Stefan Hayden

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Archive for the 'blog' Category

I’ve gotten a lot of satisfaction out of keeping track of the books I’ve been reading. I only wish I’ve always had a list of what I have been reading and when. Now I want to take more control of the books I intend to read. So far I’m not sure if I like the system I have going but I don’t think I’m that far off.

Nothing makes me more sad then when a bad article get popular. SEOmoz has an article called “5 HTML elements you probably never use (but perhaps should)” a title that would get about any article bookmarked. But it’s a very disingenuous title.

SEOmoz suggests using the <address> tag with no mention of the hCard microformat. In this day and age after even Bill Gates is talking about microformats it’s a topic that should not be ignored.

They think you should use the <q> tag for quotes though it has no support in IE. How is this helpful at all? Sure it’s sad that IE doesn’t support it but it’s hard to then tell me I should always be using that tag.

And I would argue that <acronym> and <abbr> are fairly wide used. I maybe biased since I read mostly web designer blogs but I see these all the time.

With and digg and so many other link aggregators around there is currently way too much focus on coming up with a good post title first and then writing any crap article afterwards.

I’m coming to the point where I dread clicking on any article with top 10 this or 5 of this other thing you should use. When will the insanity stop?

The President of Iran has just started a blog. I would love to read it to get a better understanding of the other side of the story. Some where some one will pick up the slack and translate The Iranian President’s posts to English. Let me know if you find who is translating the posts. (via BoingBoing)

Though I’m over a month late I just noticed Design by Fire is back. It’s always interesting the personal discovery people go through when they come back to blogging.

Well it took a while for me to really sit down and notice (Okay..Trey pointed it out) but I’m really pissed at Feedburner and wordpress. There just does not seem to be a good way to keep control of you’re readers and still offer all the wordpress feeds.

My ideal set up is that every one subscribes to the default wordpress rss feed and then I redirect them with some server magic. Then if feedburner sucks or something better come along I can just redirect them else where. In addition I still want the comment feeds to work as well.

WordPress had support for feeds for each comment thread but since the same file serves both the comment feed and the main feed you can’t just send all the traffic to feedburner since they only server the main feed.

There seems no good way to track stats on the feed and keep the full functionality working.

Some one really needs to come up with a stat program for feeds. Either some code I can install or anything that will give me stats as well as the full functionality of wordpress rss.

Update: Matt Shobe from Feedburner kicked my ass in the comments below and showed me exactly what I wanted. It’s really hard to no like a company when they fix all your problems. Thanks Matt!

Well this redesign is a long time in the making. There are still plenty of loose edges to clean up but as long as you don’t dig too deep everything should be fine.

This redesign is feature rich with lots of additional feeds and functionality.

You’ll notice to the right my info from, Trackslife, Netflix, and links from Since I’m using all of these services I might as well put them in one place where everyone can see.

The easiest way to integrate an RSS feed is with MagpieRSS which made adding and Netflix super easy.

Anything that’s not in an RSS feed become a bit more difficult. Tackslife has an RSS feed but it’s horribly formed for getting out small bit of information. only has weekly artists in an XML file and while it would be nice if MagpieRSS supported XML it dies not.

Anything not in an RSS file I got the info with cURL and the pregmatch function as I’ve outlined before.

One last feature that is a great trick is how the site re-sizes if they screen is smaller then 1024. Re-size to 800 and the 2 columns will turn in to 1. Thanks to Collylogic for the tip on how to make it happen.

All and all I’m very happy with the final outcome and I’d love to help anyone who wants similar RSS integration in to their website. I’d love to hear any feedback!

Welcome to the first step of many in updating this dingy old web site. As I sign up for more and more web services across the internet I slowly lose time I could be devoting to adding content to this site.

This leave me with two options. I could stop using other web services (like and save my links here or I can start to combine these services back in to this site and let me update content here while still using outside services.

The first step is changing up my feed to integrate in to my rss. Now if I update or this blog they will both appear in the rss feed, so subscribe today.

I don’t intend to flood you with new content but hopefully I will finally be able to point out really interesting content that I would not have included with the web site previously.

Update: well it was working for a bit and now something broke… look for it in the near future. OKay that was not as hard as i thought it world be.

Update 2: Sorry for making your rss reader go crazy. I’m 100% sure it’s all fixed now.

“I’m counting on medical science to cure everything in another ten years so that as I grow older all I have to worry about is which dialect of Chinese I need to learn in order to shop for groceries, pay bills, and play World of Warcraft.”

Greg Storey

That’s such an awesome quote from Greg that it needed repeating. I have often wondered the same thing. Though sometimes instead of Chinese I think of Portuguese since there is a huge tech movement in Brazil to rival America.

I wonder if once people can live an extremely long and healthy life if they will be less likely to throw it away in a war. I can keep hoping.

With so many changes in store for the upcoming $100 it must be earlier in production then I thought. Here is a choice excerpt:

Negroponte said one meeting with an unnamed display manufacturer spotlighted the importance of high-volume manufacturing.

