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Less Byron More Textura Design

posted by DL Byron on March 10  ·  Permalink

Jason and Jay are at SXSW Interactive this weekend talking blogs, Textura Design, and Hugger Industries. Jay’s got a power session on Monday and I’m here in Seattle working away launching new blogs and trying to get caught up on our client work.

With the two Js in Austin, it’s a good time to announce that behind the scenes, concurrent with our brand refresh, we’ve got a new design that refocuses Textura on an agency model.

That agency is less about me and more about being “a creative force specializing in business blogging for clients big and small.”

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Wall of progress

posted by DL Byron on February 23  ·  Permalink

Where some businesses may opt for a jumbotron or network computers to see their manufacturing schedule at a glance, a couple whiteboards in a meeting room, or sheet after sheet of Project printouts taped to a wall, this company does it with a floor-to-ceiling wall of progress. Periodically, the dark-haired guy next to the plant climbs the ladder and moves arrows around the various levels. When asked about the wall, a salesperson said, “that’s just how we roll.”


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Hello Hugger Industries

posted by DL Byron on January 28  ·  Permalink

In-progress and launched, Hugger Industries is the new headquarters for our blogging properties and consumer products: Snow Hugger, Bike Hugger, other huggers, Clip-n-Seal, and more unannounced products. Textura Design, Inc. (TDI) is refreshing into an agency that’s focused on blog consulting, books, and related instructional media.

At ten years old (and amazing that we’ve been around that long — word), Textura Design has split into two separate businesses: consulting and blogs. For a brief history of TDI, check the about page. Going into 2k7, we’ve staffed up with exceptional talent, and will have an incredibly busy year.

At SXSW 07 this year, we’ll chat the huggers up, talk more about the work we’re doing, and give big props to Coudal. Putting considerable thought into how to express our brand, what pure TDI is, Coudal told me, “celebrate the diversity, all that you do,” be a creative force, an agency.

Right on Jim. That’s exactly what we’re gonna do.

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Phone Home with your iPod

posted by DL Byron on January 11  ·  Permalink

Considering all the the buzz and blog posts leading up to Apple’s iPhone announcement, the instant message conversations I was having discussed the lack of excitement about another mp3 phone. The larger problem to solve is taking your “home” folder with you and that’s what Apple has done. Just like iPod + iTunes solves the problem of managing music, the iPhone is designed to solve the problem of staying in sync. Fantastic. I posted about how I can’t wait to ride with an iPhone on Bike Hugger.

On spec alone, it looks like the iPhone is actually a smart phone (a laughable marketing term describing a windows OS-based phone, which is anything but smart). Reporting from Macworld, Glenn Fleishman has written a thorough first review of the iPhone, including an update that the iPhone won’t ship with an SDK and you can’t read docs on it.

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One Small Step for a Blog....

posted by Jason Swihart on December 04  ·  Permalink

I’m in Houston for the first part of this week to help Boeing and NASA at the second annual AIAA Space Exploration Conference. Over at Textura Skunkworks, we built us a plugin for Movable Type that turns it into an audience response engine, and now we’re on site helping audience participation go where no audience has gone before.

Shana Dale—deputy NASA administrator—who announced the new NASA moonbase architecture yesterday, keynotes this morning, and then we enter a two-day space geek-out. Should be fun!

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Web Builder 2.0

posted by DL Byron on November 26  ·  Permalink

Up next on my speaking schedule is Web Builder 2.0 in Vegas from December 4th to the 6th. Web Builder is a “technical conference for professionals building the next-generation of richly-interactive Web sites.” I’ll talk about business blogging and podcasting. What’s unique about Web Builder is that it offers Web 2.0 teachings for the entire team: developer, designer, web master and manager.

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MR12 by Thierry Dreyfus

posted by DL Byron on November 15  ·  Permalink

While in San Fran, I stayed at the Le Méridien and noticed the exceptional attention to detail, including the room key swipe card (shown in photo) that corresponded to a three-month-long light installation by Thierry Dreyfus.

city merge

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Movable Type Hack-a-thon

posted by DL Byron on November 09  ·  Permalink

The day after the Business Blogging Seminars on November 14th, join your fellow designers, developers, and programmers for the first-ever Movable Type Hack-a-thon.

On topic, at the seminar and hack-a-thon, will be the new Suite Two, an “enterprise platform for blogs, wikis, RSS feed reading, and RSS feed management.”

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the Benish update

posted by Scott Benish on October 16  ·  Permalink

As Byron prepares for Spain, I’m recovering and catching up from my trips to Colorado and Hollywood. Recent items of note:

New issue of Born Magazine.

FITC Hollywood was fun.

Clam Dawgin’!

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Petaline is Fine

posted by DL Byron on October 15  ·  Permalink

Amidsts all the social networks, YouTubes, and Web 2.0s is Petaline, a site “where you’ll find a collection of handmade art, design and craft products made by a variety of independent artisans for your home + lifestyle.” Nice, simple and an effective website where a business find treasures, sells them online, and communicates with a blog.

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More than Intel Blogs

posted by DL Byron on October 12  ·  Permalink

While much of our time here in the past few months has been spent on Intel’s blogs (and there’s more coming), we also worked on

On tap are even more blogs, a new book-related project, and more huggers.

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Intel blogs

posted by DL Byron on October 10  ·  Permalink

The IT@Intel blog went live today. Much collaboration, design, code, meetings (lots of meetings) and thought went into the launch. Textura Design is very proud of the work, especially Scott and Mathew’s design/code, Tim Appnel’s programming, and Six Apart’s Movable Type Enterprise.

I’ll talk more about corporate blogging at upcoming events, including the Blog Business Summit, Six Apart’s seminars, Web Builder 2.0 and Web Design World Boston.

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Your Beta is boring

posted by DL Byron on October 04  ·  Permalink

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the hard work, the promise of code, new ideas, or bloggy concepts, but man do I ever grow weary of betas. Beta this, beta that, delayed or not. It’s like as busy as everyone is, just tell me when it’s done, release it as a preview or whatever you want to call it. Beta as a term has lost any real meaning other than “work in progress, when we get to it, please indulge us, and give us your time.”

c3po At least with Vox, they’re calling it a preview and I like checking it out cause it’s changing all the time — the preview is a constant iteration. For example, today, my login screens shows a Warhol like stack o’ C-3P0s.

And with Newsvine it was cool, cause you got to actually work on a mostly done product before anyone else. Like you were in a club with Mike D, not just featuring requesting and hoping your little peeve makes it into the build.

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Browse me no questions and I'll tell you no lies

posted by DL Byron on August 22  ·  Permalink

The details of the CSS changes in IE7 have been posted and that’s a “slew of” fixes. In other exciting browser news, see the 4th bullet on the recent webkit features lists that notes “much improved support for HTML editing.”

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Apply ad links directly to your forehead

posted by DL Byron on July 31  ·  Permalink

Worse than those, apply directly to your forehead (wash, rinses repeat 3 times) ads are those damn, obnoxious link ads by linksyngergy showing up on various websites, including macdailynews. Not only are they cluttering crap, but also are firing on irrelevant keywords. Let’s hope that either they go away soon or someone figures out how to block them directly in the browser. Specifically, these are the ads that hover on what appears to be link, but it’s not, it’s an ad and from Kontera. Tricking consumers, like with pop up windows, is never good, evil even.

As much criticism as I have for Google’s terribly executed web apps, they do have contextual text ads down.

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Too much sexy on Vox

posted by DL Byron on July 06  ·  Permalink

I do dig Vox, it’s cool for social blogging and posting more random topics, but the UI is quickly approaching “whackness” and in danger of suffering from all the whizzy-whiz bangy that plagues Web 2.0. “Form, function, less is more,” even “getting real” all sums up my complaints when there’s so much to do on that cluttered UI. I can explore, compose, edit, join, invite, organize, design and well, geezus, I just want to post about Matt being Mac Book Man.

When I’m in that Vox interface, I imagine it was designed from a meeting room whiteboard that has a bunch of feature stickies plastered all over it and the meetings were like, “we could do this and this and that and wow this.” I’m sure there are thoughtful hard working designers toiling away on Vox and maybe their hopes for minimalism were sucked into the vortex of marketing and VC deliverables. Not sure, but I do hope in later revs to see way less on that screen.

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Even Freshier

posted by DL Byron on March 10  ·  Permalink

While I’m at SXSW working the book, the crew is working on a redesign of the Clip-n-Seal website. The goal is to make it even freshier, updated, and of course sell more Clip-n-Seals! We’ll roll it out soon.

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Next Generation of Design

posted by DL Byron on February 08  ·  Permalink

User Experience & Interaction Designer and blogger Jason Fields leads a discussion tonight about designing the next-generation of products at the IDSA LA chapter. Jason reviewed and became a fan Clip-n-Seal way early on, noting the study in minimalism.

My question to Jason is if he’s seeing the blog aesthetic in new consumer products. Just like the iMac affecting a whole range of products (including the Foreman Grill), are blogs having a similar affect? Are big fonts and mashupped text appearing in product packaging? Are product designer Getting Real with their goods?

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Virtual Seminar questions

posted by DL Byron on January 26  ·  Permalink

Q/A with M. Morton during the virtual seminar

M. Morton

I fail to see how a business-to-business Internet company’s message on a blog remain professional and list things like “On a Lazy Sunday” on its blog. Am I missing something?
Good question. That example is from my personal blog, which mixes personal and business. For a business, you’d post about your business or your expertise in the field, but remember that blogging is not press releasing. You’ll want to open up a bit more and offer a casual voice, less formal topics than typical marketing. If you liked “On a Lazy Sunday,” post about it and chances are your customers liked it as well.

Andrea J.

Is it better to use “comments”, “trackbacks” or both? Why?
Comments are going to be the conversation. Tracbacks are the related conversation, but are just the servers between the blogs talking to each other. In other words, comments are humans conversing and trackbacks are servers talking to each other. Both are good, but also susceptible to spammers who will flood comments and trackbacks with junk posts.

Bill K.

How hard is it to (or is it possible) install a reader on my site? So my site can gather information and act like a news resource?
It’s not hard at all. You can use all sorts of tools, like reblog.org.

Blogs I mentioned

Related & Upcoming

Essentials of Business Blogging Seminar.

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MarketingProfs Webinar Today

posted by DL Byron on January 26  ·  Permalink

I’m speaking about business blogging today with Anil Dash and Paul Paul Rosenfeld during a MarketingPros Webinar. Anil is covering the technology, Paul a case study about Quickbooks Online Edition, and I’ll discuss design, creativity, and being crazy for the cupcakes cousin.

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Born Magazine delivery (Winter Issue)

posted by Scott Benish on January 19  ·  Permalink



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Now with Video!

posted by DL Byron on January 16  ·  Permalink

My family surprised me with an iPod with Video on my birthday. Nice! So, I spent a good day discovering all I could do with it, including ripping a DVD and watching it on the iPod

The latest version of QuickTime has an export to iPod function to convert video, including your home movies, porn, or whatever you want. I’m also going to try out my presentations on my iPod and, at the least, use the iPod as a backup instead of burning CDs.

On video in iTunes, Frank Steele noticed that you can now stream video with iTunes. I tried it and it works, but only with video purchased from the Music Store.

Finally, for podcasting, if the formats are confusing, see audioblog’s new on-the-fly transcoding to iPod video format feature. I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out why the pugcasts weren’t in a compatible format. It’d be real nice to not have to worry about any of that.


A quick chat with Mike D. and I learned that you can record from the Comcast HD box to your Powerbook and then, of course, to your iPod. See this tutorial from MacTeens.

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Randy Baseler Looks Back Over "The Year of the Blog"

posted by on December 22  ·  Permalink

It’s a reflective time of year - when we look back over our lives the past year and think about what’s gone wrong, and what’s gone right.

For Boeing this year, a lot has gone right, as Randy Baseler recently wrote on his blog, Randy’s Journal. In particular - he was happy to report about his first year in the blogosphere:

Finally, for me, on top of all the highs of the year, and all of my travels, this has been the year of the blog. This little experiment - launched on the eve of the first flight of a superjumbo in France - has taken off in ways I don’t think any of us really expected. Over the past 11 months, we’ve had nearly 200,000 visits to this site, from blog readers around the globe.

You’ve certainly told me when you think we’re off-base. And your suggestions have made this a better blog. Many of you have cheered along as we made history with the 777-200LR, and the launch of the 747-8. Your thoughtful and intelligent comments and your continued interest in the world of commercial aviation are what sustain this Journal. And I can’t wait to see what the next year brings for blogging, aviation and Boeing.

Until then, I hope it’s a great holiday time for you, and we’ll have more fun discussions in 2006!

We would also like to wish you all a very happy holiday season.

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Born Magazine at Flash Forward in Seattle

posted by Scott Benish on December 20  ·  Permalink

Byron just restored my username (lost in the big server switch) and I'm back for my bi-yearly post. This time with a bit of Born Magazine news:

Born's art director, Gabe Kean, witll be speaking at Flash Forward in Seattle on March 1st, 2006. Full details after the link...


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Boeing Gets a New Look

posted by on December 13  ·  Permalink

Boeing has changed the look of its site, getting rid of the old FLASH site and moving to an XML format that is much more standards compliant.

Said Boeing Web Designer Chris Brownrigg, “although not perfect, this redesign represents Boeing’s effort to highlight our products and services in a scalable, accessible and sophisticated format.”

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A sit down with Microsoft

posted by DL Byron on November 04  ·  Permalink

The hive is abuzz after Molly and I had a sit down with Microsoft to talk about standards, their upcoming tools, and specific questions from Dave Shea about IE 7. As Molly noted, “Bridges have been built, and we at the hive are confident that we can continue to be an encouraging, supportive resource for Microsoft developers, no matter where their business strategy might lead.” We’ll meet again, live, on stage at SXSW the WaSP Task Force panel.

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Office Live or Dead

posted by DL Byron on November 02  ·  Permalink

A day of contrasts with Microsoft: Molly and I meet with MS to discuss their new designer/developer products and at the same time Office Live is announced. After such a great meeting, I couldn’t bring myself to look at Office Live, expecting it to be, well, horrible. A see no evil approach, at least for today.

Where the team we’re meeting with is really doing good work with Standards, Ray Ozzie is announcing Sharepoint on the Web, all bCentral style, a small business portal document thingy. Wagstaff interviews Fried about Office Live and I wondered

  • Ray Ozzie! That’s what they’ve got him doing … Sharepoint on the Web?
  • MS, once again, seem to be scrabbling for relevancy
  • Is this the final result of the great MS internet turnaround from the 90s? They’ve been working on it since then?

