Minor stylesheet fix

Anita was kind enough to point out that I hadn’t bothered to set background or text colors in my new lean mean stylesheet, which makes the page look kind of funny in Netscape 4 or in any browser where you can set your own background color.

This is an easy mistake to make when you’re moving away from deprecated HTML attributes. In my case, I changed my style sheet to use a plain old <body> tag instead of Manila’s [Macro error: Can't evaluate the expression because the name "body" hasn't been defined.]
macro, which automatically inserts deprecated attributes for background color, text color, link color, and so forth. The way to handle it is either to set the attributes background (for the background color) and color (for the default text color), or else not to use any colored elements in your design at all and make the user responsible for his or her own bad taste.

At any rate, I’ve made the fix; shift-reload to get the change (very minor).

The IE Factor?

Interesting article at StopDesign describing real work experience in getting CSS layouts to work across platforms. As those who have been reading the Web Design department through my last redesign will attest, this is a non-trivial challenge; some apparently easy CSS styles will work well in one browser while not working at all in another.

But why is it the IE Factor? That is, why does IE get the blame for non-conformant behavior? That’s the question some of my coworkers might ask. After all, it has CSS support; after all, it’s the minority browser. And after all, other browsers have their own quirks. Why single out IE?

Based on my experience and StopDesign’s article (and Bryan Bell’s Designers Against Stagnant Internet Explorer (DASIE) manifesto), I think IE is getting heat for the following reasons:

  1. IE 6 was released in 2001. The most recent major revisions of the competing browsers, Mozilla/Firebird and Opera (as well as other significant browsers like Safari and OmniWeb) were all released in the last six months. That’s two solid years of designers actually using CSS and documenting their problems.
  2. Mozilla is open source; Safari is developed by a guy with a weblog where he responds to customer comments. The IE team has so far kept a very low profile about the future of their products; in fact, they’ve committed publicly to infrequent releases of new features, in line with the Windows software development cycle.
  3. Adding insult to injury, not only does IE not incorporate two-plus years of real world customer feedback, it’s the dominant platform. So it’s held to a higher standard—any flaw gets dramatically magnified.

Why are we in this boat? I think, after Netscape imploded, a lot of people thought that innovation and change was gone from the HTML space and attention shifted to the web services space, where presentation isn’t as important as XML, namespaces, and actual programming languages.

But I think IE has competition again. More importantly, I think the various campaigns to get people to upgrade to modern browsers have led more designers to push the envelope of what can be done with (X)HTML+CSS. And I think that’s a good thing.

Mod +1 obvious: Judge rules part of Patriot Act unconstitutional

Caught yesterday, but not posted as I couldn’t see over the creeping crud in my system: Part of Patriot Act Ruled Unconstitutional. US District Judge Audrey Collins ruled that a portion of the act, which criminalized providing “expert advice or assistance” to terrorist groups, was “impermissibly vague.”

(I’m not clear what part of the Constitution that violates, other than the part about our not acting like Winston Smith’s boss, but I’m sure someone can fill me in.)

Anyway: all who were surprised that any part of the Patriot Act was ruled unconstitutional, raise your hands. Higher. I can’t see you. Oh, put your hand down, Mr. Cheney; you know better.

Viruses (mine and others’)

Ironic timing… As I’m working from home today between vigorous attempts to clear the sinus infection from my head, I get a new virus alert in my mail about Mydoom.

Microsoft Consumer Virus Alert

Why We Are Issuing This Alert

W32/Mydoom@MM spreads through e-mail. This worm can disguise the sender’s address, a tactic known as spoofing, and may generate e-mails that appear to have been sent by Microsoft. Many of the addresses Mydoom uses are valid addresses that are being spoofed for malicious purposes.

Mydoom Virus Alert: What to Do

Treat all e-mail attachments with caution, particularly .zip files in the case of this virus, even if they appear to be from a trusted source. Learn what to do about virus infections. http://www.microsoft.com/security/antivirus/mydoom.asp

Complete Information: http://www.microsoft.com/security/antivirus/mydoom.asp

To which I can only add: be careful out there.