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Notices for 6th September 2007 to 20th August 2007


Thursday, 6th September 2007

I have been threatening to post some of my photography to the site for a long time now. Recently, I posted my ghetto stitch jobs (see how many perverts come looking for that search term), but nothing from my newer, vaguely decent camera.

I’ve had a nice, semi-private and temporary gallery up for a while now of a walk up to and past a local wood, photos that came out extremely well. I’d chosen a small, select few images and placed them inline as 800×600. The effect was most pleasing.

Today, I finally got around to posting a formal gallery of the images – Langley Wood 24th June 2007 – but a whole 24 inline 800×600 images would be rather excessive, so they’re all reduced to 320×240, linked to 1024×768 photos. Somehow, by no longer being selective, and reducing all the images down to a much smaller size, it looks disordered and chaotic compared to the serenity of the original presentation. In particular, the horizons don’t line up vertically. I don’t know whether to revert to my older gallery style, although it feels too late now.

Wednesday, 29th August 2007

Last week, I was privileged enough to get to watch a spider moulting. As someone who does not officially keep spiders as pets, this was a rare and exciting experience. I have put up photographs of it: Not tonight dear, I’m moulting. I don't know that I’ve ever seen any decent moulting photographs before.

Monday, 20th August 2007

Less than a week to go, and this site will have been up for four years. In the grand scheme of the Web, it’s not very long, but such is the transience of content on the Web that it may as well be a long time.

I received an e-mail from a German yesterday, asking for help with my path case fix code. I decided I’d just knock up a complete working example, and that was when I discovered something bad. I’ve been using the <q> tag for quotations now for some time in relative deference to its lack of support in Internet Explorer (due to IE’s abysmal CSS support) but I’ve finally given it up and am reverting to standard typographer’s quotation marks, opt-[ (“) and opt-{ (”).

But I found something else. I had decided on a rather cunning (or moronic, depending) trick to gain some semantics. I decided I would wrap blocks of code in <code> blocks, despite that element defaulting to inline. I created a CSS rule that set certain code blocks to behave as if they were <pre> elements.

The snag is, that Firefox (and only Firefox!) ignores CSS-derived line breaks when copying and pasting code. So my code blocks end up all on a single line when pasted into another application, making them almost useless. Internet Explorer 6, iCab 3 and Opera 9 do not take the same stance on how CSS should affect copy and paste, fully obeying my formatting rule.

I don’t know who is correct here. CSS is for presentational purposes only, so what I am doing is wrong. However, I feel that HTML 4 semantics are weak. Using this as an example case, HTML only permits code to be marked up as being inline.

There are two directions you can go, I suppose: more semantics or less semantics. Even the HTML 4 specifications are very hazy on most of the “formatting” semantic tags like <addr> and <tt>. I do fully agree with tags like <blockquote> and <em> however.

Where I see semantics as failing is when you consider how hard it is to convey basic meaning in any useful way without creating complexity that still leaves many cases not catered for. Computers will never have a sufficiently clear understanding of the semantics and humans don’t need semantic tags to help us. The alternative is to strip out all the fancy semantic tags like <addr>, <kbd> and <code> and leave only <pre> (block monospace) and <tt> (inline monospace) and be done with it. I am not sure if having much else besides these two is genuinely useful. They do, however, provide something for CSS selectors to latch onto, athough I remember failing to convince any browser to let me use <addr> inline…