27 August 2001
[11 am | 10 am]
Following up on last week's discussion of EMBED, OBJECT, and ActiveX, a password-free tutorial
at Apple.com explains how to update your HTML to avoid breaking Quicktime in IE/Windows and ensure a good experience for all your site visitors. Cut 'n paste HTML included.
Among the pearls at Jeff Gates's personal site, Life Outtacontext, are an amusing comparison
between East and West Coast beach cultures, and an oldish but still fascinating hypertextual portrait of the artist
. (The deeper you dig, the better it gets.)
The web community alt.sense
by the web community Fathom Five
, the successor to Astounding Websites. Both alt.sense and Fathom Five are well-run, organically evolving design communities that don't get a ton of media coverage (and probably prefer it that way).
We're So Proud: Today's Ditherati
("See the Digerati Dither, Daily") quotes your humble author on how web designers can find work despite the dot-com downturn. The quote is taken from an SFGate article by Joyce Slaton, Get a Job! And Get Out of My Coffee House, Too
. Our two-sentence quotation was excerpted from an hour-long interview conducted from a hotel bed in Seattle last month.
Book Beat: Thanks to our eagle-eyed readers, we've expanded the Bugs & Updates
page for Taking Your Talent to the Web
. And speaking of things bookish ...
My Back Pages: Tomorrow Zeldman will speak
at the Computer Page program of the Branch Libraries of the New York Public Library. Hopefully this is not just a trick to force him to pay for those overdue books.
24 August 2001
"Avoid market research. Pay not the slightest attention to your client's trivial marketing concerns." Zeldman at PDN-Pix: How To Avoid Clients
Another Friday, another Photoshop Tennis
match at coudal.com. Live today from the UK at 8am Chicago time, 9am NYC, 2pm London, it's Dan Moore of twelve:ten
vs. Carl Rush of crush
. (In last week's match, Zeldman squeaked by Rustboy, 331 to 310.)
Another Friday, but no new issue of A List Apart
. Keeping to our lazy summer schedule, we're repeating last week's double issue
, featuring advanced CSS layout tips
from Mark Newhouse, and Dennis Mahoney's analysis of a proposed global treaty
that could turn the web into a mishmash of regional Intranets.
Following up on yesterday's notes about IE's rejection of "Netscape-style" plug-ins, several readers have recommended Robert X. Cringely's 16 August column, Making Lemonade: How Microsoft Is Using Its Own Legal Defeat to Hurt Java
as evidence of Microsoft's intention to dominate the Internet as it dominates every other market it enters.
Others have asked, what's the big deal about Microsoft's dropping support for QuickTime and RealPlayer in favor of plug-ins that use ActiveX (such as Microsoft's own Windows Media Player)? The big deal, of course, is that Microsoft is using its browser and operating system dominance to crush competitive plug-ins that preceded it to market—or force the makers of these plug-ins to change their underlying technology, at considerable cost.
Though ActiveX is an interesting technology, it is not cross-platform and it is not a W3C or ECMA-recommended web standard. And cross-platform web standards are our only means of ensuring that the sites we create will work for everyone.
In upcoming IE6, Microsoft has complied beautifully with important web standards including CSS, (X)HTML, and the P3P Privacy Standard. Where it really counts, the company has shown a genuine commitment to interoperability and good web citizenship. And yet.
23 August 2001
Following up on our earlier blurb
about IE and "Netscape-style" plug-ins, Charles Johnson
has pointed us to an Apple technote
on the subject, and reminded us that Netscape plug-in support was also dropped from IE5.5 when that browser was upgraded with Microsoft Service Pack 2.
The Seventh International Istanbul Biennial
will host 63 artists and will take place in the old city's Imperial Mint, Hagia Eirene Museum, and Yerebatan Cistern and in the Beylerbeyi Palace which is on the Asian side of Istanbul. Sure beats the Javits Center.
Beauty Now for the People
, the latest at v-2.org, contends that—despite widespread perceptions to the contrary—creativity and fresh design are alive and well on the web. We agree
Hmm. A Microsoft tech note
says "Netscape-style" plug-ins (like QuickTime) will not work in IE6 unless they are rebuilt around ActiveX technologies. "This behavior is by design," the note says. Hmm.
22 August 2001
My Glamorous Life
No. 50: Notes for a Projected Mid-Life Novel
The Atlantic's The King of Closed Captions
provides fascinating background on two remarkable phenomena: (1.) the rise of closed captioning in TV and video (2.) the mind of Joe Clark, closed captioning's self-appointed watchdog.
