December Randoms

Some thoughts from December:

  • Head on over to Mark Wubben’s site and get involved with sIFR 3. Mark will be handling primary sIFR 3 development, but I’ll remain involved as spiritual advisor. Also, check out Faruk’s new FACE CSS technique. I haven’t used it but it looks eyebrow-raising.
  • If you use a Mac and do any amount of CSS design, you must check out XyleScope. I used it early on in its beta life, but upon downloading version 1.1.5, I can say that it’s one of the best pieces of web development/design software around. Inline, on-the-fly CSS editing. Ahhhhhhh.
  • Intuit has apparently started mailing unsolicited CDs of TurboTax to people. I just got mine this week. You just enter a code when you install it and your card gets charged. Although this is obviously a bit wasteful from an environmental standpoint, it’s a pretty effective sales tactic. I now have a physical CD in my possession, I know I’m going to need it, so there is a 100% chance I will end up using it. I might even do my taxes early now. Hooray for unsolicited CDs in the mail!
  • Mike Industries hit a new personal record on Wednesday with 70,000 page views thanks to this slashdotting of sIFR by “Commander Taco”. Honestly, I didn’t even want to read the thread because I figured that Flash plus Slashdot would equal total lunacy, but I have to hand it to the Slashdot community… it was pretty even-handed. Any moronic remarks were generally met with reason and RTFAs.
  • The great Nokia N70 experiment has failed. I’m sticking with my Treo for now. I just can’t deal with keys made for hobbits.
  • I went to a concert in Seattle this weekend and The Wrens were the last band to play. They were okay, but they did do something on stage I had never seen before. The singer picked up his cell phone between songs, dialed a number, and then sat down on stage. The rest of the band then began into a song and the rhythm guitarist held his own cell phone up to the pickup on his electric guitar. Then, the singer sang through his own phone, over to the guitarist’s phone, in through the guitar pickup, and out the speakers. Pretty interesting.
  • Woohoo! Danni won Survivor. How many times has Hefner called already?
  • Firefox 1.5 continues to puzzle me. Aside from some unexplainable bugs related to its new handling of the overflow property, I just found out that it spits out errors when encountering the underscore hack. The underscore hack is probably my all-time favorite CSS hack and I much prefer it to the valid-but-much-more-verbose “* HTML hack”. I’m pretty sure the W3C specs say to ignore any CSS properties that the browser doesn’t understand, but instead, Firefox 1.5 reports errors. Ugh.
26 comments on “December Randoms”. Leave your own?
  1. Faruk Ateş says:

    Yep, user agents must ignore it. Declarations and properties of the CSS 2 Syntax and Basic Data Types document specifies it as follows:

    The syntax of values is specified separately for each property, but in any case, values are built from identifiers, strings, numbers, lengths, percentages, URIs, colors, angles, times, and frequencies.

    A user agent must ignore a declaration with an invalid property name or an invalid value. Every CSS2 property has its own syntactic and semantic restrictions on the values it accepts.

    In other words, Firefox 1.5 is doing things it shouldn’t do, and is not following the W3C specifications.

    Xylescope is indeed excellent — I purchased my copy just yesterday, in fact, after using the trial first. Very, very blissful tool!

  2. David says:

    I love Xylescope and have been using it for a while … the only drawback to it (and there may be a way around this) is that I can’t open PHP pages in it … you have to save the page as HTML and strip out any PHP. So, the best way I’ve found of using it is to tinker with sites once they’re on a web server (using xylescope as a browser) and playing with the CSS there.

    Anyone found a more efficient way around this?

  3. Faruk Ateş says:


    Try running a webserver on your own localhost?

    Xylescope functions as a Webkit-powered browser (as far as I can tell, anyway) and Webkit isn’t a PHP parser (logically). Opening PHP files would thus not make sense unless they’re pre-processed by a webserver, which you can run on your own computer with minimal effort.

  4. David says:

    thanks Faruk – yes, I should really get around to doing that. This will be the incentive to actually do it! … (and btw, I know this isn’t the time / place, but I love FACE!)

