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

Design, random musings, and the Web. Since 1977

Archive for 2006

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Blogger. Template. Fixed.

Sunday, August 6th, 2006

Blogger template questions? Please search and/or post to the official Blogger Help Google Group—you are much more likely to get a response there than by emailing me.

A little over 2 years ago, Blogger relaunched, and featured all-new templates designed by some of your favorite designers. I was lucky enough to be included in that list, and my template set, Thisaway, was well received and has enjoyed some popularity over the last few years. That is, unless you’re an IE user who happened to put italics in a certain parts of your posts.

Woe is IE

IE/Win suffers from a curious bug (gasp!) related to the use of italics in certain situations. The wonderful folks at Position is Everything have documented this as much as possible (or as one would want to), and, as luck would have it, their fix works on Thisaway.

Why now?

I’ve been emailing the fix to people for quite a while now, on a case-by-case basis, and it’s also been posted to the Blogger Google Group, but I finally coordinated with the nice folks at Blogger a few months ago to start incorporating the fix into the live templates, so new users of the template would get the fixed version. Happily, I can now say that as of a few weeks ago, the fix is now live, and seems to test out just as it should.

Fixing existing blogs

What if you’ve been using one of my Thisaway templates for a while? If you want to update your blog to incorporate the fix, you have two options.

Option 1: Start from scratch

If you haven’t made any customizations to the blog template (e.g. adding elements to the sidebar, changing the CSS, adding a custom header image, etc.), you can simply log into your Blogger admin area, select the “Template” tab, then click “Pick new” in the template sub-nav, and select the same Thisaway color scheme you are currently using. Then just republish to update your blog with the fixed version.

Option 2: Apply the fix manually

This isn’t as scary as you might think, though it takes a few more steps than Option 1. After logging into your Blogger admin area, click the “Template” tab, and then focus your attention on the text editing area on that page.

You’re looking for the following CSS in the upper portion of the template code:

.post-body div {
font-size: 13px;
line-height: 18px;
margin: 10px, 0px;
}

Change that to match the following:

.post-body div {
font-size:13px;
line-height:18px;
margin:0;
height:1%;
overflow:visible;
}

The last line of the original is changed, and two additional lines have been added.

Click “Save Template Changes” and then republish to update your blog.

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MySpace: Now not quite as ugly

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

Update: I was a little too quick hitting the “Publish” button, and forgot to include a link to my profile (duh). The text has now been updated, or you can go directly there »

If you’ve ever had a conversation with me about MySpace, you know how I despise it with a passion unequaled by possibly anyone else on the planet. OK, maybe not anyone else, but certainly anyone who has a MySpace account. Except Mike D., he hates it more than I do (but for the same reasons).

Most of that hatred comes from its piss-poor (technical term) user interface design, which doesn’t seem to be (and never has been) a priority for Tom and pals. It’s been described as “ghetto design” by some, and that’s just the crap you can see on the surface (web standards junkies, like me, cringe when looking at the source code, but enough about my level of über-geekness…).

I was really planning to dig into the bowels of the profile code myself, to see what could be done, but after wasting half a day on it earlier in the year, I put the project on the back burner. This week, I decided I’d had enough, and with the help of Mike D’s “Extreme Makeover: MySpace Edition” kit (my name), and a few minutes in Photoshop, my profile page is now sporting a new, exfoliated skin (mmm, smells like oranges…).

And if any of you know Rupert Murdoch, put him in touch with me, I have a plan to help him “fix” MySpace, and save some money, without alienating his precious users…

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WebVisions 2006

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

Well, it appears as though there’s nothing better than immersing myself in a web conference to get me in the mood to write. Perhaps this is a sign that I’m spending too much time working in isolation. Or maybe I’m just more of a social animal than I once believed. Either way, I’m compelled to write while surrounded by like-minded individuals of high intelligence and complimentary personalities.

