Archive for October, 2005

CSS Patches

The term “hack” implies that a legitimate solution to the problem exists. Yet, in order to save time, or perhaps due to lack of knowledge, a sloppy fix is applied to just get the job done. “Let’s hack at it, ’till it works”. But is this the case in terms of CSS hacks? Sure, we call them “hacks”, when in reality they’re really patches. Patches that fix known, documented problems in certain browsers.

I know it’s really just a term, but the problem is this: by using “hack” to describe often necessary code, a negative connotation can be attached, even if what we’re really doing is compensating for a browser’s shortcomings. When you hear someone say: “I avoid all hacks”, you’ve witnessed this negative connotation. Heck, we’d all love to avoid hacks — but we’re also realistic, living in the real world, and designing in 2005.

Now think about the term “patch”. It brings to mind, mending something that’s broken. It’s rip or tear is clearly visible — we know it’s broken, and we know what we need to do to make it look better. We’re not cutting corners, we’re applying a fix.

Perhaps from now on, I’ll refer to fixes for gems like the double float margin bug, or the three-pixel text jog as, well… patches.

New Odeo Stuff

There’s some cool new stuff being rolled out over at Odeo. Firstly, a new audio page, with a streamlined Flash player, space for photo, etc. Also, in the spirit of casual content creation, you can share audio with only your Odeo or email contacts (existing users will want to listen carefully to the end of the aforementioned (or aforelinked?) message for info on other damn cool new features).

The Sound of Elephant

I caught an interesting movie last night on HBO: Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant“. It’s a compelling film, and terribly disturbing, almost mirroring inspired by the high school shootings in Columbine.

What struck me most about the movie was the sound. Lots of ambient room sound — no ADR. It made a world of difference, with the camera often following the untrained actors around a Portland, Oregon high school. You could hear the dialogue just as it would sound if you were actually in the room. It’s as if you’re there, observing things as they happen. The result comes off like one long take of a film.

There’s a sound category for film awards, and instead of explosions and Foley artistry — “Elephant” should win for its sound recording being such a large part of the experience.

Film Critic

Here’s something I view as a serious design flaw. It involves food packaging, so buckle up. There’s a standard for containing goopy, spreadable foods and it usually takes the form of a short, round, plastic tub with a re-sealable lid. Hummus, salsa, and feta cheese are a few products that come to mind that share this type of packaging.


Bulletproof Logos

There are a few browsers (Firefox, Opera) that treat image alt text as if it were normal text on the page, when the image isn’t present. If the reader turns images off to save bandwidth, we can still visually treat the images by styling the alt text, and this could be especially handy in regards to site logos.