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     Shadows
    Filed under: — David @ 12:07 pm

    I wish I could find an easier way to do the shadow effect I use on my site. I’ve looked at lots of examples of CSS shadow effects, but none of them has the 90° shadow that I use. Most of them use a box offset down and to the right. Some use an effect that only works in IE.

    My current method is to construct a table with extra cells around the left, right, and bottom. Background images are used for most of the shadow, with images placed at the corners to round it off. Actually, the bottom corner pieces are split in two because of where the table cell borders fall. It can be fragile, though. If something forces the shadow cells to be too big, then the effect falls apart.

    I’m working a bit more on a custom theme for my forums. It’s time-consuming because I’m not doing the standard “swap in some icons and change the colors” method. I’m building the pages up basically from scratch to fit with the rest of my site.

     Target missed
    Filed under: — David @ 2:12 pm

    I revamped the Icon Design page as part of my long-term project of making all of my pages Valid HTML 4.0.1 Strict. I also changed the formatting in the process to better match other pages. The only thing I couldn’t get the validator to accept was the target property of the a (anchor) tag. As far as I can tell, the HTML 4.0.1 spec says that’s valid. Oh well. I also found that relative positioning didn’t work the way I expected, so I ended up just tweaking the values until it looked right.

    In one case (as part of the drop shadow effect), I had an image inside a <td> with style=”position:relative; right:0″. I though this would move the image to be right-aligned inside the td box, but instead it went all the way to the right edge of the page. Fortunately, with the way things were laid out, I could just offset it from there.

    One of these days I’m going to write another icon article, this time about the techniques I’ve developed for creating icons in Photoshop using vector objects and layer effects, which is how I do practically everything.

     The return of Sprightly
    Filed under: — David @ 3:12 pm

    I’ve been wanting to do a new hardware icon set, but doing Squiver Hardware 3 seemed a bit monotonous (though I may eventually do that anyway). Since I haven’t been successful at coming up with a new style, I went with something old: Sprightly, my first, and still biggest, icon set. I had messed around a bit with making thumbnail-size versions of some of the Sprightly icons, but never stuck with it long enough to make a whole OS X set.

    After making a few icons, I noticed something interesting. It’s easier to make Sprightly icons of boxy objects than curvy ones, while Squiver was the opposite. This mainly hit me as I was doing the original iBook. Since it was curvy already, it was hard to mess with those curves while still making it look like an iBook. Squiver, on the other hand, worked best with curvy objects because it didn’t distort their shape.

    The other difficulty with Sprigthly has always been the Apple logo. It didn’t look that great in the original set, and it hasn’t gotten any better. But now I’m only dealing with cases like the Power Mac G5 where the logo is just big enough that it ought to be recognizable… though I’m tempted to just make it a circle anyway. It’s another curvy object issue.

    Anyway, I’ve got 5 Sprightly Hardware icons done so far, and I’m liking it. My favorite so far is the flat-panel iMac. I don’t know if I’ll make every single iMac and iBook color variation, but other than that I plan to make it a pretty complete set, at least as far as the post-beige era goes.

     Various site things
    Filed under: — David @ 12:05 pm

    Spam hits seem to have died down, so comments are back. We’ll see how long it is before they start up again.

    Another instance has popped up of someone else’s forums linking to the forum icons on my site. I have no idea why people do this, since I’m still using the default phpBB icons, but it’s why I’ve disabled external image links except for sites where I post the image links myself, like the Atari Forums.

    I also finally set up a redirect for the ctf4team.zip file containing 4-team textures for UT CTF4. At one point the file was named ctf4Team.zip (with a capital T), and there are still some links to that, but the server is case sensitive.

    Yesterday my log was showing some strange hits on my forums, and my first thought was that it was some kind of DOS attack from an angry blog spammer. I should have realized they probably don’t pay that much attention to individual sites. Closer examination revealed that it was a phpBB worm, which I seem to be protected from having upgraded my forums to pbpBB 2.0.11 a few months back. I got hacked once before, but all they did was change the forum name. I’ve been lucky so far.

    Edit: Later on, I found a series of log entries indicating that someone was trying to exploit a recently-discovered security hole in TikiWiki. Fortunately I had already patched against that too.

     Parasites
    Filed under: — David @ 10:14 am

    The amount of blog spam in the last few days has gotten ridiculous. It almost never makes it through the filters, but I get reports of what gets filtered out. Based on those reports, I’ve blocked about 10 IP addresses from accessing my site at all. However, most of the spam comes from a variety of addresses, which suggests virus zombies or something. Stupid Microsoft.

