Monthly Archives: March 2006

Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview

Live from Mix06, Eric Meyer announces the arrival the Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview:

Eric has always been the voice of reason during the release cycle of IE7 and encouraged people not to panic about any changes until the the IE team released a true release candidate.

The time is now, folks. As Eric says,

“Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.”

Read more about it directly from the horses mouth on IEBlog, then download, install and start testing today!

SxSW: The Week in Review

It’s been a remarkable week and my head is still spinning. Probably as much from the endless stream of free drinks as from the stimulating input from SxSW. The panels were great, the presentations were great, the people were great and the parties were great. I got to meet legends and heroes , some rising stars, and make some great new friends.

Some of the highlights for me personally were the WaSP panel and the subsequent open annual meeting that followed. To be in a room with that many people who share your passion for Web standards was both amazing and emotional. It’s a rare thing to occasionaly share the company of even one person who can relate to your obsessions, so to all of a sudden be thrown together with hundreds of them at the same time is a bit overwhelming. I feel like I found my tribe.

The panel on “How to Convince Your Company to Embrace Standards” inspired me to write more about my experiences with the same. Since I’ve been there with both medium and large businesses, one of my goals this year is to publish some guidelines to help indivduals who are passionate about Web standards turn that passion into policy at their organizations. All-in-all, I think my biggest take-away from SxSW was that I have knowledge and experience to share and the challenge will be to find the time to organize and publish this information so that others may benefit.

I know some of you noticed that I abruptly stopped my daily updates from Austin. There are a couple of reasons for this. But it was primarily due to the same reason I don’t carry around a camera with me and I don’t take notes in meetings. I want to fully experience what is going on at the time. If I have my nose buried in my laptop, I am going to miss a lot of what is going on around me. I’d rather have the full frontal experience in the moment than to have refer to my notes later on to remember what happened. That….and A.D.D.

I can’t go without mentioning Bruce Sterling’s closing address. Instead of attempting to describe it, I am just going to tag it: reflective, foward-looking, relevent, important, from-the-heart, frightening, hilarious, depressing, inspiring, emotional, exhausting, worth-the-price-of-admission-alone.

Okay, now it’s time to do my taxes. A big, unordered shout out to all some the peeps I had the pleasure to make the acquaintance of at SxSW:

See you next year!

SxSW: Day Two

Wow, what a day. Saturday was the first full day of panels and presentations and it was definitely fulfilling.

Jason Fried and Jim Coudal were inspiring in their keynote address. Jason sure hit the nail on the head with his assertion that if you have a lot of time and a lot of money, you’ll waste a lot of both of those things. He intimated that if you keep your day job and work on side projects in your spare time with no budget, you’ll end up with better, more focused output. Sounds like a good plan.

My “best of” awards are as follows…

Best Presentation of the Day: Jeremy Keith and Aaron Gustafson – “How to Bluff Your Way in DOM Scripting”

Hands down, without a doubt, this session rocked. Both of these gentlemen are not only great programmers, but are equally adept at presenting their techniques. Clear, focused and engaging. Great job guys!

Best Party of the Night: Blue Flavor’s – “South by Northwest”

The Blue Flavor guys are great guys and so was this party. It seemed like every Web developer at SxSW was packed into the smallish back room but the bar was large enough to handle the overflow. And it was ther that I got the chance to hang out and get to know some the contigent from AOL and others from the D.C. area.

Later on I got to hang out with the some of the UK representation and thank Jeremy for his presentation earlier in the day. Perhaps the funniest part of the night was a drunken discussion about the whether or not you can affect the background-color property on <colgroup>’s with Paul “Dexter” Duncan of CSS Fools. Having just worked on a prototype for a product matrix, I was absolutely certain you could. Mr. Duncan insisted it wasn’t possible. We searched for a laptop to no avail. We tried to get others to weigh in on the subject, but no one was willing to commit in their inebriated state. We had a good laugh and I promised to send him an example in the morning. For the record, there aren’t a whole lot of CSS properties you can apply to a <colgroup> with much cross-browser success, but the background-color property is one of the few.

On the way out of the bar, I did my best to convince Dustin Diaz, to jump ship at Yahoo! and join us at PayPal. After promising immortality, I realized that it wasn’t morally right to try and poach someone that’s been drinking all night. I think it’s safe to say that the balance of Javascript power in the Valley will remain as is for the immediate future.

Disclaimer: While I am an eBay employee, these opinions are my own.

SxSW Blast Off

And so it begins. My first day at SxSW was fantastic. Registration went smooth. Hooked up with Tom , Graham, and Nick. Went to the Porter Novelli party and got initimate with the local brew Shiner Bock. We ended up at the very chill Side Bar and had the chance to hang out with some great locals. Most of the night was a blur, but one thing stands clear and was by far the coolest thing I saw all night; Eric Meyer and Zeldman pushing dueling baby carriages downtown.

