Zeke Franco

Digital stalking made easy.

Here you can find most of my what I’m doing around the Web. All of my series of tubes point here—at least the tubes with feeds.

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Open Quickly: Coda Quick Tip

Panic has added a new feature in Coda version 1.6 called Open Quickly. It’s basically spotlight for the files within your site’s project. In the lower left-hand corner you can click on the gear if you want to adjust which folder Open Quickly is searching. By default the Open Quickly will search the local root folder you have set-up for the site your working on. To access Open Quickly use the shortcut command ctrl + Q. Then just start typing in a few characters of the file name or folder you want to access.quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Photos

I went the the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, California yesterday. It was pretty fun. Right now we have some pretty crazy wildfires burning here so you’ll see some of the overcast from the smoke. On the beach it was ‘snowing’ little pieces of ash. So that why I don’t have many beach shots. Anyways, enjoy the slideshow below.

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The New Apple Line

Gradated Screens?

CC: Motionblur Studios

I was on a mission last night to check out the new Apple line up. I was set on testing the new Apple notebook screens. I focused on the screens because I was worried about the screen being gradated. Any one who has done design on a 20in. iMac knows what I'm talking about. The display washes out color towards the bottom of the screen. The 24in iMac doesn't have this problem. So I tested out the new Al MacBook and MacBook Pro screens. The gradiant was very minimal on the MacBook—pretty much a non-issue. The MacBook Pro has a clear screen very beautiful. The main difference between the screens seem to be saturation. The Macbook Pro's screen has a better, more accurate saturation compared to the MacBook. The MacBook is slightly washed out. It very slight.

CC: iBuffet

I wasn't able to check out the 24in LED screens, because they only had one and some creepy dude was on it the whole time. So I'm still trying to decide on which Mac to get. I'm leaning towards the MacBook, because I really love the size. The MacBook pro seems so big to me, but I would love to have a dedicated video card and FireWire. I'm thinking that I'll use the savings from the MacBook and put it towards a Mac Pro—I'm hoping for a redesign this spring.quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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Pixie Content Management System Review

Note: Oct. 9, 2008: I updated the Criticisms section. Ease of Use I recently installed Pixie CMS. To start I have to say I’m really impressed. It is easy to use and set up. Pixie also seems pretty flexible and customizable as well as having some pretty nice code. But I make my living building websites so it should be pretty easy for me. So what about the average person or, an even scarier scenario, a client.

If the end user isn’t familiar and comfortable with HTML and using URLs then I fear they may find creating content frustrating.

History

According to the getpixie.co.uk—home of the project—the CMS was created because the creator Scott Evans needed a website for his band. This was in about 2000 – 2002. He states:

…I found that most of them left me confused and frustrated. … After a long time searching it became apparent that I would be better off trying to make my own software, that worked in a way that was logical to me (and hopefully to you too).

The site doesn’t say when the CMS was released as open source. But it is an open source project under the GNU General Public License v3.

Criticisms

Pixie CMS is only in version 1.0, but compared to other 1.0 software Pixie is rock solid and full of features. When compared to Expression Engine, WordPress, or Drupal it definitely isn’t as feature rich. The main area that needs improvement is the feature available to you when your using the WYSIWYG editor. Pixie CMS uses the popular TinyMCE editor, but a lot of its features aren’t enable.

Here are my main grips.

Placing images in a post or page requires multiple unintuitive steps. Lacks a paste from Word feature. Placing any media other than images require xHTML skills. Not many plugins or modules.

If your a skilled or even intermediate online content creator this problem probably won’t slow you down. But because of these issues I don’t feel I could use this CMS to power a client’s site. I’ll go into each of these point in start from the bottom of the list.

Sparse Amount of Plugins or Modules Pixie CMS is only in version 1.0 so this isn’t a fault of the CMS team. It does seem pretty easy to create modules. Pixie is built on PHP so once the size of user base increases I’m sure the plugins and modules will too.

