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Rounding up the Olympics

Now the Olympic Winter Games in Torino is over and we all go back to leading our normal lives. I have always liked the Olympic Games, the spirit and all the attention that surround them; from the opening ceremony through all the events till the very end. I think it breeds hope for a lot of people and unites them.

For Sweden, this was the most successful Winter Olympics ever with 7 gold medals, two silver medals and 5 bronze medals, ending up as the sixth best nation in total in Turin. This was way over any Swede’s expectation and in the little betting pool we had at work, no one was even close when it came to the number of gold medals.

The thing that most of us Swedes hoped for and which also came true is the gold in Ice Hockey. The team arrived home in Sweden yesterday afternoon and after going on a tour through Stockholm they arrived at a big square called Medborgarplatsen (translated: Citizen’s Square), where they were celebrated by around 30 000 people! I left work a little earlier to participate in the celebrations and when I and a colleague arrived there it was such a crowd that it was almost impossible to get anywhere.

A picture of Medborgarplatsen when I first got there

Frustrated with not seeing anything I decided to climb up a tree to getter a better view. Problem was, the lowest branches were fairly high up so I had to climb the first part of the tree by hugging the trunk and jerking myself upward. Once up, for the first time I realized how many people that had actually shown up; wherever I looked there were heads bobbing back and forth trying to get a view.

Naturally, on the way up, I scraped my hands and legs from the trunk hugging so there were a number of places where small drops of blood surfaced. But hey, if they could win the gold, I sure could stand some pain climbing some sissy tree to get a better view.

It was about -5 Celsius (that’s about 23 Fahrenheit) and the air density was rough and merciless. After changing position every five minutes, with the fear of falling down on all the people below, and occasionally getting my more delicate parts crushed against a certain rigid branch, the Ice Hockey team finally arrived thirty minutes later.

A picture of Medborgarplatsen after the Ice Hockey team had arrived

There were singing, dancing, interviews and a lot of happy people everywhere! The happenings on the scene lasted for about thirty minutes or so, and then the festivities continued in a lot of other places in the city. If you’re interested, you can watch videos from different events during the Olympic Games and the celebration in Stockholm in the Olympics section of the Swedish Television web site

All we can do know is to wait for the World Cup in football this summer and the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008… 🙂

A closer look at Ma.gnolia

A while ago I got an invitation to beta test the new social bookmarking service on the block: Ma.gnolia. I was interested in it from day one I heard about it, however back then I had no idea what it was about. My reason for being biased is that I love magnolia trees, Fredrika and I used to go look at a huge one in a park close to where we first lived together and I also recently got her two magnolia trees for her birthday.

First, let me outright say that I’ve never really found a need for a bookmarking service, my main need and interest lies in following feeds; instant information and then it’s gone. If there’s anything I have a great need for finding again, I search on the web using Google and mix of suitable keywords. Therefore, it’s interesting to see that Ma.gnolia’s slogan is:

Found is the New Search

I personally don’t think that it will ever happen; I and a lot of other people do constant searching on the web and in applications. I’m sure a good service can complement searching, but it will never replace it.

A picture of the Ma.gnolia header and the navigation


The idea is to save all your bookmarks and have them available on the web from any place. It’s also about tagging your bookmarks and finding other people’s. So far, just like but looking a lot better. There are, however some features and here’s a list of them:

  • Save bookmarks, publicly or privately
  • Tag bookmarks
  • Send bookmark to one or several of your contacts
  • Send bookmark to one or several of your groups
  • Find other people’s bookmarks
  • Join special interest groups
  • See your contact’s latest additions
  • See your groups’ latest additions

The factors I find very appealing is the ability to join certain groups covering special topics, and to add a few key people to your contacts’ list that you know will add interesting bookmarks. The nice thing with contacts is that it doesn’t have to be a two-way relationship. You can have anyone as a contact without getting permission and anyone can add you as a contact.

They way I see it, there’s no downside with people adding you as a contact without your consensus, all they can see is your latest bookmarks. However, I guess in the long run it might be interesting with closed groups that require an invitation, or perhaps a “Make this bookmark only available to certain contacts”.

There are also different views in the Tags section where you can browse your tags, your contact’s top tags, your groups’ top tags and everyone’s top tags, and they can all be viewed in a tag cloud or in an A – Z listing.

A picture of the Tags section

The start page

During the beta period, the start page consisted of your, your contact’s and your groups’ latest bookmarks. A good initial view that unfortunately was replaced with a Ma.gnolia Hot Bookmarks and a Ma.gnolia Featured Linkers section after it was launched February 15th. The hot bookmarks are fine, but I would definitely prefer seeing my contact’s latest bookmarks as opposed to the featured linkers that I haven’t chosen nor is interested in. Now you have to go to the Bookmarks section to get the beta start page view. Also, once you’ve left the start page, the only way of getting back is clicking the logo. Perhaps a Home link should be added?

