Friday, June 22, 2007

Hating on wannabe web designers

This is not my usually fare, but I can't stand it anymore! Just because you're a designer, doesn't mean you're a web designer. The web lives by different rules ... So follow them, dammit!

Dimensions aren't fixed
In the print world, once your width and height are set, that's it, they're not changing. You can do cool things like bleeding off the edge. On the web, the dimensions change more often than the court's decision on Paris Hilton. Users can have multiple screen resolutions, and top of that, users can choose to resize their browser any which way they please.

What does that mean for you? It means to stop thinking your Photoshop canvas is the end all and be all of what the end users will see.

No fixed height
Stop cramming text into three-column formats, or placing scrollbars within your PSD. just stop it! Stop adding elements (like footers, or photography) that bleed off the bottom of your canvas. Just stop it! Web browsers do something spectacular when the height of a webpage exceeds the height of the browser: They automatically add a vertical scrollbar! It's okay to have a tall webpage. Really. That's why most mouses have a scrollwheel. Your design should just have one column for navigation, and one column for text.

Two options for width
Websites can either be fixed width, or variable width. Check out my blog, for example. If you resize your browser window, making it smaller, you will see the body text re-rag so that it still fits on the page. the overflow pushes downward. An example of a fixed-width layout, on the other hand, is http://www.yahoo.ca. If you resize your browser window on that site, the width stays exactly the same, but stays centered on-screen.

Think about the needs of the website you are designing. If there's a lot of content, or large data tables, or a need for content to appear in columns, then you should design your site with the foresight of certain elements expanding/contracting as the browser resizes. If there are design elements that span the width of your layout, or if there isn't much content from page-to-page, then you should stick to a fixed width approach.

Raster based, not Vector based
I've come across many a designer that has supplied me with designs in Adobe Illustrator. These people are stupid. Don't be stupid! The web is completely raster based. Well, unless you count Flash ... if you want to design for Flash in Illustrator, that's fine. But if you want a design I can use, build it in Photoshop, dammit!

The bonus for anyone that usually works at 300DPI: Screen resolution is only 72DPI. Web PSDs usually range in the 5-10MB range. Having a PSD with any higher res is a waste of time. My time. In fact, Adobe Imageready automatically opens files at 72DPI.


Bandwidth

Even with a high speed internet connection, sites can load slowly if they are poorly designed. Too many images can make surfing a website turn into a real pain in the butt. Too much waiting, and your visitors are likely to abort mission and head somewhere else.

What is ideal is to cut a design into a few small images, and then use HTML to position those images on the page. This becomes impossible if you:
  • Add a complex, textured background that doesn't tile
  • Add a graphic, with body text that rags tightly around it
  • Use gratuitous amounts of rounded corners
  • Use gratuitous amounts of shadows
  • Use gratuitous amounts of gradients
  • Use fancy fonts everywhere
Regarding Transparency
Until Internet Explorer 6 dies (currently, it still owns 50-60% of the browser market), web transparency is difficult. Why? Because IE6 does not display transparent PNGs properly. Before the PNG file format was supported in web browsers, the only option available is a transparent GIF. The problem with GIF is that it's only 8-bit (i.e. 256 colours), and there's only one colour transparency. You want to make anything with curves transparent? Forget about it!

So please keep this in mind, people! No, you cannot have a wacky tiling background, and then border your content with a translucent drop shadow!

Web Accessibility
The beautiful thing about the web is that it can be restyled to fit different users' needs. If someone has vision problems, they can make the font size bigger. If they are blind, there are screen readers that can take the text on your site and read it out loud.

Wannabe designers tend to over stylize everything, from page titles to photo captions, to navigation elements. When you use things like fancy, non-web friendly fonts, then I'm forced to convert your text into an image. When that happens, screen readers can no longer read the text. All the screen reader will find are images. Also, web browsers can't enlarge the text that's in an image.

In Closing
If you're are a wannabe web designer, you need to go to web development boot camp. Stop making my life harder. If you do, make sure to watch for flying right hooks to your face and/or kicks to the groin.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Holy crap this sucks

Having a PVR is amazing. I can watch the TV I want, whenever I want to watch it. I'm not tied to a stupid schedule. As a bonus, I can skip commercials!

