August 2002


I have not made much progress with my JavaScript+SVG-fueled tarot reading generator, I’m afraid. I have been to seem some films, though. Men in Black II was pretty funny and had some cool stuff in and we enjoyed it. The same evening we also watched Austin Powers in Goldmember which made me laugh like a drain, though maybe it seemed extra funny because Smith and Jones had been its warm-up act. I have to admit I was laughing at gags that went over the heads of the mainly teenage audience. Compare and contrast two different ideas of cool: MiiB is all discipline and sharp suits with a monochrome palette, Powers is all hedonism and bright colours. Oxford viewers also get to point and gurgle happily at the inclusion of a new Mini as Nigel Power’s spy car. BMW must be very chuffed to have a new movie featuring Michael Caine driving the new Mini in it! (Of course Mini is now owned by a German company, just as Austin’s signature Jaguar is owned by Ford.)

Before this we were having lunch in a local café when we noticed that the table next to us was occupied by Mephistophilis lunching with Lucifer (from Dr Faustus)—or perhaps Hero and Borachio. Spooky. Comments.

RSS 0.91 experiments

I have created an experimental RSS feed (‘channel’) for this site. In principle this can be used by people with RSS aggregators to mix my latest headlines in with other channels.

The documentation for RSS I am using is Dave Winer’s, because he is one of the few people to actually document it. Erm, except that I have taken the liberty of adding an XML namespace attribute (using the namespace mentioned in an article about RSS 1.0).

I am using the description field to hold (part of) the first paragraph, by way of a teaser; readers are expected to follow the link to read the thing in full. I was a little surprised to discover that RSS 0.91 has no provision for supplying a date for news items. For weblog-style channels, this seems like a major omission!

I also really dislike the RSS-0.91 de-facto convention of using escaped HTML text as the value of titles and descriptions. For one thing, why not just embed HTML as-is instead of under an extra layer of encoding? (That’s the whole point of XML namespaces, for example...) Worse, many people just grab the first 100, say, characters, regardless of whether decoding the result will be valid HTML or not! This means that you cannot safely use XSLT to transform RSS 0.91 to HTML, unless I am missing something... Anyway, in my feed I am making a point of stripping out all mark-up before adding to the RSS file. People who want to see it formatted will have to follow the link!

Alleged Tarot dial-a-reading, v.1

Here is a primitive first stab at a tarot-reading service. It isn’t finished yet, but I’m putting it up for people who like being early adopters...

The front end is very rudimentary—you choose a spread from the drop-list and then enter a random number, and press Submit. You should see a big green screen with thumbnailed cards laid out on it. Click on the cards to see them full-size.

Caption 2002

This weekend was Caption 2002—‘Caption Noir’. It all seemed to go really well—not that I can take much credit for it, since all I was responsible for was making the badges for attendees, and as it turned out I didn’t make enough! That means we had many more walk-ins than were were planning.

Jeremy was very busy, as always. She had big tasks: the mail-art exhibition (which this year took the forms of dozens of black butterflies fluttering on invisible threads down a corridor), and a workshop during which three teams drew ‘noir’ comics based on plot points drawn at random out of beer glasses.