Yay! It's A Blog! 2006-2010 - Web Mastering Archives

Recent entries from the Web Mastering Category

Spam Attack!

May 10, 2009

I got hit by a spammer yesterday. He wasn't sending e-mails to me. He was using my domain as the "from" address on his e-mails, and I was getting all the bouncebacks from bad "to" addresses. Luckily, I have Mailwasher, where I can see the e-mails on the server before I download them and delete them before they go into my Outlook.

When it was happening, I could click "Get Mail" and it would add 10-20 e-mails to the list. A couple of seconds later, I'd click it again, and it would add another 10-20 e-mails. It was crazy. I ended up blocking the e-mails at the server after that, so I wouldn't have to deal with them in Mailwasher.

I had an aggravating exchange with tech support until someone who speaks English well finally took over my ticket. I'm not disparaging people who don't speak English well... I'm just saying it was a very frustrating conversation because I had no idea what the guy was saying. His responses didn't connect to my questions and concerns.

I also noticed a lot of referral spam in my Web stats. That's where a spammer makes it appear as if someone clicked on a link from their site to come to my site. That's supposed to make me say, "Oh look! Someone links to me!" and go to their site to see. Then they've got me on their site.

Sadly, most of the referrals in my stats now are spam, so the real referrals get lost in a long, long list.

The third kind of spam I've been aggravated with lately is Twitter spam. I said something about a RAV4 on Twitter yesterday, and shortly after, someone sent me a message to check out their site where I could watch video demos of RAV4 or something. So I blocked them. Not that they care. They already spammed me.

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It's CSS Naked Day!

April 8, 2009

CSS Naked Day is the time to strip away all style information and show off your Web site in it's most natural form. As they say on the CSS Naked Day Web site:

The idea behind this event is to promote Web Standards. Plain and simple. This includes proper use of (x)html, semantic markup, a good hierarchy structure, and of course, a good 'ol play on words. It's time to show off your .

For more information, see CSS Naked Day.

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Procrastinating and Lunch with Brian

December 7, 2008

I was thinking about procrastination today, and how, in a weird way, it's productive for me. When I procrastinate one thing, I get something else done. At home, I procrastinate something by cleaning the house or working on a Web project. Like during NaSoAlMo, when I didn't feel like doing music, I worked on building galleries of vacation pictures. Or yesterday, when I didn't want to put my new songs on my song blog or put up Christmas decorations, I worked on the Lunch With Brian Web site. Odd.

As a result of yesterday's procrastination, I finished developing the Lunch With Brian Web site. It's mostly a blog about lunches with my friend Brian plus a page with the "Lunch With Brian" song. We have plans to make some lists of great Austin restaurants, too. Should be fun.

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A new chord

November 18, 2008

I didn't do much with music tonight. I'd planned to start writing something, but found myself in no mood. On the way home, I risked my life by writing things in my notebook. It was a list of things that other people enjoy that I just don't get. Things like:

  • Happy hour
  • Beer
  • Fancy shoes
  • "Desperate Housewives"
  • "Sex in the City"
  • Mandatory fun at work
  • Free concerts

I doubt it will materialize into a song.

I played my keyboard for about 5 minutes, but nothing AT ALL was coming out of it that was good. It was disappointing because I thought I was better than that.

I picked up my guitar and found a new (to me) chord. That might materialize into a song and brought me a little hope, but I still wasn't feeling up to much.

So instead, I opened a delicious.com account and started collecting some bookmarks. I remembered I had a delicious.com account before and closed it because it felt like clutter to me. I would add stuff to it, but never once used it to find anything later. I'm going to try again.

The high point was talking to my bgff Shann. She made me laugh, and that was like a french fry to a starving artist. Or something.

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Blogs are only for Google rankings?

November 7, 2008

This article about blogs says bloggers should shut theirs down and start using Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Apparently, the author of the article thinks that people have blogs solely to attract readers. That people sit and agonize over what to write so they can compete with The New York Times. I run into the same kind of misguided impressions when people talk about independent artists. They believe we're all trying to compete with Radiohead and Carrie Underwood. Maybe some are, but I'm not.

Some of us write because we like to. Some of us make music because we like to. Some of us make Web pages out of that content because we like to. It doesn't matter if we get a lot of readers or listeners. It's the creation and expression that's important. The folks who read and listen and comment are a bonus.

I don't see the appeal of Facebook. At All. Twitter caught my fancy, though. Maybe because it's quick and easy. Myspace is simply awful. Flickr's cool, but I simply don't need it. 43 Things has something special in that the writing is guided by goals.

So no, I'm not going to shut down my blog.

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Orion and my blog

September 9, 2008

  • Orion had to spend the day at the vet today. He developed stomatitis (mouth ulcers) again. This time it was pretty bad. Poor kitty never complains, so I didn't realize he was hurting. He was just as much a snuggle bunny as ever. It must have hurt a whole lot because he had stopped eating the crunchy food which was hard for me to tell since there are two cats eating from the same bowl. When I figured that out last night, I fixed him a small bowl of wet food. He slurped it down in record speed! He'd lost two pounds. That's a lot for a little guy. Anyway... he's home now, and I fed him some more of the good soft food. I have to give him medicine for the next three weeks.
  • Robert Doyal: Experienced Web Professional shamed me into redoing the coding on my blog. The layout is now full CSS instead of a table. I still have some problems to work out, the worst of which is that the right column hangs out below everything else in IE6. Since I can't have IE6 and IE7 on my computer at the same time, I'm out of luck trying to fix it and have realtime feedback. If you see any problems, please contact me. I'm sure little things are broken here and there. I think it loads a lot quicker, though. smile

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Save the Accessibility Institute

August 29, 2008

The University of Texas closed its accessibility institute today. There's a petition to save it.

