February 2001

02/28/2001 Wednesday

Going to Manning Park for the rest of the week. So no updates for you.
17:30 permalink

02/27/2001 Tuesday

More lo-fi video recordings. The World's Earliest Television Recordings - Restored! has lots of information on video recording technologies of the 1930's! And they do use a turntable-like recording/playback system and vinyl discs.
13:15 permalink

The Standard: AOL Time Warner Sites Claim One-Third of U.S. Usage. Camworld astutely noted this is probably an indication that 1/3 of all web users use AOL accounts and are stumbling around in the AOL-Time-Warner walled gardenas opposed to an indication of the true popularity of their properties.
10:00 permalink

VinylVideo lets you turn your old record player into a VCR. I really want to believe that this is real. Update: In a related note, you can make music out of scanned photos. (via Memepool and Metafilter)
09:20 permalink

02/22/2001 Thursday

Consumer's Distributing and ShopRite (I think I've got that right) had the same business model. They were big-box retail outlets that relied heavily on catalog sales. Their outlets were small, simple displays tacked onto the front of a warehouse. You went in, pointed to what you wanted in the catalog and the sales rep went back into the warehouse and brought back your item. Both companies have, as far as I know, disappeared. A search for "Consumer Distributing" brings up three types of returns: old news articles of it's demise in 1996, resumes of ex-employees, and childhood memories of Christmas greed.
14:20 permalink

I've decided to copy some of Tomalak's Realm's method of linking to articles. Prefacing the link to the article with the name of the source allows visitors to make a judgement on the value of the article based on their own experience with the source before they commit to following the link. I also like using the name of the article as the link to it. However, doing so relies heavily on the article having a title that explains the article (not usually the case). I'll still use my own explaination of the article instead of a pulled quote like Tomalak's. I like WebWord's approach of using both a pulled quote and a comment but it's too difficult to find a single paragraph that sums up the article and isn't confusing when extracted from the context of the rest of the article.
10:40 permalink

Hypergene.Net: Amazoning The News. Interesting article on how to tell a story on the web. Since the medium of the web is different from print, it follows that the way stories are told on the web should be different. On the web, stories should aim to share, inform, create, entertain, and transact. The article argues that Amazon does a good job of accomplishing all 5 goals. And other sites that tell stories (news sites specifically) could learn from Amazon's approach. The Amazon-esque News.com story page mockups (for a sports story and a political story) are pretty interesting. (via Tomalak's Realm)
9:50 permalink

02/21/2001 Wednesday

I'm so happy that I found the psychoceramics mailing list again.
17:05 permalink

02/20/2001 Tuesday

I made some changes to the site structure. If I did it right, you shouldn't notice any differences. I'm crossing my fingers...
16:45 permalink

The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine. Google as explained by it's creators (and written while they were still at Stanford). (via Xblog)
09:10 permalink

02/19/2001 Monday

Software turns Web into easy-to-use data map - moving away from a page-based web metaphor by using concept mapping. I have some problems with this article. Concept mapping has been applied to the web before. I remember seeing Flash-based demonstrations at least 6 months ago. A similar approach are being taken by Antarti.ca and UrbanPixel (though these are page-based sites). Also, you don't need special software to build a non-page-based site - persistant connections can keep the connection between server and client open and DHTML allows the browser window to be repopulated with new content. (via Tomalak's Realm)
09:30 permalink

02/16/2001 Friday

NS didn't support the background attribute of the <td> tag until version 4.6. However, you can still apply a background to a table cell and have it work in all 4.0 browsers by using the background-image CSS property.
11:50 permalink

Search Engines, Browsers Still Confusing Many Web Users - lots of interesting information on how people use search engines. (via WebWord)
10:20 permalink

Monster.com starts online ads that roam the screen. The banner ad is dead. There are now more annoying ways to sell crap on the web. See also News.com's new ad layout. And, apparently, popup window ads are a successful alternative. (via Tomalak's Realm)
10:05 permalink

ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US! A new Uber-meme? Perhaps. Seems to be everywhere. Really. Everywhere. And you can buy the t-shirt. (via Memepool and Metafilter)
09:50 permalink

