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Weblog of Freelance Designer Steven Clark

31/1/2005

Hacks and Filters - Need to Know

Filed under: — 9:40 am

So far I’ve been able to get by without using hacks and filters but as a CSS designer its important (!important) to have an idea what to do it if at the end of a long struggle you can’t get a target browser to fall into line. After all, what do you do - pull out your WYSIWYG and make a dodgey copy and supply that? God forbid!

So, although they are to be avoided and only used as a last resort, no CSS coder of any standing could go without the knowledge of what these innocuous little excerpts of code do and some idea as to why. A good starting place is this article, Intro to CSS Hacks over at Sitepoint. For more hardcore hacks and filters information there’s no place like css-discuss.

30/1/2005

Importance of Aesthetics

Filed under: — 10:54 am

For some time now the idea of usability first and then design has been a sore point at the back of my head, even to the point of when designing sites I’ll not do aesthetically pleasing things to enhance the look and feel in fear of overt criticism from peers and strangers alike. Know the feeling? Is aesthetics really second place to usability? I mean should we really be making some of the ugliest sites in the world just because the idea gestapo feel that all elements need to conform to a rigid box? This article on Digital Web Magazine offers a designers perspective. While usability and accessibility have their place its a fact you have about 6 seconds to snag your potential client or they just leave and never return. Personally, if I go to a large text only minimal graphic site with third world ugliness as a keystone I tend to leave really fast. Why? Because apart from any other research I’m still a human and pretty and pleasing make me feel more comfortable and confident about their business.

28/1/2005

URL Encoding and ASCII

Filed under: — 10:30 pm

If you ever have the validators pass you back that nasty XML error page then this article might be a bit of a clue in debugging. Say you are using url encoding, that’s where you are using PHP and passing a variable to another page simply by putting in your anchor link’s href attribute href="?name=value” for example. What this does is put the ?name=value at the end of the url when it calls the next page. Its pretty basic. Now look again. Say for some mad and sad reason you decide to pass href="?name=Sally Brown” what do you think happens? Well it’ll put that “%20″ character into the url to represent a space character. Of course, you could also put the ASCII character for a space into your url encoding to be geeky.

So that could just be why your page fails the validator and returns an XML error - if you wrote “Sally Brown” as a value in a url encoded link? The values will pass correctly and PHP doesn’t give a damn but it can actually trip the validator so keep an eye out.

There are a number of other reasons for this error page but this example will give you an idea of the stuff to look for in your XHTML page if it does.

26/1/2005

Time for a Politeness Campaign?

Filed under: — 11:38 am

I’ve asked before and I’ll ask again - why are people so rude on phones, in cars, and on the web in places like forums? How many times has it been that I’ve either been abusively attacked or seen others in that boat in some backwater forum or mailing list? Its like road rage without the need for the aggressor to have any actual fighting ability. The common factor is the inability of the abuser to be grabbed and throttled by the person they’re abusing of course, and for the most part it seems to come with such undeniable passion and belief that their opinion is the right and only way to do things. And maybe its me being into making web sites and learning all this stuff on an ongoing basis, but my abusers more often than not are very intelligent people with good I.T. jobs who should know better.

Like the WASP campaign to bring standards to the web and browsehappy we might just need a ‘be polite to other developers’ or ‘my opinion is just an opinion’ campaign. Why? Because really, and its just my opinion, those seeking help shouldn’t be abused for not knowing something or trying to become better. Learning anything is in itself an evolutionary experience so simply quoting subsection xyz of rule 3 and calling them an idiot is really just kind of dumb in itself.

So for today at least and in the name of being actual non-elitist sharing professionals lets embrace our fellow developers, smile and say ‘I will no longer road rage you in forums and on mailing lists’. Please….

25/1/2005

The Naughty Pig - Satire

Filed under: — 4:18 am

I’d been aware for some time of a Naughty Pig predating my Norty Pig but never gotten around to checking it out. Hey you’ve got to go over there for yourself, this guy’s bloody funny. OK insensitive, blunt, even socially warped - but that’s satire after all. Issue 55 already! How did I miss you, dude, in the multibillion web addresses out there?! This guy deserves a standards based redesign and graphic overhaul if ever there was a charity case though, anyone with some spare time on their hands for an obviously broke comedian? Finally, media not owned and operated by internationals in the name of Fairfax or Murdoch.

24/1/2005

JuicyStudio - ECMA Script Menu

Filed under: — 12:05 am

This handy tutorial ECMA Script Menu came by the way of the Web Standards Group mailing list digest this morning. Put it in your kit and kaboodle because it’ll be handy sometime. NO I’m not a great JavaScripter and don’t claim to be - I just want to be lol, when I get some time to nail it down properly. Until then great tutorials like this one are something to covet because most online are of the old school I’ve found.

23/1/2005

WAMP5

Filed under: — 6:39 am

I’ve blogged about this one before but with all of the issues that you go through just for a personal development machine the way to go is WAMP5. Double click and it installs PHP, MySQL, PHPMyAdmin, MySQLiteManager and the Apache Server. No trolling the directories for days trying to figure out what setting needs adjustment, its out of the box and away.

Why mention WAMP? There are others too of course. Its just so many times people are turned off installing a local development server cos its too esoteric. This makes it damn easier for sure.

21/1/2005

Pig Work / Real Work

Filed under: — 11:08 am

This isn’t the birth of a new blog so much as a remodelling and move onto a WordPress shell of the old blog undergoing a redesign. Why WordPress? The arduous task of continuously maintaining a growing blog archive in hard coded XHTML was more time consuming every month and I don’t think I could have kept it up indefinately. Initially I started writing my own CMS of sorts, a very simple one, but then I came across this unbelievably handy tool. So here we are, remodelling as we go, the new face of the Norty Pig blog! Its called Pig Work and I’ll be posting shorter but hopefully more useful blog entries on this site. The Norty Pig blog will be left to archive simply because its got some useful information but otherwise this is simply a continuum. I could of course spend the rest of my life putting a year full of blog entries into this blender but it’d send me insane. OK then, cheers, and welcome to Wonderland Alice!

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