This would be so much easier if interesting stuff didn’t happen all
at the same time.
Steven Scougall has put together a
windows disabled the first time I tried it, which prevented it from working,
but once I reset that, everything was fine. (It also reminds me that I need
to put together my thoughts for the Do-Gooders
Elsewhere, Deborah Cameron
the spread of soulless corporate language, incidentally highlighting
how absurd it can be. Ever notice how many companies strive for
“excellence”? Does this mean all the others strive for mediocrity or lousiness?
Around here, I’ve actually gone and re-written my
bio to reflect the fact that I no longer work at
Telcordia. For those of you who complained
that the previous bio wasn’t that informative… the new one is even worse.
The Web Standards Project,
having largely convinced browser makers that supporting the “recent” W3C recommendations
(such as CSS, which is
still poorly supported despite being introduced in 1996), has announced
that it’s taking a break while it considers the next step: convincing
companies who sell web page design software to have the software
generate pages that actually conform to the specifications. This has
gotten a lot of media attention (relatively speaking), such as this interview with Jeffrey Zeldman, who
notes in his weblog: “It’s odd how much press
this non-event is getting.”
Meanwhile, Doc Searls quotes this comment:
While we ponder the WaSP’s future, we ask designers and
site owners to ponder the web’s. Will it conform to Tim Berners-Lee’s
vision of an open platform accessible to all? Or will it remain a
Mr Searls responds: “For better or worse, the answer is both.
The urge to present is as natural to humans as fanning its gorgeous ass
is to a peacock.”
That’s true, but it isn’t what Mr Zeldman was talking about.
“Presentational hack” refers to the various strategies web designers
used to exploit the display bugs and quirks of older browsers to achieve
certain visual effects. Sometimes this involved using elements in ways
that didn’t make logical sense, but allowed visual effects (such as
using tables to position things onscreen, or using definition lists
for any sort of header-item list) or by coding pages in invalid ways
that produced desireable effects. (This is why the XML specification requires
parsers to exit unconditionally if they hit a syntax error.)
The problem with these strategies is that they sacrifice the logical
structure of the web page in order to achieve a specific visual effect—but
that trick only works if your audience all use similar software to read
the page. Some super-complex table layout may create a page that looks good
in Mosaic-derived graphical web browsers, but how is an audio web browser
(for the blind, say) supposed to understand it?
Brigg’s Design Rant goes into more detail about the advantages of
structural pages. (via Zeldman)
Are you now, or have you ever been, a spammer?
John Gilmore, noted
libertarian and co-founder of the Electronic
Frontier Foundation, had a recent
brush with the anti-spam forces, who pressured his ISP to cancel his internet
service because he was running an open e-mail relay.
Spammers love open e-mail relays because they can use them to further
obscure their own location and avoid repercussions from the people they
irritate. Organizations like MAPS argue that
ISPs should forbid
users from running open relays and not run them themselves, and they provide
frequently-updated lists of known open relays that ISPs can use to block mail
from open relays (reducing the amount of spam, in theory, and giving the
people running the relay incentive to stop).
Mr Gilmore argues that this is censorship and blacklisting, and that
the open relay he runs for his customers is useful to them because it allows
them to send e-mail from any location, not just the areas where he can provide
dial-in service. (A closed relay will only forward mail coming from people who
are authorized to be using it, and the simplest way to assure authorization is
to say that only people who have dialed into the ISP for internet access are
But there’s a lot of ground between allowing anyone to use a relay
(clearly a bad thing) and only allowing local dial-in users (which is too
restrictive for travellers who subscribe to non-ubiquitous ISPs). There are lots of
other ways to authenticate people, and it isn’t clear to me where
both parties stand relative to them. (via Hack The Planet, whose readers
are currently discussing the issue)
Somewhat Related: Ever wonder what Hormel thinks about this use of their
trademarked word “spam”? The answer may surprise you. (via
JOHO the Blog)
A musical temperament
Long ago, I mentioned in passing the
equal-tempered scale, hoping to do a more detailed look at it in the future.
(Long-term readers can guess how successful that plan was.) Thankfully,
others have gone to the trouble of doing it for me.
A recent review of
Temperament: The Idea That Solved Music’s Greatest Riddle
goes into great depth explaining what temperament is and why instruments
today are almost universally tuned using equal temperament, which
sacrifices pure intervals in order to work equally well in any key.
With electronics increasingly involved in modern music, I wonder how
hard it would be to create a dynamic tuning system that allows purer
chords while still being able to shift keys.
(via Jerry Kindall)