Clark passionately monitors closed caption programming for gaffes, a service worth millions to the industry, if only he would charge for it. But Clark does this work for free, as others climb mountains or write poetry. Clark is also a web accessibility
expert and the author of Building Accessible Websites
, due from New Riders in October.
After months of silence, Scobleizer
is back online. Scoble stopped updating in late June, shortly after contributing to the discussion of Microsoft's proposed Smart Tags, notably at Scripting.com
. It's good to have him back.
21 August 2001
The IE/Win View Source workaround
mentioned earlier does not work in IE5/Win 2000. Here's a workaround to the workaround
. You'd think that folks who make the world's most popular OS and browser would understand the importance of crafting a consistent user interface.
Speaking of stupidly inconsistent interfaces, Jason at 37signals recently became so frustrated with his online banking "service" that he designed one
that would actually work. Here's hoping your bank works this way one day.
As readers know, Taking Your Talent to the Web
includes The Mother of All Source Code Viewing Tricks. As many have learned, the trick doesn't work in IE for Windows, mainly because we inadvertently left out the instructions. You'll find them here
. (For more book updates and corrections, see the Bugs
Top Write Corner
, a nicely-designed, non-commmercial, independent showcase for aspiring authors, essayists and poets, welcomes submissions.
For your pleasure and edification: yet more tips on ALT texts
. (Tip 'o the hat to Charles F. Johnson
20 August 2001
"Usability is always secondary. It's never the most important thing about an experience. ... I will reject perfect usability if I am not rewarded with a useful, engaging experience." — Donald Norman
The W3C has launched a Quality Assurance
activity to make sure that its Recommendations (a.k.a. "web standards") are implemented correctly.
, an accessibility site, offers tips on the care and feeding of ALT texts
. Hat tip: Jackie McGhee
"Pimping yourself to the self-referential digital arts community has never been so easy!" Introducing the Market-O-Matic (1.0) [fine arts version]
, a Lab 404 production.
Some viewers of last Friday's Photoshop Tennis
collab have been requesting the original, layered Photoshop files. Thing is, there aren't any. Due to bandwidth limitations, Messieurs Rustboy and Zeldman sent each other flattened JPEG images instead of layered Photoshop files. (Could you tell?)
18 August 2001
[1 pm | 11 am]
In an odd fit of myopia, Jakob Nielsen blames "cool" design
for the "dot-bomb" meltdown. Funny, we thought the downturn was caused by a weakening global economy; overbuilt web agencies; and useless dot-com services structured around wishful business models. Design—"cool" or otherwise—can't save a bad product, though it can make a good one easier and more enjoyable to use.
Taming the Web
, by Charles C. Mann, makes depressing reading for 'Net utopians—and a great companion piece to GLOBAL TREATY COULD TRANSFORM WEB in this week's A List Apart
. Hat tip: Leo Robert Klein
Daniel is slowly pulling his head out of puckered oblivion. As a result, Waferbaby e-cards
are back online. Send one!
In Portland we stayed at the Imperial Hotel, whose amenities haven't changed much since the 1950s. (For instance, there's a sewing kit in every room—sweet!) Alas, this old-fashioned usability does not extend to the hotel's website
By putting the address, phone and FAX numbers into a type GIF, the site forces you to retype these numbers by hand instead of allowing you to easily cut and paste. Invert a number or letter while typing, and you're screwed. (On the other hand, you can cut and paste the hotel's NAME, but why would you want to?)
17 August 2001
Is everybody in? The ceremony
is about to begin. (Live Photoshop Tennis begins 3 p.m. EST, noon Pacific, 8 p.m. Dundee time.)
In this week's double issue of A List Apart
, for people who make websites:
PRACTICAL CSS LAYOUT Tips, Tricks & Techniques—by Mark Newhouse. Think you need HTML tables to craft complex liquid layouts? Not so! In this tip-packed tutorial, Mark Newhouse shares advanced yet practical CSS techniques any web designer can use. Plus:
GLOBAL TREATY COULD TRANSFORM WEB—by Dennis Mahoney. Mahoney is boiling mad over a proposed global treaty that could turn our worldwide web into a mishmash of regional Intranets, each attending to whatever local regulation allows.
These stories and the ALA CODERS FORUM await you at alistapart.com