Lottery Post Journal

Proper site design

Have you ever worked on building a web site?  You'll love this video.  Watch and enjoy how fun it is to program with the proper standards!

Nat Geo: Great TV Channel

Ever since CableVision added the National Geographic ("Nat Geo") channel to its HDTV lineup, I've been an avid viewer.  They have some really interesting shows, and I especially enjoy the ones that deal with the universe/natural world.

Last Thursday night I saw a show on Nat Geo that explained how the moon was created, and how it's creation was instrumental in the development of life on this planet as we know it.

The feeling I came away with was that human beings, and perhaps other life forms that are similarly advanced, are not some common occurrence, in that it required an incredible sequence of powerful, complex, yet perfect, series of events in order to bring about Homo sapiens (us).

I'm not going to go down this road today, but I will say that it makes me wonder how anyone can definitively rule out the existence of God, given such an extraordinary recipe, on such a grand scale, that produced human beings.

The TV show is called Naked Science, and it frequently has interesting topics.  The episode I saw was called "Moon Mysteries".  I think it airs again a couple times over the next week.

According to the TV show, the moon was created some billions of years when an asteroid or planet, perhaps as big as Mars, collided with the Earth.  Nobody knows for sure how the moon was created, but this theory is among the most probable.  (Another theory — not mentioned in the show — is that the moon was a large body captured by the Earth's gravity.)

The moon was not always so far away from the Earth.  When it was created, the moon's orbit was maybe just a third of what it is today.  Over the billions of years of its existence, the moon's orbit has slowly been carrying it spiraling away from the Earth.  One day, no doubt billions of years away, the moon will escape the Earth's gravity completely, and we will once again be without a moon.

The other big difference is that the moon's orbit is a lot slower today than when it was young.  Like a spinning ice skater who slows her rate of spin by extending her arms outward, the moon's orbit slows as it grows wider.

As most people know, the tides are one of the clear influences the moon has on the Earth.  The moon's gravity pulls on the Earth's oceans, causing them to bulge upward toward the moon, which to us on the Earth simply looks like the sea has risen in the high tide.

The Earth rotates much faster than the moon moves around it, so from the standpoint of someone on Earth, the sea rises as they rotate toward the position closest to the moon, and then the sea falls as they continue rotating away from the moon.

The constant movement of the ocean caused by the moon's gravity has a mixing, churning effect on the world's oceans.  It also has an effect on the climate and on the winds.  There is a very complex relationship formed between the moon and the Earth.

Now just imagine what that relationship was like when the moon was much closer to the Earth, and had an immensely more powerful gravitational effect on the Earth.

Scientists estimate that the tides were hundreds of feet in height.  The climate effect was also profound, as it likely caused hurricane-like winds constantly.  When we see a hurricane today it comes and goes within a day, but when the moon was young the hurricane winds would rarely go away.

To one on the surface of the planet it was a violent time, to say the least.

But, according to scientists, it may well have been the period of time where life as we know it was formed.  The movement of the oceans so far inland during each high tide, followed by its retreat at low tide, scrubbed the land of minerals and nutrients and brought them into the sea, in an intense mixing of the world's oceans.  The moon would have continued to have this effect for millions of years, radically changing the face of the Earth, and bringing together the unique set of minerals, nutrients, and conditions essential for life.  They say that even the twisted strands of DNA — the basis for all living things — was greatly influenced.

The Nat Geo show no doubt explains things much better than I could, and gives a full appreciation of the subject.

It's just one example of the caliber of TV programs available, and a good example of why I enjoy watching it.

I was able to locate a 2-minute video clip that highlights the beginning of the show, explaining the theory about how the moon was formed.  You'd have to catch the show on TV to see the rest.

Moon Mysteries clip

New Faster, Better Version of Safari Available (3.1)

Today Apple released version 3.1 of their Safari Web browser, and I like what I see so far!

I'll give you the highlights and some insight, followed by download/install instructions. 