Placing Media Placing media such as video may seem like an advanced feature, but WordPress seems to do a pretty good job with it. And a lot of are getting into making videos. I generally recommend them to stick with YouTube, Vimeo, Blip.tv, or Viddler, for their video needs. Then they don’t have to worry about bandwidth, and their content is more likely to be found. Pixie doesn’t have a paste code button so you’d have to teach them how to use the HTML portion of the WYSIWYG editor to paste the embed and/or object code.

Lacks Paste from Word Feature I never use Word, but most people use it or something similar. I’m sure most of you know that when you paste from word the em dashes, ellipses, ampersands, and apostrophes generally either don’t show up or mess up the code.

Images This section has been edited. View the original version. This is the biggest problem I have with Pixie. To upload and insert an image to a blog post or page requires the user to use two different screens. The WYSIWYG editor doesn’t allow the user to upload images. You need to use the file manager which means you have to save the post and change screens. Pixie does have a nice file manager that you can upload images and files into, but it’s not without problems. For example, if you upload an image that has a file name with a space within it the file manager will not except the image. It’ll tell you there is a bad character, but it doesn’t tell you how to fix it. For a beginner this would be confusing. If the user uploads the images first and then proceeds to write the post then it is pretty easy to insert an image. You just click the image icon in the editor then a dialog box will pop-up. In the dialog box you can select the image from a drop-down list. The selector doesn’t show you a preview of the image just the file name so the user will need to remember the name of the image. Lastly if the user tends to use two to three images per post after 25 posts they will have a long list of images—a list of 50 to 75 images with no previews will be pretty hard to navigate. Praises Overall I’m pretty excited about Pixie CMS. I will definitely keep an eye on each release of this software and test it as new versions are released. If Coda wasn’t so easy to manage sites with I’d consider using it for my site.

My favorite things about Pixie.

Installing it is a breeze It’s really easy to Admin the site, create pages, and multiple blogs Admin interface is nicely designed Creating themes seems pretty easy to do Lack of complicated features makes it streamlined and easier to use Open Source

Summary To wrap up, if they solved the usability problems regarding adding images to posts and pages Pixie would be strong consideration as a CMS for simple client sites that need to manage pages. If the site is mostly going to be about blogging then WordPress would still be my choice. If the site owner needs a lot of flexible, special features, or need a database of products that’s when Drupal, Expression Engine, or Zen-Cart come into the picture. It was fun playing around with Pixie. You can test the admin screen yourself on getpixie.co.uk via their demo. But to have the most fun take five minutes and install it yourself.quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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Disable CSS Styles: Quick Tip

If you have been using the Web Developer Toolbar since at least Firefox version 2 then you probably have learned some of the keyboard shortcuts to activate some of it’s features. My favorite keyboard shortcut was Command + Shift + S. This shortcut disables the CSS on a page so you can take a look at how the HTML is render by the browser.

Web Developer Toolbar and Delicious Add-on

The problem I had is when I upgraded to Firefox 3. More accurately the problem lies with the del.icio.us add-on that was updated for Firefox 3. This add-on has the same keyboard shortcut assigned to opening the delicious bookmarks sidebar. It was really bugging me so here is how you change the keyboard shortcut in the delicious add-on.

Go to Tools → Delicious Options. Select the Keyboard shortcuts tab. Near the bottom of this window You see an option called Bookmarks Sidebar with options to change the shortcut. Change the shortcut to whatever you’d like. I changed mine to Command + Shift + D. On my system it didn’t have any thing already assigned to that keyboard shortcut. Then just press the Restart Now button and your done. quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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SXSW ‘08: Friday Plus the Last 24hrs

This trip has been pretty crazy… Twenty-four hours ago I was in an emergency hospital. I was at work and suddenly became intensely dizzy and nauseous. After running back and forth from my cube to the restroom, HR called an ambulance. I stayed in the hospital for about five hours—they did some blood tests, blood pressure testing, and a CAT scan. Finally around 10pm last night I was released from the hospital with a diagnosis of vertigo possibly due to a viral ear infection. So I go home and pass-out due the be given large amounts of dramamine and valium. I luckily woke up at 5:40am and realized shit I have a flight to catch by 7:47am, and I haven’t even pack. So I through my laptop in my bag, through a bunch of clothes in my luggage, and scram out the door. As a side note that night my laptop and been dropped and know looks all ghetto. Before I left for the hospital I incorrectly packed my laptop away in my backpack, when my roommate went to put my backpack upstairs it flopped right out. I guess it will be a good excuse to buy a Macbook pro, when they come out with the new chipsets. Luckily Ontario airport is a very quick airport to get through so I easily made the flight to Salt Lake City. My flight to Austin was delayed an hour on top of my two hour overlay. So that was fun.

