May 2002

Jeremy’s TWS returns

Jeremy’s The Weekly Strip went on something of a hiatus after her trip to Amsterdam over Easter. To celebrate its return I have belatedly moved the TWS files across from the old Alleged Literature web site to In the process I rearranged the directory structure (or URL design, to use TBL’s phrase) to be more consistent—something that required fiddly changes to some 300 or so links in more than 50 files. Luckily all the files are generated automatically so all I actually had to do was tweak three Tcl procedures and TclHTML handled the rest. Smug.

May Morning 2002 photos

There is long tradition of celebrating the First of May, called Beltane by pagan types. In Oxford, choirboys greet the rising sun by singing from Magdalen College tower, while the townsfolk gather below on Magdalen Bridge. For the last few years the bridge has been closed to the public (citing structural weakness in the bridge). This year we were allowed back on the bridge again. I borrowed Jeremy’s newest digital camera for the occasion and took some photos.

Fixed on Mozilla?

It turns out my front page did not work on Mozilla—the division containing the main text started at the top of the screen rather than 76px down from the top (as I has expected, given that its top margin was 76px). I changed this, but in order to test on Mozilla (which takes some minutes to start up on my K6/233) I needed to persuade thttpd to serve CSS marked as type text/css. (This is necessary because the W3C specs require that web browsers believe what web servers tell them, and it it says a file is text/plain it is not a style sheet.)

In theory I did this months ago (edit mime_types.txt, rebuild, reinstall). Testing this is a pain as well—Mozilla 0.9.7 does not give any easy way to find the content-type of auxillary files, so you have to type HTTP requests in to TELNET by hand... In the end it ocurred to me to run TELNET in an Emacs buffer so at least the retyping of HEAD /mumble/foo/bar.css HTTP/1.0 could be done almost-automatically... In the end it turns out that I needed to do make clean to force a complete rebuild, otherwise changes to mime_types.txt made no difference :-(.

Alleged Tarot (19): Moon and Sun

This week’s installment of my on-line tarot deck is two more of the trumps: XVIII. The Moon and XVIIII. The Sun. The Moon proved a little tricky, not just because of the number of weird symbols that need to be included, but also because I used a lot of CMYK colours with nonzero black (K) components. It seems that this (or some other property of the colours I picked) caused Sketch’s screen colours to differ from the numbers written in to the SVG file, which broke my automatic palette-adjustment program. I had to edit several colour entries by hand...

¶ Perhaps you are wondering why I have numbered the Sun XVIIII rather than the more conventional XIX. There is method to this madness. For one thing, the form VIIII did once upon a time exist, until the more concise form IX gained popularity. Using the longer forms has the interesting side-effect that the Roman numerals up to XXXXVIIII can be sorted alphabetically (I comes before V, V before VI, VIIII before X, and so on). The theory was that this would make the file names for the trumps neatly sort in to the correct order in directory listings (because I use names like iii-empress and xviiii-sun). That works if hyphens are considered to precede letters in the alphabetical sequence (as they do in ASCII). It turns out that Microsoft Windows NT has other ideas—it sorts punctuation characters after letters, which totally undoes my clever trick.

Alleged Tarot (20): Four Tens

This week’s entry in the tarot project is the four Tens: Wands, Cups, Swords, and Coins. Talk about being overcommitted. This set is being uploaded a few hours late, on account of I added some fancy animation to the Ten of Swords card (as with the other animations, this is trigged by pressing the small blue button at the bottom of the card—and uses SVG’s intrinsic SMIL-based animation). Hope this works on whatever SVG viewer you are using... update

No update to the Alleged Tarot (yet) this week... Jeremy needed the Mac to do her flier for the exhibition for CAPTION 2002, so it wasn’t available for me to finish drawing Judgement and The World—and I do not want to skimp on this fairly elaborate card. Also I had some work of my own for the CAPTION web site I’been puting off. After a few false starts (and some confusion as to which server I should be publishing it on) there is now another page or two on

And my Mac has stopped talking to the laser printer attached to my Linux box. To be honest, I can’t quite remember how we got it working last time, but I think in the end I used Apple’s own LPR-based printer driver (as opposed to netatalk’s AppleLink printer daemon). My attempts to use this again result in a useless error message (‘internal error’). Presumably it got broken in the upgrade to Mac OS 9. It doesn’t help that Macs just will not print unless you can point to the physical hardware. Presumably there is some dance you can do to get around this, given that one is supposedly able to send a disc full of PostScript to a bureau whose printer would not even fit in your house.

And now with added Google

I added a Google sitesearch box to the front of this site. It has been interesting watching infiltrate the Google database—for a period of a few days, one Google search would find this site, and the next would claim it didn’t exist. My guess is that different subsets of Google’s gigantic server farm have different databases, or something like that.

Search boxes belong near the top right corner of web pages—that’s where people look for them. To accomodate this I rejigged the layout of the front page. I would like to be able to boast it was all a simple case of tweaking the CSS code, but in practice I found it expedient to add two div elements, surrounding the contents of the main and side-bar sections of the page—before that each section had its own div and that was all. Not sure if the result is better or worse as far as structure goes!


As we come up to the Jubilee weekend, I have dug out my little Australian flag in case any flag-waving is required. Typing Australian Flag in to Google finds Ausflag, a campaign for a new Australian flag (I quite like this one), and The Australian National Flag Association, dedicated to celebrating Flag Day (the anniversary of the first hoisting of the Australian flag on 3 September 1901). I had a look and found a cool new New Zealand flag as well.