Archive: December, 2007


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Sunday, December 30th, 2007

wrapping up 2007 (28 December 2007, Interconnected)

A brilliant braindump by Matt Webb examining the weave of the Web and the nature of reality. Set aside some time to soak this up.

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Web design 2.0 - it’s all about the resource and its URL «

A great article about designing for what Tom Coates calls a "web of data", emphasising the importance of making sure that a resource sits at one URL.

Music Recording Industry Will Be First Traditional Media Industry To Be Utterly Destroyed By Digital Technology - Publishing 2.0

The RIAA now says it is illegal for you to put that CD you bought onto your own computer. Asshats.

Hacky holidays on the iPod Touch

I’m guessing that one of the more popular gifts this season is the . Christmas came early for me; I picked up my iTouch when I was in San Francisco in October. Thanks to Jina and a weak dollar, the price was right.

Ever since then, I’ve been making the most of it. The 16GB capacity is a bit limiting—my music collection is somewhat larger than that—but the combination of WiFi and a kickass web browser more than compensates. An iPod Shuffle is still probably the best choice for accompaniment on a brisk walk but the Touch is the perfect traveling companion on a train or plane.

I’ve been meaning to sit down and hack open the iPod but I just haven’t had the time… until now. As well as being the ideal time for wresting with operating system upgrades, this Christmas break in Arizona is the perfect opportunity for a bit of jailbreaking.

If you got a brand new iPod Touch for Christmas and you’d like to install third-party apps, here’s what you need to do.

Downgrading the firmware

Chances are you’ve updated your iPod’s software to version 1.1.2 or 1.1.3. You can find the version number by going to Preferences, then General, then About and looking under Version. If you’re running 1.1.1, you can skip ahead to the next step. If you’re running 1.1.2 or higher, you’ll need to downgrade to version 1.1.1 in order to jailbreak your iPod Touch.

You can follow all the steps required to downgrade. Be warned: this will remove any songs, movies and photos that you have on your iPod—you’ll need to sync again at the end of all this in order to get your stuff back on there.

In a nutshell:

  1. Download the firmware.
  2. Put your iPod into recovery mode.
  3. Connect your iPod Touch to your Mac. When iTunes launches, hold down the option key and click Restore. Now select the file that you downloaded in step 1.
  4. Wait for the firmware to install. Once it’s done, the iPod Touch will reboot.
  5. Choose the option to set up a new iPod (the option to restore from backup won’t work). At this point, you might want to re-sync all the music and other data that was wiped in the firmware downgrade. Feel free to disconnect the iPod after this step.


Once you’re running version 1.1.1, hacking the iPod Touch is very simple. Make sure you’re online and then use Safari on the iPod to navigate to Scroll down to the end of that page and click on “Install AppSnapp.” Safari will quit and you will see a progress indicator while your iPod gets cracked open (if you don’t see the progress indicator, go back into Safari and try that link again).

Once that’s done, you’ll have a new app on your iPod’s desktop called Installer.

Turbocharging the iPod Touch

The new Installer app on your iPod is your gateway to a world of third-party wonders. Here are my recommendations.


This app is wonderful. It’s like having a radio on your iPod but a radio that knows exactly what kind of music you like. While a song is playing, you can view an artist bio, read the song lyrics and even see upcoming tour dates. Get this: if you click on one of those concert dates, the event will be added to your Calendar app.


This is my IRC client of choice on the desktop so I was really happy to see that a version was available for the iPod Touch. It works a treat. Now I can pop into #microformats on any time I want.


Once you’ve got this eBook reader installed, you can download works in the public domain such as The Origin of Species and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes as well as the Creative Commons licensed Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig.


This is like the Books application but it’s specifically for StarDict dictionaries, of which there are many available to install. Install as many dictionaries as you like and you can then run simultaneous searches against them all. A single dictionary takes up less space than the average MP3.


There’s a Tetris clone called Tetromino, a Chess app called Caissa, a fiendishly addictive game called Lights Off and of course, the ubiquitous Sudoku. The Sketches app isn’t strictly speaking a game but it sure is fun. It’s like etch-a-sketch—you can even shake the iPod to erase your drawings.

