Christian Heilmann

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Archive for April, 2007

Are you chicken or what? Ah yes, and I can be silly, too!

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

Hey, seems like nobody is signing up for cubicgarden’s Powerpoint Karaoke (that is Powerpoint, Ian, not Power Point). I consider it a wonderfully stupid idea and I am game.

In other news, I started a stupid new blog and flickr group. The idea was born when I pointed out to a friend that it is amazing that women have so many shoes and handbags. She then asked me how many T-Shirts I have and I did realize that I have far too many. So what I will do now is:

  • Wear a different T-Shirt every day
  • Upload the Shirt photo to flickr and blog its story
  • Decide whether to keep or ditch it

All the ditched shirts will go either to a charity shop or to the clothes bank (depending on their state) or you can claim them on the blog (I will not cover postage, so that is on your cap).

Check it out:

New step by step article how to create a maintainable JavaScript slide show

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Following the workshop in Singapore I promised to send out a more detailed explanation how to create a simple slide show in JavaScript that can be fully maintained in HTML, redesigned in CSS and all dynamic labels changed without having to change the main script.

The trick is once again separation, and if you care to learn more about this, check the 5 step example how to create a maintainable slideshow

Scriptless Day on 7th of July

Monday, April 9th, 2007

I just came across Scriptless Day via Twitter, which is something like CSS naked day but for JavaScripts. I had the same idea but didn’t bother as after me criticizing naked day I’d have appeared as a copycat.

In essence scriptless day is a great idea as it should show that:

  • web sites with properly developed scripts do work without scripts
  • JavaScript does make our experience smoother when it is available.

I am not too sure about the explanation of what a script is, and rather scared about the notion that it is nothing you have to think about if you believe in a library doing it for you, but all in all I am looking forward to this.

The business case for web standards – call for wiki participation

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

I was rather shocked to go to Refresh Edinburgh and witness that the planned presentation “The Business Reasons for Web Standards� by John Sutherland was cut short because of me mentioning the failure of a lot of arguments when talking to enterprise level companies and managers in my Highland Fling presentation.

It was not my intention to discourage people to try finding and communicating business benefits, and I am sorry if I disheartened someone to do so. Whilst this was a strange experience (wow, people listen to what I say!) I am actually happy that it made people reconsider their arguments and realize that the subject of web standards for business stakeholders is rather more complex than selling it to other developers.

We all have done a “why our company should use web standards� presentation in our careers and many a time it didn’t work out for a simple reason: we don’t speak the language of the people we try to reach and we don’t solve their problems. Instead we try to make them see the world through our eyes. In any communication it is always beneficial to know what ails the person you talk to, help them overcome one or more of their problems and then bring your ideas to the table. Opening a door is much easier when you already have a foot in.

In order to avoid more misunderstandings and make sure we have the right verbal ammunition to deal with all kind of people when we try to sell the idea of web standards development I set up a wiki on the subject of “The business case for web standards development�.

I hope that by aggregating information there and using it to formulate our presentations and emails in the right manner we can have more impact than we have now. I also hope that reading success stories of others may encourage you to take a stand in your environment and try to get a chance to work in a less random manner than we have to do without sticking to standards.

Personally I also hope that I won’t drown in spam or not get any worthwhile content at all and I hope that the wiki will be self-moderated as I don’t have the time to tend to it 100%. I’ve been very disappointed in the past throwing myself to the wolves of collaborative aggregation and hope that I struck a more resonant nerve this time.

Refresh Edinburgh

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

I am just sitting at Refresh Edinburgh listening to Dan Champion explaining his new book review site project.

So far I am very much enjoying myself at Refresh Edinburgh. The location is very cozy and on the wacky side (massive Tuk Tuk in the room) and it generally feels like one of the meetings I had in the student union. The presentations so far:

[tag]Google Sightseeing[/tag]

James Turnbull and Alex Turnbull talked about their blog, Google Sightseeing. how they promoted it and eventually turned it into a book. It was a very entertaining presentation and a very down-to-earth explanation of what the benefits and problems of blog fame are. They also pointed out the learning curb I had to climb that book publication is a lot different to writing for the web. A very entertaining presentation.

Project management basics for busy geeks

Meri Williams, outing herself as a corporate whore (Ed: No pun intended, just repeating what she said) for Procter & Gamble talked about the largely unknown animal to the garden variety geek: project management. Meri explained some of the ideas of [tag]project management[/tag] methodologies and how a lot of them fail when your job is to cat-herd a bunch of geeks into delivering a product. I’d like to see a lot more talks like that as a lot of the frustration of our web developer jobs are not only technical but also stem from bad [tag]communication[/tag] or mislead leadership in companies. I found that being able to talk to PMs, and know what ails and drives them allowed me to deliver my tasks much faster and less stressful. Well done, Meri.


Tony Farndon showed off [tag]flock[/tag] as a browser for the social network geek and pretty much sold me to the idea of it by showing how easy it is to pull together your social network footprints and those of your friends from within the firefox based browser rather than going to the different sites or rely on add-ons. Seeing that using netvibes to read my RSS feeds giving me about an extra hour a day to play with I am ready to give Flock a go and meet the folks next time I am in the valley. My favourite bit about Tony’s presentation was that he didn’t hold back on the impression that he doesn’t work for Flock, but is a fanboy: “If you don’t like it, uninstall it!”

Edinburgh Menus

Andrew Cavers showed off his [tag]Edinburgh Menus[/tag] web product, which is a Google Maps based restaurant review and information site for Edinburgh. Having worked on Yahoo! Local it is quite amazing to see that someone put this amount of effort into creating a site like this and coming out with such a good product. I will try to get some people I worked with to talk to him and help him avoid some of the mistakes we did and barriers to avoid.


Brian Suda, whom I wanted to meet for quite a while once again beat the [tag]Microformats[/tag] drum and showed off an XSLT-FO solution that creates business cards in PDF format from hcards. I am sorry to see that he ran into [tag]James Edwards[/tag] and me arguing most of his presentation about the inaccessibility of some of the HTML examples but was happy to chat through our different views afterwards. One thing is for sure, Suda is your microformats man and he deserves a superhero outfit with a long flowing cape and the microformats logo on it.

The business argument for web standards

John Sutherland from Mercurytide was originally trying to show the business argument for web standards but was so shocked of some things I said during my presentation at [tag]Highland Fling[/tag] about the pains to sell them on an enterprise level. I felt genuinely shocked by this and never wanted to dishearten anybody to talk about the benefits. This is why I will follow this up with a larger piece on the subject and will straighten out some of the points I brought up. I talked longer to John in the restaurant and the pub afterwards and hope he doesn’t give up.


[tag]Dan Champion[/tag] showed off his new book review site and exlained his decisions in methodology and design. All in all it was a very enlightening talk and it is great to see that someone else who suffered the development environment nightmare that is local government. [tag]Revish[tag] seems a very thorough product and I hope that Dan won’t drown in moderation nightmares. Get his slides, there is a lot of good information and ideas in there.


Tom Griffiths unveils [tag]Groopit[/tag], a new social tool that helps existing
groups of friends do more together. Groopit is an idea I saw someone do at the internal Yahoo! Hack Day and it works on the premise that you don’t start with the hypothetical idea of online “friends” finding another but use real life groups and give them an online means to send each other messages and make decisions without relying on a phone and chinese whispers. There is a lot of potential in the product and when some kinks are ironed out I can see it taking off for certain groups.