Elly Williams' Weblog

Caught Between Industries

Another reason not to send HTML emails

Dodgy HTML causes a mess in the display of this email, rendering it indecipherable

This email puts me in mind of one of those puzzleboxes where you have to shuffle all the pieces around in order to see what the picture is. I’m not entirely sure what’s happened – even changing the browser & font sizes didn’t fix this… not that I was particularly interested in what they had to say.

Accessibility Alegebra

Zoom Layout Microformat + Javascript + Greasemonkey = “I know Kung-Fu”…. or rather, I wish I did.

Did the future have to get here quite so quickly?

Just to add to the “Holy Cow” sentiment of teleporting becoming a near reality, it appears that they’re now working on suspended animation too…

Scientists have created eerie zombie dogs, reanimating the canines after several hours of clinical death in attempts to develop suspended animation for humans.

Pittsburgh’s Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research has developed a technique in which subject’s veins are drained of blood and filled with an ice-cold salt solution.

The animals are considered scientifically dead, as they stop breathing and have no heartbeat or brain activity.

But three hours later, their blood is replaced and the zombie dogs are brought back to life with an electric shock.

Plans to test the technique on humans should be realised within a year, according to the Safar Centre.

And there I was assuming that most people were perfectly happy with sci-fi staying fictional…

Boffins create zombie dogs | The Other Side | Breaking News 24/7 – NEWS.com.au (27-06-2005)

Royal Geek

I don’t know, first The Queen gets and iPod, and now she’s a usability consultant for Sony. Next thing you know she’ll be hacking government websites and playing counter-strike in the basement.

‘Teleporting’ over the internet

Holy Cow!!

Computer scientists in the US are developing a system which would allow people to “teleport” a solid 3D recreation of themselves over the internet.

Their original plan was for the application to work in face-to-face interaction.

“I’m in Pittsburgh, and you’re in London. How do we make that happen?” Dr Mowry said.

“We can’t teleport somebody, nobody’s going to travel anywhere, but if we’re in our own rooms a system of cameras will capture exactly what’s in each room.”

“That information is turned into some representation – a three-dimensional version of an mpeg [computer video file] – like a DVD,” Dr Mowry added.

“You capture it digitally, ship it over across the network, and then reproduce a physical object that looks just like the original object, and moves just like it.”

And he stressed this would be useful for much more than simple video conferencing.

“It’s very artificial to talk to somebody through a glass wall, which is effectively what you have when you have a screen,” he added.

“You want to forget the fact that you’re in different rooms.”

BBC NEWS | Technology | ‘Teleporting’ over the internet

Famous Names?

J Clark
I don’t have an unusual surname…this causes fun and games all the time.

My Dad’s name is Jim. This means he shares his name with a famous Thai silk company. People find it hilarious to buy him ‘Jim Thompson’ handkerchiefs.

My mother and I share a first initial. We’ve both arrived at the theatre before to be greeted with “Oh we thought you might be Emma Thompson“. We also share initials with a rather famous little alien… telling me to “phone home” is pretty much punishable by death.

My Brother shares his name with a phenomenon… and a serial killer I think…

What about you? Seen your name anywhere strange?

J Clark, originally uploaded by mollyeh11.

Process Stories

Fatbusinessman asks “how do people go about their designs?”, so here’s my attempt at an answer. This is not a definitive answer to how I come up with anything. This is frequently not the process I end up using… best laid plans and all that.

I start with an idea – either in my head or something I’ve seen somewhere – a businesscard, a sunset, a circuitboard, a smell, a texture – whatever gets me thinking. I then translate this into a set of images, colour swatches, font swatches etc. I then piss about in Photoshop to come up with some basic building blocks.

I’ll do a rough sketch of what I want and where I want things to end up on the finished site – I find the back on an envelope is perfect for this. Any ‘clever’ things you want to try are worth sketching too (if only as an aide memoir for later) Bearing in mind, at this point, how your structural markup is going to work too. It is crucial that your page makes sense both with and without styling. I also find that a complete Photoshop mockup doesn’t always help. Squeezing yourself into an early corner is not particularly helpful.

