ValiDAQ

After the “Argos Redesign Debacle

Kathy wonders, perhaps rightly, why I get so worked up about this sort of thing. I think it’s a combination of “Web Standards Zealotry”:http://www.webstandards.org/, a modicum of expertise in the field in question and a general burning desire to put the world to rights.

ValiDAQ is currently one static page. I’m thinking of utilising the top-invalid-docs Perl script that Gerald Oskoboiny wrote to analyse sites, automating the process and making life easier for me :) The plan is to have a general top-ten, then category top-tens, e.g. Banking/Finance, e-Commerce, News, Software/IT companies etc etc. Also, I’m not _that_ interested in listing blogs or personal sites, as they’re usually much better at sticking to the standards.

You know what Steinbeck said about the best-laid plans…

Argos Does A Microsoft

After about two years of ‘Coming Soon’, “Argos”:http://www.argos.co.uk/ have finally redesigned their website so that it doesn’t lock out users of “Mozilla”:http://mozilla.org/ or any other browsers that use its rendering engine, Gecko.

So, is this a victory for “Web Standards”:http://www.webstandards.org/ ? Erm, no. A quick peek at the source code reveals Nested Table Hell and running the home page through the “w3c’s”:http://www.w3.org/ “HTML Validator”:http://validator.w3.org/ reveals, at time of writing, an “unprecedented 862 errors!”:http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.argos.co.uk%2Fwebapp%2Fwcs%2Fstores%2Fservlet%2FStoreCatalogDisplay%3FlangId%3D-1%26storeId%3D10001&doctype=HTML+4.01+Transitional&charset=iso-8859-1+%28Western+Europe%29

So, as with Microsoft’s “much-criticised redesign”:http://www.zeldman.com/daily/0902b.html#prince”, which included steps backward like <font> tags, Argos have invested a lot of time and money in Yet Another Obsolescent Website (YAOW for short). So the new site works in more browsers than the old one. Big deal. Will it still work in Mozilla 4, “Opera”:http://www.opera.com/ 11 or Internet Explorer 9? I doubt it, as the web site team that built the Argos site have gone to great lengths to make the site as _backward_–compatible as possible without ensuring that the site is “_forward_–compatible”:http://www.digital-web.com/features/feature_2002-09.shtml.

To the designers, developers and implementers of the Argos web site: you have built obsolescence into your product, which will cost you or the company money in the future every time a new browser comes along. You should have “Designed With Web Standards”:http://www.zeldman.com/dwws/. I’ll leave you with a quote:

bq. Designing With Web Standards is for every web professional who wants to reach more users on more browsers, platforms, and devices — including wireless and hand-held devices — with less work, less maintenance, and at lower cost. It's for designers, developers, site owners and managers who seek to end the costly spiral of obsolescence, where each new browser or Internet device means a whole new coding cycle and another line item on the budget. Few organizations today can afford the merry-go-round of coding and re-coding that has characterized web development until now. (“Source”:http://www.zeldman.com/dwws/)

Kittens

We had a visit from the Bath Cats and Dogs Home’s pre-home-check person on Thursday. Expecting the Spanish Inquisition (but no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition!) we tidied the whole house. In the end, the inspector only saw the lounge, and chatted to us. We’ll have to get a cat-flap, but apart from that, it looks like we’re on the way to becoming pseudo-parents!

Cats: taking the place of children for 20 and 30-somethings since 1972.

Left Right Lib Auth

Are you accustomed to describing your political views in simple left-wing/right-wing terms? Then head over to the Political Compass and take the test. Based on my answers, I turned out with the following score:

Economic Left/Right: -3.00

Authoritarian/Libertarian: -3.90

This means I’m a Libertarian Left-type person. Perusing the lib-left reading list, there was none other than No Logo by Naomi Klein at the top. Admittedly it was the only book there that I’d read, but – hey! – I dig George Monbiot and have The Age of Consent on my Amazon wishlist. I must do some more reading. Trouble is, I don’t have a long enough commute that it’s worth cracking open a book, on the whole.

A little something for the…RSI

While I don’t think I have RSI(Repetitive Strain Injury) _per se_, I do get shoulder and neck stiffness and pain more than occasionally. I probably don’t do myself any favours by working in IT(Information Technology) and not taking a proper lunch break away from the computer.

So it’s all the better for discovering “Workrave”:http://www.workrave.org/, a neat little piece of software that is described on its website thus:

bq(http://www.workrave.org/). Workrave is a program that assists in the recovery and prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The program frequently alerts you to take micro-pauses, rest breaks and restricts you to your daily limit. Please refer to the “feature comparison”:http://www.workrave.org/features/ for a complete list of features, and how the program performs with respect to other programs on the market. The program runs on GNU/Linux and Microsoft Windows.

I am now being nagged reminded into taking 30-second "micro-pauses" every three minutes, ten-minute rest breaks every 45 minutes, and forced not to exceed my daily limit of computer usage. The nags can get annoying, but they’re _for my own good_.

Which could lead on to a discussion of the "nanny state", but I’ll leave that for another time…

Speed Limit

As I noted last week, I recently got clearance from the Chief Financial Officer of Beadle, Inc. (Kathy) to get broadband internet access at home. Unfortunately, we’re too far from our BT exchange to get ADSL, which means that Telewest is now our only sensible broadband option (if you discount stumbling for wireless hotspots or getting satellite broadband).

The cost is higher (£25 per month for 512Kb/s internet if you take a phone package as well), but there’s a nice starter digital TV package for £3.50 a month, apparently.