Carl Camera

Standards, Measurements, and the SCOFF Browsers

I've been following IE and how it relates to web standards for quite some time now. I haven't been all that vocal over the past two years because, mainly, IE has been moving rapidly and in the right direction. For all the progress made, however, Internet Explorer's detractors - many who are fans of the SCOFF Browsers™ (Safari, Chrome, Opera & Firefox) - are not so much interested in web standards as they are in deriding Microsoft and its products. IE's lack of web standards became a rallying point for them. But times have changed.


Special Pricing on Expression Studio

UPDATE: Microsoft Expression Design is free now

Nineteen months ago I wrote how I felt that Expression Studio is a better design value than the comparable Adobe suite. This price disparity still exists more than a year an a half since I wrote it. On, owners of Photoshop can upgrade to CS4 Web Premium for just $1290. Owners of any Expression product can upgrade to Expression Studio 2 for $330.


In the Spotlight Again

Fresh off the attention I received for my Vine Type website, Microsoft now spotlights ... me.

Community Spotlight Interview


Inner Shadow for Expression Design

Expression Design provides several great graphics effects, but one that is sorely missed by me is inner shadow, or inner glow. They're basically the same except inner shadow would be a black glow, I suppose.

I've been using a simple solution to simulate inner shadow by using two rectangle objects and a blur effect and I demonstrate this effect in the following video tutorial. Click on the photo below to view the tutorial.


Blueprint CSS Template for Expression Design

In preparing for my own design work, I created an Expression Design template for myself based on the Blueprint CSS framework.

There are utilities to customize the Blueprint grid to any number of columns of any width, but I started with the default 24-column grid and created a starting template for my latest project.


ASE File Specification

In creating the ASE Palette Converter, I had to reverse-engineer the contents of proprietary Adobe ASE Adobe Swatch Exchange files. As with anything reverse-engineered, the following file format spec is only my best-guess of the actual, official Adobe ASE file specification. For instance, a field which I indicate is a four-byte field might be perhaps just a two-byte integer with two bytes of unused space.


Video Encoding Demystified

A canonical problem you see people make is: I've got a 720x480 source and I want to make it smaller. Then I'll make it shorter so I'll make it 240 tall -- that makes sense -- and then I'll make it thinner so I'll make it 360 wide -- divided by two -- and that's always wrong. Because your image is really either four by three or sixteen by nine, 720x480 is a non-square pixel video frame. So if it's four by three, 320x240 is a good size. If it's sixteen by nine, then 432x240 is a good size. But 360x240 is never the right size for any video.


Adobe Swatch Exchange Converter

Starting with the CS2 product line, Adobe Systems introduced a cross-program swatch format called Adobe Swatch Exchange format or ASE for short. The purpose of the swatch file format is to allow different programs to use and exchange palettes.

Kuler the online palette app generates ASE palette files as well, but the palette format purely proprietary, and is not published. Nevertheless, with some help from others who did some reverse-engineering of the format and a bit of my own studying of various binary files generated by Kuler and other Adobe apps, I've gained a very good understanding of the ASE file format.


I'd Like to Thank The Academy

Prompted by a blog post by Khoi Vinh, I was introduced to a little site called CommandShift3 that pits website designs against each other. Having recently rebooted the Vine Type site, I thought I'd play along. Fast forward one month.


The IE Bridge to One Web

Early in January 2008, a 3.1 magnitude earthquake struck Cleveland, Ohio. The USGS instruments indicated an epicenter just offshore in Lake Erie, but I think it was directly beneath the home of Eric Meyer as he finished typing his op-ed in support of IE Version Targeting for A List Apart.


Opera's Antitrust Complaint

Earlier this week Opera Software filed an antitrust suit with the European Union against Microsoft. Opera states that Microsoft is abusing its dominant position and hindering interoperability. In the press release [web archive] Opera states that it is filing the complaint "On behalf of all consumers who are tired of having a monopolist make choices for them." Opera then requests that the EU force Microsoft to


Fixing IE6 Google Map PNG Problem

As a regular part of creating websites, I include a Javascript script to add Portable Network Graphics (PNG) transparency to Internet Explorer 6. The script I use is called iepngfix and was created by Angus Turnbull of Twin Helix Designs.

There are other similar scripts, but most if not all of these pngfix scripts incorporate an IE-only CSS behavior attribute that targets image elements. The behavior script scans the page for PNG images and applies an IE transparency filter. This results in proper transparency on the website. There are some limitations. See the PNGFIX page for details.


Expression vs CS3 Pricing

As someone who expressed recent interest in jumping into Flash development, the announcements and **demos at Mix07 have significantly altered my software purchasing outlook.

I cannot and will not comment on whether Silverlight is a Flash Killer but I can provide one data point and reasoning for my interest in Silverlight as well as my corresponding disinterest in Flash.