A picture of the Ma.gnolia start page

Other sections on the start page, in narrower right column, are Recent Bookmarks, Hot Groups and Hot Tags (and also Hot Bookmarks for other pages than the start page). All valid, but I really miss a listing of my tags. I gather most people will use this service as an archive for their bookmarks, nothing more, nothing less, so I think it’s a waste of an extra click to go the Tags section first.

A picture of the right column sections, containing sections like Recent Bookmarks, Hot Groups and Hot Tags

Something that’s weird here, though, is that the start page just exclaims:

Welcome back

and then I go to the Bookmarks section that says:

Hello, Robert

Shouldn’t the start page be the most personal one?


Most bookmark listings contain three actions for every bookmark, with the addition of a fourth to easily switch your bookmarks between being private or public. The problem arises when I look at listing for a specific tag; then there’s no way to add it to your bookmarks and its name is linked to the URL itself. I missed it a couple of times, but the only way to add it is to choose the option View Details. I definitely feel an add functionality is missing there.

Another thing which I dislike is that the listing in the right column leads directly to the URL that the bookmark point to. I guess makes it easy to just go to that web page right away and see if it’s interesting, but there’s no way to add it from that list. Functionality I think should be added as soon as possible.

Another thing that would be nice to see right away in the listings is how popular a bookmark is, i.e. how many people have the same bookmark.

Design & code

The design is very nice with smooth and balanced colors. Default font size is good and it’s very easy to get a fast overview on what’s every page. Unfortunately, there’s a an ad space in the header, something that has to be there for revenue, most likely, but also something that ruins the cleanliness of the web site (it was so beautiful during the beta period :-)).

I also like the dimming of the entire web page when I want to delete something. Kind of hard to miss… 🙂

A picture of the delete dialog

Another thing that looked good during the beta period was the state of the code, but now there seems to be some minor flaws in every page and also a few inline events. All-in-all, though, the code seems to be well-structured and semantic, so there’s definitely hope.


The web site is, most of the time, fairly slow. This is disheartening since it’s a very nice service otherwise, and I really advise them to look into this as soon as possible. Soon the honeymoon period is over with the service being new, so it should be addressed right away. Also, for performance and small usability enhancements, dare I *GASP* suggest using some AJAX (Pssst! Look at ASK…)?

The issues with the listings are annoying but minor. I don’t think it would be a big deal to change that.


Conclusively, I’m not sure that I have the need for a bookmarking service. But if I ever will, Ma.gnolia would be my choice. The good news is that Ma.gnolia is publicly available now for everyone, so I urge you to go check it out!


Related reading

AJAX and other rich media technologies patented?

This has to be a joke, some kind of twisted humor. Apparently the U.S. Government granted a patent to a web design company in California, one which:

…covers all rich-media technology implementations, including Flash, Flex, Java, Ajax, and XAML, when the rich-media application is accessed on any device over the Internet, including desktops, mobile devices, set-top boxes, and video game consoles…

Read the truly horrifying story at U.S. Grants Patent For Broad Range Of Internet Rich Applications (found through Zeldman).

If you’re in London, take care of my brother

My brother is currently living in London, for a study period between January and May. If you’re interested in reading about his impressions and the things he goes through, make sure to visit his blog ; I find it very entertaining! 🙂

If you’re in London yourself, please read this: He listens to the name of Martin. He’s a very nice guy and can talk for hours about topics that interest him. He’s a slow eater (just like me). He misses his girlfriend, his friends and his family. He’s extremely loyal.

Apparently the other day some kids shoot a paintball (paintball bullet?) and hit the window to his room. That shall not happen again! Therefore, I strongly encourage you to download this button image below, print it and put in your jacket.

Protect Martin Nyman button

Rhetoric class – funny word

A couple of nights ago, I went to the first out of three sessions dealing with the topic rhetoric. It is something that my employer is kind enough to treat me and my group to, and also something that I’ve always been interested in.

Funny thing happened, though, when the guy presenting said an unexpected word. What did he say? He said:


Instead of “Hitta”, which means “Find”.

Why is that funny? Because that word means “pussy” and isn’t really a word one would expect from someone teaching the fine art of rhetoric. At first I thought I was the only one hearing it and that maybe it was only my perverse imagination, but afterwards everyone attending the meeting sneaked up to each other, saying:

Did he really say fitta, or was it just me?

So, I guess no one is perfect… 🙂

Posted in Fun

Google Blog Search or Technorati?