I heard about it yesterday in a listserv e-mail that had a series of bullets. One bullet was about Target settling a lawsuit over the accessibility its Web site and agreeing to pay $6 million. Another bullet said UT was closing their accessibility institute sending the message that accessibility isn't a priority. They should talk to Target and see what Target has to say about that.

On the subject of accessibility:

Coders and programmers can hack together html code in a way that makes it hard for disabled people to use the Web. Or they can use elegant code that makes it easy for disabled people to use the Web. To me, it's a no brainer. I produce elegant code that makes the Web page usable by everyone. But the coders and programmers who hack together ugly, non-standard code don't want to change. That's all this is about... they don't want to change.

I'll paraphrase something Sharron Rush of Knowbility said:

The Internet makes many things easier for those of us who aren't disabled. The Internet makes many things POSSIBLE for those who are.

It's too bad so many hack coder/programmers would rather build roadblocks than passageways.

It would mean a lot to me if you would sign the petition.

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Domain Name Crap

August 27, 2008

The system for domain names is confusing and frustrating. When I first got my own web hosting, the hosting company purchased my domain name for me. I thought it belonged to me, but when I decided to change hosting companies, they held it hostage. That's why I have strangesandwich.com and ssmrocks.com. I purchased ssmrocks while the strangesandwich was being held hostage. Eventually, the hosting company transferred strangesandwich to me. Now both domains point to my Web site.

strangesandwich.com is about to expire. I got an email from my domain service provider, netnameone.com, to renew it. I clicked through, and it said they were partnering with GoDaddy. I paid for 3 years and set up an account through their new interface. They sent me an e-mail with instructions and secret codes to initiate a transfer. The last step was to enter an authorization code. It said I had to get it from my old service provider. I don't have an old service provider. I've always been with netnameone.com and netnameone.com is who I'm renewing with.

So I sent an e-mail to support. They told me my domain is with Tucows, and I need to contact them to renew. So I go to their site, and it says they don't deal directly with individual domains, and that I need to contact my service provider, netnameone.com.

So netnameone.com tells me I have to contact Tucows. Tucows tells me I have to contact netnameone.com.

I'm screwed.

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What Am I Searching?

October 12, 2006

Lately, I've noticed something about search boxes on web sites. I go to the search box on a site, and instead of searching the site, it searches the whole internet. Then I have to go back to the site to click a radio button to choose the option to search the site instead. CNN is an example.

What are they thinking?

My suspicion is that most people don't really know they're searching the whole web. Who looks at URLs besides geeky weirdos like me?

An even more aggravating problem I've encountered is with PDF files. I opened a PDF file today and wanted to search it. So I clicked the button in the menu bar with the pair of binoculars. The panel that opened said, "Search PDF" and "What word or phrase would you like to search for?" I entered the words and didn't really pay a whole lot of attention to the words on the button: "Search the Internet." It opened a browser window and gave me a Yahoo search results page for the whole freakin' internet.

I guess they get money from Yahoo or Google or another search engine to trick people into searching the internet. It's annoying.

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Maybe I'm not a zealot

September 14, 2006

I think people think I'm a zealot about web standards and accessibility. I've been introspective about it... wondering if I'm taking things too far. After reading Has accessibility been taken too far?, I feel better about things.

Jeff Croft talks about the real zealots and how they expect too much at times. I don't think I expect too much. I don't expect tableless layouts and alternate stylesheets for every affliction or prediliction. I'd just like to see designers and developers consider accessibility with a positive attitude during design and development. I'd like to see them do the best they can.

It's not that difficult. There's just a learning curve to get over, "letting go" of some old habits, and forming of new ones.

I can almost hear the eyes roll when I bring up accessibility. I've heard someone say "Eff the blind people" before. It's very disheartening. I keep plugging away, though.

On a happy note, the other morning when I got to work, one of the developers had emailed a link around about the Section 508 standards saying he thought it might be helpful. That made me feel good.

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Web Standards

September 14, 2006

I just found comfort reading stuff at www.webstandards.org.

Here are some excerpts:

It is WaSP�s hope that, once informed of the benefits standards provide, site owners will stop viewing their sites as a species of print advertising that must look exactly the same in all environments. And that they will focus instead on delivering appropriate content and functionality within the context of presentations that may vary slightly according to the needs and capabilities of differing browsers and devices

I would add "differing people" to this list, too.

Highly paid professionals* continue to churn out invalid, inaccessible sites filled with structurally meaningless markup, huge image maps, excessively nested tables, and outdated detection scripts that cause the very usability problems they were originally intended to prevent.

*I wouldn't call them "professionals" as a mark of a professional is that they follow the standards of their profession.

Many books on web development still teach outdated methods, and many practitioners take pride in delivering sites that look and work exactly the same in compliant and non�compliant desktop browsers alike, at the cost of accessibility, long�term viability, forward compatibility, and lack of alternative device support.

I think I can face the day now. Thank you, drive through.

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