Tuesday 31 August 2004

summery readings

SUMMER’S NEARING AN end, clouds are still gathering in southern Arizona. Maybe we’ll have some more rain. In the meantime, Dan Cederholm’s “Web Standards Solutions” is hands-down the best book for web professionals this summer. Probably this year.

web standards solutions cover

What’s surprising is that this is Dan’s first book. The style is direct, born of his web site, SimpleBits, which inspired aspects of the book.

“I wanted an easy way to show people the comparison and consequences of various methods – why something may work better over another, instead of just saying it should.”

So Dan developed his quiz-based approach, which allows the reader to not only explore the nuances of structure and style, but also provides us with an idea of how many approaches can – and do – work to achieve the same goal.

Herein lies the draw of Dan’s message: Sometimes there’s more than one approach, and all might be right.

I was curious what it was like to work with Friends of Ed, which many avid computer book readers and fellow authors, editors and publishers will remember as being an imprint of the dead and gone Wrox press UK.

Wrox collapsed under bad finances and had portions of various imprints picked up by Wiley and Apress.

Working with Apress was a good experience for Dan. His virgin adventure as an author appears to have been positive overall. Dan praises his tech editor, Drew McClellan, who is a well-respected and beloved colleague of my own via the Web Standards Project (WaSP).

The experience of writing, Dan says, is quite like his wife’s Triathlon training:

“First it was short 5K runs, then a short triathlon . . .then a marathon. You’re never done, even though each step is an accomplishment.”

Bitten by the book writing bug, Dan is simmering up some book projects for the future. In the meantime, we’ve been graced by a practical and truly useful resource in “Web Standards Solutions.”

Congratulations Dan, on doing something right the first time.

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Posted by:   Molly | 18:26 | Comments (23)

Sunday 29 August 2004

graphic novels, maus, in the shadow of no towers

drawing of maus graphic novel cover

MAUS FANS ANYONE? Art Spiegelman’s ground-breaking graphic novels are golden, with perhaps only Robert Crumb to compare.

Maus is a progressive and outspoken graphic novel series that has positioned itself in literary history as the hallmark of a true graphic novel.

Along with his wife, the noted author and illustrator Francoise Mouly, Spiegelman and Mouly represent two of today’s most celebrated artists: Outrageous, sensitive, beautifully drawn & colored. This is some of the best political/social graphic humor of our generation, ever.

Focus right now is all about Spiegelman’s next compilation, In the Shadow of No Towers in which Spiegelman chronicles post 9/11 emotions.

It’s due out sometime in September, I’m waiting with interest.

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Posted by:   Molly | 17:20 | Comments (17)


WANT THE SECURITY and standards support of Firefox but the look and features of Microsoft IE? Now there’s FirefoxIE.

A collection of tools and skins, simply follow the directions at the FirefoxIE web site to download features that will make your Firefox browser similar to IE. Especially helpful for folks making the switch.

Hat tip: Meryl Evans.

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Posted by:   Molly | 12:27 | Comments (9)

Saturday 28 August 2004

search silliness

Okay, I was being silly and I entered in the term “search” and searched Google. What popped up was a list of search engines, and Google is number 7 on that list. Does anyone else find this kind of funny?

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Posted by:   Molly | 16:57 | Comments (12)

Friday 27 August 2004

dead rock stars

DAMN I HATE it when I hear great music just to find out it’s from a dead person. Right now it’s Kirsty MacColl, “In These Shoes” – a brilliant piece.

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Posted by:   Molly | 22:35 | Comments (16)

left or libertarian?

I AVOID POLITICAL discussions for fear of too much confrontation. But here’s a list of some of my beliefs:

  • Abortion Rights: Yes.
  • Gun Rights. Yes.
  • Gay Marriage rights: Yes.
  • War: No no, no! Please bring every soldier home to his or her family today.

Thank you.

You don’t have to agree with me but if you can vote in the U.S. please register and then exercise your right to vote come November.

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Posted by:   Molly | 21:01 | Comments (39)

Thursday 26 August 2004

sudden fiction at 29,000 feet


HAVING ALWAYS EATEN meat the idea of taking another life for nourishment appealed to her growing logic. When she was in her teens she knew of a man who would take her fishing. Together, they would catch small mouth bass out of the St. Lawrence River. Easily crushing earthworms onto hooks, she would swing her thick arms wide, waiting with a patience unknown elsewhere in her life as the fish would first nip then bite down full upon the bait.

