marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

During this comment exchange it hit me why I've wasted my life on HTML - because machines are stupid. Machines are stupid. Machines are sooooo fucking stupid they need you to tell them what a list looks like or they can't print it. If you don't tell them exactly what a list should look like every fucking time you make a list, using rules that were established years ago by someone who is certainly not of the same mind on list-making as you, who refuses to bend even one little inch so you can do what you want instead of doing what they want, then the machine will still attempt to print your list but it might look or act real funny. Or both!

For this reason I can't take a sentence nested within paragraph tags and slide it in between some list items without visibly breaking my lists and/or making the W3C validator flip its shit. And people the world over think this is the right way for the browser, the code that runs it, and the W3C to behave. Hey. You know what I think is the right way? Expressing your thoughts/facts in a manner consistent with your subject matter is the right way to print out your list. Any list. That means if your list starts with a heading, goes to a subheading, throws in a couple of bulleted items, jumps to an explanatory sentence or two, then wanders over for a few more bullet items before closing with a fucking blockquote, then so be it. It should Just Work, to quote Steve Jobs, no matter what the motherfucking W3C says - can we at least agree on that?

The W3C purportedly exists to help us create and curate a semantic, standards-based Web. While they've brainwashed many of us into believing that's for our benefit I think it's not. The average person doesn't sit around and read the page source of your DW or NYTimes or Jezebel or tumblr or whatever article in order to gain better understanding of it. A fucking machine does. It not only tries to organize your writing into a readable form (therefore the unique hell of trying to paragraphitize any list), it also tries to make sense of it. The only thing it lacks in that department is a memory. It's like telling an amnesiac over and over and over again that [fill in the entire fucking page structure, correctly organized according to arcane and ridiculous rules, right here]...

That lack of memory (you have to tell it how to make a list look like a list each and every time or it still won't know how AND you have to follow the rules it was long ago given for making lists or it will still fuck your lists up; there's no flexibility because it's not capable of thinking so it can't handle flexibility) is as good an argument as any for simply doing away with the W3C and it's rigid, inhibiting HTML altogether. It's not like it will ever remember that that happened, either. Until HTML makes martyrs of all us coders by finally becoming sentient, who cares?

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (tech-no-mite!)

I meant well. This page was giving me a hard time validating because DW - just like LJ - keeps sticking <wbr> tags in my URLs that I cannot locate in my entries because they're a post-processing artifact of some kind, which always makes the W3C validator cry and fling verbose outputs at me with both hands (keep reading; it's become self-aware) like so much mud.

So I looked up the offending tag and it's a word break opportunity tag, similar to a soft hyphen. A soft hyphen is written &shy; and in reality works more as intended than DW's offending word break (which I proved by resizing my browser to find that word break does not work at all in Firefox while the soft hyphen works exactly as intended).

Here's where my thinking got a bit fuzzy...I figured why not insert a soft hyphen where DW inserted the word break (in fact, that was right here: http://csweb.tallahassee.com/webentry/ur<wbr />l/common/showSession.htm), to prevent the word break from showing up again? 'Preformatting to prevent postformating'. Did so and went to re-validate but got this error message within a big, fat red background:

Sorry! This document cannot be checked.

Thinking the problem was on W3C's end I reloaded the validator a couple of times but then thought to just scroll down. The final error message informed me (in first person, creepily enough):

Sorry, I am unable to validate this document because on line 737 it contained one or more bytes that I cannot interpret as utf-8 (in other words, the bytes found are not valid values in the specified Character Encoding). Please check both the content of the file and the character encoding indication.

The error was: utf8 "\xAD" does not map to Unicode

Converting this issue from W3C-speak into laymen's terms, &shy; translates to "\xAD" (?) which doesn't map to Unicode which made the validator totally shit its pants. Realizing I'd been beaten, I took the offending HTML out and all's well now, except there are eight word break errors getting thrown for one tag I didn't insert myself, not to mention dozens more of these tags are living all over my blog like parasites and I DON'T KNOW HOW THEY GOT THERE, so my DW cannot and might never validate.

Despite that, this might be the best thing that's happened to me online all year (I know, short year, right?) simply because I managed to break the validator this time without breaking my own blog (I've done both before, believe me, but I've never just broken the validator without breaking my blog, too*).

*For the curious, that's when you'll see my page in plain text with no styling because I did some illegal-to-DW (and sometimes simultaneously illegal-to-W3C) operation like add IE hacks with backslashes or funny out of place brackets, or deliberately include a character that I only suspect might get my CSS scrubbed by DW until I realize that it actually does. Because I'm stupid-curious and sometimes learn best by just breaking things. Breaking someone else's website while doing my mad scientist experiments still beats breaking my own, of course.
marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Face it, the Web is dull, boring, static, especially if you've been on it for any length of time. You have these scintillating choices (yawn) to view content:

  1. A page with text, like this one, and maybe some pictures and a video or two...
  2. A page with video or audio, and maybe some commentary and a few links...

And wow, man, groovy...that's it. That's the Web.

Magazines are more interesting than the Web. They're shiny. They have great design, photography, and imagery. They have fragrance inserts, French door inserts, recipe card inserts, and fly-outs. The ads are quite awesome. The content is laid out in unpredictable patterns, in tiny little columns tossed all over the place.

Magazines know how to grab - and hold - your attention. What's the key ingredient?

Unpredictability.

The web is boring because the web is predictable. Imagine having hamburger every night, and an apple every day, and that's your entire diet. Sounds like the Web, doesn't it?