Now it’s really time to get the party started. Looks like it’s time to make a game time decision. Is it XML, Design or Folksonomy?

Decisions, decisions. I’ll let you know who won out later.


Sticking with the original plan. Design wins out.

Ready, set, go

Here I sit in Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport eagerly awaiting my flight to Austin for SxSW. I had a great week here in the Valley of the Sun and I can’t wait to come back next year. I can definitely see myself spending 3 months out of every year here. I’m not sure there is a better place to spend Winter in the continental United States if you’re not into the snow. If there is, I want to hear about it.

So here is my tentative schedule for SxSW:

Saturday, 11 March 2006

10:00AM Traditional Design and New Technology (17AB)
11:30AM How to Be A Web Design Superhero (18ABC)
02:00PM Jim Coudal / Jason Fried Opening Remarks (18ABCD)
03:30PM How to Bluff Your Way in DOM Scripting (18ABC)
05:00PM Tantek Celik Presentation: Creating Building Blocks for Independents (17AB)

Sunday, 12 March 2006

02:00PM Demystifying the Mobile Web (16AB)
03:30PM Web 2.1: Making Web 2.0 Accessible (17AB)
05:00PM Holistic Web Design: Finding the Creative Balance in Multi-Disciplined Teams (18ABC)

Monday, 13 March 2006

10:00AM Web Standards and Search Engines: Searching for Common Ground (Ballroom E)
10:00AM CSS Problem Solving (18ABC)
11:30AM Web Standards and SEO: Searching for Common Ground, Part 2 (Ballroom E)
11:30AM Microformats: Evolving The Web (17AB)
02:00PM Content Distribution the Mobile Web (16AB)
03:30PM WTF: WaSP Task Force Panel: Getting the Job Done Right (16AB)
05:00PM Design Eye for the List Guy (18ABC)
05:00PM WaSP Annual Meeting ()

Tuesday, 14 March 2006

10:00AM How to Convince Your Company to Embrace Standards (18ABC)
11:30AM Designing the Next Generation of Web Apps (18ABC)
05:00PM Bruce Sterling Presentation: The State of the World (18ABC)

The CSS Learning Curve

Roger Johansson recently highlighted Emil Stenström’s Levels of CSS knowledge. Like many others responding to Roger’s post, I see myself somewhere between 5 and 6. And when I thought about the road that I’ve traveled to get to this point, I realized that it’s been one long curve.

I jumped for joy the day I heard about CSS and was experimenting with IE3’s early implementation of it back in 1996. I was using CSS extensively in a production environment as early as 1997. Of course, at the time, this was simply to change the color schemes of sub-sections within a site just by loading a different stylesheet. But it was significant in that it allowed me to avoid so much hard-coding of presentational elements and attributes in the mark-up.

I guess I was fortunate in the fact that I didn’t have to support Netscape 4 for most of the products I worked on early on and was able to jump right in and use the latest and greatest CSS support that IE 4, 5 and 6 provided.

While I’ve always prided myself on low-to-no usage of tables for layout. It wasn’t until 2003 that I was truly inpsired to drop them altogether after stumbling upon Ryan Carver’s One True Fit for Lee Jeans. Here was another Web professional that had put CSS layout into practice in a high-profile commercial environment. That was the day I became absolutely obsessed with Web standards and CSS and I haven’t looked back since.

Like most people who start down the path of enlightenment, I experienced a little divtheria, spanylococcus and classitis along the way, but was always able to find the cure at the local apothecary.

It’s funny really, because when I first started writing markup for a living, tables were used for tabular data. For structure we relied on semantic elements like headings, paragraphs and lists.

Don’t look now, but we’ve come full circle.

On the road….

First stop: Phoenix, AZ where I will be sitting in on the 2006 PDGA Spring Summit and then competing in the first National Tour event of the 2006 season, The Memorial. This is my first PDGA event in well over a year after playing 21 tournaments in 2004. My only expectation is to have fun.

After the tournament I will stay on in Phoenix for a few days and work with my colleagues in our development center down there and get them caught up with a State of Web Standards at PayPal address. For the record, while it’s not apparent to the public yet, we’ve made a lot of progress and are definitely headed in the right direction. Launching in March will be some visible first steps as we swap out the legacy image and table based tabbed navigation with a simple unordered list that uses CSS for presentation. Check out the original prototype I created for a preview of what is to come.

Following Phoenix, it’s on to Austin, TX for the one and only SxSW Interactive. This will be my first time attending and I cannot wait. It’ll be nice to meet face-to-face with similarly obsessed geeks and catch up with old friends too. I’ve received some good tips on the local scene from K.C. Teis who is an Austin native and is definitely an authority on the subject. Perhaps in my next post I will share those. Anyone out there reading this going to SxSW? If so, chime in below and perhaps we can hook up and geek out over a cocktail.

Disclaimer: While I am an eBay employee, these opinions are my own.