Eric Lindsay's Blog 2006 January

Sunday 1 January 2006

Web Site Creation (1)

I have been spending (or wasting) my time cleaning up my old web pages. At the very least I want them to all be valid. It seems to me that being able to mechanically validate pages sets a minimum standard for reasonable web pages. So, most pages should be valid most of the time. It is like spelling, which can also be checked mechanically. Most words should be spelt correctly most of the time. It is not something you need to argue about, nor should you need to argue about making valid web pages.

Plus I want a better semantic structure to my pages. Learning a bit about how to manage this has been taking time. More time learning than in doing the work actually.

Wasted a lot of time trying to find tools for doing web sites. I must have tested at least 15 to 20 editors. Some are very good as editors. However I haven't found one that actually produces decent web pages by default. You would think that with the web having just passed its 15th anniversary that there would be an abundance of high quality tools for doing web pages. If there are, they seem really well hidden. HTML 4 was stable around 1996. CSS1 around 1998. Either the task of doing good web pages is way harder than it appears, or most people just don't care.

Monday 2 January 2006

Web Site Creation (2)

Semantic structure just means easy stuff like having only the one h1 header, at the top of the page, because that header is indicating this is the most important sentence in the page. Plus search engines also probably think it is the most important sentence on the page.

Semantic structure means other headers show in their turn items of lesser importance. It probably should mean that a h5 is wrapped in an h4, is wrapped in an h3, is wrapped in a h2, with no step missing in the sequence. However while the pattern of headers should show the structure of the document, other items are important.

Unlike headings, which show only the start of sections of a document, div tags should be dividing the document into meaningful sections. In most pages, they are instead showing up as a sort of div tag soup.

Div tags could show structure for layout, by meaning. Most web documents have a fairly similar set of structures for layout.

Tuesday 3 January 2006

Web Site Creation (3)

I find it almost impossible to write web pages without making some sort of typo somewhere. Mostly silly stuff, leaving a quote off an attribute, mismatched angle brackets. However as mentioned, I haven't had much luck finding a web page editor I like.

So I took to validating my web pages more often. Until I got a DSL connection, not all that fast, but always on, I didn't think of the web as a local resource. Now, an online validator is fine.

The W3C one is usually mentioned, but I think Liam Quinn's version at WDG is better for initial checks by small sites like mine. As well as the "validate site" option it has a batch validator. So I can check a directory full of files at one move, if I have the URLs.

First I wrote a little shell script that uploads whatever directory it is started from to the correct place on my web site. That makes updating my pages a single painless command, and ensures I do it whenever I change my pages. Of course, proper web page editors will do that for you as well, and many do.

Then I wrote another shell script that collects the correct uploaded file names in my clipboard as full URLs, and opens my browser at the WDG batch file. I just paste my URLs into their form, and the validator comes back with a web page of the results. Again, many web page editors can use a validator.

Wednesday 4 January 2006

Web Site Creation (4)

I wanted to expand a little upon the structure of a typical web site, as mentioned a few days ago.

Up the top of the page, usually something like site navigation.
The h1 heading, plus perhaps the first paragraph
Main content
Obvious main text
Other content
Often in sidebars, often advertising
Site navigation
Often in header
Topic navigation
Often in sidebar
Page navigation
Perhaps at top or bottom of page, or in sidebar
Bottom of page, sometimes address or breadcrumb navigation

Seems to me navigation has been mentioned a lot, but not much is said about the actual page content.

Thursday 5 January 2006

Web Site Creation (5)

Books and magazines have very little navigation on any normal page, and that mostly in a single line header or footer. A page number, since a book is more often a linear narrative. The title of the book or article. Perhaps the author, in fiction magazines. You know the table of contents is towards the front. You know the index, if any, is at the back. Text books often have chapter navigation at the front (and sometimes partial again at the end) of the chapter. Perhaps instead an outline of the chapter contents, and a summary or revision material at the end.

