The weather in Philadelphia was perfect for baseball today, but due to the huge cost of attending a game I was forced to watch it on television. Today's game pitted San Francisco's Jesse Fopert against Philadelphia's Kevin Millwood, who recently moved from Atlanta. The game was an exhibition of fantastic pitching, that resulted in Kevin Millwood getting a no-hitter; just the ninth in Phillies history and the first since 1990. The only run of the game was scored by Ricky Ledee, when he banged a homer off Fopert in the first inning. Only three walks prevented Millwood from getting a perfect game, but something tells me he won't care about that tonight.
The win keeps the Phillies tied for first with Florida and Atlanta in the National League East, with 15 wins and 10 losses. This was the second victory in a row for the Phillies against the Giants, who go 18-6 at the top of the National League West.
This is the final year for the Phillies at Veterans Stadium. The stadium has been the home of Philadelphia baseball and football for 32 years, in fact the first Phillies game played there was almost exactly a month after I was born. Today was also the birthday of the Phillie Phantatic, who has graced Veterans Stadium since 1978. It was nice of Kevin Millwood to give the 300 pound mascot such a great birthday present.
I am confident that this will be a great year for the Phillies. If Pat Burrell can return to form, and Jim Thome can start banging the ball out of the park like he did last year, there can be no stopping them.
"...we like to see our writing in its visual context, and to rethink that visual context each time we prepare to publish even the briefest blurb."
In his post yesterday, Zeldman writes about how he prefers to hand code his weblog because he enjoys doing it and it gives him a feel for the design as it is constructed. It seems that most bloggers use some sort of blogging software these days. Jeffrey also mentioned that he had considered and rejected the idea of hand coding an RSS feed because he believed that it was important that users read his work in context. Today he has changed his mind and produced a feed anyway.
I totally agree with Jeffrey on this point. I think hand coding is an art in itself and I find it tremendously enjoyable. I don't write a weblog to get noticed - I do it because I enjoy crafting the document. I actually find it theraputic. I like to mess around with it from time to time because it helps me to experiment with new designs in a harmless environment. It gives me considerable pleasure to learn that something I do for fun and experimentation has also become a regular read for some people, something I learned from participating in BlogShares.
I've just noticed that Tantek has written about this as well. He has listed a few bloggers who hand code like he does (including me). I cannot claim to be able to produce markup as clean as Tantek Çelik's or a weblog as attractive as Jeffrey Zeldman's, but it is nice to think that such luminaries do it the same way as me. I'm sure these blogging tools (or Content Management Systems) have made it possible for thousands to blog who might otherwise have chosen not to, but I prefer to steer clear of them and get free therapy at the same time.
- The campaign was completely successful, with only a low percentage of browsers in use that are bad enough to warrant being directed to the upgrade page.
- The campaign became a target for spammers, who abused the redirect method to suggest that the Web Standards Project was somehow connected with their activities.
An annoyed Mark Pilgrim had plenty to say about the behavior of the bastards who exploited the WaSP's good name, and there are also many comments on his blog entry that discuss the success of the Browser Upgrade Campaign. Many people think that with the current state of Internet Explorer, the campaign should continue. I have argued that IE lacks standards compliance because of its age. If Microsoft were to adopt incremental updates in the same way that Mozilla and Opera do, then it is likely that Internet Explorer would keep pace with them in the standards-compliancy stakes.
- As generic XML as possible: if a facility exists in XML, try to use that rather than duplicating it.
- Less presentation, more structure: already mentioned above.
- More usability: try to make the language easy to write, and make the resulting documents easy to use.
- More accessibility: some call it 'designing for our future selves'; the design should be as inclusive as possible.
- Better internationalization: it is a World Wide Web.
- More device independence: new devices coming online, such as telephones, PDAs, tablets, televisions and so on mean that it is imperative to have a design that allows you to author once and render in different ways on different devices, rather than authoring new versions of the document for each type of device.
