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Failing Users

December 20th, 2009  · stk

This article was a long time in coming. Over 25 years, to be exact. However, it contains much more than observations on why software fails the users for which it's supposed to be designed. It also demonstrates a method of designing blog posts. Is it "just another post" or a "completely new website"? You decide.

Programmers Cut Off Their Noses

 
 
 

Are users ever truly satisfied with the software they use? The answer is typically "no". We need the software. We use the software. But we often don't like it. Among the reasons: it's buggy, hard to figure out, doesn't do what we want, is overly complex, the navigation sucks, it's got a steep learning curve or it's poorly documented. Take your pick. Why does software fail the very users for whom it's supposed to be designed?

 

Why Software Fails

Why Software Fails

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Updated: 4-Feb-2010
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3rd-Party Yahoos

November 9th, 2009  · stk

On October 26, 2009, Yahoo pulled the plug on millions of websites hosted on GeoCities web servers. It marks the end of an early Internet Era and one that affects no less than five of our early adventure journals. Restoration efforts are taking place. Learn more (including why the Internet is a house of cards)

26-Oct Yahoo-GeoCities Shut Down
Randsco Adventures Rescued from Ashes

On October 26, 2009, Yahoo-GeoCities shut-down their servers and immediately obliterated 15 years-worth of personal websites, made by millions of people across the world.

We rescued our early adventure journals off of GeoCities, reposting them on the Randsco domain, including: Scott's Big Ride, Rachel's 1999 Big Ride, our Oregon Cycle Tour and Wonderland Trail backpacking trip.

Begun in 1994, GeoCities spawned "neighborhoods" and by 1997, there were over a million "homesteaders" that had created personal websites. In 1999, Yahoo! bought GeoCities for $2.87 billion dollars.

GeoCities floundered under Yahoo's leadership. Terms of service changes, monthly data transfer limits, eliminating FTP access and changing advertising strategies drove users away. (We moved our home page off of GeoCities in 2003, because advertising changes interfered with visitor experience - and shared server costs were becoming affordable).

To learn more about the GeoCities shut-down, what's being done to preserve this bit of Internet history and the pitfalls of 3rd-party servers ... carry on.

GeoCities Restoration?

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Updated: 11-Nov-2009
Web View Count: 30445 viewsLast Web Update: 11-Nov-2009
Filed in:CSS
Web Dev·The Web

Better @font-face Syntax

September 4th, 2009  · stk

I recently published an article about cross-browser font embedding, using the @font-face CSS selector. It turns out that the code I put forth causes a 404 look-up in Internet Explorer. A reader has suggested some superior code, which I put to the test

Paul Irish Sets My Morning Schedule

Funny how a single comment can change the direction of my day!

Paul proposes two concepts - new to me - in his recent article, "Bulletproof Font Face Implementation":

  • Internet Explorer tries and fails to download the TTF file (with 2-selector syntax) even though the 2nd @font-face selector includes a "format" declaration.
  • He proposes a single @font-face selector, which satisfies all browsers (obviating the need for two selectors), searches the local computer for the font first and eliminates the Internet Explorer "file not found" problem.

Okay ... this is techie, geeky cool and - for sure - not everyone is going to want to read about this, so here is where you should get off the geek train (if you haven't already).

If you're all aboard, heading for geekdom and want to be cool, then read on brave web-font enthusiasts ...

I'm a Geek, I want More

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Updated: 23-Aug-2010
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Filed in:CSS
Web Dev·The Web

Improving a Lightbox Effect

August 31st, 2009  · stk

There's a spiffy-looking CSS Technique that's been getting a lot of play in the web-design and web-development social circles lately. Unfortunately, it's not a CSS technique and even as a JavaScript technique, it's crap! Did you spot it?

"Innovative CSS Technique" Making Rounds is NOT a CSS Technique

Even as a JavaScript Technique, it's Crap

This article, authored by Emanuele Feronato, has been getting some attention within the web-design and development social network recently. I've seen it Tweeted, FaceBook'd, Blogged, Digg'd and included in various "Totally Amazing CSS Techniques" lists.

On his website, Emanuele bills himself as an "Italian Geek & Programmer". Unfortunately, his article demonstrates he knows very little about web-standards, W3C validation, pure-CSS, graceful degradation, cross-browser compatibility, accessibility or white-hat SEO. He says his LightBox-like effect is "100% CSS-based" and that it's made "only with CSS - no JavaScript needed".

No JavaScript needed? What a pile of hooey!

The article is the most popular article on his blog, sporting over 252 comments and it's currently being shot across the design social circuit like it was the newest communications satellite. While some of the commentary points out the shortcomings, most (who don't know better) are lapping up this code - using it on commercial sites and passing it on.

At first blush, the technique seems very cool, but it's not code we would use and you shouldn't either. In a nutshell, out-of-the box it's crap. (Are you a web-developer, designer or programmer? Can you spot the problems?")

To learn more about why this code is crap (and to get an improved version) ... carry on ...

Turning Crapola into Shinola

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Updated: 13-Feb-2011
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Filed in:CSS
Web Dev·The Web

xBrowser Fonts

July 4th, 2009  · stk

For years, web designers and bloggers have been limited to a select number of "web-safe" fonts. With the Jun 30th release of FireFox 3.5, it's now possible for cross-browser font embedding using the CSS3 @font-face selector. Here's a tutorial to show you how

@font-face font hell

Expand Your Font Palette Using CSS3

In a tale involving proprietary font formats and a week-old release of FireFox, I'm here to say that using the CSS @font-face selector to spice up your website typography is an easy, light-weight, valid and cross-browser solution. Finally, fancy fonts for the masses!

Can this be true? You bet your sweet bippy! Read on.

 

Fancy Fonts For All

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Updated: 12-Jul-2011
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