  •  The new version appears to have fixed some minor nagging display issues that were in the last version.
  • The whole browser seems to have gotten a nice performance boost, particularly the performance of JavaScripts and dynamic, moving objects on a page.  For example, dragging one of the Lottery Post popup windows around the page is pretty zippy, and the drop-down menus are really quick.  Both are heavy users of JavaScript and dynamic objects (DHTML).
  • The old Lottery Post text editor, which is still used to post a blog entry and change your signature, is a little glitchy in Safari, but that's a known issue with the old editor, and I am working on replacing all  the text editors used throughout Lottery Post with the latest and greatest version (3.0.5).  The versions used right now are 2.1.3 (used in the forums and private messages) and 2.0 (used in blogs and signatures).  In perhaps as little as a week or two, all of them will be moved to version 3.0.5, which involves more work than it might seem.  It is a big step.
  • Apple continues to push Safari to the latest web standards, even before they are officially ratified.  To this end, Safari 3.1 is compatible with HTML 5, which is a very big leap.  Granted, there are no HTML 5 sites out there, but it's comforting to use a web browser in which the developer is so concerned with meeting Web standards.  Safari also incorporates all the CSS 2.1 standards (which IE7 does not even do, and which IE8 will finally meet once its released), and if memory serves, it also meets the CSS 3.0 standards and passes the ACID 2 test.  (I'm not sure if it passes ACID 3, but then again I'm not sure any web browser does that yet.)

To download and install the new version of Safari, let me start by saying that I recommend downloading and installing it from a different(non-Safari) brand of Web browser.  That's because if you try to install Safari from within a Safari browser, the installer cannot update the browser while it is running, and you will be forced to reboot afterwards.

To download/install Safari 3.1:

  1. Go to
  2. Unless you really want the QuickTime movie player, stick with the version that does not include QuickTime.
  3. You do not need to enter an e-mail address.  Leave it blank.
  4. Click the download button, then click the button to run/open the executable when prompted.
  5. When installing, un-check the option for the Google toolbar.  No reason to install more unnecessary junk.
  6. Un-check the option for the Bonjour service.  Useless waste of your computer's resources.
  7. Everything else is self-explanatory.

Firefox 3 Beta 4 Rocks

WOW is all I can say after using the new beta of Firefox 3.

That comment is directed at:

  • Performance (INCREDIBLE performance)
  • User interface
  • Did I say performance?

This is absolutely the fastest web browser I've ever used.  It's got to be twice as fast as Firefox 2 and faster than IE (by far), Opera, and Safari.

I'm sure performance will vary by how powerful your PC is, but no matter what, you should experience similar proportional speed-ups to what I'm describing.

However, there are still bugs.  Things don't finish loading on some pages, there are horizontal scroll bars on some pages (meaning that it is rendering some things in the wrong place), and other miscellaneous glitches.  But the future looks bright for Firefox!

IE8 beta probably released too early

I installed and tried out the new IE8 beta, which was released to developers today.  IMHO, it was pushed out the door too quickly — even for a beta.

I would call it more of an "alpha".  Case in point: Microsoft's own site crashed the browser.

Normally I'll leave a beta browser on my computer for at least a couple/few days to give it a fair shake, but IE8 was so unusable that I had to uninstall it within an hour.  Yup, that bad.

I am very excited about their pledge to support all the current web development standards, but frankly I have a hard time seeing how they can even test standards support at the moment, because so many things just plain render wrong.

JavaScript is very slow — which is expected in a beta browser — but I wouldn't expect it to be that slow.  In JavaScript-heavy sites (like LP), the browser would periodically freeze for a few seconds, and interaction was sluggish.

This is not a slam on IE8.  I commend the direction Microsoft is taking.  This is more a commentary on delivering something too soon.  I do not think it is valuable to report bugs for a beta product in which just about everything has some kind of problem.

I think the fact that Firefox 3 is now in its third beta pushed Microsoft to act a little too quickly.

If you're considering installing the IE8 beta, I'd recommend not doing it, and waiting at least until they release a second beta.