You don’t win friends with salad!

“Sandra Garner and her husband, Darryl Garner, had invited a few guests over to their apartment on S Highland Avenue for a Memorial Day dinner. The menu was simple: A few drinks. A little chicken. And a whole lot of salad.” They argue over the salad, kick all their friends out, and both end up in jail for domestic battery, resisting arrest with violence, use of a firearm while under the influence, improper exhibition of a firearm and disorderly conduct. full story (St. Pete Times)

What pop-ups? revealed that people click on annoying pop-up ads 13 times as often as they do passive banner ads. This will surely translate to even more sites using pop-ups for generating ad revenue, but I’ll still never see them because the software developers of the web browsers Opera, Netscape, Mozilla and Safari care about user experience. They’ve integrated intelligent pop-up blockers as part of their feature-rich browsers. What I mean by intelligent is that these browsers will still allow pop-ups when you request them (by clicking a link) rather than indiscriminately blocking all pop-up windows (like the 3rd-party, parasitic add-ons to IE do).

I Heart Opera

Speaking of user experience, Opera7.1
is the most user-centric web browser I’ve used.

  • It loads in a heartbeat and uses very little memory.
  • I search google by typing “g [terms]” (similarly for Amazon, E-bay, etc.)
  • While I read, I open links in the background so I can look at them after finishing an article without having to wait as they load. Meanwhile they sit in a convenient, tabbed interface instead of in individual windows.
  • When researching something, I can create simple text notes that automatically remember where I was when I took them.
  • To go back I just hold the right mouse button and click the left (and vice-versa to go forward again).
  • If text is too big or small, I can zoom a whole page in 10% increments with [+/-].
  • I can “skin” the browser when I feel like a new look. (see pink_bunny or Azurino)
  • I can toggle images, javascript, java applets, plug-ins (like Flash), cookies, animated GIFs, embedded sounds.
  • It’s the most compliant browser with regards to modern web standards, letting me see sites as the designer fully intended.
  • If sloppy designers make broken web pages I can turn their style off with one click, giving me access to the unadulterated content of the site.
  • The latest version is only a 3MB download.

I could go on and on, but, basically, Opera innovates in ways that put me in control rather than leaving me at the mercy of the web. It’s all in their vision:

We believe in respect for our users.

Users have since the beginning shaped Opera’s features and spread the word to the uninitiated. Thanks to this interaction Opera Software exists today, both as an organization and as a technology leader. Opera Software will never forget that its main focus is the user.

You don’t win friends with salad

You can’t make this stuff up: “Sandra Garner and her husband, Darryl Garner, had invited a few guests over to their apartment on S Highland Avenue for a Memorial Day dinner. The menu was simple: A few drinks. A little chicken. And a whole lot of salad.” They argue over the salad, kick all their friends out, and both end up in jail for domestic battery, resisting arrest with violence, use of a firearm while under the influence, improper exhibition of a firearm and disorderly conduct. full story (St. Pete Times)

Happy Ending With(out) Standards

Media Farm creates an inaccessible and invalid site and calls it a “Successful Standards-Based Migration.”

A recent case study on Netscape’s DevEdge details a “standards-based” overhaul of the NYU Stern School of Business’ Executive Programs site by the web design firm Media Farm. What it fails to mention is that, due to their goal of giving users of version 4 browsers the full experience of the site, Media Farm essentially placed the site’s content in a pile of meaningless structure glued in place by CSS, only accessible via graphical browsers.

Here is a simulation of the front page viewed with Lynx, a fully-capable HTML browser without CSS capabilities (this might be a decent representation of how the site will render on a mobile phone or PDA). What’s immediately noticeable is the lack of alt attributes on images, but also general structure. A look at the markup reveals 0 headings, 0 paragraphs, 69 images and 86 table-cells! The W3C states “content developers must not sacrifice appropriate markup because a certain browser or assuasive technology does not process it correctly,” and that is what Media Farm has done. Navigator 4, in particular, simply cannot style a well-structured document to the requirements of the site’s visual layout, so they used meaningless DIV and SPAN elements to replace headings and paragraphs and to hold tag-soup layout tables in position. Although the use of CSS to replace some presentational HTML is certainly a step in the right direction, there is still need for meaningful structure in a document, especially if you are claiming to author according to standards!


Lately I’ve been treating myself to some new gadgets, the big ones being a CD/mp3 player for my car (I love the comfortable knobs instead of buttons) and a cable modem (we’ve been watching a lot of Family Guy episodes lately). I held out for quite awhile on both, but I finally caved. Also on the way is a headphone amp and mic cables that will complete the recording setup we have in the rock room and allow me to finish up some of these new MrClay tracks (and start work on the next batch I’ve been writing). By the way, Josh and I hereby reserve the name “The French Horns” for future use.