Installing iPhone apps

Ingenious as all these third-party apps are, you’re probably most eager to get your hands on those iPhone apps that for some reason known only to Steve Jobs, didn’t ship with the iPod Touch. Maps, Notes, Weather and Mail; these are all apps that can run perfectly well on your iPod.

By default, the Installer app doesn’t offer these applications. You can remedy that by clicking on the Sources list in Installer, then pressing the Edit button in the top right corner and then Add in the top left. Enter as a new source.

Now the Install list will show new categories including “iPhone 1.1.2 Apps for iTouch”. That’s where you’ll find the iPhone goodies, each one accompanied by a stern warning that you should of course already own an iPhone in order to install these apps (wink, wink). If you plan on installing Maps or Mail, be sure to install the corresponding Maps Prep and Mail Prep applications first.

Having the Maps application running on the iPod Touch is worth any jailbreaking hassle. It instantly makes the device more useful (and more fun).

Usually, accounts of iPod or iPhone hacking are accompanied by caveats absolving the author of any culpability so at this point I should probably say something about this all being at your own risk and yadda, yadda, yadda. But I’m not going to say that. Instead, I say if you’ve got an iPod Touch, jailbreak it now. It will unlock the latent power of that Turing machine in the palm of your hand and turn it from being an MP3 player into a true mobile device.

If something does go horribly wrong, the worst that’s going to happen is that you’ll need to restore your iPod Touch to its factory settings—something you can do in one click from iTunes.

Friday, December 28th, 2007

End of Support for Netscape web browsers - The Netscape Blog

Netscape Navigator is officially dead. Rest in peace, my old adversary.

Is it jeremykeith's Birthday?

You've seen, and Now Gareth Rushgrove has built Subscribe to the RSS feed just in case you were wondering when my birthday is.

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Hacky holidays on OS X

Christmas is a time for giving, a time for over-indulgence, a time for lounging around and for me, a time for doing those somewhat time-consuming tasks that I’d otherwise never get around to doing… like upgrading my operating system.

I used the downtime here in Arizona to install Leopard on my Macbook. I knew from reading other people’s reports that it might take some time to get my local web server back up and running. Sure enough, I had to jump through some hoops.

I threw caution to the wind and chose the “upgrade” option. Normally I’d choose “Archive and Install” but it sounds like this caused some problems for Roger .

The upgrade went smoothly. Before too long, I had a brand spanking new OS that was similar to the old OS but ever so slightly uglier and slower.

My first big disappointment was discovering that my copy of Photoshop 7 didn’t work at all. Yes, I know that’s a really old version but I don’t do too much image editing on my laptop so it’s always been good enough. I guess I should have done some reading up on compatibility before installing Leopard. Fortunately, I was able to upgrade from Photoshop 7 to Photoshop CS3—I was worried that I might have had to buy a new copy.

But, as I said, the bulk of my time was spent getting my local LAMP constellation back up and running. I did most of my editing in BBEdit—if you install the BBEdit command line tools, you can use the word bbedit in Terminal to edit documents. If you use Textmate, mate is the command you want.

Leopard ships with Apache 2 which manages virtual hosts differently to the previous version. Instead of keeping all the virtual host information in /etc/httpd/httpd.conf (or /etc/httpd/users/jeremy.conf), the new version of Apache stores it in /private/etc/apache2/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf. I fired up Terminal and typed:

bbedit /private/etc/apache2/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

That file shows a VirtualHost example. After unlocking the file, I commented out the example and added my own info:

<VirtualHost *:80>
   DocumentRoot "/Users/jeremy/Sites/adactio/public_html"

The default permissions are somewhat draconian so to avoid getting 403:Forbidden messages when trying to look at any local sites, I also added these lines to the httpd-vhosts.conf file:

<Directory /Users/*/Sites/>
    Options Indexes Includes FollowSymLinks SymLinksifOwnerMatch ExecCGI MultiViews
    AllowOverride All
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all

I then saved the file, which required an admin password.

