Archive: April, 2006

36

sparkline
                    5th                     10th                     15th                     20th                     25th                     30th
12am      
4am
8am            
12pm          
4pm          
8pm                      

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

A quick theological question

Did Noah have to put two of every fish in the ark?

Update: I guess I should have titled this “A quick rhetorical theological question”, but in any case, thank you to everyone who sent me emails attempting to answer this question.

Philip wrote to say “only carried land animals” but doesn’t back that up with any references. Drew, on the other hand, had me RTFM by pointing to Genesis chapter 6, verse 20:

Of fowls according to their kind, and of beasts in their kind, and of every thing that creepeth on the earth according to its kind: two of every sort shall go in with thee, that they may live.

But that is immediately proceeded by verse 19 which clearly states:

And of every living creature of all flesh, thou shalt bring two of a sort into the ark, that they may live with thee: of the male sex, and the female.

Meanwhile, Pete points out there might have been seven of each type of kosher fish but just two of eels. Actually, it looks to me more like 14 of clean fish and 4 of unclean:

Of all clean beasts take seven and seven, the male and the female. But of the beasts that are unclean two and two, the male and the female.

Alternate translation:

Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.

There are a lot of ambiguities in the specifications. I can’t help but feel that Noah would have been better off if God had been more like Jason Fried:

Noah, just build it. Get real!

P.S. Please forgive my blasphemy. I have the greatest respect for people’s beliefs and I don’t mean to mock sacred institutions like Judaism, Christianity or 37 Signals.

theshow

A video blog from Ze Frank. It's awesome.

How to Be a Web Design Underwear Pervert

As noted by Cory Doctorow, Marvel and DC have filed for a joint trademark on the word “superhero”.

Meanwhile, over in Reykjavik, Andy Clarke has just finished a reprise performance of his hit presentation from South by SouthWest (where he shared the stage with Andy Budd). The presentation is entitled “How to Be a Web Design Superhero”.

Uh-oh!

Fortunately, Cory has a solution:

Here’s a proposal: from now on, let’s never use the term “super-hero” to describe a Marvel character. Let’s call them “underwear perverts” — as Warren Ellis is wont to — or vigilantes, or mutants.

I have taken the liberty of passing Joe’s transcript of Andy’s presentation through my transmogrifier. I give you:

How to Be a Web Design Underwear Pervert.

Friday, April 28th, 2006

Pimp My Snack

Oversized food.

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

Pub Standards

Where the worlds of web and booze collide, slap-bang in the middle of London. Arranging meet-ups, every now and then, where likeminded web peeps with sore livers can share these very special interests.

Natural language hCard

Drew has written up the process of adding hCard to Vitamin. To view the results in action, try visiting Vitamin using Firefox with the Tails extension installed.

Drew explains what prompted the conversion:

Something struck me about the site as soon as I saw all the list of advisors. It’s the perfect candidate for exuberant use of the hCard microformat, so I dropped Ryan Carson a line and made the suggestion.

I recently had a similar satori. On every page of this site, there’s a little explanatory blurb in the sidebar:

Adactio is the online home of Jeremy Keith, a web developer living and working in Brighton, England.

This used to be contained in a simple paragraph element:

<p>Adactio is the online home of Jeremy Keith, a web developer living and working in Brighton, England.</p>

I noticed that this little paragraph contained:

  • my full name,
  • my profession,
  • my town and
  • my country.

<p>Adactio is the online home of Jeremy Keith, a web developer living and working in Brighton, England.</p>

This information is easily encoded in hCard:

<p class="vcard">Adactio is the online home of <span class="fn">Jeremy Keith</span>, a <span class="title">web developer</span> living and working in <span class="adr"><span class="locality">Brighton</span>, <span class="country-name">England</span></span>.</p>

Bam! Instant semantic richness.

I could have stopped there but I decided to go a little further and add a URL and email address:

<p class="vcard"><a class="url" href="http://adactio.com/">Adactio</a> is the online home of <a class="email fn" href="mailto:jeremy@adactio.com">Jeremy Keith</a>, a <span class="title">web developer</span> living and working in <span class="adr"><span class="locality">Brighton</span>, <span class="country-name">England</span></span>.</p>

This got me thinking about other places where microformats can be insterspersed in the flow of natural English sentences. I updated the author page over on the DOM Scripting site (there’s already an hCalendar of events). Speaker bios on conference websites would be another prime candidate.