Once I got to Austin it has been smooth sailing. I got to my hotel at 7:30pm ran to the Convention center claimed my SXSWi badge and goodies bag. The goodies bag didn’t have anything great in it. The coolest thing was a Linux magazine and Create Magazine. I’m going to try to go to sleep early so I can enjoy all the great talks. I’ll be posting another entry tomorrow night about any activities that happen during the day, and which talks I attended.quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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Yahoo User Interface Theater (Videos)

I just recently found out about the YUI Theater. It is a collection of videos about the web development world. I’m really enjoying them so far. I have already watched Douglas Crockford: “The JavaScript Programming Language—Part 1”. It was very informative about the history of JavaScript. I look forward to watching all four videos. Also on my list to watch is Shawn Henry’s “ Web Accessibility Guidelines Update” I enjoyed hearing her speak at An Event Apart Seattle 2007. So I’m excited to watch this presentation. As of today there are 44 videos in the YUI Channel. I can’t wait to watch them all. Here are some of the ones I’m looking forward to watching.

An Introduction to Screen Magnification Software An Introduction to Screen Readers Welcome to Firebug 1.0

Yahoo has even posted twenty-three of it’s video on iTunes as a podcast that you can subscribe to. On a related topic the recent FLOSS Weekly podcast interviewed Nate Koechley, a Yahoo front-end engineer and designer. They talked about The Yahoo User Interface Library, a collection of open source JavaScript utilities and controls with cross-browser, cross-platform support. So to wrap this up if your a developer pay attention to what Yahoo is doing because they are bringing out a lot of content, services, and code for us developers.quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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Use Automator to Auto-Install Widgets

I posted an article called Automated Dashboard Widget Installer on July 4th, 2007 about a workflow I wrote that automatically installs dashboard widgets for me. Leopard contains a new version of Automator which breaks my workflow. So I’ve created a new workflow for OSX 10.5 Leopard. The BOMAchiever in Leopard has seems to have been improved. In Tiger if I selected five or more .zip files it would choke when trying to unzip them all at once—at least on my system. Now that I’m running Leopard this has been fixed. So if you download ten widgets that are contained in .zip files, you can install them all at once. Instructions

Download the Install User Widget(s) workflow file Double-click to unzip it Double click the .workflow file which will open it in Automator Then Select Save as Plug-in—a dialog will pop-up Name the Plug-in (In the text field Save Plug-in As:) Make sure the Drop-down list is set to Finder (see Figure 1 below) Press Save

Figure 1 I have also created a video demo which shows how to use the workflow and how to install the .workflow file. You can watch the HD version on Vimeo if you to actually want be able to read the screen text.

Click on image to play video.Use Automator to Auto-Install Widgets

If you want to learn more about Automator or maybe just download some other workflows then check out automator.us. Automator.us is the personal website of Sal Soghoian who is the AppleScript product manager at Apple. If you head over to twit.tv, Sal has done some video podcasts showing some really cool things you can do with automator. Just do a search for automator to find the shows.

Install User Widget(s) by Zeke Franco is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at http://www.quasarkitten.net. quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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Background colors not printing?

