Current Project: Charlotte Gray
Current Glamour: Speed of Life
Current ALA: Mac Browser Roundup
Current Interviews: CNET | pixelview
26 December 2001
Several readers have asked about free or cheap hosting that doesn’t skimp on back–end trimmings or penalize you if your site becomes popular. We recommend contacting Spoke and Axle, Kelly Abbott’s experiment in shared hosting “for the love of the web.” You might also check Webcore Labs’s extremely reasonable “Host Pak” packages. :::
25 December 2001
We celebrated Christmas in the traditional manner—with a flu or virus that started last week as a promising head cold and quickly worked its way up. She sleeps, we sniffle. Nonetheless, Joy abounds.
The world’s Christmas day began with bloodshed in the Holy Land and continued as nuclear neighbors Pakistan and India moved ballistic missiles and troops to their shared border regions. As one terrifying event follows another, the idea of Christmas and its simple message of “Love thy neighbor” feels more urgent and more relevant than ever, if you ask us.
In happier news, our friends Carl and Rebecca Malamud are “trying to make television as easy to use as the Internet,” by bringing Search, Content, and Community features to the little box that sits on top of your TV.
The software behind NetTopBox is Open Source; partners include heavyweights like Marshall Rose, inventor of the P.O.P. email protocol.
Carl Malamud pioneered Internet radio in 1993, and is almost single–handedly responsible for the fact that patents and other public records are available free online. Rebecca Malamud (a.k.a. Webchick) has been designing great websites and publishing fine independent web content since the early 1990s.
We wish Carl, Rebecca, and their partners the best, and we wish you the best, too. Safe and Happy Holidays to all. :::
24 December 2001
In Issue No. 130 of A List Apart, For People Who Make Websites: MAC BROWSER ROUNDUP. We test drove and reviewed the new Mac browsers, then asked browser makers Håkon Lie of Opera and Tantek Çelik of Microsoft to respond to our comments. Miracle of miracles, they did so. Happy Holidays! :::
22 December 2001
[2 pm | noon]
The Noodle Incident’s Validation: Does It Matter? comes to the expected conclusion in an entirely unexpected way—namely, by emphasizing what is at stake:
“There are no paper backups of the web. Every day we put more on it that we’re not putting in our traditional media. If we don’t use extensible code, then our current history evaporates with the next minor tech change.”
21 December 2001
[? | 9 pm | noon]
Scott Andrew: “And on top of everything else, Mozilla 0.9.7 [has been] released,” adding to the Holiday grab bag of newly upgraded browsers that comply with W3C and ECMA standards. Mozilla supports every computing platform we’ve ever heard of, and some we’ve never heard of, and it is the core from which AOL/Netscape’s next commercial release will be built. (Release notes)
Those who valued Wednesday’s comments on the new Mac versions of Opera and IE5 may find further utility in Tantek Çelik’s IE5.1/Mac In Brief and IE5.1/Mac ships with CSS improvements, an open letter to the W3C Styles Group.
We’re collecting feedback from engineers at IE and Opera with a view toward publishing an assessment of these two new browsers at A List Apart. Actually, we’d hoped to publish that piece today, but between the Holidays and a sudden deluge of commercial work, the article may not be ready for a little while longer.
Speaking of W3C recommendations, CSS TV is hot off the press (first draft released today). W3C describes this working document as “a subset of the Cascading Style Sheets Level 2 specification tailored to the needs and constraints of TV devices.”
What it means is that eventually products like WebTV will understand sophisticated CSS, and your standards–compliant sites will work and look right in these devices. All you’ll need to do is create a TV Style Sheet and link to it from the
<head> of your web documents.
Also hot off the W3C presses: Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines. “Its purpose is two–fold: to assist developers in designing authoring tools that produce accessible web content and to assist developers in creating an accessible authoring interface.”
In other words, when Dreamweaver or a similar product generates a web page, that page will be accessible (and Dreamweaver will also be more accessible to those who, for instance, can't click a checkbox due to paralysis or other disability).
“UNIX and the Net appealed to my love of words, and the web appealed to my love of connectedness.” New at pixelview, an interview with Smilin’ Steve Champeon of Hesketh.com, A Jaundiced Eye, Dynamic HTML GUIs, WebDesign–L, and The Web Standards Project. In his spare time, he whittles.
Apple’s helpful Internet Developer pages include a dandy tutorial (complete with downloadable source code) on plug–in detection. In particular, the tutorial and code neatly solve a previously mind–boggling problem: how to support ActiveX without screwing up non–Windows versions of MSIE.
Since the source code must live in the
<head> of your web page, to make it comply with current W3C standards, you’d probably want to change all instances of
On a Strict page like this one, you’d write
20 December 2001
Click On @ The Library is an XHTML and CSS compliant production of The Branch Libraries of The New York Public Library, in association with Happy Cog and NotLimitedNYC. (The previous version of the site was produced in HTML 4.01.)
Though compliant with W3C recommendations, Click On works just fine in non–compliant browsers, including our bete noire and yours. It also coexists beautifully with The Library’s server–side techologies and content management tools.