I’m sure when Scoble’s blog is back up, a steady drumbeat will start about Office Live and how officey and live it is, while I bet most of us, would rather just log into Basecamp. As Jason said, “Simple tools that do a few things really well.” Not a bloated application, bloated even larger on the web.


Molly blogs the WaSP/MS meeting

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Business Blogging 101 Seminar

posted by DL Byron on October 13  ·  Permalink

Later this month, on October 29th, I'll speak about blog design at the Business Blogging 101 Seminar. Steve Broback, Molly E. Holzschlag, Robert Scoble, and Buzz Bruggeman will join me and we'll cover, "everything you need to know to get blogging now." The cost is $195.00 and you can register now.

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Browser Detection Gone Bananas

posted by DL Byron on October 04  ·  Permalink

View any of the Gap sites in Safari or any Apple browser for that matter and watch the bizarro loop happen. If you switch your user agent to force the site to think you're MSIE 6.0, you get in, though the layout is broken. This is the site that has been lauded in the tech press for coding some break-though, all-in-one page, e-commerce thingy. Their engine works great, if you can like get to it. The dangers of browser detection, redirection, and just plain stupid development have been discussed ad-nauseam for as long as I can remember. And this comes just when you'd think Standards-based design was making gains, as discussed on Robert's Talk.

Most interesting, is when the site launched a few weeks ago, you could get in, it worked OK, and it uses Standards-based design techniques. My guess is that the developers noticed, "hey this code is broken on Opera or whatever, " we've got to detect and redirect them away to another site with less of the million dollar code we just wrote. As flawed as that logic is, you don't actually go to another less Web 2.0, superfantastic site, but instead a loop of nothingness. Even worse is that dreaded, "your browser is not supported page," which is where the loop is probably trying to send you.

Part of what I lecture about at the Blog Business Summit is how Standards are built into blogging and the difference that makes to bloggers because they don't have to think about it; instead, just worry about all the content you're going to write. Standards matters now, more than ever, because of all the convergent/divergent devices that people are using to browse the web. There's absolutely no good reason to lock your code into one platform or browser. You can learn more about Standards and browsers at WaSP, A List Apart, and an An Event Apart.

Hat tip to Mac Daily News.

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inFlightHQ Finally Flies

posted by DL Byron on September 19  ·  Permalink

inFlightHQ officially launched today and props are in order

inFlightHQ is part of our small network

Note: more than 3 blogs make it’s a network …

inFlightHQ has been soft-launced for a while, like an ever-present beta, and Gadling noticed, as well as Fast Company Now.

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Microsoft’s got issues

posted by DL Byron on September 16  ·  Permalink

There couldn’t have been a more eloquent follow up to my Microsoft and the iPod Nano post. The reports from the PDC and then BusinessWeek’s Troubling Exits At Microsoft that asks, “anyone listening?”

My car was being serviced at a Bellevue dealership, that’s Microsoft country, and the dealership shuttle driver asked if I was Microsoft. That started a conversation that eventually concluded with the driver telling me that there’s a darkness over the Microsoft employees shuttled around everyday from the dealership to the Redmond campus and back.

The driver got a bit spiritual and went on to say that there’s a real disconnect between the passion of the employees and the bureaucratic managers. “The lifeforce, down in the gut, can’t make it up to the brains that are driving the company. So that creativity is lost in the fat of the company.” She went on to describe a few lost souls that were so tied into the trappings of Microsoft that she was sad for them. They’d told her they really wanted to be someone else, but were lured into the opportunity that Microsoft presents.

Microsoft certainly does present opportunities with incredibly smart people, but then you read a quote like this from the chair-throwing Ballmer

“We won the desktop. We won the server. We will win the Web. We will move fast, we will get there. We will win the Web.”

That statement has already been parsed by Molly and she responded with a fiery post and I agree with her, “No Mr. Ballmer, you will never win the Web for one very good reason: We the people will make sure you never do.”

When the shuttle driver asked me if I was Microsoft, I said, “No. I did my time there and I think it’s better for me to be a voice that isn’t Microsoft.” To do my part, with Molly, to make sure Ballmer never wins the Web. I also remembered Riding With Asp.Net and meeting Eilon and the goodwill with Microsoft. It’s just getting harder.


Todd Bishop reports on the reaction to the BusinessWeek article, including quotes from Scoble, and “Microsoft’s Deep Throat”

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Microsoft and the iPod Nano

posted by DL Byron on September 12  ·  Permalink

After reading the Time article about how Apple made the ipod Nano and this quote

What's really been great for us is the iPod has been a chance to apply Apple's incredibly innovative engineering in an area where we don't have a 5%-operating-system-market-share glass ceiling," Jobs says. "And look at what's happened. That same innovation, that same engineering, that same talent applied where we don't run up against the fact that Microsoft got this monopoly, and boom! We have 75% market share."

I thought that Microsoft should issue all of its employees a Nano and then have them report back a week later on why they can't make a product like that. Microsoft has the funds, the smarts, but the creativity is burdened by the weight of their monopoly. That's never been more evident than with the Nano. You go MS with another bloated Word feature, while the world embraces the modernism, the simplicity, form and function of the Nano. Even a post a day from Scoble can't get the sales figures up on Tablet PCs. And tell me again that design doesn't matter. 75% market share based on best-in-class design proves that claim wrong.

Stuff that in your brand gap

Another quote to pull from the Time article is this one about how Apple replaced a hit product only 11 months into its life cycle.

It was a gutsy play, and it came from the gut: unlike almost any other high-tech company, Apple refuses to run its decisions by focus groups.

Coincidentally, I just finished reading the Brand Gap. It's a great book that talks about bridging the distance between business strategy and design and doing some of that with focus groups. Apple dispenses focus groups for guts, intuition, determination, and a small team. Makes you wonder how focused grouped Tablet PCs, Windows Vista, and more are.

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at the Blog Business Summit

posted by DL Byron on August 17  ·  Permalink

I'm at the Blog Business Summit this week talking about design, selling products, and blog engines.

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A few circles

posted by DL Byron on August 12  ·  Permalink

Going into the Blog Business Summit next week, a few full-circles are worth noting

  • I left Boeing to dotcom, then dotbomb (Webforia), and I’m back blogging
  • Was laid off from Wagged, during the dotbomb, and they’re now sponsoring the Summit and speaking at it.
  • I did my dotcom penance with a year at Microsoft. While there, I evangelized blogging and most had no idea what I was talking about. They’re now sponsoring the Summit and keynoting.
  • I hired a developer to help with a redesign project, so I can focus on the blog book. The original design was included in Zeldman’s book.

And a few more topics

  • I joke that I knew Keith when he coded his first P tag. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but we do go way back. He’s getting married, starting his own blog consultancy, and more. Good luck Keith and congratulations.
  • Over the weekend, I'll revise and update 3 presentations on blog design, blogs that sell, and blog platforms.

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Born Magazine : Summer 2005 Release

posted by DL Byron on July 22  ·  Permalink

Born Magazine's Summer 2005 issue is up at: www.bornmagazine.org. Lots of great stuff in this issue.

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Web Design World & Stratoblog

posted by DL Byron on July 19  ·  Permalink

I speak this morning about blog design at Web Design World Seattle and then will join my fellow bloggers on the Stratoblog for the Blogging the Stratosphere event. The event is an exclusive flight onboard Connexion One, a Boeing 737-400 used to demonstrate the Connexion by Boeing signature high-speed in-flight Internet service.

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Riding with asp.net

posted by DL Byron on July 14  ·  Permalink

I meet Eilon, an asp.net developer, on a bike ride yesterday. Funny sometimes how small this world is. I flatted and he stopped to help. We started talking and waddya know, it lead to Internet Explorer, Web Standards, WaSP, tabbed browsing, and geek talk. I've been chatting and meeting with his bosses to collaborate with Microsoft to promote web standards.

Nice guy and good to continue the goodwill with Microsoft. I also noted, how he we stayed wheel to wheel, up the climbs and on the trail.

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posted by DL Byron on July 11  ·  Permalink

Anticipating the Blogging the Stratosphere event next week, I updated the Stratoblog with participants, Technorati Tags, and a trackback ping page. The event is an exclusive flight onboard Connexion One, a Boeing 737-400 used to demonstrate the Connexion by Boeing signature high-speed in-flight Internet service.

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The Charge of the Blog Brigade

posted by DL Byron on July 11  ·  Permalink

The embrace and extend term didn’t go unmentioned when Microsoft announced its support for RSS. While you didn’t hear much of it from the RSS Lovefest that was Gnomedex, it was quickly added to the WikiPedia, moved up in Google, and the Register. Today, the PI reports on how MS employees are creating podcasts and calling them blogcasts to avoid mentioning Apple’s iPod.

When Wired published Hide Your IPod, Here Comes Bill , you could read about an MS culture clash, lead, in part, by Scoble who responded to the Wired article by proclaiming, “I’m not supposed to have an iPod? Hogwash!” In that post, Scoble says, “I think it’s a positive thing to study your competitors and figure out what they’ve done well and look at what you aren’t doing well and improve it.” Exactly and that follows the changes in communication that Scoble and Shel are writing about in Naked Conversations. Then how does renaming pop technoculture, or creating a nonApple umbrella brand called Plays for Sure (everything but Apple), to suit your business do that? It doesn’t.

Eric Rice chatted with me about this topic today and said that, if given an opportunity to start over with a name, he’d call it “spacecasting.” On Pug Blog, we call it “pugcasting,” as a dog joke and on the Stratoblog we’ll call it “stratocasting.” Unfortunately, it’s too late for a better name for “podcasting and when Microsoft bloggers do it, just to not mention iPods, they’re bullying the blogosphere. Embrace and extend is their own blog burden to bear and they should know that.

While Scoble leads the charge of the blog brigade at Microsoft, it’s apparent there’s dissension in the troops and an underlying idignant “not invented here.” Is Microsoft listening to Scoble or just to themselves? Scoble and more Microsoft bloggers will be at the next Blog Business Summit and this topic is sure to come up.

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Pottery Barn Spam

posted by DL Byron on July 07  ·  Permalink

The Pottery Barn spams me. Like everyone else, I get spam everyday. The difference with Pottery Barn is I wondered why a company that wins awards for their branding is spamming me and why don't they stop.

The number one bullet item on the next Brand and Position PowerPoint presentation Pottery Barn executives see from their PR firm should be, "don't spam" and then "check yourself on Google." Why? See Dell, Travelocity, and more who discover (or are clueless) that their customers hate them.

What annoyed me the most is that I went as far as calling Customer Care and said, "take me off your list." I'm sure customer care lady just said yes and it ended there. I also "unsubscribed" just to see what that would do and nothing, just more summer glassware sale emails.

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Webvisions 2005

posted by DL Byron on July 05  ·  Permalink

Webvisions 2005 is next week and I'll be speaking about blogging and convergence and digital devices, which is the theme of the event

Join the giants of the Web world to explore the future of design, content creation, technology and business strategy. From podcasting to universal usability, you'll discover how the Web is interacting with digital devices to change the way we communicate, access information and do business.

Webvisions rocked last year, with huge crowds, a good vibe, and a stellar lineup.

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WaSP to Collaborate with Microsoft to Promote Web Standards

posted by DL Byron on July 05  ·  Permalink

WaSP formally announced a collaboration with Microsoft to promote Web standards and help developers build standards conformant Web applications. WaSP’s goal is to provide technical guidance and advice as the company increases Web standards support in its products including Microsoft Visual Studio and ASP.NET. There’s an official press release and Molly is accepting comments and trackbacks on her blog.

Devil dancin’

As a member of WaSP and the Task Force, I can say much work has gone into the announcement and there’s more to come. The Task Force and our new relationship with Microsoft came out of SXSW, as blogged by Scoble. At SXSW, Scoble felt snubbed (he wasn’t), excluded and surprised by the Acid Test, and from there we emailed, flamed, posted, argued, calmed down and then starting talking productively. I had lunch a few weeks ago with members of the IE team and can say that as passionate as WaSP is, if Microsoft wasn’t serious and genuine, we wouldn’t be talking and working together. They are, we are, and it’s going to make a difference in developing standards conformant Web applications.

As we’ve seen with blogging applications, the real growth in Standards-based design, besides all of us that toil by hand, is in the tools.

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PML 1.0 Specification

posted by DL Byron on June 30  ·  Permalink

I’d been joking for months in IM convos about a new macroformat, Porno Markup Language, or , and DaveZilla posted on it today. Dave riffed on the joke and wrote the faux spec. Responding quickly, DantedCubed, offered some compliant code.

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Haydn Student Trumpets Blog Launch

posted by DL Byron on June 20  ·  Permalink

Damian Conrad - the man behind the Clip-n-Seal photos - emailed me last month and inquired about adding a blog to a site of his. Well, the Textura Design team is no stranger to blogs and in short order we put together the recently launched Haydn Student Trumpets Blog.

We advised that one of the best ways to gain an audience is to post frequently and provide high quality content that people will enjoy. He's already off to an impressive start and hopefully trumpeters around the web will quickly discover this great new resource.

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Starvin Arvin's Happy Penis

posted by DL Byron on June 15  ·  Permalink

Phallic Logo A few minutes outside of the Montrose Airport, driving past strip malls, I spotted the Happy Penis logo and didn’t stop to take a photo. On the way back, I insisted we stop, did a quick u-turn, and shot it.

I missed the judging for B3TA’s Phallic Logo Awards, but think the Happy Penis may have won. It was awesome at full neon road-sign size. The reader board next to the logo said, “Dinner Smothered Pork Chops,” which seemed appropriate.

MSNBC recommended Starvin’s earlier this year, but failed to mention the attention-grabbing logo. Same thing with TruckerPhoto.com, who raved about the found.

Side note, Tom the Trucker offers full-on blogging with trip reports, photos, and podcasts.

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Colorado Keynote

posted by DL Byron on June 08  ·  Permalink

I posted the slides from my keynote in Colorado to sampleblog.com, a blog we created just for presentations and lectures. I'll also photo blog there with more on Telluride, riding at 10K feet, and the gondola ride.

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The next Blog Business Summit

posted by DL Byron on June 06  ·  Permalink

The next Blog Business Summit will be in San Francisco, August 17 - 19. A Blogging 101 seminar has been added to the event. The speakers and sessions will be announced as soon as they're finalized. I'll be speaking about design, blogging business, and just hanging out in San Fran.

