There are some people that like "snap previews". They like annoying, bandwidth hogging javascript pop ups that come up when your mouse passes a link[2]. I'm not one of them. You might be, and if so I can, when I've time, rant at great length about why they degrade the user experience, clutter the web and really don't actually help in any way. But for now a heads up. If You haven't explicitly turned them off from your journal, they're now switched on by default[1]. There's more about how awful Snap Previews are and that includes links to how they're planning on filling them with ads. Turning them off is really easy and I highly recommend you do it, not just for yourself, but for anyone that reads your journal as well. I sleep now.

ETA: [ profile] spacecowb0y has given us this howto on blocking them with adblock, which I personally don't use but I know others do.
[1] Basic and sponsored users are turned on by default—that paid users aren't? It's because they'll end up revenue sharing the ads.

[2] Anil? You never did point us to the UI research that said Regular people on the web *love* Snap previews. I'd love to see it, really, because it seems so utterly wrong to me and I like having my preconceptions challenged. So if you do get the chance (of course, I may've missed it as well—I did look around a bit at the time of the discussion)
Hmm. Prague is bidding for the 2016 olympics, apparently. That might be a good thing, although if so I'll jump it up the list of places to visit because prices'll go up if they get it. But, um, from what appears to be their official website.
Prague 2016? Beatiful Games! | Olympic Prague:
Has if have offer Prague and vicariously and Czech republic prospect of success in competition offers big world’s
metropolis, must Prague use his unique eye-appeal and get different draft games to the beautiful cities.
Now me, I've alway sthought you should translate into your native language, not out of it, especially for official or promotional documents. Appears the good people of Prague disagree.

The Register has more
I've mentioned the TFL and their sucky journeyplanner before, but now they've gone and done something really daft. I have bookmarked, as I like the advanced options like 'I only want bus routes' and similar. What do you get if you try to got here now? Under Construction. Um, that's not right, surely?

So I go to and click the link there instead. I suddenly find myself with a new windo open (because I've not set all the options on this laptop properly it seems) and I'm going to a new site, Mixed reactions, because if they've got a new site, they'r eimproving things, right? Except having used it a bit, it appears not. But also? Why will designers insist on opening new windows all the damn time? It remains one of the Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design:
New windows bad, mm'kay? )
It's such a bad idea, especially now with all the different browser platforms out there.

So, not only do approximately 1,780 incoming links to the old site no longer work, but they've broken basic usability rules, messed around with user expectations, yet still not actually improved the site in any way. What are they doing?

For the record, a small wishlist of things they could do to make the site usable: I could go on, and I've not even mentioned the Oyster log in problem--forgotten your password? After three attempts, it takes you to a lock out screen, that tells you to go to the front page and click the 'lost password' link. Sound plan, except... If you go to the frontpage, it redirects you to the error message you're trying to leave. Lovely.

Massive organisation, big investment budget, huge website with lots of data, and they appear to have not done a basic level usability study. Ah well. [ profile] mooism? Are you still thinking about that project you mentioned?
Right, working from home today was actually not bad, and I'm settling into the new job, bits I need to learn and speed up on, but overall, not bad at all.

Of course, the advantage of working from home is I get to bring home the work laptop. The only problem with the work laptop is it's about two years old and my predecessor had been using it heavily. With no maintenance routine or temp file clearout. Let's here it for an 18Gb hard drive with 3.5Gb of temp files and 0.98Gb free space, shall we? Oh, and shall we look at the defragment report and see it's more red than blue Way more red than blue.

Still, it's chuckling along nicely with some maintenence routines, and I've got time now to see what else is loaded on it. Given it's a marketing and print design firm within the IT sector...

Hmm, shall we hear it for a fully registered and legit copy of Adobe CS2. I think we shall.

Now, can anyone point me towards some basic level tutorials for text based gif animations in either ImageReady or PhotoShop? Because, y'know, I could google, but there are far too many decent icon makers out there reading this already, so I thought I'd ask...

On the subject of cool icons, I yoinked this one from [ profile] mapp earlier, innit cool?
I bang on about usability, search optimisation and accessibility every so often in site designs, but given my strictly amateur status I still quiver at some of the godawful sites there are out there. I agree completely with this article though - How Not to Display Your Artwork on the Web:
In the thirteen years I’ve been on the web, twelve of which I’ve spent doing professional web site design, and the last two of which have sent me to hundreds of artists’ web sites, I’ve come to the inevitable conclusion that the thing artists want most when placing their art on the web is for it not to be seen.

