Full Speed

[ September 29, 2003 ]


Ben Trott, co-founder and CTO of Six Apart, announced XML::Atom yesterday. This module implements most of the Atom API. The goal for this project is “to provide an implementation of the syndication feed format, the API, and the archiving format planned for Atom.” Ben also states that this code will form the basis of Atom support for Movable Type and TypePad.

[ September 26, 2003 ]

Quick Links

CSS Supremacists Beware

Paul Hammond says all the right things about redisigning other people’s sites.

One point he makes in this excellent rant is that some sites already have a new design in the works but just haven’t quite gotten all of the kinks out of it yet. That’s certainly the case here.

[ September 25, 2003 ]


Stopdesign led me to a strangely unique font called FRISCO_REMIX yesterday. Of particular note is the letter “Y”.

Mozilla Backup

For those of you who, like me, have all kinds of passwords in your encrypted Mozilla password store, along with a rather large file of bookmarks, Mozilla Backup finally provides an easy way to save your Mozilla profile in a single archive file which can be readily backed up.

[ September 24, 2003 ]

Auto-Complete Meets JavaScript

Simon Willison made note of this recent find. I think it would be nice to have a list of keywords auto-completing the search box on this site.

Secure Email

Does anybody use secure, encrypted email? I know that there are several services out there that are hosting this sort of thing, but it seems to me that they don’t get a lot of use. I have never personally received an encrypted message.

I’m sure that there are a lot of businesses that could benefit from such technology, however. Brokers should probably use encryption to keep that hot stock tip a secret. If I were an attorney, I’d be afraid of violating my clients’ rights by using unencrypted email to discuss a case. And do doctors email patient records in plain text?

Security is a hot topic lately in the IT industry. Yet email is one of the least secure internet applications out there. Hopefully this will all change soon.

[ September 23, 2003 ]

Athlon 64 is Finally Here

The announcement came as no surprise today. We’ve been anticipating this one for many months now. The Athlon 64 processor family, including the beefy 64FX, is finally here, along with a beta release of 64-bit Windows. And news coverage abounds.

ThinkPad X31

Having been a ThinkPad user for about two years now, I’ve recently been eyeing the newest ultraportable ThinkPad, the X31. Finally, thanks to Gizmodo, I got to read a review of the laptop today. The review gave it five stars. I guess I know what my next upgrade will be.

Fight for Number Portability

As the deadline for phone number portability nears in the US, many phone companies are still fighting to prevent it. They are afraid of number portability because it will force them to provide better service and better prices. Don’t let them win! Join the fight to help make number portability happen. Escape Cell Hell, from the publishers of Consumer Reports, makes it easy to send a letter to your Congresspeople. With their site, you can voice your opinion in under 30 seconds.

Web Hosting and MT

I’ve been hosting my own websites for quite some time now. Probably the last 7-8 years. Whether they were run on the servers of companies that I worked for or my own servers, I always had full control of the server. But it seems that many in the weblog world use web hosting companies for their blogs. I’ve read about horror stories getting Movable Type installed. It was simple for me, having root access to all of my servers. In fact, I set up a fully-redundant, distributed architecture for this site in under an hour. I suppose I’m out of touch with those who use the standard web hosting services. Perhaps I should host other people’s blogs on my servers for a nominal fee since it’s so easy for me to setup. Would anyone be interested in something like that?

Quote of the Day

“Whenever someone thinks that they can replace SSL/SSH with something much better that they designed this morning over coffee, their computer speakers should generate some sort of penis-shaped sound wave and plunge it repeatedly into their skulls until they achieve enlightenment.” –Peter Gutmann

[ September 22, 2003 ]

Roll your CSS

redmelon.net has a demo of the best CSS-based image rollovers I’ve seen to date. These rollovers need no Javascript, no image trickery–just plain CSS. And as a bonus, they preload! I believe that this is the ultimate CSS image rollover solution.

The Internet vs. VeriSign

So we have a workaround for VeriSign’s nasty DNS changes, but that’s not enough. Popular Enterprises, LLC, sued VeriSign over the new Site Finder “service”.

Next, ICANN announced that they have called upon VeriSign to voluntarily suspend the service. Clicking on a fake url shows that VeriSign has not complied. Will this ordeal ever end?