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Keynoting in Colorado

posted by DL Byron on May 31  ·  Permalink

Next week I'll be in Telluride, Colorado keynoting the Annual Meeting of the Colorado Ski Country. I'll discuss 11 years of the web, where it's been, where it's going, and why blogging matters. I'll also cover how blogs are changing business and the way we communicate.

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Sample Blog

posted by DL Byron on May 21  ·  Permalink

I spoke at the AIGA Currents9 Influenced conference yesterday and created a sample blog for the event. It's appropriately called, "Sample Blog," and includes slides and links on Blogging your portfolio and Designing with standards. The blog was created in part to show how quickly you can start blogging and as a blogging sand box, where I'll sample various blogging technologies, memes, and more.

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posted by DL Byron on May 17  ·  Permalink

I'll be speaking about Standards-based design and blogging this friday at the AIGA's Currents9 event. The organizers have put together an impressive schedule. I'll have Clip-n-Seal samples and deals on Photoshop training DVDs with me. Please say hello and I'll see you there.

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A Widget in your BackPack

posted by DL Byron on May 10  ·  Permalink

Creature Widget Apple’s Dashboard and widget’s may prove to be even more important to computing and design than Spotlight. I saw it this morning, when my daughter checked the weather widget to plan what to wear for the day. She also clicked around on a few others, including the time and creatures in my head. With widgets, all those little computer utilities are in one convenient place. That’s not a new concept, a desktop portal, but I think for the kids, it’s just click on this icon, and another, get what you want, and go about the rest of your day. There's a change in how we access information. It’s going to desktop portals and search and that’s going to impact the way designers think about information architecture, user experience, and design.

An example of this change in thinking is 37 Signal’s Backpack, a great new web-based PIM. I tried it out last week, clicked around for a few, and then thought that all of the meetings where I would use it are with clients and I don’t have access to the internet when I’m on site with them. A Backpack widget that I could use offline, then upload and share when connected would help me with clients, in meetings, and on the plane. Even better if that widget could be synced and Spotlighted. Then I wouldn’t have to search the Backpack site for my meeting notes, but could Spotlight them. Discussing this topic with me in an instant message, Nick Finck said, “information is going towards microinformation … when we want to know what something is we don’t want to have to dig through a whole encyclopedia. we just want the short 2 sentence result.” Right. Check the Web 2.0 article on Digital Web.

Note, Backpack is a great product that users are raving about. My thoughts aren’t intended to point out any defect in their product, but instead are forward looking. I’m also thinking about blog design in the same way. Will users want to click through your blog, it’s categories and permalinks, or just search for topics. Clip-n-Seal is included in a chapter of Scoble and Shel Israel’s blogging book and I can’t find it on their book blog. The chapter was there last week and it’s somewhere now, but it would be nice if I could search that site, rather than click through every page. When Spotlight is extended to RSS then we’ll really have something. As Nick continued, “imagine… search: kottke, independent … 6,200 results, here are the top 5 most popular ones verified and 1 through 3 are emails between you and him about it.. maybe 4 is a paypal receipt of the money you sent him.. and 5 is the original post he made on his blog about it.”

Related posts

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AMP Do Good

posted by DL Byron on April 21  ·  Permalink

Create PosterLucky I didn’t delete the email from Right Brain Terrain in my spam filter, ‘cause they’re selling Alternative Motivational Posters (AMP) that do good for the creative types in the office. There’s no guy leaping a dangerous gorge or soaring eagle imagery in these posters. Instead beautiful, poetic, design that’s coming from people that obviously love what they’re doing. Scroll through their blog and find a collection of designy sites that have linked and posted on them as well. I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but I think we could say that Clip-n-Seal is an “Alternative Bag Clip.”

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PowerPoint is a distraction

posted by DL Byron on April 20  ·  Permalink

One of my favorite passages from the La Vida Robot story I blogged about a couple weeks ago:

"Why don't you have a PowerPoint display?" he asked.

"PowerPoint is a distraction," Cristian replied. "People use it when they don't know what to say."

"And you know what to say?"

"Yes, sir."

I wonder if Cristian is a fan of Tufte?

That's not to say that you can't do good or interesting things with PowerPoint, but I wish more people saw it as the crutch that it is.

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A shot across IE's bow

posted by DL Byron on April 13  ·  Permalink

In another example of why I design, develop, and test for Internet Explorer last, Dave Hyatt responds to the release of the Acid2 Test by jumping right in, testing his browser, and blogging the whole process. Compare to that to Scoble’s initial response and the lack of any word yet from Microsoft and you can nearly conclude that MS just doesn’t care. I say nearly because Scoble has been working on connecting WaSP and the IE team, but soon the time will come when the creative professionals and developers may say, “put up or shut up.”

The reasons to speculate on why MS doesn’t care are endless. They’re not cool, there’s no money in Standards, they’re too big, security, etc. What I’ve concluded is that IE is a huge dev time suck and I’m not alone. My clients feel the same way. Early this year, we delivered a project that was spec'd specifically for Firefox and not IE. One client emailed

"I'm a Mozilla convert. Not that I liked IE that much anyway, but I really dig Mozilla. If it only worked for MS active-x crap then I could ditch IE all together."

It’s guaranteed in a project that IE will be the most troublesome to deal with and you can find comments in code like:

  • /* added to workaround an IE 5 Mac bug, IE/Win seems to need it too */
  • /* hide the HR from CSS browser that use the above styles, necessary because IE Win is inept at styling HRs */
  • /* for smart browsers */

And those comments are rather tame. View source on sites and you'll find worse. Talented and smart developers work at MS and updates to their dev products are expected to improve standards support. Those guys, including Robert get it, but IE is still their Achilles’ heel. Our struggles are nothing to compared to what I expect a software company, especially Microsoft, must have when dealing with IE.

Congrats to Dave Hyatt and the community for a positive response to the Acid2 Test. Microsoft, you're up next. Robert and all of us have done our part. The time is now.

For more on Acid2 Test, see the WaSP press release. Also note that I'm a member of WaSP.


Dave Hyatt's has nearly completed the test and Dean Edwards is tracking it on his site and predicting a horse race. Mozilla is tracking and discussing Acid2 on Bugzilla.

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Blogging 101 Seminar Slides

posted by DL Byron on April 11  ·  Permalink

Here are slides for the 21 Century Coaching SIG seminar today

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Sometimes a button isn't just a button

posted by DL Byron on April 07  ·  Permalink

I've been working with a company on their business blog and we soft launched it earlier this week. An email quickly came in wondering why code shows up in the browser when you click on a newsfeed link. The discussion continued to orange buttons and I explained that there''s more to the orange button than a pretty button.

By using a text link instead of a button you call less attention to a geek feature and still meet the needs of advanced users. You can link to a what's a feed page or use Feedburner, which preprocesses the feed into html. You also stay neutral on a standards debate and offer all syndication forms. Considering a broader audience on a business blog, it's better to not call a reader's attention to a shiny button that'll just confuse them.

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La Vida Robot

posted by DL Byron on April 05  ·  Permalink

There's a great story in this month's Wired about 4 immigrant kids from Phoenix who beat a team from M.I.T. (and everyone else) at the national underwater bot championship.

I thought is was a great story - funny, heartwarming and inspirational - and I dropped Joshua Davis (the author) an email to let him know how much I enjoyed it.

Josh told me the teachers have set up a scholarship fund for the kids. I happily donated some money and humbly suggest you 1) read the story, 2) donate and 3) spread the word: La Vida Robot Scholarship.

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A little soft shoe

posted by DL Byron on March 22  ·  Permalink

sxsw I've been speaking lately, on the road, with more gigs coming up. Following the SXSW Panel, which rocked, yesterday's session didn't go so well. I didn't feel that I was connecting with the crowd and figured it out 1/2 way through when an audience member said, "what's RSS, what's a podcast . . . I'm lost." And damn, there it was, the session was going over their heads. Molly will speak today on the How/Why of Blogging and that session should've come first in the schedule. It was my mistake to be so involved in blogging that I forget to go over the basics. I also learned to be ready with the soft shoe, a little time-stretching entertainment, to keep a presentation going, when the crowd response is flat. Some humor and a good laugh could help.

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Watch this blog

posted by DL Byron on March 22  ·  Permalink

As noted during my Web Design World presentation, we're going to build the CS Tutorials Blog live during the next few weeks. You're welcome to tune in and see how it evolves from the standard Movable Type template to this comp. For more on the presentation, see the slides.

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Changing the world with podcasts

posted by DL Byron on March 22  ·  Permalink

I've been a skeptic of podcasts, as yet another meme to pay attention to and if it would actually take off. When speaking and evangelizing, I'm reminded constantly of how small blogging actually is. I just spoke to a crowd at Web Design World and 1/2 of them had little idea of business blogging or blogging in general. We're making progress, as noted by all the recent press, but it's not as mainstream as we hope. RSS and Podcasts are even smaller.

Today, the news broke that Warner Brothers is sponsoring the Eric Rice show. That's Warner fucking Brothers. Eric is on a mission to change the world with podcasts, even if a little, and that's a big win. I expect more sponsors to follow.

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Do not Look at Zeldman

posted by DL Byron on March 14  ·  Permalink

I was flattered and a bit concerned about seeing Zeldman, stage left, 3rd row back, sitting directly in front of me at the SXSW Panel. I thought, at any moment, he could make a face, mouth the words, "assface" or "Madonna's cone bra," or something, and totally crack me up. So, I reminded myself, "do not look at Zeldman." Later, once the panel had a good groove going, I did catch a smile and a nod from Z-man and thought, "Cool. This is going well." Highlights for me from the panel were asking Scoble who designed his site and Jason's insistence that you drop the f-bomb on your business blog. ()

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Gladwell at SXSW 2005 - but where do we go from here?

posted by DL Byron on March 13  ·  Permalink

Malcom Gladwell’s keynote was pretty good. He had some interesting things to say and was a good speaker (animated, engaging, funny).

I understand why he spoke at (as the introducer said, interweb geeks are in to his stuff), but I was left thinking: where do we go from here? How do we apply these ideas (snap judgements & how/when they are good and/or bad) to the stuff we’re doing? Or, what I’m doing (mostly designing web sites, CD-ROMs and web applications).

People make snap judgements - sometime good, sometimes bad, but they happen nonetheless. OK - fair enough. So, maybe we can follow that idea and say people make snap judgements when they first look at a web site. Let’s say that they not only make these judgements about the web site, but about the company, and it’s products or services. This is a theory I’ve espoused to clients for awhile. Your web site can’t suck because it’s a reflection of your company/organization. Sort of a no-brainer.

And assuming this hypothesis is true: so what? What can we do about that? Well, we can make sure that sites are well designed. But we’re already trying to do that, so I’m not sure there is anything new here.

Then there is the idea that sometimes people make better decisions with less information. Maybe you can boil that down to: less clutter (information), more clarity. Again, not an unfamiliar idea. But when does this apply and when doesn’t it? Good designers already advocate reducing unnecessary information - the question becomes: which things can we get rid of. That is a very difficult question. Clients always want to add more stuff, include everything they can (“It’s the web, we can put everything up there!”)

Knowing that less information can be better is one thing, being able to determine which is the important stuff is quite another. And my sense is the answer is never quite the same.

In the example of the doctors who more accurately diagnose heart attacks with only 4 key pieces of information, it took extensive research to figure that out. I haven’t read Blink, so I don’t know if there are other examples where the solutions were a little easier to get to. In the interactive world do we have the time, money, desire and patience to do a bunch of research about how removing seemingly necessary things might help improve a web site? (“Seemingly necessary” being the key phrase there - this assumes that we’ve already gotten rid of all the obvious cruft.)

I know most (all?) of my projects don’t have the resources to chase such an elusive, uncertain goal. What if we do all that work and simply discover that there is no way to improve on what we already have? Or what if the results show that different people respond drastically different to various things? People process things differently and look for different things, how do you serve all those needs elegantly? With so many variables at play, is it even worth the risk?

Gladwell is clearly a thinker, and he has great stories, but to what end? Can we connect the dots and forge some insight? Can these ideas actually improve the way things are done in the interactive world?

I obviously don’t have the answers and I’d be curious to see if anyone has any thoughts on this. It’d be nice to come away with something more than “Huh, interesting stories.”

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Blog your brand panel

posted by DL Byron on March 13  ·  Permalink

Just finished the How to Build Your Brand with Blogs Panel and think it went really well. I posted the slides. Check the last slide for resources.

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How to Foster New Culture Online

posted by DL Byron on March 10  ·  Permalink

In 16 hours I leave for Austin. Byron and I will kick it, SxSW style, and I'll be on a panel this Saturday called How to Foster New Culture Online. Also on the panel:

We'll talk about art, culture, community, media, etc. Or some subset of that. Or things related to those. So far we've kicked a lot of ideas around via email and once we meet face to face we'll decide which topics hold the most potential for a kick ass panel.

In 2000 I went to SxSW for the first time. I flew out a couple hours after finishing a piece I did for Born Magazine. Five years later, I return to Austin to talk about art, culture, the interweb and all that is good (or bad) about those things.

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How to Build Your Brand with Blogs

posted by DL Byron on March 09  ·  Permalink

This weekend I’ll fly to Austin for SXSW Interactive and moderate a panel on, “How to Build Your Brand with Blogs” Joining me will be

I’m just getting caught up on the SXSW Blog, all the parties, and figuring out what to do. I’ll miss Zeldman’s Opening Remarks, but will maybe he’ll offer a dramatic re-enactment later at the New Riders Vox Nox Party.

SXSW When asked about SXSW, I always say, “It’s an event that builds partying into the schedule. You can’t front on that.”

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More hand-wringing

posted by DL Byron on February 20  ·  Permalink

The persistent, self-obsessed, blog-ethics hand-wringing continues (we’re about due for a Calacanis rant on this) this week with a somewhat rambling and derivative article from JD Lasica’s that concludes, “Just don’t call yourself a journalist when you’re cashing that check.” Dear J.D., “I’m not a journalist. Nor do I play on one TV.” This call for credibility and ethics criticism seems to always come from the journalist side of blogging, a side that is coincidentally under attack from the blogopshere. Another volley in that attack occurred this week with Jeff Gannon, a Blog Cabin Republican, being outed as a fake reporter and gay porn star. I hope JD et al watches the Daily Show’s take on blogging and hears Steve Colbert say, “They have no credibility, all they have is facts.”