- Less scripting: achieving functionality through scripting is difficult for the author and restricts the type of user agent you can use to view the document. We have tried to identify current typical usage, and include those usages in markup.
That all sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Unfortunately, the current draft doesn't seem to reflect many of these laudable goals. My particular peeve concerns the replacement for the old
<br />(line break) element. Assuming no change in the final specification, we are to have the
<l>element. In case you are confused, that is a lowercase L. It is not the number 1, nor is it a lowercase I. It was originally going to be called
<line>, but for reasons of brevity (or stupidity?), a more confusing element name has been chosen to represent what is being called a sub-paragraph instead. So how is it to be used? Here is an example:
<p> <l>This is a line</l> <l>This is another line</l> <l>This is a third line</l> </p>
Previously, you would have had to mark that up like this:
<p>This is a line<br /> This is another line<br /> This is a third line</p>
I can understand the need to remove the
<br />element. It is a purely presentational element and therefore it should not be required. What I cannot understand is how the Working Group came up with such an awful alternative. Let me remind you of one of those design aims:
- More usability: try to make the language easy to write, and make the resulting documents easy to use
I think that the new element is making things more complicated than they need to be. In fact, I'd argue that the element is still presentational in nature, although I'll concede it has more semantic value than just an arbitrary line break. As far as I am concerned, when you put a line break into a document you are creating what is effectively a new paragraph. A column of lines could be regarded as being a list (and therefore marked up as such), or just a bunch of mini-paragraphs (or sub-paragraphs if you prefer). On that basis, here is how I would mark up the example after the removal of the line break:
<p class="line">This is a line</p> <p class="line">This is another line</p> <p>This is a third line</p>
Obviously, the class applied to the two paragraphs would simply use a style rule that set the paragraph's margin to zero. In the case of a poem or lines of computer code, I would use an unordered list and an ordered list respectively.
I don't expect any support for these methods. Semantic purists will hate it, probably. I just think that the methods I have suggested work just fine, and have the added advantage of being compatible with earlier versions of XHTML as well.
Although I am not a big fan of Flash, due in part to its accessibility issues, I can see the advantage of being able to deliver multimedia-enhanced content with it. Until there is greater browser support for SVG, Flash is the only game in town.
I have been yearning for database knowledge for ages. I like to think I can build a pretty good web document, but static web sites are never going to get me anywhere in the web design world. To build a dynamic site it needs to be sitting on a database. Learning Structured Query Language (SQL) will open all sorts of doors for me. Although I will be learning the SQL built into the Oracle9i Database, I will be able to adapt this to Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL and Microsoft Access.
In addition to these core subjects, I am getting 2 general education courses this term. The first is Marketing Principles, in which I hope to learn some skills that will help me to market myself when I leave school. I have never been any good at selling anything, but I will have to learn how to do it or I'll fail to get my business off the ground. I am also going to be going further in English, with the second of 3 courses. Curiously, I'll be getting more homework from these 2 classes than from the core subjects.
I would like to express my sincere and heartfelt condolences to Eric Meyer and his family. My thoughts are with them.
A clever new scheme to improve investments and rankings at BlogShares has been thought up by Mark Pilgrim. He is now offering to link to blogs whose owners donate 100 of their shares to Mark. This sponsorship opportunity offers the blog owner one week of prime placement on Mark's home page. It remains to be seen how successful this scheme will be for the blog owners, or for Mark himself for that matter, but the idea is sound.
One of the most useful resources available to designers and developers has reappeared in a new home. Eric Meyer's brilliant CSS Support Charts document support for CSS in browsers prior to January 2001. Incremental updates will begin in the near future so that newer browser behavior can be similarly documented.
