Archive: October, 2005


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Saturday, October 29th, 2005

Mr Angry and Mrs Calm

An optical illusion; a mind hack, if you will.

7:35 in the morning

A wonderful short film. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Monster mashup

Horror through the ages in art, with a little help from Photoshop on Worth 1000.

Edge: Turing's Cathredal by George Dyson

George Dyson pays a visit to Google and describes it in the context of the history of computing.

The case of the 500-mile email

A great bit of geek detective work.


Back in July, a Flickr member posted a photoset of a commercial he was working on. The spot involved the release of 250,000 superballs down a hill in San Francisco. Other Flickrites also documented the release.

The advert is now finished and online. It looks very pretty but also quite unreal… even though I know it is real. Somehow, the original photoset, with its juxtaposition of the mundane with the extraordinary, has more impact for me. Your milage may vary.

But I think we can all agree that there’s nothing finer than a photoset of squirrels.

Ah, Flickr! Slowly but surely, you have taken over my photographic life. Without fanfare, I quietly removed the link on my journal to my photo galleries here on adactio. I don’t think I’ll be adding to them. I’ve found there’s far more incentive for me to upload pictures quicker and more often to Flickr (especially using the iPhoto plugin).

Normally I’m a complete control freak about how I publish stuff online (hence, this home-rolled blogging system I use) but Flickr, in true Web 2.0 style, allows me to do whatever I want with my content. So, if I’d rather use my own front end for viewing photos, I can. That’s what really won me over.

To paraphrase Princess Leia, the more you tighten your grip, the more users will slip through your fingers.

To paraphrase Sting, if you love somebody, set their content free.

Lest you think that the API is the only thing that endears Flickr to me. The community aspect is what makes it the king of photo sharing sites (and, I would argue, the king of social networking sites too). The real joy in photography doesn’t just come taking a picture, it also comes from sharing it with others.

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

BBC NEWS | England | Merseyside | Tributes left for a dead chicken

Merseyside Police told the community on Monday to "stop grieving, it's only a chicken".

daily mail-o-matic

The Daily Mail headline generator.

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

Odeo: Create

You can now create podcasts on Odeo. This is going to be huge.

Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

jeremy keith sudoku

A fantastic mashup using the Flickr API to play sudoku. Warning: highly addictive.


While we were in Brussels, Jessica and I paid a visit to the city’s museums. I’m more of a fan of art that isn’t prefixed with the word "modern", but I was pretty excited about seeing the Magritte collection in the Museum of Modern Art.

We happened to be there during a huge retrospective of an artist I had never heard of. He goes by the singular moniker of Panamarenko.

He’s an artist, engineer and inventor all rolled into one. His work looks like concept art for The Incredibles. Jetpacks, nuclear powered cars, airships, helicopters… the exhibition was a retro fetishist’s wonderland. Most of all, it was fun and unpretentious; a delight for children of all ages.

I don’t know if Panamarenko is a mad scientist or a just the ultimate gadget geek, but I know what I like. Take a look at my pictures from the exhibition and see what you make it of all.

Thursday, October 20th, 2005

Him again?

I’ve been doing a lot of talking lately. It’s mostly all about that DOM Scripting stuff.

I talked with Aaron Gustafson over iChat. The transcript of that chat appeared on Digital Web.

Together with Andy and Richard, I answered questions from Faruk Ates about Clearleft.

I talked over Skype with Paul Boag. That’s now available as a podcast.

I talked with Russ Weakley. He asked me ten questions. I answered them.

Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

Back from Brussels

I spent the weekend in Brussels attending the Euro IA summit… well, kind of.

Jessica and I took the Eurostar over on Friday afternoon. That was fast, convenient and far preferable to flying. We were whisked away from the centre of London to our stylish and atmospheric hotel in the heart of Europe in just a couple of hours. We spent the first evening sampling fine Belgian cuisine.

Next morning, we went along to the conference. Now, I don’t call myself an information architect but I firmly believe that it’s an integral part of building websites, whether you’re a front-end designer or a back-end programmer. For Jessica, who deals with multi-lingual websites on a day-to-day basis, the conference also had some appealing items on the agenda.

The opening remarks by Andrew Dillon were thought-provoking. After that, the speakers got down to the nitty-gritty. Unfortunately, nothing really engaged me all that much.

Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by @media and South by SouthWest, but I wanted to experience presentations that would knock my socks off. Instead, I got some competently delivered powerpoint slides (it was strange being at a conference where no-one used S5). Don’t get me wrong: there was some interesting stuff; the state of IA in Norway, a comparison of Italian and British governmental websites. But as the presentations went on, I couldn’t help but feel that I was missing out on a beautiful day in Brussels.

When the day’s official events ended, it felt a bit like getting out of school. Saturday evening was spent exploring the restaurants and bars of Brussels, sampling more food and of course, the famous Belgian beer.

By Sunday morning, the charm of Brussels had won me over. I skipped the conference hall in favour of the cafes and museums. I have to admit, I really wanted to see Thomas Vander Wal but on the day, he just couldn’t compete with Breughel.

Jessica and I rounded off our day of truancy by meeting up with the finest web designers in Belgium. Veerle and Geert drove to Brussels to meet us for drinks and, yes, yet another fine meal out.

I knew when I was booking my place at the Euro IA summit that it might not be entirely my cup of tea, but it was very reasonably priced and I did have some enjoyable lunchtime conversations [the quote of the day on usability: “People are stinking barrels of emotion”]. But the weekend itself was a wonderful experience.

Beer and Breughel, moules and frites… these are a few of the cliches in my photos of Brussels.

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

Monday, October 17th, 2005

Farewell BBC - and hello Yahoo! (

Not only is Yahoo! snapping up all the coolest web apps (Flickr, Upcoming), they're snapping up all the best British bloggers too (Simon, Tom,...)

Friday, October 14th, 2005

Tom Vincent Photography - Salter Cane

Pictures of my band. My, what a grim-looking lot we are.

Wednesday, October 12th, 2005

Proof Positive that Editing is an Art

The funniest thing I've seen in ages.

The Morning News - Roundtable: The French Paradox, by Josh Friedland

Three food bloggers discuss the differences in eating habits between France and America.

Simply Accessible

Derek's new site is going to be a great resource for practical accessibility techniques.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

dooce: How to Charm the Holy Living Jesus out of Me

Leta is walking, much to my relief and absolute delight.

Conversation with Five Teenagers

Talking with the youth of today about how they spend their time online.

Monday, October 10th, 2005


Internet entrepreneurship isn’t dead. After you’ve registered for d.Construct, I suggest you use your remaining PayPal balance over at OddzBallz.

OddzBallz is the newest creation from the immensely talented Elsa Kawai. She’s a designer, a photographer, a painter and now, a creator of unbearably cute little things that you can attach to your mobile phone. No matter what Elsa puts her mind to, she always puts all of her heart and love into it. Her personality really shines through through in her designs, her photographs and her handmade limbless homonculi.

The OddzBallz site reflects the multi-disciplinarian talents of its creator, with its seamless integration of graphic design, Flash and CSS. Head over there and grab yourself one of the first limited edition characters, signed by Elsa. Those will be worth something on eBay… not that you’d ever want to flog off one of those adorable widdle things.

Web Standards Group - Ten Questions for Patrick Lauke

Patrick Lauke, master of photography and accessibility.

Google Reader

A web app for reading RSS feeds. Pretty nice, but I'll stick with Adactio Elsewhere for now.

Yahoo! Podcasts

Quite nice, but a bit too cluttered for my taste. I still prefer Odeo.

Microsoft Team RSS Blog : The orange icon...

Possible ideas for IE's icon for RSS feeds. I like number five.


If you’re anywhere within travelling distance of the south coast of England, be sure to keep your diary free for November 11th. On that date, Brighton will play host to Europe’s first Web 2.0 conference: d.Construct 2005.

This is going to be a grassroots affair, which means that it’s going to intimate, informal and fun. Andy’s got the full story on how the event came about.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it. I’m going to be in Seattle with Jessica. She’ll be attending the American Translator’s Association conference. I’ll be hanging out and generally having a good time.

I am really looking forward to going to Seattle (one of my favourite places) but it’s a real shame that I’m going to miss the inaugural d.Construct event. I’m sure it’s going to be a great event, presumably the first of many to come.

Maybe I can organise some kind of live video link-up…

Thursday, October 6th, 2005 Daily Log: Yahoo and Upcoming, Sitting In A Tree

Yahoo! acquires First Flickr, now this. Yahoo! are snapping up all the coolest social apps.