“There is a moment where you have to count” he told her, looking at her with a not-quite smile. “One, two, three, four – now!” She’d lock the reel and snap back the rod with all her young strength and prepare for the struggle. “Small mouth bass are fighters” he said, jutting out a weak chin and knowing he’d rather struggle with her, though she always turned away.

They’d fish. Get stoned. Reel in tired bass and pull out hooks from gasping lips and bleeding eyes. She learned to hold the fish tight in her small broad hands until life passed out in curls and wisps of something like smoke, but not smoke. She felt sad only later eating the delectable flesh and feeling an uncertain fire catch in her throat, wanting now to cry out for the nameless fish whose fading heartbeat dying in her hands flowed into her body instead.

One time, they tromped through the woods in Pennsylvania with drunken friends and dogs, carrying shotguns and surprising the abundant deer. When Mike McCann shot at one and it fell, she ran forward unthinking of her friends and their reckless aim, grasping at the deer’s neck where the bullet had pierced, crying on its warm dying body with legs kicking and eyes wide, staring directly into hers as the final twitches and sharp breaths of death unraveled. She ate its rich, sweet meat later and smelled the young deer’s blood, thinking how, much like her own blood this blood would stay in her nostrils and mind forever.

Many years later these thoughts of creatures dying in her hands pass through a tired mind. She is standing in front of an Alaskan grizzly, stuffed and mountainous, with a skull of an unrecognizable animal at its feet. Upon close examination, she sees between the bear’s fur right down to its flesh
and follicles, its pores and breathing parts captured waxy and yellow and not at all alive.

This is how I will be, she thinks. One day, I too will be a still creature, with my soul like smoke curling away from my body, with the fire of death opening my throat raw and my eyes wide in search of indeterminate comfort, with my last gasp wondering: Who did I nourish, who did I feed, where in this circle of breath and ash did I give enough of myself to warrant eternal peace?

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Posted by:   Molly | 20:19 | Comments (6)

microsoft getting smarter?

COULD MICROSOFT BE getting the hint? Check out the new home page: no more spacer gifs, from 40 tables down to 7, JavaScript sniffing gone gone gone.

A result of the multiple commentaries about Microsoft’s lack of support for standards within the IE web browser? Or criticism of their so-called “compliant” markup generated by FrontPage? Or complaints regarding the markup used on their own sites? Who knows, but something is starting to change.

While not perfect, the redesign is a bold step in the right direction. Interestingly, designer and fellow WaSP member Douglas Bowman recently showcased a rebuild of the Microsoft home page as part of an educational session. While he isn’t sure whether his highly publicized “Throwing Tables Out the Window” write-up of that process did anything to inspire the change or not, Bowman had this to say about the redesign:

Hopefully, this is just a start of what’s to come. The home page team should certainly get recognition for the progress they’ve made so far. Nice work Microsoft. Please . . . just don’t stop here.

Microsoft will continue to dodge blows from the purists, but I agree with Bowman’s thoughts and think that it’ll be the positive feedback and better performance results that’ll help get Microsoft closer to fine. I honestly have to say I didn’t think I’d see this kind of improvement for a long time to come.

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Posted by:   Molly | 04:43 | Comments (11)

Monday 23 August 2004

the be my best friend story

BE MY BEST friend, she asked. We were six years old. Odd how early experiences can embed themselves into our personalities so deeply.

The Be My Best Friend Story

When I was a little girl at summer camp, another little girl came up to me and wanted to play. “Be my best friend?” she asked, and held out her hand. So Annie and I shook on it and we became best friends.

A few weeks later, a group of kids were playing outside, and I was walking up from behind because I’d gone to get a chocolate milk for Annie. Annie loved chocolate milk!

As I neared the group, I heard Annie ask another girl “Be my best friend?” And the other girl replied “I thought you were Molly’s best friend!”

Annie said “Yeah, but today I think she’s a dumb girl because she didn’t bring me chocolate milk so I want a new best friend.”

Well, there’s little six year old me, swearing I wouldn’t cry or yell at Annie, whom I believed to be my best friend.

So I ran away to the stream, throwing out the chocolate milk along the way. When I got there, a group of boys were killing tadpoles. I had a screaming fit at them to make them stop and then ran to a favorite tree and cried my eyes out ’til long past dark.

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Posted by:   Molly | 13:56 | Comments (44)

Sunday 22 August 2004

don’t worry, browse happy

AS CONCERNED CITIZENS of the web, the Web Standards Project encourages you to browse happy.

Visit our new site,, to learn about the browsers we are advocating and why. Encourage your friends – even your gran – to drop by!

