News Archive: March 2004

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Stick a Fork In It—It’s Done

09:15 UTC

Version 11 is now online, a month in the making. I know, I know, finished is the word I should be using. Don’t send out the grammar police! Hang on a moment, and I’ll tell you what’s new in the latest edition of our website.

New Section Names

The House of Oo was renamed Oo’s Writings, since we sometimes refer to the house we live in as “The House of Oo” now, and “Oo’s Writings” is a better description of what the section contains. The folder containing the section was also renamed writings; visitors bound for the old address will be redirected to the new one.

Our food section which bore the name Fun With Food for years, was also given a new name: Ummy’s Nummies (the name Ummy is a reference to the Ummamum). The folder name remains the same.

IE4/Mac Users Now Welcome

I found this startling revelation on February 25, 2004 at

IE4.x/Mac will render a blank page when it encounters the XML-prologue at the top. An HTML comment instead does fine to put IE6 into quirks mode.

The obvious solution was to remove the optional XML prologue from the top of each page, but this caused two problems for this site:

  1. Since I was using the XML prologue to define the character encoding for each page, removing the prologue left the encoding undefined, so the pages could not be validated. A bit of research led me to add the following snippet to the .htaccess file in the site’s root directory:

    AddDefaultCharset ISO-8859-1

    This sets character encoding for the whole site, so the missing XML prologue will not matter.

  2. The layout for Version 10.6 depended upon Internet Explorer 6 rendering the pages in quirks mode, which was accomplished by adding the XML prologue. When IE6 renders pages in standards compliant mode, it is subject to the italic-wrap bug: whenever italicized text wraps to a second line, it makes the parent element (or the page) wider than specified; and if it’s the page, you get a horizontal scrollbar at the bottom. It took me until March 5, 2004 to arrive at a solid layout that would work on all browsers without exploiting this bug on IE6. The new layout uses header and content div elements inside of a wrapper div. The content width is set to 98% so the bug cannot affect the page width.

    Of course I could have just added an HTML comment at the top of each page, but then I would have been stuck with the float bug on the Family page, and I never was able to fix that on Version 10.6. On that version, IE6 would occasionally fail to display some or all of the text, especially on Windows XP. Standards compliant mode cured the problem.

Style Themes Revised

Some of our old Presentation Themes were modified and/or renamed, and the Snake Island and Ubiquitous Ummamums themes were dropped. The old Pastels theme was renamed Modern, and a new Pastels theme was brought in from the ill-fated Version 6 of 2002. That version also yielded the Classic, Memorial Gold and Stars themes.

Dark Colors was revised. Minimalist was refined a bit and was renamed Basic White. This was yet another theme from Version 6.

The twelve Umm Backgrounds themes were dropped in favor of a single theme which combines four of the background images. This theme, based on an Umm Backgrounds theme from Version 6, was simply called Textures.

Morning Light and Fresh Green are new themes with Version 11. Fresh Green uses the fonts from the old Snake Island theme.

Only the Kittens theme, a favorite for many visitors, remains largely unchanged.

Browser Compatibility

Current browsers
The latest Mozilla and Netscape browsers will handle everything as intended. Ditto for Internet Explorer 5.5 and 6 for Windows. Opera 7 is fine on screen; horizontal rules may be missing on printouts.
Opera 6
“Help” cursor does not work on acronym elements.
Internet Explorer 5 (Windows)
Dotted underlines do not appear on acronym elements.
Internet Explorer 4 and Netscape 4
Very old browsers and some other devices

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Oops! I Forgot to Mention…

04:55 UTC

A few things that are new in Version 11 were left out of yesterday’s post, so I am adding them here:

St. Patrick’s Day Snow

05:00 UTC

We woke up to falling snow this morning. About 1.7 inches (43 millimeters) of snow fell, but warm temperatures (up to 41° Fahrenheit or 5° Celsius) and a splash of sunshine melted it during the course of the day.

What is Spim?

05:15 UTC

I first heard of this one on a radio ad for The John Tesh Show, which was to air at a time when I would be unable to listen. So I looked it up on trusty old Google and found several good links which I am passing on to you.

In short, spim is much like spam, the familiar unsolicited junk email that floods everyone’s inboxes. The difference is that spim targets not the email inbox but instant messaging services such as Yahoo, AOL and MSN. Notice the letters “IM” in spim (for “Instant Messaging”). Anyway, it’s on the rise and expected to be a big problem in the next year or so. Read all about it at the following links:

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

New Humor Page

00:07 UTC

Shorts 2004, our yearly humor page, is now open with a few short pieces.

New Recipe: Apple Pie

02:47 UTC

A friend of Joe’s tasted my apple pie recently, loved it and asked me to post the recipe online. “Recipe?” I laughed. “I kinda guess at it.” I just posted my best reconstruction of the recipe in Ummy’s Nummies.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Writings 2004 Open

22:07 UTC

This year’s section in Oo’s Writings is now open with five pages: