Tue, 2008-03-25 12:26

Hey, it's official, folks. I have a cul de sac named after me. Looky:


No, I can't afford to even pitch a tent there, but hopefully the people who eventually do live there will imagine interesting stories about the historic person whose name is on the sign.

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Flame Wars

Fri, 2008-03-21 02:53

I always enjoy whatever Joel Spolsky writes. Many of his posts deal with running a software business, and he offers lots neat insights. Recently he wrote about what he calls the mother of all flamewars that may be popping up on a web developer's forum near you. This would be interesting reading for anyone interested in understanding the problems with the new Internet Explorer 8 and Web standards. It is not so much a technical piece as an explanation of what is going wrong. I am pretty excited about the whole thing, I have not witnessed a good flamewar since people stopped caring so much about tables.

I am also watching Colorwar08 with interest in case it fans itself into something interesting. If you happen to be on Twitter and are looking for a strong, healthy color to support, you might consider following Team Scarlet. It will be the team to watch.

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I Am A Big Fan Of The Bald Guy

Thu, 2008-03-13 11:50

I don't usually use this blog to say anything important, especially regarding my real life. I am still not totally comfortable having people I know read what I write here. I don't put a lot of thought into this blog, and I try not to give it a second thought once I hit publish. If you happen to know me in real life, don't be wasting your time around here. Give me a call or something. Can't a girl get any privacy?

Now that I am alone with me Internet peeps, I do have something important to say to you. We have a good thing going on in this town, and you can be a part of it. I know this great guy who buys fresh coffee beans from the most equitable sources all around the world, roasts them himself, and grinds them up right there on the spot for the best cup of coffee you can imagine. Now, you are really missing out on a treat if you can't make it into the Bald Guy Brew World Headquarters for the total experience, but the good news is that the Bald Guy takes orders online and ships coffee all over the place. You won't be sorry. Head on over to Bald Guy Brew and have a look. Just don't tell him I sent you.

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Death of Email?

Tue, 2008-03-11 23:31

On various occasions and with different groups, I have mentioned that I consider email to have passed away. Folks tend to look at me with shock and maybe a little fear. No doubt they had intended to email me with their complaints later in the day. Not to worry, I still check my inbox as often as ever, it is just that there are many more efficient ways to communicate nowadays.

It is risky for me to trust email anymore when I have something important to say. I pick up the phone with a followup if it is very important. In all truth, the fifty some odd phone calls I made in the last week were as a result of a unsuccessful USPS mailing, and not particularly due to lack of delivery.

There is not much you can do if the people are not motivated to read your message, but there have been plenty of instances where parties have been intent on communicating. This past summer I played ferry with emails several times because individuals were able to contact me but not each other. I also have a newsletter that I send out every week for half the year. I always wonder how many of the messages reach their destination.

RSS could solve the problem of the newsletter delivery problem but it has not yet caught on with the majority of users. Personal communication is a little trickier. Tantek Çelik has a good article on email usability or lack thereof, and while I agree with most of his points I don't think his methods would work with people who are not online a good deal.

I also think sometimes people are reluctant to start a conversation through IM. It can be intrusive but people do understand that you have to leave every now and then. IM does seem to be my preferred method of communication. Twitter is much more haphazard with the bits you need getting lost in all the chatter. I do see value in Twitter as well, however.

It is interesting that there are so many different means of communication to choose from. No doubt new methods will be coming along, and existing technology will be used in different ways. Who knows, someone may well discover a way to revive the old email.

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Is It Time To Wake Up?

Mon, 2008-03-10 05:16

For some odd reason I was just thinking about the restaurant I worked at many years ago. The lady who owned the place is quite the character to put it mildly. Every day the job was entertaining, but usually not in a good way.

The owner seemed to see me as an interesting little pet because although I would show up on time and do what needed to be done, I could not be bribed, bullied, shamed or provoked to anger. No doubt she considered me to be a bit on the slow side. The experience was outrageous.

I want to tell you about one particular shift I worked. I was running the cash register. That kinda puts me in charge, but being the village idiot not really, it is more like the folks who are in charge aren't here right now. Not like nobody at all is in charge, but kinda. Not to worry, I can handle this. Try me.

Anyway, my shift ended without incident. I went home.

This was during the time that the owner thought it might be a good idea to stay open 24-7. I am not sure it worked out all that well, but that was what was going on at the time of this story.

I get a phone call at maybe 3am:

owner: "Where's the money"
me: "I dunno, where did you tell me to put the money?"

This is not a small chunk of change I may add.

I tell her where I put the money. She sends someone to look for it.

owner: "Did you hide it?"
me: "I dunno. Did you tell me to hide it?"

We wait.

owner: "Is it time to wake up?"
me: "don't think so"
owner: "You mad?"
me: "waaa_mfg"

I guess whoever she sent to find the money does find it where I said it was.
owner: "OK bye"

funny way to make a living.

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Best Viewed With A Shillelagh

Tue, 2008-03-04 04:01

I am relatively new to the Internet. I heard tales of the browser wars at the turn of the century, the eminent struggle between the geek and the corporation. By the time I arrived on the scene the war was over and the victor reigned supreme. Things were good, too. I clicked the blue E on my desktop like everybody else and everything just worked.

Soon after that I discovered Opera and tabs and after that there was Firefox and addons and now I only pull out IE to test a website. This potentially traumatic step in the website building process can only become less stressful in the future. Internet Explorer 7 has been out for some time now, and the IE8 beta has just been released.

It is a time for rejoicing, but the next step will be to encourage all the millions of users to abandon IE6. This will not be easy to do if many sites are still not built to standards and are unusable in the newer browser versions. I really enjoyed this post by Jeffrey Zeldman who explains the whole thing much better than I can. The article was written before Microsoft decided to ship IE8 in standards mode by default, but it is still a useful read.

It will probably be prudent to check any design changes in IE6 for a while yet. This may be less important for bloggers and those who manage geekier sites. I know my stats have shown Internet Explorer use at about 20% for at least a year, no doubt a "birds of a feather" concept.

It was not that long ago when we were all eager to push the tables aside and use the cool new CSS techniques for site layouts. It seemed as though the old, incompatible browsers would never give up and go away. Even the local university used Netscape 4 in the labs long after the Web had moved on and left it behind. In all honesty, that experience makes putting up with IE6 for another year or three seem kinda tame. Working around the bugs might take a little more time and effort, but it can be done.

Eventually folks will figure out one by one that it is their sites that are broken, not the browsers, and they will fix them. The tools they use will have to catch up as well, slowing the process, but it will happen. It is important for everyone to have a voice. Some of those people who go outside sometimes have interesting lives to write about!

What burns my biscuits is to see websites created by people who call themselves professional designers who obviously never tested in anything but Internet Explorer. Usually this involves text hanging out all over the place in a most unreadable fashion. Designers should feel free to browse around in whatever they like, but anyone who makes a living by selling a design should make a small effort to see that it actually works.

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