October 2000

10/31/2000 Tuesday

Making website validators check themselves is fun. Here's the results on a number of popular online tools:

SiteMechanic
Doesn't allow you to check their own site.
NetMechanic
6 HTML errors, 2 browser-compatibility problems, 15 possible spelling errors, and height/width problems.
Web Site Garage
1 HTML error and 26 warnings, 8 browser-compatibility problems, 1 possible spelling error, and meta tag warnings (results aren't linkable).
W3C HTML Validation Service
validates with no errors.

17:20 permalink

Another money making idea from Sang. Programmers are always going on about 'black boxes'. Well, we'll supply the boxes. To keep the cost down, we'll contract the work out to someone who will make white boxes, then we'll buy black paint in bulk and paint the boxes.
16:40 permalink

PC and Mac approximate equivalent fonts:

  • Verdana and Monaco (sans-serif, screen-based)
  • Arial and Helvetica (sans-serif, traditional)
  • Trebuchet MS and Geneva (sans-serif, mixed)
  • Georgia and New York (serif, screen-based)
  • Times New Roman and Times (serif, traditional)
  • Courier New and Courier (fixed-width, mixed)

09:40 permalink

10/30/2000 Monday

Boo is back. And still unusable.
17:50 permalink

I swear that this map (from Gerardus Mercator's 1595 Atlas) used to hang above my desk when I was a kid. I'm not sure if it was a reproduction or not but it looked pretty real. Wow.
15:30 permalink

10/27/2000 Friday

Every now and then, there's a Netscape-is-dead-or-should-be thread on Metafilter. I actually prefer authoring with Netscape. Getting things to work in Netscape is relatively tricky so if a site works on Netscape, it'll probably work in IE without much problem. Also, Netscape's Javascript error messages are a lot more helpful than IE's and I kinda like Netscape's 'wysiwyg' source view (especially since I can still view the true source thru the 'view-source:' pseudo-protocol).
11:35 permalink

If you've ever tried to debug DHTML in Netscape, you've probably seen the Ttyle attribute mysteriously replacing some style attributes in the source. What you are looking at is the result of a hack in the Netscape 4.x source code to prevent style attributes from being parsed twice. Do a find on 'ttyle' in the source code.
11:20 permalink

IE4 has problems giving focus to a newly opened window. There's not much documentation on this. I did find a quick mention of this problem in the source code for a window opening script at moock.org. Turns out IE5 has a similar problem but only in Windows 2000 - trying to give focus to any existing window immediately after a window.open() call causes an error. Luckily, the solution in both cases is the same - delay for a bit before giving focus to the window.
09:35 permalink

10/26/2000 Thursday

With the disappearance of Modo, Dack dug up an alertbox article where Jakob admired the interface but questioned the business model. I remember reading this a while ago. I like this bit: "I ought to have discussed it at the top of this article, following the content usability rule of beginning with the most important information. However, I had a conflicting usability goal in deferring this section: hoping that the photo would have finished downloading by the time you have scrolled down this far." Whatever, Jakob.
10:55 permalink

10/25/2000 Wednesday

Hacking could soon be illegal. And, yes, that's hacking as opposed to cracking. The intended legislation would extend to the publishing of software exploits. We're working on a knowledge base of browser bugs here at work so that they can be avoided in future site authoring. Obviously, some exploits will be included 'cause you don't want people's browsers crashing when they view your site. Would this be illegal? (via Slashdot)
09:30 permalink

More 3D silliness. This time, it's a 3D desktop from Microsoft. Does this look usable? (via Antenna)
09:05 permalink

Sherry just finished reading The Millionaire Next Door. The authors' thesis is that self-made millionaires (Prodigious Accumulators of Wealth) are frugal, spend wisely, and don't fit the traditional look of an affluent person. Their conclusions regarding the vehicle-buying habits of these people are odd, though. Upon noticing that many millionaires were driving larger cars and trucks, they decided that millionaires bought cars based on their cost per pound. Bigger vehicles being cheaper, by the pound, than smaller ones. This is just silly. I'm thinking that instead, many millionaires own businesses and will buy cars that they can use for both business and personal use. And bigger vehicles are more versatile than small vehicles. I don't know how they came up with that by-the-pound line of thinking.
09:00 permalink

Now that the federal election (in Canada) has been called, I'm waiting for the fringe parties to come out of the woodwork. That's the difference between Canadian and American politics: the fringe parties are entertaining instead of terrifying.
08:40 permalink

10/24/2000 Tuesday

I didn't even notice the little checkbox on the speech synthesis page that was labelled: "If you plan to enter text which our system might consider to be obscene, check here to certify that you are old enough to hear the resulting output."
12:55 permalink

The speech synthesizer that produced the clip below. Go play with it.
12:50 permalink

Aggh, bees, bees in my hair!
12:35 permalink

In trying to convince someone of the unhickness of any particular locale, people will generally list either a bunch of people who lived there for a time and had the good sense to leave or a bunch of firsts that are unconsequential and had to happen somewhere (ie. first heating duct; held the world record briefly in 1946 for largest apple pie).
08:30 permalink

10/23/2000 Monday

Section 102 of the Alabama Constitution is labelled Miscegenation laws and reads:

The legislature shall never pass any law to authorize or legalize any marriage between any white person and a negro, or descendant of a negro.

