The ChatterBox Challenge

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This challenge is to judge which artificial converations robots are the best in the word. It has been going on for a number of years and aparently the bots are getting much better. You can check it out at

Some of the more interesting things to check out, besides talking with the bots, is the Classic Quotes section. There are some pretty funny things in there.

I once made my own A.L.I.C.E. bot that would handle conversations about religion. The main source of questions and answers (including related topics) was the website. I started it as an experiment into creating 24-hour “virtual missionaries” who would consistanly give Coorelation Department approved answers. It would answer all kinds of personal and theological questions and steer people toward meeting real missionaries. I got pretty far with it, covering more than half of all the questions and topics contained in the website. But half-way through the project I left Church employment and my interest in completing the complex project unexpectedly waned.

Vidar’s Blog

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In the back of eWeek every week is a rumor report written by Spancer Katt. eWeek changed the format of this page about a year ago, I guess. I like it. Besides the rumor listings, there are also pictures of parafanalia from the locals he has visited and a comic. This week’s comic was pretty funny. But I digress. In the top right-hand corner of this page is the image of a napkin with a couple of web addresses on it. Most of the time they are lame, but this week had an unexpected golden nuget: Vidar Holen’s website.

Vidar’s Blog is a collection of stories and thoughts about all sorts of things — but reading his adventures in elementary and middle school remind me so much of my own that I couldn’t stop reading! Serriously, this guy would have been my best friend in school.

Writing With Style

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You may or may not have noticed that I have tried very hard to create a visually pleasing layout and typography for my blog. I have always had great apreciation for the subtely of style — it does make a difference. HTML, the simple language of web pages were originally extremely simple in terms of presentation and control. Nowdays, however, there are many tools and much support for better portability, presentation and coding. Today’s post lists some of the things I have found that help me write with better style.

CSS2 Reference

The W3 Schools have a plethera of reference material and tutorials on everything from ASP to XML. This includes a reference guide I use all the time for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) 2.0.

HTML Character Codes

HTML character codes are simply that — codes that represent individual characters. These characters can be referenced in a variety of ways from stratight–forward to abstract. For example, the ampersand can be stored as an individual character (&), or as an HTML number (&) or as an HTML name (&). Most of the time, HTML names and numbers are only used when they cannot be typed by the keyboard, and some other special characters we won’t go into.

I have found two lists for finding HTML character codes. The first is a simplistic site but covers the majority of characters. The second site is what I would call comprehensive but is more dificult to read:

The Trouble With Em ‘n En

This article goes into the typography usage of EM and EN and includes proper usage for the emdash, endash, hypen, minus and the hyphenation point (yes, they are all different). I like this article and I found it a good read. I try and practice proper usage of these items in this very blog. Unfortunately, I’m not that good at remembering which one is used in what circumstace, and the different spaces (hair space, thin space, en space, em space and normal space) most of which are not defined in the fonts we typically use. Nevertheless, it is a great read.

OS X Button Generator

For almost a year now I have been creating buttons that emulate the glassy look of buttons in the Mac OS X operating system. I have collected a large list of tutorials on how to make them in Photoshop. My thanks go to Seth House for finding this site for me. Marc Liyanage has created several wonderful scripts, and written some books — but my favorite is an Aqua Button Generator that will create said button with any text you want. It has saved me literally hours of work generating similar buttons by hand! It is even possible to change the color of the button quite easily by colorizing the graphic in Photoshop to anything you need.

The Form of the Book — by Jan Tschichold

This book stands on its own as one of the great references on typography and the form of the book. Although the book was compiled in 1975, one year after the author’s death, the information and design principles hold true today as their basis is fundamentaly gounded in more than 1000 years of bookmaking. Reading this book (three times now) has greatly influnced my interest in making aesthetically pleasing web pages.

Sewing Scissors Myth

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How many people have heard their mother yell Don’t cut paper with my good sewing scissors! It will ruin them!

I personally think this is a wives tale passed down from generation to generation and that it simply isn’t true. I can already feel the emphatic disagreement from women who are reading this — but bear with me. I’ll explain why I think this.
Read the rest…

Paxil Withdrawals – Day 7

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It has now been one week — and I have to say that my doctor was pretty accurate. He told me to wait at least one week before trying to assess whether I should continue without, or return to the medication. It has been a bumpy ride, that is for sure, but in retrospect it wasn’t that bad. Of course, hind sight is 20/20.

I still have The Zaps, but they aren’t that bad and I notice them only occasionally throughout the day. Upset stomach seems to be a persistant ailment, as well as sleep irregularities. Some nights I can’t get to sleep at all. Other nights I’m dead asleep at 9 PM. Crazy stuff.

I have to say that the worst part of withdrawals was/is mood swings. The mood swings are, as I have described before, random emotions of varying degree felt for a period of time. I can definetly see how people think they are going crazy or even fall into depression and dispair.

If you don’t know on an intellectual level why those things are happening to you, and have those around you also understanding, it could serriously impact and damage relationships.

I don’t think I’ll make any more entries about this unless I think it is necessary as time goes on. Thank you all for being patient and reading my tribulations. Tomorrow I promise to start listing more interesting things.

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