Pew Pew Laser Blog

Code. Glass art. Games. Baking. Cats. From Seattle, Washington and various sundry satellite locations.

Past Blogs

Blah Blah Blah CSS.


As I've been using advanced / standard CSS to design entire pages, I've encountered many a head-banging moment caused by IE's odd rendering of a standard bit of code. The issues can usually be patched, but doing often breaks other browsers like Firefox and Opera. For weeks, I've been pining for a way to corral my IE hacks without going back to the bad old days of fiddly JavaScript browser detection.

Lo and behold, conditional comments! Apparently these have been known about for quite a while. (Doh! They're not mentioned in Web Design in a Nutshell or Bulletproof Web Design.) But it seems so delightfully useful to me, that I must evangelize it here.

Here's the deal. Anything in-between these comments will only be executed for IE5.5. So, you can put your special IE hacks/patches in that external CSS file!

<!--[if IE 5.5]>
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="ie55.css" />

This is so awesome. Especially in light of the chatter that Microsoft may push-release IE7 over Windows Update. They have kindly posted a list of IE7's new CSS fixes.

More Bitching.


I've used Zipa as the webhost for myself & my clients since early 2004. Originally, I was attracted to the price of their co-located hosting for very small sites. About $3 per month for 20 megs, which was all we needed at the time. The other options were all around $8 per month.

Zipa's servers (and presumably most of the staff) are located in New Orleans. I was delighted when, during the days after Hurricane Katrina, I saw no downtime, and frequent proactive status updates. I was excited reading the company's blog - insider tales of the reality of staying the broken city. And I know the company probably needs the financial support right now.

But I'm becoming irritated with them as a consumer. In all the time I've used their web-enabled account management tools, they've never gotten any easier to use. It's always tricky to figure out how to add a new account. When I changed my email address, I swear I updated it in all my accounts - but apparently I only did half. This last difficulty resulted in a bit of downtime for my blog here, when they shut off my account for non-payment. Gah! Shouldn't I see some progress, some teensy-weensy interface improvement in 3.5 years?

The whole business is tempting me to switch to a different host next time renewal time comes around. The much lauded Dreamhost offers plans for $8 a month - but that's still a bit high. Laughing Squid, home of artistes every where, offers some discounts to bring the price down to 8$ monthly, but we can still do better., who I've done all my domain registrations with, offers a $3.19 monthly plan with a bunch of free open source software / installs. That's more like it...

What a pain in the ass it is to change over, though. This bears some thinking.

Pervert SOBs.


Last night I didn't even use the computer when I got home from work. I played video games on the couch until very late. It was wonderful.

I was going to talk about some foolishness, but instead I'm going to talk about Perverted Justice. This post is meant to horrify, elighten and energize you, especially those parents out there. Perverted Justice is an on-line organization (started here in Portland, incidentally) where adults set up underage profiles in chat-rooms and social networking sites, and wait for perverts / child molesters to proposition them. This occurs alarmingly frequently.

A couple years ago I worked with a fellow involved working for Perverted Justice. I saw him on T.V. luring the bastards to where police would arrest them. Where are you now, JeffMo? Today, driving home from work, I was reminded of their work when founder Xavier Von Erk was interviewed by tedious podcast Life Online. A frightening tidbit from the interview: the single most populous profession of perverts fingered by the site is teachers! I went to the PeeJ site, and read some of the chat logs for these guys. It's really scary stuff - they are master manipulators.

If you have any spare time, skills, or money, these folks are worthy recipients of your volunteer / activism work. Whew. That was some tough content, huh? How about some kitten pictures?

Short & Sweet.


Here's a bit of fun from Google Video - the other video server.

Most Impressive.


I got a very curious email today. In fact, it was 2 copies of the exact same email. These emails notified me that my $1700 order at had shipped and provided a FedEx tracking number. Attached was a .zip file, with an .exe inside. Ah ha! Spam, with a side helping of trojan horse.

Being the paranoid sort, I cottoned on to the canned meat identity of this email pretty quickly. Nonetheless, I was impressed with the sophistication of this attempt. The email was full of authentic-looking details, such as package-tracking information, an offer to win a prize for filling out a survey, and a re-stocking fee notice. On first inspection, there are no typos, spelling or grammar errors. And the carrot! Details of $1700 worth of NewEgg goods, possibly coming for me, if I would but open the attachment! Social engineering at it's finest. Suffice to say, I managed to resist. Consider yourselves warned.

