Sunday, October 31, 2004

Build Slideshows with XHTML and CSS

I was getting sick Saturday night and it persisted until the morning, so I've done a lot of sleeping since last night. Unfortunately, now I can't go to sleep. So, I decided to work my way through my RSS feeds that I haven't been able to really pay attention to lately due to my business. And I found something very interesting.

Joel of Joel on Software posted a note about a nice way of making slideshows using only XHTML and CSS, which is a pretty cool thing. The project is called S5 (why they call it that I do not know) and was created by Eric Meyer, a well known CSS and standards guy.

It is, actually, quite cool. I recommend taking a look at it XHTML and CSS. It isn't flawless yet, though. I had the text size up too high for it and some material just vanished off the screen and there was no way to see it unless I decreased my text size, and this was an issue with both IE and Firefox. But other than that everything looked cool.

Friday, October 29, 2004

If You're Looking For A Copy Of The Dead Sea Scrolls...

Lately there have been sporadic posts in the blogosphere about recent rethinkings of Qumran and the collection of the Dead Sea Scrolls (some of the most recent can be seen here and here), so I figured I would make a recommendation.

For those of you who know some Hebrew and/or Aramaic, or plan on studying those languages, I highly recommend the Dead Sea Scrolls: Study Edition in two volumes. It is a diglot, so you get Aramaic/Hebrew text facing your English translation. I don't have a preferred plain jane English version, and would like to hear comments from those who have one and like it. I'll be teaching a short series of lessons at my church on the DSS in December and would like to have a recommendation to them when the time comes. Anybody know of a good one?

Using Thunderbird

Just for kicks, I figured I would try out Thunderbird. Thunderbird, if you don't know, is an email program put out by the same people who built Firefox, the Mozilla foundation.

I was hoping that I would have another Firefox experience. "This is the best mail client in the world!" was what I was hoping to be able to say, but I haven't really had any of those moments yet. It's fine. It's good. It is just not spectacular. That may be because there aren't as many extensions yet, or because it is still in version 0.8. Dunno. Regardless, I find it to be just fine but not spectacular.

But, I don't really recommend it to everyone. I know of at least one bug. When I converted my Outlook email to Thunderbird it dropped all of my attachments in my previous email, which was rather annoying. But other than that I haven't had any bad experiences. A friend of mine, Chris Perkinson did, but I'm not sure what the source of those are. I'm also more cautious about an application like Thunderbird than I am one like Firefox. If Firefox completely crashes on you and you can't use it, you can always uninstall it. But Thunderbird actually holds some of your data, and if it crashes, I guess you could lose it. That makes me naturally more cautious to even try it myself. At this point in the game I don't think I would recommend it, but we'll see if that changes.

If you go to you will find exactly nothing. But you will at some point. I don't know how I heard of these guys, but I filled out a survey for them a few weeks back, which resulted in a free book. I don't know if they're still trying to survey folks, but they might be. If you follow the link you'll see a couple of email addresses. They want to provide an online service, sort of a one-stop-shop for all of your scholarly needs. Hopefully they'll put up a great site. And if they end up having good deals on books, I'll have to make a point of buying a book from them just to thank them for giving me one for free. If you email them, please tell them The Coding Humanist sent you. Maybe they'll give me discounts!

The book I got was Joshua to Chronicles: An Introduction by Antony F. Campbell, published by WJK press. I've read some of the introduction, but I really can't tell if it is any good or not. Hopefully it will be.

Top Blogs

Robert Scoble posted a few links that you can follow to get the top 100 blogs according to Technorati, and several other online entities. I suggest checking it out if you're thinking of expanding your blog horizon.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Arab World Analysis: The Blog and Website of Kirk Sowell

My own personal Arab world guru, Kirk Sowell (who also happens to be my older brother...lucky him), has started to blog. He has some very interesting stuff to say about the Arab world that most American's just don't get to hear. He describes himself as follows:

"I am an Arabist, author and specialist in Middle Eastern affairs. My first book, The Arab World: An Illustrated History, was published earlier this year by Hippocrene Books. I have an undergraduate degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas in Austin, a law degree from Cornell, and have studied at the University of Jordan in Amman, Jordan."

What will the blog entries be about?

"Expect that a majority of the blogs will involve something portrayed in the Arab media that I think you might not have seen on English-language televsion."

