QuirksBlog - Personal
About my life.
Long ago, before I became a web developer, I was a historian of the Later Roman Empire. One of the texts I studied was the Thidrekssaga, a 13th-century Old Norse story about the great German hero Dietrich von Bern and several others, such as the Niflungen, better known from the Nibelungenlied.
When I went into web development I mostly stopped this research, but recently I decided to restart it by writing an extended summary of the Thidrekssaga. Except for being useful in its own right, this side project forces me to learn PHP and Old Norse.
One of the things that keeps me fairly upbeat these days is playing board games and D&D with my friends online. Since others might want to do the same, I thought I’d jot down some notes on how I do it.
Inspired by Brad’s recent post, here’s a scattering of thoughts I had about things other than conferences (I already wrote about those.)
Today it’s A List Apart’s 20th birthday. 20th? Yup. Time flies when you’re having fun with browsers.
From September on I am looking for new clients. In fact, I am looking so hard that I updated my About page, something I haven’t done for years.
I’d love to get a job around setting up or troubleshooting an in-house front-end team, or representing unknown browsers to unsuspecting front-enders. I always like fundamental browser research jobs as well, but they’re relatively hard to get since there is limited global interest in that service. Or I can give a new “how to deal with browsers” workshop I’m developing — or even make a website under certain circumstances which boil down to “no frameworks or libraries.”
I have no clue if this is going to help, and I would really hate to be forced into a full-time job, since I’ve become too used to freelancing. But we’ll see.
Anyway, spreading the word would be greatly appreciated.
Since it’s Geek Mental Help Week I thought I’d share the most serious mental breakdown I went through in my professional career. When I compare it to the other stories I don’t feel it’s particularly serious — but maybe that sheer common-ness is the reason I’d like to talk about it. Mental health problems are not necessarily about profound traumas and serious disorders; they can also sneak up on people who’re otherwise decently balanced. Also, my story has a happy ending.
Just now Zeldman tweeted a question to which I replied. That reminded me of a story I want to share with you. Zeldman asked:
Have you ever felt that you have no talent whatever? How often do you feel that way?
What he describes is classic impostor syndrome. I’ve got it, you’ve got it, just about everybody’s got it. It’s the “just about” that I want to discuss today.
Why was my head on the front page of Peru’s largest newspaper? What do the Peruvian presidential elections have to do with me? Quite a lot, it turns out — at least, with my Twitter account. Last week it blew up; in a funny way, but still my Twitter timeline was useless to me for four days.
The problem is that one of the candidates is Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, or PPK. You’re starting to see what’s coming next, right?
Two weeks ago I heard that a person close to me is seriously ill. I spent too much time in the hospital lately, but fortunately the situation has improved all the way to serious but not hopeless. Let’s hope it improves again from there — not impossible at all, but not a certainty, either.
Thursday was an unusual day. I thought I’d describe it, so that you know what one of my unusual-but-not-ultra-weird days looks like.
This Monday I left the house I lived in for the past 25 years and moved to a new, larger one about a kilometer west in Amsterdam. Among other amenities it sports a separate office with a phone drawer of my own design, a working dishwasher, and enough bookshelves to contain my considerable history library.
In the next two months three important changes will take place in my professional life. These changes have a common theme: they reduce the time I spend on unpaid jobs.
- QuirksMode.org is now sponsored by
BlackBerry. The purpose is to grant me more time to do fundamental research without having to take on other jobs for money.
- Starting after the Fronteers 2012 conference on Thursday and Friday, I’ll take a break from the conference circuit for at least a year; possibly longer. I will be present at conferences I organise in Amsterdam, but I will not travel.
- I will step down as chairman and board member of Fronteers at the end of November. (Blogpost in Dutch.)
Why these changes? To be quite honest, I feel I’ve done enough free work for the web development community.
OK, so I've decided to move to a MacBook Pro 17'' (no retina) as my main workstation. One inevitable change I have to make is in my mail client. After sixteen years the time has come to say goodbye to Eudora.
Wow. This morning I launched a donations drive that was supposed to net me € 2,500 in, hopefully, a month or two or so. At least that’s what my “sensible” average projection was. Instead, it netted me € 3,200 in about six hours, and donations are still coming in.
Thanks, all. Awesome. Humbling. Scary, even, in a sort of way. I mean, I have to be extra good and stuff to repay you all.
Well, a new year has started, and it’s tradition to give an overview of where you’re standing. So here’s mine.
As longtime readers may remember, I was totally burned out at the end of both 2007 and 2008. I’m happy to report that that trend has been broken; although I was glad to have a little holiday at the end of 2009, I returned to work without noticeable problems. So that’s good.
However, I have decided that certain aspects of my professional life are in need of a change; notably my public speaking and my compatibility tables.
Well, another year had ended and a new one has started (in case you hadn’t noticed). As you’ve
seen in the past few months I haven’t exactly been active on my blog; the core reason is that I was
completely stressed out after my Spanish workshop at the end of October and have done little to no web development
I’m usually not much given to political posts, but in view of the earth-shaking things that will take place in the US tomorrow I’m gladly breaking that rule. In this post I’d like to personally thank all US politicians and mainstream media talking heads who’ve offered me countless hours of enjoyable browsing, reading, learning, and laughing.
Nonetheless I’m glad it’s over. I’m starting to suffer from Obama Overload, and I’m way behind on my work. (Please don’t ask me about adding Chrome to the Tables; I know, I will, as soon as all this is out of the way.)
I’m also going to give a small inpromptu presentation on the US elections tomorrow in Amsterdam. If you don’t know what to do with yourself, join me.