The good news is that Leopard doesn’t mess with the hosts file (located at /private/etc/hosts). That’s where I had listed the same host names I had chosen in the previous file: localhost

But for any of that to get applied, I needed to edit the httpd.conf file:

bbedit /private/etc/apache2/httpd.conf

I uncommented this line:

# Include /private/etc/apache2/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

While I was in there, I also removed the octothorp from the start of this line:

# LoadModule php5_module libexec/apache2/

That gets PHP up and running. Leopard ships with PHP5 which is A Good Thing.

Going into Systems Preferences, then Sharing and then ticking the Web Sharing checkbox, I started up my web server and was able to successfully navigate to There I was greeted with an error message informing me that my local site wasn’t able to connect to MySQL.

Do not fear: MySQL is still there. But I needed to do two things:

  1. Tell PHP where to look for the connection socket and
  2. Get MySQL to start automatically on login.

For the first step, I needed a php.ini file to edit. I created this by copying the supplied php.ini.default file:

cd /private/etc
cp php.ini.default php.ini
bbedit php.ini

I found this line:

mysql.default_socket =

…and changed it to:

mysql.default_socket = /private/tmp/mysql.sock

I had previously installed MySQL by following these instructions but now the handy little preference pane for starting and stopping MySQL was no longer working. It was going to be a real PITA if I had to manually start up MySQL every time I restarted my computer so I looked for a way of getting it to start up automatically.

I found what I wanted on the TomatoCheese Blog. Here’s the important bit:

Remove the MySQL startup item (we’ll use the preferred launchd instead):

 sudo rm -R /Library/StartupItems/MYSQLCOM

Also, right-click and remove the MySQL preference pane in System Preferences because we’ll be using the preferred launchd instead.

Copy this MySQL launchd configuration file to /Library/LaunchDaemons, and change its owner to root:

sudo chown root /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.mysql.mysqld.plist

That did the trick for me. When I restarted my machine, MySQL started up automatically.

So after some command line cabalism and Google sleuthing, I had my local webdev environment back up and running on Leopard.


Epic is a lovely looking new typeface from Neil Summerour.

From The Magazine : Radar Online : Cory Doctorow imagines a world in which Google is evil

Scroogled is a short story by Cory Doctorow that's especially timely.

Let’s Jailbreak the iPod touch 1.1.2 with OS X « RupertGee’s iBlog

A step-by-step guide to hacking your iPod Touch even if you've already upgraded to the new firmware.

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars

A brilliant summation by David Byrne of the possible business models available to musicians today.

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Podcast: Welcome to Tech weekly from the Guardian | Technology | Guardian Unlimited

There's a new technology podcast available from The Guardian. It's hosted by Aleks and judging from the first episode, it's going to be very good indeed.

The Humble Gourmand - Home

A new webzine dedicated to food, prettily put together by M. Jackson Wilkinson.

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007


Lots of tiltshift photos gathered together in one place.

ongoing · In The Audience

Tim Bray echoes my thoughts on conferences. "And let’s be brutal: at most conferences, there are two ways to get a talk accepted: submit an interesting talk, or bribe the conference organizer. Oops, sorry: I meant “be a platinum sponsor”."

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Christmas trip

My family is in Ireland. Jessica’s family is in Arizona. We live in Brighton.

Every Christmas, we take it in turn to visit one of our families; Ireland one year, Arizona the next. Last year we were going to go to Ireland but because of a beaureaucratic incident with Jessica’s passport, we ended up having our first Christmas in Brighton and my mother came over from Ireland to visit us instead.

It was a great Christmas but it kind of messed up our scoring system. What are we supposed to do this year? Is Ireland still due for the next visit or was last year a de-facto Irish Christmas? Oh, what a conundrum!

I think we’ve found the perfect answer. We’re going to Arizona but we’re bringing my mother over with us. She showed up in Brighton today. Tomorrow we make the long trip across the Atlantic: Brighton to Gatwick, Gatwick to Houston, Houston to Tucson, Tucson to Sierra Vista. The shortest day of the year is actually going to be very long indeed for us.