02/15/2001 Thursday

I regularly go through my server log to find out what search terms people used to get here. The vast majority are Javascript related searches. But someone came here looking for 70s shirt collars. Dy-no-mite! That's pretty solid.
18:15 permalink

Network Solutions is selling it's database of domain name registration information. You can follow the instructions in their privacy policy to get your domain removed from the bulk and targetted access lists. (via Metafilter)
09:55 permalink

Amazon Loses Patent Suit Round. The patent in question is that 1-click shopping thing. So you can keep using the web. (via Tomalak's Realm)
09:55 permalink

02/14/2001 Wednesday

The recent Anna Kournikova (or VBS/SST) virus demonstrates how painfully easy it is to write a virus. It used to be that virii were elegant and complex, requiring skill and knowledge to write. They would exploit little-known weaknesses and back-doors in networks and computers. Now anyone with a HotMail account and a Teach Yourself Windows Script Host in 5 Minutes book can throw one together. The golden age of virii has passed.
09:30 permalink

More guidelines for composing email.
09:25 permalink

One thing that the DOM I doesn't include is an event model. That is provided in DOM II. However, the latest DOM-compliant browsers only attempt DOM I compliance. The event models in IE5 and NS6 (and Mozilla) are the old browser-specific generation 4 event models - still absolutely incompatible with each other. Scott Andrew's new article on cross-browser event handlers attempts to bridge the gap. This is a Good Thing 'cause we need to fill this hole. Scott's approach is to create a set of proprietary functions as an event interface. However, I'd like to see an approach that uses the same language binding as is defined in DOM II. That approach would allow a smooth transition to DOM II. The problem I find with most (all?) DHTML libraries is that they are proprietary.
09:20 permalink

02/12/2001 Monday

Google just keeps getting better. They are saving Deja's usenet archives.
09:35 permalink

The Usability of Email Subject Lines - the full report costs $40 but the summary does contain some useful information. I totally subscibe to this stuff. The subject line of an email is like the title of an article - ambiguous subject lines don't make me want to read the body of the email to find out what it's about. Some guidelines I try to follow when writing my own subject lines:

  • I try to follow Neilsen's guidelines on writing article titles.
  • If the email is regarding a particular project, I prepend a label followed by a colon to the subject line. Sorting sent messages by subject line neatly groups all the messages by project.
  • If I can, I try to fit the entire message into the subject line. I'll only do this if I can keep the subject line down to about 10 words. I'll also append "(no body)" to such messages to indicate that the receipient doesn't have to open the message.

09:30 permalink

Just the Text, Ma'am reinforces the fact that people want content. The article discusses Nic Wolff who created a script that delivers a text-only version of Salon. Some people also take advantage of the fact that some sites don't block access to the slimmed-down Avantgo versions of their sites to browse articles without ads and other graphics getting in the way.
09:15 permalink

02/05/2001 Monday

Text Width and Margin Width Influences on Readability of GUIs concludes that no one factor influences readability. Narrow text columns with wide margins and wide text columns with no margins fared equally well. Leaving it up to the user to determine the width they are most comfortable with makes even more sense now. (via Glish)
08:55 permalink

02/02/2001 Friday

Developing Schemas for the Location of Common Web Objects is excellent. The study broke the browser window into a grid and asked users to indicate where they expected to see important navigational features (search forms, links to home, internal links, etc) on websites. Probably more interesting, the results are broken down into two groups - people with less than one year experience with the web and those with three or more years experience. (via xblog)
09:00 permalink

02/01/2001 Thursday

Home Page Essentials: Five Questions Every Home Page Should Answer advocates two truths. The first is that a site's toplevel page should communicate some important information to it's users. The second, implied truth is that the site shouldn't spam the user with anything else. People don't like too much information all at once. We need a filtering system. And the website is supposed to be the filter.
09:55 permalink

<incoherent rant>I hate it when people write welcome to my little corner of the web on their sites. Stop it! It's cool to see it on sites from 1995 but not 2001. Weren't we supposed to have flying cars by now? I don't remember any welcome to my little corner of the web messages in the Jetsons. Come on people - it's the future now. Let's behave appropriately.</incoherent rant>
09:35 permalink

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