Older blog entries for dorward (starting at number 69)

In a moment of self-deprecation, I refer to my beer of choice as “Poncey Organic Honey Beer”. It turns out that Google agrees with me.

Syndicated 2011-03-30 22:40:45 from David Dorward

The hash-bang discussion

Beware! This article contains links to pages that depend on JavaScript. This is stupid, and that’s the point.

It started when Simon Willison noticed that Gizmodo had redesigned, and depended on JavaScript for their URIs to work.

Mike was unimpressed and wondered how you were supposed to get at the data without JavaScript.

Danger! The next paragraph contains and links to sarcasm!

I knew the answer to this one — you use the highly intuitive special Google URI rewriting technique. (Sadly for me, Mike had already found the answer from elsewhere, and Twitter timestamps prevent me from taking the credit for informing him)

More than a few people agreed that the URI format was not a good idea. Terms used to describe it included stupid, not proper, decreasing accessibility and evil.

Then along come the inevitable car analogies. Thomas Fuchs compared JavaScript to the steering in your car but Steve Marshall pointed out that your steering column isn’t randomly cut from time to time.

I prefer to think of JavaScript as something more akin to satellite navigation. It’s very nice when it is working properly, but a bad signal can cut it off and sometimes it can lead you in the wrong direction. I’m glad we haven’t yet reached the point where road signs are not considered worth the effort of erecting.

Since then, some nice analysis of the problem has been published (which is why this entry is largely a collection of links and not an attempt to explain the problem in detail).

I think Peter put it best when he said:

Stop breaking the web with hash-bangs (#!) and stop thinking JavaScript is always on. NO, SERIOUSLY.

Syndicated 2011-02-09 21:26:00 from David Dorward

iPad at work

Last week we released the iPlayer for iPad as part of a project to put iPlayer on lots of different devices.

One of these devices is an appliance which can output debug information to a Windows application over the network. Unfortunately, said device had ended up at the corner of the department opposite to the Windows machine on the development network.

An iPad came to the rescue today when I pointed a VNC client at the Windows machine and happily watched debug information scroll by without having to run back and forth between the two screens.

Syndicated 2010-06-01 16:10:58 from David Dorward

Jobs you know you want

A job advert just crossed my email, and like many others is full of incompetence.

It is for, apparently, “NMA top 10 media agencies”.

Gosh, a job working for all 10 of the best new media and advertising agencies? Wow!

It requires:

  • Css
  • Html

Oh dear, bit of a failure with the abbreviations there. Some of our capital letters are missing.

  • Javascript or Jquery

How wonderful! The jQuery library is very popular. Isn’t it nice how whomever wrote the advert swapped the capital letters about?

What is next I wonder? A job advert for an English teacher that requires knowledge of the English language or the works of Charles Dickens?

Who writes these things anyway? Does HR knock them out, fail to let the people doing the job already proof read it, then pass it on to a job agency that doesn’t know the industry it is finding people for?

Syndicated 2010-05-04 13:50:31 from David Dorward

Validating email addresses with regular expressions

Yahoo! can’t get it right and they are a huge name, why do you think you can?

Syndicated 2010-04-06 08:12:15 from David Dorward


My journey into work this morning was hellish, mostly because a central line train “detrained”

verb leave or cause to leave a train.

I’m yet to work out how and why a train was a passenger

Syndicated 2010-03-23 10:11:00 from David Dorward

Consumer appliances and custom browsers

I’m having the joy of writing webpages targeted at consumer appliances. Unfortunately, the vendors of many of these devices have not seen the light and thus failed to grab one of the open source browser engines on the market or go to Opera. Either they are rolling their own, or buying browsers which have never seen a desktop computer.

Thanks to a bug in the rendering engine of one major vendor with a name that starts with S, I have to have odd spaces when I make text bold.

      foo <strong>bar </strong> baz


However, this causes a bug in the browser used by a different vendor (also with a name starting with S) so I’ve ended up with:

      [% MACRO sfix BLOCK; IF product.browser.someVendor; %] [% END; END; %]



      foo <strong>bar[% sfix %]</strong> baz


Isn’t that just lovely?

Oh, if only I could just target Webkit and Presto!

Syndicated 2010-03-18 10:17:28 from David Dorward

The Personal Touch

There are job agencies that treat you like a person, and there are job agencies that…

Text from +77 7825 (redacted): Free for contract?

Syndicated 2010-03-17 11:52:42 from David Dorward

Flash continues to suck (possibly)

A Flash developer on the subject of touchscreens:

The only potential “solutions” to the mouseover problem are terrible ones:

A) The best case: every Flash app on every site is re-thought by its designers and re-coded by its programmers (if they’re even still available), just for touchscreens.

Really? Are you seriously telling me that every Flash application out there is entirely dependent on being able to point the mouse at things without clicking?

Even if you ignore touch screens, that still violates WCAG 2.0 2.1 by being inaccessible to keyboards.

I have trouble believing that every single Flash developer is that bad.

Syndicated 2010-02-22 09:45:22 from David Dorward

When SEO fails

I hate most SEO, I really do. Companies are spending too much effort trying to game their position in search results and not enough trying to provide a good user experience.

Take, for example, British Airways.

The use case: I want to find out how much BA will charge to get me to Pisa this summer.

So, I visit a search engine, type in British Airways and skim down the results. Surprisingly, BA doesn’t appear to be number one, or two. The third hit is Google’s standard link off to Google News, then we hit the BA recruitment site.

What is going on? Why aren’t BA showing up?

The answer? They are, and at number one. I’m just overlooking them because they look like spam from a crappy price comparison website.

This is the problem: <title>Book Flights, Hotels, Holidays, Car Rental with British Airways - BA.com</title>

I’m looking for BA, but BA are so concerned with having good search engine positioning for “Flights”, “Hotels” and other keywords that I wouldn’t associate with BA in the first place, that they pump up their title with those keywords instead of making it a useful title. The only bit of actual title (British Airways) is stuffed almost at the very end, and I’ve given up reading by that point.

Do they really want browser tabs to be labeled “Book Flights, Hotels, Holidays…”? Do they really want the default bookmark label to be “Book Flights, Hotels, Holidays…”? Probably not, but they’ve put so much focus on their search engine position that they’ve made the sacrifice.

Even being at that position in the search results isn’t entirely good for them. I actively sought them out, initially overlooked them, and when I dig through their spiced ham camouflage I found myself wanting to see what their competitors had to offer.

Syndicated 2010-01-20 11:37:00 from David Dorward

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