Archive for December, 2004

Boston-Area Web Standards Job

My friend and former boss is trying to find you. EH Publishing (a Boston-based publisher of magazines and trade shows covering the connected home industry) is seeking a Web Standards Expert/Production Manager to join their team. And I quote the description verbatim:

EH Publishing is looking for an outstanding
person to fill a crucial role. As the Production Manager you’ll be
handling the constant production work flow for all of our sites, as
well as building and designing new sites and sections. Working with
all departments within EH, this is a key role that requires both the
right skills and the right attitude. You’ve got to love web standards
and be fully committed to delivering the best code and UI possible.
You need to be able to juggle multiple sites, projects, and handle any
type of personality that comes your way. Finally, you need to be
willing to accept change and new challenges without missing a beat. My
order of preference for skills? 1. attitude, 2. project
management/production skills, 3. standards knowledge and ability, and
4. design. Preferably you’ll have a good mix of it all.

What can we offer you? A chance to work with an organization that is
growing fast and is totally committed to building first class web
sites to match their award winning magazines and trade shows. You’ll
be one of the first members of a new team that will retool and grow
the web offerings of EH Publishing. We’ve been in business for 10
years, we’re privately held, very profitable, and currently at about
50 employees. This is a great opportunity to build sites which will be
highly visible and very important to all aspects of our business.

If you’re interested, I’d love to hear from you. Email Rob Roesler: rob
[at] ehpub dot com

This is a great opportunity for someone who is looking to hone their web standards skills on a variety of cool sites. If you’re in the market for a new job, be sure to check it out.

When Can We Hide From IE5/Win?

Maybe it was the tiramisu talking, but Doug, Ethan and I were having a conversation recently, where we half-joked about hiding styles from IE5/Win. Extreme? Too early? It’s a question I’ve been pondering a bit, and Ethan’s been thinking about it even more, with his decision to hide his site’s CSS from IE5/Mac.

bar graphMy curiosity lies in browser stats. Naturally, here at SimpleBits, I’m told that 2% of all traffic comes here by way of IE5/Win. Surely, a percentage low enough to begin thinking about hiding styles — but the readers here, are highly skewed. What I’m more interested in, is getting a rough estimate on the perecentage of IE5 users across the web in general. What is IE5/Win’s percentage on high-traffic, mainstream sites these days? The number can only be going down.

Thanks to Paul Maiorana, my colleague over at Fast Company, I can tell you that roughly 4% of their users visit using IE5/Win. The audience for FC is skewed as well, and so my hope is that you’ll do a little investigating of your own, and perhaps we can pull together a non-scientific poll on the state if IE5. Feel free to leave numbers in the comments.

I can remember early on in my experimentation with CSS, thinking it was risky and crazy to hide styles from Netscape 4 — that was years ago, and the amount of users at that time was roughly 2% as well. At what point can we say it’s been long enough for the next browser in line?

IE5/Win’s support of CSS2 is far from perfect, yet it is possible to get things looking close to other standards-aware browsers. But that consistency doesn’t happen without added time, frustration and necessary hacks and workarounds. Up until now, I haven’t thought twice about not trying to get things looking the same in IE5/Win. But can you imagine being Box Model Hack free? Can you imagine just not having to worry about the poor support for CSS that adds a significant amount of time to the development process?

You could also imagine sending IE5/Win a basic set of CSS rules that does everything but layout — much in the way that Doug was suggesting a basic stylesheet that all devices (including handhelds) could render that’s devoid of anything too complicated. IE5/Win is capable of complex CSS — but it comes at a price that we’re all well aware of.

So when will it be time? For me here at this site, it could very well be tomorrow, or next month. 2% is a comfortable number. And that 2% will be always be able to read and use the site without any loss in functionality. We’re never talking about cutting people out, rather we’re talking about moving forward — and perhaps taking as many people along as we can. Lots of questions. Lots to think about.

The Official SimpleBits T-Shirt

Almost in time for the holidays. An official SimpleBits t-shirt is now available. Following the lead of Daring Fireball (you do have a DF shirt, don’t you?), I’ve long thought it’d be cool to make available a high-quality silk-screened shirt (and I thank Mr. Gruber for his sage advice on t-shirt logistics). That day has finally come.

t-shirtThis is not a mediocre iron-on, but rather a 100% heavyweight cotton Hanes® Beefy-T® in Stonewashed Blue, with the SimpleBits blocks and typeface in three-color screened print. This t-shirt also validates as XHTML 1.0 Garment. A new standard in clothing quality.

Price, size and shipping details can be found on the t-shirt page in the newly added “Buy” section of the site.

I’ll be packing and shipping t-shirt orders by hand (with payment through PayPal), so a two-week delivery time is anticipated, depending on your global location. Unfortunately I couldn’t get it all together in time for holiday shipments. But rest assured, I’ll be getting orders out the door as quickly as possible. It’ll be an interesting experiment.

A Blurry Photo of Will Ferrell

Mom asks, Hey, there’s a Swedish Christmas festival happening downtown on Saturday, would you and Kerry like to go? Well, yeah! That alone could be fun — pancakes, meatballs, Tomtes, crisp bread, Will Ferrell, Glögg — whoa whoa, wait. Will Ferrell? File this one under: Places You’d Least Likely Meet Movie Stars Named Will.

Will FerrellThe star of Saturday Night Live and countless comedic film gems was there to crown the “Queen of Light”, St. Lucia. Of course. Apparently, Will’s Swedish wife has Boston roots as well. But still…
My favorite part of his little monologue, to a crowd of only a few hundred: Thank you. It’s great to be here at the Swiss festival. I love Switzerland.

So, I took his picture with my phone, and he signed our Elf DVD (we did find out the day before that he’d be there, albeit it was so under-publicized that we didn’t believe it) and that was that.


Changes to the design of SimpleBits have always come in small, incremental tweaks. I’ve had to restrain myself from making a complete departure from the basic theme. This is partly due to time, and partly due to always coming back to the same concept. Is it perfect? No way. But for now (and for a long while) it has worked, leaving time for other things.

This little update is very tiny. I’ve removed the icons from the navigation. The site as a whole was in danger of being consumed by icons. Icons everywhere. So I thought I’d strip down the design, and let it flow around the work, rather than force the work into the design.

screen shotGone are the (rather pointless) color theme switcher buttons, replaced by a new default frosty blue. Instead of changing header colors, you can now toggle between a centered, fixed-width layout and a widescreen, fluid-width version. This was a bit tricky, in order to keep design elements in the header and sidebar consistent. I’ve used the “Sliding Faux Columns” approach (1, 2, 3) in achieving a flexible, yet full-length sidebar.

For me, it’s difficult to stop tweaking. To know when to stop and when something is done. And at times, it’s fun to remove things, distilling a theme or idea a bit more than originally planned. Here’s to the constant ebb and flow of web design.