About this site's lack of design: Yes, it's supposed to look this way — I'm helping create a new sandbox theme for WordPress (see it on GitHub).

Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Suffering from chronic idiocy since 1977

Archive for August, 2003


View Browser Source (AppleScripts)

Friday, August 29th, 2003

Our set of Apple­Scripts was men­tioned yes­ter­day by Zeld­man, and was coin­ci­den­tally updated to ver­sion 1.3 — for those of you in the dark, Webgraph’s View Browser Source Apple­Scripts (cre­ated by yours truly) fill a still-glaring gap present in all OS X web browsers: the lack of an option to view web page source in an exter­nal edi­tor of your choosing.

Our scripts solve this prob­lem by using the Apple­Script hooks built into most OS X web browsers, as well as a few clever uses of Unix apps like cURL, to pick up the source of the site you are view­ing, and insert it into a new doc­u­ment in your text edi­tor of choice (actu­ally, the text edi­tor must be selected from the list I chose to sup­port, but I’ve cov­ered pretty much all the usual options, includ­ing com­mand line edi­tors, and I’m will­ing to add text edi­tors to the list upon request).

They are really won­der­ful, if I do say so myself (I use them every day), and for folks like Zeld­man, these scripts pro­vide a much-needed fea­ture not seen since the days of OS 9…

Down­load your copy today, and let me know what you think — I’m always open to suggestions.


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Contests, Quizzes and Semantics

Thursday, August 28th, 2003

If you haven’t checked out The Old Tech­nol­ogy Give­away, you are miss­ing some great col­lec­tions of techno-stuff. Of note so far: Grant, Emilio, Tim and Dave.

The dead­line for sub­mis­sions to Side­bar Redesign is near (the 31st of this month) — if you have any sug­ges­tions at all, any ideas, or if you just des­per­ately want those Type­Pad dis­count codes, sub­mit some­thing. Any­thing. Be cre­ative. Heck, redesign my logo if you want; at this point, I’d rather hand over those codes to some­one who will use them, than let the entire con­test be a flop. Exper­i­men­ta­tion is the name of the game…

In other news, Dan Ceder­holm has launched a series of quiz ques­tions to gen­er­ate dis­cus­sion regard­ing web stan­dards, seman­tics and the var­i­ous meth­ods employed by devel­op­ers when writ­ing markup. It’s worth a look, espe­cially Sunny’s com­ment, which nails it right on the money (you’ll need to scroll for it though: Dan has yet to pro­vide perma­links for each com­ment). I’m look­ing for­ward to the next quiz already.

There has been quite a bit of dis­cus­sion lately (Jason, Dan, Doug, Dave, Jef­fery) regard­ing the dif­fer­ence between valid markup and seman­tic markup. I find it inter­est­ing that some­thing I have taken for granted since I began my tran­si­tion from tables-based design to XHTML/CSS should sud­denly be the topic of the week. After review­ing the thought­ful opin­ions of the authors listed above, as well as the com­ments from many other devel­op­ers and design­ers, it is clear that there is are many “right ways” when it comes to the con­cept of seman­ti­cally rich markup, which makes the dis­cus­sion worthwhile.

While this site is not a per­fect exam­ple, I have been work­ing to improve the seman­tic qual­i­ties of the markup for quite a while. There are still some things that are not as I would like (the pri­mary nav­i­ga­tion, for exam­ple), but I have used the cur­rent design (ver­sion 2) to build on what I learned from ver­sion 1. New projects are even more seman­ti­cally cor­rect (it’s always eas­ier to start with a clean slate than to fix in place what is already bro­ken), and I’m begin­ning to think this site is ready for Ver­sion 3: The Seman­tic One.

As I com­mented on Dan’s post, I believe respon­si­ble design­ers will find their way to more seman­tic markup on their own. Granted, books like Design­ing With Web Stan­dards and Speed Up Your Site (both are cur­rently on my night­stand) should almost be required read­ing for any web designer, and there is no ques­tion in my mind that read­ing both will make any devel­oper bet­ter at what they do, but there is so much infor­ma­tion avail­able to help guide devel­op­ers and design­ers through the tran­si­tion to XHTML/CSS that their markup will nat­u­rally become more and more seman­ti­cally rich.

It’s all about being com­fort­able: Design­ers have to focus on design first, which means leav­ing seman­tics (a some­what intim­i­dat­ing sub­ject to begin with) alone until they are com­fort­able with writ­ing valid XHTML and CSS, and have left table-based posi­tion­ing behind entirely. This is where XHTML and CSS val­i­da­tion is a good thing: it pro­vides pos­i­tive rein­force­ment to design­ers mak­ing the tran­si­tion; for many, those “dumb” val­i­da­tion apps might be the only encour­age­ment they receive (espe­cially for in-house developers).



Monday Update

Monday, August 25th, 2003

Post­ing has been light, so to hold you over until a longer, more detailed post appears, here’s a list of what I’ve been up to, and some things still on the draw­ing board:



Contest: Sidebar Redux

Wednesday, August 13th, 2003

From the nice folks who brought you “The Old Tech­nol­ogy Give­away” (me) comes a new con­test, with use­ful prizes!

Pre­sent­ing: Side­bar Redesign

Objec­tives: Redesign and enhance the side­bar for this site (Super­flu­ous­Ban­ter), in keep­ing with the exist­ing look and feel.

Prizes: The Grand Prize win­ner will receive 10 Type­Pad 20% Life­time Dis­count codes, as well as your name cred­ited in the “About” page of this site, a link to your site in the “Exter­nal” col­umn, and a credit in this site’s source. First Run­ner Up and Sec­ond Run­ner Up will each receive 5 Type­Pad 20% Life­time Dis­count codes.

Require­ments: If you plan to sub­mit a work­ing demo, it should val­i­date as XHTML 1.0 (Tran­si­tional or Strict), and the CSS should val­i­date and work prop­erly in the fol­low­ing browsers: IE5/Mac, IE6/PC, Mozilla (and related browsers), Safari. All designs must work well in the 3 dif­fer­ent color schemes of this site. Things I’d like are a recent com­ments list and a “cur­rently enjoy­ing” link list, but those are just ideas. Feel free to come up with ideas for its con­tent as well (this is also an oppor­tu­nity to shape a small part of the reg­u­lar con­tent of this site). Do not feel oblig­ated to fit your design into the cur­rent side­bar dimen­sions: there is no restric­tion on size, but it should fit visu­ally with the rest of the site design and layout.

Sub­mis­sions: Post a link to your entry in the Com­ments of this post, in one of the fol­low­ing for­mats: JPG, GIF, PNG, PSD, or an actual work­ing demo of your design.

Dead­line: The Type­Pad 20% Life­time Dis­count codes expire Novem­ber 30th, 2003, so we will receive entries through 11:59pm EST on August 31th, 2003. The win­ners will be announced on or before Sep­tem­ber 30th, 2003. This will give the win­ners enough time to fig­ure out how they will use their spoils.

More prizes may be added before the con­test is over, and I’m cer­tainly open to dona­tions to the prize pool.

Ques­tions? Email me.



A Second Voice for Mezzoblue

Monday, August 11th, 2003

Dave Shea kicks his site up a few notches with the intro­duc­tion of A Sec­ond Voice, a new sec­tion of mez­zoblue which fea­tures dif­fer­ent authors writ­ing about their areas of exper­tise, all relat­ing to web design in some way.

The first install­ment, Build it, and They Will Come, Nic Steen­hout focuses on Acces­si­bil­ity. Check out the comments–they are already start­ing to add some use­ful info to the article.


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