(2003 to 2005)

Active Desktop and Text Size

Sun Jan 18 19:12:00 UTC+1100 2004


I've had a problem with my blog, that the content can take sometime to generate when the page hasn't been viewed for sometime. In my view this is likely the result of the way .Text has been implemented, and I'd prefer software that had been written using a less RDBMS driven approach, but rather a more hierarchically driven approach, using either the file system and/or XML data stores.

Nevertheless, I am grateful that someone else has created the software for me, and I use it. I have my 'home page' in my browser set to my blog. Prior to having my blog I have religiously used 'about:blank' as my home page, loathing the 1 or 2 seconds of wasted time while the main page loaded. Since I havea fast network connecting me to my public web server (1Gb Ethernet) I shouldn't really have any speed problems, but I do. The reason is that the content needs to generate dynamically. There is a caching mechanism, but this doesn't help when the cache expires, etc.

Since I like my home page being my blog, and I loathe the 4-6 second slowdown while I wait for it to load, I created a static HTML file that frames my blog and does a meta refresh periodically just to keep the web server on its toes. This is definitely a hack, but it works. I could have this page opened in a browser, but I really don't like clutter in my task bar. I guess another hack option would be to throw together an application that just polled my blog periodically with a HTTP request and run it as a windows service, but I couldn't be bothered doing that just yet.

I'm happy to host my meta refresh / frame hack on my Active Desktop and just let it keep my blog 'ready to go'. This has the added bonus of showing my blog on my desktop and has been working fine for me for the last two or three days. There was one problem that was annoying that I haven't been able to fix, and that is that using the frame option, regardless of the amount of screen area that I give the Active Desktop content I can't get it to stop rendering a horizontal scroll bar. I'm sure this is just a frame/element percentage sizing problem of sorts, and I'm sure it could be resolved somehow, but a few attempts at doing so have been fruitless and I'm not inclined to spend time worrying about it. In short I resolved to live with this minor bug which is probably no fault of the software, just my HTML content.

One thing that has happened just right now though, after having happily had this as a solution for the past few days, is that the text size used to render the content has been set to 'Largest' and I can't seem to change this. It is only effecting the content in the Active Desktop window, and not other Internet Explorer windows. I ensured that all content in my blog used relative font sizes (i.e. EM) to allow the text size to be scaled at the users whim, and I hate it when web sites use explicit font sizes that prohibit me from doing this.

It seems that now I'm being shot in the foot for this though, since I can't seem to find the settings in my software that allow me to manipulate this setting for Active Desktop content. I have no idea what I did that caused the content to change in the first place. I suspect that I used CTRL-<Mouse Wheel> to change it at some point, but the odd thing is that even if I use CTRL-<Mouse Wheel> to change it back, the text size reverts to 'Largest' again on the next meta refresh. I've had the problem for a whole 10 minutes now, and am loathe to attempt a reboot to see if I can get the problem to magically 'disappear'. It kind of looks like a weird Internet Explorer / Active Desktop bug to me, so I guess the old reboot is still likely the solution. Just when I was getting use to the idea that it wasn't, now I've wasted five minutes writing this message, and will have to waste 10 minutes rebooting my computer, in the odd chance that I can make the problem go away.

While I'm on it, the w3c validator doesn't like the validity of the HTML content served by my blog, and neither do I. I considered investing the many hours necessary to try and fix this, but decided against it for now. I'm really unhappy with the .aspx extensions to my content, and there are a few other things that I'm miffed about, so at this stage I reckon I'll give myself a year or two to get the hang of how I want to use my blog, then I'll write my own software to do it 'the way I want to do it' -- when I know what this is. If I'm going to break the links, I reckon I should only ever do it once, and frankly I'd like a strategy that allowed me to keep the old link mappings and a robust 'new' strategy. Since this will be more than a day or twos work, I'm just going to have to put it off for now. I'm pretty sure I could trivially change this using my existing software, but ultimately I'd prefer a file based, custom approach to working with my content, so for now I'm just going to live with everything as-is and eagerly await the day that it all changes.

End of gripe.


Copyright © 2003-2005 John Elliot