Category Archive

Posts in Web

November 14th, 2009

301Works

The Internet Archive corralled a bunch of URL shortening companies and has begun collecting and logging shortened URLs. Prominent in their absences are one of the most popular of the services, tinyurl.com and one that’s already suffered prominent downtime, tr.im.

Shortened URLs (translating, for example, a Google Maps location into a twelve-character URL) are a necessary evil in the era of message systems with short character limits, but among their many problems are two related to keeping web content usable.

The major problem is that if the URL shortening service fails or goes away (as tr.im temporarily did), every link on the web using that service is now disabled (or possibly maliciously diverted), even when the targeted web pages (for example, a Google Maps location) is still alive and healthy.

The minor problem is that more people are developing the bad habit of shortening all their links, even where it’s not necessary (for example, when the target URL’s already short or readable, or when embedding a link in conventional HTML), masking the identity of the target page and unintentionally destabilizing their own content.

A persistent archive of shortened URLs is a major first step (and a respectably massive effort), but its utility is limited unless there’s a means to recall from that archive as needed from anywhere, and that will be a hard problem to solve.

November 6th, 2009

Readability

This is a bookmarklet for restyling the text on the page in a minimal single-column presentation, with superfluous content stripped out. Clever and useful, but has some problems (On Arc90’s own homepage, for example, the first context box is displayed and there’s no apparent way to view any of the other content boxes).

They’ve also released a Readability add-on for Firefox which works similarly.

October 24th, 2009

Google Wave Keyboard Shortcuts

I’d figured out a couple of these on my own, but this is a handy reference. Otherwise, the Wave interface has you moving from keyboard to mouse and back an awful lot.

Unlike GMail, which could be used to communicate with anybody with an email address, Wave’s usefulness is relevant to the number of people you want to use it with. But even with a fairly limited range of acquaintances signed up, it’s already surprisingly useful.

October 20th, 2009

What’s next after SpamWaves, WavePorn?

Google Wave already has its first reported spammer — a marketer for POM Wonderful began flinging flack at all the food bloggers they could find on Wave.

Although at least a couple people are optimistic about Google’s technical capacity to keep spam under control in Wave, it’s ultimately impossible to prevent spamming entirely in any medium without either proactive moderation or closing account creation and forbidding user interaction.

Incidentally, if you want to find me on Wave, ask.

October 19th, 2009

Why can’t we figure out what Google Wave is good for?

Google Wave is… something. What it is, exactly, few people have been able to agree on. Google’s own PR about Google Wave is a frustratingly imbalanced information overload, their publicity effort centering around an 80 minute video of the developer preview at Google I/O, earlier this year, entirely burying their slick, short product demos.

Apple can routinely, in 80 minutes, tout its sales figures, announce three revolutionary consumer products, demo them, preview yet another devastatingly witty TV commercial starring an affable PC and bemused Mac, and have a surprise musical guest run through a number or two. Even Microsoft’s execs can put on a reasonably tight show when announcing new products. So how does Google’s new product announcement compare? It’s thorough and boring. It’s unrehearsed, heavily padded by presentation failures, presenter fumbles, and an excruciatingly long introduction by one of Google’s research unit executives.

The Wave video is a fine tech conference presentation. But it’s a lousy public product demonstration, and it’s the entirety of Google’s sales pitch. Sales pitches, product sheets, whitepapers, short demonstrations of single features are all missing from Wave’s PR. In their place is a long video of people fumbling with their demo equipment. I watched it in 20 minute chunks, because if this is The Future, The Future is awkward.

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October 13th, 2009

@font-face and performance

A usefully comprehensive analysis of how @font-face affects web site loading time (both actual and perceived). The results are somewhat depressing.

Worst-case scenario: If a font file fails to download properly in Internet Explorer, the whole page is unviewable.

It sounds like rather than simply whacking external font requests into the stylesheet, a savvy web developer can improve circumstances by scripting the site to only load external fonts when page content requires it, and sending files compressed whenever possible. Microsoft-specific conditional clauses can help control its display problems. Some of Steve’s recommendations are of limited value to small-scale web developers.

October 6th, 2009

Font Embedding

Ascender Corp‘s website with legal information about embedding fonts in documents and devices. Oddly mum about embedding fonts in PDFs, a technology that’s been available for over a decade. Strongly endorses the EOT font format, although there’s no clear reason why this proprietary format has an advantage against piracy, aside from limiting use of the font to Internet Explorer. Useful information along with some mildly irritating shilling.

October 6th, 2009

BoingBoing

Their new design’s use of BPReplay is a good demonstration of a high-traffic site using @font-face. A happy coincidence as I continue looking for web font resources.

(Edit: And they unplugged it on day 2. BPRelay Bold was getting a lot of hate. In the comments there were some legitimate complaints about it not rendering well at smaller sizes (web fonts rarely have the same hinting advantages as native fonts) and consuming extra bandwidth to load.)

October 5th, 2009

Webfonts.info

Another wiki for web fonts (see the Open Font Library), this features a short list of fonts sorted by licenses compatible with free end user access through @font-face. There is also aggregated news relevant to web fonts and aggregated Twitter feeds.