Thursday, September 16, 2004

Looking for a Qt job in NYC area?

If you are looking for a Qt job in the NYC area the company I currently work (SIAC subsidiary of NYSE and the American Stock Exchange) for is looking for some Qt devs (just not in my group) for X11/UnixQt work. You can find the job postings on Make sure to mention my name or e-mail me and I can pass on your resume. :D

Monday, September 13, 2004

Image Caption CSS

This is short tutorial on how to make images with captions using css without having to resort to using <br> and <div style="clear:both">. I have come across a number of different ways to do this, but each website was only a partial techneque. Putting them all together I wrote this quick tutorial for others and named it something you would search for.

The basic idea is to make the background of the <a> item the image you wish to display and extend the link area to suround the image.

First for my example a small list (taken from my link bar).

<div class="topbar">
<li><a class="home" href="/">Home</a></li>
<li><a class="about" href="about/">About</a></li>
<li><a class="programs" href="programs/">Programs</a></li>

Next the CSS.

div.topbar ul { float: left; padding: 0; }
div.topbar li { float: left; display: inline; }
div.topbar a {
float: left;
text-align: center;
padding-top: 32px;
min-width: 32px;
background-position: center top;
background-repeat: no-repeat;

div.topbar a.home { background-image: url(pics/home.png); }
div.topbar a.about { background-image: url(pics/about.png); }
div.topbar a.programs { background-image: url(pics/programs.png); }

When done you end up something like this:

There are two main advantages to using this method rather then using img's inside of a "a" tags combined with "br" between the img and text.

  1. First off you don't have to add a clear:both as the final item. This allows for cleaner html and a much easier time modifing the layout of the page just by editing the css file and not having to worry about adding or removing empty div's with a clear in them.

  2. As a list (or just items) you present only one item to the user so when scanning the page by text readers they only see one thing (the link).

  3. No float wondering

  4. It renders in all browsers including MSIE for the Apple.

  5. If it isn't generated the images can be changed or removed just by editing the css file.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Cleaning out the closet

Computers are one of those hobbies that if you do not watch yourself, you can acquire a vast amount of junk. You will find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time organizing, maintaining, and moving it around. When I first got into computers I kept everything. If someone was getting rid of computer equipment, I would take it. In addition, when I would upgrade something I would keep the old one. What follows is my account of how I purged my computer collection.

The first thing to go was a 500 MHz computer that I really did not use. By using spare parts and including some accesories, I upgraded the computer and sold it for $100. Some things I added were a 10/100 network card, TNT2 video card, 32X CD drive, CD-R drive, and some memory. Installing a legal copy of Microsoft Windows98 onto it and combining it with a mouse, keyboard, and scanner made it a decent computer to sell. I was also able to put together two more (less powerfull) complete computers which I gave away for free. A 486 that had too many problems to have been kept in the first place was tossed out.

I had several hundred computer CD's that was mostly windows software. On the first pass of my purge I was able to toss out many of them that I knew I would never use again like Microsoft FrontPage 97 and many games that I never really played. I went through the games to see if they would work on Microsoft Windows XP. Out of the hundred or so original games that I had, I ended up with seventeen that worked and I would still play. I then tackled CD's that I call "Just Cool Stuff". These dozen CD's contained things that I had found amusing over the years. Coping them onto my computer I started deleting junk like the 320x240 trailer for "The Matrix" from 1999. In the end I was left with a single cd of things that I had created. I had seven CD's of Windows utilities so when the time came for re-installs I had them all in one place. Upon investigation I found them to be filled with wonderful things like Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0, Netscape 4.5, AIM 1.0 and plenty of other utilities that I will never use again. Consolidating these, I got it back down to one CD and tossed the rest away.

From time to time I buy new computers books and have several shelves worth of them. I also had many manuals from software and hardware. I had simple stuff like, how to install a cdrom drive, to the book sized "Understanding Office97". Who would have thought that having computer parts would end up causing you to use shelf space? I quickly recovered a whole shelf from tossing out stuff like "Learn JavaScript", Java books, "Learn SoftImage", windows manuals/intro books, game manuals/cards and countless hardware leaflets.

Looking around my room I found myself with three printers, none of which worked very well. I got rid of both inkjet printers and kept the laser printer saving a lot room.

With the age of cable modems and USB drives, all of my floppies were in a box under the bed. One afternoon I went through them looking for anything I wanted to keep and then tossing the rest out. I did keep a dozen that were still in shrink wrapped packaging for the day I would need a boot floppy.

After getting rid of so much, I found I could toss out tons of other stuff that was piling up in my house. What follows is some of the stuff, if I couldn't find anyone who wanted them I tossed out.

  • IDE and floppy cables.
  • Two power supplies (AT and ATX).
  • A dozen 10MB network cards (both ISA and PCI) and network cable out the wazoo.
  • ISA and PCI Audio cards all of which are inferior to the cheap ones built on motherboards these days.
  • Video cards from defunct manufacturers or cards that had gone bad (but I still kept for some reason).
  • Video capture cards, FM tuners and everything related.
  • 500MB-2GB hard drives that were slow, noisy, or bad.
  • 386, 486, Pentium, AMD CPUs, old ram, and CPU fans.
  • Two old cdrom drives that you could not boot off of.
  • Three 5 1/4 Floppy drives.
  • Several 10MB hubs and switches.
  • A dozen different mice and keyboards and adaptors.
  • Random stuff like 486 cpu remover, PCI slot fan, extra cd to audio card connectors, and bags of screws.
  • Eight spare printer cables.

The amazing part about computer parts is just how quickly a dependency tree grows. For example because I had a P133 computer I kept my ISA cards, serial mice, AT keyboards and the PS/2 keyboard adaptors. The ISA cards themselves had floppies (containing the drivers) and manuals. By giving away that computer I was able to toss out everything else. By getting rid of a few key computer parts you might find you can get rid of a whole lot more.

When you acquire enough of something you have to store it somewhere or in something. I had several boxes in the closet filled with stuff, another container under the bed, a shelf for manuals, and a CD rack for drivers. In life if you have to go out and buy a container think twice about why you need that container. If you get that container it means a commitment both in physical space and in time to maintain all the stuff you wish it to contain.

Giving away stuff is harder then you might think. I know someone could use the books that I tossed out, but keeping stuff around just to give to people who might want it, starts becoming a full time job! From remembering to bring stuff over to your friends house, to just inquiring to other people if they want your junk takes a lot of time. Unless you really know someone who wants what you are going to toss out, do not keep it just get rid of it.

I am very happy with where I am today compared to two years ago and am not going to let myself fall back to where I was. It is much easier to keep stuff then to get rid of it and that is the trap.

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