Space occupied, one line, top and bottom. Traditional book and magazine content after the arrival of cheaper paper allowed the use of good size side margins. It gave you a place to hold without obscuring the contents. However top and bottom margins looked silly if the contents were not visually in the centre. This meant the top margin was smaller than the bottom margin. Plus the binding margin was smaller than the outer edge margin (where your thumbs went), since the binding margin adjoined the white space of the other page.

The way many online magazines simply follow print traditions seems totally wrong to me. It is a very different thing. However I do like the idea of absolutely minimal visual navigation, kept right out of the way. Hence single lines top and bottom, if it can be done.

The other thing that bugs me is the measure of the line. We have trouble keeping our place in wide lines of text, but in a fluid design, the page can be any width. Typographers tend not to do more than about 60-70 characters to a line. Obviously unlike a book we can not know what font or type size any browser will use, but we can set a type size of 100% in the body tag. This means the type size the browser is set to use will be respected. Then we make our type size one em. Again, we respect the size the user finds comfortable. Next we set a max-width of something between 30 and 40 em, which will tend to be about 55-70 characters. So although the page can be expanded, the measure never gets too large for comfortable reading.

What about people who don't know how to adjust their browser font size? What about people who don't know how to adjust the seat and rear view mirror in a car? If you have problems reading web pages, it is something you should learn to alter. That is why most browsers have the ability to change font sizes.

Friday 6 January 2006

Workplace Reform, Unions and Labor Party

I take it that any interested parties have noticed that John Howard's workplace industrial relations policy is not really about better outcomes for business efficiency. It probably will have little effect. It seems mostly about further weakening what little remains of the union movement, so that opposition to Liberal policies does not have a breeding ground. The Labor Party is far more incestuous than the Liberal and National. Just about everyone in the Labor party came up through the union movement. It is unusual to see someone who didn't. Weaken unions to less than 10% of the working population and they become just another disorganised special interest group, never large enough to be a real opposition.

Whether it works depends a lot upon whether most bosses shaft workers, and cause a flood of new members into the union movement. I don't think that will happen.

Saturday 7 January 2006

Widgets and TV

I found there were a couple of Australian TV program widgets for Macintosh, to show you what was on TV. The AusTV widget seemed a non-working beta, and the update also didn't work.

The EyeTV version may have been an update of AusTV. This wanted a login and password from the Australian EyeTV electronic program guide website, although the text gave the impression a version able to show at least a few hours of program content was free. I am not actually in a region covered by one of their subscription electronic program guide. Their web site is pretty good, even had details of how to grab their XML content (password needed), plus a sample DTD. I almost decided there probably wasn't anything available on TV anyway, but decided having a play with the widget was OK.

On a first view, the IceTV version 1.02 widget didn't seem to have a very accurate schedule (the web site warns this can be a problem for regional viewers). However I have to admit that printed TV timetables are not particularly accurate either. I'll check a few more evenings.

One of the major features is that it works with some of the TV input cards available for the Macintosh. If I were sufficiently interested in TV to have a TV card, I would probably be thrilled that this exists. The lack of alternative online program guides give it position. Although I don't know what they do about the way TV stations here don't follow schedules for time or content.

Sunday 8 January 2006

Read Regular for dyslexics

Read Regular is a typeface invented around 2003 by Natascha Frensch from Delft, while at the Royal College of Art in London. The Read Regular letters are shaped so that none can be reversed or inverted to form a different letter. The idea is that dyslexics will find it easier to read and understand. This is not the first such attempt, but this font is more subtle than most. Alas, it seems not yet available. I liked the look of it.

Monday 9 January 2006

Future Work

Maybe we are working too hard? 60% of employers and a quarter of employees work more than 50 hours a week. It wasn't like that when I was a lazy worker. Fewer than half of all workers have a regular 9 to 5 shift, and only 7% work all their work week hours between 9 and 5. Plus most new jobs are part time or casual, so people end up working in multiple jobs, and trying to fit them all in. I can't see that we are working smarter when many people are working harder all the time.

