Brainstorms and Raves

Notes on Web Design, Development, Standards, Typography, Music, and More

Archives by Month: January, 2002

Listed below are excerpts and links to all weblog, blog entries, posts published during January, 2002.

Thu

31

JAN

2002

Washington State Library’s Existence Threatened

This is one of the most nutso things I’ve heard for awhile. New Breed Librarian reports: "Washington State Library is fighting for its existence. If shut down, Washington will lose a unique repository serving historians, public officials, genealogists, and others. Further, WA would be the only state without a state library." While I understand that budget cuts can mean some tough decisions, this kind of potential cut is absolutely ludicrous. Let’s hope the publicity stops this one in its tracks before it gets even close to passing.... (90 words, 3 links)

11:37 am, pst31 January, 2002

Categories: Research

31

JAN

2002

SXSW Interactive Festival in March!

Lots of fun and interesting people, workshops, panels, and more at the upcoming 2002 SXSW Interactive Festival at Austin, Texas in March. It’s not far away! And guess what?! I’ll also be there speaking on a panel, What is Independent Content? with Jeffrey Zeldman, Derek Powazek and Michael Schmidt. We will try our best to answer that question in a fun and interesting way, too. Check out the schedule and see if you can make it! If you do, please let me know and say hello. (119 words, 8 links, 1 image)

12:43 am, pst31 January, 2002

Categories: Design

Wed

30

JAN

2002

Mister Rogers' Songs in MP3

In response to my previous post, I’ve been asked about Mister Rogers songs in MP3 format. If you run a quick search at Google for 'Mister Rogers MP3' you’ll find plenty. I’m not listing any sites here since I’m not sure which do or don’t infringe on copyrights, so I’m staying away from that one. Have fun!... (61 words, 3 links)

08:31 am, pst30 January, 2002

Categories: Music

30

JAN

2002

Jish Meets Mister Rogers?

I think Jish has been watching Mister Rogers again. Jish of the Webloggers Webring asked us to meet our webring neighbors by adding a note to our next weblog entry as an experiment. Without further ado, here’s the note: Jish asked me to say HI! to my webloggers webring neighbours. » to the left of me: Cluttered Life. » to the right of me: What I Really Meant to Say. So check them out when you get a chance. More interesting adventures. By the way, if you visit the Mister Rogers Web site and have a sound card, you’ll... (186 words, 9 links)

08:10 am, pst30 January, 2002

Categories: Internet

Tue

29

JAN

2002

Condolences

Warm thoughts and prayers go to Juanita Benedicto (New Breed Librarian) and her family on the loss of Juanita’s father, who died quite unexpectedly last week.... (30 words, 3 links)

06:05 pm, pst29 January, 2002

Categories: Personal

29

JAN

2002

All About Icons and Creating Great Ones

Iconic Communication is an excellent series of articles that goes into detail about the fine art of creating icons. Many examples are included with the reasons and ideas about why they work so well, such as Olympics symbols, logo icons and other memorable symbols, and more. I found the above articles fascinating. We’ve all seen icons that make no sense, that don’t provide good clues for site or GUI navigation, for example. We’ve also seen icons that are so well done that we don’t even pause to click on them or wonder what they are, knowing exactly what they... (161 words, 4 links)

06:17 am, pst29 January, 2002

Mon

28

JAN

2002

Writing for the Web: Joel Makes it Easy

Joel Canfield, known around evolt.org as Spinhead, wrote a new (and terrific!) tutorial about planning and organizing your writing. Its light-hearted approach helps you zoom through the tutorial, effortlessly learning good tips with a smile on your face. Joel’s fun nature and wit shine through, making this an easy way to fine tune your writing skills. Structured Writing - An Outline, by Joel Canfield, for evolt.org. Try it. You’ll like it.... (73 words, 4 links)

06:55 pm, pst28 January, 2002

Categories: Content

Fri

25

JAN

2002

The Dutch Protest Railway Site Accessible Only with MSIE

The state-owned Dutch Railways created a new Web site for public services in a hurry to accommodate the new Euro currency. Some of the helpful information available at the new site is online national and European train timeables. Unfortunately, they used JavaScript proprietary to Internet Explorer 4.5 and up, blocking countless users from accessing this major public site. This new site that’s inaccessible to so many users created quite an uproaring. Three developers immediately created a shadow site within only three days using a PHP script to post queries to the railway site and then render "standards-based" results. Users flocked... (284 words, 4 links)

03:04 pm, pst25 January, 2002

Categories: Accessibility

Thu

24

JAN

2002

Cataloging Lots and Lots of Blogs

Jason of my vapid life has taken on quite a project with his new BlogRolling.com. As of this post, there are close to 5,000 weblogs (blogs) cataloged, linked, and including their last updates noted. Although he’s currently using the Weblogs.com listings, he’s weeding through them by hand, so this isn’t just another Weblogs.com mirror. He’s not accepting submission requests yet, but he’s working on it. Resources You’ll find more sites with blog listings at Brainstorms and Raves' Luscious Links.... (82 words, 6 links)

10:36 pm, pst24 January, 2002

Categories: Weblogs

24

JAN

2002

New CSS Discussion List

Eric Meyer (author of Cascading Style Sheets, The Definitive Guide) and John Allsopp of Westciv Webware have created a new discussion list for all things related to CSS. This list is intended for any level from newbies through advanced. Share your tips and expertise and learn from the best out there at the new CSS-Discuss. [hat tip: Eric Meyer via Webdesign-L]... (65 words, 7 links)

03:56 pm, pst24 January, 2002

Categories: CSS

Wed

23

JAN

2002

Forward Compatibility

There’s been so much buzz about creating backward compatible sites. What about forward compatible? I’ve discussed that here since that’s how I create sites now, and Jeffrey Zeldman has started a new section at his site on the subject of forward compatibility. He’s writing a book to be titled, Forward Compatibility: Designing & Building With Web Standards. I couldn’t be any more excited. So hurry up and get it written, Jeffrey. :-) I have a feeling that writing it will be an interesting and fun exploration, too. This forward thinking approach is not one that many people are using... (306 words, 6 links)

11:31 pm, pst23 January, 2002

Categories: Books, CSS, Design, Standards

23

JAN

2002

Conversations About Information Architecture

Lou Rosenfeld of the Information Architecture book fame wrote another thought-provoking and interesting entry to his weblog, What Good is Information Architecture Anyway? He’s asked for more to add to his list. Too serious? Needs more fun? Just fine as it is? Well, you can decide and add to Lou’s list of what’s good about information architecture while you’re there. Good read. [hat tip: New Breed Librarian]... (69 words, 5 links, 1 image)

12:50 pm, pst23 January, 2002

23

JAN

2002

Usable, Accessible Flash

Meryl Evans wrote an exceptional tutorial for designers and developers on effective use of Flash, Flash Usability, for the latest issue of Digital Web. Meryl covers so many details about working with Flash to create user-friendly, accessible results in a concise, witty, and interesting way. This one is definitely one for the bookmarks and to refer to others. Speaking of Digital Web, their latest issue is out with lots more terrific articles, as always.... (76 words, 3 links)

09:41 am, pst23 January, 2002

23

JAN

2002

Humor Break: How To Eat a Pretzel

I couldn’t resist posting a link to this silly article by the Brains Trust, Pretzel Eating in Safety and Comfort, A Guide for the Dangerously Stupid. (It’s also rather ironic that Bush’s life is being so closely guarded against would-be assassins and terrorists and that he could have choked to death on a pretzel.) [Hat tip: Tom Negrino, Backup Brain]... (63 words, 3 links)