[ September 20, 2003 ]


The latest in web-based social software, Upcoming looks very promising. It joins people, places, and events. And you can get RSS feeds for your agregator as well.


Not to be confused with Listamatic, List-o-matic generates CSS styled lists for you.

Nice Try, VeriSign

In response to “high demand” from users, ISC, the organization that develops and maintains BIND, has issued a delegation-only patch that prevents VeriSign’s hostile takeover of the .com and .net domains. In order for this effort to be successful, we must all update our nameservers with this patch and add a few lines to the name server configuration. Will this kill the “Site Finder”? Only time will tell.

[ September 19, 2003 ]

Veen on Web Standards

We’ve all known for quite some time that designing our websites according to the standards is a good thing. It makes for lighter, faster sites that are typically more accessible. Jeff Veen has given a clear, concise business case on the value of web standards. If you’re trying to convince a client to take a standards-based approach, this article is a must read.

[ September 17, 2003 ]

959 At Last!

More than ten years after the limited production of the Porsche 959 supercar, laws have finally been passed that allow an emissions modified version of the car to roam the streets of the US. Read more at AutoWeek.

[ September 13, 2003 ]

Hiding From Browsers

A large subset of web designers are drawing attention to the accessibility of websites these days. In simple terms, web accessibility means that anyone can access a site with any browser. This means that an accessible site supports not only the latest versions of IE or Mozilla, but it works in older, less feature-packed browsers as well.

There is a certain type of browser that seems to be creating a niche for itself as the most troublesome when creating accessible sites. This browser is known as a “screen reader”. And it’s probably not that screen readers are difficult to design for but rather that they’re just not all that available.

You see, screen readers are typically found only on the computers of those who have visual disabilities. As the name implies, a screen reader reads the contents of the screen to the user. A blind or visually impaired user would not be able to use a computer without such software.

And the companies that make the screen readers aren’t helping matters. JAWS, the most popular screen reader, is priced rather prohibitively. Sure, if a screen reader was the only means by which I could “view” a website, I wouldn’t mind paying $1000. But for those of us who simply want to make our sites accessible to users of the screen reading software, this price is exorbitant. Heck, even the 60-day trial version costs $40.

A while back, a petition was started online to get lower-priced versions of JAWS for web designers. This petition drew all kinds of criticism, from the constructive to the outright negative. But it seemed that most agreed that this petition was not the right solution. Coding a site to the quirks of one particular piece of software would be a step backwards.

So what should we do now? Well, I think that we, as web designers, should continue to build sites with semantic markup. Producing valid code is certainly a step in the right direction. The screen readers should be able to read a standards-based markup. And if they can’t, the market will force them to acquire the capability soon.

But if you can’t afford to have a single user turned away from your site, there is still a decent recourse–hiding text from visual browsers. Jon Hicks posted a nice snippet of CSS today that will allow you to position a DIV outside of the browser window. This makes it invisible to the browsers but not to screen readers. The top three screen readers took a DIV hidden with this method and read it perfectly.

In the end, I think that sticking to the WCAG will be the ultimate solution for creating fully accessible sites. If both the designers and the browser developers can stick to this standard, the web will be forever accessible.

After Life

Jonathan Clark has produced a very impressive photo essay in his After Life series. The sounds that accompany these photos really set the mood. And the subtle animations add a good deal to the already excellent photographs.

Color Schemes

While working on a decent design for my site, I have come across many great tools to aid in graphic design. Of particular interest are the tools which lend creativity to the otherwise colorblind. Pixy’s color schemes picker and EasyRGB’s Color Harmonies are my favorite tools for choosing colors that will look good together in my work. I’m still not too sure about the color, though. I typically want to stick with gray on gray. Who knows, though–maybe one of these tools will inspire me.

[ September 11, 2003 ]

New Mozilla Coming Soon

The word on the next major release of Mozilla was released today. We should be using version 1.5 on September 29. I know I can’t wait.

[ September 6, 2003 ]

Listamatic: CSS Lists

Lists styled with CSS have been an attractive mechanism for site navigation to me ever since I first saw them. But I always had trouble remembering where I saw them or remembering to bookmark them when I did see them. This post should take care of that. Listamatic is a collection of various techniques for producing both vertical and horizontal lists.

© 2014 Scott Johnson (info)
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