Tuesday 10 January 2006

Sandvox web site creation package

Karelia Software, formerly makers of Watson, rushed out their new graphic web site creation package Sandvox as a beta this week. Watson got hit hard by an Apple product previously. This premature Sandvox release was because Apple are reported to be about to include a package called iWeb. The general suspicion among rumour sites was that iWeb would be a web creation package.

I had high hopes about Sandvox, but it still feels very alpha. Needed the recent 10.4.3 OS X (I had to download that before I could try Sandvox). Makes assumptions about whether you will run a local web server - personally I think that a security risk. Puts your site in Sites, but gets the path wrong. Assumes you have a fixed IP address (hardly anyone does). I am not sure it is worth putting more time into evaluating it at this stage of its development.

The good points. Pretty clean valid XHTML code. The longer established Rapid Weaver (which also had valid code and looks good) uses tables. Sandvox seems to use CSS only for styling. You have a choice of around 20 different styles, are able to change them when you like, just like CSS ZenGarden. Even better, the sample styles look pretty good.

I think Rapid Weaver would have more problems moving away from tables than Sandvox will have solving their initial problems. However Sandvox font details are set on a per style basis. My view is that these details should be left to the end user. I am really sick and tired of sites that fancy 8 point serif fonts. I have my browser over-ride them. If your design breaks, that is just too bad.

Wednesday 11 January 2006

Apple release Macintosh iMac with Intel CPU

As many of the rumour sites predicted for Macworld, Apple managed to launch their Intel based computers on 10 January well ahead of their earlier announced midyear deadline. iMac 17 inch and 20 inch models were released at the show. A 15 inch display MacBook Pro will be released in February. Steve Jobs did his show demonstrations on the Imac with Intel.

Some interesting points include the new iMac looks identical to the previous models. Same size display, same drives, same case, same price. Plus the iMac G5 continues to be on sale. I was under the impression previous models usually disappeared fairly quickly when a new model was announced. Leaving the G5 models on sale for a while lets people who need the IBM chipset for software compatibility a last chance at purchasing. Leaving the price unchanged makes a fairly direct statement to the people who seemed to think a move to Intel would mean dead cheap Macintosh computers. These seem good market moves to me.

iMac with Yonah based 1.83GHz and 2GHz Intel Core Duo dual core CPU with 17" or 20" display, same appearance as iMac G5. The new stuff is mainly faster processing via dual core CPU, newer mid level video card with optionally twice the memory. 8xDVD burner, iSight camera, 512MB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM expandable to 2GB (formerly 2.5GB). ATI Radeon X1600 PCI Express video card with 128MB (optionally 256MB) GDDR3 memory. Infrared wireless remote control. 10/100/1000 Ethernet. Bluetooth 2.0+EDR. 3 USB 2.0, 2 Firewire 400 ports. mini DVI video output, with extended desktop. OS X 10.4.4 is also newly released. US$1300, $1700 with 250GB.

I don't feel any great need to update my iMac G5 ALS (less than a year old), however these models provide an obvious minor upgrade path at some time in the future when even better CPUs become available. I feel fairly happy about this direction. This is especially the case when it will be the end of the year before various promised Intel chips are available.

Things I did not like include the decrease in memory capacity and loss of Firewire target mode. Not show stoppers, but some people with specialised needs may notice them. The benchmark figures flatter multi processor systems, so I do not expect vast speed increases from these models. However if one process is hogging a CPU, speed of the rest of your applications may not be impacted as much, and that would be valuable.

I take the Apple spec figures for the iMac Intel Core Duo speed increases as almost totally market bullshit. That is, yes, I can believe they got the results they claimed. I do not believe the effect will be near as great on real applications. The new video card is mid level (not a games machine item), runs hot, and should be faster. Why include it? Partly because the old video cards are old. I'd guess partly because Apple didn't get all the speed they would like with this generation of Intel chips. My guess is that a 2 GHz PowerMac dual G5 would be just as quick as the new 2 GHz iMac with Intel Core Duo. On the other hand, if I am right, then you are getting PowerMac performance at a consumer price. Hard to complain about that.

