The One with the Thoughts of Frans

Archive for November, 2011

Why Opera’s XHTML Error Handling Is Superior

I found this old, unfinished post in my drafts. I’m not quite sure when I originally wrote it, but it was over a year ago. Rather than updating the content I decided to publish it as is, as I’m not sure why I didn’t, with a small addendum at the end.

I made a little compilation of the various error messages displayed by browsers upon encountering an XML syntax error. Firefox (Gecko) has the unfriendly looking error on top, Chromium (Webkit) renders the page up to the error, but shows a large error message (albeit not at all useful like in Opera & Fx), and for Opera I included 10.10 and the latest 10.50 pre-alpha build. Note that it’s just the styles behind the error message that changed a bit: the content and helpfulness of the error message is still the same. I’ll run it down a bit more:

  • Firefox displays an error message that’s only useful if you already know sufficiently much about X(HT)ML, whereas Opera’s error message not only highlights more clearly where parsing failed — although ultimately this difference might just be one of preference. More important, its error message might just helpfully link you precisely where you need to go to learn how to avoid it. When I first started messing about with XHTML back in ’03 or so, I probably would’ve appreciated it if Opera had done that. At the time Opera behaved the same as Fx does now.
  • Chromium displays an error message that doesn’t even manage to clearly indicate what’s the problem. This compares negatively to Fx and Opera highlighting the &.
  • Chromium renders the page up to the problem, which may result in a get out of jail free card. The error message doesn’t seem very annoying, but if the error is in the middle of the page it’ll still be in the way. In my sample page it’s at the end, however. (My example page is basically a standard installation of phpGraphy on which I decided to switch to application/xml+xhtml because it claims to be more or less XHTML compliant now — I had to fix all the unclosed meta and link tags first.)
  • Despite rendering the page, you won’t be able to see the page fully in Chromium. You will with Opera’s reparse as HTML function.

I hope that clarifies why I think Opera’s handling is best, both as a user and as an author.

This blog post is now outdated. You can return to the behavior I hailed by disabling the opera:config#UserPrefs|AutomaticallyreparseXHTMLwithparsingerrorsasHTML option.


Multiple Nationalities

I seem to have missed Donner’s latest brilliant idea for a new law. It seems that the Dutch government is looking to limit the number of people with multiple nationalities to a minimum. In today’s NRC Handelsblad Ulli d’Oliveira wrote a great opinion piece about the matter on page 14. Some highlights:

De rabiate weerzin in delen van het politieke spectrum tegen het verschijnsel van de meervoudige nationaliteit heeft een gevolg dat pas laat aan het licht kwam – dezelfde beperkingen aan het behouden van de oorspronkelijke nationaliteit die aan buitenlandse aspirant-Nederlanders worden opgelegd, gelden voor Nederlanders die een buitenlandse nationaliteit willen aannemen. Een petitie met meer dan vijftienduizend handtekeningen van mensen in het buitenland keert zich tegen deze collateral damage.

In het nationaliteitsrecht is het nuttig om politics of identity te onderscheiden van politics of interests. De laatste jaren wordt het Nederlandse nationaliteitsrecht gedomineerd door de vurige wens om aan buitenlanders die Nederlander willen worden eerst de eis te stellen dat ze ideaaltypische Nederlanders zijn geworden. Ze zijn ingeburgerd, spreken de taal, participeren in de samenleving, verdienen behoorlijk, hebben hun startkwalificatie op zak, hebben geen strafblad en zo meer – alsof Nederlandse losers niet bestaan. Deze Nederlandse identiteit mag niet worden bezoedeld door vreemde smetten, zoals een buitenlandse nationaliteit. De identiteit van de would-be-Nederlander moet exclusief Nederlands zijn.

Het wetsontwerp houdt geen rekening met burgers. De argumenten van expats zijn verstandig en invoelbaar. Mensen willen settelen in den vreemde zonder hun Nederlanderschap te verloochenen. Om praktische, zakelijke overwegingen nemen ze een vreemde nationaliteit aan, zonder dat ze erover piekeren hun Nederlandse identiteit weg te snijden. Het zijn dezelfde overwegingen die buitenlanders ertoe brengen om Nederlander te willen worden.

Quick, messy, summarizing translation: the dislike in some parts of the political spectrum against multiple nationalities has an unexpected result: the same limitations that apply to aspiring Dutch apply to Dutch people who wish to assume another nationality.

In recent years Dutch politics has been dominated by demanding that foreigners become idealized Dutch people, part of which is being exclusively Dutch.

The law design doesn’t take citizens into account. The arguments made by expatriates are reasonable and can be empathized with. People want to settle in a foreign country without renouncing their Dutch nationality. For practical reasons they assume a foreign nationality without considering cutting off their Dutch identify. These are the same considerations that make foreigners want to assume the Dutch nationality.

I have little to add to that. The whole shebang about multiple nationalities is ludicrous. Perhaps the Dutch municipalities should stop automatically submitting babies born of Moroccan-Dutch parents for Moroccan nationality if it’s truly a problem of such massive scale — although they might’ve stopped it by now, since I think a some Moroccan-Dutch parents sued Amsterdam over this gross misconduct. Nobody will apply for multiple nationalities just for the heck of it.


Mental Conversations

She remembered the day a furniture van from Portland had shown up with a two-thousand-dollar sectional sofa. Scott had been in his study, writing with the music cranked to its usual deafening levels — she could faintly hear Steve Earle singing “Guitar Town” in the house even with the soundproofing — and interrupting him was apt to do another two thousand dollars’ worth of damage to her ears, in Lisey’s opinion. The furniture guys said “the mister” told them she’d let them know where to put the new piece of furniture. Lisey had briskly directed them to carry the current sofa — the perfectly good current sofa — out to the barn, and place the new sectional where it had been. The color was at least a fair match for the room, and that was a relief. She knew she and Scott had never discussed a new sofa, sectional or otherwise, just as she knew Scott would declare — oh yes, most vehemently — that they had. She was sure he’d discussed it with her in his head; he just sometimes forgot to vocalize those discussions. Forgetting was a skill he had honed (emphasis mine).

From Lisey’s Story by Stephen King (p.148 of the 2006 Scribner hardcover).

My wife alleges I do just that.


Skype Call Recorder

Skype Call Recorder delivers on the promise of its name. It records calls, with the participants split into two separate channels if you want — which you do if you want the option of raising or lowering the volume of one participant.