Archive for February 2008


New Firefly Novel (Fanfic) Available

I make no effort to hide my passion for Joss Whedon’s Firefly series/universe and the subsequent file Serenity. I may have retired from the Week in Whedon Podcast but my love for the man’s literary works is as strong as ever. If you like exceptional writing, characters and some high adventure you are doing yourself a profound disservice to not have watched the Firefly series. You can get the whole series on DVD for pretty cheap, if you pay $30 for it you didn’t look hard enough. Watch Firefly before Serenity though as you’ll get more out of it.

OK, moving on to the point here. I’m not a huge purveyor of fanfic, I suppose that I have just read some bad stuff in the past and gotten a bad taste for it. Any monkey with a typewriter can write fanfic and the results I’ve read have often struck me as, well, written by a monkey. The new Firefly-verse set novel by Steven Brust is a far cry from the unholy spawn of monkeys and keyboards, and is worth a read.

It is 168 pages of Firefly loving fiction and though I am far from finished, as it is vying for my scant spare time along with George Martin’s “A Clash of Kings”, it seems a fine read to date with the voices of the characters that we enjoyed so much on the show/movie shining through in the book.

Download a copy here:

This has my seal of approval though I find myself oddly bothered by the umlaut in Zoe’s name. Keep it in Blue Öyster Cult, leave it out of Firefly…

Starting a Family Wiki

My long term memory is, well, OK at best. This is not a new development and the age of electronics has enabled me to store the information I want to remember and access it easily so this is not a debilitating personal shortcoming. I’ve embraced it, or at least compensated for it, reasonably as I accepted it and tools evolved.

Years ago my wife and I started recording (on paper) and placing in a box all of the memorable quotes that our children said so we would not forget them. Within a few days of a great quip we always seemed to have trouble remembering exactly what was said. So a decade later we had a treasure trove of hilarity scribbled on scraps of paper stating what someone said, when they said it and what the context was.

I was already using MediaWiki to store notes and pieces of code that I’d written over the years giving me an easy and convenient way to index and refer to that info when we decided to do the same for family info we did not want lost to faulty memories.

We have now been running a family wiki for over a year now and have piles of great information stored away for ourselves in later life or our children or grandchildren to refer to. The wiki format allows us to write a little bit about teachers (favorite and otherwise), crushes, art projects, first roller coasters, what people dressed as for Halloween, what we did on family vacations, favorite family recipes, poems written for school, who coached the basketball team in ‘06, great family practical jokes, those quotes and sayings that everyone has, and ten thousand other things that will be wonderful to flip through and remember in a few decades.

We’ve affectionately named ours the Clio Project in honor of the Greek Muse Clio, the Muse of memory. Now ‘to Clio’ something is a common verb. Well kind of common…

With some dedication the Clio Project is turning into a family treasure as increasingly more information is finding its way into an electronic format anyway and flowing into our data store. MediaWiki supports pictures, files, version control, categories, discussions (handy when my oldest disagrees with my assessment of any given item) in addition to passwording and overall site-access control.

So start early, having great moments documented from their beginning would be a great gift to give your child or grandchild one day. I wish the technology was around back when we started ‘The Box’ as much of the great details over those years have already faded or are fading rapidly now. I’ve found that if you take just 30 minutes a week to make an entry on some topic and it starts to accumulate pretty quickly.

I’ll end this post with a favorite entry from our wiki, from the category ‘Quotes’:

Kevin asked [son] if he wanted a hard-boiled egg for a snack:

[son]: No, I don’t like eggs (pauses) except when they are in cake.

6/17/2005 – [son] almost 5 years old.

Code – Disabling the Enter Key on Web-Forms

I got burned a while back by not having this in place when the submit button in a web-app only appeared under certain circumstances. Place this in the top of a web page to squelch the ENTER key in an INPUT=TEXT in your form. Then they gotta use the button when you say that the time is right =)

<script type="text/javascript">

function stopRKey(keyp) {
  var keyp = (keyp) ? keyp : ((event) ? event : null);
  var node = ( ? : ((keyp.srcElement) ? keyp.srcElement : null);
  if ((keyp.keyCode == 13) && (node.type=="text"))  {return false;}

document.onkeypress = stopRKey;