sesame Street:
"So tick.
Tick.
Tick...
...
Tickle me Elmo - you are wild!"

Troubles

Graphophobia: The fear of writing.

Dysgraphia: Impairment of the ability to write, usually caused by brain dysfunction or disease.

Apple's Sherlock tool provides an unexpected way to "find" dead companies

I used to work for a company called EyeWire. A couple years ago, EyeWire was bought by it's chief competitor PhotoDisc GettyImages and then gradually (painfully) shut down.

Back in 1998, I did up a Sherlock search plug-in for the EyeWire site - allowing people to use EyeWire's website search with Apple's Sherlock tool. I think it was in 2000 that a deal was made with Apple for them to include our plug-in with Sherlock - so we were then a part of the OS distribution.

I was putzing around in Sherlock this morning and noticed the disappearance of the EyeWire plug-in and the appearance of a new GettyImages plug-in. Curious, I dug into the ":System Folder:Internet Search Sites:" folder and discovered that the EyeWire plug-in is still there. However, now it's contents are blank - it's been wiped out - so it doesn't show up in the Sherlock interface. It's not as if it no longer works, either, since the custom version downloadable from the EyeWire site (which, surprisingly, is still up and not just redirecting to the GettyImages site yet) still works.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Microsoft getting up to more evil

InformationWeak has a story about Microsoft getting up to more evil:
January's XP Surprise: The Giant Paperweight.
Fred Langa warns new Windows XP users of the consequences of failing to "activate" the operating system with Microsoft. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
I just don't understand why anyone is still willingly using any Microsoft software.

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Absence

All work and no blog makes Grant a dull boy.