Once the traveling is done, I aim to spend the holiday season being slothful and indolent in the high desert. Doing absolutely nothing—it’s what Christmas is all about.

The Hugh Grant Squid Test

A dictionary of all-sorts. An enpsychlo-blog. A compendium of ancient wisdom of modern usage. History, philosophy, and the world around you. A "Who's who?", a "How's when?" and "What on Earth is it?" A token nod in the direction of truth and a dip in the

John Resig - Sexy Firefox 3

If you want to install the beta of Firefox 3 on OS X but you still want to keep a copy of Firefox 2, John will show you how.

IEBlog : Internet Explorer 8 and Acid2: A Milestone

Great news from Redmond: IE8 passes the Acid2 test.

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Clichés are hard

An offhand remark I made on Twitter spurs Dom on to do a whole lotta research on character encoding in class names.

QuirksBlog: Opera's antitrust complaint and political control of web standards

PPK points out a potentially dangerous aspect to Opera's actions, one that that the rest of us have missed: "Without consulting anybody, Opera is trying to give a political body the right to decide what does and what does not constitute a web standard."

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Cognitive accessibility of user interfaces summarised in an oversimplified rule //

The Sapir WIMP hypothesis: "The more easily you can talk about a user interface, the more easily you can understand how to manipulate it."

Year zero

was an uprising in extremis (in contrast to The Glorious Revolution). We all know about the storming of the Bastille but the revolutionaries didn’t stop at regime change. They also introduced . While I personally might find to be a splendid idea, it was doomed to failure. It required the existing system to change too much too quickly.

I was reminded of this over the past week as I watched a fever of clock-smashing fervour sweep the world of web standards.

It all began with Håkon’s open letter to the Web community wherein he justifies Opera’s antitrust complaint with the EU. This justification revolves around conflating Internet Explorer’s market dominance with its relative lack of standards support. But for the purposes of an antitrust complaint, these aspects are entirely unrelated. If Microsoft is abusing its market dominance to push its own web browser, that’s one issue. If that web browser happens to be sorely lacking in standards support, that’s a separate issue. Eric has already called them on this—if the issue were really one of standards-compliance, the time for action was when IE6 was languishing in the doldrums, not after the release of IE7 which shows Microsoft is at least back on track:

What I’m advocating is that rather than attacking the laggard right when he’s showing promise of catching up and being part of the team again, it might be better to help him along, maybe even say a few words of encouragement. Unless, that is, this attack springs out of some sort of perceived threat—in which case, just say so, and don’t use web standards as a fig leaf.

If I were cynical, I might suggest that Opera’s mashup of issues is a ploy to manipulate the emotions of web developers who care about standards. But I don’t think that’s the case. Håkon is passionate about web standards—one of the most passionate advocates I’ve met—and I believe that his intentions are honourable. I think he honestly believes that Opera’s actions are in the best interests of the Web. It’s just a shame that, in making his case, he has muddied two separate but important issues.

Spurred on by Håkon’s call to arms, Malarkey predicts a riot and proceeds to lob a brick through the window of the W3C. He outlines his plan for the CSS Working Group equivalent of a decimal clock as one in which browser manufacturers—the people who actually implement the specs—aren’t invited. He cites the situation between Opera and Microsoft:

What I am concerned about is how Opera’s action will further destabilize the W3C’s CSS Working Group of which both Opera and Microsoft post representatives. I am concerned that this action will irrevocably damage the promise and progress of CSS3.

But, as Zeldman points out, this connection is tenuous at best:

Apple and Microsoft and Netscape and Sun and Opera have been suing each other since the W3C started. What lawyers do has never stopped developers from Apple and Microsoft and Netscape and Sun and Opera from working together to craft W3C and ECMA specs.

The next bit of clock-smashing comes from Alex who cries from the barricades that The W3C cannot save us!

Alex solves the kinds of problems that us mere mortals haven’t even recognised as being there. He’s constantly thinking a few years ahead of the rest of us. No surprise then that his frustrations are magnified by his time-travelling perspective. His takeaway soundbite quote is this:

In order for the future to be better by a large amount, it must be different by a large amount.

