archives for the 08, 2003 read the back log this is the permanet location for this weblog entry Sunday February 22 2004 home about archives interviews home archives 2003 08 news 31/08/03

The W3C Markup Validation Service


Simon Willison: Learning mod_rewrite

29/08/03 Familiarity

Over the last few years web design has travelled through various trends and themes usually with some lasting longer than others. One continual trend I have noticed is the re-re-redesign -- the redesign of the redesign of the redesign. Most designers go through a period of perpetually redesigning their web site, never quite settling on a design they either like or aren't bored with by the time they are finished creating it. I must admit, I have been guilty of this a few times, but then again who hasn't? This continual redesigning breaks the first rule of usability, namely that familiarity improves efficiency. This, I believe, is the most important rule of creating a good user interface. Look at Yahoo for example (not Google for a change, although the same thing applies), how many times have they redesigned in the last 7/8 years? Apart from rearranging the links and adding a few icons -- notice that the logo is still the same -- nothing else has really changed give or take a few minor things. With this in mind I vow to never to redesign again. All right, all right, maybe one more time :)


Will the real Zeldman please stand up? I repeat, will the real Zeldman please stand up? We’re gonna have a problem here...

28/08/03 Busy

Many projects make man busy.


Douglas Bowman and Jeffrey Zeldman working on a project together for Apple.


Gorilla Web Tip #8 — Web Standards Frequently Asked Questions


Semantically correct? IV

28/08/03 Web Safe Vs. Non-web Safe

web safe colours Vs. non-web safe colours. which do you use?


Semantically correct? III


Semantically correct? II


Semantically correct? I


How To: Sort out floated objects


Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes


The Anatomy of a Bookmarklet

26/08/03 Adrian Holovaty

Adrian Holovaty: web developer, guitarist and '60s rock-and-roll music enthusiast has been zloged. The 3 W's; Web standards, web etiquette and wishlists are discussed and as always reading is required to get the most out of it ;)


Do you need any more reasons to buy a Mac?


Subscribe to Comments [ScriptyGoddess]


About Posted Elsewhere | unraveled

19/08/03 Essential Plugins For MT

Topic for today, Movable Type plugins. Installation of the following will result in a better MT experience:

  1. MTIfEmpty -- Brad Choate
  2. MTMacros -- Brad Choate
  3. MTSafeHref -- Gavin
  4. MTPerlScript -- Brad Choate
  5. MTPlural -- Jesper Lindholm
  6. SimpleComments -- Adam Kalsey
  7. SmartyPants -- John Gruber
  8. MTTechnorati -- Adam Kalsey
If you're eager for more surf on over to the mt plugins directory where they have something for everyone.


Writing Better Web Page Titles–DKR Productions–Gorilla Web Tips


Rapid Pace of Development for Mozilla Firebird – MozillaZine


Web Design Links


CSS3 module: Syntax


All-CSS/DHTML Blogroll test (ver 2) ::

17/08/03 || Apache mod_rewrite Primer


Neil’s World: Why Thunderbird is better than OE


Why Apple is So Tempting


John Robb — “Google is about to create another bubble in Web advertising”


SimpleBits | Mini-Tab Shapes


SuperfluousBanter: Contest: Sidebar Redux


ReUSEIT: Redesign Jakob Nielsen’s site


/. | FSF FTP Site Cracked, Looking for MD5 Sums


Fun with the Google calculator (

16/08/03 URLs URLs

Today, like many others before me, I decided to change my archive URL format -- don't worry, the old URLs still work. The design I settled on was /archives/YYYY/MM/POST_TITLE or KEYWORD. I think this is the most accurate and future proof out of all the alternatives I have seen. Here is how I did it: First of all, add this to your .htaccess file then upload to your /archives/ directory:

ForceType application/x-httpd-php

RewriteEngine on 
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME}.php -f
RewriteRule (.*) $1\.php [L] 
Then find your way to "Weblog Config" > "Archiving" > "Individual Entry Archive" in the Movable Type admin panel and enter the following: <$MTArchiveDate format="%Y/%m"$>/<MTIfEmpty var="EntryKeywords"><$MTEntryTitle dirify="1"$></MTIfEmpty><MTIfNotEmpty var="EntryKeywords"><$MTEntryKeywords$></MTIfNotEmpty> A quick rebuild and you're done. A final thought on URLs before I put them to the back of the cupboard and never speak of them again: URLs should be short and intuitive if nothing else.

See Also

  1. Cool URIs Don't Change
  2. Permalinks Considered Harmful?
  3. URLs! URLs! URLs!
  4. That Usability Guy


Beginning Web Design: What you should know


What You Should Know About the Blaster Worm

15/08/03 Obligatory Bookmarklets Post

Bookmarklets I couldn't design CSS/XHTML layouts without:

  1. Edit CSS -- Pure genius
  2. Ruler -- How wide was that supposed to be again? (refresh to get rid of it see comment below)
  3. Resize to 800*600 — Minimum resolution, usually...
Brought to you by the usual suspects.