I borrowed an idea from Andy Hume and started marking up comments as hCards on DOM Scripting and Principia Gastronomica. Once I started looking for it, I started seeing identity and event information in lots of places… even when it doesn’t explicitly look like cards or calendars.

The next time I’m writing or marking up some copy, I intend to sniff it for names, contact details, dates, etc. I hope to develop a nose for microformats.

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

Stodge.org » Blog Archive » Struck By Lightning

"The moment of electrocution is hard to describe. One instant I was running up a hill, the next moment I saw only white. What I heard was massive and ear-splitting. I felt nothing and sensed utter disorientation."

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

Print stylesheets

CSS Naked Day was fun. It felt almost voyeuristic to peek under the CSS skirts of so many sites. It also made me realise that the browser default styles are what people are going to see if they decide to print out a page from many CSS-based sites.

I’ve had a rudimentary print stylesheet in place for Adactio for a while now, although I should probably revisit it and tweak it some time. But a lot of other sites that I’ve designed have been woefully lacking in print stylesheets.

For instance, the situation with the DOM Scripting site was brought home to me when I received this message from Adam Messinger:

Would it be possible to get a print stylesheet for the errata page that does a better job of preserving the table layout? As it is now, it’s sometimes hard to tell which page numbers match up to what errors. Just some borders on the table would help a lot.

That one made me slap my forehead. Of course! If ever there was a web page that was likely to be printed out, the errata for a printed book would be it.

As well as adding borders to the errata table, I set to work on creating a stylesheet for the whole site. It was fairly quickly and painless. I hid the navigation, let the content flow into one column, set the font sizes in points and used a minimum amount of colour.

DOM Scripting blog on screen DOM Scripting blog in print

I did much the same for Jessica’s site, WordRidden.

WordRidden on screen WordRidden in print

Principia Gastronomica was crying out for a print stylesheet. Half of the entries on that blog are recipes. Most people don’t have computer screens in their kitchens so it’s very likely that the recipes will be printed out.

A lot of the entries on Principia Gastronomica make heavy use of images. Everyone likes pictures of food, after all. I was faced with the question of whether or not to include these images in the printed versions.

In the end, I decided not to include the images. Firstly, it’s a real pain trying to ensure that the images don’t get split over two pages (page-break-before would be a draconian and wasteful solution). Secondly, I bowed to Jessica’s wisdom and experience in this matter. She often prints out recipes from sites like Epicurious and, when she does, she wants just the facts. Also, these are pages that are likely to printed out in the home, probably on a basic inkjet printer, rather than in an office equipped with a nice laser printer.

Principia Gastronomica on screen Principia Gastronomica in print

If you’re implementing a print stylesheet for your site, I highly recommend reading Richard’s guide, The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web. All the advice is good for screen styles, but is especially applicable to print.

These articles on A List Apart are also required reading:

In an interview over on Vitamin, Eric makes the point that context is everything when deciding which stylesheets to serve up. Clearly, articles on a A List Apart are likely to printed out to be read, but the front page is more likely to be printed out to get a hard copy of the design.

For a detailed anatomy of a print stylesheet, be sure to read the latest in Mark’s Five Simple Steps to Typesetting on the web series: Printing the web.

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

Transcribing podcasts

As noted over on the DOM Scripting site, the audio from the presentation I gave with Aaron at South by Southwest is now available for download.

It turned out quite well. The audio quality is good and neither Aaron or myself do too much uhm-ing and ah-ing.

But there is an inherent problem with publishing audio files on the Web. That problem is succinctly summarised in this comment accompanying an entry for an audio file over at Vitamin:

Is there anyway to get a transcription of this? I am deaf so an audio mp3 is not going to help me a bit.

There is another problem, which is that right now audio files can’t be indexed and searched. That problem is secondary to the accessibility issue but, as with so many accessibility solutions, a fix will benefit everybody.

