Windows Vista: Right on the Button(s)

After experimenting briefly with a beta version, I have determined the best new feature of Windows Vista.

I complained back in 2001 about the rough edges on large form buttons in Internet Explorer. After installing Internet Explorer 7 on Windows XP, this was one of the first things I tested. I was dismayed to discover that the problem still persists.

However, on Windows Vista using IE 7, the corners of wide form buttons are not broken. That alone is worth years and millions of dollars worth of development.

Windows XP vs. Vista form buttons screenshot

That said, I still don’t understand what determines how wide the form buttons actually become (seems to be some kind of length_of_button_text × 1.N formula).


Firefox 2

Since you are on the internet right now (admit it, you are), you are probably aware that Firefox 2 has been released. My congratulations to all involved. While I was much less involved in the visual design this time around, it was still a pleasure to have been involved at all.

The website has been updated as well. This website update was something that I was much more involved with than the actual browser update. The design itself was done by the Nobox Marketing Group (get it?) with the implementation handled by our team at silverorange and the good people at Mozilla.

My favourite new feature in Firefox 2 (after the spell checking and recently-closed tabs, that is): Try entering a math formula into the Google search box (I’d recommend 57 * 4 / pi). Notice that the solution to your formula is instantly displayed in the suggested results. Thanks to Paul Kim for pointing out this gem.


How To Be a Rock Band on the Internet: Sloan

Never Hear the End of It - Sloan
One of Canada’s finest rock bands, Sloan, also happens to have a great taste in web development firms (and a smart lawyer who worked with us on another project). This fortunate situation led to the creation of, a website that provides ample opportunity for fans to comment on the news, post their reviews and photos from shows.

This month, Sloan released their latest album, Never Hear the End of It. I think it’s their best album since Navy Blues from 1998. Along with the release of this record, Sloan’s manager, Mike Nelsen, has been posting short videos taken behind the scenes in the studio and in rehearsals as the band prepares for the release.

Never See the End of It
These short videos are a perfect of example of how a band can engage their fans through their website. The technology involved is not fancy. The website uses a standard weblog format. The videos are posted on YouTube, off-loading the hosting and flash-player nonsense (this has also led to many sarcastic declarations at our office that this is some kind of web-twenny mash-up).

The videos are short (most are well under one minute long) and most involve quick chats with the band members in the studio. A video was posted every day for 30 days (which also happens to be the number of songs on their remarkable new album).

The end result was surprisingly engaging. I found myself laughing with the band and anticipating the new album even more than I had been already.

It also helps that the guys in Sloan happen to be funny.


Gaim Needs You

Gaim dude

The fabulous instant messaging client, Gaim, could use your help. That is, you’re a talented and generous web designer.

With the impending release of Gaim 2.0.0, the Gaim website is in need of an update to be as slick as the application it represents. If you are a web designer that is interested in helping create a new, better Gaim website, please let me know.

There may be some budget available, but we’re really looking for people to contribute sans-monetary-compensation. That said, if you’re worth it and can’t afford to volunteer, but are still interested, let me know.

I’d love to do it myself, but I’m too fabulous busy doing other stuff.


Selecting Columns and Rows in HTML Tables with Firefox

Col 1 Col 2 Col 3 Col 4
Row A 1A 2A 3A 4A
Row B 1B 2B 3B 4B
Row C 1C 2C 3C 4C
Row D 1D 2D 3D 4D

A random tip, because I find it so handy on rare occasions:

You can select columns, rows, or blocks of cells in HTML tables in Firefox (or any Gecko-powered browser) by holding down “Control” and
selecting with the mouse. Handy for copy+pasting data from tables in websites.

Try it out in the table to the right.


How to tell if your web-mail system is any good

Commercial Web Mail providers
HotMail No
Yahoo Mail No
Gmail Yes
Open Source Web Mail packages
IMP/Horde No
RoundCube Yes
SquirrelMail Yes
Hula Yes

Here’s a quick test to see if you web-mail system is any good:

When you first log in, does it show you your mail (your Inbox), or something else? If it shows you something other than your mail, what do they think you were logging in for?

The table to the right shows how the leading commercial and open-source web-mail systems stack up.


Labour Disputes in Web Development: Leaked Document!

Today at our office, perhaps inspired by the faculty at our local university, there was a rift between management and staff. Early in the afternoon, as the time of day we like to call “snack-o-clock” began to approach, there were rumblings of a potential work-stoppage if our (sweet, sweet) demands were not met.

Management was quick to respond and an agreement was reached in time for snack-o-clock. Things are still a little tense, but we’re all being mature about it.

You can take a look at a leaked copy of the agreement that was smuggled out of the high-level negotiations.