Christian Heilmann

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Archive for November, 2005

Blogs, Lists, Mags, Forums, Feeds? Where do you get your webdev juice from?

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

I remember finding A List Apart and very early in my career and it helped me heaps, and I learnt a lot from the Forums on and really way back at experts exchange. I’ve also been a regular on the list and CSS-Discuss for some years and on IRCnet in since almost 1997.

And lately I must say I am getting the feeling that we are grinding down to a halt. It is not a matter of content in most cases, it is a matter of style and etiquette in asking and answering. (more…)

Do you really need an HTML email christmas greeting?

Monday, November 28th, 2005

I got 5 test emails from different web developer friends today asking me if this christmas ecard in email format looks good in my email client. Most looked messed up in one way or another, and all had the images initially blocked and flagged up the loading as a security issue.

So here are some of my thoughts on HTML email:

  • email is probably the most spammed way of technological communication
  • most security issues and virus breakouts are caused by email or messaging software and users who do not know better than to click a link or run an attachment
  • If I wanted to know that you read my emails, I’d embed a cgi script as an image
  • the display size of email programs is totally unknown, and I don’t know anybody who opens emails fullscreen by default
  • Multipart emails (embedded images and HTML) might be filtered out as spam or possible virus threats
  • different email clients support CSS/HTML to different degrees, in addition to online email clients like gmail, yahoo or hotmail. It is a bit like trying to make everything perfect for about 20 different browsers.
  • Multipart HTML email can get rather big

Now, do you want to spend a lot of time on something that is very likely not to work out and spook your clients or wish them happy christmas?

The solution for wishing them a happy christmas: Host your ecard on a server, send them a link. You’ll know that the email will arrive and not cause warning lights to go on and you draw visitors to your site to boot.

Geekdinner aftermath

Friday, November 25th, 2005

Yesterday was Molly’s geek dinner in the hog’s head in Bond Street, and it was quite a good social gathering.

Check the flickr photos to see what was going on.

My findings:

  • geekdinner is a rubbish tag, as you can see at number on non-related pictures (including the pita goatse )
  • if you ever want to give a speech in a place where nobody will be able to hear you, choose the hog’s head – poor Ian, Molly and Andy tried their best though
  • All the christmas lights in the West End are normal christmas lights again – last year everything was branded with “The Incredibles”
  • Too many pints make me stop writing things at night

Working on another CSS Toolshed entry

Thursday, November 24th, 2005

Arthur Two Sheds Jackson As there is to date only one additional working submission for the CSS Toolshed (in comparison to over 400 downloads, so there is hope), I started another design of my own, with apologies to Zeldman and Happy Cog.

Take a peek at what is there to come

I will write a step by step commentary, if I get the time.

Pin entry fields, keylogging, security and a DOM solution

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

I looked over the wireframes of a new project today and discovered a weird one for the use case of entering a PIN number: The client defined a keypad like you would see on a cash machine, and requested that the user should enter the PIN thus – via the mouse.

The accessibility militia member in me started to frown upon this, considering that a password field is a lot easier to use and wondered if that is a marketing

However, upon reading further into the requirements, I realised that it is a security measure to prevent keylogging software to store the pins users enter in the application.

However, I don’t think that there is a truly accessible solution for that problem, as you will need JavaScript to change a field’s value when clicking other buttons – unless you want to reload on every button click.

I came up with a DOMscripting solution for the problem, check the test page for DOMpinpad here and wondered if there are more options to improve this.

Currently the pad

  • only applies itself when DOM is supported and JavaScript is available
  • renders the PIN field readonly and greyed out only when the pad can be used
  • can be used with a keyboard and tabbing and with the mouse (is there a safety hazard in the tabbing ability? Wouldn’t that be trackable, too?)
  • is self contained, as in plays well with other scripts
  • is styleable via CSS

I tested it on MSIE 6,Firefox and Opera on PC and Safari on Mac, please report any problems you may encounter.

If this one is considered a worthy solution, I will wrap it up and release the code at a later stage.