Today I was working on a little report for work. So I designed a neat xHTML page that has some stats listed in a pretty little table, and then I realize people at work tend to print things out, so I better make a nice print style sheet. So I add my link tag: <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/css/print.css" media="print" /> then started working on my print style sheet. Since I use CSS for all the layout all I really need to do is a few of things.Remove the non-relevant section such as the page headerAdjust the browser defaults:Remove coloring and underlines from linksRemove dotted border from abbreviationsSet my logo image to display as blockRestyle the table so that alternate rows are different colorsAdd some Javascript to make the link’s url visibleSo after doing all these I’m try to do some test prints. In Firefox and Opera everything is fine. Then in Internet Explorer 6 the background color for the alternate table rows isn’t printing. So I’m thinking it’s some sort of IE bug. After spending some time fiddling with the CSS I noticed that which ever element I applied a background color to it wouldn’t print.Then it hits me… The browser preferences. If you go to the file menu and choose Tools << Internet Options A window will open. Choose the tab called Advanced. Then scroll down to the printing section and check the option “Print background colors and images”. See Figure 1.Figure 1Once you’ve done this your background colors will print.I also noticed this happens in Safari for Mac. The preference to change this lives in the print dialog. Once your in the print dialog box, expand the dialog by pressing the upside down triangle thing next to the printer you’ve selected. Then check the box that says “Print Backgrounds”. See Figure 3.Figure 3As a web designer it reminds me that you can’t depend on anything so make sure that your print style sheets do not depend on background colors. For example what if you wanted to have some light grey text or white text on a background color, well if the user has their background colors unchecked, which by default it is, the white text will be printing on white paper. Not good. I guess the lesson here is to test, test, and then do some more testing to make sure everything is working.quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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24 Ways: Web Design Tips and Tricks

Every year (since 2005) 24ways.org brings you a web design/dev article each day for twenty-four days leading up to X-Mas. The articles are written by "thought leaders" in the web design/dev community. Some of last year's article were written by Jeremy Keith, Dan Cederholm, Andy Budd, Shaun Inman and others. Today (Dec. 1) was the launch of 24ways 2007 so check it out.read more | digg storyquasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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MarsEdit 2 Review

MarsEdit 2 was released about two months ago. So I thought I’d give it a try. I’m not going to go over every feature, just the experience I’ve gained in the last month while using the trial period. I’m going to cover: Creating & Editing PostsUsing an External EditorMedia Panel’s Flickr Integration Draft Preview Overall Pros ConsMy Blog's ConfigurationI have sort of strange configuration… I started blogging in 2004 and at this time I didn't know anything about HTML or blog engines, so I started my blog on blogger. Since then I have throughly learned HTML and CSS. I'm planning on moving to a self-hosted WordPress site by February of next year, but as of now using my hand-coded template with blogger. Blogger pushes all of the content on to my own server. This is bit unconventional since most blogger blogs are usually hosted on blogspot. This may explain some of the “bugs” described later.Creating and Editing PostsCreating and editing blog posts is the main feature of MarsEdit. Starting a post is as simple as clicking on New Post (Screenshot 1 Item 1). Once you’ve set up MarsEdit to access your blog, you can start editing a post by first selecting the desired post then click on Edit Post. (Screenshot 1 Item 2) At this point, whether you selected Edit Post or New Post the editor window will popup. (See Screenshot 2) In this window you can write up or edit your posts. After you’ve written you can start adding the related tags or labels for you post. To do this select Options (Screenshot 2 Item 1) and started adding label/tags to your post. Finally when your done you can select Send to Weblog (Screenshot 2 Item 2) to post to your site, or just select Save as Draft (Screenshot 2 Item 3) which will save the document locally if you haven't quite finished it yet. Screenshot 1 Screenshot 2Using an External Editor Screenshot 3 Screenshot 4I prefer to do my markup stuff in Textmate, so if you go to the MarsEdit preferences, (See Screenshot 3) select the Edit tab then towards the bottom there is a drop-down list labeled Edit With external editor:. This list it will show the well know editors: BBEdit, SubEthaEdit, TextMate, TextWrangler, WriteRoom. (see screenshot 4) If you use something different such as Taco HTML editor, or Coda, you can just select Other… and then browse to your desired application. MarsEdit has assigned the keyboard shortcut CMD + j as a way to open your draft in your desired external editor. When shortcut activated MarsEdit will open a new document in your chosen application. The document is usually named something like: ODBEditor-com.red-sweater.marseit-0000001. In a sense this is a temp file. MarsEdit automatically takes the text you had in the New Post window and put this in the new document, when you close this new document all the text you had in the external editor will now appear in the New Post dialog.Media Panel Screenshot 5The media panel is part of the editing window. See Screenshot 5 for the media panel and Screenshot 2 Item 5 show you how to open the media panel. It allows you to insert images from from you website, hard drive or flickr. I'm just going to cover the Flickr portion. The integration with flickr is very seamless. From this panel you can browse and search all of your flickr photos. You can choose to search by either the image's name or by tags. The strange thing I've found is that you can't search by multiple tags or by multiple words that are in the name unless they are in order. Here is an example. Let's say you have a image named Cheese Ball from the Moon and it is tagged as cheese, food, dairy. If you do a search for “from moon” you won't get a result, but had you type “from the moon” the image will show up. Also you can only search using one tag at a time. Search for “dairy” will bring up the image but search for “food dairy” will not. Despite the searching quirks it is still very easy to find the image you are looking for.Once you've found the image you are looking for it is very easy to add it to your post. All you have to do is click on the image you want, then if needed select the photo size and alignment position and then press insert. You can also just drag the image from the panel on to the place you'd like the image to be. The sizing options you have are square, thumbnail, small, medium, large, and original—same sizes flickr gives you. I don't recommend using the align feature, just leave it on unaligned. This is because code used to align the image is the align attribute which is deprecated presentational markup.Draft PreviewOne of my favorite features of MarsEdit is the ability to preview your drafts before you post them. It's easy to set up if you know HTML and CSS, but not so easy if you don't. I hope to do a post in the future that will go in depth on how to setup a preview. Once you’ve setup you preview template view you preview your draft can be done by clicking on preview. (Screenshot 2 Item 4)Overall Pros Editing and posting a blog entry is extremely easy and a pleasure to use. Flickr integration is simple to setup up and and use.The Preview Drafts feature is extremely useful.I really like the Options sidebar that allow an easy way to add tags to you posts.ConsView on Web feature doesn’t work for me. This may be due to my strange configuration. I haven’t been checking this feature often, but today (03/14/08) I did and it works. I’m;using version 2.1.2. If you don’t know HTML or CSS then setting up the Draft Preview may be difficult.Flickr searching needs to be improved.quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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Leopard Release

