Monthly Archives: August 2011

Some People Just Can’t Let Go

The first funny (to me) thing I ever did online: the Tahoma Infatuation banner.

The first funny (to me) thing I ever did online: the Tahoma Infatuation banner.

I have seen a lot of weird things in nearly 15 years of Internet-connectedness. That being said, I dare anybody to try to top what I saw last night.

In high school, two things I really liked were A) satire and B) the Tahoma font, first introduced in Microsoft Office 97 and eventually rolled out as the primary interface font in Windows 2000. During a period of extreme boredom over break in the winter of 1999, I decided to merge these two loves at the expense of a long-since defunct Britney Spears fan site. Tahoma Infatuation was the end result. I submitted it to a few directories (SEO, 1999-style) and got to enjoy the fact that people would laugh at how much I claimed to love Tahoma. Over the years, the site remained up; I never really touched it again other than referring to it as a recurring inside joke. At some point in the late 2000s, the Freeservers service where it was originally hosted discontinued my account; thus my old personal site, and by extension Tahoma Infatuation, lived on at the Internet Archive — an appropriate resting place, I thought.

Last night, as a result of some noodling around on Google, I came across an old page I had done for a class about a fictional CMS. One of the sites I claimed was using the CMS, of course, was Tahoma Infatuation — and it was linked to the original URL and everything. I clicked through and lo-and-behold, the site was there, almost perfectly intact. My first thought was that my account was actually only temporarily unavailable — they must have preserved it after all! I clicked one of the links back to where my personal site was supposed to be, but instead got something vastly different — essentially a modified Tahoma Infatuation page, with text that read “I giggled.” Hmmm, weird, I didn’t put that there. To the source! The source was the pretty standard FrontPage sea of spaghetti…and then I saw this bit of JavaScript:

// FILE ARCHIVED ON 20050119213021 AND RETRIEVED FROM THE
// INTERNET ARCHIVE ON 20100527115627.
// JAVASCRIPT APPENDED BY WAYBACK MACHINE, COPYRIGHT INTERNET ARCHIVE.
// ALL OTHER CONTENT MAY ALSO BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT (17 U.S.C.
// SECTION 108(a)(3)).

It hit me pretty quickly — this was no longer my account. Somebody went to the trouble of retrieving the page from the Wayback Machine, re-establishing a site at realm.htmlplanet.com, and uploading Tahoma Infatuation back to its original location. I don’t think I have ever seen this before — has anyone else?

It’s nice to know that 11 years later, Tahoma Infatuation still makes people giggle. And it’s nice to know that perhaps I’m not as screwed up as I think I am, because, after all, it took actual effort for someone to restore the old site to the original location. I’m not sure if I should give kudos or suggest therapy. Of course, their restoration wasn’t perfect, as Internet Explorer users won’t get to hear the MIDI rendition of “Take My Breath Away” that played in the background. Never fear, IE friends — you can find an ad-free, full-fidelity, MIDI’d and <marquee>’d version right here, because Tahoma Infatuation apparently was meant to live on.

One month later: Reflecting on STS-135 and the space program

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I captured the above video of Space Shuttle Atlantis escaping Earth’s grasp to rendezvous with the International Space Station on the 135th and final mission of the Space Shuttle program. I’m still in awe of where I was (3.1 miles away at the press site); I’m still in awe of the people I got to meet (some of which I will get to see again tonight at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum); and I am still saddened by the fact that nobody will get to see this machine fly again and that we have no clear path to getting Americans back in space from our soil. But that being said, NASA is not dead — far from it. The space program is still doing very important, relevant things.

For instance, NASA just launched a probe to Jupiter to learn more about it than ever before. Next month, two unmanned spacecraft are heading back to the Moon for research on the Moon’s gravitational field. The data we gather from unmanned missions is invaluable (and there are many, many things unmanned probes can do that manned flights couldn’t even consider, such as ramming into Jupiter as Juno is scheduled to do).

The #NASATweetup program, which helped me realize my life-long dream of seeing a Shuttle launch in person, is exceptional. If you have an interest in space and like to tweet about it, you are foolish not to follow @NASATweetup and sign up for the next one. I can only speak for myself, but I can safely say that going to mine changed my life.

It’s a responsive world, we’re just designing in it

It kills me to run into sites that were designed by people who think only at 1024×768. We live in a world of smartphones, tablets, and the widest variety of resolutions and screen sizes the industry has ever seen. One size clearly does not fit all, and there are now so many clean and standards-based remedies for this issue available to designers today. I’ve been trying to grow out of my resolutionist tendencies; one great place to get started is with Responsive Web Design by Ethan Marcotte for A Book Apart. I bought the e-book edition a couple months ago and often leave it open on my iPad while I’m working on projects. Designers — both beginners and experienced alike — will likely find the sacrifice of two cups of Starbucks to be well worth it. I suspect a lot of the Web will be better off for these efforts as well.

8.02.11

Today is August 2, 2011 — or 08.02.11, which geeks the world over are proclaiming as “Wi-Fi Day,” paying homage to the IEEE spec 802.11 which defines wireless networks.

I vividly remember the first time I used a wireless network. In the spring of 2003, I was working as a student worker in a computer lab at Lander University in Greenwood, SC, and our lab had gotten a test access point and PC Card adapters (remember those?). Imagine my amazement when I put in the card, installed the drivers, and was online. It was, in a sense, magical. No being tethered to a network cable (or a modem, for that matter). It was so incredible that when I left for the summer I demanded my parents get a cable modem and wireless equipment for the house — and the rest was history. I haven’t lived in a Wi-Fi-less place since — who would want to?

I challenge you to think of another technology that’s had more of an impact on our culture than Wi-Fi over the last 10 years. Without Wi-Fi, mobile adoption of social networking would likely have been stunted. Wireless connectivity — especially Wi-Fi — has likely been a huge part of why Apple is successful again. (Imagine the first EDGE-only iPhone without the Wi-Fi option — yuck!) The tablet computer is likely not even a thought without wireless networking.

Many of us take Wi-Fi for granted now, but it has brought us — and will continue to help bring us — wonderful new technologies that build on top of it. So here’s to you, Wi-Fi, on 08.02.11. Thanks for being there for me (most of the time, when I’m in range).