Sunday, May 23, 2004

Middle finger to the blog community

Aside from the faster rendering, nicer design and less pervasive install, I'm finding that one of the most useful features my new browser of choice has is the 'middle-click to open a link in a new tab' function. I can now browse the daily blog reads in the sidebar by middle-clicking each in turn, then browse through all the open tabs, reading/closing as necessary - much easier than opening and closing a Favourites bar, or 'right-click-open-in-new-window' IE approach.

Of course, I could delve into the wonders of RSS and save myself checking all those that are updated once in a blue moon - maybe I'll add that to the list of things to do when I get this site truly up and running.

In the spirit of witty dual meanings in blog headings, here's a link to an article over at whitespace on the lack of catfights within the design/blog community. Well, sort of - and he's got a point, but if you fancy yourself as a pretender to the Web Standards throne, it's never going to be a smart career move to point out the faults of your [perceived] betters.

Unless of course you think you've coined a smart-ass phrase for doing just that... ;o)

Friday, May 21, 2004

Snap happy

Google/Blogger (why haven't they smooshed their names together yet to re-brand the service as Bloogle..?) have announced the launch of their new blog plug-in (blug-in? Okay, I'll stop doing that now) - Photoblogging.

Snap away with your digital camera, then simply IM the results to your blog using their handy little Hello client, where the photos will be automatically resized and posted along with your chosen caption.

I'm going to have to start carrying my camera with me a lot more (he told himself for the umpteenth time), although of course I won't be able to post any photos from work due to every single port apart from 80 and 443 being closed. Grrr.

Luckily, my camera fits into even the tightest pocket - it's the puny little Gsmart Mini; 600k pixels, 200 picture capacity and ten-second video clip capability, but the results aren't too bad, considering it's smaller than a credit card. I'll have to get round to building that browser-based FTP for my site so I can upload stuff from work.

The other thing I will [almost certainly not] get round to doing this weekend is dragging my old bike out of the shed and getting it road-worthy. I tried some exercise this morning and I still ache, so I need to get back in shape with some regular exertion.

I don't think the showers here are communal...

Thursday, May 20, 2004


Following on from my last post, the Design By Fire errors turned out to be Visual Basic debugger prompts caused by use of the XML [CDATA[ declaration to turn off parsing for a couple of Javascript sections.

(And I must add that I was pleasantly surprised to see that Andrei himself posted a comment to my fledgling weblog - now there's a man who spends a little too much time reading his referer logs!)

Zeldman seems to have done something to fix his bug too, or at least the page isn't behaving in the same way as it was at home (maybe because I'm using IE here and Firefox at home).

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


...or, the feeling you get when visiting a fellow web designer's site and finding a design flaw, typo, or Javascript error. Even more so on a "guru" site - recently I have noticed:

I could go on, but you get the picture. Makes me feel a little better about my own frequent f**k-ups and code-farts if those guys can get it wrong occasionally too.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Big Brother is watching me

The company where I work seems to have upgraded the web monitoring software that watches what we all do on the internet.

While in some ways this is a good thing (like replacing the bright orange "ACCESS DENIED!!" screen with a calmer white one), it now blocks many of my daily reads (including mezzoblue) and in general seems to be a lot more conscientious about what words trigger a lock-out.

%*&!, &!*$ and @$&%%*!

Friday, May 14, 2004

Ultimate tag soup

Yikes - I just had a look at the source code for some of our site; kind of wish I hadn't now:

<font face="Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif"> <font face="Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif"> <font face="Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif"> <font face="Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif"> <font face="Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif"> <font face="Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif"> <font face="Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif"> <font face="Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif"> <font color="#000066"> <span class="Text5"> <a href="../index.htm" class=second onMouseOver="MM_displayStatusMsg('Home');return document.MM_returnValue"> <b> </b> </a> </span> </font> </font> </font> </font> </font> </font> </font> </font> </font>

And that's just for one navbar element - THAT ISN'T EVEN ON THE PAGE!!!

Thank you very much, Dreamweaver.

What version..?

I just took a call from a lady claiming to be using "Internet 40" to access the web, and was having trouble installing our security certificate.

"What is this, some sort of new beta browser with poor SSL support?", I thought as I Googled for the answer to no avail.

Uh, no. Turns out she was actually using... Internet Explorer 4.0.

I hate customers.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Feet under the <table>

The ever erudite Andy Budd has posted a lengthy article on Table Based vs. CSS Based Design. In essence, his point is that the current guru-tastic attitude of "Gone CSS and never looked back" may be misplaced at best, dangerous - at least to your working hours and mental health - at worst.

"I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves writing fairly complicated CSS to do something that would be trivial using tables. Take form styling for example. It’s possible to lay out even very tricky forms using tables in just a few minutes. You can achieve similar results by floating elements with CSS, but it’s a lot more involved. |f you’re a CSS guru it’s all part of the fun. However if you’re a regular mortal and your boss is breathing down your neck because they don’t understand why their “simple form” is taking so long, it can be incredibly frustrating."

Andy has a good point about "front-loading" a website by externalising all of the layout code in the form of stylesheets, although for many corporate or portal websites the savings made by going CSS-layout should more than offset the weight of the new chunky stylesheet, but I think Dan Webb hit the nail on the head in his comment on device-independent browsing:

"If all pages on the web were written using CSS presentation and semantic code (which is the objective for web standards types) then all the web would be device independent..."

Personally, that is the way I see the web evolving - in five years or less the way that the internet is accessed will have undergone a sea-change; no longer will we be sat in our spare rooms or offices, hunched over the PC - your connection to the wired world will be in your pocket in the form of a WAP phone (and also driving license and credit cards, but that's a different story), and in the corner of the living room.

Internet access will polarise into Mobile and TV, and sites that were not designed by forward-thinking designers will falter and fail.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

No Splinter Cell for me...

Apparently I am not destined to experience the immersive stealth-shooter unless I splash out on an X-Box - after an hour of fiddling with .ini file settings I give up on getting the damn thing to install.

A lengthy spell of Googling indicates that my video card is probably to blame - I would have thought 64MB would have been enough, but apparently for "integrated graphics" read "graphics provided by a Pratchett-style imp residing in your PC card slot". I am almost tempted to regret selling my old PC and upgrading to this laptop, but a quick burst of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has convinced me that I don't really need any other games...

New Year's Resolution

What? Five-and-a-half months late, you say? Ah, phooey...

Although my combined blog and project site has been gestating for far longer than is entirely natural (blue whales have offspring faster than I create websites!), I now believe that one of the reasons for my wholly reprehensible heel-dragging has been the lack of content to put on the site once complete.

So, gentle viewer, what we have here is The Watchmaker Project Staging Area. Backstage of the site, if you will. Because I know that once I have written a few years of erudite blog entries that I will be spurred into action and the site proper will spring into life.

I can dream, can't I?