this is still aaronland

$> which widget

The SeeSS Widget is a quick and handy reference sheet for 140 CSS (1, 2 & 3) properties (proprietary extensions are not included). Each property includes information on its inheritance, CSS compliancy, Safari support, all values (including defaults), some examples and an extensive description. A link to the appropriate pages is included as well, for even more additional information.

I don't find any of the current crop of widget widgets terribly compelling. I don't think they aren't interesting but generally I find them more of a pain than not.

The SeeSS Widget, though, is interesting to me because it's a good demonstration of what I'd like publishers of technical books to be doing. Services like O'Reilly's Safari are great and all but I really don't like the interface. When I am working and just need to know something or double-check a function call, for instance, I find all the cruft that accompanies a website not only irrating but counter-productive.

I would probably pay money for Safari widgets if they came conveniently organized and indexed and were smart enough to work like a beefed up combination of man, apropos and glimpse. Someone with more time than me could probably hack enough smoke and mirrors to use the existing site to do just that using Ajax-y magic and get themselves invited to conferences and a deal writing a Hacks book and, well, you guessed it.

So, for my sake : Please do.

In the land of the sour dough baguette, the burrito is king

One of the bonuses coming to San Francisco has been moving here with Vancouverites and listening to them complain about the lack, and overall quality, of the sushi. I haven't had the chance to speak to the quality, yet, except to acknowledge the general rule (in life) that fish is just better in British Columbia. And I definitely appreciate their enthusiasm on the subject. Because I'm going to start complaining about bread again:

Me : Hello. I'd like a baguette please.

Him : A sweet baguette or a sour dough baguette?

Me : blank stare of disbelief.

Him : Right, you want a sweet baguette.

This and asking the person behind the counter at the cheese store whether they have cheese from Québec is a good way to gauge what you've gotten yourself into. It is more about how the question is answered than the answer itself which you already know walking in. It is not an absolute rule. For instance We have some cheddar from Canada, but I'm not sure what province, hardly inspires confidence but this was from a merchant who also sold the difficult to find Robiola, a rich and creamy soft cheese from Italy.

Still, no number of fine and stinky cheeses will save a sour dough baguette. I like sour dough bread. I'm told that San Francisco considers itself to be champion of the loaf and I look forward to tasting the city's offerings. But a sour dough baguette is like a punch in the face with a old, damp towel.

And since first impressions are real, the sour dough baguette will likely be this city's token for the American habit of doing everything Big and Loud and a wider culture of creating unnecessary (not to mention bad) food mashups. The rye baguette is probably a better symbol but I can't bring myself to try it, so there is always the outside chance that it isn't the work of madness it appears to be.

Or maybe the pain au chocolat, at Tartine. Tartine is a little pastry shop where you often find yourself muttering die yuppie scum while you dutifully stand in line with everyone else. Tartine has a lot to recommend it including the tiny details like serving café au lai...I mean latte in a bowl. They make an attractive croissant and pain au chocolat but you could use either to fatten a duck for foie gras (which sounds almost appealing as it does disgusting...) but for all the butter they use. Neither are especially good.

The pain au chocolat, in particular, is sold as some kind of Broadway-style extravaganza of self-congratulatory indulgence. Double-stuffed Scharffendingleporker chocolate!! cries the card in display case. And it really is, encased in a Bic Mac sized pastry shell designed to hold the masses of chocolate that spill out from either end. (Schroedingerundhungermunkey is produced in across the bay in Berkeley and much loved by the locals. Sometime during the month and a half it's taken me to finish writing this post it was acquired by the Hershey's Chocolates.)

The experience eating the thing was, what do you say, indelicate. Its girth prevented me from being able to dip it in my coffee which was pretty frustrating, when I finally stopped laughing. The taste? Not unlike having your palette hosed down with flavour experience first thing in the morning. The act of eating the thing is roughly the culinary equivalent of listening to an over-eager performer wail and grind, like a drunken car chase, through a national anthem at a sporting event. When it's over you're left with the same desolate lump in the pit of your being that you experienced orderling soy-based cream at the vegan restaurant down the street.

Maybe it's just adding that extra dolup of freedom that spoils things. Meanwhile, the biscotti from Lucca's, the biscuits at Boogaloo's and the naan at Pakwan are all excellent.

Things I have learned getting to work in Silicon Valley for three weeks