The only caveat: When it's the summer, and it's Sunday night, there's nothing to tape! So tonight, I had to resort to something I dread doing (and something I mock my closest friends about) ... channel surfing. Holy crap this sucks (notice the clever tie-in to the title of this post).

I started with Vintage Vibe on MuchVibe. I don't know what the hell I was listening to, but it was neither vintage nor vibe. Then I checked out Raptors TV. Cavs-Spurs? I didn't want to watch this the first time around!

I tried Showtime (now in HD!) and the new show The Riches. I've seen posters everywhere touting this as the best new show on TV. After 5 minutes, I tout it the worst 5 minutes of my entire life. I couldn't get past Minnie Driver's attempt at a Texas accent.

My final attempt was Last Comic Standing. You would assume it's a show about stand up comics. But if it is, then why am I so tense and angry?

to quote Bart Simpson, "TV sucks." I wanted to bust out some of my favourite movies, like Aliens, but I already packed it away for our move next week. Holy crap this sucks (yes! Thrice in one post, this is writing genius).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Review: Knocked Up

If you don't want to read my entire review, here's the gist of it: This movie is good. Watch it.

But if you don't read the rest of my review, I'll kill you. Seriously.

Anyways, Knocked Up had me at "from the director of the 40-year old virgin." Same director, and 4 of the same cast members. Wicked! Add Katherine Heigl from Grey's Anatomy for good measure (she doesn't look that good inset, but here's a better shot).

The opening theme was Ol' Dirty Bastards, "Shimmy Shimmy Ya." Done! I don't need to watch no more.

The movie is an excellent mix of pop culture references, relationship awkwardness, low brow sex jokes, low brow toilet jokes ... right up teamID's alley! When they drop the Total Recall reference, Cathy and I went nuts. There were a lot of geeky jokes too, like "Googling murder." I don't want to spoil these jokes, but trust me, they were funny. *** Apple fanboy warning *** The movie also sports a macbook pro and a 24-inch iMac. nice! *** Apple fanboy warning ***

It does get slow at certain points, with extraneous scenes (who needs plot advancement anyways?). But overall, this movie is goodness. Watch it!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sorry Kev, you just got pw3nd

So we're playing poker on Saturday night, and at the end I'm heads-up against Kev. I'm feeling pretty good, as I've been knocking players out, and building my chip stack from a big deficit.

Kev and I are going back and forth for a while trading blows, until he successfully traps me and I lose a large portion of my chip stack. Feeling a bit defeated, I try to shake it off and chip away at his large stack.

Somehow, I actually got back up to even. I check my next hand, and it's King-Jack. Usually, this is garbage, but heads up, you don't feel bad going to war with hand. I forget if I raised and he called, or if it was the other way around, but anyways, we both end up going all-in, and he turns over Queen-Jack.

Looks good, right? Wrong. On the flop, there's a queen. The turn and river don't help me. Fuck! Second place again? I always end up second whenever I play poker. Just ask my co-workers: I've finished 2nd in 3 of the tournaments I've run. They call me the poker bridesmaid (never the bride)... I start counting my chips to see if Kev covers me.

But wait! As my wife turns the cards face-down to clean up, she realizes that she's been using the wrong deck to deal out the flop! Bay, next time, just slap Kev in the face, cuz it won't hurt as much!

She uses the correct deck, and I win with my high card King. Yes! I felt so bad, Kev thinking he won and all. But when he asked me for his $10 back, I told him, "I don't feel that bad."

Saturday, June 02, 2007

May 24 Pictures up

The pictures from our May 2-4 barbecue at Ashbridges Bay are online. Click the link on the left to check them out.

The worst May 2-4 in TeamID history was also the most memorable. Due to communication errors, nobody brought condiments, nobody brought matches, and worst of all, nobody brought hamburgers! All we had were hot dogs and whatever soy crap Anth brought.

We did find a nice place to set up camp, however, just by the parking lot, where people tried to get away with parking illegally. One tow, truck, two tow truck, three tow truck, four later, good old fashioned entertainment was had by all.

My brother, coincendentally, was at Ashbridges celebrating Victoria day as well. He just got back from a trip to the Dominican, and he didn't even call. Welcome back, jerk!

Let's hope that our barbecue dies sometime between now and next May. It just looks disgusting! It doesn't look safe anymore. Really, it's like watching Hakeen Olajuwon play with the Toronto Raptors. Let him retire already, please!