Sometimes I like to blog about a few things at once. Sometimes they are related, and sometimes they are not. This entry encompasses both, hence the rather contradictory title. I usually like to list these things, and today is no exception:
- Way to go Tim. The Director of the World Wide Web Consortium has written a letter to James E. Rogan, United States Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, stating the case for recognizing prior art in the ridiculous patent case over browser plug-ins, involving Eolas and Microsoft. Only a fool would fail to see that there is overwhelming evidence for a reexamination of the patent.
- A List Apart has redesigned, with improved functionality. The current penchant for ridiculously small typeface sizes has continued, and the setting of the navigation text in pixels has spoiled the site's effort to be resizable in all browsers. I think I am in the minority, but I really don't like websites that have a fixed width, because lucky bastards (like me) with huge monitors and high resolutions are faced with an ocean of wasted screen real estate. The new articles, particularly Doug's Sliding Doors of CSS are all top-notch.
- I've been doing a lot of work with PHP over the last few weeks, after first learning the basics of server-side scripting with ASP. I love working with PHP (although it took me a little bit of time to get the hang of things once
register_globalshas been set to off) because it is easy to learn and highly developed. I cannot imagine why it took me so long to have a look at it. I'm using it, in conjunction with MySQL to monitor referral traffic on my business website. It tracks the last 50 referrals, but filters out internal or unresolved referrals.
- The short tutorial I wrote on how to serve up XHTML with the correct MIME type has been re-worked to improve both functionality and performance. A big thank you to all those who contributed.
- Keystone Websites got paid for doing something the other day. Getting paid was a new concept for me, and I liked it very much. More of same, please.
- Simon Willison has joined the ranks at the Web Standards Project, along with Dave Shea and Ethan Marcotte. The venerable WaSP now features a glittering array of talent, and it made me wonder what kind of websites such a team could create. Can you imagine how unbelievably cool it would be to have them all on your staff?
After a bit of gentle prodding from senior members of the Web Standards Group, I have written a short tutorial on how to serve up XHTML with the correct MIME type. A little knowledge of PHP is helpful, but by no means necessary.
I spent much of last night working on a design for a business card. As I discovered when I created a shortcut icon for Keystone Websites, the logo doesn't lend itself well to being rendered very small. Fortunately, Adobe Photoshop is a very capable piece of software, and a bit of Photoshopery allowed made it possible to get the results I needed.
I kept the design of the business card as simple as possible and it more or less reflects the appearance of the website's. I didn't want to splash out megabucks, so I used Microsoft Word to make a sheet of 10 cards and then took it to Kinko's to have it printed. They said that they'll be ready by Monday afternoon. I've never set up a business before so I have no experience of this, but when I walked out of Kinko's it felt like it was really happening. Building the website didn't give me the same feeling. Perhaps it is the fact that it is going to get printed somewhere that does it.
Yesterday, I submitted my business for inclusion on the website of my local borough. It prompted me to think about what I should do about getting my business promoted. Presumably, I need to place advertisements in a few local newspapers (since it is local business that I am mostly after) and start spreading the word. I know it doesn't sound like I have much of a business plan, but the truth of the matter is that I was rather rushed into going forward with this before I was intending to.
I'm already deep into Web Design on a $hoestring, an excellent book by Carrie Bickner (of New York Public Library Style Guide fame). I really like Carrie's conversational writing style because it makes me feel like she knows me. The book is packed with money-saving tips, resources, and advice for the web designer with a tight belt. A nice touch is that the book is only $25 - a bargain for what it contains.
The book can really be regarded in two ways. It can be used to help save money in the web design process, or it can be used to help make more money within a set budget - a bonus in this world of undercutting and low margins. Around fifty pages are devoted to using web standards, something I applaud with enthusiasm. Although the short-term gains are minimal, designing with web standards saves time and bandwidth, which can yield great savings in the long run.
Is it just me, or do most of the really cool books seem to come from New Riders?
Russ Weakley, of Max Design and Web Standards Group fame, has added Floatutorial to his collection of great resources. At last, the web design world has an idiot-proof guide to one of the least understood aspects of CSS. There are nine tutorials covering just about everything designers need when dealing with floats.
