Aleksandar • Vacić

iOS bits and pieces

I hate this thing called IE

I really, really hate Internet Explorer. It’s such a bug-infested piece of crap (PoC) that it’s constantly ripping my nerves.

Idiotic, take 1: IIS 5, ASP, and IE, over SSL
  1. I read set of user messages from database. Those messages needs to be displayed as JS’s alerts, so I create a JS file and save it from ASP, using FileSystemObject.

  2. I have a set of constants kept in the database that I need in JS. So I create another .js file and save it

  3. In order to save HTTP requests, I combine those two files and save the result as final .js file

  4. When this file is loaded over HTTP all is fine.

  5. When loaded over SSL, The PoC never figures out that it has downloaded the file and keeps downloading nothing forever!

  6. Take the final .js file, load in anything (even Notepad), save it and behold the miracle - work even in IE.

  7. Do I need to tell that this does not happen with any other browser?

Idiotic, take 2: IIS 5 HTTP compression, IE
  1. HTTP compression is damn good thing. IIS5 has gzip flavor of it. IE supports it.

  2. Enable the compression and watch with horror how IE chokes with compressed files coming from IIS.

  3. Do I need to tell that this does not happen with any other browser?

Idiotic, take 3: any HTTP compression, IE
  1. If you have HTTP compression enabled, and you surf the site that use it with IE, from time to time you will have random Javascript errors popping-up. Sometimes several times a day, sometimes once a week. Random!

  2. Do forced refresh (Ctrl + F5) on that page and all works normally.

  3. Do I need to tell that this does not happen with any other browser?

Idiotic, take 4 - infinite

In no particular order…

  1. PNG alpha transparency broken.

  2. Broken float model.

  3. Missing text, aka Peek-a-boo.

  4. Pseudo-element extra-space needed.

  5. Duplicate character with adjacent floats.

  6. Broken margins on floats.

  7. Phantom box.

  8. 3px text jog.

  9. Missing first-letter.

  10. Creeping text.

  11. Doubling margin on floats.

  12. Float boxes running-away.

  13. Ignoring font-sizes inside of tables.

  14. Missing images if saved in Mac’s Photoshop 7.

  15. Not caching images loaded from CSS, thus introducing flicker (really annoying over SSL).

  16. Randomly loose images loaded from CSS, without realizing that.

  17. Not supporting the best thing that ever happened to web design: CSS2 selectors.

  18. Not supporting DOM2 Events.

  19. Not supporting position:fixed.

  20. Not being able to resize the only true screen measurement unit: pixels.

  21. Not supporting max-width and min-width.

  22. Not supporting :hover on any element. Count here all other pseudo-classes.

  23. Not being able to prototype existing HTML elements

  24. z-index phone book. I know. I hate every one of you responsible for this behavior. MS or other.

  25. Not giving “document ready” state when .swf file is missing and loaded with object tag (thus all your window.onload scripts never execute).

This is not the full list. Just things that troubles me almost every day.

Wonderful images

I’ve always disliked full-desktop wallpapers. I really hate images that cover my entire desktop since it makes it hard to distinguish icons. Or the icons cover parts of the desktop thus ruining the image/photo.

Since I usually work in 1152x854 or 1280x1024 resolutions, I’ve always downloaded 800x600 versions of desktops I liked. But that is over now. I found few sites with beautiful photos in 300-500px sizes.

First is Ten years of my life. It is updated daily as off-project of Matthew Haughey, of the A Whole Lotta Nothing fame. Some of the photos are simple, some have unusual composition, there are lot of focus-plays and some simply feature beautiful subject.

Second is 28mm. Updated monthly, this site features works of professional photographers as well as hobby photo-shooters. There are several thematic series per issue. Be ready to be surprised and amazed.

Both sites have RSS feeds, so you can track them that way.

Writing print articles

Few months ago, I started writing articles for the most influential computer magazine in Serbia, PC. I wanted to spread the word about modern web design, CSS-based, semantic markup and similar stuff.

Initial spark was annual Serbian Top50 list, traditionally chosen by PC staff at the end of the year. Of those 50 sites, none was nowhere near validity, semantics. They were (are) all technically outdated. The mag’s site itself was like that (built by me in 2002, I plead guilty) - I added DOCTYPE recently and corrected the mistakes I could.

First article I wrote (for March ‘04 issue) was purely a commentary on that finding, written in the single breath. When it was published, I realized large part of the article was edited to better fit the mag’s style…and soften my bashing a bit. Lesson learned.

Later articles deal with importance of markup validity, semantic markup, CSS etc. Each next article had less and less edited parts. The lesson I learned is that print articles are written over period of several days, even weeks.

The second article I wrote was done in 3 days. I let it be for two days. Then I read it again and realized that it’s poorly written. There was no clear flow of the content. I would talk about one thing, then mention something related, then expand the related part to whole paragraph until the point I completely lost the context. Someone reading that would probably be very confused what exactly I’m talking about.

So enter streamlining process.

Print publications are not blogs. Once it’s printed, there is no going back. You can’t return and correct mistakes or re-phrase sentences. Over the last few months, I developed the process of writing.

In the first phase, I simply collect resources. I write like a maniac, two or three paragraphs in a spree. Some of them are not really related to each other, but all related to the subject. This can last from 2 to 7 days or more (like in the case of CSS basics I’m currently writing).

In the second phase, I organize the parts so they have natural flow. I decide on the main theme and exclude parts not strictly related to it. All usually done in one or two days.

Then comes the hardest part. I read the whole piece and re-phrase parts, divide into chapters (err…sort of), connect them…Then I repeat this after a day or two. Then repeat again, and again…

On each reading I find parts sounding bad or don’t fitting-in with the rest of the article. After that is over, I ask friend(s) to read it, to gain different perspective. I’m lucky in this, as I have friends working for the web but mostly on the server-side. They understand what’s written, even though they have never used CSS-based design or semantic markup. Such feedback is very valuable and always result in subtle changes which I would not bother with, since I eat & breath with CSS, semantics, validation and rest of the crowd.

Only then it’s ready to be sent to the editor.

Writing articles is hard. Very time-consuming. But worthwhile and rewarding.

Great song that should've been a winner

Man, that was close. Our contender Zeljko Joksimovic almost won the Eurosong competition. After 12 years of absence, this is a very strong second place. Although I can hardly be called objective, the Ukraine song is really stupid in english. Shaka daka tralala…simply stupid. Lucky for her, she sang on her own language so it was not obvious…who knows, maybe it has meaningful lyrics in original.

If you liked the Lane moje song, you can get it here. I think it’s evident that it’s much better to sing in your own language than in english, which seems to be a trend. Also, I’m surprised that the quality of songs is so low. As I said, my country was not part of this for twelve years and when I heard the songs I was really amazed that something like 80% of the songs are very bad. Melodies were either non-existent or empty, duos were poorly synchronized or you simply forgot the song after 2 minutes. Very, very bad. I like the songs from Macedonia (To�e should’ve sing in macedonian, it much more melodic), Cyprus and Greece and perhaps Croatia, but not that much.

Well, it was fun nonetheless. While in purely ephemeris area, it’s good to be part of Europe, and to be so strong.