Reese Witherspoon

Sad to see that Reese Witherspoon has broken up with her husband of seven years. However, Reese is on my short list of ladies who I would possibly leave my wife for. Kylie and Minnie Driver are also on the list.

So perhaps the split puts into jeopardy my own relationship. The closest I came to this happening was when I happened upon Minnie in a deli on Broadway last October. We didn’t speak; she didn’t even look at me. But that’s the closest I’ve come. Oh, and I touched Kylie’s sister’s arm in HMV Newcastle once.

Thanks for all the feedback

A little under a week ago, I requested some feedback on the old look-and-feel. I was delighted by the amount of feedback that came back. So after some half-assed futzing mid-week, I sat down in earnest (and indeed in the living room) last night to try to introduce a new look-and-feel. Around you are the results of a full battery-life’s worth of CSS work.

The graphic design for the new look is courtesy of Elise. Thanks! The coding has all been done by myself, which is a miracle, as it’s more a case of trial and error than anything more scientific. Padding and margins have been confusing, and I’ve little idea why some of the things work, but they seem to. The stylesheet feels to me a little like a house of cards, ready to collapse with the slightest breath of wind.

All of the futzing was done in Production (1. Make change, 2. Refresh homepage, 3. See what’s broken, 4. Go to 1.), mainly because I didn’t really listen when Rob told me how to access Dev. After all, it’s hardly a mission-critical site.

Anyway, there’s still some stuff to be done, but here are the main changes to date, in light of the feedback.

There are still a few things to do. Firstly, I need to talk to Elise about the possibility of her making a few tweaks to the look-and-feel. For instance, I want the Posted by bar to have a light-blue background, but when I try to do that myself in the stylesheet, loads of other stuff inherits the same background. Also, some of the spacing and sizing needs a GD’s eye, I feel.

Also, I need to work on the comment form, as per Rob’s advice. Rob: if you’re reading, it would be good to get some more input on how it could best be changed.

I need to figure out how not to repeat the date line for posts created on the same date. Some reading about the Smarty template engine needed for that.

And finally, I need to work on some new, more appealing left-hand modules. I can’t guarantee satisfying Dominic’s yearning for numbers, but I’m hoping to make a more useful sidebar. Again, this needs some template changes, which I find more difficult than the CSS stuff. If you make an error in CSS, it looks funny; mistakes in the templates and the site doesn’t work.

Your feedback (constructive) on the new look would be gratefully received.

Odd accessibility test

It’s good that accessibility is getting some press on the BBC’s website. I watched Click, the TV equivalent.

It was slightly odd that the challenge set for Emma Tracey, a blind journalist for the BBC’s Ouch magazine, was to buy a book from Amazon. Not sure how useful the book will be when it arrives.

I would have thought that Amazon were leading the way on accesibility, but it appears not, and it proved a frustrating experience.

Abusive commenter: found

The latest comment I received on the current look-and-feel is nothing if not offensive. I had a strong inkling as to who had written it, someone who I would strangely classify as a friend (strange, given the comment), an ex-client indeed.

He denied the comment by IM ("i didn’t comment…"), so I investigated further. I found the source IP address and ran it through GeoBytes’ IP locator. It found that it came from America, New York, Brooklyn. It estimated that it might be from Ocean Avenue, a mere 2.1 miles from the workplace of the person who formed my original inkling.

The chances of two randomly chosen American points being within 2.1 miles of one another is around 0.00025% (1 in 400,000). Too much of a coincidence in my book.

Firefox 2.0: schweet

I downloaded it at 11:30pm BST yesterday, an hour before its advertised 16:30pm PDT launch.

So far, I like it. I like it a lot. The menus seem more logical, the look-and-feel more professional and clean, and it has some nice new features, including remembering form completion, useful for my site users (who used to lose a comment entirely if they didn’t pass my captcha).

There are quite a few important extensions (and less important, but nice-to-have themes) that don’t yet work on 2.0. (I particularly miss the TinyUrl Creator and Fasterfox.) Hopefully they’ll be upgraded soon.

I have one gripe. In 1.5, if I typed a keyword or two in the address bar (multiple words separated by spaces), it automatically looked it up in Google and loaded the first result returned. Very useful if you’re confident that your keyword(s) will bring your desired site to the top of Google’s listings. Not sure whether it was an extension that I’d activated, or whether it was a feature that has since deemed unnecessary. Either way, a little annoying.

Nonetheless, if you’re on 1.5, I urge you to upgrade. If you’re on Internet Explorer, I implore you to make the switch.

Latte has a hard a

Please don’t lengthen the a of latte. Ever. It’s Italian for milk, and should be pronounced as such, even if you’re a tw*t from Fulham.

Thank you.

What gender are you?

Based on my last 15 posts, I’m deemed to be male. You?

Invention: Sellotape with a coloured tear

So, ask anyone whether Sellotape (Scotch tape to my American fan-base) is any good, and they’ll respond: you betcha!

Ask them whether they find it frustrating, and they’ll echo their first response. Why? Because they can never find the end.

Sellotape/Scotch: if you’re reading, here’s the solution. Invent a tape with three thin layers. The bottom layer is the sticky stuff; the top layer is the smooth bit; the newly introduced technologically-advanced layer sits in the middle.

This middle layer would react to air, turning a lovely magenta colour on exposure. (The colour could be a user preference; I’ve used magenta for illustrative purposes, mainly because it’s quite a nice word.)

When the user severs the tape, either with teeth or scissors, a tiny cross-section of the tape is exposed to the air, and changes colour within a few seconds. The next person who comes along wanting to wrap presents can find the end of the roll by simply finding the magenta stripe across the width of the roll.

Marvellous idea!

Site re-design: your feedback needed

If you’re reading this post, then I would love it if you could comment on it.

I’m currently going through a site re-design (with the help of my infinitely better-qualified friend Elise). This is in part because it’s long overdue, and in part because the current design was a tactical change to the one I used when Stateside: its reference to New York’s subway line numbering was no longer relevant now I’m living in London town, so the header has become somewhat bare.

So, I’d like to know:

I’m afraid that I won’t be able to address the drivel that appears in the posts, but hopefully I’ll be able to address some of the looky and feely and positioningy issues.

Obviously, once the changes take effect, this post will be out of place, as the answers to 2, 3 and 4 will be null.

Please, comment away!

A generic loyalty card

Caffè Nero runs a loyalty scheme such that every tenth cup of coffee is free. They do this through a card that they keep stamping on each visit. Today, I received my ninth stamp, making tomorrow morning cheaper than it otherwise might be.

Many organisations, or groups of organisations, use loyalty schemes in which you carry a personalised card around with you to swipe whenever you happen upon their store. I carry cards for Boots and Sainsbury’s. (My thoughts on such schemes can be found here.)

What if there were a scheme with a card that was brand agnostic, but which simply identified you as an individual? It would not store any data (except the unique identity of the card), but would allow stores to identify your uniqueness and act accordingly. Caffè Nero would not know who I was, merely that my next latte should be free. Meanwhile, other companies could buy into the card by offering its own small-scale loyalty rewards. I would have thought that the concept would appeal to smaller-scale retailers keen to join the loyalty world without the expense of introducing its own scheme.

I’ve not thought through a cost model yet. It was dreamt up on tonight’s journey home.

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