Netscraps

A windsurfing, CSS-grudging, IE-hating, web-developing, gigantic-machine-puzzling blog

Month: October 2006

Windsurfing, late fall in Vermont

Wick windsurfing jumpNormally the National Weather Service tends to downgrade the weekend wind forecast the closer it gets to Friday afternoon.

Not so in the late fall — the forecasts just keep get better & better, or for all the non-windsurfers, worse & worse! Also you would think the local NWS office would just give up on the Ultraviolet Index after mid-October. It’s nice of them to clarify which category a “1” rating is in.

.THE LAKE CHAMPLAIN OPEN WATERS FORECAST…

…A LAKE WIND ADVISORY TODAY AND TONIGHT…

.TODAY…SOUTHEAST WINDS 25 TO 35 KNOTS WITH GUSTS TO 45 KNOTS POSSIBLE. WAVES 3 TO 5 FEET AND LOCALLY HIGHER. RAIN…HEAVY AT TIMES….BRIEFLY MIXED WITH SLEET OR SNOW AT THE ONSET. VISIBILITY 1 TO 3 MILES IN PRECIPITATION.
.TONIGHT…SOUTHWEST WINDS 15 TO 30 KNOTS. WAVES 2 TO 3 FEET. OCCASIONAL RAIN. VISIBILITY REDUCED TO 3 TO 5 MILES AT TIMES.
.SUNDAY…SOUTHWEST TO WEST WINDS 25 TO 35 KNOTS WITH HIGHER GUSTS POSSIBLE. WAVES 3 TO 4 FEET. SCATTERED RAIN SHOWERS. VISIBILITY REDUCED TO 2 TO 4 MILES AT TIMES.

THE LAKE CHAMPLAIN LAKE LEVEL AT THE KING STREET FERRY DOCK IN BURLINGTON WAS 96.80 FEET…AND THE WATER TEMPERATURE WAS 49 DEGREES.

THE ULTRAVIOLET INDEX FOR SATURDAY OCTOBER 28 IS A 1. THIS IS IN THE LOW CATEGORY.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Usually when the NWS forecasts wind 25-35 knots “with gusts to 45 knots”, they’re not this wrong:

White's Beach wind graph

So .. far less wind than forecast in the morning .. followed by a quick 90-degree switch & even lighter breeze in the afternoon .. then another quick 180-degree switch. Finally the promised wind shows up, well after sunset.

West Dennis wind graph West Dennis beach (Cape Cod) had a much better day.. consistent 35-40 mph with a very gradual direction shift from SSE to SSW. This typifies the difference between coastal & Lake Champlain surfing conditions.

Vermont keeps everyone guessing, professional forecasters included.

Worst political websites

The worst political websitesCNet has a great review of
the worst political websites »

Among the top picks .. plenty of under construction sites, the Tennessee Independent DEPORTATION PARTY should deport their web designer, one candidate is waiting to start her campaign until the last minute, & even a recipe for Easy Killer Margaritas, with beer (!!) as a main ingredient.

This just goes to show that even today, websites aren’t everything to everyone .. just a relatively cheap, easy way to stay in touch with your constituents .. also good for smear campaigns funded by the National Republican Senatorial Committee!

Wreck of the Selendang Ayu, Alaska

The Selendang Ayu disaster caught my attention as the wreck happened almost two years ago. The Coast Guard photos are phenomenal, with the developing tragedy pictured against the Alaskan winter. Click the photos below to see them full-size.

wreck of the Selendang Ayu
Dec. 8, 2004: still in one piece with Unalaska Island looming, before the anchor lines parted

wreck of the Selendang Ayu
Dec 9, 2004: bow & stern sections of the Selendang Ayu after it broke in half

wreck of the Selendang Ayu
Dec. 11, 2004: stern section takes a beating

wreck of the Selendang Ayu
Jan. 4, 2005: things are not looking good for the bow section

wreck of the Selendang Ayu
Feb. 1, 2005: last view of the bow section. 8 days later, it completely submerges. The stern section remained grounded & visible above water until October 24, 2005.

“For nearly two weeks the Malaysian-flagged freighter Selendang Ayu had been struggling through deteriorating weather to carry a load of soybeans from Seattle to Xiamen, China. Day in and day out, the crew of 26 rode the seven-year-old, 738-ft. ship like a roller coaster, lurching through gale-force winds, snow and 15-ft. seas.

The Bering Sea during winter is one of the most treacherous bodies of water in the world. Conditions change from fair to ferocious in an instant, and winds can rage in excess of 140 mph. Each year, thousands of ships test the sea’s temperament as they follow a major shipping lane along the Alaskan coast and through the Aleutian Islands. The route, connecting North America and Asia, is perilous on the best of days. Add a fierce storm and a run of bad luck, and it can become deadly.”

What Went Wrong: Wreck of the Selendang Ayu »
by Jeff Wise, Popular Mechanics, May 2005

Unified Command: M/V Selendang Ayu photos »

Falkirk Wheel rotating boat lift, Scotland

Falkirk Wheel, ScotlandPutting ordinary canal locks everywhere to shame, the Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift in Falkirk, Scotland, & is a rather facinating example of Archimedes’ principle. More large-scale public works projects should be constructed with as much artistic vision as the Falkirk Wheel.

“…Despite its enormous mass, it rotates through 180° in less than four minutes while using very little power. It takes just 22.5 kilowatts (kW) to power the electric motors, which consume just 1.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy in four minutes, roughly the same as boiling eight kettles of water. The wheel is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world, and is regarded as an engineering landmark for Scotland.”

The Falkirk Wheel is constructed in the shape of a Celtic-inspired double-headed axe, & uses a planetary gear system to keep the 80,000 gallon caissons level.

