Archive for January, 2004

2004 Bloggies

Today is your last chance to vote for the 2004 Bloggies. Thanks to all who voted to nominate SimpleBits for “Best-Designed Weblog”. I’m touched. The category is full of fantastically designed sites — so if you haven’t yet voted, go to it!

I’m Totally Getting Caulked

I probably sound like a terrible novice, but here’s another painting tip I’ve stumbled upon — get a caulking gun. A friend of mine was kind enough to lend me one and it has proved to be the MVP of my recent painting endeavours.
I’ve gone through approximately 474 tubes of caulk. I’ve been caulking everything — and if you hit every spot and crack with the stuff before you paint, you’ll have nothing but a solid, smooth finish in the end. You’ll sit back and stare at your walls and trim with a deep pride that goes on for at least 48 hours. After that, it does wear off.
But honestly, if you skip this step, every crack or separation in your moulding or trim will show up as noticable as a Hershey bar in the snow.
I’m new to this caulk gun stuff — but it’s addictive and I’ll never go back to slapping paint over untreated surfaces again.

There Are Only Tradeoffs

I absolutely love this quote from Eric Meyer’s Epherma post today:

Telling me that I’ve made the wrong choice will not change anything, because there are almost no objectively wrong choices in this area. There are only tradeoffs.

While he’s talking specifically about his font-size choices for an upcoming redesign — I believe you could clearly apply this to any web design decision.

There are folks out there that loathe this about designing for the web — that at times there just isn’t one neat and tidy, concrete correct way to do a certain something. I’ve grown to love this — that it’s always in flux, there are new ways to accomplish goals being discovered everyday, and people relentlessly pushing the envelope.

Getting back to Eric’s quote though, remember that the state of web design in 2004 is all about tradeoffs: Liquid vs. fixed, pixel sizing vs. ems vs. keywords, FIR vs. LIR vs. no-IR, float vs. positioning in layouts, hackful vs. hackless CSS (hackful?), etc…

It’s all good though. Make a decision and stick to it. Heck, then change it the next time. Experiment with methods that you previously wrote off without a second thought. Have a beer (or soda) and remind yourself that it’s all about tradeoffs. I’m certainly going to try as well.

Trim: Dairy Compartment, Primer: Vegetable Drawer

I know everyone is dying for a painting tip, right? I see. Ah well, I’ll share it anyhow…


If you’re painting with latex paints, and the job is going to take more than a day (or you just need a longish break), putting used brushes and rollers in the refrigerator prevents them from drying out — and more importantly, prevents you from having to clean the brushes until you’re done with the job for good.

I hate cleaning brushes, so this tip is a life saver. Just put the brushes in a plastic bag (I prefer the recyclable grocery bag variety) and pop it in the veggie drawer… or wherever. I find allotting certain sections of the refrigerator for different paint types helpful. And you may as well.

When you need them again, they’ll be ready to go. Who would’ve thought you’d get such great home improvement advice here? The again, maybe you haven’t.

Comments are Down

I’ve just about had it with comments. This morning I’ve been flooded again (for about the 10th time) with about 100 random spam comments, strewn all over the archives. I’m tired of this.

Commenting is disabled (temporarily) — maybe even until MT has comment registration. Dealing with comment spam is just plain ridiculous. Argh!

Update: Thanks to all for their suggestions in combating the evil comment spam. I’ve installed Jay Allen’s MT-Blacklist plugin for Movable Type. I’ve had pretty good success with it in the past on a few other sites. If anything, it’ll make deleting unwanted comments a heck of a lot easier. Next up is to figure out how to automatically turn off comments on older posts… Comments are back on! Yay.

SimpleQuiz › Part XI › Image Floating › Conclusion

Looking back on SimpleQuiz Part XI, I started thinking more about seeing an image and caption unstyled. Which option best shows the relationship between the image and its caption?
Here’s a comparison of the three methods presented, without any CSS applied to them.
Pure semantics aside, I have to say I like the look of option A when unstyled. However, when adding CSS to the mix, I have less precise control over the style of the caption.
Option B looks very odd because of the paragraph separating the image and description. Many suggested option B, sans the paragraph surrounding the image, and this would look about the same in most browsers.
Option C seems to be a semantic improvement — plenty of control over each item and it’s arguable whether it’s an appropriate situation for a definition list (I say.. why not?). The indentation is a bit weird — but we shouldn’t concern ourselves with looks when we’re talking about semantic markup. Or should we?
Oftentimes, I keep an unstyled “view” of the document in mind when marking things up. How will this look in a text browser — or in one where CSS is not present or supported. It’s helpful at times in determining the best way to handle a particular bit of markup.
So in this case, I might choose option A — because visually it shows the relationship between the items better than the others. But I suppose this is bad semantics. Or maybe just another case where we don’t have the “perfect” set of defined elements for this (very) specific job.
See past SimpleQuiz questions in the archive.

Mipellssed Wdors

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

Southwest Florida


Had a nice visit with family this past week in Southwest Florida. I snapped a few photos of the trip, including manatees (the sea cow), a lizard, a beach, fossilized shark’s teeth, a few flowers and other Floridian items.

My camera is only 2 megapixels, yet in low-light, in can get some pretty neat results. The last three photos were taken from a moving car just around dusk. Didn’t know how they’d come out, but any one of them could make a great album cover… maybe.

Faux Columns at A List Apart

In response to the most frequently asked question that I receive here, I’ve written up my first article for A List Apart. Faux Columns intends to let everyone in on the little trick: to extend positioned or floated columns to full browser heights using CSS — regardless of each column’s contents.
It’s dead-simple to implement, yet it works like a charm. There is already some great discussion brewing on the article, which at one point starts to sway toward a CSS vs. tables for layout debate. That is certainly not the intention of the article.
It’s merely a way to achieve a certain design using structured markup. I won’t go into all the benefits of using structured markup over tables, but here is one reason for you: non table-based layouts can be viewed easily and more predictably by text browers, screenreaders, PDAs, phones and other devices.
Would you like to present full-length columns for modern, visual browsers — while still making your content easily accessible to the aforementioned list? Then this is (one) solution.

Escaping the Cold Snap

We’re packing up and heading out for about a week. Tommorrow we head to sunny Florida to visit family. Just in time too, as it’s down to about 20(F) degrees here (during the day).
While I’m away, we can all root for the Patriots* as they try to further distance us from the terrible Game 7 of the American League Championship of last October. The Pats’ 14-2 record has almost made me forget.
*Unless of course you are a Tennessee Titans fan.
I’ll be unplugging for most of the week, so until then…