Can get that many places, can you!?! The name of his blog is "Window on the Arab World, and More!" and I highly recommend visiting and adding to your daily intake of blog content.

I also recommend his website, In particular I recommend his essay "Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Terrorism and the al-Qaeda Network: An Overview of the Evidence", to which you will find a link on the Articles and Book Reviews page.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Browser Wars II, Interview with Spolsky

Mary Jo Foley of Microsoft Watch published an interview with Joel Spolsky yesterday that should be interesting to those who are curious about Microsoft's direction technologically. Will Longhorn really be as fantastic as some are saying? Are they betting too much on the rich client and not on the web? Interesting stuff.

His comments about Google are also interesting, as is a link provided to this article on a possible Google browser. I'm very curious where all this is going. There does seem that a new Internet Explorer browser is in the works right now. And, of course, FireFox is taking off. And then I hear about AOL considering creating another browser. Is this good or bad? It completely depends on how the game is played. Browser Wars I, Netscape vs Internet Explorer, had some very negative effects. As they continually tried to one-up the other they each added new features, but the features were different. Netscape would implement some feature, then IE would implement a similar feature, but what was incompatible with the other, and suddenly the web developer's job became immensely harder. For those of you who don't do web design you probably don't realize what kind of effect this has. Get just about any good javascript reference published in the last few years, especially close to the end of Browser Wars I, and you'll find that the writer's had to do stuff like "the CSS background tag is available in Netscape 6 and IE 4," or "The behavior tag is available only in IE 5 for Windows (not Mac) and not at all in Netscape," etc. Annoying!

Now that IE has become ubiquitous you could forget about Netscape completely, which was kind of nice but not ideal. IE 6 was released in 2001. And since MS had no competitor, there was no reason to upgrade the browser. Why add features? But now that there is a threat on the horizon, good old "fear of competition" kicks in. Great...I hope.

So what will it take for Browser Wars II to be healthy? Follow closely the standard definitions of what XHTML, javascript, CSS precisely and start implement new kinds of markup according to their definitions. Don't make your users choose a browser based on whether or not the page will render correctly. Make them choose because of the features of the browser. Then Browser Wars II will be a wonderful thing...

I am not a MS basher. I really like some of what they do. I love XP. I love .NET programming. But this is one that I really hope they lose. They've shown that without competition they won't innovate in the browser arena. That's just unacceptable.

I'm tempted to hope that new browsers won't take some of the wind out of Firefox's sails, just because I like it so much and want it to succeed. But, really, having several really good browsers that have wide acceptance will be very healthy for the industry (assuming they all behave nicely).

Friday, October 22, 2004

CSS Brilliance

I've known about this site for a while but I thought I would mention it here for all of you who haven't heard of it and who know at least a little HTML.

I've never seen Cascading Style Sheets do so much. Check out the CSS Zen Garden. Essentially, it exists to showcase the power of cross-browser compatible CSS. If you know and care what I'm talking about, this is a must-see site.

The site allows you to view its contents using any one of, I think, 135 style sheets.


Don't you just hate being busy all the time? I do. Unfortunately, because of all I've had to do in the past week I've barely been able to keep up with myself, my feeds, and my blog. But hopefully some of this will reach my blog soon anyway.

The most time consuming thing I've done in the past week is research .NET pdf creation libraries. I plan on giving a fairly full report of my experiences soon for all you coders out there.

I've also been frantically getting ready for SBL. And I actually hope to be able to publicly talk at length about the project I'm working soon. I think some of you would find it of interest. But, for now...nothing.

More soon. Hope everyone in the blogosphere is doing well.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Images of the Gospel of Peter in Greek

Hypotyposeis just posted something great. If you're interested in such things, there are images of the Gospel of Peter online (in Greek).

[Update (just a few minutes later)]
And Hypotyposeis posted the other day about images of Mark from codex W.

On Email Address Obfuscation

Most of you who read this will think "Why is this guy saying this. Everybody knows this." Well, maybe not for those who are just getting started on the web (and yes, those exist).

It is common practice on the web to make your email address very hard to read. This isn't an attempt to fool internet users; if the poster didn't want his email known, he wouldn't post it. It is an attempt to fool programs that scour the internet for email addresses for use by spammers. Yes, if you post your email online, you will eventually get spammed. Sorry.