09:17 am, pst23 January, 2002

Categories: Humor

Tue

22

JAN

2002

2002 Olympics Site Accessibility Blunders, Continued

WebReference’s Andy King wrote a great follow-up today to last week’s review on the major accessibility problems with the 2002 Olympics Web site: Accessibility for All? Interestingly, some of the problems that Andy pointed out last week have now mysteriously disappeared. Well, regardless of how or why that coincidence exists, fixing at least some of the issues is a good thing. The JavaScript and frames problems still exist, though, as I first mentioned last week. Banning folks from access just because they don’t have frames or JavaScript turned on or don’t have JavaScript capability (such as screen readers) is... (300 words, 10 links)

03:27 pm, pst22 January, 2002

Mon

21

JAN

2002

No More Flame Wars

How many times have we all seen ridiculous flame wars going on in discussion lists? Madhu Menon has written some excellent points about dealing with different opinions in his weblog today. Disagree with an opinion rather than attacking the person, for example. Avoid sarcasm, use humor, show respect for the other person’s opinion, for starters. "Madman" Madhu explains it all very well. While this is all common sense with getting along with others in daily life, I’ve repeatedly seen major attacks online that I suspect wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t so easy to hit the SEND button, forgetting that... (110 words, 2 links)

04:40 pm, pst21 January, 2002

Categories: Internet

21

JAN

2002

Writing for the Web

You’ve probably read Jakob Nielsen’s 1997 article, How Users Read on the Web. If not, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Check out the table that he shows with various approaches to the same content. It’s amazing indeed to see how the bulleted lists and concise content make such a huge difference. If you see long paragraphs, are you inclined to read every single word? Studies show that you probably won’t. Readers tend to scan text on the Web. So what does that mean for your Web site or your client’s Web site? Take a look at your main page (or... (492 words, 12 links, 1 image)

05:36 am, pst21 January, 2002

Categories: Content

Sat

19

JAN

2002

Combining Phones and PDAs

I can’t imagine life without my PDA, a Handspring Visor. It keeps track of my schedule, reminds me of things to do, stores names and addresses, I can jot quick notes into it, type documents, and even download a map with directions to find my way. Overall it really helps make my life easier. For me a PDA is a necessity, not just a fun toy, although there are plenty of fun games for PDAs, too! The other necessity is my cell phone. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been so grateful to have it. What... (230 words, 9 links)

04:56 pm, pst19 January, 2002

Categories: Technology, Wireless

19

JAN

2002

Doc Searls, Spam, and a Cuisinart

Doc Searls has managed to merge and mix up his recent spam in a unique and amusing way. It’s quite a story and recycling at its best. Great weekend humor, especially after a Cuisinart week.... (36 words, 2 links)

04:41 pm, pst19 January, 2002

Categories: Internet

Fri

18

JAN

2002

Olympics 2002 Site, Continued

Words are buzzing about the Olympics 2002 site’s accessibility lockout that I wrote about Wednesday. WebReference’s Andy King wrote an information-packed, interesting review about both accessibility and usability issues (thanks to Meryl). And there’s been buzz at both Slashdot and Metafilter expressing almost as many viewpoints as there are people in this world. As I commented earlier today at Slashdot, I don’t feel it’s sufficient that most but not all people can access the Olympics site. That could be said about sidewalks without ramps for wheelchairs, too—most people can step up the step fine, so why bother... (162 words, 11 links)

05:03 pm, pst18 January, 2002

18

JAN

2002

On a Lighter Note - Patchsoft by Microsoft

Satirewire has released its latest satire, this one about the creation of Patchsoft. Here are just a few highlights: Redmond, Wash. (SatireWire.com)—In a surprise settlement today with nine U.S. states, Microsoft agreed to be split into two independent companies—one that will continue to make Microsoft operating systems, browsers, and server software, and another, potentially larger company that will make patches for Microsoft operating systems, browsers, and server software. . . “Patchsoft developers will not have any foreknowledge of bugs or security holes before software is released. They’ll just have to be surprised,” he said. “So it will... (115 words, 2 links)

