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The source is strong in this one

The source is strong in this one published on No Comments on The source is strong in this one

Hey, have you checked out Damage Control? It’s a new comic strip from yours truly, and it just launched this morning!

Originally posted on ReadWriteWeb

The other day, I was at a local coffee shop trying to troubleshoot a page on my cartoon site. I didn’t have my trusty laptop with me, but I no worries — I had my iPad, which is practically the same thing, right?

Until I opened the page in Safari, and had a look at the source.

Or, rather, didn’t. It turns out Safari in iOS – you’re going to want to sit down for this – doesn’t have a “View Source” command.

Now, if I’d dug a little, I would have found many others in my position. I would have discovered any number of JavaScript-based bookmarklets for creating an ersatz View Source command in Safari on the iPad. I might even have come across the miracle known as Firebug Lite, a bookmarklet that replicates much of the functionality of that venerable web developer’s tool.

Instead, I opened the page in Atomic Browser. Which (ahhhh!) does let you view the source of a web page.

“You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone,” sang Joni Mitchell in 1970, which is how I know she had access to very early Firefox and iPhone betas. Because only someone who has had access to View Source, and then lost it, could understand the concept of loss well enough to write those words.

View Source is more than just a menu command; it’s the Rosetta Stone to web innovation.

View Source turns “take it into the shop” into “pop open the hood and see what’s broken.”

View Source turns “How did they do that?” into “So that’s how they do that.”

View Source turns “I did this once” into “Everyone can do this again and again.”

View Source turns a dozen people reinventing the same wheel into a dozen better wheels.

View Source turns a magician revealing her secrets into tens, hundreds or thousands of new magicians.

In short, View Source is a big part of what puts the “write” in the read-write web.

(Credit where it’s due: while I made some progress on my own, the solution to my problem ultimately came thanks to Michael Sisk, creator of the free Webcomic WordPress plugin that powers Noise to Signal — as well as Damage Control, the comic I launched today.)

Update: Lloyd Budd points to this blog post by Chris Messina, from a mere four years ago, celebrating the joys of view source with far more precision than I can muster.

Flash: nature’s way of telling your browser to slow down

Flash: nature’s way of telling your browser to slow down published on 3 Comments on Flash: nature’s way of telling your browser to slow down

Props to Flash for a whole lot of things, from making the YouTube revolution possible to offering a genuinely accessible authoring environment. Seriously, good on ’em.

But on Safari, Chrome and Firefox, I’m discovering that most sites with a significant Flash presence are a sign that I’m about to have the opportunity to practice my calm breathing skills while those browsers slow to a crawl. For whatever reason, if the Internet is a bunch of tubes, then Flash is the slowest hamster in the Habitrail.

I’m loath to lard up my system with beta software, but Flash is ubiquitous enough that I’m prepared to make an exception. So we’ll see if the Flash plug-in 10.1 release candidate speeds things up any.

Meanwhile, on a related note: if you’re starting a restaurant web site, please be one of the few, the proud that aren’t built entirely in Flash. Mobile devices can’t use them, most are hostile to search engines (you do want search engine traffic, right?) and I have yet to see a restaurant web site that had a good reason not to stick to good ol’ HTML.


RIP NFG IE6 published on 1 Comment on RIP NFG IE6

The word that Google has decided to stop supporting Internet Explorer 6 as of March 1 will come as welcome but bittersweet news to designers and developers who have wrestled for years to make perfectly compliant sites work properly in that wretched browser.

Welcome, because this could well be the death knell for IE6. You can make a legitimate case to clients that, hell, if Google isn’t supporting it, why should they?

And bittersweet, because the death of an old foe feels almost like losing a friend. No more nights curled up by the monitor together, trying to remember obscure hacks and puzzling through baffling JavaScript errors. No more repeated “!important” declarations. (sniff) No more (sob) custom script to get “hover” to work… or workarounds for (snuffle) transparent PNGs… sweetie, could you pass me that box of Kleenex?

Oh, who the hell am I kidding? The only tragedy about IE6’s passing is that it didn’t happen three years ago, and involve giant snowmobiles with poison-tipped 12-inch spikes embedded in their treads. (And what do you want to bet the meddling feds would have some objection to poison-tipped 12-inch spike-riddled snowmobile treads? But I digress.)

Consider the number of Web sites that have required major time-wasting workarounds. How many? 200,000? 300,000 at a very conservative estimate?

Say it took a developer two hours to get each site to work properly. That’s 600,000 lost hours… or more than 1,643 years. And at an average life span of 67 years, that’s… 25 lifetimes.

Now, if corporations can have the same rights as people, then surely abstract life-equivalent calculations can, too. Internet Explorer 6, you’re under citizen’s arrest for murder. That’s right,murder. 25 counts.

Given how arbitrarily and unjustly the death penalty has been applied, I can’t in all good conscience give in to the temptation to sentence IE6 to be taken from this place to a highly magnetic place and to be overwritten with zeroes until it is dead, and may Bill Gates have mercy on its soul.

Instead, install it on a computer that has also committed a heinous crime, seal it in a watertight box with a large solar panel affixed to each side, and set it adrift to live out the rest of its days on the shore of some deserted island. (“Hey, Professor, what’s this?” “Don’t touch it, Gilligan! It’s IE6!!”)

And then pop the cork on a bottle of champagne, and let the bells ring out. Ding dong, the Six is dead.

(teams of developers, facing off) Browser War Re-enactors

Peace in our time

Peace in our time published on No Comments on Peace in our time

You haven’t lived until you’ve had a client who insists on making the site render completely under Internet Explorer 5.1 for the Mac.