Wednesday, December 19, 2012

HTML - span background-color --- div border element





A Custom "TRNN" Video Playlist:

TRNN's, "The Making of Untold History of the United States"

This customized playlist is based on "The Real News Networks' multipart series on American Foreign Policy and the left-wing in America - "The Making of "Untold History of the United States". TRNN Executive Producer Paul Jay interviews Professor Peter Kuznick, Professor of History at American University - who along with Hollywood Director Oliver Stone have co-written a new "Showtime" series called, "Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States" - currently airing on Showtime Network in the United States. The TV series has an accompanying book also co-written by the collaborators - "The Untold History of the United States".

The series, and these interviews, un-pack the history of the US cold war on the USSR, going back to arguably, the first imperial military action by the United States of America - the Spanish / American War (1898) - in which Cuba and the Philippines were  annexed from the Spanish Empire, and brought into a U.S. sphere of influence. (In the case of the Philippines only after the U.S. military brutally over-threw an insurgent revolutionary government and replaced the Spanish as Colonial Masters (see Philippine-America WarFirst_Philippine_Republic).

The struggle between the new Socialist country of the U.S.S.R. (1917) and the emerging US Empire are looked at with professional detachment - and plenty of sources and fact-checking (insisted upon, and conducted by Showtime Network) - that reveals a remarkably different history of the Cold War than is taught in our schools - one without the hysteria of the post WWII nuclear threat, that coupled with a virulent anti-communist xenophobia inside the United States during the  post WWII era.

This video playlist will continue to grow as new parts of these interviews with Professor Peter Kuznick are released by TRNN.

The Making of "Untold History of the United States"

Untold History: Stalin, the Soviet Union and WWII
Peter Kuznick (co-author with Oliver Stone of Showtime's Untold History of the United States): Dealing with the role of the Soviet Union in WWII was the most sensitive and complicated issue faced by the series
  January 14, 2013
Untold History: The Coup Against Wallace and What Might Have Been
Peter Kuznick (co-author with Oliver Stone of the Untold History of the United States): A Wallace Presidency might have prevented the dropping of nuclear bombs on Japan and prevented the Cold War
  January 11, 2013

Untold History: The Rise and Fall of a Progressive Vice-President of the USA
Peter Kuznick, co-author with Oliver Stone of the "Untold History of the United States", discusses the '44 Democratic Convention coup that dumped VP Henry A. Wallace, the man who as President would have opposed the cold war
  December 21, 2012

Untold History: Early US Imperialism, Hitler, Roosevelt, The Spanish Civil War
Peter Kuznick, co-author with Oliver Stone of Untold History of the United States, discusses Roosevelt's attitude towards Hitler and the Soviet Union
  December 19, 2012

The Making of "Untold History of the United States"
The beginning of a multi-part interview with Peter Kuznick; in this segment he tells the story about how he teamed up with Oliver Stone to challenge a primary thesis of the cold war
  December 17, 2012

Also, separate from the TRNN series, this two part interview from Democracy Now! - Amy Goodman and Juan González talk with Showtime series Co-writer, Professor Peter Kuznick and Writer, Producer, Director Oliver Stone - from November 16, 2012

Democracy Now! | "Oliver Stone on the Untold U.S. History from the Atomic Age to Vietnam to Obama’s Drone Wars" (part 1 of  2)

Democracy Now! | "Oliver Stone on the Untold U.S. History from the Atomic Age to Vietnam to Obama’s Drone Wars" (November 16, 2012) |

Democracy Now! | "Part 2 of Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick on The Untold History of the United States" (November 26, 2012) |

BONUS!!!  The first part of the Showtime series is up right now! :)

Oliver.Stones.Untold.History.Of.The.United.States - Episode 1 (58:37)


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Bicycle Messenger Movie" a glimpse into the deep subculture of Bicycle Messengering

Best Messenger movie I've ever seen.