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Posted by:   Molly | 14:18 | Comments (14)

Tuesday 17 August 2004

and speaking of minutia

MAYBE I’M JUST obsessive, but I sometimes do seriously get off on minutia. Here’s a great article by Faruk Ates “Redefining Tag Soup” courtesy Anne van Kesteren’s weblog that, well, redefines the term Tag Soup!

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Posted by:   Molly | 05:14 | Comments (5)


YOU KNOW YOU’RE famous when you’ve been made into a cartoon character. Of course, some people think I’ve always been a cartoon character. Thanks to OK/CANCEL, I am one now, and so is Eric Meyer, and Jared Spool and Jeff Veen . . .

In an effort to publicize the fantastic UI9 event, upcoming in October, Jared Spool had OK/CANCEL do up a four-part series spoofing the whole UI9 gang. The results are hysterical! Two of the series are available so far, with the other two to come.

  • First episode – sets the stage.
  • Second episode (this you must see, and you will laugh. If you don’t, I’ll start worrying about you).

If you’ve never read OK/CANCEL, it’s an industry-related comic by Tom Chi and Kevin Cheng, who do a terrific job. Definitely worthy of a permanent bookmark.

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Posted by:   Molly | 02:41 | Comments (6)

Monday 16 August 2004

best joke, a redesign and damnit where’s the music?

I need a sideblog, but in the meantime:

I really am hungry for new music.

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Posted by:   Molly | 18:55 | Comments (32)

XFN 1.1 arrives

GOT FRIENDS? THEN get XFN 1.1 savvy! The XHTML Friends Network has expanded to contain new relationship values which includes me. And anything that includes me has got to be good, right?

XFN, for those unfamiliar, is a means of defining relationships within links. It’s being developed by Eric Meyer, Tantek Çelik, and Matt Mullenweg – a dream team if ever oh ever a dream team there was.

So how does it work? I can describe my relationships with Eric, Tantek, and Matt as all being friends, colleagues, and people I’ve met. So every time I link to them individually, I can include that information within each link as follows:

<a href="" 
rel="friend colleague met">Visit Eric</a>
<a href="" 
rel="friend colleague met">Visit Tantek</a>
<a href="" 
rel="friend colleague met">Visit Matt</a>

XFN is being implemented in a growing number of blogging tools and blogrolls. WordPress, for example, has an XFN interface for your links and blogrolls. also has an XFN interface, too.

With XFN 1.1 comes a few new values. Along with the me value (used when you reference yourself in the context of your social networks), you can also choose to use contact, which is a nice way to describe a professional contact that might not yet be an aquaintance, colleague, or friend, and kin which provides a means of including family members who are related by blood or through your spousal relationship(s).

Spouse, by the way, is defined by the good folks developing XFN as referring to:

“. . . a person to whom you feel yourself to be married, whether legally or not. The use of spouse should be symmetric. A spouse could also be considered a romantic value, however, we concluded that a major difference between spouse and the other romantic values is that a spouse is considered to be part of a family, whereas this is not typically true for the other romantic values. Also, though typically a 1:1 relationship, some localities, cultures (and subcultures) permit and encourage one to many spousal relationships. We leave such complexities up to individual choice and judgment.”

This was something I’d missed upon review of XFN 1.1 and asked Tantek about because for so many people, marriage is self-defined or defined differently. Tantek pointed me to the background doc, which helps explain the values in greater detail.

Be sure to drop by the XFN 1.1 announcement page and cruise the site for more details. Even better: Get started using XFN today.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 13:57 | Comments (8)

Saturday 14 August 2004

and what of the consumer?

THE CRAPTASTIC ADVENTURES of SES San Jose 2004 got me thinking: What about the poor sucker consumer? Do we on the non-sales side of technology have an obligation to educate and inform?

There is no doubt that most readers here who have ever built a web site for a client have also had to put effort into educating and informing that client. Sometimes it works, sometimes it’s a struggle.

The problem is complex: The client may have just enough knowledge to be dangerous but inaccurate; the client may be extremely confused because there are no standards by which to measure a web design & development agency; the client may have been hooked into the crap that the slimy SEOs serve up as if it all led to instant, creamy success.

Which all begs the question: How do we simultaneously educate our consumers when we’re still in the process of educating ourselves and each other? Which begs another question: Is it our duty to educate consumers at all?

All this just provides more support for the statement I made the other day – we can’t stop asking the same questions. We also have to ask new ones, and different ones.

I honestly don’t have any clue as to the appropriate answers here, but I’m seriously concerned. How the consumer views web design directly affects our ability to do our work to its highest and best, and get paid both the respect and dollars that quality work in turn deserves.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 02:40 | Comments (7)

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