Thursday 12 January 2006

Apple to release Macintosh Mac Book Pro with Intel CPU

The MacBook Pro is in some ways more interesting. My first Macintosh (February 2004) was a 15 inch aluminium PowerBook G4, which obviously I still use as my travel computer. However I bought it as a potential switcher to test Macintosh. So it was a compromise size, to suit both travel and main computer desktop use. I had no idea Apple would come up with the iMac G5 in such a convenient size for an apartment dweller. So my 15 inch PowerBook G4 is oversize for just travel use.

I believe Apple had to make a lot more compromises to get this first Intel notebook model out in February. It is dual core, and adds an iSight camera. However it appears very similar to the 15 inch PowerBook (also still on sale), and I have to believe this is deliberate. Apple managed minor fixes, better position for the WiFi aerial, an ingenious magnetic solution for the power cord connection. This model is one inch thick, a decrease of 1/10 inch, but the same weight as the G4 model. The display is said to be much brighter.

MacBook Pro 15.4 inch with iSight and Front Row. 5.6 pound 1 inch thick aluminium, 67% brighter display than PB. 1.67GHz or 1.83GHz Intel dual core 667 MHz FSB, 512MG or 1GB DDR2 SDRAM. MagSafe magnetic power connector. ATI Mobility Radon X1600 PCI Express 128MB or 256MG GDDR3 memory. Bluetooth 2.0+EDR. Airport Extreme 802.11g WiFi, scrolling track pad, sudden motion sensor. PCMCIA is called ExpressCard 34. Firewire 400, not 800. US$2000 to $2500 plus options. Yonah core Duo Dual Core. PowerBook G4 all models remain on sale.

Things I didn't like include the loss of Firewire Target mode and loss of Firewire 800 connector (although to be honest I have no Firewire 800 devices). The DVD drive no longer seems to burn Dual Layer. I notice the power brick has higher specifications, as does the newer technology battery with 205 more capacity. I can't help wondering whether this indicates power consumption is not sufficiently low as yet (it is dual core CPU after all). I will be watching battery life figures with great interest. First reports say the MacBook Pro runs hot, which has got to be video card.

The lack of a modem is a total spoiler for me. I can see leaving it our of an iMac that you use at home, now that (slightly) more than 505 of users in many countries use DSL or cable. However country hotels do not have Ethernet or WiFi to the room (or even the foyer). If you are lucky, they have had enough other guests that they understand the concept of connecting a computer to the phone (unlike the way it was five years ago).

While I can use an iMac most of the time, the 15 inch isn't the right model for me any longer. I am waiting to see what Apple manage to do with a 12 inch or smaller ultra light model. I think that needs the next operating release to have a video display you can actually read, but that is the niche I see as my next portable Apple.

Friday 13 January 2006

iWeb web site creation package

The new Apple addition to iLife is a web page creation package, with heavy support for their dotMac web page hosting site. I haven't seen the package as yet, however I went looking for some sites done with it. Seems to emphasise blogs and graphics fairly heavily. The sites look very reasonable, as you would expect from Apple.

However the actual underlying HTML code under iWeb looks pathetic, although the pages I saw did validate. Screen widths of 2500 pixels, horizontal scroll bar by default, fixed length lines on screen, hard coded font sizes done as inline styles, div tag soup all over the place, transitional Doctype rather than the Strict you would expect from a brand new package, no liquid layout. Seems like a disaster waiting to bite disabled users. I can't see using it until Apple fix it.

Saturday 14 January 2006

Broadband Speeds

I noticed an Australian broadband speed test. It says 7816 kbits downloaded in 37.313 sec or a result of 209 kbps. This is less than half the speed my ISP claims. Also, regardless of claimed speed, no ISP in country areas even offers a connection that is actually broadband. I am getting about 4-5 times the claimed speed of dialup, about 5-6 times the actual dialup speed I experienced. On another test Jean got 280kbps. Another day under 200kbps. This is a long way from the usual definition of broadband speeds.