“I said, ‘We’d like to work with you on the display. We need a small display. It doesn’t have perfect color uniformity, it can have pixel or two missing, it doesn’t have to be that bright,” Negroponte recounted. “The manufacturer said, ‘Our strategic plan is to make big displays with perfect color uniformity, zero pixel defects and to make it very bright for the living room.'”

“I said, ‘That’s too bad, because I need 100 million a year.’ They said, ‘Well, maybe we can change our strategic plan.’ That’s the reason you need scale,” Negroponte said.

Too funny.

laptop, Negroponte

If you change the HTML and the CSS of a page there is a decent chance that a user will get the new HTML but not the new CSS. This is especially true for sites with high usage and users that come back to the site several times a day.

If they only get the new HTML but not the new CSS then the site will break, the user will get confused, and you will look unprofessional. On the development site of this the problem is already solved. Having a Dev server as a place to test code is standard practice but how does this translate to CSS?

The problem is that the CSS is cashing on the client side and there isn’t an obvious way of telling the browser to un-cache it. Luckily the key word is obvious. Though it’s not in wide use there is a quick hack that will keep your CSS as fresh as your HTML.

The trick is to pass a variable on the end of the CSS file like so:

<link rel="stylesheet" xhref="" type="text/css" />

What does ?version=1 mean? This is what a URL looks like if it’s passing a GET variable from one page to the next. To the browser it means the page is dynamic and it needs to get a new version because code may have changed. The browser has no way of knowing if the CSS file is actually dynamic or not.The trick is to change the number each time you update the CSS file to make sure the browser always downloads the new code.

When a browser looks to see if it has anything cashed it compares file names. If you have “style.css” in your cashe then it’s not going to download it again. But if the browser compares “style.css?version=1” to what the new HTML is “style.css?version=2” then the browser thinks they are different files and needs to download the new CSS file.

The other reason this works is because you can add anything you want after the ? and the web page just ignores it unless it’s an actually variable on the page.

This seems to be a really good solution to version css and yet so few seem to use it. The only 2 sites I know of who do is Odeo and Sconex. Yet clearly we are in the middle of a big web boom with CSS being used every where. How are other people versioning their CSS so it doesn’t break the user experience?

In general I can’t see to many other solutions. You could make the CSS file parsed by the web server and pass headers with different cacheing info. I have not tried this but I’ll bet the browser would still cache the file as it does not know it is dynamic even if it is. You could rename the CSS file with .php but clearly no one is doing that and I’ll bet there is a browser out there that would not apply the styles because of that.

No every one gets to work on a large production site but with so many jumping in the area and quickly updating the service I’m surprised this subject has not been covered.

odeo, sconex, css, versioning, hack

Bishop Allen - FebruaryI haven’t written much about music here and I think I might in the coming future. What I really should be writing about is design and yet here I go with my music plug.

Bishop Allen (wikipedia) is a small band out of New York City that has decided to go without a record label and just do the work themselves. So far it seems to be working great as they have not starved to death after almost 3 years as a band. They only have one album out called Charm School but every song on it is amazing.

A lot of bands put out good albums though and there seems to be a difference between a band that puts out a good album and a band who can continue to produce good music. With only one album I was afraid Bishop Allen might not be up to the challenge.

This year though they are planning on releasing an EP every month of 2006. That about 4 songs for 12 months or 48 songs in a year. I was skeptical if they could hold up their quality in such a small time frame. 2 EPs and 8 songs in to the year and they have yet to hit a bad note. I’m actually amazed that they have kept up the quality of the songs they are putting out.

These songs are fully finished. They don’t feel like demos or rough stuff they are working on for an album. Each song is a gem that I listen to in wonder.

If Bishop Allen keeps up this quality they are quickly going to jump to my number 2 band of all time right behind Cake, another band that has stood the test of time.

Each EP is only 5 bucks and they have even offered up a several free songs on their site so you know what you getting. You need to buy these EPs.


bishopallen, indie,indierock, indiepop, music, download

As hard as I might try I really can’t get in to Rocketboom. I can’t figure out why it’s as popular as it is. It’s not that I don’t like Amanda Congdon It’s just that I don’t find her sense of humor very endearing. Her enthusiasm seems fake and no matter what the news story is it always has some sort of cheese spin to it. I don’t wish bad things upon them, I just don’t get it.

On the other hand I love MoBuzzTV. Karina Stenquist has the perfect personality for the online world. Smart, sarcastic and just a little snarky everyday the news is delivered with just the right amount of dark humor. In general I can’t say enough great things about it besides I wish it was longer.

It makes me kind of annoyed that Rocketboom gets so much attention and yet MoBuzzTv seems so over looked. I can only hope they are doing well and will continue to produce shows for a lone time.

rocketboom, mobuzztv, vlog, AmandaCongdon, KarinaStenquist

Joan of ArcadiaJoan of Arcadia was an awesome show that was plagued by a fatal flaw. That flaw is in fact what the entire show was based on though you might not even know it. On the surface the show was about Joan and how god talked to her. Yet if you watched Barbara Hall talk about the show on the DVD you quickly learned something slightly different.