So, people started obfuscating their addresses in such a way that they couldn't be recognized by the programs that search for emails. Let's take the email for an example. Eventually, some spammer is going to spam because their automatic email collecting program will find it. But, you can usually trick these programs by posting your email as "fakeemail a t gmail dot com." To a human, that can be deciphered. But that is less likely the case for a program (depending on how sophisticated it is).

An idea that I like that I'm about to use is to replace the very end, so that it becomes "fakeemail a t gmail etc," where the "etc" really means the ".com" that ends so many emails. My email that I am about to put on my blog is "eric dot sowell a t gmail etc." Can you figure that out? If so, you can send me email! And unless a spammer comes and sees it himself...he probably won't :)

So, if you were wondering what all those funky email addresses where, now you know.

Can't Find a Feed? Try Guessing.

I don't visit blogs very often, just because I'm very busy and don't have the time to check them all daily. Instead, I use a feed aggregator (SharpReader) that takes both RSS and ATOM feeds and updates me when the blogs I am interested in add entries.

But what if the blog doesn't publish an RSS or ATOM feed? Well, if you like to use aggregators like myself then you are completely out of luck...or are you? As it turns out, sometimes you are not. Take, for example, a blog I just heard of, Atriades. This is a classics blog. If you look at their blog there isn't a link to a feed, but you are in luck. They are using Blogger, which seems to automatically make the ATOM feeds even when you choose the option not to publish one (I've tried this on a number of Blogger sites and it has worked every time). I didn't see a link to their feed, so I just added "atom.xml" to their url "" to make "" and voila! I have a feed for my newsreader. I've tried adding rss.xml to the end of urls for other blogs and that has worked as well.

Of course, then you'll have to decide: did they leave the feed out on purpose, or do they purposely want people to visit their site and not use an aggregator? Does it matter to you what their intent was? In the case of Atriades, I have no idea. Maybe it was because they didn't know what the "publish ATOM feed" checkbox meant. I imagine that is the case for many blogs.

So, there's a tip for you.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Limitations of the Google Desktop...and What You Can Do About It

SansBlogue made a fine point in response to a blog post I made earlier about the Google desktop search engine. The search does NOT at this point search any email clients except MS Outlook and Outlook Express. Since I use Outlook presently it didn't cross my mind (though I have considered moving to Thunderbird, and I would welcome any comments on user experiences with the product).

And another very important point that Tim made was that you can submit suggestions to Google about the product here. I already made a request for xml and c-sharp code files. Maybe they'll implement that...and your request too!

Thanks for your response.

Time Flies

I just realized how long it has been since I blogged last. What have I been doing?

Well, mostly one of two things. First, I'm getting ready for SBL. I can't really tell you much more than it involves Greek, technology, and syntactical tagging and research, but that might tell you enough. Sorry. But if you're interested, and if you'll be at SBL, drop by the NET Bible booth and ask for me. I won't be at ETS, though, so don't look for me there. Eventually we'll have something up on the web for everyone to see, but I'm not sure when that will be.

Also, I've been spending lots of time with pdf generation libraries. I've found one really good commercial library, but I really need a free one. I've found three. One is just not very feature rich, another is hard to use, and another I haven't had enough time with to tell. I'll give a full report later.

Google Desktop Search

Good morning world! Is there any better time to blog than an early sunday morning? Well, probably, but...

I downloaded the Google Desktop Search engine yesterday and I really like it. If you haven't heard of it, the engine indexes your hard drive like Google indexes the web and lets you search through your documents for stuff. And a lot of what I do makes text on my hard drive proliferate, so this is handy.

Yes, it is very fast.

Yes, you can search for unicode strings (woohoo!).

Unfortunately, you cannot specify what file types it will search. I really want it to index my c# code files and my xml files, but those aren't supported yet.

And, fortunately, it will only index your computer when it is completely idle. I even think it waits for it to be idle for a while before it starts indexing. I was trying to watch how fast it was by keeping the search open and occassionally refreshing the page, but it didn't index anything new while I sat there and watched. I guess I was refreshing too often. But, eventually it kicked in. So, what this means is that it shouldn't impact your computer's performance, which is obviously a good thing.

Yes, it is browser based like the real google.

Yes, it is a quick and easy install.

That about sums up my thought on the issue. I highly recommend it for those whom have lots of stuff in documents and text files.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

SBL and .NET Reporting and Graphing Packages

I'm working feverishly on my project for the NET Bible folks to get ready for SBL this year, which I am very excited about. Right now I'm looking into some reporting and graphing software, and I figured somebody else might find my experience in this regard useful.

