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Briefly free accessibility report

Posted Dec 18, 2007 in Design Comments 0

The Nielsen Norman Group releases a major (and moderately expensive) accessibility review for free as a Christmas gift. Thanks, guys.

[T Shirt] Pixels make the World go around

Posted Dec 09, 2007 in and Comments 0

I’m quite proud of this one! Suffice to say I’m thinking that a series of pixel-pun slogans might be my next step. You’ve all been warned.

SVN labelling for Textmate Projects

Posted Dec 07, 2007 in and Comments 0

Nice little tool to help Textmate out with status labelling for SVN projects.

Link: SVNMate

The BBC's Perl on Rails

Posted Dec 01, 2007 in Comments 0

Perl on Rails

There’s something classically BBC-ish about this.


Posted Nov 15, 2007 in Design Comments 0

Breaking radio silence to announce a new product initiative: I’ve started designing t-shirts again and will be selling them through Zazzle. I’m pretty impressed with Zazzle’s product range and they seem to have the all-important black t-shirt issue solved. I’ve stuck a widget on the home page to promote my new snarky and science-fiction-related offerings. If you want to help spread the joy, pass around the following URL:* (including the asterisk, which is used for the associate program).

Boing Boing redesigns

Posted Aug 28, 2007 in Design and Comments 0

And comments threads are back. But this time, they’re being moderated by the woman who invented disemvowelling.

First impressions are positive. I’ll post a more detailed review… soon?

Coda First Impressions

Posted Apr 23, 2007 in and Comments 0

Coda, the new web development app from Panic is out. I’ve just downloaded the demo and, even though I’m a committed Textmate fan, I’m sorely tempted.


  1. A visual regular expression creator built into the find-and-replace toolbar
  2. Elegant CSS editor, reminiscent of CSSEdit, and, in a weird way, Textpattern
  3. They made their own font for the editor!
  4. Integrated SFTP


Well, I can see myself using this to build a bunch of sites that I’d otherwise try a CMS for.

Also, I thought’d I’d crawl the web for some more first impressions.

Appwatch: RCDefaultApp

Posted Apr 20, 2007 in and Comments 0

RCDefaultApp is a Mac OS X preference panel that controls file-type associations. Finally, a way to stop frickin’ Dreamweaver from stealing control of SSI files. I hope.


Well, that didn’t work. Dreamweaver really, really, really wants to be able to open server-side include files and won’t let go. And no, resetting the “Open with” setting with the Get Info inspector doesn’t work either. Sigh.

Boneheaded move from Letterhead Fonts

Posted Mar 21, 2007 in Design and Comments 0

Letterhead Fonts have added digital rights management to their font library. Now, I have no real problem with them wanting to protect their copyrights. But these kinds of moves generally are incredibly counter-productive and cause all kinds of inter-operability issues. Case in point. They’ve specifically prevented font embedding into PDFs.

Adobe really did a disservice to font designers (not to mention helping people to violate their license agreements) when they allowed for embedding of fonts into PDF files. While it certainly makes things easier for the graphic designer, it creates headaches for the font designer. And since we are trying to strike an even balance for both parties, we need to understand that there are utilities available that are created for the sole purpose of extracting fonts from PDF files.

This does not mean that Letterhead Fonts cannot be used in PDF files though. You just simply convert the text to curves (also called outlines or paths) before generating your PDF file.

Now I don’t know this for sure, but I’d imagine that would blow away any accessibility features in the PDF. I’m willing to be corrected, though.

The Future of Accessible Graphs

Posted Feb 11, 2007 in and Comments 0

A core component of an accessible website is the provision of alternative descriptions of non-textual content — like photographs — via such HTML structures as the ALT and LONGDESC attributes. And a lot of the time, a simple sentence of ALT text outlining the content of the image is basically OK. But what do you do when you’re required to publish complex graphs online?

Currently, the only way to produce a graph accessibly is to put in the elbow grease and match an image of the graph with a LONGDESC summarising the data that underlies the graph. With a bit of luck, you might have access to the original spreadsheet that generated the graph and you can then think about providing the information in the LONGDESC (which can be a separate HTML document) as an HTML data table.

The maturation of such formats as Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) and even the currently non-standard Canvas extension suggest a way to automate the work of providing a textual alternative. Put simply, if we can generate complex data graphics (such as graphs) from a data-set on the fly with javascript, the textual version of the data must be already available somewhere. It’s just a different transform to tablular data — instead of SVG markup.

Is it happening already? Anyone who wants to post examples of this kind of thing is more than welcome.

Design Exercises

Posted Dec 29, 2006 in and Comments 0

Information design exercises, to be exact. Take an entry from Wikipedia, or some other open-license content source. Analyse it. Work out what kinds of content are featured in the entry. Examine the visual hierarchy. Now, attempt to improve it. And then post your results.

User Interface Design Links

Posted Nov 25, 2006 in and Design Comments 0

Just dumping some interesting UI design links I’ve found this morning while I should have been house-cleaning.

Textmatey Halloween!

Posted Oct 31, 2006 in and Comments 0

I was browsing my Applications folder a few minutes ago, and I found this:


Update (2nd November)

Somewhat astonishingly, this nice little easter egg drew a great amount of criticism from some sensitive quarters. I found the following note in the change-log for revision 1324:

[REMOVED] TextMate no longer pays tribute to human sacrifices, rape, nor does it show a picture of the God of the deaths in your dock — ticket 945BEB5D

Saluting Dr Ozone

Posted Oct 01, 2006 in Design and Comments 1

One of my most important discoveries on the fledgling Interwebs was the dazzling, vaguely prog-rockish website of Dr Thaddeus Ozone and his astonishing Hands On Tutorials site. For it was at this site that I first learned of the power of the mighty drop-shadow and the mysterious wisdom of the bevelled edge.

His techniques were decidedly old-skool. His interest in the concept of “restraint” was entirely absent. But his generosity in meticulously revealing the secrets of the most arcane Photoshop sorcery cemented my love affair with that august application.

I note sadly that he has only rarely updated his tome of magick. But more spells are available in the Guru’s Network and through the Ozone Asylum web forum. Dr Ozone, I salute you.

Art 1: Alien Head

Posted Sep 29, 2006 in Design Comments 0

Just for fun, I’m trawling through my hard drive for old art and pics that I’ve worked on but haven’t looked at for ages. Here’s a rather nasty alien head. If I remember correctly, all hand-drawn with Wacom tablet.

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