Posts Tagged ‘andy clarke’

Podcast Episode #3: Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s Squirrel And Moose

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Another Thursday, another awesome Squirrel and Moose podcast featuring the eloquent Dylan Wilbanks and myself.

This week we discuss in detail our thoughts on UX Designers specifically, and anyone in general, who gets more obsessed over their tools than the results or actual user needs. AKA, we have a nice detailed talk about Aarron Walter’s newsletter that I mentioned in Wednesday’s comic post.

Dylan is a UX Designer, so his take on the topic is informative, nuanced, and intelligent.

We also say “bollocks” several times at the episode’s start and use a few more dirty words. Because that’s what happens when you quote Andy Clarke.

So, if you’re British you might want to fortify yourself before listening.

Thanks to some killer support from some friends on Twitter, I was able to nail down my sound problems via Audacity and some compression. Your earbuds should be spared from any wrath while they consume the sound candy that is our lively banter.

As always, the podcast is hosted exclusively through, who make it available via iTunes and RSS (or just listen straight on the site!) If you have the time I’d love it if you took a listen, and if you’ve got thoughts please share them with Dylan and I on Twitter with the hashtag #squoose. We’d love to hear from you.

Comic Update: Robot or Not?

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Today’s comic finishes (finally) the An Event Apart “storyline” that starts here, and has part #2 here. It features AEA speakers Andy Clarke, Nicole Sullivan and Ethan Marcotte. It also features Naepalm, the chinchilla alter-ego of Janae, one of my fellow Mindfly Web Studio designers. The comic also has a brief cameo by everyone’s favorite archaic browser complication: the dreaded hasLayout.

It’s been a long journey to crank out these three comics, which highlight some very important points. First, continuity in a web-design commentary webcomic is difficult at best. Second, that cheese tidal waves represent the best of all possible worlds. Finally, that An Event Apart: Seattle was an awesome extravaganza and Janae and I are still trying to squeeze out all the drops of precious information we absorbed into Mindfly’s waiting arms.

One of my favorite presentations was Ethan’s Dao of Flexibility, which discussed adaptive layouts and fluid grids in detail, opening my eyes to the real power of the world of media queries. I’ve been tinkering away in my acorn-filled lair since the conference, working away at a new design for this site that harnesses these arcane techniques for my own dark purposes. From time to time, I have to pause and laugh with evil glee.

Thanks, AEA.

We’ll now return to my regular schedule of making fun of HTML5 politics and Opera.

Comic Update: Push To Dispense Free Cheese

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Today’s comic continues the storyline started by the last episode in a display of continuity rarely tolerated here. It continues the celebration of my attendance at An Event Apart: Seattle by showcasing many of the speakers of that groundbreaking event: Andy Clarke, Nicole Sullivan, Jeremy Keith, Eric Meyer, Aarron Walter, Jared Spool, Luke Wroblewski, Jeffrey Zeldman and Dan Cederholm. Also making a noteworthy appearance is Naepalm, the chinchilla alter-ego of Mindfly Web Studio co-worker Janae.

It also is my response to Jeremy Keith’s challenge (made at the event) to create an icon for “Push to Dispense Free Cheese.” I dare anyone else out there to do better.

No, really. I want to see that.

For the past couple of years I’ve followed the going-ons of An Event Apart through the Twitterscape. The inaugural comic of CSSquirrel featured AEA: New Orleans 2008 (and Andy Clarke’s underpants.) This year was the first opportunity I had to attend in person. It blew me away.

Let’s start with the speakers. They are top notch, cream of the crop, cutting-edge members of our website-making industry. They aren’t just paving cow paths (HTML5 philosophy notwithstanding). They’re kicking down the door of the future and lighting up places we’ve never been before. Even better, they’re sharing these cutting-edge thoughts with the rest of us.

I am fully incapable of transcribing in a single blog post what I learned there. It took me eight hours of working alongside Janae to figure out how to compress this information into what became four hours of presentation for our esteemed Mindfly colleagues, and that was with access to informative slides. So instead, let me point you towards some online writings that sum up the event and the lore contained within:


As awesome as the speakers were, another amazing component of the conference was the attendees. I live in lovely Bellingham, WA. It’s about two hours north of Seattle, is nicely sandwiched between mountains and the bay, and is a great place to live. It is not, however, literally crawling with web designers in the same fashion as large cities like Seattle or New York. So to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of invested, devoted website-making peeps is a heady experience. With people coming from design studios, universities like UW, and even sites like I Can Has Cheezburger, it made for a great opportunity to talk shop with people of all different web design backgrounds.