When doing a web search and your search engine of choice (Google, for most of you, I presume) doesn’t return as accurate or useful results as you had hoped, you might decide that you just want search blogs. Reasons for this can be because blogs usually contain very interesting information, comments on the information and also that they are normally very up-to-date.

The way I see it, there are two major tools for searching blogs: Technorati and Google Blog Search. Google seems to be a little faster, although Technorati has really picked up lately. Technorati also offers ways to see how popular that blog is that contains the information you searched for while you also know that the information that is most up-to-date will be amongst the top results.

Personally, I use Technorati to see how many people link to me and which the latest links are. I never use Google Blog Search.

Do you use any? If you do, which one?

MSN Messenger censors links

I love instant messaging, and it’s a tool I use daily in my work and for keeping in touch with people. My weapon of choice is MSN Messenger and it’s all I need to communicate with a lot of people. I know, I know, MSN Messenger isn’t that nice on Macs, but most Mac users have Audium instead, so I get away with using a specific client since they usually have accounts for all different IM services.

What has really made me mad recently is that I found out that Microsoft is filtering links sent with MSN Messenger, all in the best interest of the end user. The approach consists of plainly just removing links with the text such as “download.php”, so the person in the end doesn’t get the message, without any information that something was blocked. This approach is so poor and annoying I want to scream!

If you want to force people to download something, apparently you just have to name the page “WindowsUpdate.asp” and it will always get through every filter… And the thing is, your MSN messenger contacts are your friends that you have personally approved, you can’t them and their messages to spam.

I haven’t found any good article in English with an official statement from Microsoft, but in an article in the Swedish MagazineComputer Sweden , a spokeswoman given the title Responsible for Communication Services at Swedish MSN has made this statement:

For the moment, through a real time filtering technology, we are testing to deactivate certain links, parts of link strings and files that have names that can pose a threat to the users. […] is suspected, it’s then filtered by our servers and isn’t delivered to the recipient.

Please, Microsoft, listen: We don’t want to be your guinea pigs! Except for the laughable approach with string matching to see if anything they perceive as dangerous should be removed from a message, there are number of things you should see to right away if this is to stay in the product:

  • If a message is filtered in any way, the sender and recipient must be alerted about this.
  • It should be a setting if the filter should be applied.
  • The filter should, per default, be off.

Jewel’s web lifestyle survey

My friend Jewel (not the artist, and not the Artist Formerly Known As Jewel) is conducting a small lifestyle survey about internet habits, and she needs more people to take it. It only takes about two minutes of your time to do it, so if you have the time, please help her out!

Eight different versions of Microsoft Vista?

In the CNET article Microsoft gives glimpse of eight Vistas, it is hinted that Microsoft Vista will come out in no less than eight (!) versions. While it isn’t quite as bad as it sounds, I really can’t understand this decision.

Sure, they need to keep different version with and without Windows Media Player bundled etc, but in the end my take is that they will just confuse the customers. Same thing happened with the new versions of Visual Studio 2005 and its different flavors like Visual Studio 2005 Team System. I think that by releasing too many versions of the same thing, their market, sales and support departments will have hell trying to explain it, and most people will have no idea what to buy…

Simplify, man, simplify!

A train of gadget freaks

Yesterday, on the train home to my lovely suburb of choice, Vallentuna, I decided to look up at the other passengers around me. Within a radius of 1.5 meter, there were three tech freaks sitting with their gadgets.

Just across to where I was sitting, a guy was sitting gaming away on his Sony PSP; directly on the other side of the aisle a girl was sitting writing in a focused way on her Apple iBook; and in the middle, your dear blogger was sitting with his Apple iPod Video, watching a movie (I’ll write more about my gadget another day). Interesting to see how technology can help people to kill commuting time…

When we reached Vallentuna and I got up to get off the train, I saw a woman carefully (some would say manically) folding the paper to her Fisherman’s Friend. I couldn’t help wondering if she envied us for our gadgets or if she indeed was happier doing her origami attempt than needing something with a screen to make her feel content.

Am I being negative?

Some events recently has made me wonder how people see me and my opinions, how I’m perceived. I sometimes doubt I make good with what I write and what opinions I express.

I can sometimes be very direct with what I say about things I see and read; people can occasionally see it as outright blunt. This is also accompanied by a sarcastic and ironic sense of humor, which probably doesn’t make things better. But let me assure, I am really not evil. Perfection is definitely a subjective and relative word, although I always strive to make things as good as they can possibly be. And when I see people not doing their outmost to achieve that, people that just deliver something half-ass, it upsets me.

