Archives » November 3rd, 2003

November 3, 2003

Dead wood

Jeffrey Zeldman once famously said, “99.9% of all websites are obsolete.” He was talking about the underlying markup either being built with tag soup methods or just not validating. But in a different spin on the phrase we have this article, which talks about all the websites out there that have long been abandoned and doomed to be “deadwood”.

Keeping a website fresh can be a constant struggle. I know I have battled with it on this site, trying to keep a running tally in my head of which sections are unfinished and which ones have a finished design but ongoing content, meaning they need constant attention to stay relevant. This weblog, for example. If I write something every day, then there will be people who check it often, looking for something new. But if I let it slide for a few days, as I have been doing now that the baby’s here, visitors might get tired of seeing the same post day after day and check back less often. So I’ve got to keep it going. I know of a weblog that goes completely dark from time to time. All the archives are deleted, even the latest post is erased, and the site sits empty for a time. Then, as quickly as she stopped, she starts back up again with the writing like nothing happened. I can only imagine how many readers she loses during those dark periods. Only the truly devoted, like me, stick around to see when she’ll come back.

Another one of my own sites that I have to stay on the ball with is my Ormsby House gallery. This one also has dates plastered all over the place, which are there not only to give the material a sense of context, but also to keep my lazy butt honest. If I start to fall too far behind, the site takes on a stale quality and visitors start to wonder how devoted I really am to the project. They can see I haven’t written anything in two months; what happened? So I’ve got a sense of duty to keep going. I feel like I owe it to everyone. I mean, if I expect people to give me a few minutes of their time and read my site, shouldn’t I be willing to dedicate a few minutes of my time keeping it fresh?

But getting back to the original article, it mostly talks about sites that have been abandoned for years. It talks about the powerul force of neglect, where someone starts a site with high hopes and then real life or other projects get in the way, and the unfinished hulk just sits there, mocking the author for all time. I have those, too. And, like so many of the people in the article, I have vowed to return to those sites, “one day”, and finish them, or at least flesh them out a little more and add something new. But giving to the Internet, rather than just taking, can be a draining endeavour, and when real life suddenly gets a lot more complicated, sometimes the Web is one of those things that has to take a back seat.

I wanted to play Semantic Markup Man…

Why tables for layout is stupid: problems defined, solutions offered. Originally a seminar at Seybold, this bit of standards advocacy is now a web slide show, using a variety of comic book characters to drive home the points. The carnival barker shouts “Step right up, folks! Watch as bunk markup vanishes before your very eyes!” The mad scientist cackles about taking over the world through table layouts. But then Semantic Markup Man bursts onto the scene to “save you from a lifetime of drudgery”. A great message with a great presentation; what else can you ask for?

Put together by Bill Merikallio of Scott Design and Adam Pratt of Adobe, who together recently reworked the Adobe Studio website into a sharp looking little bit of XHTML+CSS. A sharp looking little bit of XHTML+CSS that almost validates, if it weren’t for those pesky ampersands. They can take down the best of us, guys.

I think Bill best summed up the current state of web design when he said, “After doing this site, I have come to the conclusion that I love CSS, but hate browsers.”

Stolen PCs rescued after three weeks in a river

How do you want to kill your computer today? This article lists the top ten ways of destroying a computer, compiled by Kroll Ontrack, who the hapless souls contacted to try to get their data back. At the top of the list is someone who shot their computer with a gun, then realized there were important files that he needed to get back. But the article doesn’t go into much detail about those mishaps; more compelling are some of the user-submitted gaffes at the bottom of the page.

Right now, I am not kidding, I have had someone on the phone who said “we tried to forklift it” when I asked how it crashed.

Someone in an office was asked to copy a 5.25 floppy disk. Months later, someone checked and found a photocopy where the copied disk should be. Also the photocopy was old-fashioned even then and had wiped the original floppy.

During the day I was in the next room when I heard a noise coming from my bedroom and when I went to investigate I saw a monkey hopping out of the bedroom window with my laptop.