web design and development

Providing the same UI across browsers

If you change the default controls to match the look and feel of something your visitor has never seen before, you run the risk of creating confusion, distrust, or alienation. Even worse, if the controls are poorly made or conceived — and many are — you might make your site less usable. A cardinal sin.

The more I think about it, the real beneficiaries of a uniform UI across browsers aren’t the site visitors, but rather the designers who demand artistic control and the clients who insist the product looks the same everywhere, without understanding that it’s okay (even expected) to have some differences.

HTML5 Video, minus Ogg

Mozilla, the makers of Firefox, refuse to support the MP4/H.264 standard because it isn’t open-source and free from licensing constraints. Without Ogg, Firefox’s HTML5 video is rendered useless and requires a Flash-based fallback system. However, Firefox’s handling of the video element breaks the fallback mechanism. A scripted solution is required.

Here’s a simple script that will detect whether HTML 5 video is supported in the browser, and if it is, will check to see if this is Firefox. If yes, it deletes the specified video element but leaves the Flash fallback in its place.

Viewing PDFs in a Browser on a Mac

As a Mac user, one of the more annoying issues I frequently encounter is funky PDF handling in Firefox and Safari. Here are some things you can do to get PDFs working in your browser(s).

Eolas is at it again

This week — a year and a half after settling with Microsoft — Eolas has gone on the attack again, filing suit against “Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Argosy Publishing (publisher of The Visible Body), Blockbuster, Citigroup, eBay, Frito-Lay, GoDaddy, J. C. Penney, JPMorgan Chase, ‘transactional’ adult entertainment provider New Frontier Media, Office Depot, Perot Systems, Playboy Enterprises, Rent-a-Center, Staples, Sun Microsystems, Texas Instruments, Yahoo, and YouTube.”

Changes to pipwerks.com, part 2

In case you hadn’t heard, pipwerks.com was hacked last week. The entire database was erased. Bastages. Luckily, I had a recent backup. While going through the pains of a new WordPress install (with new plugins, extra security, and imported posts/comments), I decided “why not throw a new layout in the mix, too?” I mean, if I’m going to make changes, I may as well do them all in one shot, eh?

Changes to pipwerks.com

Just a quick note: I’m renovating this site to make better use of WordPress’ capabilities. Because of the move to WordPress, many of my static HTML files will be converted to WordPress ‘pages’; this means you may see some odd posts in my RSS feed from time to time. Feel free to ignore them.

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