Youtube: "Kenton Hoppas" | Bicycle Messenger Movie - a Kenton Hoppas film (16:12) |


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Networking Non-profits effectively - 'The Real News' experience

An Open Letter

The Real News Network
Re: Web Design, Web Optimization, Web Page Coding

Michael Holloway
Web Developer
TRNN Ambassador
TRNN Blog Squad

Firstly, from a meeting of TRNN Ambassadors - in Toronto, 2010, I understand that your strategy is to drive eyes to the main site - - I question whether this should be a focus for a non-profit - when your content and a link to Donate page can be posted anywhere on the net. But I do understand the value of the main site in presenting all the content in one place, and creating the TRNN brand --- I think it is AS important as networking TRNN content - but not MORE so.

A TRNN story has yet to 'go viral' - I think this is a function of ineffective networking. I believe TRNN content is spread mainly though the Social Tools, via *links* in micro-blogging applications like Twitter; and link posts in democratic, social news forums like Reddit and Digg; and *embeds* in blogs like Blogger  and WordPress, and in social networking platforms like Facebook and Google+ .

TRNN needs to optimize it's content pages to help "Blog Squad" members spread TRNN content with these tools.

Whether you think that driving eyes to the web site is paramount - or if you see my point about spreading your content as far and as wide as possible - some small changes I propose below will make both meme work better.

Please help the Blog Squad do their work, with these easy coding changes at and at your Youtube Channel, "TheRealNews":

Every time someone watches TRNN content they have the opportunity to donate via your well placed Donate Buttons. The more people who see TRNN stories, the greater the number of people who are likely to donate. Therefor spreading TRNN stories as widely as possible is key to the health of the network. I believe that TRNN stories are spread through the internet via people embedding or linking TRNN video in the social tools.

The Youtube user interface is the standard for linking video in the social tools.

Democracy Now! has the metric inside Youtube correct, I think.

Under each story that "Democracy Now!" posts in Youtube - in the video's description area (which allows live links) - they add a brief description of the item, and the following 'set copy' - and all the links they can think of to their web presence:


To watch the entire weekday independent news hour, read the transcript, download the podcast, search our vast archive, or to find more information about Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman, visit

Democracy Now!, an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on 1,100+ TV and radio stations Monday through Friday.

Twitter: @democracynow
Subscribe on YouTube:
Listen on SoundCloud:
Daily Email News Digest:

Please consider supporting independent media by making a donation to Democracy Now! today, visit

At portal - some suggestions as well:

The 'Embed this Video' link under each video at should open the link in new tab or window, or in a pop-up (some way that leaves the content window open). As it is now, clicking on the embed button closes the content window. When a TRNN 'Blog Squad' team member is Crafting their embed, they need the story page open (in order to cut and paste content from the transcript (to create accurate, correctly spelled copy; correct spelling of names and organizations - to ensure proper placement in Search); link the URL at; grab the handy description of TRNN that you have at "About" tab (this description should be under each video wherever you post content).

The embed widget at, is clunky and unprofessional looking. Adding a "width" and "height" attribute to the coding for the "Embed Video" "grab this code" Form, would make the page look a lot better (now it's set to the W3C default, form setting).

Michael Holloway
Leslieville, Toronto


Friday, December 14, 2012

HTML - background colour change in a sized box using the "span" tag in Blogger

In my opinion Blogger has taken a step backward with the new Blogger Interface - but then my vision of what a blogging interface could be, might be different than those at Blogger. The new interface for example, will not accept CSS; and because all the Blogger Interface widgets run on JavaScript, it can't - and never could - employ user generated, JavaScript, Interface-level creative tools.

Since Firefox launched it's 4.0 Browser - changes to background colour in Blogger have been executed with-in the "span" tag. Before this the 'Text background color' widget in the Blogger Compose interface would change any "background-color;" - inside any tag. Now the widget only works with-in "span" tags --- and "span" tags are very limited as to what attributes they work with.

