An Unfinished Symphony

It's about the internet and stuff.

The First Annual CSS Naked Day

Dustin Diaz has announced the first annual CSS naked day to take place on the 5th of April. I had wanted to announce my participation in the event prior to my CSS turning off, but I didn't get the chance to and now it's gone.

Some of you may be wondering why I started early – well I haven't really. You see I used the PHP function provided by Luke Wertz to disable my CSS automatically and, as mentioned by Dustin, this will turn the CSS off as soon as it is the 5th of April anywhere in the World, and keep it turned off until it's no longer the 5th anywhere. In other words it's an annual CSS 2 naked days.

To find out what it's all about have a read of the announcement, however it's summed up quite well here by Håkon Wium Lie, the creator of CSS:

This is a fun idea, fully in line with the reasons for creating CSS in the first place. While most designers are attracted by the extra presentational capabilities, saving HTML from becoming a presentational language was probably a more important motivation for most people who participated in the beginning.

Håkon has pledged to take part, along with several hundred other mental people 🙂

In a little under 48 hours my CSS will return in a blaze of glory, in the meantime you get to see a more attractive ap4a.

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Recent changes on ap4a

Earlier this week I spent a few minutes tidying up the CSS, removing unnecessary selector duplications, combining identical rule sets, arranging the rule sets more logically, and removing excess white space, and removing whole style sheets that I'd either made obsolete by eliminating the markup they styled, or by including the contents within others that more logically related to their purpose. Basically making the CSS more easy to manage and more logically structured for the way that I work. The reason this was necessary was simply because I was working from someone else's original CSS; CSS that was arranged in a way that they considered logical but to me was haphazard, and only became more haphazard as changes were made, and extra rule sets added. In essence this is only a modified version of the default Kubrick theme for WordPress.

When I first began to create my own theme for this blog I began by modifying the default which, at the time, seemed like a good idea considering how clean and simple it appeared to be. Looking back it probably wasn't the best idea considering that Kubrick is a very feature rich theme which has a lot of associated template files. What I should have done was either read up on the designing WordPress themes for public release documentation in order to learn how to do it from scratch, or chosen a simpler theme to develop the basic look from and then added features to that as necessary. That aside I've still managed to learn a fair bit about how the back end of WordPress works as a result of my tinkering with Kubrick, so it's all good in the long term.

Anyway, as mentioned, a few changes have been made to the CSS. Overall this hasn't had much impact on how the site works in modern browsers, I've tested it and am happy that it looks as intended in Internet Explorer 6 for Windows, Opera 8.52 and Opera 7.23 for Windows, and Firefox 1.5.0.1 for Windows. According to iCapture it also looks right in Safari 2.0.3, so I'm happy with that too. There are a couple of issues on Internet Explorer 5x for Windows however, and possibly IE for Mac – but I have no way of checking that.

In IE 5x for Windows there were, previously, a couple of very minor issues whereby the column side borders didn't quite meet the column headers, being separated by a one or two pixel gap. It was never something that I had bothered to correct as I chose not to use hacks for those browsers to fix a very minor issue in them – considering that they are very old, and very obsolete browsers, and this is a personal site. After the CSS alterations, however, there was slightly more of an issue. In IE 5.5 the third column on the front page dropped down beneath the second column – not something that would cause me any worry by itself, as the site is still fully functional and the drop doesn't detract to much for me to need to fix it for less than 1.5% of the visitors (sorry). In IE 5.01, however, the right-hand column borders were separated by 10 to 20 pixels from the column headers (ie. they were positioned 10 to 20 pixels too far to the right). This was an effect that I'd seen early on in IE 6, and was one that wasn't acceptable. So I've made a couple of minor changes, and even an IE5 stylesheet, to fix the worst of the issues – and after testing in both IE 5.01 and IE 5.5 it seems I've achieved that, with the only outstanding problems being:

  1. The Google ads aren't centred. This is easy to fix by using text-align: center; to align them, but I would have to realign anything else that is affected by that and there's a lot that would be affected. All in all it's not enough of an issue to worry about bloating my style sheets in order to fix it.
  2. A slight issue with the column headers in IE 5.01 only. If I get the time I may do something to fix that, but it isn't any kind of a priority for me as less than 1% of my visitors use that browser (and those that do could well be me using it for testing, not something that I care to go looking through my raw log files to check on).

Beyond the reorganising of the site's CSS there have been a few other minor changes. A little while ago it was mentioned that the stark black and white colour scheme was a little hard on the eyes, so I softened that with shades of grey. I've also responded to comments by Sarah and Paul, that the site lacked colour, by using colourful versions of new elements that have been added to the site rather than imposing the greyscale colour scheme on them.

I've also overtly linked, using nice colourful icons, to the different versions of the site's feeds to make subscribing easier. I've also included links to various social bookmarking services to the archived version of each post, to make linking individual posts via those services easier on the odd occasion that someone chooses to do so. I will at some stage revise the selection to better target what I consider useful services – which may also include the addition of new services as they become available to the plugin used. I've also expanded the metadata aspects of the site by the inclusion of links to aspects of the Technorati service that apply to this site, as well as the inclusion of a Friend of a Friend profile.

Finally there's also the addition of a couple of features to benefit commentors, such as the inclusion of gravatars on the site to enable them to have a more personalised/branded look to their comments. Also to benefit commentors with their own blogs/sites, I've removed rel="nofollow" from links to their homepage. This is in response to the YesFollow Project that I first read about on Barefoot Boo's blog earlier today. I haven't, however, implemented fully. Firstly, all new comments will have rel="nofollow" in place for the first 3 days in order for me to have time to review the linked site if I feel it necessary, after that initial period it will automagically remove the nofollow from the rel attribute. Second, I have a plugin that adds rel="nofollow" to all links located within the body of comments. I'm leaving this in place as I'd rather not provide endorsements by proxy to third party sites. If I think a site has value to my readership then it's likely to be found in the sidebar links at some point in time – which I'm currently in the process of updating.

So that's pretty much it. Hopefully the changes will prove to be of benefit to some and I'll continue to make changes as I see fit and when time permits, and as the above, hopefully, demonstrates in response to visitor feedback too.

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