2004-03-28 20:33 UTC Ramblings from the North
I'm at the back of a dark room sitting next to an air vent listening to Let Me Entertain You being played by a big band on a stage 20m in front of me.
Look me up in the yellow pages
I will be your rock of ages
Your see-through fads and your crazy phases, yeah
Little Bo Peep has lost his sheep...
This dark room is far underground for a shopping mall which has been rented away for the night for the purposes of entertaining 4000 people. Actually the mall is only half the party, they are also using the concert hall across the street.
The 4000 people are all musicians, members of Norwegian concert bands who are here for the annual concert band competition. I'm here because I'm a member of one of those bands, the Romerike Konsertorkester.
"Here" is in Trondheim, the furthest north I've ever been as far as I know. This town has the prettiness of Bergen but the weather of Oslo. In fact the weather is probably even worse than Oslo. It was sunny yesterday (if ridiculously cold), but today someone aimed an incessant stream of crystallized water pellets at the town for no apparent reason, and it became all slippery, white, and wet.
The band I'm in came fourth out of about twelve in our division. We're in division 1. (It's a zero-based index. There is one division above us, the Elite division, and three divisions below us.) I've never been here before so I really have no point of reference, but based on the looks of extreme joy on my fellow band members, I'm guessing this is extremely good. (We were apparently hoping to be lucky and place eighth or ninth.)
I'm currently singing along quite loudly to the music being played on stage. It's drawing looks. It has to be said, I'm the only person who has a laptop here. They are all enjoying themselves with alcohol and tobacco, much to my disgust, but hey, to each his own.
Before sitting down here I tried to get myself a drink.
Me:Har du eplemost?
Me:Har du eplemost?
They didn't have any apple juice.
They didn't have any water either.
Eventually I found a bar that did have water, about 100m from where I'm sitting now. I came back to enjoy the Jazz with my glass; by the time I'd gotten here I'd drunk half of it already.
I'm not going for more water for a while. Trying to push myself through the increasingly drunk people isn't too fun.
The age range here is quite dramatic. There are people from early teens all the way to retirement age. Sadly the smoker population spans the same age range. There are also quite a few cute girls, although many are smokers too, and none of them are the right cute girl.
Much to my amusement somebody just asked me if what I was doing (using a computer) had anything to do with what was going on around me. I went for "no". How anyone can communicate with the level of noise in here I have no idea. There's no wireless network, so the obvious answer (an IRC network) is right out. It certainly isn't vocally. I can't hear a word of what people say even when they shout in my ear. I've often wondered this about events of this nature.
As is probably obvious, I don't go to these kinds of these parties very often. My kind of party is usually very quiet, with very little sound except the hum of several dozen fans and the occasional expletive from an indignant party-goer. (And at that kind of party, IRC usually is indeed the preferred communication method.)
Young man, there's no need to feel down.
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, young man, 'cause you're in a new town,
there's no need to be unhappy.
Everybody just stuck their arms in the air simultaneously, then folded them, then threw them to the side, then brought them together again above their head. How odd.
The same guy just asked me what I was doing again. I gave him the
same answer (
DIARY!!) and he nodded and went away again. He'll
probably be back.
In other news, I recently bought 30 DVDs from the UK. (Not coincidentally, last weekend my parents came to visit, which was nice, since I hadn't seen them in ages.) I would have bought the DVDs in Norway, but the prices here are astronomical, and despite this being highly appropriate given the content of the DVDs, it was not very attractive to me.
This purchase increased my total DVD ownership by a good base-10 order of magnitude. And it is quite impressive on the shelf.
The DVDs were seasons one through six of Stargate SG-1. My flatmates are eating it up like addicts, it's quite funny. They watched season one in about a week. They'll probably have finished season two by the time I get back tomorrow. I'm having a great time rewatching the early episodes, too... I might even resume my detailed analysis of key episodes which I started a year or so ago.
Jack O'Neill:...what now?
Master Bra'tac:Now we die.
Jack O'Neill:Well that's a bad plan.
My ulterior motive for purchasing these DVDs was actually to attempt to get someone hooked on SG-1. I'm going to get an extended period of quality time with this someone and her three cute ferrets at Easter to attempt this.
I didn't used to think ferrets were cute, by the way. Now I consider them almost honorary cats. That's quite a statement, coming from me.
During the rehearsals for the band I mentioned above we sometimes spend many minutes playing sections where I have long 24 bar rests, so I've been taking the opportunity to work on a proposal for a Web Applications specification. This would be something along the same lines as Web Forms 2, but specifically for client-side application development. (I asked for ideas along these lines a few weeks ago — thanks again to those of you who responded.)
Some of the things I'm thinking of are:
- A per-domain, per-window "file system". This would allow you to be running multiple instances of the same application (from the same site) without the instances writing over each other's cookies. Anyone who has tried to compare prices of multiple Travelocity tickets knows what I mean by that. (I once nearly bought the wrong plane ticket because of this, so I feel quite strongly that there is a problem to solve here!)
- Native popup menus and context menus. As fun as it is to have to guess how the menus on every site work, I'm thinking it's about time we got consistent UI on this feature.
- For people who want it, command updating. This is where you have several access points for the same feature, for instance a menu item and a toolbar button, and you want them to all share the same "disabled" state, so you don't have to disable every one in turn when the option becomes unavailable.
- Sortable tree views and list views with rich formatting. Do a search on eBay, and you'll find you have to hit the server whenever you want to change the sort order. That shouldn't be necessary.
- Exclusive sections: At the moment, an implicit semantic of HTML
documents is that all the content is always visible, you need but
scroll to it. But in some applications this makes no sense: you may
not want the login screen to be on the screen at the same time as the
query page, for instance. At the moment you can work around this
using CSS and
display:none, but that's not semantically correct, and it breaks when you disable stylesheets, which it shouldn't. Having markup that actually means "hide this until it is activated" would solve this.
- Content-area popup windows. They're currently possible
divs, but that breaks down when the stylesheet is disabled, and is semantically dubious at best. (Any time a
divis the answer, there's a hole in HTML.) The idea would be to introduce the idea of a native "subwindow" element which would work as a movable window within the content area, which can be dragged, resized, etc, as required.
- Remote eventing. I was recently reminded that HTTP is a
client-pull protocol, but that in many cases there is a need for
server-push. Now, you can fake this using an
iframeto a document that the server doesn't close and into which it keeps dripping
scriptblocks, but that's a hack to say the least. What would be nice is a way of letting a remote server trigger DOM events that standard DOM3 Event technologies could hook into.
The house lights just went up for a split second (someone probably leant on the wrong switch) and after they went back down, a girl came over and asked me what I was doing. I'm writing about the party, I said. She found this fascinating. I have a feeling "I'm brainstorming ideas for extensions to HTML to enable richer user experiences with Web applications" would have gotten a rather less warm response, but maybe I should try it if someone asks again. Sadly they would probably reply "but you should come enjoy yourself! Have a beer! Horrah! Skål!" or some such, oblivious to the fact that I live for this spec stuff and don't like the taste of beer... Did I mention "to each his own" already?
Speaking of girls, I've noticed I get a lot more looks from girls now that I've shaved and cut my hair. I don't recall ever noticing this happen when I cut my hair in the past. I wonder what the difference is this time.
Incidentally, XBL is progressing nicely, despite seemingly insurmountable differences between "us" (the CSS working group members who are interested in XBL) and "them" (the SVG working group members who were behind RCC). I have a bunch of action items to deal with tomorrow, and then we'll be down to pretty much only one real blocking issue before publication.