Air Traffic Control in the United Kingdom (and many other countries) has always given British Airways aircraft a callsign of Speedbird, but none but Concorde could really live up to that name. One of the most beautiful planes ever created, and a triumph of mechanical engineering, Concorde has been the only supersonic commercial aircraft in the world. Her extraordinary ability to sustain a cruising speed at twice the speed of sound for three hours remains unchallenged. Now it seems, this exotic beauty will finally be retiring from service in October this year. The bean counters at British Airways and Air France can no longer justify the loss she makes.
I have been watching Concorde fly my whole life. Each time I am lucky enough to see her, the odd tear comes to my eye as I feel the emotion she creates. In fact, the sight of her makes me feel proud to be British. This feeling of pride is carried over to my booking decisions. I have always flown British Airways because it feels as if I am being patriotic. With the loss of Concorde, BA will become just another airline. Concorde may make a loss, but she is certainly a loss leader.
In her honor, I want to share just a few of Concorde's mind-boggling facts and figures with you:
- Each of Concorde's 4 Rolls Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593s engines develops 38,000 pounds of thrust, with reheat.
- At more than twice the speed of sound (1,336 miles per hour), she cruises at around 60,000 feet (11 miles) in the area between the stratosphere and the ionosphere, where there is little weather and the curvature of the Earth is clearly visible.
- As the airframe heats up in supersonic flight, Concorde stretches 6 inches longer than its normal length of 204 feet.
- Her outside skin temperature reaches 127 degrees Celcius, which actually regulates her speed because she'll get too hot if she goes any faster.
After falling far behind Google in the search engine race, Yahoo! has relaunched its search tool. The new design echoes the minimalist designs of other search engines, but still offers quick access to some of the company's portal content. Curiously, Yahoo! has not gone down the same road taken by AlltheWeb, who use lean markup styled with Cascading Style Sheets. Instead, Yahoo! continues to use bloated markup in a table-based layout with only limited exploitation of CSS. Nevertheless, the new design is much better (and considerably faster) than the previous one. It remains to be seen whether or not this will help Yahoo! to claw back some of its market share.
"After wading through their code for an hour or two last night, I almost gave up."
Doug Bowman, the man behind Stopdesign, has taken it upon himself to do his own version of Yahoo!'s new beast. Gone are the tables and in is leaner markup and plenty of CSS. Doug says that the hardest part was recreating the vertical tabs with non-doubled, touching borders, and also using an unordered list to make the pointer indicator for the results page. Doug's impressive effort demonstrates the power and bloat-reduction of combining valid markup with Cascading Style Sheets. It even looks reasonable enough in Netscape Navigator 4.x!
Seyed Razavi has come up with a very clever new idea for the blog-obsessed. BlogShares is a fantasy stock market for weblogs. Each registered player gets a fictional $500 to buy shares in any listed blog. By claiming their own blog, a player can get additional money. The value of the shares is calculated based on the number and value of incoming links. My own blog is pretty much worthless because I have no registered incoming links yet, though I expect this to change as others sign up. Please feel free to buy stock in the si-blog, and then watch your investment grow if you link to me in your own blog too!
This is still something of an experiment, because I know almost nothing about XML or RSS, but I have finally added an RSS feed to this blog. The feed includes a basic style sheet (using CSS, because I don't know anything about XSL either) so that it can be viewed as a page of sorts. Because I don't using any blogging software the feed is hand-coded, but I am pleased to say that it still validates. I'd welcome any hints, tips or critique.
I am forced to agree. There are definitely similarities between the man who toppled Palpatine's Empire and the Emperor of Style. Eric now includes two RSS feeds on his thoughts page. I wish they would resolve the disagreement over what RSS stood for. I think Really Simple Syndication is an appalling definition because it makes it sound like a product for a toddler. I much prefer the original Rich Site Summary. Although RDF Site Summary is convincing as well, it does make it difficult to express in HTML, because you have an abbreviation within an abbreviation.
Eric has just returned from User Interface 7 West, where he and Princess Leia talked about creating user interfaces with cascading style sheets, among other things. I really must get to one of these public appearances at some point. I wonder how much Eric would charge to come and talk at my school?