September 26, 2011
by wil

Pixel Pixilation

I replaced my old 24″ Dell UltraSharp monitor with a new one recently, because the old one was suffering from ghosting and burn-in (note to self: They’re called screensavers for a reason. They can save your screen. Use them.). I thought seriously about upgrading to a 27″ or a 30″, but from a cost-benefit and pixel-density perspective, the larger size just isn’t worth it.

monitor comparison

As shown above, the 27″ gives you 60% more screen area (in pixels), but it costs 83% more (for consistency, I’m using current, non-sale prices). And the 30″ gives you 78% more screen area (in pixels), but it costs 150% more.

And then there’s the issue of pixel density (PPI, pixels per inch). The larger screens have higher pixel densities, so everything (images, fonts, etc.) will be more tightly packed, and therefore look smaller on the larger screen (16% smaller on the 27″ and 7% smaller on the 30″).


I have pretty good eyesight, but as pixel densities rise and text and images start to compact, I start to have to strain to see them. I think I might be able to adjust to 101 ppi, but 109 ppi is just too compact for me.

So, for now, I’m sticking with my trusty 24″ @ 94ppi screen.

Note: All this pixel-talk falls to pieces when discussing high-pixel-density displays (like Apple’s Retina Display) which utilize density-independent pixels (a.k.a. virtual pixels).

September 15, 2011
by wil

Don’t be IEvil

Ryan Paul @ Ars has written a great article addressing Google’s disappointing, exasperating, worrying unilateral actions and lack of openness.

Google’s poor track record on open governance makes it difficult to place faith in the company’s motives and trust it to be a responsible steward of a critically important Web technology.

Google’s not-invented-here complex and increasingly self-absorbed view of how the Internet should function go against the grain of the open Web.

Google’s rhetoric doesn’t match its conduct. The company’s documented strategy of using secrecy and control over standards to achieve a competitive advantage in “open” ecosystems can’t be ignored.

The article also links to a blog entry by developer Henri Bergius which echoes the sentiment…

Many of their plans to make [the] web competitive against native development environments are good, there is indeed much to improve in the stack. But what I’m uneasy with is the unilateral way they go about it, preferring “big reveals” and post-facto standardization instead of the open conversation that built most of the Internet we have today. This is not the way to collaborate.

…and references a comment by Brendan Eich, the original author of javascript and a member of the board of directors of the Mozilla Foundation:

So “Works best in Chrome” and even “Works only in Chrome” are new norms promulgated intentionally by Google. We see more of this fragmentation every day. As a user of Chrome and Firefox (and Safari), I find it painful to experience, never mind the political bad taste.

Like Bergius, in general, I’m a fan of Google — it’s a bold, innovative, visionary company — but I’m an even bigger fan of the Open Web. And that is one of the reasons Firefox is my browser of choice.

Google…don’t be IEvil. Don’t let Chrome become the new (isolationist, proprietary) IE.


September 14, 2011
by wil

Fun with data

I was reading this month’s Discover magazine and came across this: “Data traffic increased 8,000 percent in the past four years on AT&T’s network alone.” And I thought, whoa, that’s a huge increase…then I started digging around and found more interesting data traffic stats.

global internet traffic

.001 EB (exabyte) = 1 PB (petabyte) = 1000 TB = 1,000,000 GB    (Src)

In 2000, we were sending 75 PB of data across the Internets each month. By 2010, we were sending more than 75 PB of data every 4 hours.

What accounts for all of that data? Largely video.

2000 vs 2008


And mobile usage is experiencing similar exponential growth.

global mobile internet traffic


  • Global mobile data traffic in 2010 (237 PB/mo) was over three times greater than the total global Internet traffic in 2000 (75 PB/mo).
  • Mobile data usage surpassed mobile voice in 2009.
  • There are 48 million people in the world who have mobile phones, even though they do not have electricity at home.

September 2, 2011
by wil

Web design humor

Two humorous bits.

I saw this on Smashing Magazine today (original source: Six Revisions):

web designers vs. web developers

And I thought this was funny and true.

I’ve just been reminded of a very important lesson that I occasionally forget: test web fonts on Windows, because a lot of them look shit.

