Internet Exploder

I just noticed my blog looks awful in IE7 and even worse in IE8. Are there any html gurus in the readership that would be kind enough to tell me whats wrong?

Update: I switched to the “classic” theme and then back to the theme I like and the site is now rendering properly in IE7. There appear to be a few icon images missing, I’ll have to dig those up from somewhere.

Austin Trip

My train tickets are confirmed and on their way. Finding a ride and a room in the area are proving to be more of a challenge then getting the transport. Amtrak is fairly simple compared to the airlines – there is only one train that goes there and it only has one schedule; take it or leave it!

From my research, the trains are on their schedule down to the minute – so when Amtrak says I arrive at 7pm, that’s when the train pulls into the station. I don’t know how long it’ll take to unload, or to claim my baggage. Right now I’m thinking I’ll take a rolling suitcase of mostly clothing, and a duffel bag with a few clothes for the train ride and most of my electronic gear. The duffel will stay with me in the roomette and the roller can get checked into the cargo area. I’m impressed at the luggage “restrictions” that Amtrak imposes – each passenger is limited to 5 bags, weighing not more than 50 pounds each. You get two carry-on bags and three pieces of checked luggage. Each piece of checked luggage is limited to 36 by 36 by 36 inches, which I think is a total of nine cubic feet, and I could take three of those! Of course the 50 pound limit kinda gets you there – any kind of crate that big would probably weight more than that.

The best deal on a rental car I’ve found is using a discount code from Amtrak with Hertz. However, the logistics of securing the ride are proving difficult. The auto rental places are all at the airport and the train station is on the other side of town. From what I can see on google, the station is very small – just a little building, a single rail platform and a small parking lot. I think I’ll end up with a cab ride to my motel for the first night, and then a cab or shuttle to the airport the next day.

I’m still on the hunt for rooms; downtown Austin is out of my ballpark, with most rooms costing $150+. I got a laugh that O’Rielly has a deal the the Austin Raddison for $147 a night using the coupon code MAKER – I guess working for a small time tech publication has its perks! The best prices seem to be in the North end of town, and the suburb Round Rock. There is a large shopping mall called the Arboretum that has a mix of high end and low end hotels around it.

Even though it’s more than a month away, I feel the need to start making a list of the things I want to take along.

Maker Faire: Austin

I really enjoy reading the Make website – it’s a great collection of all the DIY stuff that’s going on out there. And all the different events they cover look like fun. So I’m going to the Maker Faire in Austin this fall. I believe the dates are October 18th and 19th. Is anyone else going, are any of my readers from the Austin area? Shoot me a gmail @ gordonthree if you know anything about any of this! I don’t know anything about the Austin area, and the various online mapping tools aren’t offering up a lot of detail either.

The last vacation I took was way back in 2005. I made a road-trip to Florida, to watch the space shuttle’s return to service flight after the Columbia disaster. I got there, hung out with some family for a few days, no space shuttle. So I went down to the keys for a few days, shuttle still was on standby. Spent nearly two weeks, and didn’t achieve much but a decent credit card bill. The drive through the mountains was fun… The road leading from south-eastern Tennessee through North Carolina was really something – winding roads with a sheer mountain face on one side, and a sheer drop off on the other. Mix that with lots and lots of big trucks going way too fast, just enough rain to make the road greasy and twilight from a just-setting sun and you get “white knuckles” kind of fun! On the way back I got to see Corvettes being built and climbed around in the Mammoth Caves system for a few hours.

I bought a new truck this year in June – it is a gas guzzler but the price was unbeatable and with huge tires and four-wheel drive, it’ll be fun in the Northern Michigan snow. However, trying to take a road-trip vacation anywhere with it would get real expensive real fast – 18-20 mpg on the highway at $4/gallon – oh yea! That leaves mass-transit; Originally I was looking at flying from Grand Rapids – the airfare was reasonable and there it was a fairly direct flight with only one lay-over. While I was pondering my options, the price almost tripled. Lower oil prices equal higher airline fares I guess. I could drive to Detroit and fly from there, but that’ll cost a lot of gas money and parking at Metro is not cheap.

My folks suggested I look at taking the train. Originally, I had dismissed the train since it takes thirty hours to cover the roughly 1200 miles. However, after the spike in fares, and reading about the TSA’s crackdown on IEDs, I figured flying might not be the best option, especially if I wanted to take some of my projects along for show-n-tell with other makers should the opportunity arise. With the cost of a sleeperette added in, the rail cost half the cost of first class, but a few hundred more than coach. If I wanted to ride coach, it would be real cheap, but I have reservations about sleeping in “public”, which might occur sometime during the ride. Traveling “first class”, aka, private room / sleeperette, Amtrak is apparently very accommodating. They include a bunch of meals, free pop/water and a generous luggage allowace. The room apparently has 120v outlets for gadgetry, so I don’t need a suitcase of batteries to run a laptop on the journey. To make things more interesting, I’ll be taking a commuter train from Holland to Chicago. To get to Holland on time, I’m looking at a 0530 lauch time. So 30 hours on the long haul train, 3 hrs on a commuter train, 3 hr layover in Chicago between trains and a 2 hour drive to Holland equals roughly 38 hours? That’s a long day!

Anyway – I wanted to write a bit about this so I can get it out of my head – and see if anyone reading the blog knows about the area or show, or is planning on attending? My thoughts are rambling now so I’ll have to recompose things and write some more later.