Sunday 15 January 2006

Apple Software

This was stuff released at MacWorld Expo starting last Monday. Some seemed ho hum. More Dashboard widgets from Apple. Many are of use only if you are in the USA, but Widgets have generally been very handy. iPod wired Remote with FM tuner. I'm not sure how much more use this is than a $10 transistor radio.

iLife 06 adds iWeb web publishing of photo albums, blogs and podcasts, using integrated media browser for iLife applications. One click publishing to .Mac, plus RSS feed templates. Slideshow viewer using AJAX. Theme based site motif. Unfortunately it looks like the XHTML it produces is a mess of tag soup div tags. I wish someone would come up with a clean way to produce a standards based web site.

iPhoto can now handle 250,000 photos, up from 25,000. Full screen photo editing. Compare up to 8 photos side by side. Photocasting facility with RSS feeds of photos. New greeting card facility. Calendars. Sounds like major additions and changes. No word yet on whether it gets around the giant MakerNote problem.

iMovie motion themes, with Core Video real time effects. Cinematic titles. Audio enhancements. Multiple projects. Video podcasts. iDVD supports HDV and widescreen DV cameras. Menu themes in 4:3 and 16:9 formats. Magic iDVD creation easier. Garage Band 3 adds podcasting studio, royalty free effects, 100 jingles. Can be posted to .Mac. US$79, US$99 for family pack.

iWork 06 has minor updates to Pages 2 and Keynote 3. Tables with add, multiply and average for rows and columns in documents and presentations. 3d charts with textures. Freeform shapes and curves. Reviewers comments without affecting layout. Imports PowerPoint. Doesn't sound major, especially to people hoping for US$79. Pages has mail merge from Address Book, with predefined fields within templates. Two dozen new templates. Thumbnail and search views for large documents. Nothing like the dramatic upgrade to a spreadsheet some people expected, but seems a worthwhile set of increments. I'll see what the reviews say.

Google Earth for OS X released was released the same week. Not a very Apple like application, but the speed of the Ajax system they use is astonishing.

Monday 16 January 2006

Say No To ID

Like a dog to its vomit, the government returns to the costly and pointless pursuit of ID cards foisted on Australian citizens. Many years ago, when Labor proposed an Australia Card (a sickening twisting of words) I stopped voting for that party. Now the Conservative Liberal and National parties have unleashed their control freak secret police elements to propose the same old idea. Well, I can stop voting for the other major party as well.

Since Labor once supported ID cards, I imagine they will fall into line to support (or at least not oppose) this totalitarian idea. What a wonderful situation. Incompetent bureaucrats helping us all protect our privacy with tell all cards.

Tuesday 17 January 2006

Say No To ID (2)

Luckily many security experts have pointed out that ID cards basically don't work in terms of increased security. They are mostly a waste of money.

While wasting money has rarely stopped governments, the lack of real security need points to some other ulterior motive in the press for this unwanted card.

Tuesday 18 January 2006

Virus Warning for Macintosh Users

A recent article about Mac users smug about security raised worthwhile points about Macintosh users. Despite the scarcity of malware for Mac, and the better protection it has, there are plenty of vulnerabilities. Just read the security postings from Apple to see the ones that worried them enough to pay engineers to fix!

Mac users should never run as administrator, except when doing something that specifically requires administration rights. If a program needs admin rights for normal operation, complain to the company selling it. Mac users should consider reserving a mostly empty account for internet connections, unless they need to be online all the time. The Mac has a good firewall, so make sure it is helping protect you. Consider a firewall on your router as well. Buy something like Little Snitch to protect against potential spyware. I am utterly shocked at the attitude of most Mac users I've met to protecting themselves against malware.

Floods or water shortages

The Whitsunday Terraces resort management knocked on the door and asked if we would run our taps full to help them find if a plumbing blockage was cleared. You guys can see where this is headed, can't you? A few minutes later I looked up to see a flood of water streaming from the bathroom across the tile floor.

I splashed through the water to turn off the sink tap, as it was the sink that had decided to pull a blockage right now. Then I picked up books and mats and similar vulnerable things from the floor. Jean found a broom and we swept what we could of the water out the door. I have a number of soggy towels outside, a set of bathroom drawers drying in the sun, and a collection of soggy items to be triaged for keep, fix, throwout. What a pain. I hate to think what people who have real floods go through.