He is absolutely right. But here’s the thing… I don’t want the future to change by a large amount. The present isn’t that bad. HTML is good enough. CSS is not bad. JavaScript is okay. Yes, I’d like to see improvements. Yes, I’d like to see innovation. But not at the expense of interoperability. I’m certainly not in a hurry to return to the bad old days of the browser wars, which is the very thing that Alex thinks is required to drive innovation.

I suspect that the frustrations felt by Jeff and others are on a different scale to what Alex is talking about. We don’t want the decimal clock of some brave new browser war; we’re just looking for the of CSS3 with its multiple background images, embeddable fonts and other shiny goodness.

Alex sets up a false dichotomy by suggesting that change must either come from a standards body (something he believes is impossible) or it must come from browser vendors. The truth is that both are possible, as evinced by namespaced CSS rules or, on a more extreme scale, the success of the proprietary XMLHttpRequest object.

While acknowledging the truth in Alex’s frustrations, Stuart sums up the problem with his proposed solution:

Let us not forget that the problem with the browser wars wasn’t that it fragmented the world in lots of different directions. The problem with the browser wars was that it fragmented the world in lots of different directions that weren’t possible to eventually implement everywhere.

I fear that a new wave of browser wars would lead to an ascendancy of and, inevetiably, .

Lest you think I’m being a W3C apologist here, let me make it clear that I am as frustrated as any other web developer at the glacial pace of the CSS Working Group and the lack of progress with CSS3. I just don’t think we need to dump the baby out with the bathwater. I think we can avoid any water disposal related infanticide by just changing what needs to be changed.

I think we can all agree that we’d like to see more transparency and movement from the Working Group. I don’t think we can avoid the process being a “battlefield”, an idea that many find distasteful but which is inherint to any heterogeneous body. It would be a wonderful world indeed in which Parliament, Congress and the United Nations never had to deal with heated disagreement. Disagreement isn’t a reason for abolishing these bodies; it’s the reason they exist in the first place.

It looks like all the recent sound and fury is starting to have an effect. David Baron is taking a stand from within:

I’ve informed the CSS working group that I am no longer participating in member-only mailing lists or meetings. I believe the member-confidential nature of the group hurts the future development of CSS.

Change is needed. It looks like change is coming. It may even be a regime change. But let’s not start drawing up new calendar systems just yet. The clock of CSS is running slow. We need to wind it up. That doesn’t mean we need to smash it.

evhead: Will it fly? How to Evaluate a New Product Idea

Ev Williams has some tips for evaluating business ideas, broken down by tractability, obviousness, deepness, wideness, discoverability, monetizability (ugh!) and the all-important "personally compelling" factor.

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Christmas Jesus Dress Up!

Yours to cut out and keep.

Friday, December 14th, 2007

No Ideas But In Things

"No Ideas But In Things is a library of controls, animations, layouts, and displays that might be a source of inspiration for interaction designers. Dan Saffer is the curator. The title comes from a William Carlos Williams poem."

Official Google Blog: Encouraging people to contribute knowledge

Google have a service called Knol on the way. It looks like it's going up against Wikipedia.


Flickr have launched a new stats feature for pro members. It’s very nicely done with lovely graphs and lists. It kept me occupied for at least five minutes. Personally, I’m just not all that into tracking referrers but it’s really nice that this data is available.

One of my more popular pictures lately is a surreptitious snapshot of the new BBC homepage that I snapped at BarCamp London 3. The photo generated quite a bit of interest and speculation. Fortunately there’s no longer any need for pundits to form their opinions based on a blurry photo of mine—the BBC blog has revealed that the new homepage is available to preview as a beta.

The greek letter isn’t the only Web 2.0 cliché that has been embraced:

  • Rounded corners: check,
  • Sloppy gradients: check,
  • Garish colours: check,
  • Drag’n’drop: check.

To be honest, it all feels a bit . That said, some of the interactions work very nicely and everything still works fine without JavaScript.