My goal today was to change the background colour of a box in Blogger with the existing "Text background color" widget - and I'm happy to announce, I've succeeded! :)

This coding will be incorporated into the Blogger Baseball Scorecard coding - so I can use colour notations in any browser when scoring games.

I'm hoping Blogger will institute a 'background area colour change' capability some day - for those of us who want to create more than just words with html in the Blogger Interface. The html5 "canvass" tag holds promise here - but html5 as a popular coding tool is still a few years away I think. Blogger can't support html5 canvass applications in the "Compose" interface because of JavaScript conflicts.

In my opinion Blogger has taken a step backward with the new Blogger Interface - but then my vision of what a blogging interface could be, might be different than those at Blogger. The new interface for example, will not accept CSS, and because all the Blogger Interface widgets run on JavaScript, it can't - and never could - employ user generated, JavaScript, Interface-level creative tools.

"Span" is 'different' than other tags. W3C calls "span", a "generic container", or more specifically, an "inline level generic container".(W3C | "Generic containers - the div and span elements" |

By playing around with it in Blogger tonight I have discovered that "span" will take attributes other than just "background-color" - it also allows other text related attributes - like "font-size", "line-height" and "margin".

Weird thing about "span" - each tag allows only one attribute (Inside Blogger), and then a closing tag after the content. To add more attributes to the same content one must add another "span" tag before the content, with a different attribute, and then a second closing tag at the end of the statement. One may not span other statements tagged with anything other than a span tag.

In this example the "background-color" is "white". I have coded four "span" tag elements in a row - holding colour, line-height, font-size and margin - followed by four blank spaces, and then four closing "span" tags.


The box is a "div" container around four "span" tags that render four 100px high, blank spaces - background coloured "white". With this coding I can change the colour of the area inside the box with the "Text background color" widget in Blogger's "Compose" interface. This is accomplished with three clicks: high-light the area inside the box (left-click and drag); click on the "Text background color" button; select a colour from the pallet. (See four coloured examples below.)

And though an accident I also discovered an obvious truth, one can colour each character in the same word a different colour. So in this coding the browser renders a specific, changeable colour in an empty box. In this example the font-size and the line-height are both set to 100px, and the text that I'm background colouring are blank spaces - so in this case with a box of this size, you can colour a box as many as four different colours!


There is no limit to the size that you can set the "font-size" and "line-height" to - so any sized box you like. By increasing the font-size and line-height (only bigger than the container size), one can make the 'swaths' of colour wider and narrower. By adjusting "margin" you can move them left and right.


Correction: Apparently I can add multiple attributes per "span" tag, and close "span" tags in-line --- as in the example above (highlight, view selection source).


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Toronto Public Library's collections agency - Unique Management Services Inc - Destroying user's Credit over minuscule Book Fines

#TPL, #Library, #Toronto, #UserFees, #MayorFord, #CollectionAgency, #CreditBureau #IKEAmonkey

UPDATE - Tuesday December 18, 2012: Received an email from Jones Branch Head Librarian Cathy yesterday - reassuring me that these types of collections do not result in reports to Credit Bureaus - and thus, this will not effect my credit rating.

I still have lots of concerns about this new collections policy at Toronto Public Library and will continue to work on the story and keep readers updated.


With out any legal notice, and in less than 90 days, a book I'd forgotten I'd borrowed from the Toronto Public Library - went from tagged, 'Over-due'; to 'Lost' - and then quickly after that to collection via an outsourced, U.S. based, collection agency!

I received no notice by mail (still the legal standard) that the book was considered lost; and no warning that if it was not returned by a certain date a collections agency would be called in. Today in the mail (the only snail-mail I have ever received from TPL) a letter informing me that Unique Management Services, Inc. was on my case over fines totalling $31.40!

I note that the link warning of changes in the Fines Regime that TPL has had posted for over a year on their online Accounts management pages, does not mention this important change in policy. If I had seen a notice that collection agencies would be employed over small fines I certainly would have read the new language in the contract between TPL and it's users.

