Saturday 30 April 2005

Holy Flashback Batman!

HOLY FLASHBACK BATMAN! Name at least two people in this photo if you can.


First two correct posted answers win a Zen of CSS Design book, and second two get a Spring Into HTML and CSS book.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 14:19 | Comments (28)

Friday 29 April 2005

p or pre?

So what’s the semantic verdict?

p or pre?

Help me out here, friends. Which is truly better?

This one:

<p>The world is my family<br />
Wherever I am right now<br />
Is all that matters.</p>

Or this one:

The world is my family 
Wherever I am right now 
Is all that matters.

Well, you get the idea. I know others have asked this before, but I’m still at a loss for a really articulate answer.

Any ideas? If so, please do submit below.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 23:10 | Comments (47)

G’bye Dreyfus

I ALWAYS HATE IT WHEN PETS DIE, but it’s worse when it happens in cruel and unecessary ways.

Dreyfus was one cool cat. He originally came to our family via my brother Linus, and then went to live with our friend and extended family member Eric when Linus left Tucson for California. I have some beautiful pics of “Fus!” as I called him, but alas I’m traveling and don’t have them with so I can’t share one in this post.

Fus was one of those “steal the show” cats. I’ll never forget some years ago at a New Year’s Eve party at my brother’s house when he came jaunting into the kitchen (the main hub of any good party) and began to introduce himself around. You could almost hear him, Frank Sinatra-like “How ya doin, nice to meet ya, good to see ya” making his way around to everyone before sauntering out the back door.

Because I’m traveling I haven’t gotten the full details of what happened, only a phone call and email from my brother letting me know Dreyfus had been mutilated to death on Wednesday. It’s possible it was done by a wild animal – death by coyote is sadly a common end to cats out in the desert, but this doesn’t happen normally in more densely populated areas such as where Eric lives.

The far uglier thought is that it was done by a human.

I was unable to be in Tucson for his burial, but it’s good to know that he was very much loved in his life by an extended family who cared for him well and enjoyed his presence on this planet for each of his days. And if that cat was indeed hurt by a person, I am confident that the Powers That Be loved Dreyfus as much as the rest of us and will deal out a swift and harsh Karmic retribution.

Rest in peace, Fus. You were a great friend.

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Posted by:   Molly | 03:29 | Comments (25)

Friday 22 April 2005

Going to Mom’s

I’M OFF TO VISIT MY MOTHER, and it’s a darned good time to do so. I need to be a kid for a few days, have someone else cook my meals and remind me I’m loved. Sometimes I forget. I’ve been having a crisis of confidence lately, and need some seeing to.

I will swim every day and not worry about deadlines, the ex who still wants my attention, the bills, the debt, my unending list of character flaws, I wonder if I ever will ever get being an adult right. Oh, I don’t mean I can’t get work done, I can be disciplined and very together that way. But I don’t show much discretion or graceful communication with other people. I’m blunt, I have a lack of appropriate boundaries. I push things at people fast and furious and expect to be met when my fast and my furious is overwhelming to most, and the few it’s not overwhelming to are faster and furiouser and end up overwhelming me.

Some people value these things about my character, I’m not so sure I like these so-called qualities. I’m not so sure they serve me so well. Of course, I learned or inherited those behaviors from my Mom. But she understands why I’m that way and there’s some comfort to be had over someone just understanding that my intentions are always good, but my delivery often sucks.

Do you ever want to be a child again? Just so you don’t have to deal with the bills, the demands, the conflicts of wanting to be a free spirit and realizing you have responsibility to others? To be able to say exactly what’s on your mind and have people think it’s “cute” rather than confusing or out of line or offensive?

I don’t mean act like a child, and I don’t mean embrace your inner child.

I mean just to be a child again, for a few precious moments where you can tell people you love them and they’ll tell you the same and it means something far more simple and real than anything so complex as what we create in our crazy, often unhappy and cruel, mostly confusing adult worlds.

So I’m going to Mom’s. I’ll swim every day, wait for the eclipse, and sit in the sun. It’s only for a weekend, but maybe I’ll feel free for a few hours, maybe I’ll feel loved.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 04:24 | Comments (20)

Thursday 21 April 2005

I Need Help

I NEED HELP.Yeah, yeah, laugh all you want.

This is specific. I need a Web designer with solid XHTML, CSS, and PHP experience. The PHP experience is going to be the deal breaker. I need found someone really good.

This is a contract position, and you have to give me some electronic evidence: CV, portfolio, samples, etc.

Thanks everyone, comments are now closed.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 18:12 | Comments (6)

music me in review

THE BRITISH HAVE INVADED yet again. Very good at their outreach programs, they are.


I mean music. Here are some thoughts:

So Turin Brakes – Great acoustic duo, singer/songwriter stuff, no one recommended this band. Some of my favorite tracks are Feeling Oblivion, The Door and title song from that album, The Optimist.