Barbara explains that the show is about Joan, the metaphysical warrior, as well as her father the cop, as the physical warrior. Barbara really wanted to play the two side off each other and form a balance of the world of god that you can’t fully grasp and the world of being a cop.

This view of the show puts more focus on the contrast of Joan and her father then on the fact that Joan talks to God. This is not necessarily bad but this was not what any publicity or even the opening credits focused on.

When ever a show gets canceled there is usually a fairly clear reason why. Shows get pulled because they are not getting the viewership they wanted. Who was Joan of Arcadia target audience? 50% of the shows focus was Joan and her friends. The other 50% was a about the Father who was a cop and his trials at work.

This 50/50 split seems to have been the problem. If you liked the kids the best then you did not care about the parents and if you liked the parents you most likely did not want to watch a teen drama.

Barbara was so focused on the contrast between the two that she did not see the fact that she was spreading her audience too thin. Not to mention that advertisers like to know who they are advertising too. An audience that was 50% adults and 50% teens is not an effective way to market to either. At the end of the day if a show can’t bring home the bread it’s going to get canceled.

I might sound a bit hard on Barbara but that’s only because I love the show so much. While it was flawed on such a basic level it did everything else right. The writing was snappy and very emotional. While I did not enjoy the parent story lines they were still well written and I would have enjoyed them more as a separate show instead on woven in to the same show.

The amount of character development she managed to pack in to thirty minutes (With the other half taken by the parents) for about 8 different characters was amazing. Yet there was still so much that could have been done. Friedman was neglected and kept as a flat character until the second season where he only started to shine. Even Joan’s brothers were left fairly flat until later in the first season.

A couple years back in college I ripped Memento, a move sequenced in reverse, and re-sequenced it in chronological order. I keep talking about trying the same thing with Joan of Arcadia and cutting out most of the parent scenes. I’m sure it would be extremely rough but it would be closer to a show that would have actually grabbed their target audience and kept them for season after season.

joanofarcadia, cbs, dvd


Designing the Next Generation of Web Apps (more)

How to Convince Your Company to Embrace Standards (more)

WaSP Annual General Meeting

Microformats: Evolving The Web (more and more)

Web Standards and Search Engines: Searching for Common Ground

Holistic Web Design: Finding the Creative Balance in Multi-Disciplined Teams (more)

Web 2.1: Making Web 2.0 Accessible (more)

Demystifying the Mobile Web (more and more)

How to Make the Most of Maps

Sink or Swim. The Five Most Important Start-up Decisions

Tantek Çelik Presentation: Creating Building Blocks for Independents

How to Bluff Your Way in DOM Scripting (more)

How to Be A Web Design Superhero (more)

Traditional Design and New Technology (more and more)

OSX and Longhorn Development

Video Blogg Business Models

Ambient Findability

Learning From Comics

Craig Newmark Interview (more and more)

Standard Deviation

Cluetrain Seven Years Later

Creating Passionate Users

The Wisdom of Crowds

Opening Remarks: Jim Coudal and Jason Fried

How to do Precisely the Right Thing at all possible times

Bruce Sterling (more)

Dogma Free Design

Design Eye for the List Guy

Wasp Task Force (WTF)

CSS problem solving

Smaller, Faster, Lighter

Design and Social Responsibility

Starting Small: Web Business for the Rest of Us

Does Your Blog Have a Business? (more)

“Zero-Advertising” Brands

Serious Games for Learning

Digital Convergence

Cyberplace: Online in Offline Spaces — and Vice Versa

Book Digitization and the Revenge of the Librarians (still looking but here are some pannelist notes: here, here and here)


How to be a Web Design Superhero

Float like a butterfly (Ethan Marcotte)

Microformat slides

Design Eye for the List Guy

How to bluff your way in DOM Scripting

Traditional Design and New Technology (full post)


Joi Ito interviews people at SXSW (original post)


SXSW Podcasts

Avalonsta Podcast feed

Further Reading at Squidoo: SXSW 2006

sxsw, sxsw2006, notes, slides, reference

Akismet is really starting to piss me off. It’s a great spam filter for wordpress and has really stopped all spam.It has also stopped all commenting. This is a tiny tiny blog in the midst of a vast blogosphere and get few to no comments at all. Every comment I get is like a small flower that I want to tend and encourage to grow.

Akismet insists on placing comments in the moderation queue and then never telling me. It sends me no email and I don’t check often enough to see new comments. In general I would like actual comments to float right through to the page.

Akismet might be great at stopping spam but what’s the point if it just stops everything else as well? It would be one thing if I could turn on email notification, or change the level of security but there are no options to mess around with.

Previously I was using spam karma. I don’t know if that’s been upgraded to wordpress 2.0 but I’m missing it a lot these days.

Matthew Mullenweg could comment about all the great think Akismet could do and all the improvements he will make but who knows if I’d ever even notice the post to approve it.

Akismet, spamkarma, wordpress