Web - Usability - Humor
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Stupid html tricks.... This is in Windows help, but why shouldn't it be as bad in a browser?
It says "For help on scheduler, click here."
"Here" is blue and clickable. But on hover, it becomes bold. Because the width of the characters changes, "here" moves to the next line on hover. You can't click on it. You point at it, and it moves to the next line. You have to change the window size before you can click on it???
licentious radio is the first site in Google search results for "licentious". We're proud, mighty proud.
We'd like to thank all the *little* people who made this possible. We never expected this honor. We only try to do our best. If we can cause one smile, we feel like we've accomplished something. We'll use any notoriety from this honor to promote world peace and save the animals.
Friday, August 8, 2003
Exciting improvement in Windows and Perl!
The ActiveState Perl install (using a .mci) automatically installed to drive F. What? Why doesn't it ask you where you want to put Perl? It's too smart to ask?
Why drive F? Because it's there! We turned off the external drive F, and ActiveState installed to drive C without asking. Imagine our relief!
Some developers are glad enough for unbroken features of the Mac that they put up with the rest.
You more or less have to drink the kool-aid.
Those un-pre-disposed find insurmountable obstacles, task-switching in particular.
Because if developers started developing for OS X, Microsoft would snuff it. As long as OS X is just a music/photo/video platform for the rich, Bill is happy: give up a few points of market share as cover against charges of monopoly, and steal anything that catches attention.
Seattle (licentious) -- Microsoft founder Bill Gates announced "Mission Accomplished" on board the aircraft carrier Ken Olsen today. "Major combat operations in the web browser business have ended," announced Gates, while standing under a huge banner reading "Mission Accomplished".
"Because of you, our monopoly is more secure. Because of you, the competition has fallen, and the internet is in chains," was his message. "The board of directors is grateful for a job well done."
The carrier landing and speech were to announce the end of development of Microsoft's web browser -- used by 85-95% of web surfers. The Macintosh version will be eliminated like Jimmy Hoffa, and future development of Windows IE separate from the operating system will be in "maintenance mode" only -- akin to the preservation of Lenin's corpse in Moscow's Red Square.
According to Gates after the speech, "We paid good money for this monopoly -- $25,000 to John Ashcroft, specifically. It's time to take advantage of our total victory and stop wasting money on a technology that only supports our enemies."
Gates also announced a new commitment to standards: "Whatever we say, goes."
Internet webloggers pointed out that browser development at Microsoft continues, but will be embedded in specific products that support Microsoft's overall strategy. For instance, while Mac IE is deader than Osama Bin Laden, a new and improved browser is embedded in the Mac version of the subscription-based MSN service. Microsoft also says the next release of the Windows operating system will contain a new version of IE -- that won't be available for previous versions of the Windows operating system.
MSNBC pundits on board the carrier noted a gigantic bulge in the crotch area of His Billness's flightsuit. The three supposedly heterosexual middle-aged men discussed at great length how sexy Bill appeared with the giant bulge, and that they knew women would be positively drooling to get at Bill's "product". Journalists not on Microsoft's payroll were somewhat less convinced.
Sunday, May 25, 2003
Further adventures of ­....
For those of you just tuning in, licentious radio's NO JUSTIFICATION in HTML campaign is sweeping the web.
Why? Because justifying text without hyphenation typically leaves uneven. gaping holes between words, where a single, small space should be. Even though the right edge is nicely even, the gaping holes and running rivers (a hole at about the same place in several lines) make reading difficult. If you intend for people to read the text on your website, making it harder to read than normal is a bad idea.
Of course we can't say X without pondering the opposite of X. When could you justify text? Newspapers get away with it because of hyphenation and narrow columns. We postulate that with sufficiently narrow columns, the eye doesn't scan along the line as much, so irregular and large spaces between words wouldn't be such a big problem.
Not content to leave well-enough alone, we had to hack. Putting soft hyphens (­) in text is easy. Modern browsers will at least ignore the ­ -- we thought. Sigh. There's no end to the blundering of browsers. (We're complaining, not accusing. Browsers are hard and making browsers fast was harder, and all of this would have been fixed long since had the development pace kept up.)