I started looking into podcast transcription services. The most intriguing one I found was a site called Casting Words. It uses Amazon’s Mechanical Turk API to farm out the task of transcribing the audio content.

This is a textbook illustration of the kind of problem Mechanical Turk sets out to solve, namely the kind of problem that requires human beings rather than computers. Speech recognition, like language translation, is a service that is not going to be replaced by machines any time soon.

For the developers at Casting Words, the Mechanical Turk API works like any other Web Service. They send a request with the parameters for the task they want solved. Later, Mechanical Turk sends back a response. What sets it apart from other Web Services is the fact that the response is sent via wetware, rather than hardware. The response isn’t retrieved from a database or algorithm; it’s retrieved from a human brain.

Casting Words put together a simple front-end for all of this. Jeff Barr has written up the process of submitting a podcast for transcription. You choose which audio files you want to have transcribed, you supply any other useful information that might be relevant to the transcriber, and you’re sent off to PayPal.

They charge 42 cents per minute of audio. For the SXSW presentation, which is an hour long, that works out at just over $25. That seems like a reasonable price to me.

I submitted the presentation audio, sat back and waited. A few days later I got an email with the finished transcription. It came in three different formats: Rich Text, HTML, and plain text. You can view the results for yourself.

Overall, it’s very impressive. There were a couple of glitches, but let’s face it, the subject matter was particularly technical. Elvis Costello once said that talking about music was like dancing about architecture. Listening to a presentation about code — and attempting to transcribe it — is an equally quixotic endeavour.

Still, when you combine either the audio or the transcription with the presentation slides, you can follow along pretty well.

I spent about an hour going through the transcription and tweaking the occasional misheard phrase. I’ve posted the final transcript in the articles section.

For a one-off recording like this, getting a transcription was an easy, inexpensive option. If you gave a presentation at SXSW, I encourage you to do the same: if you were on a panel, you could even split the cost four or five ways.

But could this scale to cover regularly scheduled podcast episodes? I think so. It does cost money, but then so does bandwidth. Bandwidth is often covered by sponsorship or a PayPal tip jar, so why not transcriptions?

You could argue that, if anyone wants a transcription, they could commission one themselves. But then the time and effort is repeated. Whereas, if you provide a transcription, there’s just a one-off payment.

By providing a transcription, you’ll also be providing a spiderable resource than can be easily scanned, quoted, cut and pasted. And you’ll get lots of .

How to Bluff Your Way in DOM Scripting

A presentation I gave with Aaron Gustafson at South By Southwest 2006.

Ben & Jerry's - Free Cone Day

Add this date to your iCal: April 25th is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's.

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

Brighton's Best Pubs

The blog of the book of the pubs of Brighton.

Bite Size Vitamin

A web developer’s life is a merry ol’ life. It just got even merrier with the unveiling of two great new resources.

Bite Size Standards is the brainchild of John Oxton. It’s a collaborative effort put together by a lot of very talented people. The site provides quick, easy to digest nuggets of wisdom for the princely sum of no cost whatsoever.

Vitamin is also providing free, valuable information. Also a product of collaboration, it’s the newest champion from the stables of Carson Systems. The first issue has set the bar high with some excellent articles: be sure to read Mike Rundle’s great article on visual design for the web.

Eric Meyer has also written a great piece for the inaugural issue called Making Popular Layout Decisions. It touches on a lot of the issues that I raised in my recent post about polarisation of opinion. In a nutshell: there are no absolutely right or wrong decisions. The classic example that Eric cites is the ol’ fixed/liquid conundrum (although he does oversimplify things somewhat when he says of liquid layouts, “users with really wide windows will get really long lines of text, which most people find difficult to read” — it ain’t necessarily so, although this is true of the many poorly-implemented liquid designs out there).

The Vitamin site itself is a wonderful example of compromise in that area. It looks equally great at 800 pixels, 1024 pixels, or any other arbitrary browser width. It always give me a warm glow to see such detailed attention paid to the user’s needs.

The visual design is also very appealing. It kind of reminds me of old-school Evolt mixed with K10K, updated for the standards-savvy crowd.