The Leopard release was pretty neat. It was the first time I’ve ever waited in line for a product. In fact I wasn’t even there to get Leopard—I had already pre-ordered it. I was just there for the free t-shirt. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera, so the only pics I took was with my razr; which sucks. I’ll be getting an iPhone when it has 3G wireless internet support. Anyways I had a pretty good time, I met a few people, and most importantly I got my free t-shirt. The one question I have is where are all the ‘Justin Long’-looking Mac people? We all look like a bunch of dorks. heehee. Maybe all the ‘cool’ people were in the back…

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Figure Dashes

I have been using en (–, &ndash;) and em (—, &mdash;) dashes for a while now. I love HTML entities! I always try to use proper quotations (“, &ldquo; and ”, &rdquo;) and apostrophes (’, &#8217; [beware &apos; doesn't work in IE6]), but I had never heard of figure dashes before. According to Wikipedia “The figure dash is used when a dash must be used within numbers, for example with telephone numbers: 634‒5789.”. I always use decimals to separate phone numbers. i.e. 909.555.7384, I just like the way it looks better so I had never really thought about it before. My guess would have been to use en dashes, but en dashes are suppose to be used to express ranges not separations.On a side note I know the iPhone is suppose to turn phone numbers into clickable links so you can dial from a webpage. I wonder how it handles different variations such as: 909.555.7384, 9095557384, 909-555-7384, or 909‒555‒7384 (This one uses figure dashes, notices the longer length of the dash and increased readable of the numbers).Figure dashes don’t have a HTML name like en and em dashes. You’ll have to use the numeric version which is &#8210; or &#x2012;. The only caveat is that IE6 doesn’t support this character. I haven’t tested it IE 7 yet, I’ll report back when I do. Also I am going try to do some research into why IE6 doesn’t support the figure dash as well as trying to find a solution(s) to getting it to work in IE6. I’m sure I could write a script that replaces &#8210; with a normal hyphen for IE, but that seems a bit over kill unless your site is all about telephone numbers.quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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The Apple Aluminum Keyboard

