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Twitter This, Twitter That
When the blue bird chirps, we've Tweet'd w/in the past hour.
It seems that the whole world is a-flutter, over little blue birds (which are the universal symbol for "Twitter", a increasingly popular "micro-blogging" service). Twitter is used to make 140-character comments about what you're doing. You can even embed photos, videos and links - to be rendered in-place, by browser add-on applications. Use it to keep in touch with "friends", for time-delayed "conversations", social networking, staying on top of important (and not-so important) breaking news, popular topics, wasting your employers time or digging deeper into research: trends, keywords, news and other things.
We started tweeting early this year and I finally got around to customizing a "twitter status update", which you'll find in our "Site Tools" section of our blog sidebar. It's a bit different than most Twitter status updates I've seen and here's how it works:
IF you see the blue-bird a-singing (animated musical notes), it means that we've "tweeted" within the last hour or so. Hovering over this little blue twitter bird will reveal a stylish pop-up containing our latest "tweet" (140-char story-line of "what we're doing right now"). It's a great way to see what we're up to, see how witty we can be and we think it's a nice add-on (a mini-blog, if you will).
Randsco No Longer Supports Internet Explorer Six
Last month, we made the decision to drop support for Internet Explorer version six (IE6). Visitors using this eight-year-old browser will see a pop-up information box, when they land here. The box says:
Update Your Browser
As of May 2009, we no longer support Internet Explorer 6. The reasons for this decision are many.
We strongly recommend that you upgrade your browser to a newer version. The current version is Internet Explorer 8. The upgrade is free.
Hint: For a better browser, use FireFox.
To learn about our reasoning for this move, what it means for visitors, the problems with IE6 and why FireFox beats IE hands-down ... read on.
Why We Dropped Support for IE6
IE6 is listed as #8 of The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time
Below is a short list of some of the reasons behind our decision to drop support for Internet Explorer 6:
- IE6 is old and antiquated
- IE6 is crappy compared to modern alternatives
- IE6 support costs web-developers frustration & time
- IE6 needs to go - now
IE6 Is Old
The release date for Internet Explorer Six is Aug 2001. That was before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center! IE6 is older than the iPod, the television show "24", IE5 for the Mac and the Hummer H2.
At its peak, in 2003, IE6 commanded roughly 95% of the browser market and created for Microsoft, a browser monopoly that resulted in a U.S. Justice court case against the company.
Success of IE6 is attributable to a number of factors:
- Unlike early version of Netscape & Opera, IE6 was free
- It was bundled and integrated with the most popular O/S - Windows
- It was the best browser available at the time and competitors were lacking
IE6 Is a Crappy Browser
IE6 may have been the best browser in 2001, but this is 2009 and eight years is an Eon of time, technologically speaking. Compared to modern browsers - which are many and all free - IE6 is wildly inferior. Here's a brief list of some reasons why:
- IE6 is much less secure against malware, spyware & viruses
- IE6 lacks new features like native tabbed browsing
- IE6 doesn't support transparent PNG graphic files
- IE6 doesn't support many CSS directives (e.g., :hover, :first-child & min/max-width)
- IE6 doesn't support web standards well
- IE6 work flows are slow
compared to modern browsers
Finding Directions in IE8
A good comparison of modern -vs- ancient work flows can be demonstrated by looking up directions to an address contained in an online email:
1) highlight the address in your email;
2) right-click and "copy";
3) open a new IE6 window;
4) find or type in a mapping website URL;
5) paste the address into the mapping site;
6) press [Enter] and wait for a response;
7) return to email to pick up where you left off. IE8 (modern):
1) highlight the address in your email;
2) Right-click and "Map with Live Search" As you can see, IE8 can dramatically speed up this work flow in this example, by eliminating 5 (or more) steps. Click for other new features in Internet Explorer 8
IE6 is one of The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time.
