Jeffrey Zeldman Presents The Daily Report

In today’s Report:
Valley of Shadows
Anno Dominey
Reservocation 16
Pingo was his name-o
Me Print Pretty One Day

Valley of shadows

New York City, 19 April, 6:50 a.m. We wake to a wailing chorus of sirens. On the street below, police cars, fire trucks, and “special” vehicles race west. At eight they are still wailing, lights flashing, as we approach the Empire State Building. Cross streets are blocked off, cops reroute motorists. In the near distance, a helicopter hovers.

Later we learn there was a train wreck in Penn Station. Just an accident. By noon the temperature has soared to 87°—as if the very weather were trying to fast-forward past these days of fear.

Anno Dominey

Todd Dominey, designer of one of the most appealing commercial sites ever, has released the Flash slide show source for his “dynamic, cross-fading image loader” as a free download. The package includes the Flash and SWF image loaders, a folder of JPEGs you can replace with images appropriate to your project, an XML file you can edit to replace Todd’s images with yours, and an XHTML file that loads the slide show, which you can also edit easily.

The free package won’t make any of us as good as Todd Dominey, but it will provide a head start on any project that requires a cross-fading image loader. Use Drew McLellan’s famous Flash Satay to convert from bloated, proprietary embed and object tags and attributes to minimal, valid XHTML, and read ALA 143 for tips on making your Flash file accessible. Your client will think you are a wizard.

Reservocation 16

Issue No. 16 of Reservocation Magazine (“Design Blah-Blah”) sports a Designers Republic Exhibit, the illustration work of James Quigley, and a guest editorial on Type on the Web featuring Todd Dominey, Gabe Kean, Jim Coudal, Craig Kroeger, and yours truly.

Pingo was his name-o

There a number of services designed specifically for tracking and connecting blogs. However it would be expensive for all the services [to] crawl all the blogs in the world all the time. By sending a small ping to each service you let them know you’ve updated so they can come check you out.

Pingo-matic lets you ping them all with one click. It’s new. It’s free. And it will soon have additional features. (But it will always be free.) We’re using Pingo-matic right now. It just works. Pingo-matic is a Dougal CampbellMatt Mullenweg production, dahling.

Me print pretty one day

Because many people have asked, I will tell you that after a disastrous first upgrade to Panther, I performed an Archive and Install and it worked. Kind of. The Installer said it was doing an Archive and Install. It did indeed create an Old System folder. And the Mac booted and worked. But it booted with my add-on items and preferences intact, instead of moving them to the Old System folder.

Restoring some third-party applications to operability took a few days of jiggering, including visits to Terminal, Apple’s window to OS X’s Unix underpinnings. But eventually my computer was working again, so I could, too.

And then I made the tragic mistake of letting Software Update install OS X 10.3.3, an update to the system that was supposed to “improve compatiblity with third-party applications” and was strongly recommended by just about every authority in the realm of desktop publishing, as well as by Apple itself.

And now I cannot print.

Let me be clear. I could print before upgrading to 10.3.3.

Let me be clearer: the printer drivers are installed. The Mac automatically recognizes not only connected printers but all printers on the network, spelling out their names and model numbers and the drivers it is using to make them function (or would be, if printing worked).

The Mac is so smart it detects the Bluetooth-enabled cell phone in my friend’s pocket when he visits. He can control my Mac with his phone. This Mac practically turns on my coffee maker and tells me when the dog needs a walk. But print it cannot.

What happens: you hit Print, the Print dialog box opens, it says it is printing, and then it says “Job Stopped” and does not print.

Then there’s this: if you delete the printers from Printer Setup and then “find” and re-select them, you can print one document from a printer connected to another Mac on the network. But only one document: you cannot print again unless you open Printer Setup and delete your printers and find them again and re-select them again. Who has time for such nonsense?

A Macworld expert had the same problem after upgrading to Panther, and fixed it by opening the Sharing panel of System Preferences and turning on “Share my printer.” I guess the theory being you need to tell the Mac to share the printer that is connected to it with itself or else it won’t. Not very Mac-like. Sticking the magic button that enables printing inside a control panel that has nothing to do with printing (and leaving the ability to print off by default) is the kind of thing Windows user complain about, and rightfully so. Not intuitive. But in any case, it didn’t work.

Apple’s Help application says if you can’t print you need to install the drivers from Disks 2 and 3 of the installation package. Which I did before upgrading to 10.3.3. If I do it again, I’ll be downgrading to 10.3.2. That doesn’t seem like the thing to do.

I also manually copied the Epson and HP printer driver folders from Old System: Library to the new system and restarted. Nada.

Here is what I do for now: When I need to print, I copy my file to the Drop Box of another Mac on the network (a Mac that uses Jaguar), then walk over to that Mac and print. It’s not that I mind the exercise, it’s that a recommended “upgrade” broke a basic, essential function of the machine I use to support my family. It’s like an oil change flattening your tires. Eventually, surely, through Unix or a reinstall or the deletion of some corrupted cache file, I’ll be able to fix the problem. My problem is not so much how do I solve this problem. My problem is why does this problem exist in a computing system renowned for its ease of use. The existence of the problem is the problem.

My other problem is that I’m writing about a Macintosh problem. Which is dull for most of you. Some Windows users will link to this entry as “proof” that their system is, if not better, at least no worse than a Mac. Hundreds of Mac users will write to me to tell me they haven’t read my whole piece but obviously I did something wrong and everybody knows the way to fix the printing problem is to do something I already did and described in a paragraph they didn’t bother to read because they were too busy “nailing” me for “bashing” the Mac.

Then again, when political dialogue has turned into name-calling, one can’t expect nuanced discourse from ordinary citizens, I reckon.

Highlights from recent Daily Reports

Project Amnion
A small announcement.
ALA 177
The Problem, the Balloon, and the Four Bedroom House (taming unruly projects, by Joe Di Stefano). Let Them Eat Cake (usability and accessibility combined in a simple DOM-based page view project, by Aaron Gustafson).
God is telling me to become a fisherman
Design is more than meets the eye
A rudimentary computing task should not require arcane knowledge of secret handshakes. Good design is about more than surface appearance.
Carbon Copy Cloner and Font Corruption
If you own and manage many fonts, think twice before cloning.

There is more

More highlights and back orders may be found in our Essentials Department.