PS - I've shopped at NewEgg. It was a great experience and I do reccomend them.

The Great Outdoors.


The hubby and I took a long weekend and went camping. An informal grouping of his extended family often does so at this time of year, and it's fun and convenient to join them. I dig camping. I love getting away from 'it all' and focusing on the very basics of life. I intentionally left my DS (with Tetris and Animal Crossing) at home. Camping is a time for cooking outdoors, taking hikes, eating s'mores and enjoying dark skies.

Each of these tasks was accomplished with gusto and glee. The hubby cooked on the white gas stove and I did the dishes. We took a few hikes around Mt. Rainier. The high altitude always kicks my ass. Perhaps I could have handled a 6 mile hike in the Netherlands, but it seems I'm only good for a few miles at 5500 feet. Sheep lake was beautiful though, certainly worth the wheezing. S'mores were delightful, as always, though I need to work on my roasting technique. I think more patience is required.

Stargazing is one of my favorite pleasures when camping in a remote location like Ohanepecosh. We went to the bridge over the Ohanepecosh river, and lay down for about half an hour or so. We saw a good half dozen long and bright Perseids even though it was only 11pm or so. I brought my giant astronomy binoculars, and was fortunate enough that a meteorite passed right through my field of view when I was observing a double star. Delightful and inspiring.

Getting away makes me appreciate modern technology and convenience all the more. Reading emailed job postings can be tedious and disheartening, but there's nothing better than the first post-camping hot shower.

My Brain Hurts.


Over the past month, I've been deep in CSS. Deep like Billy Crystal into that pregnant cow in City Slickers. I'm working on a template for my resume, which I bragged about a little bit ago. First it looked great in Firefox and Opera, but crappy in IE. (Damn youse all the hell, IE.) I changed some stuff. Then it looked OK in FF, great in OP, but still bad in IE. And it looked completely assy in all the Mac browsers.

I Googled. I yelled. I cried. I just couldn't figure out what was going on. Then I asked for help. (Thanks to my husband for suggesting that I turn to a forum for some outside advice.) The folks at were very helpful, and after a few rounds of ball, I finally got a good looking version in the Windows browsers. Alas, things are still junky in Safari. (I've given up on IE for Mac. Who would use that anyway?) The site is usable, but not good looking. Sigh. I suppose I'll have another go at it myself, and then gird my loins and ask for help again.

Curse You Tetris DS.


Why are you so f'ing good, Tetris DS? Why must you keep tempting me? Making me gamble away my hard-won Tetris points online. You invade my very sleep, constantly being played behind my eyelids.

What's that you say? Just one more game? You know I have work to do... Well, alright. But only to take the edge off.



In recognition of YouTube's purported troubles, here is some bandwidth sucking goodness:

This multisource photo of Syndey doesn't really fit with the above links, but it's interesting enough to deserve a look-see.

Yay Costco.


Thank you Costco. I finally found an appropriate set of boxes for packing paperback books. Way cheaper that those at Office Depot, too. I also got dinner (with drink) for buck fifty. $1.50!! And with the change I got for my two bucks, I got a Colorado quarter to add to my world's worst coin collection.

I didn't used to believe in the Super Premium Ice Cream Bar. How could something that costs a mere buck fifty be super premium?? This Super Premium Ice Cream Bar is a huge vanilla ice cream bar, that they dip in chocloate, and then roll all over in chopped almonds. It's wonderful!! But I restrained myself, I didn't get one. It's really not a 1 person desert.

Dan Cedarholm - Genius.


Dan Cedarholm, CSS guru and advocate, is a genius. I believe I first stumbled across his site while trying the answer the great raisins-in-oatmeal-cookies debate.

I read more CSS/Web Standards stuff and was convinced I must buy his book. It's been well worth the $25.19; way cheaper than taking any course. The proof of his genius:

Dan Cedarholm, thanks for helping me pull my resume out of table-tastic year-2000 design and into the brave new world of all CSS all the time 2006. Non-geek readers: sorry for boring you with the foolishness. Please accept this Thin Mint Recipe.

Also, is it sad if your Animal Crossing character has more skin color that you do?

Last Month

Next Month