Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Origin of the Two Most Annoying Things in the World

nonono. not the regrets of James Delingpole's mom, or even the "what have I done note" from Chris Monckton's Latin tutor, to name the two most annoying Brit twits, but the blinK, which as any sane bunny might imagine, was born in a bar

Back in 1994 I was a founding engineer at Netscape, prior to that I had written the Lynx browser, which predated all of the other popular browsers at that time.    Lynx had been and still is a text only browser and is commonly used in a console window on UNIX machines.   At Netscape we were building software that used a graphical user interface and could express vastly more text styles and layouts as well as images and other media.   We spent a lot of time thinking about the future of the web and new technologies that would enable new classes of documents, applications and uses.    A few examples of those thoughts were, HTML Tables, SSL for secure communications, Plugins for extensions, and JavaScript to enable dynamic HTML.

Sometime in late summer I took a break with some of the other engineers and went to a local bar on Castro street in Mountain View.   The bar was the St. James Infirmary and it had a 30 foot wonder woman statue inside among other interesting things.    At some point in the evening I mentioned that it was sad that Lynx was not going to be able to display many of the HTML extensions  that we were proposing,  I also pointed out that the only text style that Lynx could exploit given its environment was blinking text.    We had a pretty good laugh at the thought of blinking text, and talked about blinking this and that and how absurd the whole thing would be.     The evening progressed pretty normally from there, with a fair amount more drinking and me meeting the girl who would later become my first wife.

 Saturday morning rolled around and I headed into the office only to find what else but, blinking text.
There is good news tho, the blinK may be going away but not before claiming a few more victims.  On the other hand, Comic Sans will be with us as long as there are poster sessions.



8 comments:

kT said...

I used it on my dynamic periodic table. It worked well and wasn't annoying at all, since I only used it on a single letter or element symbol on a page. It even survived the migration to Ajax. If you want bad in HTML - one word. Geocities. I ran across a Geocities refugee page a while back, and it was deliciously gaudy. Those were the days.

Russell Seitz said...

Dellers sense of timing has lately betrayed him .

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Since no one else has added this high minded commentary on Comic Sans to the discussion, I might as well...

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/im-comic-sans-asshole

metzomagic said...

I remember that one too, Rattus. Gee, it's nearly 3 years old already. What is it about geeks and memory for trivia, eh? (assuming that you don't mind being referred to as a geek. But if you read McSweeneys, you have to be by definition :-))

metzomagic said...

Obligatory:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX0xi9tpBRI

Monty Python - Upperclass Twit Of The Year

bill said...

Ah, yes, Comic Sans.

But then there's the faux-Orientalist Papyrus - as seen on every A4 flyer in the window at your local Health Food store - or - shudder - Jokerman, the deployment of which is actually a cry for help...

Does blink really work? Thought not.

Anonymous said...

Add one word and you have Microsoft in a nutshell: "Comic Sans value"


And like a flood, their stuff succeeds by shear inundation (detritus and all) rather than due to any real value.

Given how bad his software is, it's actually quite ironic that Bill Gates is no trying to tell public schools how they should be run. The guy is the epitome of a hack.

~@:>

Russell Seitz said...

The video lede illustration sorely tempts me to draw the first Comic Sans Periodic Chart, dealing alphabetically with Aardvarkium, Beeblebroxium, Carborundum, Dididymium , Eka-eyoreium ....