Forbidden Planet

Shopping this morning, so while Jean put the groceries in the cooler in the SUV, I checked the Tandy store for a set of cheap speakers that had a good review. The Tandy agent couldn't help - the weight precluded special orders, as I partly expected. They told me the real Dick Smith store at Mackay had 8 sets, and the Dick Smith at Townsville had 7 sets. I'm driving Jean to the airport at Townsville in a few weeks, and putting the car in for service, so I'll have parts of two days to check the electronics stores. Tandy and Dick Smith are both owned by Woolworths, so you can often buy stock from the rival at either store.

So I checked the Target Country store for DVDs, just like I check the Bilo food store for DVDs, just in case their tiny range has something. Forbidden Planet, with Robbie the Robot, at A$14. The clerks at the sales desk pulled out a folder of DVDs to find the one to suit the case. Failed. They pulled out another few thick folders. By the time we got to five folders, Jean and I were both looking through folders of CDs (lots that I never saw a case for on their display rack). I finally found it in the first folder, on one of those DVDs that don't have anything except the title in tiny writing around the hole. I thought it was done cheap. I love this. Been trying to fill in my collection of old science fiction for a couple of years, just by buying when something old appears. Next I want to get This Island Earth.

Thursday 19 January 2006

iPhoto, iWeb and organising

I looked for reviews of the new iPhoto 6, to see if it solved the long standing MakerNote problem with iPhoto 5. Found comments on an interesting photographer's site

However then I noticed it was created with the new iWeb package that comes as part of iLife06. Looks very nice, as you expect from Apple. However the HTML is transitional XHTML. Given this is a brand new package, using transitional is not a gradual move towards standards based XHTML, it is just a joke. It is served as Mime content type text/html, not as the more correct application/bin+xhtml, probably because Internet Explorer will not handle the correct type. Plus looking at the page source, it is totally full of individual inline styled divs each with their own font size. This is just an old style tag soup layout served up with divs instead of tables. It would have been more honest to have served an old fashioned table layout, and simply declare that you thought CSS was a dead idea.

Naturally the entire layout breaks when you zoom the fonts. You even lose the ability to reach the end of the page after you zoom. Plus not being liquid, it displays correctly without a horizontal scroll bar only when your window is sufficiently large. I hate to imagine how it would look on a cell phone. It loaded really slowly on my DSL line. The single page of text was about 18k, There were six photos in the page, four of 9kb, one 42kb, one 44kb, so that makes 140kb, and it loaded slow even for that sort of size.

Durf on Ars Technica correctly described the output of Apple's new iWeb as simiantic web, code that looks like it was produced by monkeys. I sure hope it was a quick and dirty beta release, and that Apple will clean up the output.

On the other hand, Clint Thayer writes interesting articles, is helpful on iPhoto newsgroups, and display some wonderful photographs. I really liked the one on organising your iPhoto keywords as hierarchies of terms. I have been using my comments as search terms in iPhoto, because on my first look I dismissed keywords as too restrictive and awkward to be any use.

Friday 20 January 2006

Internet Fridge

Is there anyone, apart from a few company executives looking for column inches, who thinks an internet fridge is even remotely of interest or use to anyone? So you can scan bar codes, and tell if the mince has been in the freezer too long, and make automatic shopping list. The people who care about that sort of stuff already have it all organised. The rest of us just put up with frozen surprise a little more often, and the odd extra shopping trip for things we missed. Big deal!

Saturday 21 January 2006

Google Study of Web Authoring Statistics (1)

Google did an interesting study in December of the use of HTML class names, elements, attributes and so on. Previous studies have been typically of a few thousand sites at most. Google did a billion pages.

You will need a browser capable of handling SVG to see the graphics. The only one I had was Firefox 1.5. Opera 8.51 for Mac rather amusingly doesn't even show Opera's own SVG demo pages (don't know why). Safari doesn't do SVG, although SVG1.1 is said to be in the nightly WebKit builds. This Google enterprise may even make a bit of a spike in Firefox 1.5 downloads, given nothing else works.