I’m loving the new April March album “Triggers”. Musically all over the place, but mainly candy pop in the vein of France Gall/Stereolab (half the album is in French) with Beck’s “Mutation”-era production and touches of electropop. I think it’s the musical equivalent of a smile. Also playing lately: Pep Love (from the unstoppable Hieroglyphics crew) and Al Green’s “Back Up Train”. Eagerly awaiting a CD from Sweden’s the Radio Dept and the U.K.’s I Am Kloot.

Soon I’d like to get around to linking up all my Javascript/CSS experiments so someone else might find them useful. I make these things all the time but never link them to the site, because I’m lazy

Of all the stories I’ve read on this war, this interview struck me as very interesting. You’ll hear no more from me about it.

Have no fear, we’ve got stories for years

Entertainment Weekly gives their top 25 Simpsons episodes in light of the up-coming 300th episode. The writers still seem to be well on top of things, meanwhile FOX is craparama all around. Those pissed about about Futurama’s cancelling might already know this, but it was picked up in syndication and is now on nighty on the Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” line-up. Don’t miss Aqua Teen Hungerforce either!

This morning I listened to a ton of Lilys songs; a wash of painfully trebley guitars is nice way to start my day. I did make out a new lyric: “Charity division’s been out sick all week,” in a ridiculous song involving pharoes, for which Josh dreamed up a whole video. Let’s just say it had Kurt Heasley busting out of the top of a pyramid playing a guitar solo.

I’m getting back into doing Tonevendor work again and revisiting its usability and features. From the excellent WebDesign-L mailing list, I’ve got some new ideas for reworking database-managed URLs like .../view.php?item=123 to the nicer .../item/123/. Pretty exciting stuff (sigh) Oh yeah, this post needs more Sandi.

Why didn’t you stay?

Scientists who study lucid dreaming say that being able to remember your dreams vividly is the first step to being able to realize, during a dream, that it is one. Since becoming a musician, I’ve had plenty of dreams where I’ve heard beautiful songs just to wake up in the middle of the night with vivid details of everything but that piece of music, and last night was one of them.

It’s all fuzzy, of course, but I remember some friends and I (no one I recognize now) were listening to a mixtape that ended with several Holopaw songs, and it was the last song that blew everyone away. I remember it had a couple key changes like the miniature epic “Honeymoonin’ Under the Sea” (by the great Holopaw side project Citra Super), and in the dream reminded me of the powerful Stevie Wonder song “Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer.”. It had such an effect on me that I wasn’t frustrated at all that I couldn’t remember how it went. I was just content to have experienced it. The mixtape also had Ben Folds Five (whom I don’t listen to that often anymore, but they were my gateway band into being addicted to music) and, oddly enough, a video for the Rentals’ “Summer Girl”. The band played in a white room, with cameras close to their hands and microphones, on which there were all sorts of bees, but it seemed routine. I even made a terrible joke, singing “I know I don’t like hives.” — or something like that — to the tune of “I know I’m not your type”.

I guess the idea that Paul McCartney could wake up in the middle of the night with the complete music for "Yesterday" in his head makes me think that this notion, of trying to remembering your dreams, shouldn’t be taken lightly by those of us with a drive to create. And for bad jokes.

Shivering Spaces

I’ve got a knitted blanket around me, my feet are cold and the heater running round-the-clock has me dehydrated. I’m ready for breakfast @ the Plaza. So tomorrow is the first Bucs superbowl.. How in the world would I know this? Over the last year, Dan has slowly got me interested in sports — enough to follow Lakers games and know the names of a handful of NFL players and coaches. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Word on the street is the 307 house of fun and excitement is building a LAN of four PCs, two are being put together over the next few weeks as parts arrive. The new-ish AMD XP 2100 CPU will power the “production unit” in my room while my old PC will be prepped for use as the dedicated “recording unit” in the rock room. No more recording on 4-track, transferring to PC then dragging all types of amps and instruments into my cramped room for overdubs.

Last night I read Dive Into Accessibility, an online book about building more accessible webpages. Most of the techniques I’d already picked up over the last year or two, but a few caught my eye, like this table trick to have content, rather than navigation, be first in the markup (for text and alternative browsers) in simple left-nav table layouts. A great idea if you must use tables for layout..

After an hour of hiding background PNGs and negative margins from IE/win, the pastel theme finally looks decent in that browser. Opera and Moz/Netscape6+ users get the real deal.

Signal dropped off as the clouds rolled in

A packed Common Grounds and I saw Holopaw, Iron and Wine and the Fruit Bats last night. Holopaw is on tour with a ridiculous amount of equipment, and it’s great to see them at home..sort of (most of them aren’t in G’ville anymore). I’m happy how the CD came out with great sound, songs and John’s awesome artwork. The Fruit Bats were a nice surprise, very 70’s California country-pop (but from Chicago) with tight 2-part harmonies. A nice evening of music all-around, as always spoiled by standing for hours in a tight crowd and coming home smelling like smoke at 2:30.

If you’re an amateur recordist or just curious how audio is transferred to vinyl, here’s a nice introduction to vinyl mastering.