BBC NEWS | Technology | Designer’s dream desk for i-things


Movable Type File Rewrite

14/08/03 Confidential Matters

Dear Sir, Very polite... I will like to solicit your help in a business proposition, which is by nature very confidential and a Top Secret. A business proposition? Confidential and top secret? I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one worried and apprehensive but I am assuring you not to worry, as all will be well at the end of this endeavor. All will be well? For you or for me? I am Mr. Igho Nikoro, General Manager of African Development Bank PLC. My partners and I have decided to seek your help in transfer of some amount of money requiring maximum confidence. You wouldn't by any chance be a fictional person would you? A foreigner, Late Engineer Mark Otagaki who was an oil merchant and contractor with the Federal Government of Nigeria until his death onboard the ill fated Kenyan Airways bus {A310300}was our customer at the AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK and had a balance of US$32 million which the bank now expects his next of kin to claim as the beneficiary. Some how I don't think your telling the truth. We have made valuable efforts to get his people to no avail as he had no known relatives. Due to this development our management and the board of directors are making arrangements for the funds to be declared unclaimed and subsequently paid into the federal government purse. To avert this negative development my colleagues and I have decided to look for a reputable person to act as the next of kin to late Engr. Otagaki so that the funds will be released and paid into his account and this is where you come in. You missed out the bit where you say, "You were picked out of the 5 million candidates etc". All documents to aid your claim will be provided by my colleagues and I. Your help will be appreciated with a % of the total sum. Like 0%? Please be assured that this transaction is safe and risk free. We will need your fax number and phone number for more communication. Risk free? Wow Please reply soon. Will do. Mr Igho Nikoro. What a nice guy...


Microsoft abandons Outlook Express


The editor formally now known as #####


Anorexic Anchors


Textism: Twenty Faces


Andy Budd: Avoiding Tanek’s “Box Model Hack”

13/08/03 TypePad Launches

It has been just over a week since Six Apart (the creators of Movable Type) launched their latest webloging software, TypePad. Basically it's a reworked version of Movable Type that has already been set up and configured so you can publish to it straight away. Remember the simplification of the web I talked about before?

--·-- Over the years Movable has gathered a reputation for being difficult to set up and difficult to use (neither of which I agree with), on the other hand TypePad is all about the simplicity of webloging and because they are both made by SixApart I think this contrast will create a little big-brother-little-brother confusion resulting in a negative start to TypePad's campaign. Anyway, so far so good -- TypePad has a list of features longer than the bug reports for Internet Explorer and a great price, a worthy contender against AOL's "Journals" and Blogger, their main competitors. Well done Mena, Ben and Anil.


Short MT URLs?


Is now a good time to buy a Mac?


Easier form validation with PHP


Monkey Business: Switching To Mozilla

10/08/03 Predicting Posts

Most weblogs provide an RSS feed that can be syndicated to an XML aggregator. This is good for two reasons:

  1. It saves bandwidth -- multiple refreshes are not needed any more as you are alerted of any changes by the aggregator.
  2. It saves you time -- you don't have to spend your time fiddling with separate bookmarks as the information is all laid out on one page. This allows you to see in an instant if any number of weblogs has been updated or changed.
Sites have been providing these types of feeds for a few years now and still I have not seen (m)any creative uses for them. This got me thinking - what could you do with an RSS feed that hasn't already been done? The answer that came to me was pretty simple, so stay with me whilst I explain. Would you find it useful to be able to predict when a person was going to publish a new item? I would. A quick warning 5 minutes before an author is likely to publish something would be enough time to quickly finish what you were doing, ready to read the post as it becomes available. "How would this work?", you ask. A mock up of NetNewsWire with an expected post tool tip Well, it would work much like the current Mac Rumors Buyer's Guide. A program/script would take the time between each post and compare it to the other times between posts to work out an average time between posts. This, in theory, would get more and more accurate as time went on -- granted this wouldn't really work for sporadic publishers but hey you can't please everyone. This sort of functionality could very easily be incorporated into an XML aggregator (NetNewsWire, FeedDemon, FoF) by adding a little tool tip that said, "3 hours until an expected post is due" or something along those lines. It could even be something as simple as: "Publish Status: Unlikely", "Publish Status: Likely", and "Publish Status: Very likely". As I already said, pretty simple really. A few questions you might want to have a go at; why hasn't anyone else come up with this idea if it's so simple? Any takers for making this happen (looks at Brent Simmons ;))? Do you have any other ideas on how to make better use of XML? Or do you want to pick apart my idea? Go ahead, please post your comments bellow.


