Links and things

It’s been a week since I put it up, so I figured I ought to give some explanation of the “Linklist” that I’ve added to the main page. I haven’t tested it in IE, but, when you hover your mouse over the logo, a dropdown list of links to various stuff around the web is supposed to appear (if it doesn’t, you can always just click the logo and be taken to another version of the list).

A linklog is something I’ve played around with before but was never entirely satisfied with how it worked. Since, these days, I usually don’t have time to write posts but still occasionally come across interesting links that I would like to share, this seems like a reasonable compromise.

It’s implemented entirely in CSS (with some Javascript only to fix the fact that IE doesn’t fully implement all of CSS) patterned after A List Apart’s Suckerfish Dropdowns. I wanted a dropdown because I wanted to add some daily links to the main page without cluttering the thing (let’s just say we’ve been down that road before); since that’s impossible, the next best thing would seem to be to make it cluttered only when you want it to be. And CSS over JavaScript (the usual way to implement dropdowns) is obvious, since JavaScript is evil. → Since I’m doing some housekeeping anyway, I should point out that the Tools and Photographs pages have been updated recently and there’s now a crude site zeitgeist at the bottom of the main page.

I’m actually somewhat proud of the background image (which is a modified photo of the blackboard in my office) and the button (which has a virtually-invisible Hopf link in the background), but I’m not entirely sure I’m happy with this particular implementation. One problem is that I can’t seem to get the background image under 180 KB without sacrificing its subtle transparency (which I’d rather not), which sucks for anybody still (horrors!) on dialup. Also, grey is relatively unobtrusive, which I want, but also sorta, well, grey and boring. So if you have any suggestions for how to make it look better, let me know.

Anyway, as for the implementation of the links themselves, they’re collected using Spurl, which is one of the myriad social bookmarking sites out there. Well, that’s not entirely true; I’ve got my Spurl account set up to forward everything along to (another social bookmarking site). Then I’m republishing the RSS feed to my account using the feedList plugin for WordPress.

Why all the contortions? Because it actually makes everything really easy. Rather than having to fire up ecto (or, God forbid, WordPress’s editor) every time I want to post a link (which is what I did the last time I tried this linklog experiment), I just hit the “Spurl!” button on my toolbar whenever I read something interesting, fill in category and tags and write a short description, and the rest is automatic. And scraping an RSS feed is better than going the JavaScript route because, again, JavaScript is evil.

So why am I scraping the feed rather than the Spurl feed? That gets into the heart of the distinctions between Spurl and They’re both nice tools, but they do different things well. Spurl allows both descriptions and automatically-included snips and maintains links in rigid categories, which makes for better posting. Plus, it saves a copy of all my links, which allows full-text search and eliminates linkrot problems. All of these things make it the much better choice if you ever want to go back and actually find and read some link you came across six months ago., on the other hand, takes the “social” part of “social bookmarking” much more seriously: makes it extremely easy to see who else made note of the links that you did (which is a great way of finding other interesting links), allows much more flexible bundling of tags and produces far more customizable means of republishing. So, even though I’m essentially posting the same links to both places and both Spurl and serve nominally the same purpose, I’m actually using them in quite different and complementary ways.

And yes, I know these things have been around for a while. Hell, I’ve had a Furl account for almost two years. But, by itself, is pretty limited and it wasn’t until recently that I discovered Spurl (which implements all the good things about Furl and some extras besides).

Anyway, speaking of innovation (to the extent that the above comprises innovation) and the linklist, I would like to draw your attention to one link I posted there yesterday: the Wiki, which gives extraordinarily detailed (given that the technique was only made public in the last week) instructions for installing Windows XP on one of the new Intel-based Macs. Let’s just say that, for me, this is practically a dream come true. I’ve been a Mac user and owner for close to seven years and love the dependability of Apple’s hardware and the usefulness of (most of) their software.

In fact, the only complaint I have is that some software just doesn’t run on OS X and emulators generally aren’t worth the trouble (though Q looks interesting if they ever add more features). And I’m not talking about games; I’m thinking more along the lines of device drivers, file uploaders and various cutting-edge apps. So a dual-boot Mac/Windows machine would be excellent (Linux stuff I can, generally speaking, do in OSX’s terminal or Darwin’s X11 environment). I’ll definitely be looking into a MacBook (though hopefully they’ll have come up with a less committee-ized name by then) when they get the second or third generation rolling.

(Incidentally, I think Apple’s made the smart move in not trying to prevent people from dual-booting Windows from their Macs: this development will only encourage more people to buy Macs. If Microsoft is smart, they’ll do the same, since that’s the only way they’ll get any money out of me or a lot of other people like me. Not that I have any particular animus for Microsoft, but, though I’m as aware of the shortcomings of both OSX and Linux as anybody this side of drunkenbatman, seven years without the blue screen of death or any major hardware or software failures coupled with seven years of long-distance troubleshooting for my PC-owning parents has ensured that I’ll never voluntarily go back to a Windows-only lifestyle)

One Response to “Links and things”

  1. selling waves » Blog Archive » Scripting Vienna Says:

    […] Now, as I’ve discussed before, I do post links to, but do so by way of Spurl, which isn’t supported by NNW. So the support doesn’t really help, unless I want to give up on Spurl, which I don’t. But such are minor impediments to the procrastinating powers of a person facing a gigantically important oral exam in less than two weeks. So I decided to try my hand at an AppleScript solution. At first I was scripting NNW, but, as time went by, it became more and more apparent that, in this regard, NNW would really be no better than Vienna and, in fact, the two were virtually identical for my usage, so I then ended up writing more or less the same script for Vienna. And since that worked out so well, and since I’d gotten into the scripting mood by this point, I ended up writing a script to facilitate the Vienna-to-ecto blogging process as well. […]

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