Archive: June, 2005


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Thursday, June 30th, 2005

SimpleBits | New Book: Bulletproof Web Design

Dan's new book will be out soon. I predict it will be great: the subject matter is exactly what CSS coders need to know.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

Auto Zoom Greasemonkey script

A Greasemonkey version of my zoom layout bookmarklet. Great stuff!

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

Flickr: The Curator

A wonderful hypertextual essay in praise of Elsa's excellent photography. - web 2.0 javascript

A library of JavaScript classes: not very unobtrusive, not much graceful degradation. I think we need a bit less hype and a bit more questioning.

Reboot 7.0 Hall A, speakers saturday

Audio from Reboot 7. Ben Hammersley, Cory Doctorow and more.

Zooming the Web

In his presentation at @media, Joe Clark set CSS designers a homework challenge, the same one detailed in his article on A List Apart: offer a high-contrast, large text version of your site.

Roger and Douglas have already implemented some zoom layouts on their sites and very nice they look too.

The big problem that Joe identified was one of labelling. Even when zoom layouts are provided, there’s no clear way to unobtrusively offer the high-contrast alternative.

In an earlier blog entry, Joe created a new microformat by using rev="zoom" in a <link> tag.

"But only Opera and Mozilla, among widely-used alternative browsers, let you select stylesheets by name. And that name is taken from the title attribute, if present. Every other browser hides the available list of stylesheets from you. On the surface, then, this miraculous development I am proposing is of limited use. But what if somebody wrote a favelet that automatically turns on a zoom layout if one is available?"

I thought I’d give it a shot. Drag this link to your toolbar:


Here’s what happens when you use that link: it runs through all the stylesheets on offer and disables any of them that don’t have the rev attribute set to "zoom". This means that if a zoom layout isn’t offered, all the linked stylesheets will be disabled. At first I thought that this would need to be changed, but actually it could be a feature rather than a bug: disable all linked stylesheets and activate the zoom layout if one exists.

The problem is, there’s no way of preserving state with a simple JavaScript link. That means the bookmarklet would need to be activated on every page.

Clearly, this isn’t an ideal solution but I thought it would be fun to offer it anyway. If nothing else, it’s making use of a microformat: no committees, no specifications, just an agreed use of semantics.

I’ve added a simple zoom layout to this site, so you can test the bookmarklet here. I need to refine the CSS and add it to the list of themes on offer but for now, it’s a proof of concept.

Monday, June 27th, 2005


Geo-tagging meets social software. I must check this out and investigate the API.

Sunday, June 26th, 2005

Etiquette and the Singularity - Reboot 7

Slides from Ben Hammersley's talk at Reboot 7 in Copenhagen. I can't wait for the MP3.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2005

JavaScript and the Sunday

I came across this blog entry in Spanish, El año de Malcolm Gladwell.

The meaning is fairly clear: some things, like DOM scripting, are reaching a tipping point this year (just as Simon predicted):

"Javascript y el DOM - que no hemos de confundir más con DHTML(sic) - está por alcanzar su punto crítico."

Still, I thought I’d run it through Google’s translation service.

"Javascript and the Sunday - that we do not have to confuse the more with DHTML(sic) - is about to to reach its tactically important point."

I see what’s happened here… Google has interpreted the word DOM as a short form of Domingo, meaning Sunday. Still, doesn’t that sound so much better?

JavaScript and the Sunday.

I like it. I think I’m going to use that from now on.

Die Verwandlung

As Jeremy Keith awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

Tuesday, June 21st, 2005

There's now a centralised resource for microformats. Read it, bookmark it, fall in love with the future of the Web.

Mike Davidson: On MouseOut...

Mike is leaving Disney. He's off to build Web 2.0.


Thanks to an invite from Dunstan, I’ve been playing around with Odeo for the past few days. I like it. I like it a lot.

Basically, it strips away a lot of the techiness and geekiness associated with podcasting and makes it easier to get at the shows you want. This may be just what’s needed to allow podcasting to go mainstream, although it will interesting to see what Apple come up with in the next version of iTunes.

The markup and CSS on the Odeo site is a joy to behold and the visual design is very friendly and appealing. I detect the hand of Cederholm at work.

After a short while kicking the wheels of the site, I began to think about all the tinkering that third-party developers could would do if this were opened up. I shot off an email to tech support. Yes, Virginia, Odeo will have an API.

A fun, easy to use site with a powerful API… sounds like an audio version of Flickr. Ain’t nuthin’ wrong wit dat.

Monday, June 20th, 2005

Robert’s talk » Rise, Lord JavaScript

So it begins... dispelling the myths and spreading the good word about DOM Scripting.

A BBC radio report on blogging

Tom Coates, Heather Armstrong and others weigh in with their thoughts. Tom has a sexy radio voice.

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

Cory Doctorow's new novel is out. Buy the dead tree version or download and enjoy, it's your choice.

Saturday, June 18th, 2005

Stephenson rocks it

Jessica has just finished reading the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson: Quicksilver, The Confusion and The System Of The World.