Wikipedia: Falkirk Wheel »

Strépy-Thieu boat lift » .. another neat boat lift in Belgium, the tallest in the world.

True Christian fundamentalists

Pope releases doveI imagine that true Christian fundamentalists have a hard time getting through their teen years:

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched.” (Mark 9:43)

“For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him.” (Leviticus 20:9)

Further reading from fallwell.com:

Proof that fundamentalists selectively quote the Bible »

Bible verses that even fundamentalists don’t take literally »

Bagger 288 bucket-wheel excavator, Germany

Bagger 288 bucket wheel excavatorI assumed NASA’s Crawler-Transporter was the largest tracked vehicle in the world.. but no! Years ago, German engineers developed something much, MUCH larger, in every sense of the word. The Bagger 288 is a bucket-wheel excavator mobile strip mining machine. It is the largest tracked vehicle in the world at 13,500 tons — in comparison, the Crawler-Transporter weighs a measily 2,700 tons.

There is something I find facinating about large machines. It’s unfortunate this particular machine’s primary purpose is strip mining. Incidentally, the bucket-wheel excavator & its devastating effect on landscape can be easily seen in Google Maps satellite photos. The power supply required for operation is the same as for a small city. The Bagger 288 was the inspiration behind my blog category, Machines Of Unusual Size — yes, M.O.U.S.’s. Watch out for them. Fire swamps have large coal deposits, no doubt.

Wikipedia: Bagger 288 »

more Bagger 288 photos »

IE6/IE7 form element margin inheritance bug

Today I ran across an IE6/7 (and who knows, probably IE5 too) margin inheritance bug, involving block elements with IE’s hasLayout property triggered, that contain certain form elements. This bug appears to have very little online documentation or discussion (UPDATE: now documented by positioniseverything, see links section below).

IE margin inheritance bug

Any side margins (the blue 100px) applied to block-level hasLayout elements will be erroneously inherited (the red 100px) by text, submit, button and textarea fields contained within the block elements. Select boxes, checkboxes & radio buttons are not affected.

Applying margin: 0 to the input or textarea fields has no effect. All your margin are belong to us.

Here is my test page »

If your design does not have a border on the block-level element, this bug has the identical visual effect as the well-known IE6 floated element/margin-doubling bug, but the real cause is not the IE6 margin-doubling bug.

I found this issue having just installed IE7, still giddy over the wide array of css fixes. For a few minutes, I thought maybe the IE team had forgotten to fix the float/margin-doubling bug with blockified labels, but no.. this margin inheritance bug is an entirely different beast.

My findings are a little different from the other information I found (at the time of this post, the only existing explanation of this bug I could find was from Paul van Steenoven):

  • it does not matter if the elements are contained in a fieldset
  • input type=”checkbox” and type=”radio” are not affected

The fix / hack

  • wrap your bug-affected input / textarea elements in any inline element, like a span (if you’re okay with that .. I’m not)

Or, if possible:

  • set display: inline on the block-level hasLayout parent element, or similarly, remove the css property that’s triggering hasLayout (width, etc) on the block-level parent element (not possible in most cases)
  • remove side margins on all parent containers of the form element (suggested by Barry Jaspan, who points out this solution also may not be realistic)
  • set an IE-only negative margin on the affected form elements (also from Barry, who agrees with you this is needlessly messy, to the point where CSS purists may start throwing heavy objects)
  • include text on the same line just before the form element (yep, Barry again, nice catch. Not possible if you want the text above the form element.. for example, some text<br /> <input .. /> doesn’t work)
  • any others?

Other sites with information on this bug

Update:

  • Barry Jaspan did a nice writeup, which was later covered by positioniseverything. I’m rather bitter, since I did my writeup about the bug about a month prior. Granted, Barry covered the issue more in-depth, and he also points out that the affected form elements actually inherit the sum of the side-margins of all parent elements, AND provided several more methods to work around the bug.

My day job, as represented by a pie chart

modern web design graph

Clearly published before IE7 was released..

IE6/IE7 PNG gAMA bug makes PNGs appear darker

IE PNG gAMA bug
The link PNGs appear darker, except for Email A Friend, which has the gAMA chunk removed.

In setting up the new vehicle details page for DDC, I noticed that the background color for the 24-bit PNGs did not match the css background color, but only in IE6.

Searching online, I found this is a known bug with IE that stems from a flawed interpretation of the PNG’s gAMA setting. It’s fantastic that the IE team added PNG alpha transparency to IE7, but apparently they kept the gAMA bug in IE7 to make sure browser compatibility specialists keep their jobs for years to come.

In short, the fix is to remove the gAMA chunk using a tool such as TweakPNG or Pngcrush — I used TweakPNG (freeware, super easy to use, no installer) which worked great for fixing one image at a time. Fun stuff.

Abkazia refugees, Zugdidi, Georgia

Abkazia refugees, Zugdidi, Georgia

“On the Georgian border a remote settlement now houses refugees from Abkhazia. Built originally to house construction workers for a Soviet-era dam the dilapidated buildings now have no running water or electricity and in winter the refugees barely survive in the freezing conditions. Zugdidi, Georgia.”

Thomas Morley has taken incredible photos of some pretty awful living conditions. I ran across Morley’s photo collection of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict in which “20,000 to 30,000 ethnic Georgians were killed and more than 250,000 Georgian refugees were displaced.” Not quite to the same scale as Darfur (400,000 killed and 2.5 million displaced) but terrible nonetheless.

The photo above makes you want to fly some propane heaters, a water pump & a power plant out there, doesn’t it? Great mountains but the reality of the situation is brutal.

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