March 5th, 2010

krazy koati

I'm getting funny dreams again and again

Before starting a career as web site designer person thingy it may be useful to review basics of web sites, not for the work, but to make the in-jokes up to twelve percent less baffling. Web pages are built from HTML, which stands for Hypertext Programming Timothies and Practical Jokes, hosted by Dick Clark and Ed McMahon, which ran on NBC from 1982 to 1985 as you recall, incorrectly, since it actually ran from 1984 to 1986. You remember watching it on the television set from the living room that moved to your bedroom in 1985, so you have the set right but the room wrong.

The original inspiration of a vast ``web'' of people suspiciously all naming themselves ``Tim'' was there should be a way of linking gopher servers so after a thermonuclear war there would still be a way to look up the cafeteria's lunch menu. The project almost collapsed months later when it was discovered nobody had ever seen a working gopher server, and the cafeteria was serving breaded chicken-like patties or refried diced chess pieces yet again. The Internet Tim Engineering Force made the new goal letting everyone read several paragraphs about a subject and receiving a note the page was ``Under Construction'' and would be expanded upon no later than August of the preceding year.

After years of violent success a bunch of Tims agreed on HTML 2.0, allowing web site designer person thingies to argue about whether the tag <p> goes at the start of paragraphs or at the end. After five years of argument the participants stepped away for coffee and realized what they were doing with their lives. Subsequent hiding in the closet weeping caused the ``dot com'' crash, although most economists then believed the problem was the South American Anomaly in the geomagnetic field.

HTML 3 was created to address the growing need for a version of HTML with a higher version number. HTML 4, released three weeks before HTML 3 but hidden behind the beach towels to make people think it was just a fan of the Los Angeles Olympics of 1984, would add core elements of modern site design. This means now site displayed first the advertisement on top of the page, then an advertisement along the right column messing up the scroll bar, then waited to display a navigation menu down the left column partly obscured by the top ad, and then finally, reluctantly, showed the page's content for a moment before blanking out and reporting the page could not be displayed. We used to live without that technology, but had more people named ``Tim'' then.

One drawback of HTML has been that ordinary people could hit a web browser repeatedly with a metric socket wrench, break it open, and look at pages' source codes. Then they could see pages are made up of ``tags'', text contained within less-than and greater-than signs, depleting the world's supply just as mathematicians need ever more to express how some quantities are less than or greater than others. In June 2004 the comparison operators shortage was so severe NASA resorted to equals signs, with a dash written below or above the equals to signify less than or greater. This economization was stupid, and the next seven rocket launches all crashed into the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan, which was basically fine by everyone.

There was hope for a better solution when one HTML Document Tim Definition was bitten by a radioactive Linotype operator. It mutated into a superheroic form known as XML, which stands for Xerotic Rodent-Oriented Network Index, and which travels the world searching for mismatched tags. If you plan to be a web site design person thingy, you will probably get a visit from it eventually. Feign interest in ``character entity references'' and it will likely leave without biting you, making you turn into were-XHTML, although it will bore you with explanations of how to create Icelandic consonants.

Nowadays we're pretending to work towards HTML 5, the first three-step web sites capable of launching people to the Moon. It's possible the design Tims have gotten distracted from the cafeteria menu objective.

Trivia: Nikolai Tesla's first patent, number 335,786, applied for in March 1885 regarded an improved design of arc lamps which reduced flickering and gave more uniform lighting. Source: Wizard: The Life And Times Of Nikoai Tesla: Biography Of A Genius, Marc J Seifer.

Currently Reading: The Dwarves of Whiskey Island, S Andrew Swann.