Overall it’s fine but some of the visual design elements irritate me. The gradients, as I said, are sloppy. As is so often the case with gradients, if they aren’t done subtly, they just look dirty. Then there’s the giant Verdana headings. Actually, I kind of admire the stubbornness of the BBC in using a font that really only works well at small sizes.

But the biggest issue—and this was the one that generated the most debate at BarCamp—is the way that clicking a link under the big image changes the colour of the entire page. I like the idea of pushing the envelope with CSS like that but the effect is just too extreme. It implies a relationship between the action of clicking that link and changes to other areas of the page. No such relationship exists. Confusion ensues.

I love the clock in the corner though.

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Merriam-Webster Online

The word w00t has been voted Merriam-Webster word of the year 2007. Slow year.


At this year’s dConstruct, George treated us all to a sneak peak of a new location-based feature on Flickr designed to solve the sunset problem with Interestingness®. It’s launched a few weeks ago. It’s called Places and it’s basically a mashup of location and interestingness®. Kellan has written about it—revealing a nice secret feature—and Dan has given us an insight into the design of the URLs.

Like most people, the first thing I did was to look at my own town. I really like the “Featured Photographers” bit. That turns out to be especially useful or those places that bear watching for topical, rather than personal, reasons. Take a look at the page for Baghdad. It’s not quite citizen journalism—soldiers belong to a narrow band of citizenry—but it’s a great way of seeing pictures from the ground without the intervention of a media filter.

self portrait: convoy New shoes Playing Soccer in Iraq by Elisha Dawkins, US Army, May 3, 2007 (DOD 070403-A-3887D-139)

Speaking of interesting locations, Dopplr has now officially left Beta and opened up its doors to everyone. Like Tom, I’ve found it to be surprisingly useful. It’s already got some nice Flickr integration and Aaron has been playing around with some automated tagging between the two sites.

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Do websites need to look exactly the same in every browser?

Like "is it Christmas?" or "is Twitter down?" but less Boolean.

Facebooked up

I was a latecomer to Facebook. I remember hearing everybody talk about it but I could never quite figure out what it was for. Flirting was the half-joking answer I heard at least once. It’s true enough that, over any given time period, for any social networking site that allows the uploading of avatar pictures, the probability of it turning into a dating site approaches one.

No really, I asked, what’s it for? There didn’t seem to be any social objects to build a network around. In that respect, it reminded me of LinkedIn, another site I never really “got” (but one that at least seemed to be in no danger of turning into a dating site).

But just because I didn’t “get” Facebook doesn’t mean there isn’t something to be “got.” After all, I really like Twitter but I find it really hard to explain to someone who hasn’t tried it yet. So I signed up to Facebook and, in some ways, it’s similar to Twitter: the phatic communication through the timeline has a real sense of ambient intimacy.

Still, I couldn’t quite throw myself wholly into publishing inside a walled garden. So I installed apps that allowed me to publish to Facebook from outside. Instead of putting my pictures on Facebook, I put them on Flickr and push that to my timeline; instead of updating my status, I update Twitter; instead of creating events, I use Upcoming.

Over time I built up my Facebook network, adding friends and acquaintances. Even though I had heard all the hype, I was still surprised by just how many people were on Facebook. I made contact with people I hadn’t heard from in years—people who had no other online presence. That’s when I finally figured out what Facebook is for: it is Friends Reunited done right.

That was a good enough reason to keep my account bubbling along. But the feeling of being corralled inside a walled garden still felt creepy.

Then the Beacon debacle blew up. It was a step too far even for those crazy kids:

The complaints may seem paradoxical, given that the so-called Facebook generation is known for its willingness to divulge personal details on the Internet. But even some high school and college-age users of the site, who freely write about their love lives and drunken escapades, are protesting.

If you want an excellent explanation—verifiable through experiment—of just how nefarious Beacon is, be sure to read the CA Security Advisor Research Blog.

In a nutshell, a whole raft of websites that are in bed with Facebook are transmitting data back to the mothership about your browsing and shopping habits—even if you opt out of having that information published to your timeline. Y’know, we poke and prod at Google’s “do no evil” policy but at least they take some kind of moral stance.

