Tag: web design

Gowalla’s Misleading “Follow Friends” Page

Recently I got a Nexus One, which had me curious to discover the value (if any) of location-sharing applications like Foursquare and Gowalla. I had dormant accounts for both, and decided to see who among my contacts were actually using these things. I imagined not many.

Foursquare’s friend finder was straightforward and I was able to add three or four people. Gowalla’s, on the other hand, misled me into sending an invite to all 947 people in my Google contacts. This includes people I bought stuff from on Craigslist; old bosses; old girlfriends; co-workers; probably even prospective employers.

The trick was in mimicking a fairly standard “Step 2” format for these types of functions. It appears that I’m being presented two choices here: the first, to begin following only those contacts who are already on Gowalla; the second, to send invite emails to all checked names in the list.

Instead, both buttons do exactly the same thing. So when I clicked the button at the top, an email was sent to every person on that list. There was no pop-up window telling me, “You are about to send an email to 947 people. Continue?”

Fortunately I hadn’t used my full name on my profile; the email people received came from no-reply@gowalla.com or something similar; and I deleted my profile as soon as I realized what had happened. So hopefully I wasn’t as incriminated as I may have otherwise been. I know I roll my eyes whenever a friend has fallen for an obvious trap like that. And I like to think I’m pretty good at spotting these tricks. But this layout is outright deceptive.

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Opera Border Radius in 2010?

Opera has been maybe the most standards-conscious browser over its lifetime. This has resulted in frustration among users, who believe it to be “broken” because it doesn’t render lazy code correctly — code that takes advantage of the forgiveness of other browsers, allowing you to write sloppily and get away with it.

But it has also resulted in frustration among web developers, who are impatient at Opera’s reluctance to adopt any standards that haven’t been laser-etched into platinum tablets down in the W3C’s basement foundry. Among them is the border-radius property, an effect that will probably be out of vogue anyway by the time Opera’s Presto engine implements it. Of course, since CSS3 has been kicked around the W3C offices since 1999, and border-radius itself since 2001, most other engines (Gecko, WebKit, KHTML) stopped waiting and began inventing their own properties for this effect. Presto has not.

In the course of reminding myself of this lamentable fact by searching for workarounds today, I noticed that some Opera developers are casually dropping hints that the full-blown, unqualified, W3C-crafted border-radius itself has made an appearance in Presto 2.3, and that the next version of Opera will be powered by 2.4.

It’s all true, I saw it on Twitter.

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Google using inline CSS?

With only one font-family? And it’s Arial? The nerve!

<td class=bubble rowspan=2 style="font-family:arial;text-align:left;font-weight:bold;padding:5 0"><b>Celebrating 5 years of Gmail</b></td>

I don’t have Arial installed, so this shows up as my default serif, because they don’t even bother to include the generic ‘sans-serif’ font-family.

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Ta-Da

I’d been meaning to teach myself enough css, php, and sql to finally use WordPress, a powerful, flexible blogging utility, certainly moreso than Blogger. The process was faster than I had expected, and I’m really pleased with the results and looking forward to WordPress’ potential. Compare to my hindsightedly hideous Blogger site. Yuck.

The migration was easy enough, but the customization couldn’t have been possible without these sites:

…and of course all the WordPress documentation and codex.

Like I said, there’s still much XHTML invalidity, due entirely to Blogger, but I’ll be fixing this slowly (standards, standards, standards). Some formatting quirks I’ll be ironing out as well, so there may be varying degrees of garbling in the near future. I could say more, but I won’t, but I will say, “If you’ve thought about switching to WordPress, do it, if for no other reason than that you’ll learn so much about css and php in the process.”

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