Like me, Jessica has thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I honestly can’t think of an experience that has been more immersive, be it in literature, film or gaming. The sense of truly entering another place and time is almost palpable. Finishing these books leaves a void that’s hard to fill.

Reading Stephenson’s books, especially in light of Cryptonomicon, it’s clear that’s an over-arching vision being played out. Even as I delighted in the details, it was clear that there was a much bigger picture being painstakingly painted.

He’s definitely a "big picture" kind of guy. Case in point: in the New York Times, he examines the larger canvas of the Star Wars prequels:

"In sum, very little of the new film makes sense, taken as a freestanding narrative. What’s interesting about this is how little it matters. Millions of people are happily spending their money to watch a movie they don’t understand."

Falling in love with CSS - Vorsprung durch Webstandards

Eight people, including myself, explain what's so great about CSS.

PayPal - Website Payments Pro

PayPal moves into the territory of merchant accounts. With an API no less!

How Skype and Kazaa changed the net

An interview with Niklas Zennström.

DittyBot - An Applescript Adventure

Coolest use of Automater ever. Send an SMS form your phone to your POP account and your Mac will call you back over Skype to play you an MP3.

The Helvetica Meditations

Here's one for Joe Clark. Helvetica (and some Arial) found in England.


A very handy little preference pane that allows you to toggle Dashboard on Tiger on and off.

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

Rinse, refresh, repeat

I’ve been making some tweaks to the stylesheets ‘round here. If things look a little screwy, I’ll echo Jason Kottke’s advice:

"you may need to press shift-reload or restart your browser to load the new stylesheet (I can’t believe it’s 2005 and I still need to say this…come on, browser makers)."

I’ve been tightening up how typography is applied, removing some extraneous classes and checking for bulletproofness.

It strikes me that some of the themes on offer here are looking distinctly dated. Still, I think I’ll leave them up for posterity’s sake.

I’m still pretty pleased with the default look. I think that even after four years of constant use, it’s stood the test of time relatively well. Whenever I get sick of it, I usually just create a new theme. I’ll have that set for a while, but I always find myself returning to the plain vanilla look.

I’ve been getting my house of style in order is in preparation for carrying out Joe’s homework assignment. Roger’s done it. I’ll do it as soon as I can find some time, time being a commodity that seems more scarce and precious each day.

Wednesday, June 15th, 2005

5 years of little. yellow. different.

Ernie's been writing online for five years. Mozzeltof!

Content with Style: Fixing the Back Button and Enabling Bookmarking for AJAX Apps

Mike Stenhouse tackles the usability concerns raised by Ajax apps, specifically the breaking of the back button functionality.

Brendan's Roadmap Updates: JavaScript 1, 2, and in between

Brendan Eich, inventor of JavaScript, weighs in with some thoughts on JavaScript 2.

Tuesday, June 14th, 2005

JavaScript meetup

Stuart has posted an excellent round-up of the London JavaScript meetup.

Nerds make better lovers

I could have told you that.

Authentic socks worn by Jon Hicks

Andy is selling Jon's socks for charity. Bid early, bid often.

Monday, June 13th, 2005


A library of JavaScript for rich internet applications.

What is semantics?

Joe asked a bunch of us to define semantics. Mine is the facetious definition.

Sunday, June 12th, 2005

I'm b@ck from @media

The @media whirlwind is over. Here’s the short version: it was great.

Patrick did an excellent job in both organizing the conference itself and greasing the wheels of the social interaction. In other words, all the delegates worked hard and played hard.

By far the best aspect of the conference was meeting like-minded people in meatspace. I got to meet so many people whose sites I enjoy reading. It’s always a great to put a face to a blog. I’m not going to list everyone here; I’d be here all day. It was also wonderful to meet people who read my own ramblings in this journal.

Here’s a blanket message to each and every person I met at @media: it was truly a pleasure.

There has been some talk of the level of the presentations being pitched too low. There is a certain amount of truth to that. However, don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions based on the blogged reports. Remember that bloggers, on the whole, are a fairly Web Standards oriented bunch. There were also a lot of people there from within large blog-free organizations. It may well be that the conference was more useful to these people who emerged from behind their firewalls than it was for the more tech-savvy bloggers.

After discovering the level of expertise of the audience, I know that some of the speakers were concerned about preaching to the converted. I was faced with the opposite problem. I had a brief window of time in which to convince people of the benefits of a neglected, misunderstood technology. The slides are online, by the way.

On the whole, I think my presentation went well. I managed to get some laughs out of the crowd and I think I succeeded in turning people on to the beauty and elegance of DOM scripting. The best testimonial came from Cindy who said, and I quote:

“I didn’t fall asleep at all.”

I thoroughly enjoyed giving the presentation. There is an indescribable pleasure in being able to reach out to people and have them grok what you are explaining. I could practically see the lightbulbs illuminating above some of the heads in the audience.

A lot of people came up to me afterwards and said that the enjoyed my presentation and it made them think about JavaScript in a new light. My response, after thanking them, was “if you mean it, blog it”. I don’t mean that they should link to me (I’m not looking for googlejuice unless it’s for the word phalangist), but just that the more people talk about DOM scripting, the better.

