Need a smile?

In response to Asa and mpt’s conversation, Basil rants that user interaction != user interface. Basil makes a good point: broken pages cause usability problems, regardless of whether it is the web developer or browser that is at fault. Having some indicator in Mozilla that the page has problems seems reasonable, but I sort of agree with Asa that users will think it reflects their feelings and will do nothing to help them. I doubt most users even notice the little triangle warning on the status bar in IE that says there are script errors. Still, informing the user is better than not. Even Asa is arguing for more information for the user when he describes the problems with installing plugins.

Search at record speed

Yay! The bugzilla search form has been updated to the new and much improved version. It’s about time! I wish they’d first fixed bug 155502 so that the search field was focused immediately as with every sane search engine in the world. Oh well, the old one didn’t give focus either.

The incremental find that I mentioned earlier has also been checked in. No UI yet, but you can add the accessibility.typeaheadfind pref to turn it on. Cool.

Going up…

Continuing the ongoing quest to find an economical method for moving cargo and eventually passengers to and from space, a private group is planning to construct the space elevator (mirror of the article from I first read about the space elevator almost twenty years ago in Arthur C. Clarke’s Fountains of Paradise, a story that is fascinating in its sound scientific and technical descriptions. The space elevator is a fairly simple concept: a wire anchored on earth at the equator connects to a platform in space. A lift climbs the wire. The main challenge has been to find a material that is strong enough for the wire. Clarke suggested a cable made from diamonds. It appears that the recently discovered carbon nanotubes have greater strength and will do nicely. So when will the space elevator be constructed? In the late 1970s Clarke was asked the same question. He replied, “The space elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing.” It looks pretty serious to me.

Doing what’s best for customers

Microsoft will be no longer offering free downloads of their TrueType core fonts for the web. The folks at Typographica asked them why they were removed and got the Microsoft spin, I mean explanation. These font downloads have been offered for five years and were a great resource for older systems. I will particularly miss the very nice descriptions of the development of the fonts, although it appears some of the information is still available. Those descriptions were part of what sparked my interest in typography.

Since almost every recent Windows and Macintosh system has Internet Explorer and these fonts installed, this will not have great impact on the majority platforms. Could it be that Microsoft removed the fonts because many Linux users needed them in order to have readable screen fonts? Hmmm.

Update: Apparently slashdot ran this font story on Sunday. Reader comments indicate that the fonts are available on sourceforge.

Warp drive may be possible

Australian scientists have proposed that the speed of light may not be a constant. The proposal is based on the discovery that “light from a distant quasar had absorbed the wrong type of photons from interstellar clouds on its 12 billion year journey to earth. This meant that the structure of atoms emitting quasar light was slightly but ever so significantly different to the structure of atoms in humans. The discrepancy could only be explained if either the electron charge, or the speed of light, had changed. But two of the cherished laws of the universe are the law that electron charge shall not change and that the speed of light shall not change, so whichever way you look at it we’re in trouble.”


The first public working draft for XHTML 2.0 has been published. Amazingly, Sjoerd Visscher has created an XHTML 2.0 page that works today in Mozilla, Opera, and IE6. I’m not sure whether I should be more impressed by his implementation or by the extensibility of the browsers.

XHTML 2.0 makes a number of changes from XHTML 1.1. Among the more interesting are new tags for <section>, a generic heading tag <h> to work with section, navigation list tags <nl> and <menu>, <line> replaces <br>, and the <quote> tag to replace the short-lived and buggy in IE <q>. “Dive Into Mark” has more about the changes from XHTML 1.1.

One change that concerns me and digiboy | marcus is that <acronym> is treated exactly like <abbr>. Perhaps this is just an admission that IE has supported acronym for quite a while but not abbr. I thought the point of having both of these tags was to help screen readers better pronounce the abbreviation. Otherwise, I see no need to have both.

Update: has an interesting article about the difference between abbreviations and acronyms.