If you take your Bite Size Standards and your Vitamin and wash it down with the always wonderful A List Apart (a triple issue is out this week), you’ve got the perfect balanced diet of web design resources.

And if you don’t like any of them, you can always demand your money back.

YouTube - Wheee!

Anthropomorphic browser icons are funny.

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

Oddcasting

Thomas wrote about odd moments in technology after experiencing a moment of cognitive dissonance involving his iChat and my iTunes. I was listening to an interview with Thomas on Podleaders so that’s what was showing up in my iChat status. When Thomas noticed this, he pointed out via iChat how weird it felt. At that point I was listening to him time-shifted via iTunes whilst messaging with him in real time — itself a very odd moment.

Recently I’ve been experiencing some other odd moments whilst listening to podcasts. Specifically, I keep hearing my name, which is disconcerting when I’m not expecting it. I tend to listen to podcasts while I’m coding or Photoshopping so it’s weird to be snapped out of my “zone” by hearing my name.

It’s happened on two episodes of the Web 2.0 show; one with Dan and the other with Tantek and Ryan. Then it happened again while I was listening to Cameron’s talk about Ajax.

In the last two instances, I was mentioned because of Adactio Austin. I’m doomed to be known as the geek who mashed up Google Maps with beer.

Which reminds me of a joke…

Two gentlemen of whatever particular nationality you like to deride (Welsh, Irish, English; take your pick) are standing on a hill overlooking their peaceful harbour town. One of the men speaks:

See those boats out there in the harbour? I built those boats with my bare hands. But do they call me John the boat builder? No, they do not. And all of the nets on those boats… I made those nets. But do they call me John the net maker? No, they do not. And you see all of those houses down there in that valley? I built each one of those houses with my own sweat and blood. But do they call me John the house builder? No, they do not.

But I shag one lousy sheep…

Monday, April 17th, 2006

Bedroll

The blogroll is a common component to many blogs. It’s a sociable idea: a sort of recommended reading list of blogs by other people.

To North Americans, the word blogroll is a nice play on words on logroll. To European English speakers, however, it sounds regrettably similar to bog roll (bog as in toilet, roll as in paper).

I’ve never had a blogroll here at Adactio, but I have decided to a list of links to other blogs. Here’s the catch though: I’m only linking to people who have stayed in my house. I’m calling it my bedroll.

It is, of course, XFN friendly, even though it’s a foregone conclusion that everyone will have rel="met".

I’ve also marked everyone up with hCards. If you have a blog/bog/bed roll, I encourage you to the same. Here’s an example:

<li class="vcard"> <a class="fn url" href="http://designrabbit.com/" rel="friend met">Cindy Li</a> </li>

Wanna get on the ‘roll? Well, ya gotta come visit me. Wanna come visit me? Well, you might have to hold off for a little while… Jessica and I will be moving in to a new place at the start of next month. First thing we’ll do is get a nice comfy sofa. After that, normal service will return at Geek Central Station… we’ll be sure to register our new abode at Can I Crash?

iGoatse. the new skin for your iPod

This is priceless... but my iPod feels somehow dirty now.

Sunday, April 16th, 2006

Bite Size Standards

John has been working behind the scenes on this for quite a while and now it's ready for launch. Lots of yummy standards-based goodness in bite-sized chunks.

Adactio, pour homme

Erik Sagen received a very tempting email out the blue, which he has posted on his website:

Dear Mr Sagen,

My sincere apologies for writing to you unannounced. My name is Arno Zimmerman and I am CEO of an Internet domain name acquisitions agency based here in Los Angeles, California.

My agency is currently engaged by a well-known Hollywood studio. The studio is producing a new action movie called The Kartooner. The movie has an all star cast, including Bruce Willis in the title role, and will be released in the fall. My client is therefore very keen to purchase the rights to the domain name kartooner.com from you.

And so on. Now, I found this particularly interesting because, just a little earlier, I found this in my inbox:

Dear Mr Keith,

My sincere apologies for writing to you unannounced. My name is Arno Zimmerman and I am CEO of an Internet domain name acquisitions agency based here in Manhattan.