How To: Future-proof URLs in Movable Type

09/08/03 Classic Winer

An absolute classic Dave Winer quote popped into my RSS aggregator this morning, it was so Winerish I thought I would save it here ;)

"How dorky is an application used by three people that hits one of my sites 10K times a day? Sometimes I wish the kids would just grow up. Or if that's not possible, at least leave home. Or if that's not possible, die."Quote from Todays Scripting News
Also worth noting; ICQ's take on Google. Have a look at this search term: "zlog". What do you think of the thumbnails? Informative? Interesting? Bandwidth hogging? I'm not sure what to think either...

08/08/03 Weblogs As A Resource

As I have mentioned before, Google currently does a good job of indexing the vast expanse of data that is the Internet. With the onslaught of TextPad weblogs and AOL Journals this accuracy may take a dive as "blog-noise" begins to take effect more noticeably. Quite a few times recently, I have come up against a problem and found myself thinking -- someone else must have come up against this problem before and found away round it. Later, I find this to be true. Whether it's CSS or Linux problems, Google sieves out the relevant data. More often than not Google is finding weblogs that are relevant to the term I searched for. It seems weblogs have become more helpful than forums and tutorial sites; for the moment at least.

Related Links

  1. "white space bug safari" → The Daily Report
  2. "css tabs" → Dive Into Mark
  3. "table-based layouts" → Holovaty

07/08/03 The Simplification of the Web

The web was originally created as a communication interface for universities. It was built to help intellectuals share knowledge, bounce ideas, and collaborate with projects--without ever meeting--thus enabling collective advancements. Today's Internet has been greatly simplified; even people with no idea of how it works can use it. Gone are the days of Telnet, gone are the days of text-only browsing and gone are the days of surfing via Mosaic. The next step in the simplification of the web has been directed at publishing. It is now possible to publish books, articles and pictures straight to the Internet, using only a browser (even a mobile phone browser will do). Movable Type, TextPattern and WordPress, have made this possible for a whole range of people; from web designers to writers, all with little or no knowledge of HTML. All that is required--a browser and a password--is readily available and free, usually. TypePad, AOL Journals ect charge for what they provide: a reliable publishing system, that is completely set-up for the user. Weblogs, Moblogs (abbreviation of "mobile weblog"), etc can be set-up during an afternoon, and before dinner is served you can be publishing to the web. This is a huge move away from the personal web sites of old. As Geocities and Tripod are far more complicated to set-up and use than these new webloging services, I suspect that a flood of personal weblogs will suddenly become available when TypePad and AOL Journals finally get off the mark. This rapid flow of new sites will likely contribute to the Google "blog-noise" phenomenon that has been discussed recently by Matt Haughey and others. Nothing much can be done to stop this, so I am curious as to how Google will cope. For "weblogs as a resource" to be realised Google must be able to cut through the noise of irrelevant data to find what we were looking for. I'm sure it will soon be apparent if that's possible.


In Defense of FIR II


In Defense of FIR


TypePad UI

05/08/03 New Design?

What do you think? Should I change again? I am hesitant to... Image (70 KB) Basically the same XHTML, different CSS.

NB Thanks to everyone for the comments on my other design ;)

04/08/03 Accessible Error Messages

Colour is often used to designate something to a user. This can potentially be an accessibility issue for colour-blind people or those that have poor eyesight. Take this typical example: While filling in a form the user declines to fill in their email address--they don't want unsolicited mail from this unknown company--upon submitting the form they are presented with an error message.

"You have forgotten to fill in one of the required fields. Please fill it in now, it has been highlighted in red to help you."
This is a poor error message for several reasons. To start off with, it makes it appear as if it's the user's fault for forgetting to fill in that form input--which in the reality was done on purpose. Secondly it does not mention which specific input was required. Lastly it mentions that the required field has been highlighted to help the user. This is its only redeeming feature, which will only work for people with no vision problems or those that are using the latest, high tech browsers. A colour-blind person or someone with poor vision may not be able to see the subtle highlight that has been given to the incompleted field thus making it near impossible to fill the form out correctly. Couple this with the fact that screen reading browsers, that are often used by blind people, do not have a way of conveying colour. This would leave the user with little or no idea what they needed to complete, something that is unacceptable for online shops like Amazon and the Apple shop. With a slightly greater effort, a better, more detailed error message could have been generated thus making it much easier to correctly complete the form. For example;
"You are required to provide your email address, as we need to verify that we have a method for contacting you. To go to the email address input box click on this sentence, we have also highlighted the input area for clarity. Please note: None of the details you enter in this form will be passed on to any 3rd party companies."
This is a much better error message in several ways. For a start it doesn't put the blame on the user for the failure to correctly fill the form out--it carefully explains why an email address is requested and how to correct it. It also makes it easier to find then correct by providing an inline link to the email address input area and then highlighting the input area. This makes the form almost bullet-proof for all users, whether it's a text-based browser, a screen reading browser or the latest Mozilla nightly, the user is catered for. Everyone gains from this approach.

02/08/03 <author /> <data> <p><a href="">"Bye Bye Eric" said Netscape</a></p> </data> <comments count="0" /> </post> </posts> </document>