What I wonder, considering business blogging and ethics, is when will a company get taken down by the blogosphere? Will the next Enron be exposed by corporatecorruption.com? Possibly, but until then, companies will hopefully learn from the blogosphere and not publish sites like Wal-Mart facts.

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A blogging component

posted by DL Byron on February 20  ·  Permalink

Earlier in the week, a request came for Marqui to, "find some leads," and I responded

"And there's the thing. I think if Marqui had a blogging component, the referrals would roll in. Businesses want to talk to me about blogging, not CMS, but then blogging is a CMS, but Marqui is not a blog engine (an enigma wrapped inside a riddle). So, roll out the Marqui Blogging Module, using an API and phat referrals, at least from me, are more likely. What's missing in the corporate blog install and what comes up in every convo I have with business, is how to manage all of that blogging. There's no managed communication workflow with a blog. Incredibly simple publishing yes, but nothing is managed."

Well, the emails flowed for a while after that and the next day the PI ran a story in their VC notebook on corporate blogging and a product called Blog Unit, which is not to be confused with the blogging subsidiary of the G-Unit -- note to marketing departments, I wouldn't market any product with "Unit" in the name, as those gangstas are very likely to kick your VC-funded, white, geeky ass. An interesting aside on the article, check the blogging Nexus: GM, Boeing, Sun, Clip-n-Seal, Scoble, Anil Dash and more.

The Blog Unit offers controlled blogging and most be targeted to the clueless Vice President of Stupidness, much like the Ministry of Silly Walks. When I said managed, I meant, fit into your campaigns, or communications channel, or editorial schedule -- that's what Marqui does. You can not and should not control blogging. Marqui is addressing their blogging component and is promising a response. At the least, as the Head Lemur noted, their system should publish an RSS feed.

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Eric Rice Posted a Photo

posted by DL Byron on February 15  ·  Permalink

GeorgeAnd he said so 15 times. I just noticed that in my RSS reader. Nick had complained about link and photo RSS feeds earlier in the week with his post, Show me the content! I like Eric, he’s a rockstar pimp, I'm sure his friend George pictured in that photo is cool, and I set all of Eric's links to rel=”follow”, but I don’t really need to know that he’s posted 15 photos a day. I hadn’t yet ripped on del.ici.ous, but there’s another example of a time suck. Social bookmarking and photo sharing ceases to be fun, when it sucks up bandwidth and is post after post of, “cool link,” or “me with this other blogger.”

If you want to post away on that, cool with me, I'm just not sure there's value in that for an RSS feed. At least, give your subscribers a choice and that's got to be the next feature blogs need to offer: Custom RSS feeds (see Apple's example). Pick and choose from what you want on the site. Like for Scoble, I can filter out all of the nonstop Tablet PC plug posts, or not get Eric's Daily photo, or read just what Zeldman thinks is cool for the day and not ALA posts, etc.

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Inexcusable Sloppy Code

posted by DL Byron on February 11  ·  Permalink

The Lincoln Bicentennial site is up and powered by Marqui. I was interested in the site, to check Marqui’s code, and see what their system is outputting. For a company that gets blogging and the blogosphere, they sure don’t get Standards-based design or valid code. I’m normally not a standards-nazi, but viewed the source and checked the validation. A note to Marqui’s developers, just because you declare an XHTML document type, doesn’t mean the document is. I can excuse using tables for layout, ok, probably banged it out quickly, but the lack of character encoding, mixed tags, and more is just plain sloppy.

While Marqui maybe helping their client to educate the public about Abraham Lincoln’s accomplishments, they’re certainly not doing anything for them with that code.

I've been evangelizing Standards-based design for years and sites like that just make me sigh. What are we not doing as evangelists to get the word out to a CMS developer that character encoding is important?

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Born Magazine needs your help

posted by DL Byron on February 08  ·  Permalink

Almost 3 years ago a friend forwarded me a job posting from a Seattle based freelance list. The posting was from Byron, and he was looking for some Flash help. We ended up doing that project, then many more (launching Clip-n-Seal, doing the web site for the Blog Business Summit and a bunch of other things).

The friend that forwarded me Byron's email that fateful day was Gabe Kean, so it seems appropriate to post a recent message from Gabe here:

"The volunteers and staff of Born thank you for your continued support during our eight years of experimenting with collaborative arts. Our newest, most ambitious endeavor opens this spring, and we need your support more than ever."

Opening in March, "Help Wanted: Collaborations in Art" combines the talents of accomplished visual artists, writers, architects, filmmakers, graphic designers, cartoonists and other creative minds to develop an interactive art show that promises to inspire dedicated Born followers and introduce new audiences to our unique, collaborative concept.

Born is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and donations are tax deductable.

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posted by DL Byron on February 07  ·  Permalink

Apparently, John Gruber's influence isn't as vast as I'd expected. In 2003, he posted at length on the uselessness of TrackBacks, concluding that, "linking should be enough," and there's a site called Technorati that'll show you who is linking to your post -- check the link cosmos on this post. All you do is link like you do (of course, without a nofollow rel attribute) and Technorati does the rest, puts it in context to who's linking, who's linking to them, little photos, and more.

Trackback is notoriously difficult to explain and I've always pointed people to Gruber's post or cited Molly's, "talking with two cans on a piece of string," analogy. His post made sense to me. He vowed to never use trackbacks, I agreed, and figured everyone else would. Well, that's not been the case. Readers on the Blog Business Summit site complained and I turned them on for their benefit. I then checked blogs that use trackbacks, scrolled down the list to see all the pings, and quipped to Jason in an instant message they should be called, "Crapbacks." He said, "I've never understood them. Still don't. Yeah, they're crap."

Hey, "Me Too!"

Bloggers trackback to say, "hey, me too on that post," and then a blog cites those posts. In itself that's not crap, but check the Six Apart post on NoFollow and you'll see trackback after trackback. Then click through to find more trackbacks of the trackback, irrelevant trackbacks, and a bonus "spamback." That's crap because you've just added to the page scroll, it's not ranked by authority, most recent, and in Movable Type's case, that page has to be rebuilt to display new pings. Now compare that page of trackbacks to a Technorati result. Ah yes, much mo' betta.

Ping less, Post More

The reason to ping a blog and say, "Hey, me too!" is for page rank, but now that's squashed for sites that use NoFollow. View source on Six Apart's post and you'll see all those trackback pings are coded to not be followed. If you're pings are not being followed, what good are they? They're not. It's much easier, faster, and better to do what Gruber recommended two years ago. Just post more, link, and let the search engines do the rest.

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An About Page

posted by DL Byron on February 05  ·  Permalink

I chatted with Tara Smith from Marqui earlier in the week about blog design. Besides my suggestions to tweak this and that on their blog, move this around and more, I noted that an about page is very important on a blog. During our presentation at the Blog Business Summit, Keith said the same thing. When blogging, the reader needs to know who you are. A good example is Churbuck's site. He posted on how much money some bloggers are making and I thought, "huh, who is this guy? Is he credible? Where did he get this info?" He is credible, but it took me about 7 clicks to figure that out.

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SXSW and Currents9influenced

posted by DL Byron on February 03  ·  Permalink

I’ll be speaking at SXSW and Currents9influenced in the next few months and I’m really excited about both events. In planning, but not yet announced, are more events.

SXSW Interactive Festival

I’ll moderate a How to Build Your Brand with Blogs panel at SXSW Interactive, March 12 – 16, Austin Texas. The panel will be a discussion with the experts. Learn how the panel participants built or extended their brands with blogs. They’ll discuss their successes, failures, customers, Public Relations, and politics. A lively Q/A is expected with many tips, strategies, and lessons learned.


Sponsored by AIGA/Seattle, May 20th, Seattle, WA. Currents9influenced (say it all at once, three times) seeks to provide creative programming that unites designers of various, multi-faceted disciplines for a one-day event at the Seattle Art Museum. A major theme of the conference will be for the presenters to trace and identify the paths of their creative inspiration — the currents of their past. Each stream, connection, influence and experience has undoubtedly shaped what they do. I’ll speak about blogging your portfolio and Standards-based design.


Webvisions 2005, July 15, Portland, Oregon.

Web Design World, March 21 – 23, San Francisco, California.

Read more on our speaking page.

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Marqui Podcast

posted by DL Byron on January 30  ·  Permalink

Eric Rice has posted the podcast on our discussion with Marqui. We discuss the success of their blogosphere program, what the purpose of it is, ethics, why they don't have a blog component in their system, their competition, and more.

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Nofollow is no Solution

posted by DL Byron on January 28  ·  Permalink

This weeks Blogospheria included nofollow, an attempt to thwart spam by reducing page rank. Nofollow adds a rel attribute to the anchor tag that search engines read as don't follow and therefore don't increase page rank. Right. Nofollow is DOA, as is the hype and blog headlines announcing it. I heard the thud as I read exactly what nofollow was and was very surprised there wasn't more criticism. Possibly everyone else was hand-wringing over blog ethics, pronouncing themselves citizen journalists, or geeking out over Technorati Tags, which are almost completely useless for business.

The problem with these blogging memes, or the "it" plugin of the week, is the work involved. Do I write more posts and sell more product or spend a day on nofollow, Technorati Tags, and whatever else the blogosphere pronounces as "cool." Like, for example, don't Skype me. I've got iChat for that. I don't know if Skype harvests my email, but I wouldn't be surprised, and now I get emails from people wanting me to sign up for a telephony service I don't want or need.

The assumption that spammers are not going to spam because of nofollow is ridiculous. They'll spam as they do and may just create their own "follow" networks to boost their own page rank. They've already worked around every spam blocking attempt I've done.

The comments that I've approved are good and I want Google to follow them -- good Google Juice for everyone. A plugin that changes every link in my comments to nofollow spills the Google Juice. That's not a solution, it's just Blogospheria.


Credit to Zeldman for the term Blogospheria. And more criticism of nofollow:

Another Update

As predicted, a porn site, Only Celebs, has set up their own blog to link to themselves and boost their own page rank — found via TypePad’s recently updated blogroll. Check the links. They’re all to a porn site. They’ve set up their own “follow” network on TypePad’s network. Ironically, in this case, I used nofollow in the link.

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After the Blog Business Summit

posted by DL Byron on January 26  ·  Permalink

I spent most of the day keeping up with all the blogging (2,113 posts and counting) and commenting on the Blog Business Summit site and didn't get to post here. Word. That's not a bad problem to have and live blogging like that was a first for me. As I posted, people were blogging it at the event and posting before sessions were even over.

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Blog Business Summit Day One

posted by DL Byron on January 24  ·  Permalink

Good buzz in the lobby during sign up, an absolutely beautiful morning, and it's going to be a great event. I'll post notes here as the event proceeds. I'm speaking today with Molly on blogging engines.

Shook hands and said hello to (so far)

  • Marc Canter
  • Scoble
  • Nick Finck
  • Molly.com
  • Jason Fried
  • Feedburner
  • Syndic8
  • Chris Pirello
  • Jon Froda
  • Debbie Weil

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Meeting Marqui

posted by DL Byron on January 22  ·  Permalink

Many of the Marqui bloggers and Marqui staff will be at the Blog Business Summit next week. I look forward to meeting them, chatting, and asking some questions. Number one is, “so why doesn’t Marqui have a blogging component?” And then, “let’s talk about blogging as a platform and CMS …”

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Eric Meyer Loves Me

posted by DL Byron on January 19  ·  Permalink

Eric Meyer At least that what Amazon.com tells me. I've spent much time on Amazon.com lately, managing our new Clip-n-Seal storefront and Amazon is constantly showing me Eric's book. Now, it's a great book, recommended reading, but page after page, day after day, working on Amazon and there's Eric. I even tried going to pages on Amazon where I thought Eric would never go, the opposite of Eric, say, designer moccasins from Isaac Mizrahi. Clicking around in garden tools? Nope -- still get Eric's book.

I'm not a Tivo owner, but I bet that's like My Tivo Thinks I'm Gay, where Tivo suggest shows it thinks you'll like based on what you've watched.

Amazon.com is a constantly suggesting wonder, but I wish I could turn that shit off or set a preference to something like, "suggest only lingerie that Terri Hatcher wears."

I didn't make that page

Another feature of Amazon is the Page You Made (there's Eric right on top of the list). Ok, on that, Dear Amazon UI Designer person, I did not make that damn page, I made this page and a bunch of other ones like it.

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Design Timeline

posted by DL Byron on January 19  ·  Permalink

The Design Timeline illustrates 10 years of web design. I remember arguing over inline images and how to paginate documents on the web. I also participated in a committee that debated whether to standardize on Netscape or stay with Mosaic. What do you remember? You can add it to the timeline.

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A nonprofit, unbiased robot poster that sucks

posted by DL Byron on January 15  ·  Permalink

Or iUpload calls people names

Marqui's blog is getting some traction with lively comments and responds to a critic and competitor who called them pond scum (note to David Carter: try reaching a little deeper for a metaphor next time. How 'bout, "poo poo pants," or something). Marqui and iUpload, as well as other critics, will be at the Blog Business Summit and that's sure to make for some lively debates. Personally, I don't know where this unbiased web is and I think it's a fantasy to think there is one. If your blogging, be a pundit, state some opinions, make some noise, and get paid to do it if you want. That's certainly better than regurgitating the same story you saw in your RSS reader and pretending your blog is the most unbiased.

I'd like to see a blog, with no opinions, no Adwords, no agenda to either promote some obscure fetish or sport or raise page rank. It'd have to be written by an non-profit, unbiased robot and man that'd suck.

To Marqui's Blogosphere program, Nick told me he has a Marqui filter now, where if he sees a post about Marqui, he immediately marks it read. Understood. Enough about paid bloggers, time to move on.

Interested in meeting Marqui and others? Wondering if iUpload will call some one a bad name? Attend the Blog Business Summit. It's next week and here's a 395.00 deal on registration.

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SEO Smackdown

posted by DL Byron on January 07  ·  Permalink

Marqui responded a couple weeks ago to the controversy about their SEO whitepaper with a thorough post. Kent Lewis takes on the harshest criticism from Robin point by point. I’m following up now because of this quote from Kent:

“The source code could be cleaner, but it’s elegant as CMS code goes.”

I’m running a CMS now, Movable Type, and the code couldn’t be cleaner. In fact, I think as evangelists, we’ve done a terrible job of explaining the platform benefits of blogging, one of them being elegant, clean code.

