Posts Tagged ‘jeff croft’

Comic Update: The Curse of the Werefive

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Today’s comic features Jeffrey Zeldman, Tantek Çelik and the Squirrel fleeing a lycanthropic Jeff Croft after his transformation into a ferocious werefive. What is a werefive, you ask?

On Sunday, Zeldman linked a cool html5 test project from his blog. On Monday, Tantek made a comment there discussing his issue with the fact that many of the items the test checks for aren’t HTML5 at all, but rather other related bits (like Microformats, for example). This caused Croft to write his own piece on the topic, wondering why such vigilance was needed, claiming the buzzword’s value in promoting interest outweighs the potential harm of mislabeling items as belonging to it, using the long-abused term AJAX as an example. Tantek follows up again with a comment on Croft’s blog that clarifies his position more in depth. The ensuing discussion spawned today another post by Zeldman on the topic of HTML5 fuzziness and his own reasons that he feels it’s best to avoid such confusion.

Does that help clear things up?

What I’ve enjoyed about this conversation is how thoughtful and polite it has been. In a web where flamethrowers are more common than flowers, it’s great to see an intellectual exercise continue for more than three tweets without someone dropping a Hitler reference or cursing your mother’s fertility.

It’s also a neat topic. I for one often have confused, or sloppily placed, items that aren’t part of HTML5 as part of that banner. At Mindfly, I’ve repeatedly tossed Geolocation (which used to be part of HTML5, just in case that’s not confusing enough) and Microformats (which predates HTML5 and really has nothing to do with it) into discussions about the HTML5… usually in an attempt to add perceived value to making use of what the spec itself offers (which is technically neither of those things.) I’ve never been so crass to lump CSS3 in there, but I’ve got a special place in my heart for stylesheets.

The kind of gooey place usually reserved for sweethearts and cookies with milk.

That said, I have to agree with Zeldman’s words:

Sure, it’s a bit stiff. But such a construction allows us to participate in the current frenzy and be understood by non-technical people while not fostering further misunderstandings—particularly as we also need to concern ourselves with web colleagues’ and students’ knowledge of what HTML5 is and is not.

It’s my opinion, in the end, that we should avoid being bitten by the fuzzy, morphing werefive and adding to what is likely already a very confusing mess for people. Unless I really can grow fangs, claws, and be immune to all but silver bullets. Because that would be so awesome that I would need a motorcycle and a plaid shirt.

Werewolves wear plaid, right?

Comic Update: Nice Hat (Gradients & Dave’s Brain)

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Today’s comic features a hat. It’s not your ordinary chapeau, but rather the sort of stately headpiece that could keep an entirely family warm at night or help you sneak into Soviet-era Russia. Even if I didn’t have a web design-related topic to discuss (and I assure you, I do), the gravity of this hat would be enough to ensure that your visit to my site today was not a waste.

Joining the hat in today’s strip is Dave Shea and Jeff Croft. These fine gentlemen appear with the squirrel to help present to you a visual gag that points to one simple, inescapable truth: CSS gradients will break your brain.

I’m trying to get up to speed on CSS3, a goal which falls in the same category of absurdity as tasting every variety of curry in India; there’s simply too many modules piling up in that spec. At this point I suspect that CSS3 will not reach a finished state prior to the web being replaced by the psionic slave networks that our future robot overlords will use to broadcast their diabolical commands to the human race.

Nonetheless, I am digging out the fruits of the cutting edge of our darling cascading style sheets, especially the previously Webkit-only features that have been newly adopted by the recently released Firefox 3.6. One area I focused on this past Thursday was CSS Gradients. After all, how hard an a gradient be?

How hard indeed.

I present Exhibit A: my tweet less than five minutes after opening Mozilla’s tutorial on the topic. It starts out easy enough, then they start talking about things like color-stops, linear vs. radial gradients, starting points and angles, etc. It gets worse when you learn that Webkit and Mozilla each approach gradients differently, continuing the spaghetti western tradition of dueling methodologies.

In short order, my tweet was answered by Dave, then Jeff, each adding to my diagnosis: CSS gradients are a pain.

I’m currently working on a tutorial on the topic, something that hopefully explains it in a more digestible format than what I’ve seen thus far. Until then, the only way I can provide you comfort is to inform you that the hat in today’s strip is based in reality. Here is a picture of Dave in the hat.

If you did not spit your tea/milk/soda/liquor/pepto onto your computer screen just now, you have no sense of humor. I almost died of laughter when I saw that picture. Its existence was like a special jewel reminding me that dreams come true.

For the sake of equal treatment, I’ll share with you what I found a few minutes later while getting a reference picture of Jeff to touch up his character’s appearance. I stumbled upon this. Yeah… it speaks for itself. I’m not sure when I can fit that into a comic, but I’m certainly going to try.

If neither photo cracked your head, than I recommend checking out CSS gradients. If you’re feeling woozy, no worries. I’ll get back to you in a few days with some digestible tidbits on how to tackle them.

Average Users Aren’t Idiots (We Don’t Live In Narnia and Your Friends Aren’t Talking Otters)

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Ok, the iPad.

Whoop-dee-freaking-doo.