Now everyone’s giving Facebook a hard time—and rightly so—but it’s worth remembering that it takes two to tango. Or, in this case, it takes more than thirty to tango. They all knew what they were doing when they signed up for Beacon so save some of that ire for them. If you don’t like the idea of shopping under surveillance, consider boycotting those websites—otherwise you might find your Christmas shopping surprises spoiled.

For me, the Beacon ickiness has added to my overall discomfort with Facebook. Maybe I should just shut down my account. Ah, but that’s not so easy, as Brian can attest. And what about those long-lost contacts, the ones that I can only communicate with through Facebook right now?

Here’s what I think I might do… I may trim down my friends list on Facebook. If I know you through another site—Flickr, Twitter,, Pownce—then we’ve already got that connection. That would leave my “friends reunited” subset. Perhaps I should stay on Facebook to keep my connections to them. But then I will also take on the task of encouraging them to step outside the walled garden. Like a virtual evangelist, I will write on their walls asking if they’ve let blogging into their life… or at the very least, Twitter.

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Tweets -

A "barnacle app" that pulls out all the overheard quotes from Twitter.

Preoccupations: Adactio hits St Paul's

David follows up on my talk at St Paul's with cornucopia of thoughts and links that's more in-depth than the talk itself.

Sunday, December 9th, 2007


After my long day in London on Tuesday, the last thing I felt like doing the next day was repeating the commute. That’s why I didn’t make it along to the first day of the developer summit at Yahoo’s London offices. It was mostly for Yahoo employees but Norm! was kind enough to invite a few outsiders along too.

I must have been suffering from presentation allergies on Thursday because, not only did I miss day two of the Yahoo summit in London, I didn’t even make it along to Widgety Goodness in Brighton. Then again, that might just have been because of the topic; widgets appear to be of great interest to marketers and advertisers but they’re of less interest to me. Still, it’s great to see another conference happening in Brighton.

On Friday, I finally made it up to the Yahoo HQ where I sat in some presentations. Nicole got a grilling on some of her ideas for writing CSS. Norm! passed some by-laws on template creation. I also watched on a talk on design patterns that included a slide that wasn’t intended for non-Yahoo employees. I told them that I could be bribed not to blog about it but they put forward the suggestion that they could just break my fingers instead. My lips are sealed.

The best was saved for last: a pub quiz! I played in a team of other non-assimilated attendees. We called ourselves The Interlopers! (the exclamation point is a mandatory part of our branding).

Norm! set the fiendishly nerdy questions. We did reasonably well on the picture round, naming browsers from seeing their logos. Another round involved naming rendering engines—I missed the chance for extra points when I misspelled as Tasmin. I hope that Tantek can forgive me. Our performance was nothing short of woeful on the dates round but, c’mon, how are we supposed to know the day that Yahoo acquired

The nerdy standing of The Interlopers! was redeemed with the final question of the quiz, What is JPG? We were the only team to write down the correct answer: a magazine. That earned us a warm glow, handfuls of purple schwag and a place on the scoreboard that wasn’t shameful.

My thanks to the purple army for allowing me to play in their webdev games, drink their beer and learn their trade secrets.

Friday, December 7th, 2007

R2D2 Translator

Type a word, hear it from Artoo.

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

Developer's Guide - Google Chart API - Google Code

All the code you need to add charts and graphs to your site.

Vitamin Features » Creating Sexy Stylesheets

Jina has put together an excellent series of steps you can take to keep not just nice, but downright sexy.

The Magical Minimalism of Microformats - Open - Code - New York Times Blog

This makes me feel all warm and fuzzy: the New York Times talking about microformats.

HEMA - online winkelen

A very cute bit of e-commerce chicanery.

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Back to school

When I went to the Reboot conference in Copenhagen earlier this year, I met plenty of people who were interesting, cool and just plain nice. In fact, I met half of those lovely people before I even arrived in Denmark—it was at Stansted airport, waiting for a delayed flight, that I first met Riccardo Cambiassi, Lee Bryant and David Smith.