My agency is currently engaged by a well-known fragrance manufacturer who will soon be launching a new product range under the brand of Adactio. Adactio is a new fragrance for men and will be marketed world-wide and on all media, including of course the Internet. My client is therefore very keen to purchase the rights to the domain name adactio.com from you.

But wait — the plot thickens. Mr. Zimmerman wrote back to Erik with some more information that movie project:

As I mentioned in my previous email, The Kartooner will star Bruce Willis in the title role. Bruce plays an impoverished artist in New York who pays his bills by drawing cartoons for the New York Times. Through a series of unfortunate accidents, Bruce’s character mistakenly becomes the target of a Mafia hit squad and must use all his wits (as well as his artistic skills) to stay alive. Needless to say I cannot divulge any further plot details.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? I want in.

Here’s the email I sent back:

Hi Arno,

Thanks for getting in touch. And allow me to be the first to congratulate you on your move from Los Angeles to Manhatten — and in record time, too!

Y’know, I could never imagine letting go of my domain name but the idea of a fragrance called Adactio is almost irresistible. I’m not really very money-oriented so I’m not going to name some huge price. I am, however, a huge attention whore. Therefore, all I ask is that I am the “face” of the advertising campaign for the fragrance.

It’s a win-win situation. You get your domain name, I get my face on a billboard in Times Square and sales of the fragrance will undoubtedly skyrocket.

But what would really seal the deal would be the promise of some product placement. I think I should have a part in the upcoming Kartooner movie project. Clearly, it would boost the profile of the film to have the face of Adactio featured prominently. In exchange, the movie studio should probably offer an endorsement by Bruce Willis. I’m picturing a short TV ad with Bruce speaking the tagline:

“I love the smell of Adactio in the morning. Smells like… web standards.”

By the way, what did you say the name of your company was again?

Update: Oh, man! This keeps getting better. I got a reply:

You have asked to be considered as the face of the advertising campaign for the fragrance and I will pass on your request to the advertising agencies handling the Adactio campaign. Will you please email to me a selection of photographs of yourself? As the campaign concepts feature a bare chested man, I would be grateful if you would include photographs from the waist up and of your naked chest.

As the media buying for the campaign is not yet finalized, I cannot guarantee a billboard in New York. However I do know that the poster campaign for Adactio will run across the UK, so your image will appear on several thousand London buses.

This comedic genius continues in a similar vein for a while, which prompts me to ask… John — on second thoughts — Andy, is that you?

In other news: the Photoshopping has begun. Mike has already done the Vanity Fair spread.

Saturday, April 15th, 2006

Dichotomy

I usually confine my JavaScript-related ramblings to the DOM Scripting blog but a recent bit of DOM blogging got me thinking about larger issues.

I posted on the WaSP Buzz blog and the DOM Scripting Task Force blog about a great little script by Dan Webb. In the course of posting, I inadvertently stepped on a land mine of scripting controversy.

I described two possible ways of generating markup with JavaScript:

The innerHTML property is quick and easy to use. But it’s also proprietary and heavy-handed. DOM methods like createElement and createTextNode, on the other hand, are precise and part of a standard but they can be finicky and repetitive to use.

I thought I was being pretty even-handed. But both Jonathan and Dustin felt that I was dissing innerHTML and praising DOM methods.

In a way, it’s kind of reassuring to think that the word “proprietary” can be interpreted as meaning “bad”. It bodes well for standards when the word “proprietary” has such negative connotations.

On the other hand, it obscures clarity when the meaning of one word is conflated with the meaning of another. It’s also worrying when a hands-off, fence-sitting description is misconstrued as strongly favouring one side of a dichotomy.

There seems to be a human need to divide issues into polar opposites. In reality, very few people hold opinions that are so clear cut. Yet, just look at how so many topics are polarised into binary arguments:

  • innerHTML versus DOM
  • RSS versus Atom
  • REST versus SOAP
  • XML versus JSON
  • HTML versus Flash
  • fixed versus liquid
  • Macs versus Windows
  • Google versus Yahoo!
  • The Beatles versus The Stones
  • Republicans versus Democrats
  • Tory versus Labour
  • cats versus dogs

Most well-adjusted people will find that their subjective opinion falls somewhere between these poles. If you find yourself 100% in favour of one of the above positions and 100% against the opposing viewpoint, I’m afraid you may be borderline psychotic.

