Pew Pew Laser Blog

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

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Microsoft is trying very hard with their Vista release. They paid to sponsor the whole Demetri Martin: Person show on Comedy Central last week. That guy (Demetri Martin) is hilarious - and he got a little cuter when I realized how funny he was, too. Related to the show is an odd "Clearification" site.

And then there's the flash piece my company did. (It's part of a whole series, really.) It's a pretty cute little animation. I didn't do a thing to help make the Flash piece - but we a couple of very clever creative dudes at Widemile.

Crazy Dutchman.


My current boss is a ex-Microsoft employee who has a fanatical devotion to them. Most recently, he's been proclaiming "IE7 is more standards compliant than Firefox". D'oh! I'm sure all of you know how untrue this is. Anyhow, for the IE7-boss, here's Arve Bersvendsen's article comparing IE to the girlfriend from hell. It's a couple years old, but still a good quick read.

If you've got a bit more time, check out A List Apart's article on Lessons for those Afraid of CSS and Standards. If you've been thinking of ditching your layout tables, there's a lot in here that will help you out. If you're ready to take the plunge, I'd check out David Sawyer's CSS: The Missing Manual for a beginner's guide. If you're feeling more intermediate-to-advanced, check out Dan Cedarholm's Bulletproof Web Design.

It's called "Pro Bono".


And it doesn't mean that I'm in favor of U2's lead singer. Ha ha ha! But seriously, folks... I maintain a website for ReFIT - a Portland area non-profit organization who rebuilds and remodels homes for folks who need it. It's like 'Extreme Home Makeover' but less extreme and more poorly funded. They do good work anyway.

ReFIT is finishing up a re branding; they were formerly known as The Remodeler's Foundation. This required new logos, and a new website. Last February, I re-designed their site from a fugly circa 1996 design that someone's cousin had done. The new design was reasonably good looking, but the design was all table-based with images as link-effects. When I started learning serious CSS, with semantic markup for accessibility, I felt rather bad about that design. It was very inaccessible to the very people it offered to help!

I seized the rebranding as an opportunity to re-do the site, and do it right. It has been a couple months, but it's done, and you can see the ReFIT demo site here. Take a stroll around. (Don't get too silly - the email and donation form are live and will hit the client.) I'm very pleased with the resulting accessible and validating design. Also, no JavaScript! Anyhow, drop me a line if you see something odd. Enjoy!

Wii The Eff?


I promised to hit you all with browser stats from the Opera browser in my Wii. Sadly, Google Analytics failed to catch the hit I made. (It's not sad that one of the first things I did with the Wii was to check website's I've created, is it?) I'll have to try several more hits (after I've added some filters), and I'll let you know what I find.

I tried the 'ask the internet' method of discovery, but screen resolution for Opera/Wii proved difficult to identify. Opera runs a Opera for Wii forum with a pretty good set information. The only interesting thing I was able to find out is that Opera/Wii runs Flash 7 and no higher on purpose; this has something to do with Flash 7 being the last open Flash platform. I was unable to find a definition for 'street HTML'; I believe it's the opposite of standards-based / css design. Anyhow, by 'eyeballing it', I believe Opera/Wii runs at about 800 x 600 screen resolution.

The browser really works pretty well. The screen is appropriately sized for the large variety in TVs, video formats (NTSC vs. PAL), and the TV safe zone. I was pleased because Opera/Wii displayed my sites correctly; especially my CSS-tastic resume. It also worked fine with my few DHTML/DOM and JavaScript experiments. But it did crash when we tried to play a crazy Flash game. I think we will mostly end up using it to check the Woot, since typing is sooo slow.

So many Ws.


Well, we finally got our Wii today. I can't believe we had to go stand in line before Best Buy opened, but that's what was necessary to get a Wii. It really was pretty painless. The Best Buy handed out tickets about 20 minutes before the store opened, which was an hour earlier than the internet advertised. I finished a book while waiting in line, and played a little Tetris DS, New Super Mario Bros, and Clubhouse Games. Though I was disappointed that no one else in line was playing DS - it would have been nice to get a little ad-hoc action in.

I'm sure the husband will write a more detailed report of Wii-getting. (I know this because I saw him take a picture of the line at Best Buy. Bored husband = picture. Picture = blog entry.) Tomorrow or the next day I will give you my report on the internet capabilities of the Wii, provided by Opera. Initially, it works quite well, and I'm impressed that such a little box does such a good job at the interweb. Good job, Wii.

More Tetris Please!


