Huzzah! OSWD Returns

Many of you web design geeks out there were probably aware that Open Source Web Design (OSWD) had been down for a couple of months, due to some as-of-yet-unspecified reasons.
I took the temporary loss of OSWD as a great blow, as I have used many, many of the designs available there as jumping-off points for HTML work at the office, so it pleases me greatly to note that they are 1) back on-line, 2) sporting a spiffy new layout and look and 3) providing an RSS feed of the latest designs.
(Credit goes out to Aron for noticing the return of OSWD to the land of the living sites.)

Penny Arcade – (CSS) Rebooted

New P.A. design.Congratulations to the Penny Arcade guys on their site “reboot“. The new layout looks to be a variation on the one first introduced over at the Child’s Play site and I must say, it’s a beauty.
Good job on the conversion guys, although the news post headlines overrun their alotted space, at least on Gecko-based browsers on Linux. Still, good on ya.

Web Geek Moment

If you don’t care about the nitty-gritty of CSS-based web design, please ignore the following blurb.
See below for an example of the error I’m talking about:
Gecko rendering error
This is due to the fact that they’ve statically defined the height of the containing <div>. As per their stylesheet:

.newspost .fullpostheader {
	color: inherit;
	background-color: #494949;
	border: 1px solid #F9A906;
	height: 60px;	
	margin-bottom: 0px;

They obviously did this so that the height of the <div> would be equal to the height of their avatars. This web design trick will work as long as the size of the fonts used by peoples’ browsers don’t exceed a total of 60px. If, as in my case, the sizes exceed 60px, you’ll see the error in question.
If I were the web guru responsible for the new layout, I’d look to statically define height of the author and timestamp elements – the postheader element is already defined as 18px – instead of simply styling them with font-size: smaller;. A glance or two at the line-height property of those elements might be in order as well.
Just my 2¢

Mac OS X 10.4.3 Has Hit The Streets

I’ve loved my PowerBook ever since the day I brought it home, although it’s been conditional love. I’ve had all manner of niggling annoyances with the OS and it has taken me a while to get accustomed to the Mac way of doing things. I’ve gotten through the acclimation period, but those nits with the OS itself remained, at least until Monday night.
Two of my chief complaints were that 1) OSX can’t seem to handle remotely-mounted filesystems that aren’t exported via AFP (i.e., NFS, SMB, CIFS, etc.) and 2) Safari was slow, not fully standards-compliant, and prone to slowing the machine down to a crawl when viewing JavaScript-heavy pages, such as Google Mail/Maps/Reader,, etc.
All of these complaints remained firmly in place until Monday night. Apple released the much-anticipated OS X 10.4.3 and, glory be, my complaints were addressed! The complete release notes run down the changes in great detail, but for me, the fact that Safari no longer sucks where JS is involved and that I can now rely upon NFS shares (a staple, in my line of work) were Heaven-sent. Apple even threw in full Acid2 compliance, to boot! I’m an extremely happy man and, for all of you Tiger users out there, if you haven’t updated to 10.4.3, do so immediately.
Bonus for other OS X users:
I stumbled across a meme creation attempt by Om Malik (by way of Ceprix) that asks users to name their top 10 Mac apps. There are some very interesting and useful tools mentioned, not only by Malik, but also by his users, but the one that I’ve gotten the most use out of has been Quicksilver. It’s a bit difficult to describe (Mark Jaquith does an admirable job trying to describe it here), but I’ll give it a shot: it’s like having a Tab-completion pseudo-command line interface for your Mac. It makes getting around my Mac thousands of times easier. Prior to using Quicksilver, in order to have easy access to commonly-used applications, I had three choices: I could drag a shortcut to my Dock and use up precious screen real estate, I could place a shortcut on my Desktop, or I could open a Finder window, drill down to the Applications folder and start the app from there. Now, I simply hit Ctl+Space and type the first few letters of the application in question. Quicksilver then finds the app and, with a tap of the Enter key, I can fire up whatever suits my whims. It also works for visited URLs, documents, filesystem locations, iTunes – all manner of applications, MIME types, and actions. Brilliant!