There are millions upon millions of bad sites on the web, but artists really work at it.
As an example, I think that [ profile] jonhodgson's portfolio site is actually quite good, but even that breaks a few basic pointers; the use of a frame redirect from the domain name ( to the actual location of the content ( and sub pages) means that your avarage 'net user isn't able to specifically link to the image page itself; not so useful for a potential commission to show a specific example to colleagues, etc. But compared to some of the awful designs out there (including some for my favoured artists) it scores well; brief bio, clear contact details, easy navigation, etc.

The more I trawl around,the more horrors of design I see, I'm always tempted to share them but, well... OTOH, not to my taste at all, and breaks a few UI rules, but isn't this a simply gorgeous myspace layout[1]?

ETA: [1] there's apparently an embedded music file on that profile, hadn't noticed as embedded music on Myspace doesn't play if you've got Flashblock running.
I think this damned thing has spread across my friends page today faster than last weeks LJ wank, so in order to settle the ongoing debate, I have decided to apply science to the problem.

[Poll #996934]
Um, yeah. There's a petition, I haven't signed it as I really couldn't care less, but if you do, feel free.

[ profile] mapp has the best of the BBC's alternative submissions. ETA: Oh, and [ profile] anw's entry linked above got metaquoted as well. Also? No comment notifications. At all. Not ignoring you, honest.

ETA 2: Via Duncan, they have a video. Does that help understand it and make it work better for anyone? No, thought not.
OK, this is weird. Earlier today, [ profile] nhw linked to a news story about a lecture he was giving. The article was at Northern Ireland News. Nothing odd about any of that of course, it's the site itself that's odd. Why? The favicon. Here's a screenshot:

From the left: Gmail, my LJ friends page, NI news, a MySpace blog, a TypePad blog, Harry's Place and an LJ entry[1]. All in my nicely themed up Firefox. Now, note the favicon used for NI News. Yup, it's the Internet Explorer logo. Now, favicons are fairly new, IE itself only began supporting them properly with IE7. They require specific coding into a site, and normally you have to create a specific ICO file. So why have the web developers of NI news specifically programmed in the IE logo for their favicon? How daft is that?

Until recently, most people that would have seen it would have been non-IE users. And for those of you using IE, you might not quite understand how, well, insulting it is to see that damned logo in, quite frankly, better software. Weird. *goes to find an email address on their site*

ETA: The site has now been updated and the favicon removed, I've been asked not to give out the explanation I was given.

[1] Yes, I did specifically choose a nice spread of sites using favicons well, just to make the point, and correct, I rarely read Harry's Place, they just happen to have a good favicon and an article that caught my attention by David T.
For those of you that navigate via your friends page and never go to the main site, you may be in for a shock when you do.

Livejournal has done another of their holiday themed site schemes. It's PINK! *shudders*

Ouch. I may be forced to either avoid LJ main site for a few days, or go back to Dystopia. What were they thinking? (I have asked)

I mean, the emo heart gifts, and the more recent beating heart and similar, they were bad, but this? You can't avoid it, it's horrible, make it go away!
I love my LJ layout. I like the colour scheme, I like the friends page, I like the 3-column view, the tag cloud.

Unfortunately, it handles very long threaded conversations incredibly badly. On the one hand, comments=good, we like comments. On the other, a large chunk of text crammed into a comment an inch wide is just silly.

Gah! I can always append ?format=light, but that disappears after a comment is made, so you get the narrow column again. Ah well, back to a redesign of some sort I guess :-(

Maybe later. Much later. Maybe I'll just export everything earlier than planned. Oh, I dunno. My flat appointment for tonight got bumped to tomorrow, so I've got nowt to do, Mike's at a leaving do. Hmm, broadband. YouTube. I'll watch YouTube. And maybe some of [ profile] ginasketch's stuff.

London lunch tomorrow?

Anyone want to meet up for lunch in town tomorrow? Or indeed Saturday?
One of the best things about having Wordpress installed on a domain is actually the Planet Wordpress feed. There's always something there that's interesting. Today? Via PhotoMatt (that's the guy who made Wordpress) I followed a link to Firebug, a new Firefox extension from ParaKey.

So, you ask? Well, ParaKey is the company set up by the guy who started the Firefox project. Firebug is a bit like the Web Developer Toolbar combined with DreamWeaver. Which is sort of like saying a Porche is a bit like a Skoda with a decent paint job. I've been playing with it for the last half hour or so. I think I'm in love. With a Firefox extension.

I think I need to get out more. Oh, wait, that's what I'm moving to London for, right?
Yesterday? I burnt my finger. That'd be the finger I mostly balance a pen on while writing as well. Today?