I somehow stumbled upon them several years back on my own. I love them and will be in the UK while they’re touring. I hope to catch them live.

The DecemberistsJeremy Keith recommended this band in my “Music Me” post last month.

I love this band. I absolutely adore the song “California One Youth and Beauty Brigade” and, oh, there are others.

Take a long drive with me, on California One, California One . . . Take a long drown with me, on California wine . . .

So easy.

And from the song “Red Right Ankle

This is the story of the boys who loved you
Who love you now and loved you then
And some were sweet, some were cold and snuffed you
And some just laid around in bed.

Some had crumbled you straight to your knees
Did it cruel, did it tenderly
Some had crawled their way into your heart
To rend your ventricles apart
This is the story of the boys who loved you

Jeremy pimped his own band in that post, a bit with the flavor and pleasingly so to one who lives in the wild American West. Salter Cane have a tune or two that are definitely playlist-worthy. “Long Gone” shows off the musicianship. But, the sorrowful, melodic “Love Stranger Than This” appealed to my morose side today:

I long for the water, something so good, to just come and wash me away.

With his “Reasons to be Cheerful, Part III” post, Andy Clarke encouraged me to revisit Ian Dury.

My experience of Dury wasn’t broad but it was definitive. “Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick” played long and hard in my New Jersey town, and my teenage years are perfectly defined by Dury’s anthem “Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll.”

Here’s a little piece of advice
You’re quite welcome it is free
Don’t do nothing that is cut price
You know what that’ll make you be . . .

Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Are very good indeed.

Listening now, more closely, I realize how ahead of his time Dury was, yet how perfectly he defined that time. The song I’ve recently discovered, “Reasons to be Cheerful,” exhibits not only Dury’s great talent for showmanship, but a rap rhythm the black boys in my ‘hood wouldn’t discover for at least a decade.

I’m still working through the list that friends shared last month. There’s so much good here, and I like the feeling that I have more to choose from. But it’s still not enough! Please, please, keep sharing it all right here.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 14:20 | Comments (6)

Wednesday 20 April 2005

Molly Article Update

TRYING TO UPDATE MY SITE, I added a list of my reasonably recent articles from InformIT to the articles page, and figured it might be helpful to post them here, too, in case you’ve not had a chance to read them.

inform IT

I do apologize in advance for all the ads at InformIT, a trick for some is to read the print versions. The publication pays their authors, though, which these days is rare enough, so it’s a trade-off of course. And, they have some fantastic resources in general, including the Safari Bookshelf, which is invaluable.

  • The Meaning of Semantics (Take I). Nearly every web designer, including myself, has been guilty of forcing line breaks, creating tables that don’t hold tabular data, and a host of other egregious HTML sins. Now that CSS is around, I explore the move to paying attention to each element’s content and purpose, not its looks.
  • Untold Mysteries of CSS. Three untold CSS mysteries you might not know about include the universal selector, !important keywords, and multi-classes. Look behind the curtain with me to find out how these under-described aspects of CSS can be put to use to assist with diagnostics during development, savvy global styling, out-and-out hacks, better design flexibility, and accessibility.
  • Position This! CSS Positioning Demystified. Looking for the right position? Look no further. This article examines the four true positioning schemes in CSS, clarifies the confusion between absolute and relative positioning, and explains that although floats are often great for use in layouts, they should not be confused as an actual part of CSS positioning.
  • Seven Deadly Markup Sins. HTML or XHTML? If you’re in Web design and development, you’re using something to mark up your pages. And, if you’ve been in the industry awhile, no doubt you’ve learned some standards-based techniques. But despite all our growth and knowledge, some nagging problems remain. In this article, I help you hone in on the most common markup mistakes and show you how to repair them with ease.
  • Strategies for Long-Term CSS Hack Management. 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. In this article, I 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.


Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 00:35 | Comments (6)

Monday 18 April 2005

That and Twenty Bucks

THAT AND TWENTY BUCKS will buy you my new book, “Spring into HTML and CSS” ready for pre-order today.

spring into HTML and CSS book cover

What? Another Molly book? When? How? I know you’re wondering, and so am I.

I wrote most of it while working on the Zen of CSS Design.

Dave got this kind of horrified look on his face when I told him that I’d done so. I’m not sure if he was frightened by the fact that I’d written two books at the same time, or worried that I could have compromised the quality of our book. So I trusted my judgment at that point and didn’t tell him about the time I wrote four books simultaneously (one which remains a strong seller to this day, even!)

Honestly, all I can tell you about my obsessive book writing is that somehow it gives me evidence I exist. Because apparently I don’t quite get that I do. Or maybe it’s just a good way of channelling some of my hyper-verbal stuff. Or something.