WinIE 4+ will use ­ to hyphenate. Mozilla ignores them gracefully. Alas, MacIE 5x (on one Mac with OS X, anyway) displays a U with some queer accent for every ­.
Reluctantly, we abandon the concept. (The coolest bit was we got to align headings to the right. You don't get to do that every day.)
Fact is, WinIE's hyphenation was pretty bad -- not hyphenating often enough -- and our view is that hyphens should hang -- be placed just beyond the right margin -- which WinIE doesn't do.
This design had very short lines... we might try again in a design where the lines are a more normal length and the server is smart enough only to give ­s to WinIE browsers.
Tantek (Thursday) said it's too easy in CSS to wind up with columns of text overlapping each other. That's for sure. Rather a usability problem when that happens.
Using tables for page layout, the problem is a column stretching widely.
Example -- you put an image in a column that for one reason or another is bigger than the column woulda/shoulda been. With tables, the column becomes too wide. With CSS, the image blots out whatever is in the next column.
Many people keep designing as if they know how wide every reader's browser window is, and how big the fonts are.
It would sure be convenient if HTML and CSS made it *easy* to get things right, rather than making it so easy to get things wrong.
Even min-width and max-width -- where supported -- don't seem to be good enough. I'd want to be able to specify max-width as 100% of the browser window for narrow windows, and also as 33 ems for browser windows that are open wide.
Another problem is the way float works. Commonly, you get text columns that are much too wide or much too narrow, depending on the width of the browser window. Tables make it pretty easy to make a page that is wider than the window, while float makes it very difficult. In some cases it's fine if a third column of text or ads is completely off the right side of the window.
Rules: A column of text should never be wider than the window. A column of text should never be wider than some number of characters -- 33 ems is pretty good. A column of text should never be wider than a certain absolute distance -- four or five inches, maybe. For narrow windows, you might want the first column to be no more than 75% of the window, so the second column is visible. That is, if you have a narrow window, you may well want the columns to go off the right edge of the window (for left-to-right languages).
A technical consideration is that if you have nested divs, the width of the outer div doesn't constrain the width of the inner divs -- the way tables would.
Another technical consideration is that floating several columns to the left only works for the width of the window. Float is pretty convenient, until you would rather have a column be off the screen than below the other columns.
Float-left hack: For the right column, set a containing div to one pixel wide, then the contained div with the content can be any width -- it will go off the window to the right. But there has to be one pixel left going across. (The first trick is use float: left for all columns.)
Saturday, May 24, 2003
Met up with the traveling Doug/Tantek/Todd show Thursday evening. Some of the CSS conversation was drowned out by a bluegrass band, but the cafe itself was all right.
Tantek and Todd each had a copy of Zeldman's new book. All three of them are in the book, having each made significant contributions to standards and/or use of standards.
Topics touched upon included png transparency for ie, the Zen Garden website (a site where numerous designers have contributed stylesheets to show how thoroughly the stylesheets influence the appearance), styling form fields, whether multiple posts without permalinks constitute a weblog (mostly a joke), and vigilante drones.
Someone mentioned acronyms in passing, which was a hot topic several months ago. I never got around to writing about acronyms, but I have several suggestions.... 1) Authors could indicate acronyms with all caps (IBM). 2) The CMS can insert acronym tags. 3) Less is more in formatting acronyms -- better not to underline every occurence. 3) The CMS can make a glossary of acronyms used in a page. 4) Style acronyms that are all caps to be a smaller font size, maybe .85em. That's not as good as using a real small-caps font, but it's probably better than using full-sized caps. (Better in that full-sized caps strongly emphasize, which is typically inappropriate for acronyms.) 5) You could still display a tooltip of the expanded text of the acronym, even though not everyone would know to look for it. After all, most people will already know most acronyms, and they should be defined on first use anyway. 6) A good CMS would have a dictionary of acronyms and let you set rules for how and when to use the acronym tag -- you might not want to tooltip "HyperText Markup Language" for every use of HTML, for example.
Heather T. and I were the only ones to join them. Maybe next time they'll avoid the bluegrass and give a little more notice. If you're interested in CSS, web standards, and such, take advantage of the chance to hang out with these guys.
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Last update: 9/20/03; 12:43:02 PM.