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

Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Design, random musings, and the Web. Since 1977

Archive for July, 2003


More Site Tweaks

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2003

I’ve made some changes to the Comments layout on each individual entry page (you may need to refresh the page, reload the style sheets, or clear your browser cache if you can’t see the changes).

Now the Post details for each comment are listed above the comment, which makes much more sense, and I’ve also added an icon to each comment, adding to the branding of the site. The icon is placed as a background image with CSS, rather than cluttering up the page with tons of <img> tags.

The entire comment area (save the comment form) is now set apart from the rest of the page with a light background color and border, and some padding.



Gamma Problems

Monday, July 21st, 2003

First of all, no, this has nothing to do with the Incredible Hulk — I spent a good deal of time this weekend revisiting the site design for Webgraph, which has been sitting idle in my hard drive for too long. I’ve had the basic design completed since the beginning of the year (!), so I decided to start testing the colors on different systems before I consider the scheme (and the exact shades) finalized, and this is where I start to run into problems: I’ve dealt with gamma issues before (PC’s and Mac’s have different gamma settings, which cause colors to display differently between platforms, and even between different monitors if they’ve been calibrated), but I can’t recall ever seeing as much of a difference as I am with this particular case.

To illustrate the problem, I’ve created an example (view test image) showing what I consider to be the acceptable variations in shades of black (concentrate on the nav bar, behind the words “Home, Our Work” etc.) between the top and bottom borders, the solid background, and the diagonal pattern (all shades of black). If you are viewing this on a PC, you might not see the pattern, or the top and bottom borders. This is the problem.

On the desktop PC’s here (the problem does not occur on our Dell laptop, because LCD displays do not generally share the same gamma problems as CRT’s) the entire area from top border to bottom border (except the white lettering) looks black. No pattern, no difference between the borders and the background. On our Mac’s (some of them calibrated, others straight out of the box, all CRT) the difference in shades is clearly visible.

The problem is this: when I change the shades so they show up as subtle differences on the PC’s, it is so incredibly light on the Mac’s as to make it look stupid.

Aside from any ideas (which are most welcome), I would like to use you, my valued reader, as a test user: please post your review of the above test image in the comments of this post, and include your testing environment (OS, browser, type of monitor, color depth, calibrated or not, gamma setting if known) and let me know which of the variations you prefer (or none, if you cannot see the pattern at all).

I really appreciate your help, and if you can assist with an direct solution, I’ll include a comment in the final site’s HTML listing you as a contributor, and linking to your site.



Redesigns Abound

Friday, July 18th, 2003

Hot on the heels of Douglas Bowman’s redesign of Adaptive Path, the imitable Dan Cederholm has completed his latest project, redesigning Inc.com (his studio’s site has also received a facelift). The four sites linked above are not just terrific examples of design, but all make use of valid XHTML and CSS.

With all these great examples taking up your time, you may not have noticed the few minor tweaks made to this site: the primary navigation now resides in its own UI element (the bar underneath the header), and features subtle hover effects (all CSS, of course); the style switcher has been simplified by removing the two experimental styles (this has also decreased page-load times a bit); and finally, I’ve livened up the header just a little, borrowing one of the elements from this site’s logo (the globe). Of course, all the changes have been translated to each of the alternate styles.

I’m still not done (is a designer ever really done?), so you may have to reload the page and/or stylesheets over the next few days/weeks if things look squirrelly. I have to do something to make myself feel better after spending so much time looking at Doug and Dan’s personal sites–it’s good to have the bar raised every once in a while.


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Homeland Insecurity

Thursday, July 17th, 2003

In a move which brings a whole new meaning to the “Blue Screen of Death”, the Department of Homeland Security has awarded a $90 Million contract to Microsoft to provide the desktop and server software for about 140,000 computers inside the organization.

I would normally use profanity here, but I think I’m too stunned by the complete ignorance this decision displays.

Tom Ridge and Co. certainly had other options, and I think we all know that bad things are likely to happen because of this.

Others have mentioned moving to another country as a safety measure — I vote for Northern Ireland, at least it’s safe there…



RIP Netscape

Wednesday, July 16th, 2003

AOL has finally axed Netscape. Luckily, Mozilla development will continue, at least for the time being.

Unfortunately, this only weakens the browser market by leaving IE/Windows and Safari as the only fully-supported browsers under development (if you can still refer to IE as “under development”). Yes, there are still other browsers around (Opera fans UNITE!), and yes, AOL will be giving the Mozilla Foundation $2 Million to start them off (“here you go kiddies, a little play money for the rest of your summer vacation”), but for Netscape to cease to exist is a rather important milestone in the evolution of the web, and considering the level of standards compliance Netscape has provided in a mainstream browser, it’s death is not what I’d call a good sign.

Will Mozilla (and all its offshoots — I love using Firebird on my PC, and Camino still gets use whenever I tire of Safari’s quirks) be able to stick it out and find/create a source of funding for continued development? I hope so — I would hate to see the browser market shrink to Safari and IE.