Macbook vs. WRT54G wireless router

February 18th, 2008

Today I brought my Macbook to my mom’s house for the first time. Like me, she has a Linksys wireless router, but unlike me she is connected to the internet via Verizon DSL. Now, her Windows PC and laptop connect to the network through the router automatically (there’s no wi-fi password since this is northern Vermont and the next house is a mile away).

The Macbook likewise connected instantly to the wi-fi network, but couldn’t see the internet. When I’d try to ping a Web address, I just got “no route to host.” Very sad.

Read the rest of this entry »

There’s no such thing as Front-End Web Development

November 7th, 2007

The problem I have with defining “front end development” is that there is no such thing.

Historically there was software called a “home page” or “web site” that was composed entirely of static HTML pages and binary files, connected by hyperlinks. It was then possible to draw a distinction between “real” programmers, who wrote in application languages like C++ and Java, and “web designers” who only wrote HTML.

Read the rest of this entry »

HTML Validation

October 28th, 2007

Today I wanted to know how to get the functionality of the HTML validator Firefox extension. The extension has two modes: Tidy and SGML parser. Each of these modes reports differently on the HTML under test. Both reports can be useful (I’m not going to get into the differences here).

Specifically, I wanted to be able to generate either a Tidy or an SGML parser report from the command line. And I wanted to be able to run my report for any public Web page.

Read the rest of this entry »

Setting up Synergy

July 16th, 2007

Today I set up Synergy, which is quite bad-ass :)
I set it up for my 2 macs and PC at work.

Read the rest of this entry »


June 30th, 2007

Because I now travel, and demonstrate programming strategies for front-end Web, I had to have a truly portable programming environment ;-)

Read the rest of this entry »

Page Titles

June 25th, 2007

Here is the classic Nielsen article on headlines.

The best practice as he outlines it is to place the most specific information about the page /first/ in the title.
Consider The following is a (hypothetical) nice, useful section title that could potentially be used:

“Fine China - DINING - Dining & Entertaining - Macy*s”

The most specific information comes first, then the name of the subsection, the section, and finally the name of the web site.
This is exactly the opposite of the common approach to titles :(

Read the rest of this entry » whuffie

June 16th, 2007

This bookmarklet no longer works. Please use the new whuffie bookmarklet instead. This version of the via: tag bookmarklet broke when Delicious launched their new UI in mid-2008. Congratulations to the Del team on the improved UI, and I hope everyone will enjoy the updated bookmarklets.

Delicious Whuffie is a bookmarklet that, when clicked, adds via:username to the tags field when saving a URL from another user.

This bookmarklet is intended to be used on the “save this” page at I have also created (and prefer) a version of the bookmarklet that adds the user’s tags along with via:username; as I seem to always do that as well when tagging with via:

Read the rest of this entry »

Neat little example of a useful Javascript closure

May 6th, 2007

Closures are a powerful feature of JavaScript. However it’s often hard to explain in a few words, just what is useful about closures. Well, here on page 131 of the Rhino book, is the recipe for a unique ID generator that doesn’t require a global counter.

One thing that I personally enjoy about the Flanagan book is that he says things like “don’t pollute the global namespace.” :) This technique does not pollute the global namespace.

var uid = (
var id=0;
return function(){
return id++ ;
//then just say:

Notes on getting PNG transparency in IE6 with pure CSS

December 24th, 2006

Recently, I started building a site with a lot of transparent image elements. The trouble was the the client required support for IE6 as well as IE7. Now, IE 6 and lower do not support transparent PNGs out of the box, but I knew that there were workarounds for that.

The question was, which workaround to use? One method I saw involved using an Explorer “behavior.” Unfortunately, this solution required loading and HTC file, which is an ActiveX control. ActiveX controls aren’t loaded in IE6 with default security settings. Maybe there is a workaround for that, but I couldn’t find it in a timely fashion. Besides, the HTC solution requires an HTC file and a special GIF file be stored on the server. Adding mysterious stuff to the client’s file tree is something I really like to avoid.

Then I ran across a brand new article (based upon a much older article) at A List Apart: Super-Easy Blendy Backgrounds. This article describes a pure CSS technique of getting image transparency to work in IE 6.
Read the rest of this entry »

Authoring accessible Web content

December 4th, 2006

This began as a post for the JAG internal wiki. After I’d gone to all the trouble of looking everything up and spelling it right, I thought it would be worthwhile to mirror the post here.

Here are a couple of basic pointers for building Acessible Web sites. I generally am interested in Accessibility, because it’s part of the Semantic Web vision. When I come across a relevant article, I tag it with accessibility. But I became especially interested after the National Federation for the Blind sued Target, basically because Target refused to add ALT tags to their images.

In no particular order, here’s list of core techniques:
Read the rest of this entry »