Web fonts have come a long way, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

September 2, 2011
by wil

Google TV

google tvLast week, we stayed at a vacation rental that had Google TV, so I was able to play around with it a bit. It’s basically TV+Web: you can surf the web or watch regular tv (how quaint) or watch something via Netflix or Amazon.

Although the current Google TV interface is slightly clunky, I think it offers an intriguing glimpse of the future. It already feels a bit old-fashioned to have a large screen in your living room that limits you to whats-on-tv-right-now — such wasted potential. I think the public will grow to expect screens of any kind (tv, desktop, laptop, tablet, phone, etc.) to deliver content on demand, whether it be traditional web content, traditional tv content, streaming video, etc. Google TV is a big step in the right direction, blurring the lines between traditional content delivery channels. Does anyone really care (assuming equivalent quality) if they’re watching The Wizard of Oz on CBS or Netflix or YouTube? I look forward to the elegant interfaces of the future (Google TV 2.0?) that simply deliver content and don’t necessarily need to tell me where it came from.

On a more web-designy note, I found the design considerations for Google TV’s “10-foot UI” surprisingly similar to those related to the mobile-web experience:

[T]he viewable area should display less information overall, and what’s there should focus on a confined set of tasks…    Fonts…and buttons…need to be larger…    [A]void a cluttered appearance…    Simplify…navigation…    Elements on the page should have large selection surfaces…

These sound like mobile design guidelines, but they’re straight from Google’s Designing For TV article. Hmm…it’s seems like the heyday of traditional desktop/laptop-centric design is over. It’s now mobile-first! TV-first! Uncluttered. User-friendly. Cool.

August 18, 2011
by wil

The (Web) Appification Process

It looks like Windows 8 is going to have a built-in app store (via Windows 8 News):

Windows 8 app store

And Firefox, for all intents and purposes, is going to might eventually drop its version number. You’ll just be up-to-date or not up-to-date:

We’re removing the Firefox version number from all of the common user-visible locations because we don’t believe that users need to know what version they’re on. We’re moving to a model that’s more like the Web. What version of Gmail are you on?

Asa Dotzler, Firefox product lead

Interesting times.

August 16, 2011
by wil

Responsive Web Design

responsive web designI just finished Ethan Marcotte’s (e)book, Responsive Web Design. I picked it up because a) responsive web design is cool, and b) I needed to rapidly get up to speed for a job (i.e., contract gig) interview.

I don’t usually read web design books because a) they’re boring, b) they’re outdated within six months, and c) the info’s on the web anyway, but Responsive Web Design was new enough to still be relevant, was actually not boring, and I didn’t have to hunt and peck around the web, searching for good, comprehensive info on the subject.

Responsive web design may not be the right design modality/philosophy for all sites, but I think it works really well for many/most sites. And I think the idea of mobile-first + progressive enhancement is the way to go.

P.S. You may have noticed that I chose a responsive design for the blog: Yoko by Elmastudio.

August 15, 2011
by wil


For the first post of the new blog, I thought I’d lead out with something truly exciting — html editors! But seriously, I’m really looking forward to the release of TopStyle 5 later this year.

Back in the day, I used Nick Bradbury’s HomeSite, till it was acquired by Macromedia, then Adobe. Then I switched to Bradbury’s follow-up editor, TopStyle*, and I’ve been a fan ever since.

Why TopStyle? It’s really good at what it does (edit html/css), and it doesn’t try to be what it isn’t.

It’s highly customizable — you can customize the layout (including split-screen: quite handy when comparing two documents), keyboard shortcuts, code highlighting, etc.

It’s helpful: if you forget the options for list-style-type, just hit CTRL+space and up pops an option menu. Want to quickly see the CSS rules for class=”footer”, CTRL+click “footer” in your html document and jump directly to the “footer” rule in your CSS document. An incredible time-saver.

And it’s reasonably priced @ $79.95 and reasonably sized at 15MB. Compare that to Adobe Dreamweaver 5.5 @ $399 and a whopping 1GB.

Over the years, I’ve sampled other html/css editors, but I always come back to TopStyle.

* The current TopStyle developer (since 2008) is Stefan van As.