  5. Faruk Ateş says:

    Running your own webserver is really useful. I personally (still) don’t do it because I develop on our online servers on dev. locations. Benefit of that is that the entire server contents get backed up 7-14 days, so I have extra protection in case something goes horribly wrong. :)

    And hey, Mike started off this post with sIFR 3 and FACE, I think it’s fine to say that here ;-)

  6. Jemaleddin says:

    Dude, Danni? Danni? The walking skeleton? I haven’t bought a playboy in a dozen years, but I seem to remember them featuring girls with boobs. Maybe she could pose for the Ethiopian edition of Playboy…

    Besides, Steph totally deserved that one. I’m sick of the juries giving out the money to the person they A) Like the best, B) Hate the least or C) Whoever got there on the other person’s back. It’s about the game, people!

  7. Jaap says:

    In other words, Firefox 1.5 is doing things it shouldn’t do, and is not following the W3C specifications.

    That’s not true, Firefox is not applying any of the invalid rules it encounteres and merely reports the fact that it’s not applying them.

    I find the behaviour very usefull when developing since it notifies you of small stupid mistakes you might make in your CSS.

  8. Philippe says:

    As commenter Jaap mentions, the Firefox console is reporting all CSS properties and rules that it does not recognise as valid. It just says: ‘look, that syntax/property is in the stylesheet, but I can’t do anything with it, so I’ll ignore it.’ Note that it also reports as a problem perfectly valid properties that are unsupported, like ‘display: inline-block’.

  9. Faruk Ateş says:

    Jaap and Philippe:

    While you both have a point, my issue with it is that defaulting to showing errors about this isn’t what I consider to be ignoring. If people want to see errors in their CSS, let them check a checkbox or hit a button for it in the console, first. I can see how it’s useful, but forcing it upon you as the developer is taking it too far, in my opinion.

    Also, in my experiences with it so far, it’s not useful but just plain annoying. I know where I’m using “invalid” CSS (valid, just not recognized, thus it should be ignored) — but it’s a hell of a job for me to bugfix Javascript now, what with all the “errors” that the JS Console is giving me.

    And like Mike, I just don’t like being forced by a browser to use a more verbose hack just to clear the console. It’s not very (user)friendly, to me.

  10. Philippe says:

    Faruk, have a look at the Console2 extension. Filtering in multiple ways (Chrome, JS, CSS, etc).

    And the Firefox console is one of the most usefull around. Try Safari or Opera any other day, in terms of feedback for development.

  11. Faruk Ateş says:

    Philippe, yes Jeroen Mulder pointed me to Console2 as well. I don’t see that as a solution, though. While it may rid me of the clutter, it won’t do that for every visitor on my site who wants to check for Javascript errors (which is currently happening a lot, given the whole FACE publicity and all).

    Admittedly, Firefox’s console is more useful than Safari’s or Opera’s. For that reason, Firefox is my debugging-browser. I really don’t like it for my own browsing, if anything because it doesn’t support text-shadow or hooks into the nice Mac OS X behaviours like Safari. :-)

  12. Philippe says:


    Aside from some unexplainable bugs related to its new handling of the overflow property

    Care to elaborate on those ‘bugs’ ? As far as I can tell, Gecko is handling the overflow property fairly well (per CSS2.1 and CSS3 module). I remember your site has been messed up for the better part of the year in Gecko nightly builds, due to your incorrect handling of that property (yes that sidebar with overflow hidden and a huge left margin set, jumping away).

  13. If you install the Console2 extension you can filter errors by language. I use it to filter out all errors but javascript. I too got tired of seeing the css errors.

  14. jordan says:

    There has been some discussion amongst the Firefox developers concerning CSS errors in the console. The once I’ve chatted with are in favour of just logging them to the console as a message, rather than as errors. I find it very helpful to log them, however, because it’s the easiest way to find my typos.

  15. Mike D. says:

    Everybody: Yes, CSS “errors” are useful to see in an output window, but as jordan says, they should be in the “messages” tab or another tab completely. This is a case where the console has, over the years, become a place to mainly debug javascript, so adding these CSS error messages in only muddies the functionality. I will try out Console2.

