Finally, There's A Standard!

Anyone who has traveled with even the smallest pile of tech-gadgets has realized that you must haul a much larger pile of charging accessories to keep that tech operational.  While the gadgets may get smaller, rarely do the chargers budge in size.  That may be about to change as the GSMA recently announced a standard universal charger for cell phones.

Alleluia!  The future is here!  Or... will be here in 2012 when the standard is supposed to be widely adopted.

Long Time, No Entries

My apologies for not having written in so long.  My friend, Amanda Castleman, roped me into TA'ing an online Blogging class she was teaching -- "I need a techie's perspective!" -- and that has taken up all my free time recently.  Seems she ran off to Palau on an assignment for Sport Diver Magazine -- diving tropical reefs, kayaking unknown atolls and hanging in 4-star accommodations with seemingly little internet access.  Ahh, the life of the travel writer.  At least I know who'll be buying the beer when she gets back to town!

Anyhow, back to our regularly scheduled Web site, already in progress...

No More (Tax) Free Lunch

Since the beginning of Internet commerce, the dirty little secret was that you could buy many things tax-free.  It all started with mail-order catalogs.  In 1967 the Supreme Court ruled that states could not require mail-order companies to collect sales tax if they did not have a physical presence in that state.  This ruling was reaffirmed in 1992.  Technically, you are required to pay a "use tax" on these out-of-state purchases, but rarely have state government ever followed up on it.

That may be changing.

Travels in Patagonia

Ten years ago, I left a perfectly good job, a girlfriend and her daughter to travel in Patagonia by bicycle for four months.  In honor of this anniversary, I'm publishing my journal entries from that trip, ten years after I wrote them, along with some more photos from the trip.

Don't Get Me This For Christmas

A USB connection can provide five volts of power to connected items which is great: a flatbed scanner that no longer needs a power cord, for example.  As with any innovation, the brilliant is followed closely by the idiotic:

 

Yes.  You plug it into your computer to keep your beer properly chilled.  I'm still waiting for the USB-powered nose hair trimmer.

Mozilla Mishaps

UPDATE (11 Feb., 2009): With the release of 3.0.6, I thought I'd revisit this post to see if anything had been changed.  While Firefox still has the same bug, at least the Mozilla support forums have been fixed -- you no longer get the obtuse "this forum is flat" error.

Using Variables in a CSS File

We've all had to do it: the client wants things a little lighter/darker/bolder/slimmer/whatever and I'm up late at night search-and-replacing RGB values or color hex values throughout my CSS and JavaScript.  Yuck!  If you're a good programmer, you at least used variables in your JavaScript for those times that you needed to do styling.  But there's nothing you can do about CSS.  Or is there?