All that silliness aside, the book is prime for folks just coming into (X)HTML and CSS for the first time. It’s not written for advanced folks, rather, regular Jane’s n’ Joe’s working in da coal mines; accountants; doctors publishing their research; students writing their papers; folks working in educational environments.

It’s for professionals whose primary job is not necessarily Web development yet who want to learn HTML and CSS in a standards-aware way.

One cool feature of the book is that it’s “chunked” – each subtopic within a chapter is either one or two pages long, period. The information is tight, concise, and to the point. I enjoyed the challenge of writing in this fashion, it made me have to toss out a lot of detail I’d put into a more advanced or comprehensive book and hone in on what matters most.

The book is really fun and simple and if it’s not for the more advanced readers here, maybe you’ve got a friend or a Mom or co-worker that it’s just right for.

At any rate, I hope you’ll enjoy reading this little gem as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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Posted by:   Molly | 05:31 | Comments (22)

Sunday 17 April 2005

Cheap Trash Stars and a Mistaken Moon

Hey, the other night I looked up and I know I saw Venus. Brilliant, pulsating, bright. You’ve long looked like a constellation of cheap trash stars instead of a real star or planet. So that’s how I knew it was Venus and not you.

I’m throwing thoughts around corners, here. Am I once again mistaking my muses? Thinking the devils I dance with are angels instead? But I knew the truth about you long ago anyway, you did the one good deed of telling me. So perhaps I’m not mistaking muses again, rather just pretending that I have angels.

I do have angels, don’t I?

I wake up dreaming we don’t hurt each other any more. You know how it is, how everything in life and love and perception changes. If you look up at the sky and see Venus you might think you’re watching MTV. The natural and inventive lines of life are getting crossed. The goodness of our souls gets tainted by time and judgment and fatigue.

If happiness were a mask, it would be known as mine. You know it’s true, you’ve seen me wear it. I dress up in enthusiasm and joy as if it were a precious garment. I show it off, I keep it beautiful, at least in the light. It’s fortunate I’m usually hidden at night. I can wrestle with you and pretend no obvious blood is left behind.

tomato es

Right now, I am looking closely at a handful of tomato seeds. I’m counting them and wondering whether the procreation potential of a tomato is predefined?

As in: This is how many other tomatoes you will potentially give life to, this is how many seeds will dry up and fall to earth.

As in: Here are fresh new tomatoes, crisp and bright and almost sweet.

As in: We talked about it and did nothing for so long the sweet grew mellow and the seeds did not grow.

When I get too nervous I look for the edges of things. I am looking to see if the edges are still hard and that reality is in sharp focus. When the edges start to waver, I know I’m either dreaming or reality is being distorted by pain or medication. Or I’m hearing voices of the misguided muse and devil and angel and forgetting my own voice.

I want the simple seed I played with in my hand these past years. I want what is new and fresh and contains potential. This is how I knew it was Venus I saw, and not some moon. Everything else is cheap trash stars and there is a star or perphaps a planet here that shines very bright.

I’m sorry, but I knew it wasn’t you this time. It can’t be you this time. It is not you. This time.

I do have angels, don’t I?

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 13:01 | Comments (8)

Saturday 16 April 2005

Fixed Versus Liquid: The Beat(ing) Goes On

FIXED VERSES LIQUID DESIGN. You’d think the argument would be over by now, but no, it’s re-emerged and with a bit of a vengeance.

So there we were at SXSW, geeks drinking ’til all hours of the morning. Around 3:00 a.m. an argument – well, okay – a “discussion” ensues involving Jeremy Keith and several others about which is better: Fixed or liquid design?

Porter and I just looked at each other and said “Didn’t we have this discussion years ago? Of course, back then we were talking table-based design. That small fact aside, I found this column I did in 1999 for Web Techniques Magazine, Dynamic vs. Fixed: A Proposal for Peace at the Table in which I wrote:

What happened to table manners? They seem to have dropped down and rolled away like so many undesirable peas, left for the dogs to sniff at and the cats to bat about.

The borders have been drawn – on one side sit the dynamics, arms crossed, demanding that dynamic table layouts are the only appropriate way to go, ever. Across from them are the fixed folk, insisting that fixed table layouts are the absolute way to maintain the integrity of a given visual design.

Is there a right or wrong approach? As any good mom will tell kids battling away at the dinner table, there’s no right or wrong answer here. The truth lies somewhere diplomatically in the middle.”

Molly E. Holzschlag, October 1999

Despite the fact that we’ve moved to CSS as a primary means of laying out pages, I still haven’t given up this point of view. Jeremy continues the conversation in his recent post Fixed Fashion:

Y’see, I always assumed that the prevalence of fixed-width sites was the result of an informed decision. I imagined that designers weighed up the pros and cons of fixed and liquid design and then, after careful consideration, chose to build a site with a fixed width layout.