I’m not saying that everyone has to be addicted to what they do, but in my mind, why spend at least 40 hours a week on something that people know, or at least should know, is barely mediocre? Sure, many do it just to get paid and to live life fully outside their job. And I respect that, I really do. But one thing doesn’t have to exclude the other; being focused on doing a good job shouldn’t automatically mean a poor private life on the side.

We have a short time living and we ourselves are the only ones that can decide what to do with that time, that can affect our everyday situation. Do we want to spend the majority of it to actually accomplishing something, maybe even exceeding our expectations, or do we just want to use that time to fund the rest of it?

My parents have always been fighters and I think it’s the way I was raised; if I want something real bad, I have to fight for it. It sounds like such a cliché, but no pain, no gain. It takes hard work to be good at something, no matter what field we are talking about. And it saddens me that so few seem to even make any feeble attempt to try to make attain something worthwhile.

Henry Rollins made the observation that if you’re 20 and express your feelings in an intense and worked-up way, it’s normal. If you’re forty and do the same, people see you as bitter. He might be spot-on with what he follows up with (Henry, sorry for the, most likely, misquote):

The day I stop caring is the day I die

I sometimes wonder why I get so upset when I see poor code, when I read articles or blog posts from people that in my eyes haven’t done their best when producing it. Perhaps it’s just something that has to do with me. Maybe I waste time, strength and effort for nothing; maybe I get too involved in things that aren’t worth it, and judge people much too hard.

Perchance I should listen and act more according to the wonderful phrase Johnny Depp utters as the Willie Wonka character in Charlie’s Chocolate factory, when a young spoiled girl tries to get his attention:

I can’t imagine why I would care…

There’s is a likeliness that I hurt people with acting so frank, and the possibility that people don’t see me as constructive at all, but just as judgmental, uptight and acting like Mr. Know-it-all. That I never encourage people but only highlight their tiny and highly insignificant flaws.

If I have hurt someone by the things I communicate, I sincerely apologize. It is not meant to be personal; I honestly do aim to be constructive while I at the same time can be tough. If it’s any comfort at all, let me reveal that the one that I put the highest pressure on is me.

Please don’t hesitate to let me know, I strongly urge you to be utterly honest: What do you think? Should I just chill, or am I on a good path? Am I being negative?

The snowman

Last weekend was yet another wonderful one, spent together with my family and taking long walks in the snowy landscape. Yesterday morning, Emilia and I went on a walk before Fredrika woke up, and, since it was getting warmer, the initiative to build a snowman came up before the opportunity would pass.

While constructing it, I was seriously doubting if I have ever built a snowman before in my entire life. I must have, right? I’m not particularly gifted with working with my hands (except for playing the guitar and some other things…), I’m more the type of man that just lifts or moves heavy stuff and puts it down again, but still, the work with the snowman didn’t go as smooth as I had hoped.

Emilia didn’t seem all that interested in it either, she helped me patting the snowman now and then to make it smooth, but otherwise she went on her own adventures. I worked on it for a while and then Fredrika came out and provided me with the necessary pieces to be able to give him a face. Maybe this just looks like a scary-ass snowman to you, but I still you hope enjoy seeing it:

A picture of me, Emilia and the snowman

Ignorant Swedish tech hype

This morning, when I read the headline technical article in Computer Sweden , I got upset, tired and saddened. Basically, the article is calling Swedish companies out of date just because they aren’t using AJAX for their web sites. It also somehow manages to convey the notion that AJAX = Web 2.0.

First, AJAX is not Web 2.0. A Web 2.0 company/solution might use AJAX, and that’s it. Using AJAX doesn’t automatically make it Web 2.0. Period.

Second, calling AJAX modern is just ignorant. The technical possibilities have been around for years, the only thing that’s “new” is the acronym and the hype.

Third, even if it were a modern approach, why would everyone benefit from it? The web is already filled to the brim with unmotivated AJAX solutions; web sites that have sacrificed accessibility and usability just to be doing the latest thing. Now this magazine, probably the technical magazine/paper with the highest amount of readers and vastest reach in Sweden, helps to spread the word that everything has to be AJAX-based, which will, without a doubt, lead to a lot of web developers out there start doing it right away, and managers will run to their employees proclaiming that they just can’t miss this.

The article is written by a reporter who, last week, published an article stating that web sites would have to be re-written for IE 7. Sure, if it were amateurs doing the job the first time around… So, needless to say, his track record reveals that maybe he hasn’t gotten a technical expertise. Which is fine, but then please do the proper research before publishing such pieces. With such a job, there’s a responsibility that goes with it.