Some may complain that compliance with XHTML and CSS is somehow bad for web users, or the medium, or Mozilla, or the Rainforest, but we’re glad an organization as stable, traditional, and (dare we say it?) cautious as The NYPL thinks otherwise.
Click On is a service of The New York Public Library dedicated to narrowing the Digital Divide by providing access, content, training, and outreach so that all may share in the information age. :::
19 December 2001
[5pm | 3 pm | 11 am |9 am]
The World Trade Center site has finally stopped burning.
Internet Explorer 5.1/Mac is now available for downloading. The upgrade supports OS X (the Unix–based Macintosh operating system) as well as the older operating system versions preferred by many long–time Mac users and graphic designers. (A version of 5.1 was previously available for Mac OS X only.)
Several readers have claimed that this version of IE5/Mac fixes a long–standing anchor link bug. Not so. This version does fix a few very minor CSS rendering bugs, and it renders pages a bit faster than its predecessor, which was pretty darned peppy to begin with.
If you use OS 9, avoid the checkbox that allows you to “Use translucent contextual menus.”
Last note on this new browser before turning to another: An ill–informed journalist has stated that IE5.1/Macintosh now handles CSS “similar(ly) to the Windows version of Internet Explorer 5.5.” Uh–uh.
IE5.0/Mac was the first browser to get CSS right. The Windows version did not catch up until IE6. The new Mac browser is not imitating the flaws of an old Windows browser; it’s merely cleaning up a few of its own.
Beta 5 is incredibly fast at rendering web pages. They seem to spring onto your screen in the blink of an eye. The browser is a mere 2 MB, and uses very little system memory to do its work.
The newly released version of Beta 5 is also ad–free for thirty days. (After that, you either purchase Opera or tolerate the small ad banners that show up inside its browser chrome.)
Beta 5 supports Flash, Shockwave, and Quicktime, but seems to have problems with RealPlayer. More significantly, it still renders type below spec: 11px text shows up as 10px, and so on. Some have claimed that this behavior is deliberate, basing their arguments on an abstract section of CSS-1 wherein learned experts debate the question, “What is a pixel?”
We claim that any ten–year–old can tell you a pixel is the smallest available unit of screen space, and eleven pixels are just that (not ten). We’re also convinced that this pixel problem is a bug, not a feature—a bug that will eventually be fixed.
Meet the Makers “is a focused, one–day opportunity for high–level web–building professionals to get a behind–the–screens look at some of the most successful websites, examine the latest tools of the trade and network with their peers and the companies that make these tools.” More in World Tour.
We knew two of the answers to Coudal.com’s Pop Quiz. How many do you know? “Answer correctly, and you might be chosen at random to win mediocre prizes from around our offices,” including a jar of specially packaged habanero sauce. :::
18 December 2001
[7 pm | 6 pm]
It’s an honor merely to be nominated: The Scripting News Awards honor “excellence in weblogging.” Who decides the winners? You do. Missing from the nominees: Scripting News itself. (We’d vote for it.)
Happy Upcoming Anniversary to Sooz Radio, broadcasting 24/7 since 22 December 2000.
17 December 2001
The Charlotte Gray website has been updated—call it Phase 2.5—with much more to come, including an archive of historical materials from the period in which the film is set.
In response to community feedback (sample), the front page of The Web Standards Project has been “gently revised” to clarify which parts of the old site will continue to be updated, and to sketch possible strategic goals for the future. (Note to Scott Andrew, who said, “If you don’t want press, you don’t issue a press release.” We agree. We did not issue a press release. We changed the front page of webstandards.org, and the press and the community noticed.) :::
14 December 2001
[4 pm | 2 pm | 7 am]
“A Web gadfly points his stinger,” an in–depth interview with your humble author, is part of a CNET News.com series marking the 10th anniversary of the first American web page.
Pleasantly, an interview at pixelview (“behind the screen with independent designers, developers and others”) has nothing to do with the current ruckus.
The front page of News.com says Standards advocates move into hibernation, and some folks are hopping mad at us.
Please do not fret or mourn. Standards evangelism is like the Mob: once you’re in, you’re in for life. The members of WaSP have not quit working to advocate W3C standards, nor have thousands of non–members stopped caring.
All we meant to do was take a little time off in acknowledgement of the fulfillment of our initial goal—persuading major browser makers to support baseline W3C recommendations like CSS, (X)HTML, and DOM Level One.
While we ponder the WaSP’s future, we ask designers and site owners to ponder the web’s. Will it conform to Tim Berners–Lee’s vision of an open platform accessible to all? Or will it remain a presentational hack?
We (and here we means the elves who build zeldman.com and who threw the original WaSP site together in 1998) also thought it wise to state publicly that most of webstandards.org is an archive—as in old pages that will not be updated.
If you’re looking for fresh information on designing with web standards, you’re likelier to find it at Evolt, Web Review, and A List Apart, and at many of the sites we link to from this page each day. For that matter, it wouldn’t hurt to occasionally check the specs.
WaSP is not a weekly magazine, a daily ’blog, or a consortium. It is an informal advocacy group that succeeded in its original mission, and now needs time to ponder how its further goals may best be accomplished. :::