Tuesday, October 4th, 2005

Ning unveiled

Some things just don’t go together: toothpaste and orange juice, fox news and objective journalism, creationists and reality. Here’s another pair that aren’t compatible: blogging and non-disclosure agreements.

I’ve had to sign a few NDAs in the past few months and I’ve found it can be a frustrating barrier to my usual practice of speaking my mind here in my journal. Thankfully, NDAs lapse when the subject of non-disclosure enters the public eye.

That’s why I’m very glad that the folks at 24 Hour Laundry have taken the covers off Ning.

A few months back, I got an email from Marc Andreessen (oh, how my inner geek rejoices at being able to say a sentence like that). He asked me if I’d like to be a beta tester for an app, or rather, a framework that his company was working on. I jumped at the chance.

Unfortunately, reality intruded on my plans to constructively contribute to the ongoing development. I could list out all the reasons why I just never found the time (most of them work-related), but it would just read like a list of excuses. I kicked the tires of the website and joined in a few conference calls but I never got my act together enough to actually build anything.

My lack of involvement was entirely my fault and certainly not a result of the framework itself. In a nutshell, Ning is a framework for creating social apps on the Web. You can create your own app from scratch or clone existing an app and tweak it for your own ends. The idea is that it will enable non-programmers to easily create Web 2.0 apps whilst still allowing developers to get their hands dirty under the hood.

Now that the doors have been thrown open, you can apply to be a beta developer yourself. Go forth and play… make your own photo-sharing, bookmarking or mapping application (or any combination thereof).


This is very neat: Flickrball is a Web 2.0 game. It combines the Flickr API, some nice DOM Scripting and six degrees of Kevin Bacon.

It really showcases the small-world network nature of sites like Flickr. It begins with a selection of photographs tagged with a word, say "Kevin". You then have to click through to find photographs tagged with other words until you get to one tagged with another word, like "Bacon".

I defy you to come up with faster path than this one of mine, with a total of 11 clicks:

kevin > drinking > party > kitchen > breakfast > bacon

Treehouse revised

All’s well that ends well. You can ignore my earlier rant about the editorial cruelties that had been visited upon my article in Treehouse magazine. The PDF has been updated and you can now read A Brief History Of JavaScript as it was intended.

Kudos to Kevin and the gang at Particletree: that was a fast response. As Kevin points out, this was their first issue so it was a learning experience for everyone involved. The lack of communication before publication has been redressed with this speedy post-publication edit.

Thank goodness it’s a PDF magazine and not printed on dead trees.

If you were quick off the mark and you downloaded the original version of the PDF, maybe you can flog it on eBay as a limited edition but personally, I recommend that you just thrash it and we never speak of it again.

If you haven’t downloaded your copy of Treehouse yet, what are you waiting for? It’s a thing of beauty. If, during your perusal of my article contained therein, you find any stylistic or factual mistakes, they are entirely my responsibility.

Treehouse hatchet job

There’s a new PDF magazine on the block. Treehouse, from the folks at Particletree, should help fill the void left by the demise of the PDF magazine from Design In Flight.

It’s a beautifully put-together magazine. The typography, illustrations and colour choices are top notch.

What a shame then, that they didn’t extend the same quality control to their editorial process.

I was asked to write an article for the inaugural issue. I wrote a piece entitled A Brief History Of JavaScript. There is an article by that name in the PDF but the resemblance ends there.

Just about every paragraph of my original article has been altered to reduce clarity and make the prose sound clumsy (even clumsier than it already was: no mean feat). Worse still, some of the rewrites play fast and loose with the facts. According to this article, I wrote:

"A standardized DOM had already been created by a recently formed organization calling themselves the W3C."

I can assure that the words "a recently formed organization calling themselves" were nowhere to be found in my original text.

Now, I have nothing against ruthless editing but this is bad, bad, bad. None of the changes were run past me so the first time I saw them was reading the finished magazine.

In attempt to clear this stain on my public record, I’ll be publishing the original, unsullied version of the article in nice pristine XHTML. I’ll probably post it over on the DOM Scripting website.

Sorry, Particletree. Treehouse gets top marks for style but please, either get a qualified editor or put down the hatchet.

Monday, October 3rd, 2005

A Brief History of JavaScript

This article first appeared in issue 1 of Treehouse magazine.

Saturday, October 1st, 2005

Designing With Web Standards, 2nd Edition

The book that changed how websites are designed is back in a smart new second edition.