I signed 400 Christmas cards.

As if I didn't have an intense loathing of the things already, signing 400 of them isn't fun at the best of times. Still, made a change from moving information around a computer all day.

Came home, watched a pile of Angel DVDs. Was going to post about the new update page (short version: I like it, it's an improved UI and they're taking on feedback. Plus, the RTE actually works. Yes, I normally hand code everything, but I can copy/paste formatted text now, and then go back to hand coding.

LJ's UI overall stinks. Horizon improves it, Vertigo will be even better, and the new update page will be more intuitive to newer users and reduce likelihood of posting to the wrong journal/community.

Bah. Seems like I've posted about it anyway. It also gives more space for them to add new features. Which is also good.
Meh, down with grotty cold. Concentration shot to hell, so I've been playing Diablo II, having given up on Warcraft II (yes, 2) due to the bloody awful AI. Anyway...

Norwegian judge declares stripping is art:
Striptease, the tantalising dance pioneered by Salome in the Old Testament, is an art form that ranks with opera and ballet, according to a Norwegian court. As a result, strip clubs will be freed from paying the country’s hefty 25 per cent VAT.
A fair amount of the UK media has been writing scare stories about the "war on Christmas" again. The Guardian has investigated:
All of which might be reasonable, were it not for a few awkward facts. Luton does not have a festival called Luminos. It does not use any alternative name for Christmas. When it did, once, five years ago, hold something called Luminos one weekend in late November, the event didn't even replace the council's own Christmas celebrations, let alone forbid anyone else from doing anything. Similarly, Christmas is not called Winterval in Birmingham. The Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children never banned a Christmas CD for mentioning Jesus. And Chester council's "un-Christian" Christmas card says - as cards have done for decades - "Season's Greetings".
Yup, all bollocks, just as we'd expect. Good news! The more people learn about ID cards, the less they like them; I'm not the only one planning to refuse the damn things:
Hundreds of thousands of people will refuse to sign up to the UK Government's planned identity register, according to just-published research. Around eight per cent of those surveyed said they would refuse to sign up to the database even if they are fined.

The survey was carried out by polling firm YouGov on behalf of the Daily Telegraph newspaper and in a sample of 1,979 people found that a significant proportion were prepared to defy the government over the database.
8% of those surveyed. And that didn't include me, haven't done a YouGov poll for a bit now, can't be arsed. It would be nice if they sent you a message when the results came out, but there y'go. Longest pending retirement in history? Arthur C Clarke still alive, but not writing (again):
Arthur C. Clarke is no longer writing, and has asked dynamic young author Frederik Pohl (born two years after ACC) to finish his new novel. `Talked to Pohl recently, and he was doing it,' confirms Charles N. Brown. It is rumoured that this came as a surprise to Greg Benford, who had rather expected to be called on for the task.
I've got rather attached to the stuff he's done with Baxter recently, but still, proclaiming too old to write then getting a friend two years your junior to do it? I dunno. When building a site, what browsers should you support? All of them, naturally:
In the first 10 years of professional web development, back in the early ‘90s, browser support was binary: Do you — or don’t you — support a given browser? When the answer was “No”, user access to the site was often actively prevented. In the years following IE5’s release in 1998, professional web designers and developers have become accustomed to asking at the outset of any new undertaking, “Do I have to support Netscape 4.x browsers for this project?”

By contrast, in modern web development we must support all browsers. Choosing to exclude a segment of users is inappropriate, and, with a “Graded Browser Support” strategy, unnecessary.
The chart on the next page is rather good as well, lists all the A-listers you should test with. M$ finally let me install IE7 last night, tried it. No thanks, not for me. On the subject of designing, how about a list of all fonts that come as a default install on all common platforms?:
Here you can find the list with the standard set of fonts common to all versions of Windows and their Mac substitutes, referred sometimes as "browser safe fonts". This is the reference I use when making web pages and I expect you will find it useful too.
Not a bad one that. Assuming, of course, you want to use something that isn't Verdana.

Meh, I'm off to down some more Beechams. Might be a poll or something daft later.
Have I done a Gratuitous Icon Post before? Doubt it, my l337 skillz don't really actually stretch to good icons. But I can crop and do borders though. Anyway...

[ profile] tyrell linked to the IMDB page for Hogfather. Sky One, Xmas day. Guess I'd better visit my parents at Christmas then. He also linked to the filmmakers gallery of promo shots. Oh yeah baby. I mean, I know that fancying the actress playing Susan is sorta, y'know, predictable? But, well, d'you blame me? Anyone know if Michelle Dockery can actually act? The rest of the cast is good (David Jason as Albert? Cool!), and Death looks very cool.