There’s also another factor at work — marketing v. technology. That’s always a struggle and with blogging now equated with marketing, issues like SEO whitepapers are going to come up. In an related email thread, I’d warned Marqui that “Designer geek, fan boys/girls, will be all over that claim of clean CMS code.”

To their credit, Marqui is learning from blogging, as Janet states in the post. We’ll see if their programmers learn from blogging systems. Or at least blog about what this is and how that’s considered “clean.”

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<META NAME="ALT1" CONTENT="The Challenge">
<META NAME="CONTENT1" CONTENT="Today many managers are faced…">

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When did I become an agent?

posted by DL Byron on December 29  ·  Permalink

David Byrne, writing about agents in his blog (December 6 post), asks, “When did I become an agent?” Byrne continues to compare agents to a Philip Dick world and how damn scary that is. I covered agents in my, You can’t front on that post and Jason Calacanis posted BzzAgent: What people are really saying and BzzAgents Suck.

As Nat Ives writes for the NY Times, the Determined Detractor is the flip side of blog marketing. In one form or another, shills have always pitched product. The risk of an agent-type program is that once discovered, determined detractors will slam your company. Fortune’s article, Why There’s No Escaping the Blog, covers how a product can be boosted or destroyed.

One of Marqui’s goals for their Blogosphere program was to “engage the nerds” and that’s been a success. There’s been a boost (see my post on Google Suggests) and at the same time public detractors, as Stowe Boyd documents and Tony Walsh deconstructs.

The difference between agents and blogging for Marqui is that there’s no deception about the agenda. There should be no question as to when a blog is an agent or not. Despite the detractors, Marqui is engaged. They’re not hiding behind a Kid Halloween or receiving secret messages from VALIS.

Later this week, Clip-n-Seals will be available on Amazon.com. We’ve been quietly working on that for the past month. We could ask our friends to post positive product reviews, but we won’t do it because that could backfire and cause us pain. We will blog it, promote it, and let our customers speak for themselves.

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Google Suggests More Blogging

posted by DL Byron on December 25  ·  Permalink

Google Suggests Scott and I have been talking to the press lately about business blogging -- the articles are forthcoming -- and the reporters always ask about metrics. I usually describe how a market found us on Google, our response to that market, how we did it, Google loves blogging, and more. Now, I'm using the Google Suggest beta to offers a quick view of the effectiveness of blogging. As you type into the form field, Google will offer suggestions with the amount of results. Typing ahead on "Clip and Seal" returns 429K results. Not bad at all when you consider we spent about zero in marketing.

I've also been asked a lot about Marqui's Blogosphere program. Once we get past the paid to post part, I explain that the program is about search engine optimization. In 3 weeks of the program, Google Suggest returns

  • 3,900 hits on Marqui CMS
  • 5,110 hits on Marqui Blog

Impressive returns that will continue to grow as they spend much more than the nearly zero we spent. Now, ironically, Marqui just released an SEO Marketers Guide (an how it applies to a CMS), yet fails to discuss how Google's page rank works, which can be found in their press kit.

Apparently, the white paper writers at Marqui aren't talking to the bloggers and don't get how blogs work with Google. For reference, here's a good overview on blogging and Google.

Marqui has a company blog about to launch and it'll be interesting to see if they follow up on blogging and SEO. To date, it's already been successful for them in regards to the blogosphere. The next phase will be getting their page rank up on terms like CMS and Communication Management System.

Google suggests more blogging.

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No Lump of Coal for Movable Type

posted by DL Byron on December 23  ·  Permalink

An Update and Apology

Winged Figures of the Republic MT responds to comment spam with an update and apology - there's an MT blacklist update as well. Thanks MT and happy holidays.

Pam and I are finishing up our vacation; waiting at LAS for a delayed plane, feeling much more relaxed. I'll apply the MT updates across our sites when I get back and see how it goes. Considering comment spam, Timothy Appnel posts his thoughts and Jay Allen responds with hopeful thoughts.

As Tim notes, "Blogging is at a Crossroads," in more ways than comment spam. It's also at a crossroads as an application. An example is a very useful comment status code (none, closed, open) posted by Todd Dominey from an email conversation he had with Ben Trott. I found it randomly in a related search for comment spam solutions. The problem is that I'd never seen that code before. It's not on MT's site, in their manual, not in a knowledge base, or a FAQ, or available from tech support -- it's floating out there in the blogosphere and in MT developer's heads.

Googling for code and hoping for a solution is not sustainable when you blog commercially for clients. Searching through forums is not any better.

My holiday wishes, in regards to blogging, is for a Movable Type Developer Network (MTDN), the collected code of MT bloggers hosted by MT. There's a start with the Six Apart Professional Network, but it's not there yet. I learned that while struggling with the premature end of script headers error.

The Winged Figures

The photo is one of the Winged Figures of the Republic from Hoover Dam. The figures stand firmly guarding the flagpole and express, "the immutable calm of intellectual resolution, and the enormous power of trained physical strength, equally enthroned in placid triumph of scientific accomplishment." I realized later, as we drove back into the excesses of Vegas that the Hoover Dam was the most powerful example of form follows function I'd ever seen. It was as if we had walked onto the set of Fritz Lang's Metropolis and observed the streamlined shapes, the smooth, curving surfaces of the spillway, and the space-age industrialism.

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You can’t front on that

posted by DL Byron on December 15  ·  Permalink

Earlier in the week, Marc Canter asked in a email thread, “what’s a BzzzAgent?” and I thought of what Scott and I said during our interview last month with the North Jersey Record (registration required) about blogging Clip-n-Seal

  • “What’s important about blog marketing is you can’t fake it,” said D.L. Byron
  • “You have to be who you are, or you’re going to get spotted.”
  • “We want to sort of have more of a personal conversation with our market, and blogs are really sort of a personal medium,” said Scott Benish

Richard Murray examines Bzzz Agents at length, comparing them to corporate shills, and concludes that he’s skeptical and “it feels dirty.”

In a similar post, Peter Merholz writes about his disappointment with Tivo’s, “bizarre marketroid speak.”

For companies learning this new blogging medium, it’s that whole “conversation with your market,” thing from the Cluetrain Manifesto. Your market isn’t going to converse with you very long if you’re a lying shill, a marketing robot, or a PR flak (or all three combined).

If you’re going to market in the blogosphere, you’ve got to have cred. Marqui has cred because they’re transparent. Scoble vis-a-vis Microsoft has cred because he's transparent. Same thing with GM Small Block, Skybox, and Stonyfield blogs.

When it comes to the blogosphere, you can’t front on that.

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David Suzuki Foundation

posted by DL Byron on December 07  ·  Permalink

Dr. David Suzuki was on KUOW's Weekday program last week. I listened intently because it also happened to be the same week that I started blogging about Marqui. The Suzuki Foundation is pushing for a radical change in the ways we use the forest and Marqui's Communication Management System helps them get that done.

So what is Marqui's CMS

Marqui's system manages communications. A user enters a communications piece and picks what mediums to distribute it to and for how long. The piece can be repurposed to email, newsletter, print, and a website. It can also be rolled back, versioned, and audited. It's an "enter once, use often" system for business communications.

what does the Suzuki Foundation do with it?

The Suzuki Foundation uses Marqui to manage proactive online communications on their web site and in e-mail newsletters. Visitors to their website subscribe and receive personalized funding request emails based on the interests. The communications are time-based using Marqui's Calendar of Events module. That means, they can roll out events based on a calendar and synchronize them to the mailing lists and their website. Ok, that all sounds good. Here are the stats:

  • Time to implement site: 3 weeks
  • Number of pages on site: 1200
  • Number of e-mails per week: 40,000
  • Number of interactive content contributors: 24

Why does that matter?

Marqui rapidly transformed the Suzuki Foundations' complex communications to their members and use it to raise big money. It works. They like it and use it.

Until recently, in my career, I've never seen a content management system work. That changed with Blogging and I posted on blogging the intranet earlier this year. In all the marketing hype, the fact that blogging is a simple and effective content management system is sometimes lost. Blogging works because it's so simple. Marqui isn't a blogging app, but it is simple to use and if your CMS isn't easy, people won't use it.

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The blogosphere needs paid bloggers

posted by DL Byron on December 04  ·  Permalink

“I get paid to blog” has been a great conversation starter at holiday parties this week. I lead in with that, get their attention, and then hit the whole blogging evangelism elevator pitch — a conversation with your market, blah blah, mow mow. However there’s always a pause on who would be that voice and I realized that the blogosphere needs paid bloggers, to give a voice to all those blogs. I joked about it IM converstations, and it’s pretty funny, but it won’t be long before a professional group of bloggers emerges. The group could be called the Blog Authors Guild (BAG), a riff on SAG, the Screen Actors Guild. When someone needs a blogger (corporate, tech, music, more), there’s a group of professionals ready to go. The joking continued with BAG hags, who would be blogger groupies and blog about the bloggers.

Where others are viewing Marqui’s Blogosphere Program as product placement, I don’t think it is. On this site, it’s a sponsored blog category. I wrote about being paid to post earlier this week and noted in the comments that writing about topics irrelevant to Marqui and then dropping their name isn’t going to work. Posting about how the David Suzuki foundation uses Marqui’s software to manage their communications is in context to the business theme of this blog category. It is also a teaser for the next post.

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Paid to post

posted by DL Byron on December 01  ·  Permalink

I added a paid to post page to our site today, offering an explanation of what paid to post is and why we’re doing it. Subheadings from the page include, Pimpin’ the Blogosphere, A Blogging Prison Bitch?, and Flame Us?

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Nalgene's Market

posted by DL Byron on November 30  ·  Permalink

NY Times Magazine ran a story on Nalgene this weekend. It was a great analysis of their brand. When we developed the brand for our product, we studied Nalgene closely. I asked the team, “why do people carry those around? What is the appeal - it’s a water bottle?”

We wouldn’t expect our Clip-n-Seal to be a fashion accessory, but definitely aspire to customer loyalty and making a hit product.

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BBS 05 Announces Blogger Discount

posted by DL Byron on November 22  ·  Permalink

If you're a blogger and want to attend the Blog Business Summit, there are a limited number of seats available for just $395.00. All you have to do is blog about the conference or use one of the BBS 05 badges

I'll be there with the rest of the usual suspects.

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Blogging and the Arts

posted by DL Byron on November 22  ·  Permalink

Rhizome.org to host Blogging and the Arts panel at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. That's a nice contrast to all of the business blogging. The discussion will address questions such as whether blogs will change the nature of discourse in the fine arts field, and ways that artists and critics are integrating this new form of communications into their own work.

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Standing in a WaSP Stance

posted by DL Byron on October 19  ·  Permalink

Last week I opted out of the Mike Davidson argument. One, cause I drink beer with Mike, and two, cause I felt some of the argument thread was irrational and all over the place. The problem, whether we like it or not, is that WaSP can be perceived as Standards Nazis, Code Priests, assholes, you name it, and to what end?

There's nothing wrong with taking a stand on an issue, as we've done, but what we need to do now is effectively communicate that. To convince a software company that building Standards support into their tools is a good thing, or demonstrate how much bandwidth a publishing company can save, or how a small business can sell their product across browsers and platforms now and into the future.

WaSP has done a good job convincing the designer geeks that it's the right thing to do. In my opinion, now it's time to take the case to business and that's part of what I work on everyday. I'm hopeful that one day Standards will just be part of our trade, it's exhausting evangelism, but the work must go on.

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Going Wayback to My Netscape

posted by DL Byron on September 29  ·  Permalink

my netscapeMy Yahoo with RSS is another good step in the progress to making RSS suck less. While reading the copy, "You don't have to visit each site individually because the headlines or brief summaries are delivered right to you," I realized we'd gone wayback to My Netscape and the channel metaphor. Not that customizing channels is a bad thing, I wrote about that in part in the, "What Productivity Gains with RSS," post and Glassdog posted a similar topic with, "What's Wrong With: Feed Readers." I just noticed that it took us 6 years to go back to where RSS started with Netscape.

The internet archive cache shows Dec 12, 1998 as the earliest incarnation of My Netscape and the History of RSS shows it being developed for Netscape in March 15, 1999. Then in 2001, Netscape dropped RSS support. Today, My Yahoo brings it back.

Damn, what's old is new again. I remember developing channels, webtop, and the active desktop. There's even a Textura Design sidebar out there for Netscape 6.0.

The difference now, as noted by Jeremy Zawodny's blog, is that Yahoo is taking RSS to the people and making it easy for their users, publishers, and bloggers.

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What productivity gains with RSS?

posted by DL Byron on September 17  ·  Permalink

readers My opinion that RSS isn’t that productive came up again this week with News.com’s article on RSS bandwidth. While News.com inevitably compares RSS to PointCast, I wondered again, how exactly I’m supposed to save time when I come back from a day offline to hundreds of unread posts. Even worse is a week offline where I have thousands of unread posts. To me, RSS is becoming another full inbox of time suck and I find myself not reading RSS to get my work done. I chatted with a couple friends that noted they haven’t had time to read blogs at all this week - it’s as if they need to get their work done.

Yes, I get the Scoble et al. evangelism on RSS, but going to a news site, scanning headlines, and picking a link also works well. On a news page, the page refreshes and expires old news, while a RSS reader presents 600 old, unread RSS posts.

Full inbox of time suck

Thinking maybe another RSS would be better; I tried FeedDemon’s Newspaper view. I’m sure much thought went into that layout, but that’s even more like a full inbox of time suck.

Many smart people are working on RSS and it’s bound to get better. It isn’t there yet.


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Browsing by Post Titles with Firefox

posted by DL Byron on September 15  ·  Permalink

Every time Keith and I talk about successful blogs, he asserts that you must use good titles. I was reminded of this maxim yet again when I tried the new RSS bookmark functions in Mozilla’s Firefox, which browses by post title. Firefox’s implementation is debatable, but what isn’t is the RSS inclusion in browsers and the marketshare gains that Firefox is making. And with Safari RSS coming up, that’s going to make RSS even more mainstream.


Related Firefox links

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Movable Type without Plugins

posted by DL Byron on September 14  ·  Permalink

Starting last week and continuing this week, I’ve been posting on the upgrade to MT 3.11. I upgraded in part to resolve ongoing publishing errors. Those errors occurred when I posted, saved a post, and rebuilt. They also occurred when a comment was posted. The errors were reported in error logs and include

  • Internal Server Error
  • Premature end of script headers
  • Plug in Errors

Errors and More Errors

The errors were inconsistent, somewhat random, but occurred everytime. After much troubleshooting (including a completely new blog) and help from MT support, I decided to remove all plugins and that solved the problem. I hope that’s a temporary fix and I can use plugins again, but according to a few commenters and the MT-Dev Yahoo Group, others are having the same problem.