My ideas to make the Web less boring are hard to lay out without drawings (and web code, so people can see what I mean), but I can't draw, and while I can code, no language exists for what I would create, so for now, I'll describe my ideas in writing.

Content should not be static. Ever.

It's a travesty in this day and age (come on people, it's 2010 already, almost 2011!) that text is just text. While text is the backbone of the Web, it needs to be spiced up, with:

  • Audio on hover (you hover over a conversational element within a post, and audio plays of someone commenting upon it, for instance)...
  • Video on hover (tiny inline videos that further describe the idea at hand play when you hover over a related sentence, and no, I don't mean Snap Links style, but more of a user-in-control implementation), and...
  • Image on hover (I describe what my friend Suzy looks like, but rather than center a picture of her beneath that sentence, you hover your mouse over her name and an expandable thumbnail pops up).

These ideas save web page space, speed browser load time, and make information gathering more streamlined, user opt-in, personalized, and efficient.

Videos don't belong in your browser. Really, they don't.

Sites like YouTube and Hulu are the gold standard for finding and viewing video, but their pages are dreary and static, and search result presentation is awkward and often incomplete. Then you get this: "click to play", "click for full-screen", "click for volume"...why?

Why do you need to watch video on a web page, in a browser or in a media player? Seriously, someone answer that.

Isn't this better:

  • YouTube and Hulu are nothing but search boxes, so type your terms and click your result: your video automatically streams full screen, in high def, with your preferred audio settings, without any chrome.

These ideas speed browser load time, reduce CPU usage and personalize user experience.

Your blog/news/shopping site is dull.

Blogs, news sites, and shopping sites are a laughable waste of time. The pages scroll straight up and down. Javascript, AJAX, DHTML/HTML5 have not done crap to make them better. Design needs to break out - in a big way.

  • A page should automatically scroll not just up and down but sideways and diagonally, and it should have non-Flash based "living", moving design to capture the eye, to tell your story, to sell your product, to lead into your next thought, product, or post.

In short, you need life on a web page - to ignite the imagination, so it's not just your eye scrolling down the page, trying hard "not to miss anything", to "pay attention".

Guess what? It's not your job to "pay attention".

It's my job to make you want to. Shaking up design would help me accomplish that.

Note: Some ideas I've suggested are already in use on the iPhone, and some on-hover ideas are already in use commercially and on very big blogs and search sites, so it's worthwhile to point out that my ideas are to help bloggers and other website owners improve web page capabilities in general, with the slant almost exclusively on Windows users.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

If you need help falling asleep tonight, forget Tylenol PM™; try this. The most rock star elements of HTML 5 are the W3C equivalent of the browser-proprietary blink and marquee tags: From inline video and audio embeds to the ability to use the canvas tag, to check this out...draw. That's just what I always wanted to do - start drawing my own graphics! Like I don't have enough to do, what with drafting, editing, and publishing my own posts, checking the validity of my HTML and making sure my CSS is well-formed and doesn't make you stab your eyes out.

The spec also allows us, for the first time, to add more code to our content (a nice thing about XHTML is it allows you to use less code, and to use what little code you need more elegantly) by introducing tags we didn't need in the first place and don't need now to define things that were already defined through text to make them more semantic (so computers can define them, too, and in turn feed that information to People Search sites, Google, Twitter and Facebook. Seriously.). How all this extra markup relates to SEO and whether or not it will satisfy the needs of true semantics is unclear since the spec is still in draft (and will still be in draft 11 years from now).

I converted to XHTML years ago because it serves a clear purpose. It's rules are stringent and unyielding yet filled with simplicity and beauty. If you can call a computer language beautiful, then XHTML is the most beautiful computer language there is. I cannot believe it is being more or less phased out in favor of the pile of malarkey that is HTML 5.

This is why HTML 5 sucks...

HTML 5 does not have to be validated, has no fatal errors, does not have to be well-formed, and relies more on what passes for common sense in most circles than it relies on inherit structure (in other words, it is intuitive and murky as opposed to smart and well-defined). It's great for the uninitiated masses because it's forgiving, but bad for the rest of us who see the point of XHTML. Why HTML 5 cannot be a self-validating, strictly formed outcropping of XHTML is beyond me - maybe someone can explain to me why XHTML's standards are being abandoned with this iteration of HTML.

HTML 5, like its predecessors, will allow for relaxed standards, then attempt to make up for it by making browsers use sophisticated algorithms to parse for and correct all errors. This, to my mind, will slow down browsing, since the browser must act both as compiler and interpreter in addition to simply finding and displaying text and graphics.

Meanwhile, XHTML is an offshoot of XML, which is used for the RSS/Atom (live syndication) feeds you find on most websites, journals, and blogs. HTML 5 aims to get around the fact that it is not built off of XML, which did not even exist when HTML was in it's earliest iterations, by allowing a stripped down MIME type to be declared in order to serve both HTML and XML. Again, this seems to present a problem: the browser must act as a compiler and interpreter a second time to determine if there are any RSS/Atom feeds on a web page without a specific DOC type to tell them so.

Watching the Web over the years I've seen how software and browsers have been dumbed down (in contrast to the earlier browsers' simplicity, most browsers these days are geared to simply stupid) and seen how people are dumbing down in direct proportion to the "ease of use" afforded to them by software developers with each passing day, but I never in my life thought I'd see a web consortium devoted to web standards adapt the oxymoronical position of dumbing down the very thing they created to make the web "work smarter". The big question is why.