06:11 am, pst18 January, 2002

Categories: Humor, Software

Thu

17

JAN

2002

More on PDF and Accessibility

After reading Monday’s post on PDF and Accessibility, Thomas Vander Wal kindly shared some insight with me about PDF and accessibility issues. Here’s a snippet of what he wrote: There is one element in Adobe Acrobat that does not meet the Government’s 508 compliance, if this is a yard stick for accessibility. The element is complex tables, which do not have PDF tags available to help make the tables compliant. . . To keep it clear a complex table is one that has more than one set of header rows and often one of the header rows would span a selection... (210 words, 4 links)

11:54 am, pst17 January, 2002

Categories: Accessibility

17

JAN

2002

Speaking of Accessible Sites and Technology

A friend (who prefers anonymity) sent me a URL for an interesting article at CNN’s War on Terror section, How Prepared Is Your City? with the following comment: "If I want to find out how well-prepared my city is to cope with a terrorist attack, I must have Flash installed (which my primary browser doesn’t, just to catch things like this). Why is Flash so important to this special report? So they can show me smallish charts of text and numbers, all drawn in Flash." CNN’s report is interesting and informative. Too bad they didn’t take the helpful measures... (360 words, 7 links)

07:35 am, pst17 January, 2002

Categories: Accessibility

Wed

16

JAN

2002

Accessibility Lockout for Olympics 2002 Site—Again?!

After the lawsuit, resulting decision, and huge scandal over the lack of ALT attributes for the Sydney 2000 Olympics site, I had to go see how the Salt Lake 2002 site fares for accessibility. With Opera in hand to easily turn off images, I checked it out. Whew. This time they use ALT attributes on the main page, and most of them have decent description text, with just a few having a pointless "image" for the ALT attributes text. Not bad. Turning off JavaScript, though, doesn’t fare so well. In fact, it makes the site totally inaccessible, as shown... (721 words, 22 links, 1 image)

06:25 am, pst16 January, 2002

Tue

15

JAN

2002

Great Explanation of W3C’s Role, Standards

Molly Holzschlag has written another easy to understand article, Raise Your Standards. Her explanation about the role of W3C is one of the best I’ve seen. The role of developers is also explained well, and I also agree with her about our need to learn about and effectively separate content from structure, learn contemporary markup, and learn to read and use DTDs.... (64 words, 2 links)

06:29 am, pst15 January, 2002

Categories: Development, Standards

Mon

14

JAN

2002

PDF and Accessibility

Jeffrey Zeldman’s comment about the new tutorial on Web Accessibility Guidelines by the State of Illinois in PDF format prompted me to update and refresh my information on PDF accessibility issues. How accessible friendly are PDF documents now? Off I went to explore my bookmarks and the Adobe site. Here’s some of what I revisited or found and a few thoughts tossed in. For Users Adobe Acrobat Reader: A free downloadable version that includes support for screen readers via the Microsoft Active Access API (MSAA). Online Conversion Tools: Convert PDF documents into either HTML or ASCII text, which can... (455 words, 8 links)

07:28 pm, pst14 January, 2002

Categories: Accessibility

14

JAN

2002

How Did Web Standards and Browsers Fare in 2001?

CodeBitch analyzes the answers to that question in 2001: A Browser Odyssey. I liked reading at least the spirit of her prediction (although I have a few arguments below): "I predict that sometime in 2002, most Web authors should be able to start designing standards-compliant sites that degrade gracefully to a bland look in Netscape 4, instead of feeling obliged to hack things to look in Netscape 4 like they do in IE6—the usage of Netscape 4 will have dropped to that rump of die-hards using Netscape 4.7999996." Designers and developers can design sites right now without... (708 words, 5 links)

01:13 pm, pst14 January, 2002

Categories: CSS, Design, Software, Standards

14

JAN

2002

Latest Pixelview Interviews

Meryl Evans is added to the list of "independent designers, developers and others" interviewed by the head lemur at his pixelview site. Meryl’s terrific articles, reviews, and commentary are all over the Web, and now’s your chance to see what led her here and more. More recent additions since my previous updates are Derek Powazek, Joe Clark, and Steve Champeon. If you check out the list of interviewees, you’ll probably recognize some names there, too, and find more interesting reading. By the way, who’s the Renaissance Woman? She looks vaguely familiar.... (94 words, 7 links)