Microsoft MP4 Player

Not that I'm anti-Apple or anything, but I haven't had Quicktime installed on any computer of mine since...version 4? At the time, probably when Quicktime version 5 was released and Apple wanted more money again to upgrade to v5 Pro, I resolved to banish Quicktime from my hard drive for-evah.

And life was good. By and large, whatever I needed to see was provided in Windows format. Until SXSW 2006 that is. Seems South by Southwest is practically South by Mac West with all the Apple notebooks roaming the halls, but I understand. It's the platform of choice for Creatives.


A Geek's Top Ten: Why Vista

Although I expressed disappointment with my computer's inability to support some of the new Vista features, I would like to post a follow-up expressing my overall enthusiasm for the new operating system.

After reading Jay Kimble tear apart Microsoft's marketing list, I realized that the coolness in Vista that appeals to me is not in transparent windows or full-motion-video backgrounds. It's the geek factor. Blame it on my fascination with operating systems, but Vista packs a gaggle of geekiness into their sleekly-marketed package.


CodeMash: Day 2

This is my belated Day Two report from CodeMash held last week in beautiful Sandusky, Ohio.

Some great sessions again today, Starting off strong with

LINQ - Bridging the Object \ Relational Divide

Speaker: Scott Guthrie (keynote)

LINQ introduces new and powerful data manipulation features to the .NET framework. Extremely SQL-like in its syntax LINQ will allow developers to easily access...


CodeMash: Day 1

I'm blogging from CodeMash in beautiful Sandusky, Ohio. The temperature outside is below freezing, but we're warm and dry inside -- or warm and wet at the indoor waterpark.

My favorite sessions so far:

Bridging Worlds: Making Java and .NET play well together

Speaker: Ted Neward

Ted has obviously well versed in both Java and .NET and has seen the good and the bad in each. The talk discussed different ways to achieve programming language detante (my word) by identifying specific communication strategies.


Windows Vista Disappointment

Suddenly, My Computer Stinks.

After installing Windows Vista Ultimate RTM on my notebook computer this week, I believe that Windows Vista has accomplished its intended goal: To generate dissatisfaction with my current hardware.

My current computer:

  • Dell Latitude D600
  • 1.6GHz Pentium M
  • 1GB RAM
  • 60GB Hard Drive
  • 1440x1040 LCD
  • ATI Mobility 9000 32MB vRAM

Standards Turnabout in Redmond?

All the reports back from Mix06 seemed to tout how the Internet Explorer team -- and Microsoft in general -- has seen the light and is truly embracing Web Standards. Web Expression, the new eighteen ton CMS application touts XHTML compliancy in every marketing message it sends out.


Suspicious Characters

Would you trust these people?

IE7's new phishing filter wasn't quite sure initially if these shady characters were on the up-and-up.

I was mildly amused and mildly annoyed seeing the IE7 phishing filter dialog appear when I viewed my website a couple days ago.

I'm not sure what would cause it to mark it as suspicious. The only reason I can think of is that perhaps I added a Technorati javascript file that references a site outside my domain.


Let The Finger Pointing Begin

Microsoft released IE7 Beta 2 Preview yesterday and I've been checking on how sites are rendering.

It's not pretty.

Nearly every example of the One True Layout is broken. Suckerfish and to a greater degree Nick Rigby CSS Flyout Menus are not consistent with Firefox, Opera, etc rendering. Positioning is messed up on the Vine Type website.


Visual Studio Shortcuts V2

Productivity gains are close at hand Visual Studio users. Keeping your hands on the keyboard is critical to speeding up the development process.

I've updated the Visual Studio shortcuts crib sheet to include the standard debugging function keys as well as some rearranging and improving the font size. Enjoy!

Visual Studio Shortcuts v2


Anchor Border Anomaly

So I'm uploading my IE6 mouseover report to my blog and I notice this:

The bottom borders of every one of my blog entry titles is shorter than it should be. And I only see this in IE.

So my reward for finding one bug is to find another. Well today I had a chance to pare down the XHTML to a bare bones example page that I submited to Quirksmode.


IE Mouseover Problem

I ran across an anomaly with Internet Explorer the other day. I had hooked a mouseover event for a DIV and found that it wasn't being fired in IE as it should.

I narrowed down the HTML and isolated the problem. It occurs in the bottom margin and padding area only -- and only when no width is specified, or if width is defined as auto.

Example Web Pages


Visual Studio Shortcuts

[now updated: version 2.0]

I've made an intentional effort this past week to improve my Visual Studio productivity by trying to reduce time-consuming mouse interaction while coding. Although I don't have a benchmark to prove it, it seems like I'm moving around much faster within the Visual Studio IDE.

MSDN provides a list of all shortcuts, but it was torture trying to look up the shortcut I needed among the scores listed. The organization of the list itself did not strike me as intuitive either and that led me to create a hand-written crib sheet of the most useful shortcuts.