Making slow progress

After a long hiatus, I’m starting to get back into Manila Envelope again. I had a minor breakthrough this morning that allowed me to get the message number for newly created news items. This by itself doesn’t do a lot for the user, but when combined with the ability to retrieve a post from the server and change the content of an existing message, it’s laying groundwork for the ability to edit the last post made.

Other work: changing the site tagline from inside Manila Envelope. And still trying valiantly to figure out how to convert italic and bold styled text to HTML tags.
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Apple open-sources JavaScript framework

I’m surprised no one has pointed to this yet, but Apple quietly made its core JavaScript framework source code available on June 13, as noted on this mailing list. The source is available for download here.

It looks like they’ve based the core on the kjs JavaScript engine in KDE, which explains why it’s being released back to the community. The announcement also indicates that Apple hopes to get the framework into a public CVS tree soon, to allow other developers to make contributions.

This is pretty significant. If JavaScript becomes a robust system framework like Java and Cocoa (and AppleScript), it will add to the stable of languages that developers can use to write native Mac OS X applications. Of course, developers have had a form of JavaScript access to Windows (using JScript) since Windows 2000…
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To SSL or not to SSL…

Apple appears to have turned off SSL support on the mail.mac.com server again. I wonder if this is deliberate, or if they just don’t have the server configured to turn SSL support back on when something happens. If it weren’t for Webmail, I would have never known—Mail.app doesn’t go offline when the SSL server is down, it just sits there.
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Killer skyscraper database

I love the World’s Tallest Buildings Diagram, though it is inaccurately named. It is in fact an interactive database that allows you to specify which skyscrapers you want to see—by name, city, architect, year, etc.—and produce a chart sorted by year, height, You can generate the Boston skyline with just a click. Even the default search—the world’s tallest buildings in height order—is dizzyingly cool, a quick whip through the architectural fancies of a dozen different countries.

Accustomed to featureless buildings like the Aon Center in Chicago, the Sears Tower, or the late lamented World Trade Center towers, it’s fascinating to see towers like the Taipei Financial Center, Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the T&C Tower in Taiwan, or even the Empire State Building as evidence that tall buildings need not be monoliths out of Kubrick’s 2001. [Hat tip to Cory and Dave for the link.]
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Peaceful morning with Elvis

It’s a beautiful morning here in Boston. I’m lingering over the New York Times and other items in my Radio aggregator, drinking tea, making an omelet, listening to The Juliet Letters.

True confession: I loved this album when it came out. I couldn’t stop playing it. Today I know there’s something a little too arch about the performance, a little too forced in the compromise between pop songwriting and string quartet writing. But still I love the album: the somber wordless opening “Deliver Us,” the melancholic “For Other Eyes,” the gleefully wicked “I Almost Had a Weakness,” the wistful “Who Do You Think You Are?” Perfect early morning reflection music.
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Have a good pilgrimage

It’s “proud of my kid sister” day here at JHN. Esta is taking her church youth group kids on a spiritual pilgrimage to South Dakota starting tomorrow. This is a pretty darned big undertaking and I hope that the trip is everything they hope it will be.

Happy days…

…are here again. Why, you ask? Did I get the homeowners insurance situation straightened out? Did the magical move fairy come along and make all of our stuff spontaneously appear at our new house? Did the mortgage broker throw up her hands and say, “What the heck, no closing costs! I was just kidding”?

Alas, no. But John Allison’s Scary Go Round is, contrary to the prevailing wisdom of these post dot-com times, available for free! Go look.
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Fun with insurance

I continue to work on our move this morning. Last night’s discovery: Geico (which does not provide homeowners’ insurance but acts as an agent) can’t provide homeowners’ insurance because of the age of our house. So begins a fun tour of insurers’ pages.

First discovery: no online quotes at Met Life. Not even a master number to call—instead an “agent finder.” Second: there are some scary looking sites out there. Example: homeowners-insurance-rates-quote.com. Looks reasonably official, but with a URL like that and no explanation of who owns the site, it’s a little sketchy looking. And yet it’s the number one hit on Google for “homeowners insurance.” Insure.com recommends Amica, who have a really slow loading page…and who crashed my browser when I tried to print our quote. Boy howdy, is this fun.
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Working on the move

The WSJ says that housing purchases were really up last month. Glad that we bought when we did.

Dinner at Todd English’s Kingfish Hall tonight. Much better than the Rustic Grill across the way. Great wine list, excellent seafood, beautiful outdoor seating. Bloated now, but happy.

Finally, I’m grateful to announce that this site has the #1 hit for the term “sammiches” on Google (including Google Belgium, from where the referral hit came that tipped me off). For the uninitiated, a “sammich” is related to a “sandwich,” only with much less lifting of pinkies in the consumption thereof.

Bush 1, First Amendment 0

Glad to see that Bush can take the heat. At Ohio State, police escorted students who turned their backs on Bush from the auditorium and told them they would be charged with disturbing the peace (via Boing Boing).

Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised to see continued erosion of civil liberties from this presidency. What’s surprising is how shameless he and his handlers are about it (from Yahoo:

Bush was invited to speak at the Ohio State commencement by representatives of the graduating class. But immediately before class members filed into the giant football stadium, an announcer instructed the crowd that all the university’s speakers deserve to be treated with respect and that anyone demonstrating or heckling would be subject to expulsion and arrest. The announcer urged that Bush be greeted with a “thunderous” ovation.

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One more night…

One more night before I get home. I drove a hard nine hours today from my parents’ place in Asheville NC to my grandfather’s in Leola, PA. Pop-pop is much better mentally, though still having some minor hand tremors and a severe “tilt” toward his right side when he walks. My uncle and aunt were here as well, and we spent a good part of the evening talking through the genealogy. I showed Uncle John some of my Scheaffer research that I had done last time, and we argued about which Benedict Brackbill was which. All good fun.

At the Marshall Depot

The other thing that happened on Friday was that I made my first trip to the Marshall Depot. I wasn’t getting on a train or bus, just listening to local musicians and watching people clog.

Marshall, the seat of Madison County, NC, is a one stoplight town on the banks of the French Broad River that has been in the process of evaporating for as long as I can remember. Each time I went to town with my grandmother or my dad, there seemed to be fewer businesses. The only place that showed any sign of activity was the courthouse—the benches out front were always occupied by old men). The Depot sat at the far end of the street and was falling apart. The time was long past when the trains would actually stop in Marshall. Now the Depot was on the brink of being condemned.

My grandmother remembered meeting my grandfather getting off the train at the depot when they were courting. Upset that the property would be torn down, she called my uncle, who had been a railroad man. After a lot of work, the railroad came to an agreement with the town that made the property available for town use if they would do something with it.

Do something they did. A lot of lumber and paint later (as well as a donated sound system), the Depot was reborn as a venue for live music performance. Free admission, open stage (as long as you sign up on the list) and traditional dancing.

I listened on Friday to the band—a pick up ensemble, my mother told me, “and not very good—but they’re having fun.” As I watched one man in his seventies play an old National steel guitar, I had to disagree. They were good. In fact, they were the best thing I had seen in Marshall in a long, long time.

(Yeah, I know, Esta wrote about it first…)

In search of the cemetery, and other bits of the past

The so-called “Jarrett cemetery” in Asheville, NC, turns out to be pretty well hidden. To get to it, one must go through the town cemetery at Green Hills and out to the far section, a bluff overlooking the current site of Ingles at the corner of 19/23 and the Leicester Highway. It turns out, however, not to host any Jarretts in my direct line of descent—at least, none with legible markers.