One company that is mentioned and quoted in the article is , who proudly announces that their AJAX-based preloading maps are so much better than their competitor Eniro’s are. Ok, let’s take a swift look at and see for ourselves:

  • With JavaScript disabled, no maps are shown at all (compared to Eniro’s that at least show up initially, but then the navigation of the map doesn’t work).
  • The code is riddled with inline styles and inline scripts, completely forsaking the professional approach of having this in separate layers.
  • The word semantics doesn’t seem to have gotten through at all to the web developers; the state of the HTML code is appalling.

So, where does this leave us? They’re proud to be using the “new” technology AJAX, while totally forsaking everything else when it comes to good practice, accessibility, usability and proper web interface developing. If you implement such a simple thing as a map on a web page, and especially for such a popular service on the web, your responsibility is to make sure it isn’t dependant on JavaScript.

Does this mean that AJAX has to be inaccessible then? Absolutely not, it’s all about doing it the correct way. Also, I don’t have a problem with AJAX itself; on the contrary, I agree that used in a proper context, it can make using a web site a lot more interesting, useful and fast to use. But it should never be used at the cost of excluding users or normal web browsing behavior such as using the forward and back buttons in the web browser, bookmarking, reloading etc (this is all something I wanted to address with ASK – AJAX Source Kit).

Do I have a beef with Not at all, I just get tired when people make statements and say that they’re so much more in the loop than other companies, and then it’s obvious that they haven’t done their job correctly. In fact, I know the people behind specifying the concept, and I think it’s great! It’s just sad that the web developers implementing it didn’t have the skills to match it.

Conclusively, I’d advise to make their next statement when you’ve done your job right. Till then, do your homework…

A hype about not following the hype

When I read Roger’s post Let’s skip Web 2.0 and go straight to Web 3.0 this morning, I experienced some strong feelings that I felt I wanted to elaborate on. Basically, the post is a write-up of people jumping the bandwagon, just following every new tech-hype and feel that they have to implement it.

I’m happy to call Roger a friend of mine, and generally we do agree about this topic; also my and his opinion got a little clearer after an IM conversation regarding it. But, as I wrote in my comment on his web site, I think a lot of people will always do the latest thing just because they can, and a majority will do it in an unprofessional way. Cynical, maybe, but true. I don’t think we can ever stop people from doing such a behavior. It might be driven by web developers, people in sales or whoever

So, the first point I want to stress here is that people should try out the new things, to see what it’s about and to form an opinion. Also, their responsibility and job is to do it without sacrificing things like accessibility and usability. A new technology or approach shouldn’t ruin all the work and conclusions people have come to before about what’s best practice in web development.

The second one is that if a lot of big names/pro-bloggers/(or whatever you want to call them) diss new technologies or mention them in a bad context I’m afraid that people will shy away from something that might actually be a good thing (I know Roger isn’t doing that in his post, but at first it seemed like that to me). It becomes a hype to not follow the hype, if you get me.

I think we should instead indeed embrace the hypes that come along and then carefully mould them into a good thing. Not just refrain from using it, because it has gotten popular amongst less considerate web developers.

Mr Olsson, I presume?

Last Thursday I had the immense pleasure of meeting Tommy Olsson in person. For those who recognize his name, he’s the person behind the now resting blog that contains excellent writings, The Autistic Cuckoo.

When I first started out blogging, Tommy was one of the persons that really supported and inspired me, so I was really glad to finally meet him! Tommy lives about four hours north of Stockholm, therefore we haven’t had the opportunity to meet sooner. Unfortunately we only got an hour or so together between Tommy’s Stockholm meeting and his train ride back home, but I see this more as a beginning of upcoming meet-ups than a one-time thing. 🙂

If you haven’t read his writings, I definitely recommend you taking a look. Also, the moral of this post is to make sure you meet people in real life; if you like someone’s writings, or if there’s anyone who likes what you produce, just make it happen. I think it’s important for digital friends to meet up, it’s a totally different kind of socializing that we need to combine with our life in front of computer screens.

So, if you’re in Stockholm, don’t hesitate to contact me! I love meeting people!

Have you met Tommy too? Let me know.

Desperately trying to send flowers on Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air. Or rather, it wasn’t in the air yesterday, until 20:00 last night. But let me start from the top:

Knowing that I would not get away from work yesterday, Valentine’s Day of all days, before all flower shops were closed, I decided to order flowers online instead and have them sent to Fredrika. Big mistake. Just after 08:00 I arrived at work to peacefully get online and order them before everyone else got to work. Problem 1: the customer I was working at yesterday have a web filter in which my desired flower web site was banned (trust me, I will really get back on this topic another day), but after some trickery that would involve my surfing being logged by them, I got in.

