OCAD Bookstore should do better (yes, @51OCADU)

I received some promotional mail from OCAD’s bookstore today, and this is it, in its entirety:

Having trouble viewing this email? Click here. Terms of Use | Contact Us

Without loading remote images (reading email with remote images is an unsafe practice), the mail they sent me is pretty much completely devoid of content.

So what if I clicked the link? I chose to do it on my text browser and I found that it’s pretty much just the same thing, only worse:

Having trouble viewing this email? Click here. [c8652cd6-9923-4d17-abae-bd5543fc82ca] [6b674e6e-88df-406a-9e68-8645794bc916] Terms of Use | Contact Us. OCAD U Bookstore, 51 McCaul Street, Toronto, Ontario M5T 3K4 Canada. SafeUnsubscribe? Tell a Friend! | Update Profile | About our service provider. Sent by manager@51ocadu.com

The mystery: Why did they even bother? If someone is “having trouble” seeing the original email, they probably can’t see images. Why repeat exactly the same thing, with no alternate text?

I was viewing the linked page on a text browser, which when confronted with alt-less images is smart enough to truncate some file names and replace some small ones with asterisks. (Text browsers, after all, are still visual interfaces.) Blind people, using screen readers, are going to be tortured with the images’ super long file names.

I know our bookstore is run by U of T, but if I called out the U of T wouldn’t it be even more damning? This is 2016, friends.

Lack of braille literacy… among non-blind people

I just saw this posted on a job board:

We would need help to have the three words below translated into Chinese and converted to Chinese Braille. The text is intended to be used on signs in an elevator.

When I saw this my first thought was: What country?

I looked hard and country was not mentioned.

I don’t know Chinese braille, but I know enough to see that the posting, as written, is completely meaningless; it’s like asking for a sign language interpreter for English.

Seriously, the real way to make the program more well-known is to mingle with the rest of @OCAD and not hide in our own little corner

I’m now halfway through listening to all the job talks by our GPD (i.e., department chair) candidates, and one thing that struck me when this morning’s candidate gave hers an hour ago was her comment that allowing other OCAD students to take INCD courses could be a way to make the program more well-known.

Seriously? Would anyone want to take our courses?

And she said we can’t change our courses and course descriptions. Seriously? If they don’t fix our courses but allow other students to take them, our program will be well-known for bad courses in no time.

My take (which hasn’t changed since four years ago): The way to make this happen is to actually interact with the rest of OCAD. Join student clubs. Go to openings. Answer calls. Not hiding in our little corner in that dreaded building now known as RHA.

A MySQL–MariaDB linguistic mystery

Because Ubuntu’s PostgreSQL does not seem to be usable, I decided to switch to MySQL^H^H^H^H^HMariaDB and by chance I stumbled across this article that mentioned My is actually the designer’s daughter and so is Maria.

Since I found out some time ago that Mimi is the same name as Maria and My sounds suspiciously similar to Mimi, I wondered right away if My is also a diminutive of Maria. Wikipedia mentions that Michael Widenius lives in Finland, so at first I looked for Finnish names; then I realized that Widenius is obviously a Swedish last name so I looked for Swedish names instead, and found that My is indeed a diminutive of Maria.

So I wondered: MySQL’s “My” and MariaDB’s “Maria” are, as I suspected, the same name. I wonder if they’re actually the same person. Wikipedia suggests they aren’t, but the entire “Personal life” section has been tagged as missing citations (ok, maybe I’ll agree with their citation policy this one time), so it’s still possible they are actually the same daughter.

Obviously there’s no way to know (short of asking Michael Widenius himself), but it would actually be really cool if My and Maria are actually the same person: It would be like saying “Hands off my daughter, and by the way she’s grown up now.”

Update: Joffrey Michaie has kindly pointed out My and Maria are actually different persons. Mystery solved :-)

I still don’t know what to do in openings (and I didn’t know Toronto had a Stanley Park)

Went to two openings yesterday because I thought some friends were going. Went there and found no one I knew. Left each place after checking out all the art.

As usual.

But these weren’t the usual places I check out, so I had some new thoughts (and these aren’t pretty thoughts):

First, the one in the Canadian Place felt weird, because there were so many security guards in the building. But I assume if you’re going to do well and put your work in fancy galleries this will be the place you’ll want to put your work in. I also noticed the pricing: Everything was hundreds if not thousands, and this was a show for “emerging artists.” 2D work, of course (as we always talk about).

Second, it took ages to get to the one at Brock and Queen because of the traffic. Pretty much the same thoughts except the gallery isn’t in a fancy, guarded building.

So—I mean—my thoughts were: Do I really want to be here? or somewhere else? If somewhere else, where?

Short-term question: “Do I show up tomorrow, or not?” Yes, this means today.

just missed @xpacecc’s video projection workshop

When I finished ironing out all the problems moving my Ubuntu-on-a-USB-thumbdrive to a larger thumbdrive (because I literally ran out of space) it was already 12:30. I went to Xpace’s site and checked when the workshop would start… and realized I wouldn’t have time to even get halfway down there in time.