David is a teacher at St Paul’s school in London. Lately he’s been organising an ongoing series of guest speakers to come in and talk to the students. came in and gave a talk a little while back—yes that Ted Nelson. As you can imagine then, I was simultaneously honoured and intimidated when David asked me to come along to the school to give a talk on Designing the Social Web.

Yesterday was the big day. I walked across Hammersmith bridge and stepped inside a school for the first time in almost twenty years. Despite my nervousness, I felt the talk went well. I put together some slides but they were mostly just notes for myself. I had a whole grab-bag of things I wanted to discuss and while I might have done it in a very unstructured way, I think I managed to cover most of them.

Obviously this was a very different audience than I’m used to speaking to but I really enjoyed that. It was illuminating to go straight to the source and find out how teenagers are using social networking sites. Once the talk and questions were done, we adjourned to lunch—a good old fashioned school dinner—where the discussion continued. I really enjoyed talking with such sharp, savvy young gentlemen.

It isn’t surprising that they’re all so Web-savvy; the Web has always been there for them. Thinking back on my own life, it almost seems in retrospect as if I was just waiting for the Web to come along. Maybe I was born too soon or maybe I’m just young at heart, but I found that I was able to relate very closely with these people who are half my age.

I took the opportunity to test a theory of Jeff Veen’s on the difference in generational attitudes towards open data. Given the following two statements:

  1. my data is private except what I explicitly choose to make public or
  2. my data is public except what I explicitly choose to keep private,

…the overwhelming consensus amongst the students was with the second viewpoint, which happens to be the viewpoint I share but I suspect many people my age don’t.

There were plenty of other stimulating talking points—the Facebook/Beacon debacle was a big topic. It was a great way to spend an afternoon. My thanks to David for inviting me along to the school and my thanks to the young men of St Paul’s for their graciousness in listening to me natter on about small world networks, the strength of weak ties, portable social networks and, inevitably, microformats.

Seeing as I was in London anyway, I took the tube across town to see my collaborators at New Bamboo. That meant that by the time I was leaving London, it was rush hour. Oh joy. Despite the knackering experience of the commute, I managed to stay on my feet long enough to enjoy a great gig in Brighton that evening. It was a long but very fulfilling day.

nclud's Sketchbook | Cindy Li nclud'ed

Cindy is now working for nclud. That's good for Cindy and good for nclud.

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Facebook's Misrepresentation of Beacon's Threat to Privacy: Tracking users who opt out or are not logged in. - CA Security Advisor Research Blog - CA

An excellent piece of research that shows how Facebook affiliates' cross-site scripting (Beacon) sends information back to the mothership regardless of whether the user has opted out.

disambiguity - » Design Ethics - Encouraging responsible behaviour

Leisa joins in on the password anti-pattern. As she says, this is a question of ethics. I've already made my position clear to my colleagues and clients. Have you?


I don’t often get the chance to listen to many podcasts but when I do, there are a few that I have waiting in my iPod:

A recent addition to the podcast parade comes courtesy of Messrs. Hicks and Oxton. Broadcasting from their RAF base, they produce The Rissington PodcastGardener’s Question Time for the Web. The podcast also sports a brand new website that positively drips with delight. Go ahead and resize the browser window… admire that header, gasp at that footer.

See, this one of the reasons why I’m such a fan of liquid layouts. Not only do they feel inherently more “webby”, more in-tune with the medium, they also offer more capacity to delight. I know they’re harder to build. Fixed width layouts are certainly the easier option. But just as safe design won’t ever offend or excite, safe layouts won’t have quite the same propensity for delivering that warm glow of satisfaction that comes with having a website flow to fit the dimensions of your browser window. See also: Unstoppable Robot Ninja. Gorgeous.

But back to podcasts… I’m almost done with the dConstruct 2007 podcast—just one more talk left to put up. The presentations were ably recorded on the day by Drew. Speaking of whom, it’s that time of the year again: 24 Ways is back. Drew opens up the first window on the advent calendar with a piece on transparent PNGs in IE6. Expect another 23 high-quality articles to follow.