I chose a nice bouquet of red roses and clicked to get to the confirmation page, the one after you entered all the tedious details and to basically just get an overview to see if everything is correct, and then just click confirm to have them sent. Problem 2: while the page looked fine, no confirm button was to be found. My guess was, since I was using Firefox, that the web site had some inaccessible script approach that would only work in IE on a PC (I mean, we’ve all seen that one before…). So I switched to IE. Went through the same steps, got to the confirmation page, but still the same problem. No fucking confirm button!

Getting a little stressed, and at the same time being a web developer geek, I decided to look at the source code of the page to see if I could find the error and get around it somehow. Bad move. I was wading through terrible code; some of it is shared below:

<script LANGUAGE="JavaScript" TYPE="text/javascript">
if (navigator.appName == 'Netscape') {
	document.write('<input type="text" name="LevTextKort" SIZE="33" MAXLENGTH="103" tabindex="25" value="">');
else {
	document.write('<input type="text" name="LevTextKort" SIZE="48" MAXLENGTH="103" tabindex="25" value="">');
// -->


isIE4 = ((document.all) ? true : false);
isNS4 = ((document.layers) ? true : false); etc...

Very popular code approach. If this had been 1999!!!

Anyway, the reason the confirmation page wasn’t working properly was because of the fact that some non well-formed code was written to the page (actually, pretty much in line with the rest of the code, to be honest), that, in some weird way, prevented me from actually confirming my order and making it all happen. So I decided to call their customer service: the line was busy! How the hell can you have a customer service number that’s busy?! Have some kind of queue or at the very least an answering machine service explaining that there are too many calls at the moment.

Instead I called their switchboard, basically just telling them that I couldn’t confirm my purchase at their web site. After saying that, I was immediately dispatched to some person in customer service… The conversation went something like this:

– I can’t buy flowers on your web site, it’s impossible to confirm my order.
– Yes, we know, being Valentine’s Day and all, we have a lot of traffic.
Thinking: So?
-Well, ok, but the reason maybe isn’t just the traffic but that actual parts of the code is missing.
– Yes, we know, being Valentine’s Day and all, we have a lot of traffic. Also slightly insinuating that I should try later…
Ok, come on! Losing it now…
– Ok, but what should I do then? What do I do if I want to order flowers right now?!
– Are you paying by credit card?
– Yes!
– I guess I can take your order then over the phone…Sounding very uncomfortable
I exclaimed a sarcastic “Yay!” in my head

We then went through the order, which took some time, and all the time she insisted on humming. It might be soothing for some people, but it definitely wasn’t for me. I was just pacing back and forth with the phone, you know that kind of pacing that you do to get some aggression out of your system, just to make sure my tone of voice wouldn’t reveal my actual feelings.

When we were done, I finally thought things were ok and went back to work. Later, when I got home around 18:30, no flowers had been delivered. I tried to keep my calm but was probably visibly upset. I explained to Fredrika that I had ordered flowers, that I really do love her. She just shrugged and said that she hadn’t really expected anything, that it was all cool. It made me feel a little better, but mentally, while sipping the white wine and having dinner, I was already preparing for the scolding the flower company would get the day after.

The evening passed by quietly, and after Emilia had fallen asleep we were sitting on the couch, carelessly watching TV. At 20:00, I heard a car door being slammed shut just outside and just as I got up, the door bell rang. As probably all of you who have children know, a ringing door bell just after your child has fallen asleep isn’t that popular. Nevertheless, luckily Emilia seemed to keep on sleeping and I ran to the door to see who it was. And lo and behold: the flower delivery man!

He was reeking of cigarette smoke and so was the paper that surrounded the flowers, but I couldn’t really care less. The flowers had arrived! And in the poor delivery man’s defense: if I had to drive around during the evening of Valentine’s Day delivering flowers to all kinds of weird addresses, I would probably also need some kind of drug to motivate me…

So, all’s well that end well!

You want a moral to this story? Life is actually good! And, oh, don’t do e-commerce if you can’t handle it. 😉

Interviewed about Internet Explorer 7

Last week I had a little tête-à-tête with Dag König where we talked about the upcoming release of Internet Explorer 7 the latest beta preview and the future in general.

So, if that sounds interesting, or if you just want to hear my Sean Connery-like voice (yeah, right…), go listen now. The interview is unfortunately in Swedish, but, who knows, maybe the rest of you can pick up some Swedish web developing buzzwords…

Enjoy! 🙂

How evil is the target attribute?

As most of you probably know, the target attribute isn’t allowed on links in strict HTML or strict XHTML. The thinking behind this, as I’ve understood the reasons behind this decision, and as I also see it, is that there are too many web browsers out there, be it in computers, PDAs or cell phones, and there are a number of factors that applies then. The most important ones seem to be:

  • Many of them don’t support opening new windows.
  • Most computer web browsers support tabbed browsing as well.
  • It should be up to the end user, not the web site, to decide if a link should be opened in the same window, a new window or a new tab; web developers shouldn’t force such behavior on people.