I'm afraid I've reached the end of my energy reserves. The new Fronteers site is online (Fronteers was previously known as the Guild of Front-End Developers); IE8 supports the Acid2 test, but I just don't have the energy to treat these important issues in the way they deserve.
Yesterday I published an entry about Opera's antitrust complaint that I removed today. Although I still think I have a point of sorts, that point should be made in a different way (and possibly by another person).
I've deserved a holiday. I NEED a holiday VERY BADLY.
I feel that I'm slowly going mad. I don't want any contact with any person; and DEFINITELY not about anything having to do with web development.
So this entry serves as notice that I'll be completely unreachable until January 7th. Clients, web developers, others, I'm sorry, but I won't answer you now. Please try again next year.
In early February I wrote about losing my sense of fun in web development. Basically, from mid November until the writing of this entry I was in a kind of extended haze. I worked as little as possible, and when clients old or new came knocking on my door for yet another HTML/CSS template or yet another small, unexciting script, I did everything in my power to turn them away. In fact, there was a short time in December when I seriously considered quitting web development altogether.
February was a normal month. I did a lot of work and sent out a lot of invoices, but I wasn't what you'd call happy about it. In this respect, my visit to SxSW was an excellent chance to take some distance from my everyday life, and when I returned home I knew I wanted to change a lot of things. I realised that I didn't want to code for a living any more.
Which begs the question: if I would quit coding, what would I do for a living?
There's one aspect of SxSW that I didn't discuss in my previous entry: the reason why I went to only a few parties. Most nights I was back in my hotel around 11:00. That's not really sociable, is it? Unfortunately I was unable to attend most parties BECAUSE OF THE FUCKING NOISE.
I'm wondering if it would be at all possible to just turn off the LOUD BACKGROUND MUSIC at conference parties.
I've caved in to peer pressure and signed up for Twitter. My nickname is (obviously) ppk and for the moment all my updates will be public. Follow me if you'd like to.
First conclusion: Twitter's search interface is confusing.
As I posted before I'll be in Austin on Thursday, and I'll be looking for something to do. Meanwhile two get-togethers have been organised:
- Noon at Las Manitas on 211 Congress Ave.
- 6:00 pm at the 219West.
I hope to see some of my Austin-based readers there; and maybe a few others who, like me, have decided to arrive early for SxSW.
Now that Andy Clarke has shown the courage to throw his true biography out into the open, I've decided that I can't keep silent any more. I know that some people will not believe my real story, and that others will ridicule me for it, but Andy's set a noble example that should be emulated.
So without more ado, here's my official, authorized, unadulterated biography:
Today I celebrate my 36th birthday by going out into the sun, having drinks with friends, and generally taking it easy. Happy birthday to me!
Incidentally, today Rembrandt would have turned 400. I cannot fault the great painter's taste in birthdays.
Official website (unfortunately web standards hadn't yet been invented in Rembrandt's days).
Rembrandt portal of the Dutch public broadcasting corporations. I include this link because it leads to my current project. Click on the "Bekijk uitzending" link next to the last portrait, and you'll see a (Dutch) TV programme on Rembrandt. (You have to select a format (Windows Media or Real) and a quality (broadband or smallband) first, by the way.)
I created the player the programme (and in fact all public broadcasting programmes that are available on the Internet) runs in.
It's not quite ready for formal publication yet, because at the last possible moment I had to sacrifice the noscript version to solve a very nasty Explorer bug. In the next two weeks, however, I hope to reinstate the noscript version while not triggering the bug. When that's done I'll formally discuss this project.
Well, I'm back from all my holidays. My throat problems are mostly over, although I still don't have hot water in my house. Even so I'll start working again tomorrow, and I've spent a large part of the weekend in catching up on QuirksMode.org related matters.
Thursday night I returned from a relaxing holiday in Greece. I'd planned to do some work on Friday, before leaving for the countryside again on Monday.
Unfortunately Friday was a rather disastrous day. My central heating unit, which also provides my hot water, suddenly began expelling flames when I turned it on, and a hurriedly fetched mechanic told me it cannot be used any more due to the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. No hot water, no showers, no shave.
Then the dirty, nearly windless air prevailing here in Amsterdam started working on my nose and throat, and right now I'm taking tea with honey, orange juice, and more such medicines in an attempt to stave off a cold.
All this means that I'm going to extend my holiday silence considerably. I'm disastrously behind on all jobs except for comment approval, but that's not going to change in the near future. No replies to the 200 or so mails still waiting for me.
If you need me, sorry, you'll have to have more patience; my unavailability has been extended for at least another week.
Today I leave for a two week holiday in Greece. As usual I won't touch a computer while I'm over there, so everything that requires my personal intervention will have to wait until at least Friday 19 August.
I'll be only patchily available during the rest of August, and I don't take any new job, no matter how small, paid or volunteer, before 5 September.
See you all later.
Today is my 35th birthday.
Happy birthday to me!
I'm going to celebrate by not sitting in front of my computer all day.
Right now I have a large writing job (not a book, unfortunately), and it takes rather more time that I thought it would. Since I'm working on it almost every waking hour, I'm getting a bit tired of writing. That's the reason I'm not posting any blog items right now, and I'm afraid this situation will continue throughout March.
I'm back in business, after a restful and relaxing holiday in Greece, a major network breakdown,
a long weekend in the countryside, and lots of sipping alcoholic beverages on sunny terraces.
I've even done a few minor updates today:
- A reader sent me the correct syntax for
createAttribute(). See the
W3C DOM Core tables - Attributes under
- Another reader told me that the odd
is the correct one for Explorer Windows. I didn't test this one.
- Added one new portfolio item: Ubachs Wisbrun. To my surprise,
this site became table based.