Now I’m beginning to think that this scenario is wishful thinking. Could it be that most designers are simply making the decision based on what everybody else is doing?

If so, that’s a disturbing thought. Decisions as important as that shouldn’t simply be the result of a sheep-like attitude .“

Jeremy Keith, April 2005

Since my recent article for Design In Flight, I’ve been busy with emails asking to explain the difference, why a designer might want one over the other, and so on.

Clearly the issue is long from dead, despite my desire to go back to the party, tuning out the screams of “FIXED! NO! LIQUID!” in the background.

My position remains fixed. The context of the design is what will decide. As you can see, I’ve opted to remain among the liquid for now. How about you?

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 14:59 | Comments (48)

Wednesday 13 April 2005

Acid2 Test Formally Released

THE ACID2 TEST FOR WEB STANDARDS and related compliance is now available at the Web Standards Project. You can read the press release, and visit the acid2 test site to see the test, understand the test, and find out information about how to provide feedback, bug reports and other items of interest regarding acid2.

Opera, Firefox and Safari have already tested against acid2 and failed beautifully. It’s important to keep in mind that the point of acid2 is precisely to show browser and tools developers what’s lacking in their products. This is to assist them in improving the product, and testing repeatedly along the way until (at least in my ideal world) the product is compliant.

Dave Hyatt from Safari writes:

I started work today on making Safari pass the test, and I thought I’d blog my progress as I fix bugs in the test. This will be a fairly slow process as whole features may have to be added simply to make one row of the test render correctly.

It will be interesting to follow his blog as Safari bugs are fixed and unsupported features are implemented. It’d be great to see other vendors do something similar, too.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 09:52 | Comments (21)

Tuesday 12 April 2005

The More Things Stay the Same . . .

THE MORE THINGS STAY THE SAME, the more they change. Or at least redefine themselves in the context of new information. In my recent article for the fantastic Design In Flight magazine, I discuss three top Web design trends that may not really be trends after all.

“What makes a design trend come and go? And why in only a little over a decade have we returned to certain techniques that we once thought were tired? Perhaps the fact that we can finally design with CSS is one reason we’re returning to certain visual trends – we’re searching for ideas that convey a sense of the familiar, yet are new in some way, too.” – – excerpt from “The More Things Stay the Same”

If you haven’t seen Design in Flight, I really hope you’ll check it out. It’s done in PDF format, so you can read it on screen or print it out. The magazine is a quarterly, and very affordable at a price of only $13.00 USD per year. I have to admit I’d not heard of the publication until the editor approached me to do an article. I looked over the magazine and was stunned to find material from many colleagues as well as folks I’d never read – spanning all aspects of graphic design and Web development. Design in Flight is beautifully laid out, too, and I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to write this article for the publication. That said, this is a resource contemporary Web designers and developers should not be without.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 16:37 | Comments (18)

Monday 11 April 2005

Cherry Blossoms and CSS

IT’S CHERRY BLOSSOM TIME in Virginia, where I’m visiting friends and working for a few days with the awesome web developers at AOL. A bit too busy to write anything of substance at the moment, here’s a link to my Flickr stream so you can check out some of the flowers and fun.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 23:02 | Comments (4)

Thursday 7 April 2005

joining the @media party

I’VE JOINED THE @MEDIA PARTY and I’m really excited. Two days of web standards and accessibility in London.

I’ll be talking about sensible Web standards workflow: CSS for prototyping (inspired by a presentation Eric Meyer and I have done for UIE); smart infrastructure for the long-term management of documents, and moving toward a hack-free future.

I’m sandwiched between Jeremy Keith, who is sure to inspire everyone with his take on savvy JavaScript, and Andy Clarke, whose talk Anatomy of a Mouse will look at how the Disney Store U.K. was built.

I couldn’t be in better company – the roster is filled with impressive folks and I’m looking forward to spending time again in England. Some readers might recall how much fun I had there a few years ago. I kept a travelblog about the experience. I hope you’ll read it.

The event is in June and if you’re at all able to come to this event, I hope you will. It’s extremely important because England and Europe have had precious little access to conferences of this nature. Big props to Patrick Griffiths for having enough courage and faith to make it happen.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 07:18 | Comments (26)

Wednesday 6 April 2005

The Best Tattoo Ever

I HAVE NO TATTOOS, despite having flirted with them for over 25 years. I guess I’m a little non-committal, but I do appreciate great art. And maybe soon I’ll get a tattoo.

You got some tats? Please post your pics and share!

I honestly may never do it. But if I were to get a tattoo, I’d want it to be tribal yet portray a unique expression of love.

Got a design? A spot I should put it? Where are your tats?

Should I have a tattoo at all? If I do, where should it go and what should it be? Where are yours? How do you feel about them?

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 20:57 | Comments (33)

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