Current Project: Charlotte Gray
Current Glamour: Speed of Life
Current ALA: Omniweb & Standards | Mac Browser Roundup
Current Interviews: CNET | pixelview
30 December 2001
Texas Parks & Wildlife has “adopted web standards” in compliance with state laws regarding web standards and accessibility. Their rationale for taking this step might inspire other large content sites to consider doing likewise. TP&W uses The Web Standards Project’s Browser Upgrade campaign to faciliate the changeover of their site building methods.
So, for different reasons, does Raiderettes.com, the official site of the Oakland Raiderettes. This one is reponsible for most of the hate mail the WaSP receives, since guys interested in seeing Jennifer Lynne Puckett in a wet bikini are naturally distressed when redirected to a page discussing web standards and browser compliance.
Though The Web Standards Project is currently “hibernating,” the Browser Upgrade Campaign is continuously maintained and was last updated yesterday. It’s important to restate that many sites can support W3C standards without excluding non–compliant browsers. (Here’s one way to do that.) :::
Desmond Ong pointed our flu–addled heads to CNN’s assessment of the new Opera browser. It’s an interesting read, in that it not only describes features unique to the Opera browser, it also discusses the problem of browser–specific web development versus W3C standards. This won’t be news to web designers, but could be to CNN’s readers. Nice. :::
28 December 2001
[7 pm | 1 pm | 10 am]
In Issue No. 131 of A List Apart, For People Who Make Websites: Omniweb & Standards, by Waferbaby. Omniweb, a promising new browser for Mac OS X, has been much praised for its elegant interface and beautiful antialiasing of text. But how does it fare with web standards like CSS and the DOM? We find out.
Yahoo, Blockers & Banners (on its own page for your bookmarking pleasure) tells how to view Yahoo’s content without dismantling your ad–blocking arsenal. Assuming you block ads. If you don’t block ads, we’ll be happy to tell you how to meet that special someone for just pennies a day while improving modem speeds and enlarging your package.
As an experiment, we’ve added an “Of interest” section to the ungodly mess of links on the right side of this page, listing a few of the sites we’ve been reading lately, such as xBlog and Design Not Found. Of course, there are a ton of such links in the Exit Gallery, but nobody ever goes there. Nobody ever clicks the links on the right side of this page, either, come to think of it, but there is only so much we can do.
Our plan is to write a script that will rotate between these and other fine links, and then delete the whole thing since it merely adds to the clutter of the page. In the brief interim, we expect that anyone whose site is not linked in the “Of interest” corner at right will take immediate umbrage, send us a nasty letter we don’t have time to read, and ultimately take the drastic step of starting a thread at Metafilter.
India and Pakistan will fire their full nuclear arsenals at each other, but miss, accidentally taking out the American midwest. A peace movement will spring up in Europe and what’s left of the U.S., and Noam Chomsky will form a partnership with Jakob Nielsen. Spring will come, Pinkerton will not return, and security holes will be discovered in Outlook. All because of a few links. We should take them down right now.
“It is not true that the ’Net means you never have to be alone. It does mean you never have to be the only person you know of with a certain obscure or unpopular interest.” Joe Clark, author of the upcoming Building Accessible Websites, undergoes the pixelview interview treatment. A fun read. :::
27 December 2001
[8pm | 7pm | 6pm | 11 am]
Update II: The Solution. Yahoo’s redirect woes, mentioned earlier (below), apparently have nothing to do with browsers or platforms, and everything to do with ad–blocking strategies.
In Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, it is fairly easy to block most ads. Textism describes the procedure for Mac users, which involves placing a simple text file called Hosts in the Preferences Folder and restarting. When commercial sites call on third–party ad servers, the Hosts file will prevent the ads from loading.
Unfortunately, it also prevents Yahoo’s redirects from working, resulting in the errors reported here earlier. Removing the Hosts file and restarting made Yahoo’s page work—but also, of course, deluged us with banners, since ads were no longer blocked.
Our apologies to the fine ladies and gentlemen of Yahoo, and our thanks to reader Ryan Schroeder, who provided the solution. A similar cause may underlie the Windows 2000 problem reported below, but we can’t test for that here.
Update: Yahoo’s managing editor informs us that his tech team has been unable to duplicate the redirect bug mentioned below; has not had previous reports of problems with its redirects; and is investigating possible causes.
Several Mac–using readers have told us the redirects worked for them in OS X, suggesting that the problem may be limited to the earlier (but still widely used) OS 9, or may even be due to a third–party Extension.
Meanwhile, a friend in London writes: “The links on Yahoo plain don’t work in IE6 on Windows 2000,” suggesting that the problem may be more complex than Yahoo (or we) were aware. Also suggesting the problem may have nothing to do with particular browsers or operating systems, but rather with additional user–installed software on individual PCs.
We appreciate Yahoo’s efforts to track down the source of this mystifying bug, and we wish them luck. (Speaking of mystifying bugs, ours has turned into a full–blown lung and throat infection, so we’re going to whimper and watch Animal Planet for a while.)
11 am report: The good news is, the Charlotte Gray website has made Yahoo’s What’s New: Daily Picks. (Hat tip: Meagan Mongeau.) The bad news is, instead of linking directly to featured sites, Yahoo uses a redirect query that apparently does not work in Mac OS.
In a quick test, the Yahoo link (http://rd.yahoo.com/new/?http://charlottegraymovie.warnerbros.com/) worked as expected in IE5/Windows, but failed in IE5.1/Mac, Netscape 6/Mac, and Opera 5/Mac beta, where it returned “The specified server could not be found” and similar errors.
This was true not only for the Charlotte Gray website but for all today’s Featured Picks, and presumably for all of yesterday’s and tomorrow’s as well.
Linking via redirect queries instead of plain old URLs is a marketing technique dating back to the days of the dotcom bubble, when something as simple as a link was potentially worth big bucks. (A redirect query lets the server know how many millions of visitors it has sent to a linked website.) For a major portal like Yahoo, it may still make financial sense to monitor traffic in this way.
Yahoo is not the only site to use redirect queries instead of URLs (Adobe, for one, also does this), and such redirects usually work for all visitors. We are glad that Yahoo is investigating the problem, and wish them luck in finding the solution quickly, so that all may benefit from their editors’ picks. (And needless to say, we are gratified by their choice of the Charlotte Gray website.) :::
26 December 2001
[11 pm | 5 pm | 3 pm]
Readers continually ask about free or cheap hosting plans that won’t skimp on back–end trimmings. We recommend Spoke and Axle, Kelly Abbott’s experiment in shared hosting “for the love of the web;” and Webcore Labs’s extremely reasonable “Host Pak” packages.
Bill Humphries notes that cornerhost.com offers $5 US/month basic hosting or $10/month for PHP and Perl/CGI. Sounds like a bargain to us. But it’s not the only one out there.
For $5 US/month, your-site.com provides hosting with support for PHP, Perl/CGI, Java, C++, and other popular programming languages—and they throw in 25 POP3 email accounts. Exceed the generous 6GB/month file transfer limit, and you’ll pay a mere $3 per additional gigabyte. (Hat tip: Glenn Davis.)
Aussies, Jeremy Bogan, brother of the ever–delightful Waferbaby, offers a variety of affordable hosting packages through Segment Publishing. Note: all Segment hosting prices are in Australian dollars.
We’re sure there are more bargains out there, but the services listed above should do the trick for most low–budget projects.
If you need to serve large files, large audiences, or both, Internet Channel’s custom web services cost more per month than the packages listed above, but there is no limit on file transfers; and no performance hit, even with ludicrous amounts of traffic. :::
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! :::