Crivens! Oh, I'm about 2/3rds of the way through Wintersmith. Wee Free Men was good but didn't grab, Hat Full of Sky was better, and Wintersmith is very good. I guess the whole written for the audience thing kicks in a little with the first one? Anyway, how does it go? Oh yeah. Nae King, nae Quinn, nae Laird, nae master...

Also? [ profile] nmg gives us Mark Harrison's The Travellers, and for those of you who like their browsing uninterrupted by crappy pop ups that kill options like bookmarking, this link is the start of the actual strip. Why do webdesigners still think that forcing new windows to read their content is in any way a good idea?
K, I'm reading a comment notification from [ profile] bagrec. We're talking about how we cut our hair. The things people listed in "Iain Dale's top blogs" talk about. Google gives me a sponsored link. It's entitled "Tony Benn". Y'know, of course I'm going to click that.

I get here. Y'know every so often I do a rant about bad web design? I've never before been prompted to submit to [ profile] wpts. I have now. For an interesting experiment, once you've got past the splash page (yup, a splash page on a site updated yesterday - bad designer, no biscuit), look at the link descriptions, and increase the font size. You may not need to, as odds are it's already too big. I tend to browse with defaults for verdana at 15pt. Does the page even look readable to you?

(to increase font size, Fx users can use ctrl+mouseroller. I have no idea what IE users need to do. Opera/Safari users are smart enough to know the answer anyway, right?)

Y'know, I think there's some good content on that site. Someone has obviously put some effort into it. I, um, am giving up finding it. I mean, Benn's cool, and I agree with the quote on the splash page completely, but, well, that site isn't.
Old news to some, but to others, the wonders that is a decent internet browser (ie pretty much anything that isn't made by Microsoft) is still lost on them. So, reading [ profile] devils_kitchen this morning, I come across this post linking to his company's homepage. Now, I know that Microsoft's default internet browser is crappy, but do you?

Here's a good reason. Go to his homepage, and hover the mouse over the 'start' button at the top right. Now, if you're using IE, that's just a link to his home. If you're using, for example, firefox, then, using nothing more complicated than a Cascading Style Sheet (something that is simple enough for me to understand and read, even if I can't (yet) code it), you get a full drop-down site map. How cool is that? In Internet Explorer or other crappy browser platforms, you don't get any of the coolness.

So, if you're still using IE, why not get a free copy of Firefox and give money to a good cause? (NB, disclaimer here, giving the money to a good cause involves using the Google version of Firefox, which some people, notably [ profile] daweaver think is a bad plan) To get it, go here to [ profile] timworstall's site, and follow the links. Google gives money for every time a person DLs Firefox and uses is once. That's all you have to do, try it.

If you'd rather try a different browser but not trust Mr Google, then there's a decent summary of them on Too Cool for IE. OK, it's midday, there are twelve hours (and one second) left in 2005. I may do a proper 'my life' update before I leave to go out. May. Don't hold your breath ;-)

Screenshot )
Boing Boing linked to a Hamlet based text adventure, which won't let me kill Horatio. As I've never read or seen Hamlet I got a little bored and explored the rest of his site.

I saw this enjoyable rant about font usage in posters, etc. I've mentioned before I'm supporting the company's attempt to brand itself using corporate fonts; it's partially due to my inherent need to outlaw MS Sans from all posters in the building.
I am calling for an end to Comic Sans ... People use[ing] it ... look amateurish and lazy. If you really think that the message of your prose can be delivered by a font, show us a nicely formatted alphabet and save us the read.
Here here!

There's a link to the Hamlet game on his main page...
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)


Jan. 1st, 2005 02:17 am

What's so good about that you ask? It hasn't got anything new and the links don't all work.

Simple says I. Look at the domain name carefully. It's PHP generated! Yippe ki yay! I've taught myself php :-D

test.php has 8 lines of code total, but it inserts 7 separate elements, each of which is independently updateable.

That means there's a small chance I may get around to doing more to the site from now on.

Oh yeah, my old monitor flickered and started smoking late last night (if it hadn't I'd have done this post yesterday before bed), so I went to Staples on a mission and am now the proud owner of a flat screen. I considered buying a new laptop, but have decided to teach myself how to build a system from scratch instead. Too much megatokyo perchance?

Um, anyone out there that knows how to build PCs, feel free to tell me where to, um, start. I'm not really much of a techie...
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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October 2015


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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats.

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