Still good

MT is still a great app and 3.11 is even better. Running sans plugins is a bit liberating, it’s all minimalist; however, it came at a cost. I had to reformat all Markdown formatted entries, I have no MT Blacklist, and no opml generator. Now I’m editing in BBEdit, running Markdown and Smartypants there, and approving or deleting each and every comment in MT.

Lots of tweaks

While working through the errors, I made many tweaks in the templates to make the site more bloggy. I also launched our store/product blog. I should also note that the plugins were great, but somehow my system failed.

Now, I’d like to get back to normal posting …

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More on Upgrading to MT 3.11

posted by DL Byron on September 11  ·  Permalink

Despite the plugin problems I’m having, the upgrade to MT 3.11 has been a good success and I think MT 3.0 is a solid product. I’ll revisit the problems and look for other solutions later. The top priority this week was to resolve the errors and get back to publishing. During the update, I found these resources useful:

The upgrade has also been a good exercise for client sites we’re working on. I’ll write about those more as we roll them out. I’ll also update Clip-n-Seal in the next few weeks.

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Blog v. Message Board

posted by DL Byron on September 10  ·  Permalink

I was asked recently, "what's the difference between a message board and a blog?" To respond, I found a post by Common Craft that summarizes the differences and provides a grid. The simple explanation is that a blog is centralized and has an voice. A message board is decentralized with a community voice. Now a blog can have multiple voices and point to a message board for communites, but that's the basic difference.

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MT Plugin Problems

posted by DL Byron on September 10  ·  Permalink

By removing all MT Plugins, except for Markdown and SmartyPants, I’ve resolved the rest of the publishing errors. I’m not a plugin expert, nor a Perl developer, but expect there are issues with the version of Perl my host has installed. That’s a consistent problem with MT, at least for this site, is that all those cool plugins fail to work and a host is not going to install a version of Perl or a module just for me.

The upgrade to MT 3.11 went well. I had to remove MT-blacklist and can no longer use it, but I’m doing pretty much the same thing with approving each comment before it posts.

Next up is trying out MT’s PHP action.


Unfortunately, I’ve had to stop using Markdown and SmartyPants for blog posts. The error lib/MT.pm line 289 occurs when the system can’t load the plugin. In turn, that occassionally causes a timeout and the Dreaded Internal Server Error.

I will still use Markdown with BBedit as a filter. That’s one more step, but still very useful.

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The Dreaded Movable Type Internal Server Error

posted by DL Byron on September 09  ·  Permalink

New site features, including a store/product blog, and other changes we’ve rolled out have been overshadowed by the Dreaded Movable Type Internal Server Errors. I’ve troubleshooted everything I can think of and now it’s time to replace the whole system - there’s a corruption somewhere. So, this week, I’ll update to MT 3.0 and see how it goes. Until then, the commenting system is buggy and other problems may occur. For reference, see Makiko’s Movable Type Mystery.


The Dreaded Movable Type Internal Server Errors have been corrected. So, when posting a comment, the user doesn’t get a 404. However, a new, not as dreadful “Exiting subroutine via next at lib/MT.pm line 289” is occuring. Working on that …

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Blogging Business in the Mainstream

posted by DL Byron on July 30  ·  Permalink

CNN international writes that, “in a sign blogs are moving mainstream, major technology companies, including Microsoft Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. came together at a recent conference to discuss the profit potential of the Web publishing format.” Hello CNN! While I didn’t read many glowing reviews of the conference, it’s good to see blogging mainstreamed. Where some experience blogs-in-the-media fatigue, others need this type of story to convince their management that blogging is a good idea.

Besides that, it gets people thinking about how and what to blog. For example, a company could blog on their intranet to get their management team’s message out via RSS, or optimize their search-engine results, without spending huge amounts on Adwords.

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Has RSS saved the world yet?

posted by DL Byron on July 25  ·  Permalink

It’s been weeks since I’ve read how RSS was saving the world. Have we all been evangelized yet? According to the attendees in our blogging session, they were like, “what the?” Not only does RSS have the worst-name ever (should’ve been named PointCast or something), the attendees didn’t quite get it until Steve demonstrated it live. He showed how to subscribe to a feed and how fast a DDW blog post showed up in a feed reader. Oh yeah!

Now think about getting customized news posts from iTunes, virus protection software, or the corporate office, on your intranet. This will all happen when RSS is built into OS X and Windows. That’s coming. Until then, it’s our job to continue to evangelize. We’re not quite there yet.

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Another Great Conference

posted by DL Byron on July 25  ·  Permalink

At Digital Design World Seattle, attendance was up, there was a good vibe, and the crowds were having a good time. I talked to many business attendees and that’s a sign of the economy picking back up.

During the Blogging session, my co-presenter Steve Broback said to me, “I was surprised to see that less than 5% of the attendees of the Web Design track (all of whom are Web site authors) were bloggers, and even more surprised to see that same low percentage were using a newsreader. So many of us talk about it being ‘late in the game’ to be starting a blog today, but I sense the revolution is just beginning.” I agreed and noted that we needed to fill the demand for blogging “know how.” The attendees got what a blog was, and what it could do for their business, they wanted to know how to get that done. I heard a big, “wow” from the audience when I built a Typepad blog on-the-fly, published it, and showed how a link to it on Texturadesign’s site returned the number one google result. You can’t front on that.

When you see results like that, it’s easy to understand how blogs work for business.

As a reminder, our entire presentation is online, with related links, resources, and all of our Movable Type templates.

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From Webvisions to Digital Design World

posted by DL Byron on July 19  ·  Permalink

From the Blogging Panel at Webvisions, I learned that there’s strong demand for blogging know how. I think sometimes we tend to forget that there’s much to learn. From my perspective, the audience got the, “I love cats” part of blogging, but not the how to sell a product, deal with legal issues, what to say, or how to publish. The Q/A was very similar to the blogging panel at SXSW. I’ve updated the talk Steve Broback and I will give on the How/Why of Blogging this week at Digital Design World to cover more of the “how.”

In the halls, we talked about Amazon’s plogs, whatever those are exactly, and the various projects we’re working on. It was good to know Keith was speaking. Scott covered that and more about Webvisions in his post earlier today.

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TDFBlog's Niche Market

posted by DL Byron on July 10  ·  Permalink

Speaking of the peloton, I chatted with the TDFBlog earlier this week. I’ll mini-case study the site at Digital Design World later this month. What impressed me is that the publisher, Frank Steele, found a niche, got the site up in about an hour with TypePad, is driving traffic, and making good money.

The site works because he aggregates a variety of Tour de France news sites and provides RSS, where the other sites don’t. So, I can get all the TDF news in one place, check headlines with the RSS feed, and click through if I want to read more.

Now that’s the power of a blog. The TDFBlog filled a niche, and responded to a consumer demand that other sites hadn’t noticed. I’m sure they’re going to notice now.

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Google Yourself

posted by DL Byron on June 30  ·  Permalink

I googled the term slime flat tires today and was a bit confused by the results. Slime is a tire sealant and I wanted to use it to seal up the tires on a kids bike. Check the result, if it’s still there, it includes the word loser and links to an even more confusing landing page. I don’t know if that’s an inside joke, a marketing program gone awry or what. Maybe Slime is big enough in retail they don’t care too much about the web. Whatever they’re doing, it’s a good example of why you need to Google yourself and pay attention to the results.

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Out of the CSS Zen Garden and into Business

posted by DL Byron on June 17  ·  Permalink

A point we haven’t heard in the recent Scobelized Standards Backlash is the value of bandwidth reduction. For example, view source on MS.com and imagine how much bandwidth could be saved by cleaning up that code and reducing it. Yahoo, AOL, et al are moving to standards for that very reason. Why wouldn’t MS? Less important than the box model hacks, floats, and divs, is how a company can save money with Standards. Do it with tables if you must, but clean them up, and reduce that code. There must be real shareholder value in that. Veen wrote about it last year, in The Business Value of Web Standards, and I remember that as one of our top Standards evangelism topics. Lately, it’s all been about validation and how IE sucks.

As designers and developers, maybe it’s time for us to get out of out of the CSS Zen Garden and into business. To not evangelize beautiful CSS layouts as much, but the value of clean code. That’s not a discredit to the garden, what we’ve done or how much progress has been made, but what’s going to convince a business owner more? Spending days on a hacked, cross-browser, liquid, floated layout or a reduction in code and bandwidth?

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Digital Design World Sessions

posted by DL Byron on June 14  ·  Permalink

The How and Why of Blogging and Flash MX Accessiblity presentations for the Digital Design World Sessions have been updated and are now online. The presentations include related links, posts, and a panic guide. It’s going to be a great event and I look forward to seeing you there. Steve Broback and Scott Benish will be presenting with me.

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Brill on RSS

posted by DL Byron on June 09  ·  Permalink

I read Brill’s post and realized that I hadn’t consider that email maybe dead or that it was a medium that needed defending. However, Brill’s observations are similar to my Reuters of RSS post. Brill asks, “Where did that time come from?” and I’ve been thinking, “man, I don’t have time for that.”

When busy, I still find it easier to visit Google news, scan headlines, photos, click if I want, and move on. I’m still down with RSS, but finding myself using it for topical websites and checking news on google.

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Seattle Public Library and Permanence

posted by DL Byron on June 08  ·  Permalink

Wood Mesh at SPL During my first visit to the new Seattle Public Library (an earlier, related post), I was initially taken aback by what I called “upscale Ikea-like furniture and fixtures.” Later I realized that the interior is temporary, made to be flexible, movable, replaceable. It makes sense when understood as a whole, as explained here, but at first it’s uncomfortable to be in a library and not see permanence. Instead it’s bare concrete, steel, glass, plastic, and shiny surfaces. There’s decorative wood in a few places, as indicated in the photo.

Also, I don’t think Rem would approve of computer print out signage that tells patrons to, “push on doors ” or arrows that point, “this way.” Either the signage didn’t arrive in time, there was a cutback, mistake, or a librarian couldn’t take all the requests for directions anymore. It’s definitely not Schiphol signage. Crowds of people were lost, including me.

I’ll return books later this month and experience more of the library. Why does this matter to a web designer? It’s form and function, information architecture, and evidence that design is everywhere. The exterior is a modern wonder and something you must see to believe. I’m still thinking about the interior.

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notes on the redesign

posted by DL Byron on May 25  ·  Permalink

We've cleaned up all the lingering bugs (I think) and I just got a big chunk of a project I'm working on out the door (and approved!), so I finally have a chance to make some notes on the recent redesign.

Going in to the redesign Byron gave me a lot of creative latitude - just giving some broad goals, including:

  • Keep the column nav
  • New logo and banner - something dreeping like
  • Migration from a personal site to a more business oriented site
  • Possibly be more liquid

So, we didn't want anything drastically different - a refresh more than a total overhaul...


The big strategic shift was from a personal site (that evolved to serve business needs), to a site more focused on the business side of things (but that retains a personal touch). This was mostly done via the things that aren't immediately apparent when discussing visual design: tweaking the Information Architecture, editing content, etc.


The site is now liquid, so the main content area expands as the browser window grows. For those browsers with decent CSS support it caps out (via max-width) at 1050px.


By design, the image at the top of every page can be easily changed out. In fact, I tried of number of different images but I kept coming back to the clouds and that little plane. Something about the stark (almost abstract) nature of the photograph really seemed to work well, especially in an area that contains navigation and the company name. I have plenty of other photos that I like, but they seemed to fight with the other elements (or they didn't work at the required dimensions). So that image could very well change, as soon as we find one that we like better.


Byron has noted the prominence of what he has dubbed "baby blanket blue" - as previously noted, I found it to be a nice complement to the grey sky in the photo.

Like the image at the top of the page, the colors have been designed to be readily changed. While today is Baby Blanket Blue, green and orange, it might be something totally different next month. Or next week. Or whenever Byron feels the itch for a fresh look. The layout and code have been designed to accept such whimsical changes with little trouble.

The End

There more, or course (there's always more) - but I've gone on long enough.

If anyone has any thoughts or feedback I'd love to hear it.

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Baby Blanket Blue

posted by DL Byron on May 24  ·  Permalink

Scott and I were chatting about the redesign and I said, “baby-blanket blue is the theme for that site.” He replied, “yeah, i thought the baby blanket blue was a nice complement to the grey cloud picture…sort of a grey sky /blue sky sort of thing.” “Like, dreeping in the rain.

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A new outfit

posted by DL Byron on May 20  ·  Permalink

Redesigning is like getting a new outfit. I put it on, hope someone notices, ask how it looks, check the mirror occasionally, then eventually get used to it. I’m fiddling with this style, that style, and trying pictures in posts, which I’m not sure I like.

A business shift

The site shifted to be less personal and more about our business (a direct reflection of how many hours we work). Hopefully Scott will post later today with details of the design, including the how and why and the deal with the column nav. That’ll include a lists of props.

Some Browser funktasticness

Mac IE has got some funktasticness going down with the fonts and I’ll look into that later. Scott went into a marathon, “Kill Bill Dance Hall of Death” style coding session and chopped most of the bugs. That was impressive.

More later.

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Talking to ourselves about Atom and RSS

posted by DL Byron on May 13  ·  Permalink

Last week, I posted to an internal mailing list about how I lamented offering so many feeds on my sites and wondered what possibly benefit to the user that was (ya know, those little badges of courage). Does Jane blogger need 6 feeds on her site? No, she needs a feed link or button with a format that is read by feed readers. I personally don’t care what standard it is, but do not want to offer multitudes of them. We don’t offer different versions of html on our sites with shiny little buttons.

This is an other example of the blogosphere talking to ourselves too much. We need to talk less about technology and more about the user. How does the average person visiting your site know which feed to choose? They don’t and I haven’t found any information on why Atom is better, other than because it’s not Winer.

Today, the W3C announced their suggestion to the Atom community that they standardize through the W3C.

That's great news and it'll be really interesting to watch how that plays out.

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Site Navigation: Self Links and Onstate

posted by DL Byron on May 06  ·  Permalink

Various Design Sites

I’ve noticed a design trend of onstates or no onstates in nav systems and the occurrence of self links in navs — check a related ALA article on creating current tabs. By onstate, I mean an indicator that you’re on a page. By self link, I mean a link that points to itself. When you click a self link, it reloads the page you’re on. I think the navigation on the various design sites is not changing to an onstate or the link is linking to itself (self link) because the page is served by a template or include. Open for debate is whether or not an onstate, or no onstate, with self links confuse the users. I’d expect usability experts to argue for no self links and onstates to help the user know where they are in the site.

