ZedneWeb / Update (1996-1998)

ZedneWeb Update

A record of all changes in ZedneWeb (since 10 April 1997), the reasons for some of those changes, and whatever thoughts I wish to discuss while I'm at it. Presented in reverse-chronological order.

14 September 1998

Jed Hagen's home page has a new URL because of some foul-up with his net-hosting arrangement. I think I've managed to fix all the links to it, but feel free to point out any I missed.

I also updated the URL for the Sfstory archive, which has been pointing at the wrong address for a while now. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be working right now. More news when it becomes available.

Experimental Version of "Buzz Williams"

I've posted an experimental HTML-based version of "Space Commander Buzz Williams". Since there's already an ASCII version availble in the library, I'm trying to make an HTML version better enough to justify the effort in making the conversion. As a result, I'm using unicode to provide things like em dashes and quotation marks. If your browser doesn't support them, well, that's what the ASCII version is for.

For the full effect, you'll need a browser with decent style-sheet support. That will give you effects like indented paragraphs and margins. Unfortunately, browser support for CSS is weak and there's a bunch of hacks put in to work around problems. Sigh.

Other Projects Advance Slowly

I'm afraid I don't have a lot of progress to report for my other projects. Aside from starting a new semester of classes, I'm also keeping busy as new de-facto webmaster for PSSFS. If you haven't checked out the site recently, you might want to visit. I've been slowly remaking it in my image.

I haven't actually written anything for Starcruiser Anonymous #21 lately, but I am still working on it. In the meantime, I've started writing more detailed outline for my next project, code-named Sigma. I've also managed to dream up a workable premise for Starcruiser Anonymous II, which I expect to begin posting sometime around the year 2525 (provided, of course, that Man is still alive).

I'd hoped to have some information up about Yoko Kanno, a Japanese composer I've been listening to a lot recently, but it's not quite done yet and it was holding things up. I'll try to get it in next time.

12 August 1998

First things first: I've redone the other sites page, changing some wording and adding two more categories of sites. I still consider it incomplete, but it's getting better.

Less importantly, I fiddled with the formatting of the previous entry.

Thoughts on Otakon 1998

I was at Otakon last weekend, so I guess I can't call myself a casual anime fan any more. (Anime is the Japanese word for animation, and refers specifically to Japanese animation among English-speaking fans.) About 2500 other people showed up, so I'm in good company.

While there, I got a chance to watch some shows I hadn't been able to see before and I got to hear people in the industry talk about what was going on. Most eye-opening, for me, were the various panels about dubbing. I've always preferred to buy subtitled editions, reasoning that dubbing hasn't lived up to its potential. I'm no longer certain that's true in all cases. I saw a clip from a dubbed parody series called Shinesman, and it was hilarious. As for any changes... that's what liner notes and obsessive friends are for.

I also picked up some CDs, including the soundtrack for Cowboy Bebob, an SF series created by Shoji Kawamori and scored by Yoko Kanno (both of whom have previously worked on Macross Plus and Escaflowne). Despite not being a big jazz fan, I'm really enjoying it. If only I could see the series the music is written for....

Speaking of Shoji Kawamori, I didn't get to spend a lot of time at his panel, but I did get his autograph. From what I saw, he seems like a pleasant fellow. Makes some good anime, too.

Finally: after seeing the Evangelion movies, I never need to see them again. (Unless I'm with someone who can explain what was going on. Now I can appreciate how people who saw 2001 without having read the novel felt.)

24 July 1998

The long, long wait is over! Episode 20 of Starcruiser Anonymous has been released! It's a long one, too. Just over 50K(!). With the exception of episode 19, that's over twice the length of any preceeding episode.

To celebrate the release of episode 20, which not-too-coincidentally falls on the second anniversary of the series, I've also updated the Starcruiser Anonymous site, adding a description of the story and setting, its distribution and copyright information, and a quick guide to Sfstory for those readers unfamiliar with the series's heritage. The cast list has also been updated.

While I was at it, I redid the episode descriptions on the main Starcruiser Anonymous page. Again. They're even more succinct now.

I also updated the ZedneWeb Library page. It still needs work, but I'll save that for the future.

Lastly, I've redone the navigation aids and page titles for the site. I'm starting to make more liberal use of hiliting and link titles.

I hope to update the shared universes page next, but I've been wanting to update that for months now. We'll see what happens.

13 July 1998

I'd been saving this for some more wide-ranging updates, but it looks like those are still a ways off. Nothing major this time. I've updated the style sheet a bit to be more compatible with the Windows version of IE 4.0, which is generally the most accurate where CSS is concerned. This makes nested lists look a little silly in Navigator, but that seems a small price to pay.

Also new are corrected addresses on the Other Sites page for Jed Hagen and Tim Regewitz, both of whom have graduated college and moved on to new web hosting arrangements. Jed tells me he may get his Penn State by Night pages hosted on the Penn State alumni servers. When I recieve news, I'll post it here.

You may have noticed that these updates are getting more wordy. I'm considering turning this page into a sort of news page or pseudo-webzine. It mostly depends on whether I can come up with material regularly. I considered calling it "ZedneNews", but then I came to my senses.

On the Sfstory front, work continues on Starcruiser Anonymous. I recently cut about a third of episode 20 which I felt wasn't contributing to the story and wasn't particularly funny. Since then, I've made up for it with new material. Assuming I ever finish, 20 will most likely be the longest episode yet. Surprisingly, episode 21 has also made some progress. Hey, when the muse gives you the inspiration, you don't complain if it's out of sequence.

