Have You Hugged Your Local Browser Developer Today?


Look, go ahead and serve up “XHTML” as text/html. Really! So what? Yes, yes, if you actually served up your page with the right mime type so that it actually got parsed as XML instead of invalid HTML, your website would completely fall over. But hey, no worries! Fortunately, you’re not actually using your “XHTML” for anything that HTML 4.01 can’t do, so you can afford to blithely ignore the standard. Unlike, say, Jacques “The Hardest Working Man In Show Business” Distler.

So write some manifestos! Slap those XHTML doctypes at the top of your pages! Go nuts! But before you do so, take some time out to be thankful that there are hundreds of bright, hardworking, underappreciated coders who are designing browsers to clean up after your mess, just as they did for the table/spacer-gif jockeys of yore. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Back from VP X

Well, actually I got back from Viable Paradise late last night. Still unpacking, figuratively and literally.

At one of the late night get-togethers, Mur went around with her wellworn microphone and asked us what we had learned at VP X. I think I said something about plotting, which was the best I could come up with after N glasses of wine. That answer is at best incomplete, so let me try again:

  • Well okay, I did a great deal about plotting, mostly from sitting down with Jim Patrick Kelly for 45 minutes. The man is a mad genius.

  • I also learned how to make and use quill pens (or more properly, simply “pens”). And I learned the basics of how to spin yarn, but not how to knit. Next time for sure, Nikki

  • I learned that if you’re writing fantasy, you need to get medieval on your characters’ asses. If you write a novel about an imaginary Crusader state, you cannot afford to have prose that reeks of “bloodless modernism.” The big question is, how to write about pre-modern people and politics in a manner that doesn’t totally repulse an enlightened 21st century reader? Food for thought. In the meantime, I will be reading Icelandic sagas and pondering what is best in life.

  • Most important of all, I learned that SF is a fundamentally social genre. There is a huge ecosystem of SF readers and writers out there, and you need to be a part of that community to make any headway. Thank you to my amazing classmates and instructors for finally managing to drive this concept through my thick skull after all these years.

I’ll probably be talking about Viable Paradise and other SFnal things for some time to come. But overall, Viable Paradise was an amazing and possibly life-changing experience. I miss my classmates already, and no doubt I will be leaning on them heavily in the future…

X-Purgation Part II

Wait… I’m on vacation! Why am I writing about X-Philes stuff?

Well, before Viable Paradise starts up, I’m staying with my friends Byron and Karin in Boston. Yesterday, I spent all afternoon roaming around Boston on foot on about one hour of sleep. Today, I enjoyed a glorious brunch of French toast made from homemade whole-grain bread, fresh blueberries, maple syrup, and “sausage” patties made from beans and various spices, with gourmet tea and mocha. This delicious meal would have been entirely Vegan, except for the bacon. Mmmm, bacon. Anyway, this afternoon we’ve just been chilling at the house, killing some time, waiting for Karin to get back from work. Byron has been playing with his latest toy, the PhidgetServo 1-Motor board. And I’ve been cleaning out my email inbox. Which leads us back to… the X-Philes.

For many, many months, I’ve felt a gnawing sense of guilt every time I looked in my inbox. That’s because way down at the bottom, there’s been an ever-growing pile of X-Phile email to deal with. Some of the emails I responded to with a lie, saying, “Thanks for this submission! I’ll try to get to this soon.” But most of the emails I just ignored. Terribly, terribly rude of me. At the very least I should have told each person that truthfully, I wasn’t sure if I would ever get to their submission. But the more time went on, the more I neglected the submissions, and the more I neglected the submissions, the more I wanted to neglect them…

Finally, in an effort to regain control of my inbox, I went through the entire queue. But before I announce the new additions, I’d first like to apologize to everybody for sitting on this for so long. I am far, far too embarrassed to contact anyone individually about the status of their submission. Most have probably forgotten or don’t care anymore, but either way, my sincere apologies for not at least getting back to you in a timely manner.

And now, congratulations to our new X-Philes. They are, in order:

  • Schillmania. The blog of fellow Yahoo! Scott Schiller.

  • Sam Kauffmann. Associate professor of film at Boston University.

  • Phonophunk. Website and musical showcase for John Serris.

  • loadaverageZero. Dedicated to the latest standards in Web accessibility, design and programming using client-server, open-source technology.

  • Ether Multimedia. Multimedia consultancy and production house in Sydney, Australia.

  • Plerion Webdesign & Development. Web development and consulting with an emphasis on usability, accessibility, and standards.

  • Simone Deville. The most technologically-advanced dominatrix site, ever.

  • Funky Jah. Coding projects, music, and more (and if I knew more than twenty words of French, I could tell you all about it)

  • SR-71 Online. Thousands of pages about military aircraft, including the awesome SR-71, aircraft of choice for X-Men and X-Philes eveyrwhere.

A special award should go to Scott Schiller, who sent in his site in November 2004. Ouch. You can see why I’m far, far too embarrassed to even contact the owners of the sites that made it, let alone the ones that didn’t.[1] I’d also like to thank Drake Wilson, for helping kick me out of my lethargy and convincing me to go through the old list and purge all the sites that were dead or invalid.

Finally, I would be remiss not to share a fabulous message I received late last year from an anonymous Concerned Citizen:

Well, I can’t imagine why you think this CRAP


qualifies. There is hardly any XHTML in it – it’s just cut-up images. IMO, it encapsulates all that is WRONG with the web.

You can’t pretend to me that it is valid XHTML 1.1 – there are 177 errors on the main page alone.

So much for your list. How much are you being paid by these people to pretend their sites are what you claim they are?

Wow, XHTML hate mail! The only other piece of hate mail I’ve ever received was from an anonymous person who disagreed with my assessment of Howard Stern. It’s not immediately obvious which guy wins in the IQ department, though. Howard Stern Guy was far more profane and less grammatically correct than XHTML Guy, but I think Howard Stern Guy still pulls ahead if we take into account the key metric of “reading comprehension”. See, Howard Stern Guy managed to correctly assess that I do not like Howard Stern, while XHTML Guy failed to read the text on the main X-Philes page, even though I had helpfully bolded the key part:

Note that I do not check sites for whether they are “Bulletproof” (by, say, stress-testing them with invalid comments and trackbacks). Nor do I continually monitor these sites for validity. Ongoing XHTML maintenance is the site owner’s responsibility, not mine.

Maybe I should bold the whole thing? Set it to text-decoration: blink? Oh, well. And now to go roll around naked on the huge piles of dollar bills that I’ve made off of the X-Philes. Enjoy your weekends, all!

1. If you A) submitted your site, B) are not on the list above, and C) still care about this silliness, please check your referer logs. You’ll see a cluster of validations made in rapid succession — these should indicate which pages I checked, and the last page is the one that either failed validation or wasn’t serving application/xhtml+xml. Back in the old days, I used to send an email thanking people for their submission and mentioning what had gone wrong, but as I said above, I am just way too embarrassed to send out emails after all this time. But please feel free to contact me or resubmit if you like. My apologies again.

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