Links: July 22nd, 2009

I have an incredible load of links this week. In fact, there’s so many in this post that I’m going to have to truncate it by making you click on the “read more” link (below). No, I’m not kidding. This week has delivered.

So, what are you waiting for? Click that puppy!

Updated Thursday.

Uhh… entertainment? No… celebrity news? No… Hmm…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the story of the same name couple slated to wed after meeting on Facebook. It’s a cute story, but as I see it, there’s a bit of utility in picking someone with the same last name (much less the same first name): No one has to change their name following the marriage! Although, if I were Kelly Hildebrandt (the female version), I’d make life miserable for some anonymous clerk toiling away in the bowels of the government and rename myself to Kelly Hildebrandt-Hildebrandt. That would be awesome.


My father sent me a very interesting link on “Quintessence” which attempts to explain the increasing expansion of our universe. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around this sort of stuff as I’m neither a cosmologist nor a mathematician, but it’s worth exploring if you have vaguely any interest at all in astronomy.

Did you know that there are very few stable orbits on the moon? Trudy E. Bell explains why.

Speaking of the moon, don’t forget to check out NASA’s archives for each of the Apollo missions. It’s definitely worthwhile reading if you’ve been excited about the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has some amazing shots of the bottom section of the lunar landers as they were left behind decades ago.

Update: Thursday Ever heard about glow in the dark humans? Now you have. No, really. We glow. The trick is that the light we give off is so faint, it can’t be seen with the naked eye.


John Gruber takes a detailed look at why charging for access to news sites is prone to failure. In short, newspaper management who’ve concocted this notion as a way of saving them from the imminent demise of print in the electronic age are very likely to be surprised–unpleasantly.

NASA has open sourced some of the code used on the Apollo 11 lander module. It’s a very interesting and important piece of history. Frankly, I find it an amazing feat of engineering that we were able to land living humans on the moon using a computer roughly as powerful as a Commodore 64–not just once but several times. As much as NASA is hoping to have a repeat of this in a few years, I sincerely doubt it’ll happen. Our culture has grown such a strong aversion to danger and loss of life that it’ll probably be deemed a pointless endeavor. We cannot have technological advancement without some semblance of danger, folks! Gah, this burns me…

“Position is Everything” has a nice little write up on here’s a technique I used for my current layout (July 2009) that not only keeps the footer at the bottom of the page (finally) but also utilizes equal-height columns. It appears to break a little in IE6 but works well in all other browsers. Be careful if you’re using fixed-fixed or fluid-fixed layouts with this technique as it appears Firefox has a minor float bug that causes parts of the page to shift around when anchors are clicked. This same article has also been posted here, so if the first link doesn’t work, try this one.

Also along these lines, I stumbled upon the links (above) after browsing a stack overflow question related to the same topic. tracks existing Linux distributions for “obsolescence” of packages and the likes. It’s an interesting project in its own right, but I hardly see much use to it in a production environment. After all, stability and bleeding edge are often mutually exclusive. At the very least, it’s worth a look so you can get an idea of how quickly your favorite distribution cycles new packages into its framework. Gentoo (my personal favorite) comes in 4th for “current” distros and 1st for “future” distros. I’m not sure I understand the distinction between the two categories, but I’m sure there’s some sensible metric they’re using.

If you’ve used lists (the HTML kind) before and have attempted to style them using CSS, you may have discovered that neither Opera nor IE8 display them correctly (IE8 does try a bit harder when running in quirks mode). Here’s a guide I followed that helped give me some insight into the problem and set me straight. You really have to play with margins and padding before it’ll behave!

I don’t remember who all I’ve linked to this article aside from Will, so I’ll post it here. Smashing Magazine has a great article written by Sergey Chikuyonok that explains in amazing detail techniques you can use to reduce the size of PNGs. They really work, too! Thus far, I’ve managed to reduce an avatar on one particular forum from about 46KiB to less than 25KiB and a small banner from 35KiB to less than 15KiB (smaller than an equivalent GIF by 2KiB). Sergey has another article of this sort for JPEGs. This guy is impressive.

I meant to post this last week, but apparently Windows 7 was literally flying off the shelf during the short pre-order phase. Well, maybe it didn’t exactly “fly” for all retailers, but Amazon reported the Home version as the top seller in electronics–after a single week. Windows 7 is pretty nice, and I’ve been using it off and on for a while. I plan on writing a little about my impressions of it after using the OS for a couple of months now.


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