Outside of ZedneWeb, the New York Times had an article discussing the appeal of video games. Unfortunately, you must register to read it, and non-US residents evidently have to subscribe. (Like its any more expensive to sent the signals out of the country. Sigh.)

3 June 1998

Here we go again: two months of nothing, then Dave suddenly dumps a ton of changes all at once.

Good news for those of you waiting for episode 20 of Starcruiser Anonymous: I've actually managed to get some work done on it. Not a lot though—things are still moving inconsistently, and I've just started a summer internship, which is what got me out of the habit of writing last summer (or, at least, what I like to blame). I've also gotten a fresh start on my post-SA series, currently code-named "Sigma". It looks pretty good, but don't expect it anytime soon.

Outside ZedneWeb, Salon Magazine has an article on Starcraft, using it to discuss the idea of a video game with a complex, engaging plot. It reminds me of why I like Marathon so much.

Speaking of Marathon, the Macintosh Gamer's Ledge reports that Bungie has finally given some hints about the game Bungie West has been quietly developing. It's evidently called Oni and features a female lead character named Konoko, an elite police agent who is sent to destroy an asian crime syndicate. Of course, Bungie is providing tons of dark, mysterious backstory to go along with it. The art is said to be anime-influenced. I can't be alone in thinking "Anime + Female + Oni = Urusei Yatsura", but I imagine the similarities end there.

Back in ZedneWeb, this page's "Future Possibilities" section is gone—not because ZedneWeb has no future, but because the section wasn't being updated and hadn't changed in so very long. It was depressing me.

Once again, I have changes I'd like to make in the near future. I'm not holding my breath, though.

24 March 1998

(Insert comment about time flying.)

Changes this time are oddly familiar...

To be honest, I liked the idea of the SA episode teasers more than I liked the actual implementation, so I've rewritten them to be shorter and (hopefully) more focused.

Based on some reading I've done regarding web design, I've also reorganized the structure of a few pages to put the most interesting or recent information towards the top of the page.

As for the color scheme change, I liked the old one but it had two irritating problems. First, no browser can print white-on-black pages sensibly (you either waste ink or can't see the text). Second, Internet Explorer 3.0 honored the background color but ignored the text color. The new black-on-white scheme is intended to reduce or eliminate those problems.

4 February 1998

I was hoping to get this up in January, but you know how laziness is. The most visible changes this time around are:

Behind the scenes, I'm working to make ZedneWeb fully HTML 4.0 compliant. Aside from the main page, which is HTML 4.0-transitional, I'm shooting for the strict DTD. Oddly enough, this means removing presentational code like ALIGN="center" from the pages themselves; that functionality is being handled by the style sheets.

What this means is that ZedneWeb pages will no longer force browsers to display pages in a certain way. Users are free to configure display as much as their software will allow. I do provide a set of stylesheets that I think look nice, but you'll need a CSS-aware browser to use them. (This includes most of the recent browser releases, fortunately.)

Switching to HTML 4.0 also gives me the option to exploit Unicode's expanded character set, specifically the ability to use real quotation marks instead of straight quotes. While many recent browser releases have Unicode support, I'm not sure if it's widespread enough to make a difference. (If you see real quotation marks around “this phrase”, then your browser has at least partial Unicode support.)

Hopefully more to come in the near future. (But don't hold your breath.)

16 December 1997

Only a little over a month between updates this time; I'm getting better. Not only that, there's actually some new content this time.

For those of you with CSS-capable browsers, the new style sheet makes some pretty dramatic changes in the way ZedneWeb looks. The dark blue on white color scheme is gone, replaced by a light gray on black sceme. In addition to looking cool (to me, at least), this scheme minimizes the number of lit pixels, which is nice, if you consider that a CRT is basically an electron gun pointed at your face. Plus, I'm told it's easier on the eyes. (This is also why I'm not using white on black, the high contrast is actually harder to read. Go figure.)

Beyond that, I've added color to the headers, which makes them stand out and provides some relief from the uniform color scheme. This page, especially, looks pretty neat. This style sheet, like the previous one, owes a heavy debt to the Web Design Group, which provides extensive references and uses a style sheet that inspired this one.

Of course, if your browser lacks CSS support, the site looks pretty much the same. While I could go through and update each BODY tag, I don't really want to. Don't worry, though. I'm comitted to keeping ZedneWeb readable (at the very least) in all major (and most minor) browsers. CSS-support just makes it look nicer.

2 November 1997

Another fun, super-long gap in the update process. The problem with doing massive overhauls is all the little things that crop up, like pages that you're really not too pleased with so you put off the update until you can get it "just right". Finally, I remembered the ZedneWeb Credo: Waiting for perfection means nothing ever gets finished. So ... there's not that much new stuff here, but if you're using a CSS-capable browser, it'll look nicer. (Whee!)

1 August 1997

There's a long gap here, during which I added the counter to the main page. (I didn't consider it a major change, so I can't recall when exactly I added it.)

27 May 1997

26 May 1997

19 May 1997

10 April 1997

Sometime in Spring 1996...

The creation of ZedneWeb. As I wasn't keeping records, I'm not sure when the first page went up. Oh well.

David Menendez, zednenem@alumni.psu.edu
Updated 12 August 1998