My goal, essentially, was the following:
1. I need a pdf generation tool that will allow me to make fancy charts and display lots of data well.
2. It needs to be relatively simple to interface with. I'm not interested in dealing with a complicated piece of software like Crystal Reports, which isn't all that good and I can't stand anyway.
3. I would really like the license to be per developer, rather than per server. I'd like to use this reporting stuff in different contexts and don't want to pay more money (since I don't really have any...)
4. It needs to work natively with .NET, which is what my system is built on.

At first I looked at Active Reports. It was easy to generate reports, and had a nice license. But, it doesn't generate fancy graphs, and I can't afford both something like Active Reports AND a graphing package. Now, their screenshots will make you think that they do fancy charts, but those look like they have to be imported. Bad advertising! Very disappointed here.

So, I figured I would turn to graphing packages. I first used Dundas Charts. I loved it. Absolutely thought it was great. It was also incredibly easy to use. But, didn't like the licensing scheme.

Then looked at ChartFX which looked really nice, like Dundas, but I didn't really get into it because of its licensing scheme. Bummer.

Then I found a graphing package that had a good license, Graphics Server. $900 and I could make graphs anywhere! Then I actually tried to use it. It does not have a terribly easy interface, certainly not as easy as Dundas. And a lot of the samples didn't work. And the documentation, I thought, was poor. Very unhappy with this solution.

OK. So, at this point I had made no progress, which is unfortunate giving the fact that there isn't that much time till SBL. So, I just gave up and got a pdf library called iTextSharp, found some sample code for generating chart images using GDI+ stuff, and that's how I'm doing it now. Wish there were a better way for someone with not much money to pay for licensing ("not much" == 0).

Of course, any recommendations are welcome!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

ISP's and Copyrights

Slashdot just featured an research study done by a group called Bits of Freedom on how ISP's respond to allegations of copyright abuse.

The test involved setting up 10 copies of a work whose copyright had long expired (1871 was the original copyright date) on 10 separate ISP's in the Netherlands and creating a fake society and lawyer to make accusations about copyright infringement.

Essentially, they found that most ISP's have no real clue about copyright law and went ahead and removed the supposedly illegal website.

Interesting findings. Maybe someone should try something of this scale in the U.S.

Interview with Hershel Shanks on the James Ossuary

The Biblical Theology blog pointed to an intersting interview with Shanks regarding the James Ossuary, how the controversy around it is being handled, and a little about archaeology over there. It is a little hard to follow at times. It isn't always clear who's talking, the interviewer or Shanks, but interesting nonetheless.

Getting into HTTP Processing using Mono

de Icaza pointed out this article on how a fella used Mono to creatively develop a website by changing how the page serving worked by overridding Mono's mechanisms. Very creative.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Nice to be appreciated

I'm the web designer for and I am happy when someone likes my work. Thanks, Mark.

Online Critical Pseudepigrapha

Ooooh...aaahhh...I like this. It has been pointed out that online is now The Online Critical Pseudepigrapha.

For those not familiar, the term "pseudepigrapha" means "false writing," and in this case, it is writings that are generally understood to be falsely attributed to another individual, usually of historical significance. In the time around the dawn of the NT it was apparently common to write works and say they were written by someone venerable in the past, such as Abraham. This site is focusing on the OT pseudepigrapha at the present (will they do NT?). So, that is essentially what "pseudepigrapha" means, though works that don't really fit that definition are often included as well in "pseudepigraphical" collections. Anyway...

Hereafter I'll shorten the word "pseudepigrapha" to a capital "P", just because I'm already tired of typing the word.

What this site does right (and it does a lot right) :

1. First, we have the P in ancient languages, and sometimes in multiple. For example, 1 Enoch's main text is given in Greek but it at least also has 4Q201 in the apparatus, which is an Aramaic manuscript from the Dead Sea Scrolls collection. I even saw some Coptic in the "Testament of Job's apparatus. That is incredibly useful.
2. As just mentioned, there is an apparatus. To have a textual apparatus is very cool.
3. You can view different manuscripts in their entirety, for texts that have them available. For example, the Testament of Job has a default and three different manuscripts to choose from. Very cool.
4. It is unicode. Unicode is the way to go. Thank you so much for helping take biblical studies in that direction.
5. I like how the verse divisions are in red. Makes them very clear.
6. Very clean looking interface. It makes sense and looks really nice. And nice javascript work.
7. According to their copyright statement, they have a very generous license. Thank you.
8. I was going to complain about how it won't render correctly in Firefox, but I saw a note saying they were aware of this and were trying to fix it. As a Firefox fanatic (I even want the T-Shirt), that will make me very happy.