I’m annoyed by all the defense of the device’s failures by my peers who are justifying the shortcomings as features that only mega-geeks want; they say that the mythical ‘average user’, like some strange breed of lobotomized unicorn, is not interested in these issues. (*cough* Jeff Croft’s iPad Thoughts and Jason Beaird’s iPad: It’s not for us are two stellar examples of this ‘average user’ argument *cough*)

Really? Are you patting yourself on the back that much about how awesome you are that you think it’s still 1999 and we’re logging onto the Internet via a series of loud angry screeches? (Oh dialup modems, how I don’t miss you.) Virtually everyone (in America, at least) uses browsers on a very regular basis. Over 350 million people use Facebook. There’s been these little instant messaging programs with names like MSN or gTalk  for a long, long time now. My friend’s grandparents use Skype to talk to their friends in other countries.

What these people lack isn’t a taste for the features we geeks have been talking about. What they lack is the terminology for it. My mom isn’t going to say she wants “multitasking.” She is, however, going to want to have her browser open to look at websites while having access to her IM program to chat with family and friends.

That basic pair of tasks: browsing + chat, does not exist on the iPad. That is a single example that fits the everyday life of millions of people. To tell me that some sort of mythical upper class are the only ones who want to do that is to live a magical life in Narnia, where your friends are mostly talking animals; the majority of which lack opposable thumbs.

One last thing: the App Store. You want to run a program on the iPad? Better hope that Apple wants you to have it. Have fun surfing the Internet without Flash. For better or worse, a good part of the web still runs on it. Apple seems to be pushing farther towards a closed ecosystem, which is the complete opposite of what most of us standardistas believe in. You can’t pretend the device is the replacement to a netbook when it doesn’t have the same breadth and variety of software. Some people celebrate it, claiming the closed ecosystem of the App Store makes it somehow better, filled only with quality software.

Like iFart, which for a time was the #1 app in the store.

The iPad does have a lot going for it (however, the name is killing me.) But let’s not pretend that we’re some rare breed of horse, and that these shortcomings only impact 1% of users. Because that’s clearly a fantasy, and the average person lives in the real world, just like us.

Comic Update: Boring in Five Easy Steps

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Today’s comic, featuring Jeff Croft in a fictional scenario where he’s rebuilt into a duller, less spontaneous being by Jakob Nielsen after a tragic karaoke accident, is something of a lighthearted poke at the death of spontaneity in the name of… well, I’m not sure what, exactly. (It also guest stars Bruce Lawson as the HTML5 Doctor)

The sequence of events that inspired this micro-drama is as follows: Firstly, Jakob Nielsen decided to talk about iterative designs in tweets (or as he likes to dress them up: “stream-based postings”). He guides us through a process where in only five easy steps he has drained the blood from a sample tweet, leaving a dried husk that will rise in thirteen days to join the legions of humorless drones that find the useit.com design both fascinating and useful.

After this, Jeff Croft cuts through the meat of Jakob’s ‘findings’ with a tweet that probably did not require five iterations: “An article by Jacob Nielsen on how to take all the spontaneity and humaneness out of your tweets in five easy steps…

Granted, at least one iteration more might have helped in his case to get Jakob spelled right.

The fact is, Jeff hit it on the head. If you’re writing down your tweets and re-writing them repeatedly to maximize some sort of marketing message, you’re not tweeting. I’m not sure what you’re doing, but I’ll bet that most people that see the message can see what it is, canned artificial crap. You don’t have a medium of micro-messages just to waste all the time and effort of a proper e-mail or blog post on a single sentence. Spending that effort on the message not only is contrary to the purpose of the medium, it’s counterproductive when the end result is what Nielsen presents, complete with shouting-style caps, months in parentheses, and different wording to make it “punchier.”

I’m going to say Jakob Nielsen does not know what “punchier” actually means. If he did, useit.com might not look like a canary got stuck in a mid-90′s school administration newsletter.

Tweet how you like, but if you spend a half-hour at a time maximizing your tweets in some sort of business formula, don’t be surprised when people stop paying attention to your massaged marketing attempts.

Postmortem: July’s Refresh Bellingham

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Last night was the inaugural session of Refresh Bellingham, which is something like a cross between a single-presentation micro-conference (for FREE!) and a bar/grill social event for web geeks. Taking place at Extremes Sports Grill (yes, their website terrifies), it turned out to be a blast!

The speaker was Jeff Croft, who is some sort of hybrid between a super-designer and a karaoke megastar. His presentation was on grids in web design, and was a speedy trek through the history of grids in typography and the ways to apply them to your websites in this day in age. He’ll have slides at some point, so I’ll put them up as soon as I get the link. It was great to watch, and now I’m closer to understanding what the point is for line-height.

It’s for conga lines, right?

After the presentation, the crowd (I saw at least 45 people there, we had people standing during the presentation) walked across the way into what I’ll call the “party room” and proceeded to eat, drink, or do a combination of both while chatting away with people from Bellingham to Mt. Vernon to Seattle.

If you live in or near Bellingham, and want to have a great opportunity to learn more about web standards, talk shop with people who care about such things, or just have an excuse for a night out, I suggest you take the opportunity to come to the next Refresh (we’re on the third Wednesday night of every month. Check out the website for more.)