And then I code, with the aid of syn Text editor, the edit styles bookmarklet, the web developer toolbar, the w3c validator service and frequent reference to Cascading Stylesheets: The Definitive Guide (btw. I’m still working off the first edition if anyone wants to get me an new one 😉 ), Eric Meyer on CSS, The Zen of CSS Design and the CSS Specifications. I also lurk on the css-d and WSG mailing lists, both of which I find invaluable.

If Some Web Designs Were Shopping Centres.

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write since March, and kind of follows on from UI Hall of Shame’s “If some Software Developers built houses” found via Slashdot (which I just added to my list of feeds, which I suspect I’m going to regret)

You arrive at the shopping centre and enter through the big doors at the front. The main concourse is a large and full of doors of all shapes and sizes. On each door in large letters (in all sorts of colours, fonts, hey – some are even blinking on and off) is the word “DOOR” or “PUSH”. Each door leads to a shop. Each shop is also full of doors marked “DOOR” or “PUSH”.

Invariably the smaller, more awkward shaped doors lead to shops with vaguely useful things in them – food stores, clothing stores, hardware stores, book shops and so on.

The largest doors either don’t open or lead to shops closed for refurbishment.

The rest of the doors lead to shops run by Nigerian Businessmen, gerbils, People helping you “Make $$$ in your spare time” or they are casinos.

When visiting a shopping centre like this is helps to take drilling equipment or high explosives in order to get out again.

Broken Windowing

A campaign urging parents to become aware of their children’s music downloading habits has been launched.

[A] leaflet – Young People, Music and the Internet: A Guide for Parents about P2P, file-sharing and downloading – will be published in 19 countries and eight languages.

“We believe most parents have no idea how file-sharing works,” said Stephen Carrick-Davies, CEO of Childnet.

The campaign has been welcomed by the UK music industry.

“We are committed to working with parents to make them aware of the dangers of illegal downloading,” said Peter Jamieson, chairman of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

While I agree that “Parents need to get up to speed with what their children are doing online.” I’m somewhat dissappointed that the main target of such a campaign is filesharing. And the same goes for the entire BBC article. There are any number of activities which your children could be engaging in (and this isn’t limited to the ‘net) which are far more dangerous than swapping music – and neither the campaign, or the BBC coverage, seem to be acknowledging that.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Music | Parents urged to check downloads
Childnet International| Working to ?help make the Internet a great and safe place for children?.

Office 12 to include XML style formatting

Microsoft is putting a key web technology at the heart of its most popular programs.

By late 2006 all the files created by users of its Office suite of software will be formatted with web-centred XML specifications.

The decision marks a big change to Microsoft’s existing proprietary file formats that can be hard to work with.

Microsoft said the changes should make it much easier for companies to do more business via the web.

*closes eyes, crosses fingers and cries ‘please let them not screw this up’*

And then I remember that it’s Microsoft who have “supported XML in Office since 2000 within the HTML formats in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.” That is, their own version of HTML that only bears a passing resemblance to anything the rest of the web is doing.

“Microsoft is basing its file formats on the XML 1.0 specification.” Is that going to be in the same way that O Brother Where Art Thou was based on The Odyssy…..

BBC NEWS | Technology | Microsoft adopts web file styles (hang on … xml is about structure not style..)

All Growed Up (ish)

There have been a few occasions recently when I’ve been reading something which states “under 25s thought [whatever], while over 25s thought [the opposite]”. And more and more I am finding myself agreeing with the ‘over 25s’. Despite not being 25 yet.

Add to that the fact that Meri & I are buying a house, and getting married, and getting a mortgage, and maybe a puppy too ….. I’ve a nasty feeling I’ve grown up, and I’m not quite sure when it happened or how…

I don’t think we’re in Kansas any more Toto.

is an Architecture Student and Web Designer based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, (UK)