January 2004 Archives

January 23, 2004

Google Toolbar Part III

Whenever I forget to tell myself to KISS, I can always count on others to help me out ;)

Paul Burdon sent me an email yesterday outlining a much more elegant (and simple) solution to the yellow form fields dilemna caused by the Google Toolbar.

He pointed out that if you use an "!important" declaration, you can ensure that your form fields keep the background color specified. Well, I feel kind of silly. Given that AutoFill applies the yellow by modifying the style property of an element, it goes without saying that stylesheet declarations denoted as !important would take precedence. I guess I just overlooked the obvious.

I would still recommend using this particular version of the JavaScript solution for accessibility reasons. It lets you implement the following:

  1. Instead of unstyling all AutoFill elements, you style them to your liking but visibly different from other elements.
  2. Create a note that only AutoFill users can see that explains that AutoFill can be used on this form.

The advantages are threefold:

  1. You maintain control over your design—no unsightly form fields.
  2. You don't thwart your users—those that enjoy the functionality of AutoFill.
  3. The note educates those users who otherwise wouldn't know what AutoFill does.
Posted by jon at 11:58 PM

January 22, 2004


I don't often wax political, but sometimes you just have to get it out of your system...


When used for good, words have the ability to proclaim the truth, foster understanding and free our souls. When used for evil, they carry the power to blind eyes, turn hearts to stone and enslave us.

The latter usage seems more prevalent as of late.

Words that blind our eyes: Axis of Evil. Homeland Security. Weapons of Mass Destruction. Self-defense.
Words that turn hearts to stone: Terrorists. Freedom-haters. Evildoers. Them.
Words that enslave us: Patriot Act. Free Speech Zones. Enemy Combatant. Un-American.

Thomas Jefferson once defined terrorism as "the act of terrorizing, or state of being terrorized; a mode of government by terror or intimidation."

The American Heritage Dictionary offers the following:

"The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."

For the longest time I struggled to find a term that captured the essence of how George W. Bush governs this nation. It was staring me in the face all along.


But unlike 9-11, this terrorism has nothing to do with planes, and everything to do with words.

They tell us to carry on with our lives and not to worry about the impending terrorist attack. We are constantly bombarded by terror alerts and preemptive wars. They say that any dissent helps the terrorists' cause. We are fed words of fear 24 hours a day by this administration and its news outlets.

The only true beneficiary of Al Qaeda's terrorism has been Bush. Over the last two years he has been able to advance his agenda by terrorizing us with the ever-present "threat" of more terrorism He has undermined our freedoms and made a mockery of the Bill of Rights. His State of the Union address makes it abundantly clear he plans to stay the course.

In short, he has played us for fools and so far we have proved him right. Just as Esau of old sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, we are selling ourselves into slavery for a security blanket and a pacifier.


Don't even get me started on the deficit and the environment...

Posted by jon at 12:14 AM

January 20, 2004

more excuses

Yes, I know.

I really am terrible with personal deadlines. There was no article yesterday about XHTML/CSS parsing via PHP. Nor will there be today. By the end of the week, probably, but no guarantees. Both of my jobs have been keeping me extremely busy, which is a good thing, I suppose. But it leaves me less time than I would like for aromatic tuberous roots and experiments in web design.

Why I chose to start with the parsing article is beyond me, seeing as the other ones are a lot easier to throw together. Perhaps I'll swap the order around. Stay tuned...

Posted by jon at 3:09 PM

comments part II

A while back, I wrote about the woes of comment spamming. Based on the comments I've gotten so far, it would appear that my audience is comprised primarily of spammers. I usually delete spam as soon as it's posted and then block the ip, but I thought I'd share this one first. It's possible this is someone trying to be funny, but I suspect it's a spambot that had the comedic misfortune of spamming my entry about comment spam:

Name: online casino
Email Address: casino@1-online-casino-portal.com
URL: http://www.1-online-casino-portal.com
Comments: I too once had that happen to me mate

Why, out of all my entries, did it post on the one talking about comment spamming? Your guess is as good as mine. But it goes to show that algorithms are only as smart as the people that write them.

Posted by jon at 2:59 PM

January 12, 2004

reality bites

Well, so much for my plan. I've decided that I need to be a little more realistic. Although I would like to publish two tutorials/articles a week on some webdev related topic, it's just not feasible. I hardly have enough time to eat as it is.

My revised schedule for Experiments in Web Design will work something like this: Every Monday (starting next week) I'll have a new article/tutorial complete with sample code on some programming/design topic. I'll probably follow the order proposed in my original outline, but that too may change.

So if you want to learn something about parsing and traversing CSS and XHTML documents with PHP, come back next Monday and you won't be disappointed.

Posted by jon at 9:39 PM

January 6, 2004

code overload

Having a PDA is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it helps you use your time more efficiently and you are able to get more work done. On the other hand, it helps you use your time more efficiently and you are able to get less play done.

That said, I've been using my Christmas present to plot out many of my activities over the next month. And I've got a lot of ideas for jenseng.com, so prepare to see lots of changes in the coming weeks. Here's a brief overview of what to expect:

  • Look and feel:
    • Consistent, aesthetically pleasing redesign for jenseng.com and code.jenseng.com. This should be complete by the first of February
  • Coding articles:
    • 2004-01-11: PHP parsers and utilties for manipulating CSS and XHTML documents
    • 2004-01-11: Dynamically create columns with JavaScript
    • 2004-01-18: Outsmarting the Internet Explorer SELECT control
    • 2004-01-25: Creating a cross-browser collapsable tree menu
    • 2004-01-25: Creating a cross-browser dropdown menu
    • 2004-02-01: jenDB - PHP and SQLite revisited
    • 2004-02-08: Building a role-based management system with PHP and MySQL

So there you have it. All in all, the articles should just about triple the amount of content on the site. The code is already done for most of the articles—now it's just a matter of doing the write-ups. Of course, whether or not I'm able to maintain that timetable remains to be seen...

Posted by jon at 11:04 AM
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