Flogging “Flock”, My New Favorite Browser

I’ve always been a bit of a browser first-adopter, hasty to try each and every one that came out.  I’ve used most non-IE browsers for Windows, Mac and Linux – from Opera to Konqueror and its KHTML-powered brethren, Safari and Shiira, to just about every Gecko-powered browser out there. K-Meleon, Mozilla, Galeon, Camino, the Netscape suite, Epiphany, I’ve tried them all. I’ve always had a particular soft spot for Galeon, as it was the first one that really Got It Right in re: tabbed browsing, although the Session Saver extension for Firefox goes a long way towards filling that void. I’ve even been known to use ELinks / Lynx on occasions when I’m trapped in a text-only environment. However, there’s a new kid on the block and, although it’s only a “developers’ release” at this point, it’s already leapt to the head of my list.  I’m talking about Flock
At base, Flock is a browser based off of the Firefox 1.5 (beta) code tree, so rendering-, layout- and standards-compliance-wise, you pretty much know what to expect. Since it’s based off of the 1.5 tree, it seems marginally faster than regular Firefox, at least on my Powerbook. It does seem a bit memory-intensive, though, but thankfully it seems to be missing several of the more annoying quirks of its OSX Gecko-based older brother.
So what’s different about Flock, then? Plenty. At base, it’s a browser that’s seeking to change the way people interact with web services. The Flock devs’ summary of Flock’s features is a good place to get started on figuring out where they’re headed with this ambitious project, but to me it seems plain that their goals are fairly simple: to turn the basic tool of Web surfers everywhere into an incredibly easy-to-use collaboration tool. From integrated blogging tools (this post was primarily composed using Flock’s blogging tool) to dead-easy favorites (dig my paltry feed) to browser-wide tagging capabilities to full-text history search, Flock makes it easy to 1) keep track of where you’ve “been” online and 2) share those experiences with others.
So download a copy of Flock, install it, and start your own feeds, fire up the blogging tools and kick the tires in general. I don’t think you’re likely to be disappointed. Me, I’m going to give Flock a whirl as my primary browser.

Web Advertisers Take Note

Ad agencies of the world, please note this story over on Slashdot. You’ll rarely find a more tech-savvy crowd than /.’ers and so it would behoove you to read the comments and find out why, precisely, people are installing ad-blocking software in droves. They’re providing you with market research, free of charge.
Read all 1100 comments, then reconsider your business plan. Take a look at Google’s methodology and realize this fact: people really don’t like being annoyed by your ad placement. Don’t pop windows up, don’t use DHTML to make annoying ads slide in from the corners of the screen, don’t add sound to your ads. You’re going to run yourselves right out of business and, at least for this old tech hand, it can’t possibly happen a moment too soon.
Site operators, take note as well. If the advertisers you choose to sell space to engage in the behavior outlined in that link, drop them immediately. Consider well whether a few dollars more per month are worth potentially alienating a large portion of your potential readership. Above all, don’t reward such obnoxious advertisers with your business. The Internet population at large will thank you.

Opera Web Browser – Ad Free, Fee Free

Looking for an alternative browser? Have you wanted to
check out Opera but been put off by the notion of ad banners and fees? Fret no more, for Opera has announced it’s permanently freeing their browser. It’s available for Mac OSX, Linux, Windows, Solaris, FreeBSD, QNX, OS/2 and mobile platforms. Dig it.

Google Beaten To The Punch – By Microsoft

Those in the know noted a couple of weeks ago that Microsoft had quietly added the capability to search blogs and feeds via MSN Search. For instance, if you prepend feed: to a search string, only results that appear in RSS/Atom feeds will be returned (e.g., feed: literal barrage) or, if you prepend hasfeed:, only results of pages having feeds (most commonly blogs) will be returned (e.g., hasfeed: literal barrage). Nifty stuff and actually pretty useful for searching blogs.
Well, Google has taken the step today of introducing Google Blog Search and it’s a doozy. A simple search (literal barrage, in this case) appears to have picked up just about every post I’ve ever written. Interesting. Additionally, the Advanced Search option looks very powerful. Check it out when you get a chance.
(Source: Slashdot.)