    I’m tempted to shut down comments entirely for a while, just to see what effect that has. Ideally, I’d like to route comments into the forum, since forums rarely get spammed and it would make for better all around site integration. I’m not the only one to have thought of this, but I haven’t found a good solution yet. When I do, I’ll share the details.

    Don’t these people realize they’re the parasites of the Internet? Doesn’t that bother them? It really is sad. I think spam legislation should be generalized to include all Internet advertising under false pretenses. Not that legislation has been all that effective, but at least there might be some high-profile cases to draw attention to the problem. But wait… what blogger has the resources to sue?

    Edit: I’ve added the rel=”nofollow” tag to the comment links, telling search engines not to index the comments. I did this mainly just on principle. It’s supposed to get the spammers to stop, but if they paid attention to stuff like that, they also would have noticed that their spam isn’t showing up here anyway.

    Edit 2: I went ahead and disabled comments by renaming one of the WordPress files. I’m curious to see if the spam attempts die down after a while.

     Double fun
    Filed under: — David @ 6:00 pm

    I went around to a couple more Toys R Uses today to see if I could find more JLU figures. Previously I was only aware of one, but it turns out there are two more within reasonable driving distance.

    Both new stores has similar layouts, different from the one I usually go to. This has been a pet peeve of mine. A few years ago, they changed all their stores’ layouts to a new style. It does look better, but the thing I liked about the old one was it was the same in every store. Anywhere I went, I knew where to find stuff. Action figures were in the middle near the back. There were some exceptions, like the two-story store in downtown Santa Monica, but even the one I found in Japan was pretty much the same.

    Anyway, in the second store I was very surprised to find Hawkgirl. Not the expected JLU Hawkgirl/Batman/Elongated Man pack, but the original. The one I’ve been looking for for… what is it? A year and a half? Two years? And there it was, in the front of the rack, no less. I had given up on finding it at least six months ago.

    The thing is, I’d still like to get Elongated Man, just for fun. So what will I do if I end up with two Hawkgirls? Will the original still go for $30 online, now that it’s less scarce? I’ll put off opening it just in case. Normally I’d open it right away; I think my toys look better out of the packaging.

    Oh, and I also picked up the Apples to Apples Party Box in one of those local game stores with the gaming tables in the back full of 10-year-old kids playing Yu-Gi-Oh. The “party box” has twice as many cards for only $5 more, so I was happy. Quite a successful trip, all around.

     First of the Unlimited
    Filed under: — David @ 11:12 am

    On a previous visit to Toys R Us, they had some Justice League Unlimited figures, but no new characters. Apparently I was too late. On my way home last night I decided to stop by again in case they got a new shipment, and I was in luck. I picked up the three-pack of The Flash, Dr. Fate, and Green Arrow. They also had Superman, “invisible” Martian Manhunter, and Braniac, but I wan’t going to buy a set with 2 out of 3 useless figures.

    I already have a Flash figure, but this is the new version with more articulation and hands better suited for holding accessories. But this brings me to the really odd thing about the set: there are no accessories. Normally I don’t care about the accessories they make, but there should at least have been a bow for Green Arrow (though he does have a quiver). It was also interesting that the two new figures don’t have peg holes in their feet. The most annoying thing is that Dr. Fate’s feet are at an angle such that you have to bend his legs back pretty far to get him to stand up, leaving him looking up into the sky. Or the upper shelf.

    Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with the set, mainly because of the variety of characters we’re getting now (kind of makes up for Batmand Beyond). It does feel a bit cheap, especially compared to my last purchase, the Ultra Humanite, which is a nice solid figure. But it’s not bad. I’m looking forward to getting more.

    What remains to be seen is if I’ll finally find that elusive Hawkgirl figure.

     Self-censorship
    Filed under: — David @ 10:20 pm

    Soapbox again. I’ve seen two articles today about TV networks avoiding showing nudity for fear of what the FCC might do after the whole “wardrobe malfunction” deal and similar stuff last year. Actually, in one article it seemed more like that was the presumed motivation, but even that assumption is disturbing. My question: is that the best reason these people can come up with? No mention of contributing to the general moral decay of society, or anything like that. No, FCC fines are a much bigger motivator. Come on, at least pretend like you care.


    This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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