There seems to be an inherent need for human beings to form tribes that draw strength from opposition. At a fundamental level, we favour an “us versus them” mentality.

It’s especially sad when this is manifested on a national level. Nationalism became a dirty word in the twentieth century when it was associated with notions of superiority and inferiority. Even today there are people for whom it is not enough to be happy in — and proud of — their own country; they must also declare it to be “better” than all the other countries. Such a subjective viewpoint seems like a crazy way to form a mental model of the world.

And yet, that’s exactly the kind of mental model that our brains seem hardwired to prefer. A balanced outlook doesn’t sit comfortably with our base instincts. Our natural tendency is to take a subjective opinion and declare it to be objective truth. In order to do that, there can be no room for doubt.

A subjective opinion that lacks certainty and conviction doesn’t seem convincing (even though its very lack of certainty hints at its truthfulness). Instead, strength of conviction is seen as a positive trait. But, as history has shown us, the strength of a particular belief has no bearing on its accuracy.

Still, come election time, our media will be filled with politicians fiercely defending one view or another. They will be judged less on the veracity of their positions and more on how sincere they are in their convictions. Nobody likes a flip-flopper.

I have a theory about correlating strength of conviction with age. When you’re young and full of righteousness, the world seems clearly divided into black and white. Then, as you mature, you begin to see things in shades of grey. But as you get older still, the world returns to being black and white except what was black is now white and was white is now black.

Before I’m labelled a complete relativist, let me clarify something.

I’m talking about subjective opinions and the danger that comes with treating them as if they were objective facts. It is equally dangerous to treat an objective fact as if it were a subjective opinion. That way lies madness. Specifically, the madness of the flat-earth society, the geocentric model and neo-creationism. Well, not so much madness, but definitely ignorance and self-delusion.

Of that I am certain.

Friday, April 14th, 2006

Evening Standard Headline Crisis 2005 - a photoset on Flickr

All the hyperbole of Evening Standard headlines gathered together in one place. I have to say, Brighton's local rag, the Evening Argus, would have them beat for incomprehensibility and ridiculousness.

Evening Standard: AAARRRGGGHHH!

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

How To Be A Successful Evil Overlord

47. If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

AdAge.com redesign gets job done

Design review by Jay Small.

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

BBC - Radio 4 - 5 Numbers

Simon Singh talks about zero, pi, the golden ratio, the square root of minus one, and infinity.

Friday, April 7th, 2006

Further comment

My thoughts on comments were cause for some debate in certain circles. I’m not the only one grappling with this issue.

I managed to lure Dunstan out of his self-imposed exile long enough for him to point to some ideas he had for a more heavily moderated commenting system where only useful additions appear with a post. This is somewhat along the lines of the BBC’s website where occasionally feedback is solicited but it’s more along the lines of letters to the editor: comments enter a queue and only representative selections are published.

For a very interesting take on the comments question, I highly recommend listening to this interview with David Sifry posted on the Podleaders podcast. Responding to the question of whether Technorati has any plans to begin indexing comments, he points out that whereas blog posts have a certain level of accountability, comments are more like the (often anonymous) throwaway remarks that polluted Usenet and chat rooms, preventing those technologies from scaling past a certain point:

One of the reasons I think blogging is very different from bulletin boards or chat rooms is that it fundamentally enforces a level of accountability.

I find that that level accountability tends to create, or enforce, a certain amount of thoughtfulness… a willingness to think twice before someone says nasty things.

The problem I have with many commenting systems on blogs [is that they] do not enforce any level of accountability.

That’s exactly what I was getting at in my original post when I said:

The best online conversations I’ve seen have been blog to blog: somebody posts something on their blog; somebody else feels compelled to respond on their own blog. The quality of such a response is nearly always better than a comment on the originating blog for the simple reason that people care more about what appears on their own site than on someone else’s.

Then the tricky bit is tracking those conversations. And that’s where services like Technorati come in.