08:37 am, pst14 January, 2002

Categories: Internet

Sat

12

JAN

2002

Find What You Need at W3C

One of the complaints I hear often, unfortunately, is not being able to find things very easily at the W3C site. Here are a couple of things that may help a bit: The W3C Technical Reports and Publications page is a helpful listing at W3C to quickly find the most recent Recommendations, Working Drafts, Technical Reports and other publications. You can quickly scan the list to also see their most recent work, which is impressive indeed. Search the W3C site using their onsite search (which uses Google) located on the main page at the top of the right column.... (161 words, 8 links)

06:35 pm, pst12 January, 2002

Categories: Standards

Fri

11

JAN

2002

New Worm for Outlook Users

Friday morning’s The Register gives a rundown of the latest worm to attempt to invade Outlook users: Gigger worm can format Windows PCs. The Gigger worm attempts to delete files and format the user’s hard drive upon restart. Ugh. There’s more information about this JavaScript-based virus at the anti-virus sites, such as Symantec, McAfee, and Trend Micro. I commented to a friend recently that I remember how unusual it was if my anti-virus software popped up with that creepy little squiggly virus bug proclaiming that I’d received a virus attachment. Now I get that message quite a few times... (156 words, 9 links)

11:09 am, pst11 January, 2002

Categories: Software

Thu

10

JAN

2002

High Quality Old Fashioned Clipart

J.O.D.’s Old Fashioned Black and White Clipart is a fun adventure back in time. Joan O'Donovan has done a fine job of creating a beautiful collection of black and white clipart images. Not only that, they’re all free for personal or non-commercial use with a link back to her site. I’ve visited quite a few clipart sites over time, so often leaving disappointed by the lack of quality, originality, or both. At Old Fashioned Clipart, though, I think you’ll enjoy what you see. There is a good variety of categories from which to choose, such as transportation, sailing ships,... (263 words, 8 links, 3 images)

07:35 pm, pst10 January, 2002

Categories: Graphics

Wed

9

JAN

2002

Opera 5.0 (final) for Macs Now Available

Opera 5.0 Beta was received with rave reviews not long ago. The final version is now available for download from Opera’s Web site. The press release below runs through the highlights, and more details are available at their site, too. The fastest browser for Mac: Opera 5.0 for Mac Final Released OSLO, Norway—January 9, 2002—Opera Software today released the final version of Opera 5.0 for Mac OS 7.5.3-9.2. Mac users can now download a final version of the browser that has received rave reviews in its alpha and beta stages for its speed, security and customizability.... (793 words, 8 links)

12:49 pm, pst 9 January, 2002

Categories: Software

Tue

8

JAN

2002

Site Maps: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Jakob Nielsen’s latest Alertbox article is Site Map Usability. His summary: "Most site maps fail to convey multiple levels of the site’s information architecture. In usability tests, users often overlook site maps or can’t find them. Complexity is also a problem: a map should be a map, not a navigational challenge of its own." He cites some interesting examples and makes good points about usability and keeping them simple. Some I’ve seen have truly been a maze, while others that are simple don’t begin to tell me anything helpful. Finding a good balance is key. Nielsen suggests them being... (162 words, 3 links)

06:02 pm, pst 8 January, 2002

Categories: Usability

8

JAN

2002

Web Standards - Why, How

Meryl Evans provides us with terrific information about standards in her new article, Why and How of Web Standards. She interviews Jeffrey Zeldman, Molly Holzschlag, and Alan K'necht, and reviews XHTML and CSS and how easy they are to implement. This new article helps explain not only what standards are but why they matter to site owners, designers and developers, software companies, Web surfers, and the rest of us. Meryl also explains how easy XHTML is to implement and walks through the highlights. This one is definitely bookmark-worthy. While you’re there, Meryl just opened an Articles section at her... (165 words, 12 links)