I'm very pleased. I just played some Tetris DS online with my previous co-workers. It was superlative. I love Tetris DS. We only got to play 4 games though. Props to NinjaDogg, who won 2 of the 4 games. I just wish it weren't so hard to get everyone together on the Nintendo WiFi and the Skype. Still, I hope we can play again sometime. ;)

My current co-workers need to be goaded into getting damn DSs. Lazy bastards. Maybe I should get some DS Buttons.

Ring A Ding Ding.


2007 looks to be a year of weddings. Current projections from the Pew Pew Science Lab indicate that we will be attending between 2 and 6 weddings this year. Congratulations to everyone!

2004 was also a year of weddings. The husband and I were wed, as well as his best friend, and his college roommate. These 3 weddings all occurred within the space of 6 weeks. Each couple built their own wedding, which varied in fanciness from string quartet to bag-pipes and kilts in the backyard.

I think there are good reasons for having a ceremony / party of some kind when getting married. I believe this is particularly important with the current trend of long wooing period & cohabitation that is common in my social circle. With such long term casual relationship, a wedding celebrates the formalization of that relationship. Doing so permenantly sets acceptable boundaries, and encourages those celebrating with you to protect your relationship.

But of course the wedding is for those actually getting married, and they're the only ones who get a vote in the matter.

Cabin Fever.


Fer crying' out loud. I dated the last two posts in 2006. (Fixed now.) I suppose someone would have told me, if I actually had 'comments' functionality. Alas. I do plan to rev the Pew-Pew-Laser-Backend someday, but that's an 'as it strikes me' project. I did sketch out a database design for this. But... don't hold your breath.

For most of Saturday, it was grey and lightly snowing. The snow dusted the landscape again, though it didn't add much to the existing ~7.5 centimeters on the ground. Saturday afternoon I was overcome with the desire to bake something, but all the eggs had been used in breakfast. (Mmmm - omelettes.) The road down from our hilltop apartment had been graveled, so we were able to go out and get some supplies. Today I was able to make a batch of Peanut Blossoms - mmmm. I do look forward to heading out to work tomorrow.

Arctic Invasion.


During the SnowIt freakin' snowed again. Yes, yes, it's pretty and all that, but it is somewhat inconvenient. We live in an apartment complex on the top of a very tall, steep hill in West Seattle. So it gets very slippery, very quickly. We were lucky to get home without damaging any cars. So for the past 2 days, the husband and I have been working at home.

We are both grateful that we have the kind of jobs where we can telecommute. But it's both pleasant and irritating to work from home. I always feel like I didn't quite accomplish enough work, no matter how long I've been in front of the computer. This may be related to working in slippers for part of the day.

The husband takes a pictureIn the afternoon, we left the apartment for an exploratory stroll. Several other folks were out and about; beating the cabin fever, and giving Mother Nature a little "eff you - you can't keep us inside". We both got new cameras for Christmas, so took them outside and we both took several pictures. (It got a little meta.) Still, a startlingly rare view of Seattle, or so I've been told.

Goomba Code.


A Goomba's Christmas Wish Some people use goats in their code. I prefer goombas. I've been working with CSS quite a lot lately, and I've discovered the only thing a Goomba really wants for Christmas. Check it out in the code section if you're interested. Goombas really are simple folk.

Cookies - Fin.


It occured to me that, after reading the cookie secrets, you might want an actual recipe for making cookies. I was going to tell you to use the recipe on the back of a bag of Hershey's Kisses, but it turns out I have already coded up the recipe for them. And here's one last bonus tip - buy shortening in easy stick form - measuring half a cup out of the large tub is just not worth the effort.

Peanut Blossoms (aka Brown Eyed Susans)



Heat oven to 375° F. In large bowl, whisk together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. In separate bowl, mix shortening, peanut butter, milk, vanilla and egg: blend at low speed until stiff dough forms. Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 375° F. for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately top each cookie with a candy kiss, pressing down firmly so cookie cracks around edge; remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely.

1 comment(s).

Cookie Secrets 3.


Previously, I briefly mentioned that it's useful to make a single test cookie before committing a bunch of your dough. I'm going to explain that in greater detail here. If your test cookie doesn't come out right, here are some things you can do to try to make it right.

I prefer cookies that are a tad crunchy on the outside, and soft on the inside. I tend to bake my cookies about 90 seconds less than the recipe recommends, and maybe 25° cooler. Perhaps the Silpats that I use encourage quicker baking. Or the ovens I encounter just run a bit hot. You'll never know what you specifically need without that test cookie.

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