Wednesday 30 June 2004

server moving day

I’m switching servers, and you know how that can go. If disappears for a day, please just click your heels three times and repeat the words “properly propagated” for about 24 hours and we’ll all land happily in Kansas. No-wait, we want Texas, so aim a little lower.

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Posted by:   site admin | 01:23 | Comments (30)

Tuesday 29 June 2004

internet explorer deemed ‘too risky’

Well, we standards folks have been railing at Microsoft and each other regarding the crap standards support in IE 6.0. Recently, Robert Scoble and others from Microsoft addressed the issue by saying that Microsoft is more concerned with their security problems. And goodness knows they should be.

From Business Week Online, Stephen H. Wildstrom writes:

“In late June, network security experts saw one of their worst fears realized. Attackers exploited a pair of known but unpatched flaws in Microsoft’s Web server software and Internet Explorer browser to compromise seemingly safe Web sites. People who browsed there on Windows computers got infected with malicious code without downloading anything.

I’ve been growing increasingly concerned about IE’s endless security problems, and this epsiode has convinced me that the program is simply too dangerous for routine use. ”

Wildstrom advocates switching to safer browsers, which of course pretty much means any browser other than IE at this point. The main advantage as I see it is that this information is now getting out to the consumer base, and the more that happens, the more people will reconsider IE, which is not only good for security, but for standards too.

Another article on eWeek, Internet Explorer Is Too Dangerous to Keep Using supports the same premise.

Hat Tip: Byron.

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Posted by:   site admin | 08:30 | Comments (13)

fast company changes linking policy

In response to public concern raised about Fast Company’s beyond-bizarre linking policy, said policy has been amended:

“Fast Company permits links to the Web site. However, Fast Company reserves the right to withdraw permission for any link and requests that you not link for any impermissible purpose or in a manner that suggests that Fast Company promotes or endorses your Web site.”

I’m sorry, but the policy still makes no real sense. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Cory Doctorow writes that he thinks Fast Company can change their linking policy to something more along the lines of this:

“The Web exists because no one has the right to grant or withhold permission for links. Fast Company exists because of the Web. Accordingly, we neither grant nor deny permission to link to our site, and urge you to do the same.”

Now that makes sense.

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Posted by:   site admin | 06:33 | Comments (17)

hack errata and alternate ‘tan’ hack

A couple of readers have pointed out an error in my recent Strategies for Hack Management article in which I describe vertical centering when I mean horizontal centering. This is in fact my error. I’ve written the editors to make the correction to the article.

Also, Big John writes that:

“The Tantek hack was superseded almost two years ago by the Tan hack, which is far easier to remember, doesn’t make Nav4 ignore the stylesheet, and is perfectly valid.”

The filters mentioned in the article are even more effective for filtering by browser, by the way. I appreciate the additional information as I’m sure all readers do. But for the sake of clarity, the BMH hack remains in widespread use and validates nowadays as the W3C validator was altered to do so, although many people are of course turning to alternatives.

The bottom line is that there’s more than one way to hack at CSS, and just because someone has a given preference or specific use, doesn’t make using an approach necessarily out of date or wrong. That we even have such options is a saving grace.

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Posted by:   site admin | 04:55 | Comments (1)

Monday 28 June 2004

fast company ain’t so fast

It’s uncanny, downright unbelievable. But Fast Company requires you to sign a contract should you want to enjoy a royalty-free license to link to them:

“For good and valuable consideration, effective upon the duly authorized signatures of Owner and G+J below (the “Effective Date”), G+J hereby grants to Owner a non-exclusive, non-transferable, royalty-free license to create a hyperlink from the Linking Site to from the Effective Date, unless and until such permission is terminated by G+J upon notice to Owner, subject to the following terms and conditions.”

I think Fast Company ain’t so fast. Too bad the other F company domain is taken (and houses a decent site for that matter), because it might be a more apt commentary on Fast’s F’n attitude. Gee – let’s build a web site and make sure no one links to us! What a great business plan! What excellent use of the medium! Such genius! Good lord, who was the numbnuts lawyer who thought this one up?

And yes, I’ve linked to Fast Company three times in this post, out of spite and because no, I do not accept their terms. This is the Web, for crying out loud.

Hat Tip: photomatt.

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Posted by:   site admin | 03:38 | Comments (9)

the axe effect

I found this ad campaign to be really, really ridiculous. And the full San Francisco Gate article about such a ridiculous campaign helps point to lots of specifically ridiculous aspects of the ad. As if that weren’t enough, check out the web site. It’s ridiculous too. Gack!

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Posted by:   site admin | 01:53 | Comments (14)

the power of community

Readers will know I’ve removed some posts. I was feeling extremely vulnerable about talking about my personal experience online, and then became overwhelmed by the wonderful responses of love and support. I took the related posts down because I think looking at it and dwelling too much on such a painful event went from being a helpful solace to a difficult issue to manage both emotionally and practically.

I can’t even begin to express my gratitude and my awe of how powerful the online world can be. I was chatting with a friend this morning, and I told him that I felt vulnerable about sharing such personal news online and I’m not sure why I even did so. He said, simply “it’s your community, Molly.” How true that is. How much power we hold in our hands with this beautiful tool. The Web, and the online world in general, has always been more to me about society and humanity than technology. We can change the world. We already have.

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Posted by:   site admin | 01:23 | Comments (5)

Friday 25 June 2004

hacking CSS

Using CSS in a contemporary browser? You’ll probably need to use a variety of CSS hacks to accomplish the best possible cross-browser compatibility. My new article in the Integrated Web Design series for InformIT Strategies for Long-Term CSS Hack Management will help you determine if you need hacks, how to manage them effectively if so, and which hacks you can employ to solve a range of common compatibility problems.