While all this is good and respectful and sounds great in theory, it’s not that easy in the real world. Let me take a case in question: in one of the projects I work in, they had a demand that a link should be opened in a new window. I came up with the usual counter-arguments why we shouldn’t do that, but to no avail. However, the thing is, I partly agree with the customer and Project Manager in this specific situation; why a new window was actually somewhat motivational to use:

  • The link was to a PDF file, with all the possible problems that might come of that, and as had already happened to many users (the web site in question is live), they clicked the link and then they just totally lost touch of orientation.
  • Most people don’t understand the behavior of tabs or new windows, and a majority get confused when they get linked to another web site in the same window/tab. And yes, professional users, like I gather most of you are, have no problem, but we also have to regard our end users.

In the end, I went with using the target attribute. Sure, I could have used an unobtrusive JavaScript to add an onclick event and used, and at the same time get perfectly valid code, but then it wouldn’t be as accessible and also dependant on scripts to function properly,

So, I feel a little perplexed about this: is target really a justifiable approach in some cases (though it has been terribly misused), or is my example just the exception that justifies the rule? Should we take some responsibility in educating end users, or just deliver what they ask for?

ASK – AJAX Source Kit

Updated February 17th

Denny brought to my attention that the history and the links didn’t work flawlessly if you have the same target element for several ASK links. Therefore, I’ve now added a paremeter to the object constructor, this.useSameTargetForSeveralCalls = false; that should be set to true if you want to use the same target element for several ASK links. However, the default value is false to avoid adding links to the history if they have different target elements, and also to save performance.

Updated September 29th 2006

I’ve updated a more fail-safe way to use the XMLHTTP ActiveX object in IE, and also added proper fallbacks if the first one fails.

Also, a very minor change has been done to the event handling to cover up for a bug in IE’s garbage collector (something I hear will be addressed automatically in IE 7). In 99,9% of the cases you won’t notice any difference, but if you use it in a very advanced web site/web application it might make things better and less resource intensive.

I have always liked the approach of updating certain content on-the-fly in a web page without the need of reloading the entire content. This approach has been around for years and has fairly recently been nicknamed AJAX.

The thing with AJAX is that it needs JavaScript to work and a direct consequence surrounding its hype is that a lot of web sites have implemented it without catering to common usability and accessibility factors. This is something that has saddened me, and therefore I developed ASK – AJAX Source KIT to address that while at the same time offer a light-weight library to implement AJAX functionality without having to worry about web browser differences.

The basic idea of it is to implement AJAX without sacrificing those factors and at the same time do it in an unobtrusive way, meaning that there’s no need for any event handlers or extra elements in the HTML code. All that is needed is to include the ASK JavaScript file, assign certain class names to the elements one wants to apply the ASK functionality to, and then implement accessible as well as AJAX-enhanced versions of the content that shall be retrieved dynamically.

My ASK concept was featured in the February issue of Treehouse Magazine, where you can find a more in-depth explanation of the code and about the choices I made during its developing phase.

I should also mention that it was inspiring to read Fixing the Back Button and Enabling Bookmarking for AJAX Apps and AJAX: How to Handle Bookmarks and Back Buttons to see the problems they ran into and how they dealt with them, and then take it a notch further.

My humble hope is that by seeing this, more web developers will understand what it takes to take a considerate approach to AJAX while using it to offer end users a richer experience. Please try it out and don’t hesitate to post any questions here that you might have.


Feature code article in Treehouse

I am very proud to announce that my latest code concept, ASK, is the feature code article Easy Ajax with ASK, in the February issue of Treehouse Magazine.

I was actually asked back in Mid-November to contribute, but unfortunately I had too much things going on then, so I didn’t feel I would have the time and the focus necessary to produce something worthy of being in Treehouse. We talked back and forth and postponed it until now, but finally, here it is! 🙂

Part of me is humbly very appreciative of being asked, no less by the extraordinary people of Particletree producing Treehouse, and whose impact on the web developing scene has been tremendous; I think there are few web developers out there, at least of the blog-reading kind, that have never heard of them.

Another part of me thinks I rightly deserve this; during the last seven years I’ve put a vast amount of time into web developing and into learning and trying to become a better and more considerate web developer. To work that hard for something and to get this kind of recognition warms my heart and sends me the message that it was all worth it, it wasn’t a struggle in vain.