It's been on the books since 1901 and is still used on occasion in rural areas. There is now a ballot measure to repeal the law.
20:30 permalink

Darren, Sang and I are going to start a new web design company called An Infinite Number Of Monkeys. We'll hire a large number of monkeys, feed them bananas, and get them to hammer on keyboards randomly. Probability stipulates that, eventually, they will create all sorts of great websites. And we'll dispose of all the monkey droppings through a spin-off fertilizer operation. Selective breeding and genetics will encourage good coding and coloured fur based on departments. Three months to profit and it's gravy from then in.
13:35 permalink

If our finger joints bent the other way, we could hold things on the backs of our hands. And if our toes were longer, we could hold things with them as well. Why isn't medical science working on these pressing needs?
13:25 permalink

You know all those fake tvs and computers you find in Ikea showrooms (and, as I recently discovered, display suites for condos)? They're all PROPS brand props.
09:20 permalink

10/20/2000 Friday

Well, guess I'm out of a job. PhotoWebber turns Photoshop mockups into working webpages - complete with tables, frames, Javascript, and stylesheets. (via Zeldman)
09:45 permalink

Why 3D Shopping Makes No Sense from Good Experience. Because it's technology-centered, not user-centered. (via Tomalak's Realm)
09:40 permalink

10/18/2000 Wednesday

Luddite is nature's computer company. These all-wood computers are guaranteed for 5 years against termites. The Luddite company history is great.
09:35 permalink

With all the internet patents springing up now (Amazon's one-click shopping, British Telecom's hyperlinking), it's nice to see that people are actively fighting them. BountyQuest lists rewards that you can claim if you prove knowledge that a patent is based on preceeds the patent. Here's a list of bounties for computer-related patents. (via Slashdot)
09:30 permalink

WebWord has tracked down a bunch of articles about creating internationalized sites. These include articles on creating page layouts, currency and addressing information, and general globalization concerns.
09:15 permalink

10/17/2000 Tuesday

Math with Kevin Bacon. Now, how can you not at least look. This really appeals to the science geek in me. (via Metafilter)
16:00 permalink

This article about a failed dot com is profoundly depressing. (via CamWorld)
09:15 permalink

10/16/2000 Monday

The latest post on Fucked Company: Rumor has it the internet is out of money. Pack your stuff and go home. The company in question? all of em.
09:40 permalink

Also via Zeldman comes an anecdote about commercialism verses community. This follows several recent A List Apart articles on how some people still don't get this web thing.
09:30 permalink

Not only is cheesy flash alive and well, it is also inexpensive. "Very professional stuff". The Flashsites homepage is worth a look as well (might want to edit that sound loop). (via Zeldman)
09:20 permalink

10/14/2000 Saturday

Maybe it's my imagination, but there seems to be a flurry of discussion about 3-d on the web in the last week. The latest is this article about problems with 3-d in e-commerce. It's mostly the same stuff that was said when Boo.com died. Still, though.. (via Tomalak's Realm).
21:00 permalink

Why do so many non-fiction books have colons in their titles? More to the point, why do people like to give their books cute names that they then have to explain?
20:50 permalink

10/12/2000 Thursday

Making Mars habitable - apparently, the Martian climate can be changed "into something resembling Canada's in 100 years" in that it will support "nitrogen-fixing lichens and algae". Looking around, it's obvious that Canada can support a bit more than that. 10:50 permalink

Sometimes, Jakob says weird things. In an article on 2D verses 3D presentation, he says that "comparing the number of people who drive a car versus the number of helicopter pilots" indicates how the position of our eyes are more adapted to moving in 2-dimensional planes than 3-dimensional space. I think the helicopter-to-car ratio has more to do with:

  • the relative intrinsic expense of the two forms of transportation
  • most destinations are located on the surface of the planet and, therefore, accessible by ground transportation
  • and the ease of regulating ground transportation as opposed to air traffic

But all that aside, having eyes at the front of our head means a greater overlap of the areas covered by each eye. And this gives us the ability to judge distance. We are more adjusted to living in a 3-dimensional world than creatures with eyes on the sides of their heads. They have is a greater field of view but little overlap for stereoscopic vision. The real reason why 2-d is better than 3-d (technology considerations aside) is that information is easily hidden in a 3-d world when viewed from a single perspective. 3-d representations are only good for true 3-d spaces. Converting a non-spacial dimension to a spacial one when representing data is a potential source of confusion.
08:45 permalink

10/11/2000 Wednesday

Had a break-in recently? Go to TheBurglar.com, post your list of lost items and you can barter with the 'finder' (read 'burglar') to buy them back. (via WebWord).
09:25 permalink

Damn. I hate it when someone manages to say something more succinctly than me. In this case, it's Antenna's take on Urbanpixel. What he said.
08:55 permalink

10/10/2000 Tuesday

Tog loves Urbanpixel. Beyond the introduction of avatars into the shopping experience (which probably wouldn't have the value of an accumulated, structured knowledge database of submitted opinions, reviews, and advice), I'm not sure what's so great about the ability to browse an arbitrary layout of products. So I wrote a couple articles on it. It started out as one but I realized there where two problems: it isn't close enough to real shopping to be a benefit and most shoppers don't even want to browse.
23:40 permalink

This hands-free cellphone device is funny in itself but the fact that I got sent the link from 2 separate sources within minutes of each other made me think about how fast these things propogate on the web. Taking a short holiday without access to the net may mean that you miss a major cultural event. I felt very out of touch after taking a holiday for 10 days in August.  13:35  [permalink

Boo.com will relaunch at the end of the month - just in time for Halloween. Meanwhile, the founders of Boo are writing a book about the $120-million flame-out09:35  [permalink

10/06/2000 Friday

Just before I woke up this morning, I was dreaming that I was playing with lego. I was trying to sort out what pieces belonged to a particular model. Then I was going to go to bed. Because it was getting late and I really should get to bed. Then I woke up. For a split second, I thought: "Oh no, I'm too tired to get up now. I haven't even been to bed yet." What a depressing thought.  09:00  [permalink

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