Oblique Strategies

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(Note:  As this is an old post, several of the external links are no longer operative or point the same content they did in 2005)

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Image of old Shockwave version of Oblique Strategies

I updated my Oblique Strategies page today. It was a bit arduous as I was making an effort to update my tired, old HTML skills to XHTML and Style Sheets, and thus foregoing the former ease and bliss of instant results for the rigors of — hopefully — new and improved standards compliance.

If you are into Brian Eno then you already know what these are. If not, you can find out more about them here.

As of May, 2005 my Oblique Strategies page has been up for nine years and, while I wouldn't say it is in the major leagues of heavy hit draws, it has maintained a consistent amount of traffic during all those years and so I've moved it with me from various web hosts and made the effort to update it periodically. It used to be available with downloadable desktop versions for both Mac and Windows, but I no longer keep those up-to-date for the current OS versions, as it would require me to upgrade the authoring software (Macromedia Director) that I used, several leaps in version numbers, and I've pretty much given up Director for video.

But what fun that was, in those early web years, to come up with something that was a pretty big hit in its day. I had a hit counter on the first site, but lost track of the count after I had moved it around to several different hosting servers. The old, broken links still show up in Google on a lot of websites that are still pointing to the original link on Nashville.net. It even still shows up on a really old class syllabus from the Art Institute in Chicago where, apparently, Andrea Polli was teaching at that time. It was a pretty funky little page back then, but it was the first item mentioned after the Introductions and in the category of "Inspirations." She had that absolutely dead on, as the whole idea had come to me from one of the strategies themselves, the one that says, "Mechanicalize Something Idiosyncratic," which is exactly what I then did.

What was more telling, traffic wise, when the desktop versions were still available, was the email I got from those who had downloaded it. The original — quite rare — Oblique Strategies card decks had gained legendary status amongst Eno fans, so an online or desktop version was the only way many would ever see them. Eventually there were several versions to be found. Eno did finally re-released several years ago and I'd like to think we all helped nudged him a little on that. After all, he had the rights to sell them and make some money off of them.

I must add I am eternally grateful that I never heard from any attorneys, as was the case from my very first web site, which was an homage to The Three Stooges in the form of another free give-away known as "Stooge Invaders." Bela Lugosi, Jr., their attorney — I am not making this up — just didn't understand free publicity.

But what made the day grueling and then somewhat rewarding, in an odd sort of way, was that I discovered a bug in Apple's Safari browser.

My intent, early today, was to turn my Oblique Strategies page into a blog post here in the Carbon Harbor Journal and simply use the old page to redirect traffic this way, but I ran into two problems. The first one was that I realized that, at this early state in this new blog, the Oblique Strategies post would end up on the same page as the Music Video, thus creating a lot of noise. The second problem, however, was the one that turned out to be a bug.

I discovered that if you display an embedded Shockwave movie in the page as a Quicktime movie or even in a different tab of the same Safari window, it causes the Quicktime movies to get all screwed up and play outside of their own little display windows.

At first I just assumed it was a problem with my antiquated HTML skills and something I was doing terribly wrong or out of bounds of standards (the EMBED tag has never been WC3 compliant even though it works great as is used all but universally). Finally, after hacking away at it for hours, it occurred to me to see what would happen if I looked at somebody else's movies and Shockwave pages (like Apple's movie trailer pages ) and then somebody else's Shockwave page, like Macromedia's test page) and, BINGO!, it wasn't my code at all -- unless we are all making the same mistake.

So, it wasn't what I had planned on, but I guess it was a small accomplishment for the day.

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