03:27 pm, pst 8 January, 2002

8

JAN

2002

Nominate Your Favorite Weblogs and Programs

Now’s your chance to nominate your favorite weblogs, programs, webrings, and more. Nikolai Nolan of Fairvue Central is hosting The 2002 Bloggies. You can vote through January 13, 10:00 PM Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5). You can also check out previous years' winners. Fun site to explore! [hat tip: Meryls' Notes]... (54 words, 4 links)

03:07 pm, pst 8 January, 2002

Categories: Weblogs

Mon

7

JAN

2002

Design for Reading—What a Concept!

Gerry McGovern writes about design for reading in his latest issue of New Thinking. Below are a couple of snippets: "What’s the number one thing people do on the Web? They read. ". . . When designing a website, you need to focus on two things over and above everything else: Helping the visitor find the information they need as quickly as possible. Presenting this information in the most readable format. ". . . If you want to know if your website is well designed, ask yourself the following questions: How quick does it download? How easy is it to navigate? How well... (403 words, 2 links)

10:21 am, pst 7 January, 2002

Categories: Design

Fri

4

JAN

2002

New Issue at Digital Web

The January issue of Digital Web is now available. Some of the highlights: Feature Article: Building the Business Game Plan by Meryl Evans Tutorial: Managing the Client: A Fairy Tale by Sara Cliver Product Review: Macromedia HomeSite 5 by Nick Finck Interview: Heather Hesketh by Nick Finck Nick Finck’s review of HomeSite was of special interest to me since I’ve been a devoted HomeSite user since Nick Bradbury first created it long ago. Version 5 does have many good new improvements, and Nick discusses a bunch of them. Nick mentioned in his well done review that while HomeSite now provides... (226 words, 16 links)

12:04 pm, pst 4 January, 2002

Categories: CSS, Design, Software, Standards

Wed

2

JAN

2002

Web Menus with Beauty and Brains: Wendy Peck’s Latest Book

Wendy Peck, well known for her regular tutorials and tips as WebReference.com’s Graphics Expert, has a new book out, Web Menus with Beauty and Brains. Just released December 15, Wendy’s latest book is all about creating terrific navigation menus that are user friendly, logical, and visually appealing. A CD-Rom is included with lots of templates, examples, and try-outs of many Web design and graphics products. Although I just ordered it and haven’t yet seen it, I’m sure it’s filled with Wendy’s usual inviting writing style that’s easy to understand, humorous, and insightful. (After I’ve read it, I’ll be sure to... (126 words, 6 links, 1 image)

02:04 pm, pst 2 January, 2002

2

JAN

2002

Comparing Opera 6, Netscape 6/Mozilla .96, Internet Explorer 6

Brett Tabke has put together a helpful chart comparing features of Opera 6, Netscape 6/Mozilla .96, Internet Explorer 6 in his article Face Off - A browser Feature Chart: Who has their ducks in a row? at Search Engine World. The informative chart sets the features and details for each browser next to each other for an interesting comparison. Keep in mind that this chart is from a user’s perspective (see below for comments about developers). Following the chart Brett sizes up each browser and gives his opinion about them. His kudos about Opera are much like mine, with its speed, not using up... (279 words, 16 links)

11:56 am, pst 2 January, 2002

Categories: Browsers, Software

Tue

1

JAN

2002

Beginning a New Year, Remembering Years Past

Meg turned 30 today. The photograph at her blog of the diaper pin shows her birthdate of 1-1-72. She wrote that 30 years seems like such a long time, that she remembers the 1980s so clearly, and that those years don’t seem so long ago. I nodded as I read along, knowing exactly what she meant. January 1, 1972, the day Meg was born, I was in high school and I had spent the day in the snow with my boyfriend at the time, throwing snowballs, laughing endlessly, and ringing in the new year. Most amazing to me, though,... (291 words, 2 links)

09:13 pm, pst 1 January, 2002

Categories: Personal

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