I broke down and bought the new Aluminum Apple wired keyboard. I went my local Apple store the day after the announcement to get iLife and iWork (possible future post), but unfortunately they didn’t have the new iMac out so I couldn’t try the new keyboard. Well this Sunday I went in to exchange my wireless Mighty Mouse, I’ve went through two, I’m now on my third, I love the mouse, but the stupid scroll ball nipple thing always breaks. (another possible future post) So since I was there I tried out the new keyboard and decided to buy it. I went with the wired one because I need the extended keyboard.As for my review of it… I love it. It looks OK in photos, but looks great in person and on my desk. I love the way it feels and ergonomically it is much more comfortable for me. I’m stuck on a computer probably 9-12 hours a day so ergonomics are important to me. At work I use a Dell keyboard and an evoluent vertical mouse (possible future post #3) and at home I use a Wacom intuos3 4x6 tablet and Wireless Mighty Mouse.Good BitsBasically if you like the Macbook keyboard you’ll like this keyboard. I was always of fan of "clicky" keyboards, but I enjoy the soft touch this one has. It’s great when your blogging at 4A.M. since it is quite. I also like the extremely low profile; it keeps me from bending my wrist too much. Finally the USB ports are 2.0! I hooked up my Canon EOS 350D and downloaded 30 or so raw images in a minute or two. It was nice not have to worry about where to plug the cable in. The port are recessed so when you do hook up a USB cable to the keyboard you don’t have to see the fat knob part of the USB cable sticking out.Negative BitsI haven’t fully been able to get the "special keys" functioning. I did install the keyboard software update (1.1), which got the media, volume, and brightness keys working, but the exposeé key, and dashboard keys don’t work. I haven’t spent much time fiddling with it so if I get them working I’ll post back here. Lastly the USB ports will only power a high powered device if the keyboard is hookup to the new Al Imacs. Bummer.Flickr: Apple Al Keyboard Photos09/11/07 Edit: Keyboard Software Update 1.2 was released today and has fixed all the above issues for me.quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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School Report

I am working on finishing up a report for school today. Basically I have to pick one of thirty different types of navigation styles and then describe the function–with relation to the navigation–of every HTML tag and CSS rule. This includes how one rule may relate to another or why one rule that would commonly be used isn’t. So far I’m on page four of the report.It’s actually fun, because it forces you to think about how each rule affects another. The one thing I’ve learned so far is if you use the CSS background declaration and you don’t specify the background-position in it, then the user agent will use the default of 0 0 (same as top left)—I knew that part. But if you do specify the horizontal position, but not the vertical position the user agent automatically changes the vertical position from top to center. ie.:{ background:inherit url(..images/image.png) repeat-x scroll 20px; }will be the same as{ background:inherit url(..images/image.png) repeat-x scroll 20px center; } even though if you would have done this: { background:inherit url(..images/image.png) repeat-x scroll; } it would be equal to this { background:inherit url(..images/image.png) repeat-x scroll top left; }I’ve tested this in IE6, Mozilla 2+, Safari 2 (as well as 3beta), Opera 9+ with all of them doing this. If anyone know why please let me know, I’m just curious, as it doesn’t cause any problem for me or my coding.quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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Patas the Kitten

Patas is a kitten my g/f found in 90F+ weather a couple of days ago. He is polydactyl and is about 4 weeks old. He is up for adoption, and we have two potential owners. Below is a youtube video of Patas.UpdatesPatas (renamed to Bigfoot) was adopted today, Sept. 15, 2007, he is going to a great home, his new buddies will be Dawn and her golden retriever Wakko.She has sent me some pics and vids of Patas in his new home. Here are links to two movies: Playtime & Forbidden Love. Photo taken by Dawn Photo taken by Dawnquasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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Haircut

I cut my hair! Yes, its true. Now I am going to grow it back out, but I wanted to cut off all the dead stuff, and since the hair underneath was always shaved I cut it extra short So that all the hair can grow long at the same time. I think it looks kind of funny the way it is now, I look like a young version of Snape. lol. Anyways here is some before and after pics.Before After#1After #2quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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