Archive for 2008

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“Once delivered a box of t-shirts to Arista Records. Clive Davis came out of an elevator, looked at me: ‘You delivering underwear?’”

Discount Days

Sure, the price of oil may be at a record high, but the fine, friendly folks of the internet are here to brighten your day. Here are two ways the faithful readers of SimpleBits can save some dough:

Save $50 on the ticket price to An Event Apart San Francisco in August! Just enter the coupon code AEACEDE when you register (that’s in addition to the early bird discount).

If you’ve never been to an An Event Apart, make this your first. I’ll be giving a talk along with 11 other web luminaries. It will be the best of times.

I mentioned Luke Wroblewski’s Web Form Design book previously. Now you can save 10% on the cover price by using the coupon code CEDERHOLM when ordering from Rosenfeld Media. This code should work for their other excellent books as well.

Hack’d

I spent yesterday cleaning up some awful link spam that littered several of the domains I own. Some crafty fellow had stuffed hidden links to illegal MP3 sites in the footer of as many index files as they could find. I thought it’d be a good idea to document it in case anyone else runs into the same dilemma. Plus, hey, an excuse to write a multi-paragraph entry. Go me.

I’m not exactly sure _how_ the account was compromised, and I’d hate to point fingers without knowing. Could’ve been either of the two popular blogging software applications that are installed. Or it could’ve been a hack to the server in general. After some digging and some Googling, it turned out someone else had the exact same problem. A hidden directory was including a PHP file that was in turn including a .txt file filled with SEO spam and inserting it by IP address to most of my domains. I quickly deleted these files, but the links were still there.

The baffling part was that when opening any of the compromised files, the links weren’t in the source. Grepp’ing for the spam had it showing up in multiple files, but opening the file to edit showed nothing, leaving me to believe that the links were being dynamically inserted somehow. It took a helpful tech support agent to show me I’d fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book: the huge block of spam links was just _indented_ a ridiculous amount. I hadn’t noticed the horizontal scrollbar at the bottom of the text editor, and sure enough scrolling over approximately 10,367 pixels to the right, there the spam was.

So after cleaning up 20 or so index files, changing passwords and updating software, all seems well again. If you run into link spam, and the usual fixes don’t help, check your logs for suspicious .txt includes, and beware of the “massive indent”.

HyperType

A portion of a talk I gave throughout much of last year had a little bit on typography, and quoted an article from October 2006, Web Design is 95% Typography (the percentage could be a little exaggerated, but the concept is solid):

During the Italian renaissance the typographer had one font to work with, and yet this period produced some of the most beautiful typographical work.

A perfect present-day example of working with one font + CSS to manipulate that to convey meaning and interest is the current one-pager for the Seed Conference in Chicago this June. Beautiful work. One font. All hypertext.

Oh, and it looks to be a great conference, too.

Update: several people have pointed me to the impressively re-worked em-based version of the Seed design by Phineas X. Jones. When using ems instead of pixels, resizing text will keep all that lovely type work intact. Nice work.

Authentic Jobs

Since 2005, Authentic Jobs has been:

… a targeted destination for standards-aware designers and developers and the companies seeking to hire them.

It’s a fantastic resource for the community — and one I’ve often pointed folks to that seek help.

You’ll notice some Authentic Jobs listed right here in the sidebar of SimpleBits. We’re happy to have joined the network of partners over the weekend. AJ proprietor (and designer extraordinaire) Cameron Moll announces the new additions over at his site. It’s great to be aboard.

Decision or Bug?

I just logged a bug report after doing a little testing with the IE8 Beta. Overall, the progress and standards commitment in the latest effort is fantastic and exciting. Hats off to the Internet Explorer Team.

There’s one lingering decision that appears to have carried over though, and it’s an important one. I say “decision” since, by now, there clearly must be a reason why it’s still there. I’m also reminding myself that this is still a beta release. But the earlier we chime in on things, the better, right?

Here’s what I logged:

As with previous versions of Internet Explorer, the IE8 Beta also fails to resize text using the “Text Size” tool when fonts are sized in pixels. Most would consider this a bug, where the user should be able to trump any size specified by the page author, regardless of the unit specified. I remained boggled as to why this has been a consistent design decision.

It creates an accessibility issue for readers with poor or low vision, while making pixels a less than desirable choice for the page designer. In an ideal world, the designer should be able to specify fonts in any unit he or she desires (px, em, percentage, etc.) while the reader should have ultimate control over the size, using the browser’s controls. IE’s “Text Size” tool would appear to be broken when a reader attempts to adjust fonts on a page where fonts are sized in pixels. Surely confusing.

Thanks for listening, and keep up the excellent progress!

Disagree? I’d love to hear it :)