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Posted by:   site admin | 07:49 | Comments (8)

Thursday 24 June 2004

tantek tells us

about a big change and points to some great photos by photomatt.

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Posted by:   site admin | 11:33 | Comments (3)

bad shoes in san francisco

Every time I visit San Francisco, I buy a pair of amazing shoes but make the mistake of trying to break them in right away. I now have at least six SF shoe-related injuries as a result! I’m a shoe idiot . . . ouch!

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Posted by:   site admin | 11:01 | Comments (5)

Monday 21 June 2004

got interview?

I’m proud to be one of the growing list of ‘Ten Questions’ interviewees for the Web Standards Group. The interview, Ten Questions for Molly Holzschlag was published today. It covers a range of topics, from new books to standards. Russ does a terrific job with these interviews, so read up and let me know what you think!

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Posted by:   site admin | 08:12 | Comments (6)

Thursday 17 June 2004

pay me first

Any experienced prostitute knows that the client doesn’t get the goods until the goods are paid for. In a homage to that bit of wisdom as it might apply to a web design team, 37signals turned down their largest potential client this year because of the client’s unwillingness to adhere to this most basic and ancient of accepted decorum.

It’s a great story, and teaches us all more than a little bit about integrity, honor, and ethics in our profession.

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Posted by:   site admin | 05:08 | Comments (10)

Friday 11 June 2004

standards backlash

Readers with an interest in web standards are by now aware of some of the frustrations being expressed by a variety of standards evangelists who are just fed up with fighting the fight. There’s also significant backlash within the designer and developer community, but to me it appears that this is a result of sheer frustration rather than logic.

Disgusted with poor browser support for what should be easy breezy in CSS-based, standardized designs, many folks are saying screw it and backing off the issue. It’s long been my contention that this is a bad move. Just because Internet Exploiter 6.0 has mucked up the landscape for progress doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plow through the muck toward progress anyway!

If anything, we should view this as an opportunity for getting a leg up on Microsoft. If major sites such as AOL and Yahoo! continue their goals to aggressively implement standards in their products, what’s going to happen when Microsoft releases Yet Another Broken User Agent? Millions of people will be affected, and that’s got to be more significant than not. I say let’s exploit the exploiter and get a jump on things, not draw back. I believe if we do draw back now, we’re going to see more painful results than positive.

Another topic expressed in recent discussions is the issue that standards evangelists appear to be elitist. One reason for this may well be that The Web Standards Project (WaSP) has long been viewed as a group of guru-level practitioners such as Zeldman and Dave Shea and Doug Bowman. How can the rest of us live up to design like that? I sure can’t, but I can appreciate the complexities of the design goals and technologies required and so can you.

As a driving force within WaSP, I want to express my own thoughts about the elitist concern:

  1. People view WaSP as elitist because it’s currently a one-way organization. As if we were Moses on the Mountain, we advocate without a feedback mechanism. In my opinion, this is a piss-poor way to go about evangelizing. After all, any true evangelist wants the flock to sing along with the choir, not just sit there mute. I promise you that many of us within the organization are well aware of this and are advocating change. Which, in any grass roots organization, is bound to happen slowly.
  2. WaSP members are not even remotely as snobbish as one might think. In fact, the majority of high-profile WaSPs are the ones who are the most concerned about not just the web, but helping all designers and developers create great web sites, period. Consider the time that goes into a full day’s work, plus evangelical activities, plus dealing with the internal workings of an organization that’s in a complete state of flux as we try to figure out how on earth to address the multitude of concerns all of us are facing. We’re not slackers here, we’re just in a state of transition and I think your patience with us will ultimately be rewarded.
  3. WaSP may appear to be backing off important issues, which does seem out of character. How do we address Microsoft’s lack of consideration regarding standards implementation within its products? What stand do we take regarding the volatile issues of Atom and RSS syndication standardization? The answer is: Who knows? Nevertheless, I assure you our silence or seeming reticence has far less to do with not caring about these issues than it does with being just as confused as the rest of the world as to how to address them.

I think now is a good time for everyone to take a deep breath and consider the higher goal: Creating web sites that look great, work well, serve the audience, are manageable, accessible, and useful. Standards really help us achieve all those things, and there’s just no arguing that.

Unlike D. Keith Robinson, I’m not sick of writing and evangelizing standards. I realize that I am one of the lucky few who, as a teacher and writer, gets to actually see people really achieve great things in the process of learning about standards and how to apply them realistically.

Like Simon Willison, I’m all about advocating standards with a sexy new wrapper. While we can all agree that the term best practices sounds like something to sell to The Suits, it really boils down to that. Standards evangelism can’t go away, but it does need to change its approach to a more comprehensive method.

The dialog has to continue, and so must the cause for standards. But obviously we need to reassess how we’re doing it, and I believe that it couldn’t be a better time to do just that.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   site admin | 12:52 | Comments (28)

Thursday 10 June 2004

flash back

Found this while digging for files in search of something today. Recognize it? Maybe a TYS Movable Type book will go to the first person who:

  • Accurately describes to me which site I captured in this screen
  • Provides an interesting and accurate description of what’s happened in the years since
  • Points out aspects of the site’s design in the context of its time
  • Identifies the browser and browser version in which the page is being displayed
it's a picture of a web site from 1996 or so that someone has to guess

Deposit comments below.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   site admin | 05:23 | Comments (10)

Tuesday 8 June 2004

wasp survey

Over at the Web Standards Project (WaSP) we need your help. We’ve got a survey that you can take that will influence our future directions, design, and desires. Please take a few moments of your time to help us out.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   site admin | 10:29 | Comments (7)

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