Preppy Punk

July 29th, 2009

Blank canvas

Blank canvas

I have started a project that I have been meaning to start for some time, developing a one-of-a-kind skate board deck for my son who loves to rip it up at the skate park. I am starting from this extra white deck I picked up last year. Follow me every week as I progress to see where I land with the design. Currently I am thinking of blending a bit of the preppy stripes you would see on a Ralph Lauren polo shirt and a rough hand style illustration of some sort. A little of the refined with the unrefined. Check back next week!



July 27th, 2009

I Pity the Fool Who Uses IE6

Any web designer or developer who faces the daunting task of making the sites they build function and look like their original design in any version of Internet Explorer feels the same loathing and distaste I feel for Microsoft. Their utter lack of support of web standards is a punch in the gut to every designer or developer who cares about delivering a rich and consistent experience to anyone visiting the sites they build. Sure Firefox has taken the lead, but the fact remains that over 40% of usage is some version of IE and the fact that nearly 15% of users out there still use IE6, well that makes me want to cry, scream, and chuck things (don’t worry…soft things: pillows, feathers, anything Nerf).

But throwing so much hate at Microsoft is like hating air. We need air, and we need Microsoft (at least for now) even if that air is polluted and smells a little bit like a 2-day old cheese sandwich someone left under your couch. I think it’s going to get better and here’s why: good old-fashioned competition.

The Invisible Hand of Adam Smith is reaching under the couch and grabbing the stinky cheese sandwich and at least thinking of throwing it out. The air feels a tiny bit cleaner….did someone spray some Febreeze….uh-huh, uh-huh….I think they did. Microsoft is being forced to adapt, to change, to come out into the open and actually give its customers good things. Microsoft will someday have to give its users what they want as opposed to the other way around.

What makes me think this? A couple weeks ago when Google announced its browser based operating system for netbooks I felt a small stitch of schadenfreude. defines “schadenfreude” as “satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune.” Say the words “new operating system” and throw in the fact that it is Google saying it and I guarantee the suits at Microsoft begin to sweat (a little bit more). And to me this feels good, real good.

Sure, this operating system is intended for netbooks only, or small computers with little processing power or hard drive space, the fact remains that someday very soon even a small segment of the population will be using another operating system not built by Microsoft. This is a great thing. It means even more competition.

But what about Apple and OS X you might ask? Well, Apple makes an amazing operating system, and we know they support web standards. Their browser Safari, is based on the WebKit layout engine and so is Chrome, Google’s browser and the basis for their new operating system. However, the fact remains, OS X only holds about 5% of the operating system market worldwide. What Apple needs, and what we all need is more movement and more effort to releasing Microsoft’s steely grip on the operating system market, and the release of another new operating system, especially by a huge player like Google, is a small step in that direction.

Google’s complete domination of search forced Microsoft to go back to the drawing board, and they came back with Bing, which is gaining at least some favorable reviews. Perhaps even the likes of Google Docs or OpenOffice is forcing Microsoft to rethink how people will use software (as a web service) and how they pay for software (free, open source).

So, you might ask, why care? Just use a different operating system, use another browser, use anything other than what is offered by Microsoft. That sounds fine and dandy and I can do that in my personal life, but as a web professional, I just can’t. I have to care what any of my potential web site visitors use, and I know that a lot of them are using Microsoft products. Also as someone who loves the internet, who has based his career and thus life on it, I hope, need, wish and pray that there can be something better out there than what Microsoft is currently offering.

I can start telling people that if they continue using IE6 that someday soon their computers will melt, locust will infest their homes, and their friends will just stop liking them. I can tell people they would be happier if they bought a Mac. OR, Microsoft could simply begin to build better products and thanks to our good friend competition I think they will, and this is the really important part, if they don’t I think we all lose.

Software as we know it today is moving to the cloud. Cloud computing is here now and people are using it without even really thinking about it thanks to the likes of Facebook and Twitter just to name a couple of big and trendy sites and/or ideas/concepts. That said, and I will use a very technical term here, if the browser we use to connect to the cloud SUCKS, then the experience overall is going to suck too. If the big brains and the cool designers who will re-invent the web and essentially computing itself cannot deliver the same or similar experience to all users then that is going to limit the overall impact. Sure, the hipsters and the geeks will understand and revel in this new web, but what about your parents? (They’re just different kind of geeks.) What about the average, everyday person who thinks they have the latest and greatest technology — who boots up their new Vista-based machine, opens IE8 and all of a sudden it’s just giant cheese-sandwich under the sofa time? Stinky, cheesy air, sucky browser, bad experience and they might not even know any better. I want web standards, consistent user experience and a delicious, fresh cheese sandwich (oh and maybe some of those Sun Chips, yeah those are real good), I want the web to be able to grow unencumbered by products designed not to innovate but to protect turf and market share, which are forced on the unknowing (or the uncaring?).

So either Microsoft is going to do this on their own (won’t happen) or the market will force them to do it (happening now). So let’s all hope for Microsoft’s “misfortune”, and every time an innovator big or small takes a chunk out of Microsoft’s market position let’s all feel a little “satisfaction or pleasure.” We’re all going to better off….even Microsoft.



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