Archive for January, 2007

An award shouldn’t be a punishment

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

What caught my eye today while having lunch was a promotion flyer from a Slovenian investment company advertising a new “product”. They will be awarding prizes to anyone joining their investment plan – everybody gets something. And that’s not all – if you write a sentence about the fund you’ll be included in a draw for five major prizes. Unfortunately they were thinking about the money too much (and on the other side thanks god – they’re an investment firm) and made the main prize a true punishment. The winner will get a one week vacation in Sharm el-Sheik for ONE person. It’s not the history of the place that’s the punishment but the fact that it’s only for one person. Since they’re not targeting hard core investors (that are by definition closer to the “unrealistically selfish” homo economicus) there’s about zero probability that the winner won’t have anyone that she’d want to share this prize with. You can belive me that’s not gonna be one happy winner/user. So she’s got a “simple” choice – go alone or invest in another ticket & accomodation (if available at all). Or maybe she can sell it on eBay or the local Bolha for that matter.

The company probably doesn’t care about my opinion or my money (that’s not going to be invested in their funds) but I hope they change their attitude anyway. Maybe someday…

To prove this can actually be done I’ll share a story. I was at a meeting with a client when we were deciding about a prize in a prize winning game. Not the actual prize yet but the type of the prize. What somebody mentioned a trip to Paris what really made me happy was that the first thing they said was: “The award should be a full package – no additional expenses required.” It’s in such small things you really see a companies attitude towards the people that make them possible/profitable.

The avatar fun

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

I’ve had a Gravatar account for some time now but there’s a problem with it – I don’t always want to leave the same email on all blogs. There’s another problem with the service – it’s offline currently, not accepting new users. Another problem and probably one of the reasons the service went down is also the centralized hosting of images.

For the reasons above I think Pavatar is a better solution. The idea is to retrieve the avatar image from the URL, not the email. You have a few options to provide a Pavatar link (http header, link in the html or simply /pavatar.png). The image is always downloaded from your site which might be a partybreaker if you’re a heavy commenter but better since you control the image at all time.

Today I stumbled upon MonsterID as a fallback for Gravatars. I loved it. I had to do something with it. I downloaded the script written by Andreas Gohr, released under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License and changed it a bit. Well actually a lot. I added local caching and the possibility of adding other templates – I work at an interactive agency so I think I’ll be able to find a few characterbuilding image sets lying around.

The MonsterID service is here for anybody to use. It’s probably going to be as popular as the Pingerator.

Accessibility and standards

Friday, January 19th, 2007

The Dutch are embracing web standards. Since all the ministries in our country “just” got new pages we could easily pass a law like this. At least the next iteration would be standards compliant.

Currently the pages boast:

  • invalid HTML 4.01 Transitional,
  • tables for layout,
  • images for titles (some without alt attributes),
  • spacer images,
  • font tags (<font face=”verdana” size=”1″>),
  • noindex tags,
  • HTML attributes for styling (bgcolor=”#D6E1EC”),
  • inline CSS (style=”margin:0 0 0 0;”),
  • inline scripts (href=”javascript:linkTo_UnCryptMailto(‘nbjmup jogp/naaAhpw/tj’);”),
  • documents in closed file formats (doc),
  • …and more.

Apple takes its designs seriously

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

Maybe a bit too much? How about just releasing skins on their own website?

Then again I never understood all those skins floating around that make your (enter system/device of your liking) look like it was designed by Apple. If I wanted a Mac I’d buy one. Especially now.

HTML in news

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

Today I stumbled upon a few nice articles about HTML/markup. Since I think markup is one of the underdogs in web development I’ll list them here to see if they get any response.