Sunday 22 January 2006

Google Study of Web Authoring Statistics (2)

Google looked only at documents served as text/html which is interesting, considering XHTML isn't supposed to be served that way. Blame Internet Explorer, which refuses to show XHTML when served correctly as application/xml+xhtml

I urge everyone to read the entire Google web authoring presentation.

Google found close to a normal distribution of elements, peaking at 19. The most used were head, html, title, body, a, img, meta, br (give me a break!) Table, tr, and td were used more than p, which to me says presentational use. Then script, div, b, font, etc. Title is required, and is shown by browsers, plus search engines may pay attention. The other tags in the top four are actually optional, although I doubt many people know. I am astonished to note br used more than p, given using it in address and poetry are about the only uses I can think of at the moment. Google note this with many other asides.

Google next broke down the ten most used elements and the twenty attributes used with them. Lots of presentational attributes. Half the pages used the target attribute of the a element. A quarter of the img elements lacked the required alt attribute, and three quarters used the border attribute, although that is deprecated. I guess we could hope these are old pages.

Monday 23 January 2006

Google Study of Web Authoring Statistics (3)

Depressing results on classes, as most pages don't even use them! So much for CSS and all that, at least until authoring packages do the right thing.

The class names that were most used were interesting, being footer, menu, title, small, text, content, header, nav, copyright, button, main, search, msonormal, date, smalltext, body, style1, top, white, link. I have to guess that link is for styling links, which I would have thought redundant. Exclude the tool related msonormal, and the presentational classes smalltext, top, white, which are badly named (what happens when the boss wants white to be red?) Footer, menu, header, nav and date all seem pretty sensible. Text, content, main, body are all the equivalent of the suggested HTML5 class article. I personally don't like having a class name the same as an element, so I wouldn't use title or body. Copyright and search seem sensible. Google didn't know what button was for, and neither do I. Google did mention some classes I like, such as breadcrumb, and the business related price. I tend to see nav as being possible site navigation, topic navigation, local navigation, as well as breadcrumb. I can see possibilities for several styles in that area.

Google mention some poor results in the HTTP headers. No charset parameters, three times as many text/xml as application/xml. Half as many application/msword as text/plain.

Tuesday 24 January 2006

Google Study of Web Authoring Statistics (4)

The HTML element is full of misused attributes, thanks to MS Office. Other errors are all the xml attributes that don't apply when sites are served as text/html. Luckily the correct lang attribute is only just second to the incorrect xmlns. The id attribute is also present, although wrong (if used, say for css-signatures, it should be on the body element in html). Google point out that recent browsers make css-signature redundant, but I don't care.

Google point out an interesting minor use of the profile attribute in the head element, with XFN the most popular, followed by Dublin Core. A tiny number of sites use the legitimate lang attribute on the title element (I prefer it on the html element).

Wednesday 25 January 2006

Google Study of Web Authoring Statistics (5)

Google point to many markup errors in the meta element. Many are caused by missing quotes. They have a very interesting page on the topic of meta.

I disagree with Google about keywords being mostly useless. While it is true search engines ignore them due to past keyword stuffing, I think it is handy for two reasons. One is that manually deciding upon keywords helps you focus on the main content of your h1 and first paragraph, plus your description, all of which search engines do use. The second is that hard drive search routines like Apple's Spotlight will use web page keywords as search keywords. Helps you find pages you have saved or written.

Fourteen of the top twenty attributes on the body element were presentational, and three are event handlers. Class and id are there for presentation hooks, and lang should probably be on the html element. It is a real mess. As Google point out, nine attributes are invalid, and five deprecated for eight years. It doesn't get much worse than that. I am too depressed to continue.

Power Loss

Electricity went off at 5:18 p.m. for 1 sec, and power went off again at 5:21 p.m. 1 sec x 3 Not a good start for the rainy season at the Whitsunday Terraces in Airlie Beach.

