Archive for January, 2002


Mozilla bug

Bugzilla Bug 51015: Microsoft should use Mozilla.


Perl CGI scripts

I’ve fielded a whole lot of questions about Perl CGI scripts over the past month or so, largely from webmasters or designers who don’t know a darn thing about Perl but want the functionality that CGI scripts (or something akin to them) would bring to their site. Problem: a large majority of scripts in common use are insecure. Those freely available scripts from Matt’s Script Archive are not to be used, folks.

Finding CGI Scripts addresses this very problem, offering suggestions for finding secure scripts and finishing up by pointing to nms. nms is a project started by the London Perl Mongers to create secure, well-written drop-in replacements for popular CGI scripts. I’ve been recommending these to everyone who asks. Good stuff. The only problem that I’ve noticed is a distinct Unix bias, so some couldn’t be used on a Windows server without modification. That’s not insurmountable, though.



Been struggling with a really bad headache most of the day, hoping it will go away soon. ‘Course, last thing I should be doing is spending more time in front of a monitor to post here. Still, wanted to say that I’ve been working on some long-promised redesigns of this site, and some scripting clean-up. Soon.


The Norm

The Norm Did I ever mention that I’m a huge fan of The Norm? No? Well, I should. I love this strip. It’s an important part of my daily routine. Michael Jantze (the artist) seems like a heckuva guy, too.

Back when I read newspapers, I read The Norm religiously. After I stopped reading papers daily, I still scrounged copies left on buses, solely so I could read this strip. You can imagine my delight at discovering The Norm online. Jantze is a pretty tech-savvy guy, too, and has built some great features on the site. Haven’t read it before? Check out the archive, the themed “E-Libraries,” and the Normathon (my favorite use of online time). Like what you see? Buy some stuff, or subscribe! This is online content I’m willing to pay for, especially since I don’t buy the local newspaper where it’s published.


Apocalypse 4

Apocalypse 4, the latest word from Larry Wall on his designs for Perl 6, has been published. This will take some time to digest. Can’t wait for Mr. Conway’s exegesis.


DHTML example

Paul Sowden (the guy who brought us ALA‘s style switcher), has a neat little DHTML table column sorter. This is the sort of “simple” DHTML application that I like to see, far more useful than the flashy bells and whistles “knock ’em off their feet but heavens no don’t do anything functional or even useful” crap that I’m repeatedly asked to do (and usually refuse).

Oh, and please note his archived stuff. Nice. Very nice.

And ooh, you can switch between his style sheets by typing numbers on your keyboard. Change font size by typing + or -. Sheesh, makes me realize how terribly I’ve neglected


Complaint Department.

From time to time I have to lodge a complaint. This is one of those times. I’ve contacted webmasters for both these sites and have been ignored, so I feel comfortable raising the issues here.

First: visiting the Continuous Quality Improvement Network web site with Mozilla 0.9.7, I am directed to a page stating:

We apologize but our web site will not display properly in this browser.

This site has been redesigned and is optimized for viewing with either Netscape 6 or Internet Explorer 5.5 and above. For the best possible viewing please download one of these browsers from their web sites.

Uh, yeah. There’s something screwy with the browser detection here. You see, Netscape 6+ is built on Mozilla’s code base. In fact, Netscape 6.2 was built using Mozilla, so I visited the site with Mozilla 0.9.4 — and was still blocked. Grrr. There’s no reason for this: if Netscape 6 can display a page, so can Mozilla.

What’s more, using IE5.1 — the most recent version for MacOS and pretty kick-ass in the standards support department — I can access the site, despite the stated minimum of IE5.5. Can’t read most of the text on the page, but hey.

And the site works fine in Opera 5. Yeah.

My message: I’m all for designing to web standards. And hey, if you don’t want to design to standards while supporting older browsers, that’s okay as long as you know your reasons. But if you’re going to work with only current web standards, do some intelligent browser sniffing so you don’t block browsers (or other user agents) that support those standards!

Second complaint: the login page for 508 Universe doesn’t work in Netscape 6 / Mozilla. Neither does it work in any user agent that doesn’t have JavaScript enabled. 508 Universe is a site designed as a resource for Section 508 accessibility regulations, which makes this problem particularly troublesome.

To be fair, it’s possible to log in using Mozilla / Netscape by tabbing through the controls, but it took me a long time to figure that out. Once I logged in (!) I could read their system requirements:

This site has been designed to work with computers running a Windows operating system using Internet Explorer 5.0 and Netscape Navigator 4.0 and above with JavaScript enabled.

We have here both an accessibility and usability problems (which are often difficult to separate). First, there’s a correctable coding / design misfeature involving absolutely positioned DIVs that prevents Netscape 6 users from clicking on links (which is necessary to log in). Second, why is JavaScript required? Isn’t that kind of an accessibility problem? I realize that there’s nothing in Section 508 that explicitly forbids this sort of thing (although paragraph l comes pretty close), and they claim that the site’s been tested with all sorts of assistive technology. However, I still think that where JavaScript is required to access content, another means to access the content should be provided in case JavaScript is unavailable or disabled. That’s what the W3C’s guidelines and techniques recommend, for good reason. 508 Universe may hold to the letter of the accessibility requirements it tries to convey, but it certainly violates their spirit.

This is the paragraph l that I referred to earlier, which deals with scripting languages like JavaScript: “When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.”


satellite do the most amazing things…

Wow! Non-military satellite views Earth. These are some frighteningly detailed images. It might not be long before you see me walking around with a foil hat.


One True Color

The Cosmic Spectrum and the Color of the Universe.

A bit more accessible version on the BBC: The colour of the cosmos. This just goes to prove that the universe ain’t pretty. I’ve set my desktop to that color to see if I get a whole lot calmer, or maybe develop superpowers!.


DOM sidebar

I’ve already lost track of this link once, so here it is: a DOM 2 sidebar for Mozilla.

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