Click around various design sites and you’ll see:

Self Links with Onstate

Self Links with no Onstate:

No Self Links with Onstate

New, even harder to navigate

While I was updating this post, a colleague sent me an instant message about his new site. I said, “Cool, nice, not down with the wood grain so much, and where’s the onstate?” He replied, “Well, I’m working on it. See it’s all includes.”

That confirms what I thought was happening. Designers aren’t purposefully making their sites harder to navigate (note, this site isn’t that easy to navigate either - a redesign is in progress…). It’s just much easier to use templates and includes. Coding a site with includes to indicate what page a user is on requires a bit more work with CSS and PHP

The CSS conclusion

After several emails, one argument, chats, and the urging of Scott Benish, our Brand Manager and Designer, the conclusion is to use "Self Links with Onstate." I’m no CSS Zen Garden master and it gets tricky with the sub nav, but here’s how I do it on Clip-n-Seal:

  1. IDs are applied to the body and list item tags that add a bullet image and changes the style of the link.
  2. The style is over ridden for the parent of the sub nav inline.
<!--Inline style for onstate-->
<style type="text/css">
<!-- body#about li#aboutnav a:visited { color: #336699; }
body#about li#aboutnav ul#subnav
li#businessnav a:hover{ text-decoration: none; }
body#about li#aboutnav a:hover{ text-decoration: underline; color: #333; }

A Lil' PHP

You can't apply more than one ID to the body tag. So, for the subnavs, I use PHP code that I tweaked from the Keeping Current ALA article. The PHP identifies the subnav and writes the id for the subnav page.

 <!--Identifies the subnav page-->
<?php $thisPage="purchase_satisfy"; ?>

<!--Writes the subnav ID-->
<ul id="subnav">
<li<?php if ($thisPage=="purchase_satisfy")
echo " id=\"satisfynav\""; ?>><a href="/html/satisfy.htm"
title="Satisfaction Guaranteed">Satisfaction Guaranteed</a></li>
<li<?php if ($thisPage=="purchase_retail")
echo " id=\"retailnav\""; ?>><a href="/html/retail.htm"
<li<?php if ($thisPage=="purchase_industrial")
echo " id=\"industrialnav\""; ?>><a href="/html/industrial.htm"

It works

With CSS and PHP, I can use includes, indicate what page a user is on, and make the site more usable.

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Reuters of RSS - Updated

posted by DL Byron on May 04  ·  Permalink

I wondered today where the Reuters of RSS is? So I got a bunch of feeds that all pretty much talk about the same thing: Gizmodo, Boing Boing, Cool Tools, Endgadget. With all the multitasking I do, it gets tedious. I don’t want to miss an important Goatse update from Boing Boing, but also don’t need to read the same story on 7 different blogs. Should we expect a consolidation of sources and maybe a business plan for it?

Another example is Google news, which displays the headline, source, and related links. With the same info in a feed, I’d know if I’ve seen the news item twenty times before and can then choose to view a local spin on it. I get the value of RSS, but I don’t think it’s saving me anytime when I’m reading the same topic over and over again.


When Clip-n-Seal hit the blog marketing Trifecta, I didn’t check read my RSS feeds for a few days. When I finally checked, I had thousands of links and headlines to check. Sure, I could expire them all, but maybe I’d miss something. So, there I am, looking at a screen with a sea of “headline, blurb, links,” and I’m thinking, “geez,” some pictures would be nice. I could scan to see a photo that interests me and kick on that. Is RSS a triumph for Jakob Nielsen? Is it the developers over the designers? Would it be hard and controversial to put some design into the feed view?

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No Comments, No Spam

posted by DL Byron on May 04  ·  Permalink

I don't offer commenting on the Clip-n-Seal blog. One of the reasons is, "no comments, no spam." Every day, I check Jay Allen's rss feed for a spam update and purge spam on this site. While Blacklist has saved my Texturadesign from spam overload, it's not something I particularly enjoy. Molly posted earlier about comments and commenting systems. One of the best features on Keith's site is the comments. While Clip-n-Seal has comments turned off, we do publish what are customers tell us. Maybe MT 3.0 and TypeKey will be better, but I'll note that I don't really want to register online for anything ever again.

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Target Blank

posted by DL Byron on April 21  ·  Permalink

Alvey posts on targetting new windows with links today and it reminded me of a discussion Nick and I had a month ago. I've argued on both sides of this topic and where I think it still works is for intranets. It's very easy to get lost on an intranet, for various reasons, and opening a new window for external links helps the user understand that they've left the current site. On an intranet, there's usually one browser that doesn't support tabbed browsering and no pop up ads.

I instant messaged a usability expert I trust on this topic:

Lara says:
my perspective is that any external link on an intranet should open in a new window - no matter the size of the intranet - because it represents going "outside the firewall"

Lara says:
and sometimes i recommend opening new windows for content that is posted on the intranet (within the firewall) simply because of the difference of the content - for instance

Lara says:
 an executive is posting a blog internally, and he links to an email recap in one of his postings

-b- says:
   (oooh, blogging execs!)

Lara says:
i typically open that in a new window, so employees can read it separately without losing track of the blog page - or with ppt's - very different content from what employee was first reading - so new window is needed

Lara says:
 AND - on internet sites - i favor new windows within articles, because i don't like to lose my original read as i'm tracking something else down that was linked/mentioned within the article

Lara says:
but then again - that piece is pretty subjective - since there are right-click ways around it (as Nick mentioned last) - honestly, i didn't know about that option and may just need to retrain myself when clicking on links in stories

Lara's right about right-click and tabbed browsing. That assumes a user sophistication, or browser, that may not exist.

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Enter the WaSP

posted by DL Byron on April 09  ·  Permalink

I joined the Web Standards Project earlier this week and it reminded me of my "Pants Down" Zeldman story where he linked to me midway through a live redesign, on a piss-ant, personal site no one knew about, and I had some funkadelic CSS layout issues going on. All of the sudden, there's a spike in traffic, email, and I'm like, "wtf?" I spent a day scrambling to fix it.

When Molly and I first chatted about WaSP, I was like, shit!, I better sweep any public code I've ever written! There are Fahrner image replacements, ampersands in URLs, and who know's what else out there.

There's been a recent confluence of standards issues for me and on other blogs. I don't know what I'm going to do yet to contribute to WaSP, but it'll be something and I hope it helps. I hope to get to the point of not talking about standards-based design all the time, where it's just what we do, it's expected.

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Listening to Channel 9

posted by DL Byron on April 06  ·  Permalink

Channel 9 gets slashdotted and quickly taken to task for the markup. I'm sure Channel 9 will correct those problems, Scoble's already recognized it, but I wonder why they would launch with bad code? In the past, say around 1999, nobody really cared (well some of us did), but now when your site breaks in Mozilla you're going to hear about it. Nearly every week I read about new mainstream sites moving to Standard-based design. It's remarkable that web standards are actually becoming an expected standard and if Slashdot is a microcosm that's very good news.

Update: Check the comment thread on Scoble's post for the code problem explanation and positive reponse.

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You are here

posted by DL Byron on March 22  ·  Permalink

In the column nav above, I use a “you are here” indicator that I call “onstate”. The onstate in the second column is a link with square bullet and normal font weight. The onstate in the third column is a link with a normal font weight. I think that works well, but when I started using Movable Type to build the third column based on the blog categories, the onstate was lost. I consulted with Doug Manis and he coded some php:

For the Category Archive
// get page name from URL and use that to override the
link style

$this_url = $_SERVER['PHP_SELF'];  // get current URL
$file_name = basename($this_url);  // get filename from URL

// the file names for the sub-category pages
$file_names = array('cat_almost_daily.htm', 'cat_clients.htm',
'cat_clipnseal.htm', 'cat_design.htm', 'cat_our_strange_world.htm');

// the MT generated category IDs
$mt_ids = array('4', '1', '5', '2', '3');

// replace the file name with the MT category name
$id_name = str_replace($file_names, $mt_ids, $file_name);  

For the Individual Archive:

// get story category from MT

$file_name = '<$MTEntryCategories$>
// get filename from URL

// the file names for the sub-category pages
$file_names = array('Almost Daily', 'Clients', 'Clip-n-Seal',
'Design', 'Our strange world');  

// the MT category IDs
$mt_ids = array('4', '1', '5', '2', '3');

// replace the file name with the MT category name
$id_name = str_replace($file_names, $mt_ids, $file_name);  

In the style:

#cat_ a:visited {
font-weight: normal;
background: transparent;
color: #336699;

#cat_ {
list-style: none

and html:

<li id="cat_<$MTCategoryID$>">

Now, there maybe a more elegant way to do this, but it works.

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Mark it down

posted by DL Byron on March 21  ·  Permalink

I dig Movable Type, use it for my business, and evangelize it. However, one of the things I don't dig so much, is the posting process:

  1. Write in BBEdit.
  2. Log into MT, paste the post, preview.
  3. Switch back to BBEdit for revisions.
  4. Repeat until done.
  5. Publish.

Last week, Daring Fireball released Markdown. I read through the lengthy introduction, was daunted by learning a new syntax, but decided to give it a go. This post is written with Markdown. ok. cool. That eliminated several posting steps.

A few issues I've found:

  1. Not able to add a target="_blank" on links.
  2. Not able to have more than one link on the same line.
  3. I like visual interfaces.

Markdown is certainly more productive. After switching to BBEdit, nearly full-time, I've abandoned Dreamweaver except for quick layouts or tables. I'm just more efficient in code with templates. I do wonder where the visual interfaces to MovableType are? By that I mean a visual app that connects to an MT post.

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posted by DL Byron on March 18  ·  Permalink

I left SXSW on Sunday to get back to work (for the man) and missed all the XFNing going on in the hallways. I'd been paying attention to XFN and decided to update my “linkage” and “sites I looked at once” sections in the sidebar to include XFN values. I publish those lists with this template:

 <MTEntries sort_by="title" sort_order="ascend">
 <li><a title="<$MTEntryTitle$v"
 href="<$MTEntryBody convert_breaks="0"$>" 
rel="<$MTEntryExcerpt$>"><$MTEntryTitle$> </a>
<br /> <MTEntryIfExtended><
$MTEntryMore convert_breaks="0"$> </MTEntryIfExtended> </li>

My technique is similar to Keith's post, but with a seperate blog, php include, and this syntax:

  • Title — The name of the link.
  • Entry body — The link.
  • Extended Entry — the "title" tag and the text underneath the link.
  • Excerpt — the XFN relationship. One space if no relationship.

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Revolutionize that

posted by DL Byron on March 16  ·  Permalink

Wanderlost posted a summary of the Blogging for Business at SXSW. It went very well and I was surprised by the large turnout and amount of questions. Based on that, I think the topic could fill a conference day. Now that blogs are beyond the tipping point, people want to know how to make them work for their business. I discussed how we blog at Clip-n-Seal and my experience as a consultant at a large corporation that's embraced blogging. The questions centered on "connecting with customers" and "blogging behind the firewall." Most wanted to know

  • How to do it?
  • How to change your business with a blog?
  • How to get one started?
  • How to tell your boss it's not a personal journal?
  • What software to use?
  • What are the liabilities?
  • What about PR?

These same questions are probably being discussed at companies worldwide. The panel repeatedly noted how Movable Type was an effective team tool and Sharepoint Team Sites were not. I've built countless intranets that have never worked as knowledge management. Movable Type and RSS feeds simply (or a wiki) work. Tom Coates has written about the The Mass Amateurisation of (Nearly) Everything. What I'm thinking about now is the Mass Amateurization of an intranet, a sales/marketing plan, and how to revolutionize that. That thinking should turn into a case study or white paper.

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Eerie and Lovely

posted by DL Byron on February 29  ·  Permalink

I had not seen the work of Loretta Lux until I read the NY Times review (subscription) of her new show. We used a similar, but not as lovely, digital technique for one of our net.art pieces. The photos remind me of the Cremaster Cycle, where a whole other world is created across mediums. To me, her work captures the secret worlds children create that are neither here nor there.

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posted by DL Byron on February 27  ·  Permalink

I was wondering when art and technology would meet rss feeds and saw reblog today. Their hack is interesting and put into the context of blogging for business, the potential to group feeds to industries and add commentary could attract visitors to your site and prove useful. That’s what we called vertical markets in the dot-com days - a business to business blog. For example, I may want to learn everything I can about patenting an invention and the “invention reblog” shows me all related posts. It differs from a blog search engine because it’s selected by an editor and actually works well. Maybe it’s a blog+wiki with some structure and a friendly user interface.

reBlog also got me thinking about the all-news nature of rss feeds and how art in a feed might be interesting. Say, a haiku feed? Or the one perfect post, like the great Amercian novel, but the one post. Is feed marketing about to happen - the viral feed?

And, on feeds, Apple has quietly been publishing a variety of RSS feeds.

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Digital Design World

posted by DL Byron on February 19  ·  Permalink

I’m flying to San Francisco today and speaking tomorrow with Scott Benish at Digital Design World. We’ll discuss Flash MX accessibility and what’s new in Flash MX 2004. The presentation, samples, and panic guide are now available.

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posted by DL Byron on February 12  ·  Permalink

I’ve been invited to attend the i3Forum, an invitation-only gathering of digital artists and photographers. The theme of the forum is Inspiration, Innovation, Influence. Details at i3Forum.com.

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PowerBook in the enterprise

posted by DL Byron on February 09  ·  Permalink

Byron asked me to log my experience integrating and using my new 12" PowerBook in a tech enterprise . I'll continue with a post every day (or thereabouts) until I run out of new anecdotes or Byron tells me that I'm boring everyone to death.

This is the first day of the PowerBook era. In spite of using Macs exclusively at home my entire adult life, I haven't worked full-time on a Mac at work since 1993, and I'm very excited about returning to an all-Mac environment.

My colleagues are excited as well--several of them gathered at my desk to see the Mac. These are not Mac users and I'm guessing that most of them have never seen a Macintosh OS live before. I fire it up and show them the Finder and Expose and import some photos into iPhoto. I turn on all the Dock animations and genie effects just to show off the Mac-ness of the UI. The masses are pleased, and I get to work.