Thursday 26 January 2006

Printing Finally

I finally got my printer back from Jean. Just in time to rush through converting mailing comments from text to Pages. Of course, since today was Australia Day, the Post Office was not open, so I couldn't mail anything anyhow.

Friday 27 January 2006

Google Study of Web Authoring Statistics (6)

One interesting observation regarding the Google study. As well as using SVG for the graphics, it is supplied as HTML 5. Or a fair imitation of HTML 5.

Saturday 28 January 2006

Phones with no batteries

One again I went searching for a replacement battery for my two Ericsson SH888 mobile phones. I have had three batteries, and the last of them is now dying, as you expect from rechargeable batteries. However once again, I can not find a replacement battery, because the battery models have changed.

I am utterly sick and tired of these arsehole cell phone makers using custom batteries. I am mad as hell, and I am not putting up with it again! If I can't find a phone that uses standard AA or AAA rechargeables, then I am not replacing my mobile phone. This is the third phone I have had to throw out because I couldn't get batteries. This is the third manufacturer I am boycotting because they don't supply replacement batteries. Now I am boycotting the whole industry. The people who make TV remote controls get it right, why can't mobile phone makers?

Sunday 29 January 2006

Google Study of Web Authoring Statistics (7)

Word on ciwas seems to be that Ian Hickson did the Google report.

Monday 30 January 2006

Zero Power

There I was, sitting at the computer (so what is new) on Sunday evening at about 8:40. Sudden blackness. No power. The electricity was out again at the Whitsunday Terraces. Jean and I both had dinner cooking, with about ten minutes to go. Luckily we also had the fluorescent lanterns mostly charged, so we had light, plus a fine assortment of flashlights. The retained heat in the ovens finished our dinners. We waited about 25 minutes to be sure - these tiny little resort ovens are not great as heat sinks). I should sometime report on our attempt to cook a turkey - we finally found one smaller than a chicken!

I couldn't be bothered trying to find alternative computing. I probably had 3 hours of battery life in my Powerbook, and 7 hours on my Psion NetBook. Instead I read a newspaper (physical, on paper). A Chinese kitchen gecko wandered around the ceiling, eating the insects attracted through the flyscreens to the light reflecting off the ceiling. Usually they hang around outside on the insect screens, and wait for 240 watts of insect attracting fluorescence lights bring dinner to them.

As far as I can tell, the power stayed off at the Whitsunday Terraces until after midnight. I was woken around 2:30, and staggered through my office which was ablaze with lights, and turned stuff off. Not impressed. I still have no idea what caused it, although we had 395 mm of rain while tropical cyclone Jim headed offshore.

Tuesday 31 January 2006

Intel Core Duo Power Issues?

Is the newly released Intel CoreDuo notebook CPU, scheduled to replace the Pentium M, actually a power waster? Some sites claim CoreDuo has a power problem running USB 2.0. If it is, has this been hidden for at least six months? Or is the problem mostly in Microsoft's USB driver software, as Intel claim? No-one seems to be saying, but tests by Tom's Hardware are not looking promising. Kudos to Tom's Hardware for picking up this issue so quickly, when other reviewers seem not to have noticed. Their article is a very worthwhile read if you have any interest in long battery life notebook computers.

In outline, in close to identical notebooks, a CoreDuo (4h 24m) ran about 40% longer than a Pentium M (3h 08m), which is great! However when a self powered USB combo drive was connected, the Pentium M lost 17 minutes, while the CoreDuo lost a staggering 76 minutes of running time. The USB line pulled only 170mA from each system, so almost all the loss is inside each notebook. Microsoft have a Knowledge Base article out on the issue, but why it surfaces on CoreDuo and not Pentium M isn't clear to me.

Apple also use the CoreDuo chip, and obviously would not be using Windows drivers. So if the Apple MacBook turns out to have power issues, then there probably is a power problem in the chip. It is interesting to note the Apple notebook specifications list a 20% greater capacity battery, and raise the power output of the charger. However Apple may have needed this just to cope with dual cores, and the faster video card.