At some point in the recent past I saw someone ask on Twitter if it was worthwhile to pay for a conference for information they could get later on a blog. I can say for certain that yes, it is. There is a quantity of data being that is shared in live meetings that any attempt by myself or others to fully regurgitate in writing is incapable of matching. Speakers absorb earlier comments by their fellows, incorporating ideas into their own presentations. Crowds at lunch and after-parties discuss the merits of the ideas discussed, bringing the focus of several hundred minds to the same issues in one short period of time. Friends known online become real concrete people with a firm handshake, a booming laugh, and other qualities that engrave the real feel of who they are.

Note to self: I forgot to actually acquire one of Dylan Wilbank’s excellent business cards. Dang it.

There’s one more comic that will finish this year’s AEA storyline. But knowing the quality of this event, having finally experienced it firsthand, I can tell you it won’t be the last time AEA gets the squirrel treatment.

Meyer, Zeldman and everyone else that made my two days in Seattle so awesome: Thank you.

Comic Update: Do Browsers Dream of HTML Sheep?

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Today’s comic, the first in a small An Event Apart related storyline, features Andy Clarke, Nicole Sullivan, Pete LePage and Naepalm in a future where rogue browsers must be “retired” by browserrunners.

It touches on what people may find hard to believe: Microsoft (like us) wants IE6 to die, already. In less than two hours after I post this, Pete LePage is going to get in front of the AEA audience and tell us that very thing.

I’ve got to get back to listening to more awesome speakers. Enjoy! (And if you’re at AEA, feel free to say hi to the guy in the CSSquirrel shirt. I don’t bite.)

Comic Update: Max Weir and the Beanicornupus (Web Standards and Foolish Assumptions)

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

This Monday was the third annual Blue Beanie Day, which promotes and celebrates the use of web standards to create accessible, semantic web content. Therefore, it provides a fitting backdrop to the Curious Tale of Max Weir. I’m not here to bash Max, as he’s received enough of that already. Rather, I’m spinning out a sort of parallel narrative that will cast a poorly timed comment into the light of folk lore for future web designers to consider.

On Monday one Andy Clarke, British rock star of the web design world, posted an open letter to Taylor Swift on his blog. This letter expressed his admiration for her as a musician and a gentle critique of a serious problem with her website: it is almost completely inaccessible to those with visual impairment or the inability to use a mouse. He details it quite thoroughly and politely, aware that as a musician (and not a web designer) she likely had no awareness of the issue or even touched the code of the site. This post provided a great example of the purpose of Blue Beanie Day, pushing web standards awareness to those who need it.

All was well until around comment #9 on Mr. Clarke’s post, by one Max Weir. You should read the linked comment for the full text, but the gist of his missive is summed up by the following line: This site is an interactive flash experience and thats all there is to it, there are designers who think accessibility, web standards etc and those who focus on creating a immersive experiences only.

This comment by a man who’s Twitter bio is “Design is form and function on equal level”, posted on an accessibility blog post on Blue Beanie Day, formed a nexus of baleful energy that summoned from the deep places one of the dreaded behemoths of nautical lore, the Beanicornupus. Identifiable by its massive blue beanie and gossamer spiral horn, this ravenous monster consumes the flesh of designers who think that “cool media experiences” are more important than ensuring a site can be used by impaired visitors and would consider that making a site this way is a valid business choice.

Poor Max didn’t stand a chance, suffering many grievous wounds at the hands of the commentators even after Andy tried to call them off. Like Captain Ahab, Max underestimated the beast. Today’s comic portrays his final moments, swallowed up by the Beanicornupus, calling out his defiance at the very end.

Max’s gruesome fate can provide a cautionary tale for us all. Web standards aren’t some sort of optional flavoring for some websites. They’re needed by every one of them. Those who choose to ignore that will face mockery from their website creator peers, and their clients will lose customers who aren’t able to access their sites. Although we’d like to think that only musicians, big uncaring media conglomerates, and our grandmothers don’t know the gospel truth of web standards, the fact is, as Andy said (when asking his commentators to stand down): It’s sobering that on Blue Beanie Day where we, who pride ourselves on our support for standards and accessibility, pat ourselves on the back for a job well done, must not forget that the job that Jeffrey started with Designing With Web Standards is far from done.