With considerable help, advice, and patience from Evan Goer, Keystone Websites has appeared in his XPhiles list. I had a few validation stumbles, due in part to my "PHP novice" status, but mostly because the site is still in development. I must now do my best to maintain this standard. As well as being valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional and valid CSS, it easily meets Section 508 compliance for accessibility.
Having mastered the process for jessey.net, I've done the same thing with Keystone Websites. Well not exactly the same thing. For those visiting Keystone Websites with a real browser, such as Gecko-based agents, they are served XHTML 1.0 Transitional as
application/xhtml+xml. Other users, such as those using Internet Explorer, get served HTML 4.01 Transitional as
text/html- an appropriate solution, I believe. The validator is fed the former to make it easier for me to validate my pages.
The domain seems to have finished resolving now. Users getting the old placeholder page should clear out their cache. More pages are up, but I need to do plenty of work on the portfolio and service plans over the next few days. Some readers have already said that the site looks a bit boring. I chose the minimalist approach because of the kind of clients I am pitching at. Fancier stuff will be added incrementally.
I've been hearing from friends, and on the radio, that many people are already abbreviating Citizens Bank Ballpark to "the Cit" - just as they called Lincoln Financial Field "the Linc (or Link)". I think "the Cit" sounds really stupid; like some sort of a protest, which given the recent performance of the Philadelphia Phillies is understandable.
I would like to propose that it is abbreviated to "the Bank" so that we can say "that's one in the Bank," or "you get a good return from the Bank." I think that even the folks at Citizens Bank will not mind that too much, because it still includes a strong association with the sponsor.
I can now announce the birth of my web design company, Keystone Websites. A large chunk of the site is up and running, and I expect to see a flood of customers waving huge wads of money at me very shortly. As usual with me, the site design is designed with web standards in mind, and I have gone for a minimalist approach. I'm hoping to attract business in my local area, from individuals to medium-sized businesses.
Please blog about my business and help me get it off the ground. You shall have my eternal gratitude.
This is stupid:
Web technologies should be kept patent/royalty free, for the good of everyone.
Most of the people who read the si-blog have risen to the higher echelons of alpha (or at least beta) geek status. I consider you all to be a vast and valuable resource to be plundered. I am merely a pseudogeek (I'd really like to achieve full geek status, but I'm simply not clever enough - except on matters relating to Star Trek™) who requires assistance with the geekier things from time to time. I need to pick your learned brains on the matter of finding a web host.
I am in the process of setting up a web design company to cater to local and ... er ... extra-local (regional?) small businesses and organizations. I would like to find a reliable web host for the company website that can also service my clients. At this stage, a referral program (rather than a reseller program) is sufficient for my needs, since I am not really interesting in getting into hosting myself.
I have a small list of requirements, besides the obvious of not wanting some 15-year-old running Apache on a Mickey Mouse computer in his basement:
- Apache web server
- MySQL databases
- PHP (with short tags disabled)
- At least 50 megabytes of space
- At least 5 gigabytes of monthly bandwidth
- At least 20 POP3 email accounts, preferably with webmail access too
- Catch-all/Email forwarding
- Access logs and statistics package
- USA based
These would be an added bonus, but are by no means necessary:
- Unique IP address
- Control panel (mostly for MySQL stuff)
- Sub domains
- 24/7 support
- Pennsylvania/Delaware/New Jersey area
I don't really care what operating system is used, although I would want shell access with SSH if the OS wasn't Windows. I'd prefer to have most features in an all-inclusive price - my existing host charges extra for MySQL databases, which I think is ridiculous. I am used to paying around $5 per month, but I would be prepared to pay triple that for the right service.
If you think you might know someone, or if you offer this kind of service yourself, please contact me as soon as possible.
I'm making a second attempt at the whole
application/xhtml+xmlthing. This page will be served with that MIME type for conforming browsers, and
text/htmlfor lesser mortals. I have decided to include the XML prolog in either instance, because Internet Explorer cannot properly cope with my absolute positioning (it makes it impossible to highlight text) without it. That means "quirks" mode for IE, but who cares?