Sometimes we include a list of "additional information" links at the end of our articles. Generally, they've been styled on the fly, but we thought it was high time to spend a bit of attention on this detail. The resulting CSS-styled ordered list looks nice, includes a block hover effect, a "visited" status indicator and is XHTML/CSS valid. We thought people might like to use it on their website, so included a tutorial and ZIP file.
Adding Pizazz to an Ordered List
A lot of online articles include, at the end of the article, a list of "additional resources" - or links - for further reading and research. Several Randsco articles have such a list, but styling them is generally an afterthought, because most of the energy goes into the article itself.
Ideally, additional information links would be contained in an ordered list. It's semantically correct and allows visitors to reference a particular link by number. Unfortunately, we don't always follow our own advice and some of these links are held in simple paragraphs which may, or may not, be numbered.
Have a look at the demo page and read on to get the ZIP file, learn about the design, look at the code and see the live example.
Randsco is "published" in a French textbook, a Florida reader sent Scott a Penn State baseball hat and Oklahoma's Red Dirt Emporium donated generously to Randsco. (Hmmm ... maybe it's time I find a way to say "thanks" to everyone that's helped Randsco ... here's a start)
Some Recent Kudos
October has been another milestone month for Randsco.com. In addition to setting new records for visitation and Google AdSense revenue, there have been a number of other, off-site developments.
Two of those arrived by mail. First, we received a hard-back book. Randsco.com is now "published"! (One of our online photos was used in the book). Second, just yesterday, Scott received a surprise package. (No, it wasn't a bomb ... it was a Penn State baseball cap! We surmise that it's a "thank you" for the Geographically Challenged article, since it arrived without a note).
Over the years, we've received a variety of unsolicited, creative "thank you's" for helping with HTML code, PHP scripts and/or our CSS techniques. Two that come to mind are a hand-made Afghan rug, which we received from a U.S. Army helicopter pilot stationed in Afghanistan and the other, an Opera CD sent by a Dane, living in Spain, who's wife is a singer.
We've had it on our "to-do" list to add a section that says "thanks" for all the people that have donated, contributed or helped Randsco.com in a meaningful way. This post is a way of biting the bullet and just "starting", though it will take some time to construct something more finalized and formal.
To find out more about our plans for "thank you's" and the story behind the book, the hat and the Oklahoma PZ3 donation ... carry on
Article updated with new information from the W3C - July 2009
I've advocated for XHTML and CSS, thinking it was the future of the web. I'm no longer convinced of this. We've decided to go back to well-formed tag soup XHTML after realizing the price for serving the "application/xhtml+xml" MIME type wasn't worth the cost. Find out why
Back to XHTML v1.0 Strict and text/html
In other words: "Well-formed Tag Soup"
Since late 2005, we've been serving our pages as XHTML v1.1, using the application/xhtml+xml MIME type for those browsers - notably FireFox, Opera & Safari - that understand it. (To do this, we used server-side scripting to set the MIME type in the header. For more about the technique, read this 2005 article - "Are You Serving XHTML with the Wrong MIME Type?")
XHTML v1.1 has only negligible coding changes from XHTML v1.0 strict. However, unlike XHTML v1.0, its supposed to be served as an XML document (hence the MIME type). So what? Well, serving XML-based web documents (XHTML v1.1 as application/xhtml+xml) comes at a huge price and we're tired of paying it (and our readers are too - *cough* most notably ¥åßßå).
Originally, we viewed XHTML v1.0 as predecessor of HTML, since it was standard-based and eliminated the problems of proprietary tags and sloppy coding. We blindly migrated to XHTML v1.1, thinking we were further future-proofing our pages. HA!
The future direction of the web (XHTML and HTML) is muddled. Consider: HTML isn't being phased out; developers of browsers such as FireFox, Opera and Safari are lobbying for (and developing) HTML 5; the W3C has renewed the HTML working group; and the Chief Technical Officer of Opera says, "I don't think XHTML is a realistic option for the masses. HTML 5 is it." [sources]
To find out what price our readers will no longer have to pay, and more about XHTML v2.0 and HTML 5 ... read on