That was also the main theme of the great JavaScript meetup of 2005. Many people showed up, between 20 and 30 perhaps. We got bogged down in details and there were a lot of tangents but the final decision was pretty unanimous: we need to get the word out.

Oh, and you’ll never guess who showed up… international man of mystery, Dunstan ‘Apple’ Orchard. No doubt he will now disappear back into the woodwork but it was great to see him again.

The cream of European JavaScripters were present and it was great to talk shop with them. That said, I think the most valuable input came from Chris Kaminski and Andy Budd. Chris because of his experience with the WaSP, and Andy because he isn’t a JavaScript coder. He’s exactly the kind of person we collectively need to reach: designers who know their CSS backwards but have shied away from DOM scripting until now.

Expect to see plenty of introductory DOM scripting articles from some very talented people in the coming months.

Wednesday, June 8th, 2005


Off to @media

London seems to be geek capital this week.

Last night, Robert Scoble threw his geek dinner party at the Texas Embassy. Much fun was had by all. Podcasters, bloggers, web developers; they were all there. I met some great people. If any of you are reading this…hi!

Right now, I’m rushing out the door to head back up to London. Tomorrow sees the start of the @media conference. Today, all the speakers are going to get together to hang out and talk about even more geek stuff.

I’m looking forward to this conference immensely. I’m somewhat nervous about my presentation on Friday: "The Behaviour Layer: Using JavaScript for good, not evil", but I’m sure it won’t be a complete disaster.

Unfortunately there won’t be WiFi at the conference itself so I won’t be doing any liveblogging. But I’m hoping that there’s some kind of internet access at the hotel. I’ll endeavour to do an end-of-day report each evening.

If you’re coming to @media, please, please, please come up and introduce yourself to me. If you’re not, maybe you can make it along to the JavaScript meet-up on Saturday.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a train to catch.

Tuesday, June 7th, 2005

Mappr! Where It's At.

A really nice use of the Flickr API.

Sunday, June 5th, 2005

It's good to talk

If, like me, you’ve spent most of your waking hours for the past few months living, eating and breathing JavaScript, you might welcome the opportunity to talk with some like-minded folks. Even if you’re not quite that sad, you still might like to get together for a drink by the river Thames.

Either way, if you like JavaScript and/or beer, come along to the Old Thameside Inn on Clink Street, sarf of the river for a chin-wag about everyone’s favourite client-side programming language on Saturday, June 11th at 2pm. It’ll be fun, really. Myself, Simon, Stuart, Dean and PPK will all be there. Maybe I’ll be able to drag Derek and Richard along too.

If JavaScript isn’t your particular bag of geekery, there’s always the London geek dinner on June 7th at The Texas Embassy. Robert Scoble and Hugh McLeod are organising it. There’ll be fajitas. Now, who doesn’t love fajitas?

Hope to see you at one or both events.

No More CSS Hacks

This is probably the worst possible way to deal with browser inconsistensies. Doesn't anyone else remember forking their JavaScript in the 90s? Don't try this at home.

Saturday, June 4th, 2005

Sitemap Protocol

An XML format from Google that describes the structure of websites. A semantic sitemap.

Feline frustrations

I upgraded to Tiger a little while back. Frankly, I’m a little underwhelmed.

There’s that terrible new interface on Mail for a start. Run, don’t walk, to download the replacement Mail Stamps icons.

Maybe it’s just because I’m so used to Quicksilver, but Spotlight doesn’t seem all that revolutionary to me. Maybe I’m judging too much on surface impressions. I’m sure it’s very impressive under the hood.

On the whole, my move to ten point four has involved losing, rather than gaining, features.

Take iChatStatus, for instance. I used to have this little application set up to do quite a few tasks. It would grab the current track from iTunes and update the status in iChat with the name of the track. It would also set my buddy icon to the artwork of the track’s album. Then, it writes a short text file, opens an FTP connection, and uploads the file to this server. When it gets here, the file makes a call to Amazon and runs a search on the album and artist. The album cover image returned from that search is then displayed here on the site.

That’s the way it used to work. Now, iChatStatus doesn’t work at all. Instead, Apple have implemented their own half-assed version. It grabs the current track from iTunes and updates the status message in iChat. Then… that’s it.

I guess I’ll be ditching the "music" box here on my journal.

Dashboard looks interesting to me, but only from the point of view of a developer. I love the idea of little XHTML/CSS/JavaScript packages but I honestly can’t see myself using any widgets on a regular basis.

My main peeve with Tiger is that it seems to be hogging all my iMac’s memory. This could be something to do with my machine: I haven’t noticed the same problem on my iBook.

I need to do some more investigating using the twin powers of Google and the Activity Monitor application.

Right now, my desktop machine is showing a ridiculous amount of CPU usage. A system process called "update" appears to be the main culprit, hogging between 60% and 70% of the computer at any one time. Compare that to my laptop machine where the system is using between 1% and 5% on average.

Something’s not right here. I think the cat did it.