A few important things have changed for me since SxSW in March, the most intriguing being my newfound awareness of my “place” within the industry, what that means to me as a designer, and how that affects my approach to design as a field and as a lifestyle. I’ve also become busier, taking on more responsibilities and deadlines (more to come soon on the writing projects underway for Apress/Friends of Ed, along with the technical reviewing for Simon Collison’s new book, and of course my duties as Bryan Veloso’s co-host of Live from the 101), and I’ve starting thinking more seriously about moving away from Florida, to somewhere on the West coast.

The change in my thought process has surprised me, and I think that’s what happens when you fall into a “thought-rut” without being aware of it. Something (or someone) slaps you in the face and makes you aware of what you have or haven’t been doing, and if you’re smart, you use that sudden awareness to your advantage, and take a fresh look at everything you do. In my case, SxSW made me happy to be a designer, and reaffirmed many of my personal beliefs regarding design, and interaction with design on a daily basis (not just my own, but users, family members, people walking through Starbucks — I watch people in an entirely different way than I did before).

Realizing the importance of the face-to-face interaction and conversation (sitting down to dinner with a few smart folks trumps IM, phone or email any day), I decided to continue attending conferences as often as possible, and while I had hoped to make @media a reality (scheduling and budget played a part in my absence this year, but not next), WebVisions 2006 has been my first opportunity since March, and the four months could not have passed too quickly. Not only have I enjoyed the company of people I met in person at SxSW, but I have once again made the acquaintance of people I’ve known online but never met (Dan Cederholm has been my personal highlight), and people I’ve never interacted with before, but hope to again and for some time.

My opinions are also becoming stronger. I’m beginning to have a general sense of “fuck everyone else’s ideas, this is what I think” — this isn’t to say I disagree with any and all existing theories, concepts or best practices, in fact I agree strongly with many people in the industry on many topics; it’s more that I find myself forming my own opinions and thoughts without basing them on someone else’s ideas first (at least not consciously — nodes of inspiration exist, everything has been done or thought of before in some way or another, but there is a big difference between conscious and unconscious inspiration, mainly that the latter is comprised of information that has been completely assimilated into the automatic thought process).

Life has been changing for me on many levels over the last few years, and much of my evolution in my professional life during this time has been (and still is to a great extent) clouded by the difficulties in my personal life. You cannot separate creative from emotional, and I would be lying if I said it’s been easy to focus and be creative over the last few years, and the last year in particular. But it’s slowly getting easier, and spending time with fellow designers/developers and free thinkers (Bryan, Jeremy, Garrett, Keith, Jonathan, Mike, Erin, Megan, and everyone else I met, talked to, or drank with this week) helps chip away at the emotional restrictions that have been a constant distraction.

I’m done making promises about blogging more (it will either happen or it won’t, good intentions aren’t worth the time it takes to voice them), and I’m done caring so much about what people think. Risks are ahead, and I’ll either have success stories to share or failures to learn from.

Either way, I’m already starting to have more fun.

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Default Browser:OmniWeb

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

Note: Originally posted on the OmniWeb Forums (registration required).

I’ve been on the fence as far as my primary browser is concerned (call me a “browser agnostic” if you will), but find myself using Firefox with tons of extensions for the last 9 months or so, on all my machines (Mac & PC).Camino? Looks nice, but not enough features (one good example of making something too simple in my opinion). (more…)

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Podcasting with Bryan

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

Hot on the heels of my trip to San Francisco, I had the chance to spend nearly an hour as a guest on Bryan Veloso’s “Live from the 101” podcast Wednesday night (although, come on Bryan, isn’t it time to change the name? j/k…) We talked about trying to record it in person while I was in California, but it didn’t work out (this trip), so my apologies to all Bryan’s listeners who were miffed at having to wait a few extra days for this episode :)

Bryan is a talented designer (one who now owns a shiny new MacBook Pro), but he knows how to shoot the shit, which is exactly what we did for 55 minutes. Curious to find out what two designers can talk about for that long?

Check out the ‘cast.

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