Some observations from my first day:
* When it's time to actually do work, I don't know where to start. Having a Mac at my work desk totally disorients me. I simply don't know how to go about doing my daily chores like checking e-mail, reviewing a requirements document, posting a UI demo on our intranet. The Macintosh environment that is so familiar to me at home is totally foreign to my work place. It feels a bit like when I drove a car in England. It takes me a full day to finally settle in. I leave for home with a terrible headache, but my development environment is finally in place.

* I can't go another day without a full keyboard. The PowerBook's keyboard is very usable, but it's not an extended keyboard. It only has 12 function keys, it has no Del key, and there is no number pad. I must have all of those things, so I'm off to CompUSA first thing in the morning.

* This machine absolutely needs more RAM. My model shipped with 256 megs, but I'm going to pop a 512 hunk in the open slot as soon as I can scrape up the $100 or so. The performance is acceptable until I have Entourage, BBEdit, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Mozilla, and a half dozen terminal windows open, which is pretty much all the time.

* I'm driving a 19" Dell monitor for my desktop, with the notebook's screen as an extended display. This is very cool. People can't get over how easy it was to do this out of the box. This arrangement is so productive for me that I'm going to start doing it at home as well.

* I'm not able to use Entourage as an Exchange client because we're not using the required version of Exchange Server. My workaround is to use Remote Desktop to drive my Dell PC and run Outlook. I've moved the Remote Desktop window to the notebook's screen. So I'm all Mac on my big monitor with a little Windows window floating on the PowerBook . I'm going to use the same strategy even when Entourage is working, because it's nice to have my e-mail client always visible, but not in the way of my work.

* Everyone wants to take a look at this thing. All day people are dropping by to see the PowerBook , the Mac OS, talk about Macs, talk about notebooks, or just gawk at someone not using Windows. It's fun and a little surprising. I've told my work friends about my plan to be all Mac, but people I barely know are asking to try out the keyboard or click around the system. I'm just settling in, so I'm happy to answer all their questions and give all the demos they want. One engineer promises to buy one for himself after I've used mine for a few weeks. He says he wants me to "smooth out the edges" before he takes the leap. I hope he does.

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More than shilling product

posted by DL Byron on February 07  ·  Permalink

Thinking of Blogging for Business, I recalled that I had a personal site for years that became a blog when I started using MovableType instead of Homesite or BBEdit, posting almost daily, adding comments and archiving, and feeds.

I know many of my peers did the same thing and there are still a few that are not actually using blogging software (Zeldman for one).

I’ve explained to a few clients to think of a business blog as that email newsletter you send out every month, but with a personality, more immediacy, and client interaction. Most of them still think blogging is someone posting about their pets, but that’s certainly changing.

One of my business blogs got attention because we just talked to our customers about what we were doing, much like Macromedia does and now Microsoft. And our entire marketing budget is blogging and Google adwords (small business). We see little direct sales from the blog but do see brand recognition and that’s what our goal was – we spent little and got a big return.

Interestingly, I read a "don’t believe the hype" article in the New York Times and heard a story on NPR about Howard Dean. The conclusion of of the two pieces is that the web (blogging and community) brought Howard Dean up and traditional media brought him down.

We’re on another media convergence of the old and new and I’m not sure where it’s going, but it’s definitely more than just people loving their pets, shilling product, politics, instant pundits, or wardrobe malfunctions.

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Flash MX Presentation

posted by DL Byron on February 03  ·  Permalink

Stephen Hawking and Me: Flash MX Accessibility has been published. Thanks to Jeffrey Zeldman, Doug Manis, Bob Regan and Nick Finck for the peer review. Scott Benish and I will be presentin’ and representin’ it at Digital Design World later this month.

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An aging population needs accessible technology

posted by DL Byron on February 02  ·  Permalink

New research from Microsoft and Forrester finds that “Millions of Aging Baby Boomers Can Benefit from Accessible Technology.” As the workforce ages, the need for accessible technology grows. The research shows that the target audience for accessibility is much larger than expected. Baby Boomer’s can experience mild-to-severe physical and cognitive difficulties and impairments. Building accessibility into your sites can make it possibly for even more people to get their work done by accommodating their personal needs and preferences.

We had just finished the draft of our Flash MX presentation when I saw this press release. I’ve added a "Baby Boomer" bullet to the updated slides (live later this week). I hadn’t really thought about the needs of Baby Boomers, even though my dad has his computer set to 16 bit color, 800 x 600 resolution, and mondo fonts. That’s 57% of the population and it’s only going to grow. Besides resizable fonts and other techniques, one thing to consider is the complexity of the site. Is it easy for a Baby Boomer to purchase your product or read your blog? Or is it hidden behind a complicated design?

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Corporate Blogging

posted by DL Byron on January 26  ·  Permalink

I’m consulting for a large corporation and it’s fascinating to watch my peers embrace blogs and blogging. They’re still working out how to use them internally, but have had success externally and I expect the same. Besides the communication within teams, I’m trying to help them understand the simple content management aspect of blogging.

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The thrill is gone

posted by DL Byron on January 25  ·  Permalink

Keith and I chatted about his struggles with a new layout and Internet Explorer last week. I complained that the thrill of standards-based design was gone. Maybe some new, young turks need to come along and school us all in layout code, but I don't want to spend a weekend tweaking a layout anymore. Where it was a challenge before, now it's a chore. My position and evangelism for standards hasn't changed, but standards are not going to progress as long as IE stagnates. And, stagnate it is.

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SXSW Bits and Bytes

posted by DL Byron on January 07  ·  Permalink

The SXSW Interactive Festival blog runs a weekly tech question and I’m quoted, with other speakers, for this week. It’s an interesting and pertinent topic related to an outsourcing article by Micheal Bean.

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From a big bore to media whores

posted by DL Byron on January 02  ·  Permalink

Thinking about what I’m going to say on the Blogging for Business panel, I recalled a Register article published in August 2003 that covered the blog phenomenon and how it’s gone from blog-bores “blogging-about-blogging” to voices in mainstream media.

Last month, the NYTimes covered gawker and referred to it as a mainstream blog. Last week, USA Today front-paged blogs as free-wheeling journalism. Until now, blogs have been noticed by various media outlets and are usually criticized for being so self-referential - talking about other blogs, the technology, etc. The contrast between the two articles is interesting. Gawker’s self-referential posts and meta-conversions are related to a person and her world, not just blogging. And, of course, there’s the Dean blogosphere that’s motivating a whole generation and changing the way candidates campaign.

I’m consulting at a large corporation and they’re hosting several internal blogs, as well as encouraging their employees to evangelize on their own blogs. I’m suggesting we use blog software for simple content management. For my small business clients, I encourage them to use a blog like a company newsletter. Just update that newsletter you’ve published for years to a web page, add commenting, several voices, some pictures, and publish it.

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Blogging for Business

posted by DL Byron on January 02  ·  Permalink

I’ll be on the Blogging for Business Panel at SXSW March 14th to talk about the Clip-n-Seal blog. The panel invite was good news at year-end; and what a year it was: setbacks, success, stress, an engagement, and more. DKR and Nick will be there as well.

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Remote Control

posted by DL Byron on December 22  ·  Permalink

Another useful utility for mac/windows interoprerability is Remote Desktop Control. This MS app connects to and controls a windows desktop from a mac desktop. I use macs and pcs side-by-side, all day long, and the more interoperability the better. You can’t drag and drop files between the two desktops, like Virtual PC (another great app), but you can connect to your mac’s hard drive from the PC and transfer away.

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posted by DL Byron on November 23  ·  Permalink

Work continues for Windermere. Besides the maintenance, and tweaks here and there, I’m pushing for a complete standards-based redesign.

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Zero Config

posted by DL Byron on November 21  ·  Permalink

I started working on a contract at a large corporation a few weeks ago. While there, I discovered that one of the most useful Panther features is windows interoperability and Zero config networking. I just plugged my mac into their network, set the proxy, and thank you very much. I also share music on their LAN with other iTunes users. One day, after logging in, I saw several shared libraries show up in playlists. That same day, wired published an article about being judged by your playlist. I think my list is cool, but maybe not. It is full of 80s music.

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More on Panther

posted by DL Byron on October 28  ·  Permalink

Installed on an older, 400MHZ imac, Panther runs very well. That gives me another year or so on the machine, which is well worth the price for the OS. The imac doesn't have Quartz, so it doesn't render some of the eye candy, but ok, I can see that on the laptop. I just noticed that you can tab through the windows in expose' and if you hold the shift key down, the windows will slow-mo. Also, with command-tab to launch the keyboard application switcher, you can mouse click the icons.

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Panther installed

posted by DL Byron on October 25  ·  Permalink

Panther is installed and running well. The features are really impressive and there's lots of nuances to the user interface that makes it much more pleasant to use. It feels more relaxed, less rushed, more polished. Two things I've noticed is that the other logon (to get to root) is missing and when I chose graphite as my window option, the finder ignored it. For a good feature walkthrough, check Dive Into OSX/Panther

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Free Wifi

posted by DL Byron on October 23  ·  Permalink

Computerworld reports that businesses are finally realizing that free WiFi has a great return on investment. An Ars Technica forum furthers the discussion. During our vacation, we enjoyed free wired broadband access in the hotel room and free wifi in the lobby. Wifi should be like a television in a lobby or airport. Cometa Networks has rapidly set up hotspots all over the Seattle area, but I don't want the hassle of signing up, picking a plan, using the service, blah, blah. Just give me the access and I'll be happy. NYCWireless offers free wireless throughout the city and downtown associates elsewhere are offering free access. Others should follow their lead.

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Yet another 3-D app

posted by DL Byron on October 22  ·  Permalink

Back from vacation, caught up on email, and reading the news, I was surprised by Adobe's new 3-D app. Yet another 3-D app that will most likely languish. We've had VRML, Cosmo, and Swift 3-D. Adobe offers it for one browser on one platform and it requires a plugin. Do we need another plugin?

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Chillin with the Lizard

posted by DL Byron on October 16  ·  Permalink

Yesterday I was booked to lecture at Thunderlizard's next Web Design World in San Francisco, February 18, 19, 20 2004. I'll present an updated version of Stephen Hawking and me.

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Ease of Finding your way

posted by DL Byron on October 13  ·  Permalink

Schiphol is the Amsterdam airport and the signage at the airport is a solid example of modern, international public information architecture and interface. Schipol has won top honors for the "Ease of Finding Your Way." When disussing an International-Compliant Style, Owen referred to it as Schiphol. In the IC-Style, the W3C's web language is being used as a tool for international public information. So, the IC-Style web is like Schiphol: open, accessible, clean, slick and minimal. For more on Schiphol, link to

http://www.mijksenaar.com/news/cnt_news.html - Sep 26 entry



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IC-Style, Schiphol and more

posted by DL Byron on October 11  ·  Permalink

Fawny.org has started watching the trend of designers and developers who are committed to following official specifications. Fawny calls it the International Compliant Style (IC-Style) and added Clip-n-Seal to the list. As a design trope, IC-Style is an ethical-professional aesthetic as well as a graphical one. The simplest sites often require the most work. We didn’t specifically code towards an IC-Style, but are glad it’s being recognized. It’s just part of our business.

Owen describes it as Schiphol, Cloninger as HTMinimaLism, and Zeldman writes books about Designing with Web Standards.

I explain to my clients that with web standards we can finally design for the web and not print to web. That we’re using the medium for what it is and not trying to make the medium something that it isn’t. Call it minimalist or reductionist, for us, it’s a response to the drum-solo design of the late 90s and back then we coded many drum solos.

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Props to DKR

posted by DL Byron on October 10  ·  Permalink

DKR deserves props for nudging me towards Movable Type (MT) and providing guidance on "what does this tag set do" during the template-coding MT marathon I went on last week.

For years, before this site was called a blog, I just rolled my own code. That worked well, until I also started coding permalinks and xml feeds. That was rather tedious. I'm cool with MT, would dig it more if the formatting tools Win IE users see, worked in Safari, but ok.

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IE changes and almost valid embed code

posted by DL Byron on October 07  ·  Permalink

Microsoft details their browser changes in response to their infringement of Eolas' patent. While I cheer for the little guy, I also lament updating code across sites; especially to avoid an IE dialog. Apple has provided instructions to code a workaround, so has Macromedia, and I'm reminded how, a few years ago, Microsoft changed it's code and I had to update Active X for quicktime on hundreds of pages.

The mozilla camp chimes in with numerous comments on this matter and suggests that IE be damned, maybe users will realize there's better browsers out there.

I'll hold on the latest IE workaround, for now, and discuss embedded code that validates. View source on the movie page (right click or ctrl+click and view source) to see how it's coded for QuickTime.

The same code can be used for Flash by changing the mime type

if (navigator.mimeTypes && 

Months ago, when I posted the Flash version of the code to an ALA forum, a debate about its "real" validity started, to which, I responded, "considering all the hacks we use to get standards-based design to work, there's nothing wrong with tricking the validator to ignore the non-valid markup."

Looking at the code for the IE changes workaround, it's using document.write to "trick" the browser into avoiding the pop-up, "click ok" dialog. Add some ending slashes and it's valid xhtml. For those pure-markup people out there, the debate about valid markup will continue and they'll be forced to use it. That is if they care about the IE changes.

Update: Here's a text file with the somewhat valid embed code.

Please note that Safari will render that .txt file and display the movie. If so, view source on it.

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More MT

posted by DL Byron on October 05  ·  Permalink

We just went on an all-weekend, movable type template-writing roll and updated 3 sites, including this one. So, all of our previous posts will need to be incorporated into the new structure. We've moved a few over for now, to fill up the categories and we'll start tweaking code.

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Zach Published

posted by DL Byron on October 05  ·  Permalink

David Zach's new site has been published and work for other clients continues. Zach's site is designed with standards, uses a column nav, and a Movable Type blog.

My approach to setting up zach blog was to just start throwing tags into the page and see what worked and it worked! Ironically, Movable Type is well named because setting up all those templates must be as tedious as a movable type press. For Dreeping in the Rain, we just roll our own blog.

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A coincadink

posted by DL Byron on September 25  ·  Permalink

Coincidentally, while I was lecturing on the FIR technique (among others) a debate about it's applicability was occurring online. After catching up by reading the tedious, long-ass posts, I determined that the usage I presented works, as intended, because the drawbacks don't matter. We're presenting inessential, nonsemantic images, so the problems found by others never came up. In fact, as noted here, we never thought of using the technique for headers or navigation.

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