Thursday, April 6th, 2006

Bootcampilicious

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys living under a rock, allow me to be the first to tell you that Apple have released Boot Camp Public Beta which allows Intel-based Macs to dual boot OS X and Windows XP.

My reaction, much like everyone else, was “Holy shit!”.

Blogland is awash with hypotheses and conjecture about what this means for Apple, the company. I’m a lot more selfish than that: I just care about what it means for me.

See, I was thinking about getting a cheap PC laptop. It would be nice to have a machine just for testing websites in — Virtual PC runs a mite slow. Now I’m not going to buy that laptop. Instead, this is the little bit of extra encouragement I needed to invest in a new Intel-based iMac.

Apple wins because I’m buying a Mac. Microsoft wins because I’m going to buy a license for Windows. Dell (or some other PC manufacturer) loses.

Still, I’m probably not the target audience of this move. It warms my heart to read Greg Storey’s… er, story… of a friend who’s switching. Well, maybe switching isn’t the right word anymore. Ambi-OS-trous might be more accurate.

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

Royal Society | About the Society | Library and Archives | Using the Library | Group tours & talks

I think this could be a fun side-event to organise around @media: a guided tour of the Royal Society. What self-respecting geek wouldn't like that?

Naked

My site has no stylesheets (“how does it smell?”, etc.) but you probably won’t even notice because chances are your reading this in a feedreader.

In any case, it’s nice just to look at the flow of the document sans styles. Notice the “More information” h2 tag that is normally hidden from view. With styles enabled, the visual layout makes this heading redundant but without styles, or for non-visual user-agents, it’s a useful marker.

The man responsible for this CSS nakedness is Dustin Diaz, himself no stranger to nudity.

I had a pleasant chat with Dustin yesterday which forms the basis for the latest episode of his podcast. It was fun for me. I don’t know how much fun it’ll be to listen back to. I ramble on about JavaScript, comments, food blogging and George Clooney. Listen for yourself.

Powazek: Just a Thought: Death to User-Generated Content

Derek hits the nail on the head. User-generated content is such a cold, cold term.

Tuesday, April 4th, 2006

Google Maps API Official Blog: Google Maps API Version 2

Version 2 of Google's Maps API is out. Changes, changes, read all about it.

The no-framework PHP MVC framework - Rasmus' Toys Page

The creator of PHP offers an antidote to the profusion of frameworks out there.

AJAX Activity Indicators

Want to indicate that something is happening on a web page, like... oh, I don't know... an Ajax request or something? Here's a cornucopia of animated progress indicators.

When mashups attack

In all the many mashups out there, Google Maps is probably the most used API (version 2 is out now).

One of the latest in the long line of map mixes is Galker Stalker. It takes user-submitted celebrity sightings and displays them on a map of Manhattan.

Has Nick Denton gone too far this time? George Clooney certainly thinks so. Of course, for a site like Gawker, any publicity is good publicity. Jessica and Jesse are just so excited that George Clooney has noticed their existence.

Cameron Moll ~ I {heart} design.

Cameron has put together a lovely looking portfolio page.

Sunday, April 2nd, 2006

Upcoming webolution

At the risk of becoming API-watch Central, I feel I must point out some nifty new features that have been added to Upcoming.org.

Andy and the gang have been diligently geotagging events using Yahoo’s geocoder API. Best of all, these latitude and longitude co-ordinates are now also being exposed through the API. Methinks Adactio Austin won’t be the last mashing up of event and map data I’ll be doing.

On the Upcoming site itself, you can now limit the number of attendees for an event, edit any venues you’ve added and edit your comments. This comes just a few days after Brian Suda mentioned in a chat that he would like to have the option to edit this comment later (right now he’s looking for somewhere to stay during XTech).

Feature wished for; feature added. This is exactly the kind of iterative, evolutionary growth that goes a long way towards what Kathy Sierra calls creating passionate users. By all accounts, her panel at South by Southwest was nothing short of outstanding. Everyone I spoke to who attended was raving about it for days. Muggins here missed it but I have a good excuse. I was busy signing freshly-purchased books, so I can’t complain.