Archives for March 2008

March 30, 2008 - 6 comments

Thematic mapping with the Google Charts API: A brief tutorial

This brief tutorial assumes a basic knowledge of the Google Charts API, but no knowledge of the new map chart type. This tutorial will cover all of the required and optional Charts API parameters for the map chart type and will culminate in displaying a US map of red states and blue states.

Producing the base map

United States of America

To produce our base map using the Google Charts API requires a URL similar to the following one:

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Published by: jeffreybarke in The Programming Mechanism

March 28, 2008 - 6 comments

IE 8, version targeting, and conditional comments

As promised at last night's NY Web Standards meetup, this morning I tested to see if IE 8 would recognize IE 7 conditional comments when set to render in IE 7 standards mode. The unfortunate answer is no. You can review the test here:

Aside—I installed Safari 3.1 (525.13) on my PC (Windows Vista Home Premium Service Pack 1) this morning and, for the first time in months, it runs!

Published by: jeffreybarke in The Programming Mechanism

March 27, 2008 - 4 comments

The Struggle for Web Standards

Sorry for posting two Chris Heilmann reblogs in such short succession (I know, I know, like a poor man's RSS reader), but not only is his stuff so good, I wanted to reference this in tonight's NY Web Standards meetup.

From "The struggle for web standards—my presentation for Coder's Saturday in Montreal" on Wait till I come! by Chris Heilmann, published on 22 March 2008 at 7:24 PM.

Published by: jeffreybarke in The Programming Mechanism

March 27, 2008 - Comments Off on How to play well with others: Bring back the version targeting, Microsoft!

How to play well with others: Bring back the version targeting, Microsoft!

In anticipation of tonight's NY Web Standards meetup, I present this trenchant criticism from Joel Spolsky on Microsoft's decision to not make IE8 behave like IE7 by default:

The idealists rejoiced. Hundreds of them descended on the IE blog to actually say nice things about Microsoft for the first times in their lives.

I looked at my watch.

Tick, tick, tick.

Within a matter of seconds, you started to see people on the forums showing up like this one:

I have downloaded IE 8 and with it some bugs. Some of my websites like "HP" are very difficult to read as the whole page is very very small… The speed of my Internet has also been reduced on some occasions. Whe [sic] I use Google Maps, there are overlays everywhere, enough so it makes it ackward [sic] to use!

Mmhmm. All you smug idealists are laughing at this newbie/idjit. The consumer is not an idiot. She's your wife. So stop laughing. 98% of the world will install IE8 and say, "It has bugs and I can't see my sites." They don't give a flicking flick about your stupid religious enthusiasm for making web browsers which conform to some mythical, platonic "standard" that is not actually implemented anywhere. They don't want to hear your stories about messy hacks. They want web browsers that work with actual web sites.

From "Martian Headsets" on Joel on Software by Joel Spolsky, my favorite new blog on software development and the internet. So far, I find everything on here very well-written, reasoned, and developed into coherent essays (long is good!)

Published by: jeffreybarke in The Programming Mechanism

March 10, 2008 - 2 comments

Too Close for Creative Comfort: Panama & Bahamas Logos

About a year ago, an interesting advertising campaign was unveiled in the New York Subway system featuring a unique, if not overly complex logo, enticing viewers to travel the Bahamas. The logo featured several colorful & unusually shaped organic icons, visually representing the islands of the Bahamas. The logo and subsequent campaign did the job because I remembered it a year later.

Recently, during a morning overdose of caffeinated glee with Al Roker and the Today Gang on NBC, I noticed a television commercial advertising the joys of vacationing in Panama, with a very similar logo as the Bahamas design from last year. Some online sleuthing and closer observation revealed that the logos were practically “cut from the same palm leaf” – and featured not only a similar use of colors but a nearly identical typeface. One could argue that the Panama design firm chose squares instead of unusual organic shapes, but I would respond to that statement with a barrage of creative fists of fury.

This act of blatant thievery or “modest appreciation” is one of the reasons that the creative profession is suffering at the greedy hands of poor designers and overly convincing clients. I can’t begin to imagine what could have possibly convinced a self-respecting graphic artist to swindle the design style of another tourist destination when they knew that someone would certainly call their creative bluff.

There are many reasons why this is bad. Advertising message reception is a pretty quick event when you think about it – I see something pretty, then glance away and process it internally later. At a quick glance, this would make this new campaign less successful, since the viewer might actually believe that the Panama campaign is actually a rerun of the campaign for the Bahamas. The obvious reason is that the Bahamas logo concept was kidnapped by the Panama design team.

The moral of this story – although it still needs to be proven or disproven by the success of the new Panama campaign – is that when a client comes to you saying that they want a repeat of something that has been successful in the past like the Nike swoosh or a web site that works just like Google, they don’t want or need those solutions copied exactly, they likely lust after the success of the aforementioned solutions. In the case of this Panama/Bahamas debacle, the client probably saw the Bahamas logo and campaign, read about it's success, and told a designer, “Make it look like that.” Unfortunately, this is an example of another client who is looking for glory without the commitment that the Bahamas campaign, Google, Nike or hundreds of other brands have made to their audiences.

Instant audience satisfaction can be achieved by a clever design solution, but originality designed to stand the test of time is what will make your client rich.

Published by: davefletcher in The Design Mechanism

March 10, 2008 - 6 comments

I FFFFound a Good Creative Resource

Somehow I landed on a pretty cool site today called FFFFOUND!.

According to their website, FFFFOUND! is:

a web service that not only allows the users to post and share their favorite images found on the web, but also dynamically recommends each user's tastes and interests for an inspirational image-bookmarking experience.

The name is ridiculous – I’m guessing either ffound and were unavailable when they were looking to secure a url, or this was the exact number of f's required to make the right human sound to represent their service. Nonetheless, despite the fact it’s an invitation–based service, the library of interesting images, ads and photographs culled from the mighty web are quite inspirational all by themselves, without the visitor feeling like they have to belong to the exclusive club.

Published by: davefletcher in The Design Mechanism, The Programming Mechanism

March 7, 2008 - Comments Off on Safari CSS hack update—The end of the star seven hack

Safari CSS hack update—The end of the star seven hack

From Surfin' Safari:

For those of you using the star seven CSS hack to target current or older versions of WebKit, this parsing bug has been closed in the latest WebKit nightlies. Acid3 specifically tests for this, so any browser that wants to be compliant with Acid3 will have to fix this CSS parsing bug.

For more information about this hack, see:

Published by: jeffreybarke in The Programming Mechanism