Tomorrow I will write a release post offering you the source code and a demo of ASK for you to try out and give me feedback about. However, that post will only be a short introduction, if you want a longer technical explanation as well as getting to know why I made the different choices I did, I strongly recommend to get a hold of the Treehouse Magazine issue (plus the fact that you will then have a day up on everyone else, since a link to the demo is in the article).

Also, nevertheless, if you’re not even slightly interested in ASK, I still recommend picking it up, because, as every issue of this magazine, it’s fascinating.


PS. Yes, apparently I’m being a little narcissistic today. Please let me just have this one, I promise I’ll be back to normal soon… 🙂 DS.

The view-opened-tabs-as-thumbnails trend

There seems to a trend now that everyone’s offering a way to view all your opened tabs in your web browser as thumbnails, inspired by the Exposé feature in Mac OS X. There’s the foXpose extension for Firefox and now IE 7 also has it as a native feature (Opera has some advanced tiling features, but I’m not sure I would say they’re the same thing).

I’m not really sure if there’s a need for this out there, or if what we’re seeing is a new need being created. While I like the idea of making switching between tabs more visual, at first I didn’t find this feature useful at all. Also, using foxPose meant that when I use it, it opens up the thumbnails in a new tab. Annoying.

But then I started using it in IE 7 and I love the simplicity of it. Just press Ctrl + Q to show the thumbnails, and then press it again to make it disappear. Very nice! The only thing in the IE 7 thumbnail view that felt a little awkward was that the scroll bar had the old Windows 2000 look, while the web browser itself had the nice XP look.

What’s your take on this? An overrated feature or something that will be default web browsing behavior in the future?


Related reading

IE 7 beta 2 – a first test drive

Microsoft has now publicly released IE 7 Beta 2 Preview, which you can download in their IE page. It is only available for Windows XP SP 2 as of now. Naturally, your favorite blogger (yeah, you know it’s true, just admit it! ;-)) has taken it out for a short test drive.

A picture of a screen dump of IE 7

The good

The interface
It has a very nice and intuitive interface. I really like the rearrangement of menus and buttons; clean and sleek.
The zoom feature
Without a doubt, this is the best feature of this release! I wrote about my opinion about this in Web browser vendors are also responsible for accessibility and this is exactly what I’m looking for. The combination Ctrl + scroll wheel or Ctrl + +/- now zooms a web page.
Searching in the history
They have added a Search History feature. Seems like a great idea, but for some reason it never worked for me.
No more almighty select elements
It works positioning elements on top of select elements so they don’t shine through. Finally!
XMLHTTPRequest support without ActiveX
XMLHTTPRequest now works even if ActiveX controls are disabled.
Anti-aliased text.
It looks like the text in the web browser now is automatically anti-aliased.
Conditional comments support and consistency
Conditional comments are still supported and in a consistent way. You can use code like this to only include code in versions of IE prior to IE 7 (most likely CSS fixes):

<!--[if lt IE 7]>
	<link rel="stylesheet" href="css/ie.css" type="text/css">

The bad

No min-width/max-width or min-height/max-height support
This isn’t just bad but outright irritating! The incorrect handling of width and height is behind many flawed layouts on the Internet, and to see that this still isn’t supported is outrageous!
Lack of support for pseudo-classes
Pseudo-classes like :hover, :focus, :after and :before have no support (except for, naturally, :hover on a elements). Microsoft claim that :hover should be supported on all CSS
elements (what the hell a CSS element is…?), but I couldn’t get it to work on any other element type.
No resizing of fonts in pixels
Resizing fonts specified in pixels still doesn’t work. To my knowledge, the only web browser on the market that doesn’t support it.
Incorrect event model
It still doesn’t support the correct DOM event model for scripting.

The terrible

I found something that shocked me when I tested this web site: no content was shown but the background color. After some research and testing, I found the error. I use an element for clearing floats that looks like this:

	clear: both;
	height: 1px;
	margin-top: -1px;
	overflow: hidden;

The result of this that everything vanished! I thought that maybe it had something to do with the margin-top or overflow property, but no. It was height: 1px that threw it off so much. And the thing is, no matter what height I set the element to, it didn’t work. I had to completely remove it, and then things worked just fine. Terrible!

Running side by side with IE 6?

Since it’s possible to run IE 5 and IE 6 side by side, I was hoping that this was also applicable to IE 6 and IE 7. I also read Matt Brett’s Running IE 7 Beta 2 and IE 6 on Windows XP post, but unfortunately it didn’t work.

I also got a really interesting dialog when I was trying to get the IE 6 stand-alone version to work:

A picture of a dialog in IE 7 saying 'Press OK to continue loading the content of this page'

Have you tested IE 7? What are your experiences and impressions?


Related links