Oh well, next time…

(I’m supposed to be working on something else anyway… But this is ridiculous. I need to take back my weekends.)

But video has been something I have been toying around since first year. So when there’s another chance I definitely am going to learn how to do these things.

HTML q tag not compatible with North American typographic conventions

Just a few minutes ago I came to the conclusion that the q tag must not be rendered with quotation marks, and was surprised to find Stacey Cordoni’s article “Long Live the Q Tag” which came to the exact same conclusion, albeit for a different reason.

Anyway, I was editing my previous post and was looking at this:

…or he wouldn’t have suggested that I “get ready to feel unbored.”

The period being inside the quotation mark is an artefact of North American typographic rules. It’s purely visual (something I have been trying to emphasize every time this “rule” is mentioned in editorial circles), and you could argue it’s a case of kerning taken to the extreme. But logically it doesn’t make sense because what the person actually said was

Then get ready to feel unbored!

So the period doesn’t really belong. How do we mark up this fact? Of course we have the q tag, so imagine

…or he wouldn’t have suggested that I “<q>get ready to feel unbored</q>.”

which would have made perfect logical sense, and would mean “the quote doesn’t actually contain a period, but for presentation purposes the period is inside the quotes,” except it doesn’t work, because Chrome actually renders this as

…or he wouldn’t have suggested that I ““get ready to feel unbored”.”

Confused, I looked up the specification of the q tag and found that indeed, the q tag is “supposed” to be rendered with quote marks. Bummer…

Since I thought there was another tag that acts like q but rendered without quote marks, I tried to look for it, but came up empty-handed. Instead, I ran into Stacey Cordoni’s article.

The only logical way to solve the q tag problem is to make it, through CSS, render without quotation marks. But of course, if current versions of lynx really are rendering the quote marks, then this workaround doesn’t even work.

In retrospect, I realize I had come to the same conclusion years ago. The q tag is just badly designed: Being incompatible with typographic conventions aside (and useless as a workaround for illogical typographic conventions), if browsers implemented it to spec, then it’s not possible to add tags to an existing text and not mess up the punctuation.

I have no idea why the W3C designed the q tag the way it is. Didn’t they have any North American typographers—or even copy editors—on their committees?… Maybe everyone was European. Sigh.

boredom and busyness

The third time in two weeks I tried to submit an art proposal. The last two times I gave up 20 minutes before the deadline. This time I think I missed the deadline by two minutes, and it was a terribly put together submission, but at least I tried. Oh well, next year.

I actually asked to take off early today to work on my submission, so technically I had a whopping six hours to do it (which wouldn’t have been enough time the last two times, but this time it’s much simpler and I really felt confident to be able to submit something even if I had just two hours). Yet I still wasted enough time and procrastinated enough to have—at least technically—missed it.

Anyway, I ran into VM, UH, and MBV today (by dropping by the studio to see who’s there, of course). I literally quipped that “It’s so rare to run into people in the summer.” (Turns out both VM and UH have their monitor shifts on Wednesdays, and VM’s start at 7.) And oddly enough, when I said I feel disconnected in the summer, VM said she feels bored.

“Bored,” of course, is also how I’m feeling (maybe even more so than “disconnected”). A few weeks ago I actually mentioned this to PC and he totally misunderstood what boredom means. He must have thought boredom is when you have nothing to do, or he wouldn’t have suggested that I “get ready to feel unbored.” I knew better (and it looks like VM would have totally understood me): boredom has nothing to do with the amount of work you do.

The last few weeks have been so ridiculously busy I couldn’t put together a single proper proposal: I’m still bored to death.

Random stuff I found out from redoing this blog’s layout

A few random things I learnt while I pretty much gutted the entire CSS file and redid this blog’s layout from scratch:

  • Drupal supports subthemes and I have absolutely no idea how to use them.

  • The html.tpl.php file controls how HTML is emitted.

  • If you centre an element using margin-left: auto and margin-right: auto, adding padding will not produce any effect.

  • It is supposedly possible to insert Javascript by modifying the .info file in the theme directory, but this does not seem to work.

  • The .focusin, .focusout, and .on methods did not exist in very old versions of jQuery.

  • If you want to hide a menu at the bottom of the screen, make sure to test whether the hiding and unhiding work with keyboard navigation (plain tabbing and shift-tabbing). There are a number of unexpected points to note in order for unhiding to work correctly:

    • Nothing will trigger the hover event when using keyboard navigation, so don’t put, for example, important things like the menu’s background colour into the hover trigger.

    • Contrary to what you might expect, keyboard navigation will not trigger a CSS focus event. So putting :focus rules into your CSS won’t do a thing.

    • Hiding through absolute positioning is better than setting display to none. Otherwise, when the focusin handler fires, unhiding might not work correctly.

    • Inserting a dummy A element (e.g., with a URL of javascript:true) is better than just setting tabindex to 0 on an ordinarily inert element.

    When this isn’t done right very weird things can happen. For example, you can end up with menus that never unhide when you use keyboard navigation, or you can end up with menus that will pop up but with live links in the menu that the tab key will just skip right over.

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