Stuff that needs improvement:

1. What is the "default" text? A critical text? Didn't see that specified.
2. Occassionally got javascript errors, but couldn't reproduce them. So I can't help you out there. Sorry.
3. I didn't see anything identifying what the manuscripts were? In the Testament of Job, what are P, S, and V? Well, I opened up Charlesworth's volume and found out, but it would be really nice to have online.
4. I'm doing some work on a program for doing syntactical tagging and analysis of the GNT. I would LOVE to have access to that data to tag it for myself and others via webservices or something like that. Want to provide an interface for that?
5. Maybe because I'm doing lots of downloading right now, whether I opened up the site in IE or Firefox, I got that ominous message about how my browser doesn't support javascript. Well, it does, so the message went away when the page finished loading. This is obviously no big issue, but you might scare some non tech savvy users.


Despite a few little things, this rocks. And yes, the site is newly up, so they probably just haven't had time to implement everything they wanted to. And maybe they know about all this stuff. But these are my two cents. Yes, this rocks. I will definitely use this. Thank you for putting in your time to create this resource.

Renewed Blogging

It seems like I haven't been doing much in the way of blogs recently, whether reading or blogging here. Very busy. Part of it had to do that I've been only using my rss aggregator at work and not at home. I was hoping to get enough time during my breaks from the mind-numbing Crystal Reports work I've been doing lately, but I haven't been able to. So, I guess I'm going to try to move all that activity back home. I guess I'll do that at night.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Ernest Best

As has been noted by several blogs (I noticed it first here), Ernest Best has passed away. My favorite Ephesians commentary (ICC) was written by Best, so it is a bummer to see a good scholar like this go.

October PDNUG Meeting

We had a great Plano .NET User Group Meeting tonight. Peter DeBetta gave a talk on T-SQL enhancements in Sql Server Yukon and I'm definitely looking forward to them. My favorite new features are CTE's (basically, you can take subqueries out of queries and define them beforehand and it also lets you query them recursively), an actual xml datatype, and certainly most importantly, the embedded CLR. Very good discussion. One of the best we had.

If you live in the Dallas area, and are a .NET developer, I highly recommend it.

Active Reports - Exporting in PDF for the Web

I've been playing with Active Reports for a little while now and I like it. It wasn't entirely clear how to export as pdf, which is something I really needed to do. If you're wondering, here's how it is done.

//This would be the actual report file in your application.
//The class name = the name of the report
ReportFile rpt = new ReportFile();

Document doc = rpt.Document;

MemoryStream stream = new MemoryStream();

PdfExport exp = new PdfExport();
exp.Export(doc, stream);

Response.Buffer = true;
Response.ContentType = "application/pdf";

Make sense? Hope so.

Monday, October 04, 2004


No, this is not about my spit. I bought the "Back into Your System" album by Saliva last night, and I like it quite a bit. If you like alternative rock, this would be a good one to check out. They have had two rather popular songs on the radio, "Always" and "Rest In Pieces," and at least one more I've heard before called "Raise Up." The album also comes in edited and non-edited versions, so pick your preference. Wal-Mart had it for only ten bucks.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Mount St Helen's Pics

Found a cool site. This site updates a pic of the volcano every 5 minutes, so you can get up to date pics of the action! Could be interesting. Thanks, Steve, for pointing this out in your blog.

On Google Searches

Well, somebody checked in a little code at work that is halting me in my tracks, so I can't do anything till he's available. So, I figured I would blog something.

Well, I was looking at my referrer logs (they tell you how people find your site) today, and looking at how people find me via Google. A precious few have, but it appears my post on Unicode is the winner, surprisingly. Two hits were looking for the site and had its name in it or my name, so I don't really count those. One was for acnmlibrary which made my post on what is a blog, and unicode got two. I guess the entry on unicode was a good idea. And yes, that means I haven't been found on searches very much. Don't make fun of me!