    Jemaleddin: Oh yes, Danni definitely needs to gain some weight, but she looked pretty damn good on that Survivor reunion show. As opposed to Stephanie who looked, ummmm, well, let’s just say she looked better without the makeup, the home perm, and the overly dramatic shaved eyebrows. I wouldn’t peg Danni for the full-on Playmate Of The Month spread, but just one of those trademark “hey, this person’s a celebrity, here she is with very little on” deals.

    Phillipe: Ok, regarding the Firefox bugs, nobody ever did get to the bottom of the overflow/sidebar issue, but seeing as the code was valid, the rules were followed, and it worked in every other browser including all previous versions of Firefox, I’m not willing to put the blame on my code at this point. This site used a very standard “float one column, use a margin on the other” layout and something about the new handling of overflow caused that not to work anymore. The only reason it was not noticeable on many other sites is that most people probably don’t have the overflow property in their layouts. Soooo… after getting enough complaints from people using Deer Park and other FF beta, I just modified my layout so that everything is floated. That seemed to fix the symptoms, but clearly not the disease. So then FF 1.5 comes out and someone on OS X notices that every single page on my site with over about 200 comments shows up as completely blank. Not only that, but if you try to drag the scrollbar down, you actually freeze up the entire browser. I’ve made a reduced test-case here. The “culprit” here is apparently that if you apply an overflow-x css property to any really long div (like one with 200 comments in it), all hell breaks loose. The only solution is to put an underscore before the css property (or use * HTML) to hide it from Firefox, but hey that’s another error for the console. :)

  16. ?????? says:

    Just Curious as to what happened to the ipod giveaways…

    Christmas is upon us…..and you promised one every month…..

  17. Mike D. says:

    ??????: Yeah, been a bit busy lately. I definitely need to do one to close out the year. Let me try to get one up tonight.

  18. Bradley says:

    I am absolutely disappointed with FF 1.5, I must say. I laugh every time a site chucks out CSS errors to the “JavaScript Console”. I’m with jordan—let’s log them but not make them errors.

    The page rendering going from 1.0.7 — 1.5 is just so much different for standard code. That’s my issue. If it was tabled-up, CSS-hacked, font-tagged code, that would be one thing.

    Seriously—somebody try to use javascript to move or resise an element that contains a child element with a background image and padding. For the love of Pete, it screws up your whole page, littering element fragments everywhere!

    Can’t wait for 1.5.1, but the reality is: lotsa people will be using 1.5.

    BTW, Mike: The day TurboTax decided that DRM was more important than their customers, I switched to TaxCut. My father put TurboTax on his PC, only to find that it wrote low-level code to the reserved sectors on his hard disk (no software does this but disk utilities like GoBack, and viruses).

    End result for many people was unbootable computers, and/or the inability to completely remove TurboTax. My dad was one of those people. I tried to convince him not to install it after reading up on the subject, but that “free after rebate” software was just too golden.

    This was a major outroar about 2 years back… sorry for the geeky link but ExtremeTech covered the “sector 33” part well:,1697,1152025,00.asp

    Anyway, not sure what TurboTax for Mac is like, but I personally would rather give HR Block my business since there is no DRM at all. Sadly, it’s the older folk who won’t know any better.

  19. Jeff Croft says:

    The last time I knew someone who called themselves “Spiritual Advisor,” he stole my girlfriend and got her pregnant.

    No joke.

  20. Faruk Ateş says:

    Well, last time I spoke to him about it, Mark didn’t have a girlfriend so all that Mike could “knock up” there is Mark’s Powerbook…

    I’m not sure which image frightens me more at this point.

  21. Jeff Croft says:

    Firewire port seems about right for Davidson.

  22. Faruk Ateş says:

    400 or 800?

    Then again, the question about double bandwidth is, in this case, probably better left unanswered…

  23. Bradley says:

    Way to kill an entry, guys. :)

  24. Mike D. says:

    Croftie eliminated me to advance to the Fantasy Football Super Bowl this weekend so he can spew whatever jabs he pleases in this particular entry. After that, I will consider an all-inclusive ban of his IP. :)

  25. Mike Montgomery says:

    A couple of days ago I received a TaxCut CD in the mail. It looks like both TaxCut and TurboTax had the same idea. When I received mine, I commented that it was a great marketing move. If I don’t have to go shopping for it, I’m not going to find an alternative.

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