Venom and Diamonds

Aw sugar

22:28 April 30th '04

So, here's me trying to get a new design up for the May 1st Reboot, agonising over it for weeks and trying to get something worthy done, and what happens?

I end up getting it 95% done and then go on a trip to a place with no access to the programs needed to get it finished! So hence there will be no redesign up at 2pm GMT on May the 1st, and the Reboot people will no doubt smack me over the head with a big stick or whatever the cyberequivalent may be.

Adding insult to injury, the PC I'm on doesn't have the Flash plugin, hence I can't access the Reboot site, and hence I can't tell them I'm not going to be participating... should teach them a thing or two about accessibility then.

If you've been waiting on the edge of your seat to see what I've come up with, my sincerest apologies.

The taste of metal

19:18 April 20th '04

One of the new Slipknot tracks, 'Pulse of the Maggots', is slowly growing on me. It's been up on their site for a couple of weeks, and I had my first listen a few days ago.

I was put off by the corny sirens/marching intro, the lack of the incessant growling and roaring of Iowa, the 80's throwback metal guitar solo duel and the two seconds of naked breakbeat loop in the middle. Basically I felt it didn't really sound like Slipknot to me.

Listening again today, I really like it. And it sounds like Slipknot. How do they do that?

Design for All

21:04 April 18th '04

One of those really important things any web designer needs to do is pay attention to his or her users. The first thing you usually start with is making sure your style, both visual and verbal, fits your desired audience. The part that many seem to have a problem with is making sure that all of your audience can see and read the site in the first place.

In a larger sense that becomes a part of the usability concept of Design for All (or DfA), which applies to the design of anything, not just websites. More specifically it also means being au fait with the accessibility aspects of the technology, be it XHTML, CSS, Flash or whatever. Additionally, it's not just about whether a blind person can navigate your pages, but also about whether someone 'fully able' sitting at a Mac with IE 5 can.

And it's all bleedin' difficult, if you ask me. Makes responsible, professional web design a pain to pull off succesfully. Then again it makes it feel like something akin to real work.

Designing the current incarnation of nthposition last year was meant to be a very thorough attempt at that from me. In many, many ways it was (and thankfully my dissertation markers felt that way too), but I've been bothered by it's imperfections so much they're nearly all I see when looking at it now. The principal problem for me is that I still haven't made up my mind about whether the layout controls in nth's sidebar are actually worth they're apparent cleverness.

I had a quick search to see if I could find any recent reviews on the site since the redesign, but there don't seem to be any. What I did find, however, was a comment on an article on A List Apart (which I mentioned a while back):

I am not all that happy with sites laid out in ems, because often when I up the font size (e.g. on that ZenGarden elastic layout or at the stuff on the right moves off-screen and and I get a scroll bar. I *hate* scrolling right to left, it's a royal pain especially for those of us who also have movement troubles and try to avoid mousing.

The challenging issue here is that, by using the layout controls, this reader could have shortened the lines and eliminated the horizontal scroll bar. So in a way, I have catered for her, but in another, I haven't, since she hasn't done so, and is upset. And quite probably not going to visit nth again anytime soon.

There are many ways it could be better (disregarding any technical issues): automatic line shortening when scrolling would be necessary, easier one-click controls to quickly switch between different layouts (like Zeldman's), a 'traditional' fixed design which would never expand sideways etc.

While I'm happy that the nth design does make an effort, I can't help but think it sometimes gets tripped up by it's own cleverness. The jury is still out, and the learning process continues...

Bouncing off the walls

23:09 April 10th '04

...with anticipation at the unmissable quality of this summer's gig selection in Finland. I've become used to not expecting any of my favourite bands to make it all the way out here more than once in a decade. In fact, that might still be the case, but now it seems that those visits are coinciding:

First up is Metallica, who I might not see for their own sakes, since I saw them back in '93 on the Nowhere Else to Roam tour and they haven't put out anything outstanding since then. But I hear they've really gotten their act together touring for St.Anger, so I'm prepared to give them a go. Besides, they've got a classic back catalogue you can't really go wrong with.

Then there's the main reason I'm going to see Metallica: on the same bill, just three days after the release of their third album: Slipknot! Anyone in their right, metal-loving mind can't not freak out at that combo.

Within a month of that gig, it's time for the man, the one, Mr David Bowie. Perhaps not as heavy as 'tallica and the Knot, he still rocks more than anyone, ever. And do you think Slipknot would be prancing around in masks and boiler suits if it wasn't for the trail blazed by Ziggy thirty years ago?

If that wasn't enough, the cake gets iced a month after that with Fear Factory, who along with Bowie are the reason for my worrying preference for concept albums. I've been waiting for this one for eight years, since first hearing Demanufacture.

Considering Bowie and FF are festival shows, there'll also be all kinds of other great bands to see, like The Hives and The Roots, but the aforementioned four should be enough to leave me a gibbering mess come August.

Now if Nine Inch Nails would just show up...

The best game ever

19:45 April 7th '04

It's been decided: the greatest computer game of all time is apparently Half-Life. It beat all comers in a knockout tournament on, thrashing Super Mario Bros 3 in the final.

Personally I'd have liked to see Doom win: no other game has scared me witless like it did a decade ago, only to have me play it for quite literally years on end. Nothing, in my opinion, has been so totally new and ahead of the curve on its release.

Doom got knocked from the final by Mario (by two votes: 8450 vs 8452!), and I suppose that if there had to be someone to do it, the pudgy plumber is the most honourable adversary I can think of. All hail the might of Mr. Miyamoto.

But nothing, I repeat, nothing will ever beat the music of Doom: MIDI does Pantera!

Ach, ya got me

14:05 April 2nd '04

So, it seems that Trench Wars did just pull a fast one on the gullible berks of the Subspace world. Like me.


Thankfully the job was real though, and hence I've just enjoyed my first day at the office as a bona fide Flash developer. Nice.

Foolish April

17:38 April 1st '04

I always seem to get caught out on the 1st of April. Thankfully no-one has ever played any big pranks on me; my predictable foolishness is limited to just believing any number of public stunts. Usually I admit my stupidity straight off, but with yesterday's Subspace debackle I'm still going to sit on the fence. It would, after all, amount to impersonating a US government agency, which is a bit heavy-duty for a joke. When the good old comes back, I'll believe it.

Lets hope the job offer I got today wasn't a joke though. I've been looking for six months to the day, and heads will roll if my good mood today turns out to be misplaced!

In other non-humorous near-foolishness, I almost forgot to sign up for the May 1st Reboot! But I made it, so don't be surprised when runs and hides on the 25th.

shall we drink a toast to / absent-minded friends