Today I'm REALLY sorry I didn't - for I am quite certain that a bad credit report has been added to my Credit Bureau rating.

Unbeknownst to me - along with a new, higher over-due fees schedule - any account owing greater than $30.00 for more than 50 days - gets passed over to an out-sourced Collection Agency!

In this new (1995) neo-con economic meme, a bad mark on my credit report means I'm one step closer to being a 'Second Class Citizen' - and that my credit card may not work at the grocery store next time; and that my bank may increase my interest rates on loans I have with them --- all because of a misplaced book!!!

This marks a sea-change from the old meme ... the meme where there was essentially no collection process for small over-due accounts; a meme where there was a 'Grace Day' (a day once a year when you can return all over-due items without any questions or fines - they just want the book back) --- to now, a dog-eat-dog meme where money is more important than everything on earth - including reading and community building.

I returned the book in question (Palestine - by Joe Sacco) on Monday, December 10, 2012 - and today - two days later - I received a letter from TPL (dated December 4, 2012 - looks like it was lost for a week inside Canada Post) saying my account has been sent to Unique Management Services, Inc. (Library Division) for collection!

Unique Management Services, Inc. (Library Division)
119 East Maple Street  Jeffersonville, IN 47130, United States

So now a collection agency from the United States possibly has all my information - my address, my full name and date of birth. This - above what happens to my credit rating - is what has me in a dither. Libraries are a cornerstone of the enlightenment - Librarians and management are honour bound to keep information about what users read completely secrete. It's part of of our freedom of speech protections now in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) - and in the US First Amendment (ratified by Congress December 15, 1791).

Plus the fact that all this has happened in less than 90 days (as per normal practice, accounts are legally due on the day a good is shipped [in this case on the day the book was due back] - but vendors generally wait 90 days to receive payment).

Image: Toronto Public Library, 'Your Account' page notes $5.00 Unique Management Services Inc service fee

Image: Toronto Public Library, 'Your Account' page notes $5.00 Unique Management Services Inc service fee

Just now I went to my local Branch (Jones) and talked to 'Cathy'. I didn't ask, but I assumed Cathy was the senior Librarian on duty when I visited.

I asked her how much information about me TPL had given Unique Management Services, Inc.. Do they have access to what books I have read? Do they have my name, address and birth date? Will this effect my credit rating? If I fix the problem immediately does the collections black mark come off my name at the Credit Bureau?

Cathy said she would look into all these things and get back to me via email (I don't do phone). I look forward to the follow-up.

In researching I found a nice blog on collection agencies, and an article on this Library Collection Agency in particular -

Fighting Collection Agency Debt | "Unique National Collections" | August 12, 2010 |

According to - Unique Management Services, Inc. is also known as:
Unique National Collections, Unique Rural Recoveries, Unique Organization Recoveries, Unique National Collections, Unique Municipal Recoveries, Unique Management Services, Inc., Unique Management Services, Inc., Unique Library Services, Unique International Recoveries, Unique Ag Recoveries; - "Unique Management Services, Inc." -

The article linked above, from 2012, is about Unique National Collections - which is in the same business as today's Unique Management Services, Inc. - and as the two are connected in the Wiki (who's sources are government business licensing bodies), and the names are almost identical, and they are in the same niche business (Library Collections); and (as the article points out) the word "Collections" in the name of the earlier incarnation left that company open to law suits (because they don't follow the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's Fair Debt Collection Practices Act - FDCPA) - I therefore assume these two differently named entities are one and the same company.

Thanks Mayor Ford. Your knee-jerk 'cut the waist' bull has landed on this voter's lap (and this 'belt-tightening' at the TPL was plan 'B', after the vast majority rejected cutting the Library budget to a level that would have closed branches).

Think what a sh*t storm would have happened to the electorate if all his cuts had gone through. 

"Services will not be cut, guaranteed" - he says during the 2010 election - yeah, right.

Thanks a lot 'Monkey Boy'.

Photo-shop Image via Jakob on Facebook