Our thoughts on Mastodon

Mastodon really seemed like a great thing, that the creator (Eugen) was maybe a little unaware of implications and all of that, but really did seem to have a good sense of what the “right” thing to do probably is as far as social media is concerned.

I’m not sure that he has a good understanding at all.  I sure hope that he does not, because despite the efforts of many to find better ways to handle a lot of the problems that exist with it, for quite some time (I think I’ve been watching for about 18 months, and by watching, been actively involved on the platform).

Anyway, he likes to say that it is, “Twitter, with longer posts and no Nazis.”

Is it?

Twitter like?

Yes, very much so, for one thing, a big part of what makes twitter, twitter is that the posts are relatively short.  The started out at 140 characters, and I believe that right from the beginning people complained that they didn’t really work that well for them.

140 characters is really short, and it takes really condensing something a lot to get it down to that.  A lot of what I enjoyed when it was at that length, was to find ways to make those 140 characters really work.

So it does have short posts, but they are longer, they are 500 characters by default (well limit), and while it can be changed, it’s not really that easy to do so.

Even at 500 characters a lot of what makes Twitter the space it is, kind of still exists.  You can express a lot more in 500 characters, than 140.  Well, sort of.  I don’t really think that for the most part you can…

Longer Posts

This is an indication that it is, “better” and yeah, I kind of like the longer posts better, but…  Um…  Yeah, are you really expressing stuff better in that 3.6 times the space?  I don’t think it makes a whole lot of difference really.  For the most part, it is expressing the same stuff, with more words, and somewhat more chance to be misunderstood.

The *idea* of what can be expressed is basically not that much different.  You can basically express one idea.  And the idea most people interpret things as, is, “only one idea” and means that any kind of subtlety easily gets lost.

No Nazis

Well, here we very much differ.  There *are* nazis.  In fact, there have been a lot of migrations from Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, etcetera, because of crack downs on certain types of things, including far right attitudes.

There are whole instances which exist which are created *to* promote far right attitudes.  And honestly, the tools we have to handle that are probably *worse* than what Twitter does, because of the nature of it.

So…  How does this really mean that Mastodon really is?

Mastodon Feel?

Well here’s the thing, there are basically three different types of people that can “find a space” on Mastodon, the people who have a small community and want to stay within it.  And those who want to move across communities, who have no interest in speaking between those communities.  And those who want to move across communities, and have a tough skin.

If you dare say anything where you don’t *agree* with what’s being said, you are very much saying the exact opposite of what the person is saying.

There is no sense of anything other than echo chambers there.

There *are* places where people get along decently.  But a big thing is, that a lot of the conflict runs between and through the whole space.  The idea that you, “should” call out people who are not your extreme view, honestly…  It’s the way things are.  Anyone I’ve seen who have tried to be decent and find ways to fix the extreme polarization either just giving up on saying anything except meaningless stuff, and responding to the people who haven’t given up yet…  Or they end up leaving.

It’s only gotten worse there…  And we have officially left, though I don’t believe we are totally gone yet.  And of course, a big problem is, “it’s there forever”…

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Game Development Thoughts (1 of however many)

OK, it seems like it was a few weeks ago that I was talking with a friend over on Deviant Art, and was talking about the fact that I’m feeling that I need to work on some game development stuff, and need to figure out what I need to do to do that.

The first thing for me about this was to look in terms of which games I have personally found more “successful” from my perspective.

I am very much a person who uses words a lot, so I looked into the ways that I could do that, and played with some stuff with RenPy which is a visual novel platform, engine, whatever which I really enjoy “playing” visual novels, but for whatever reason I felt that I was running into some pretty significant issues with that, which I really didn’t feel I could resolve…

A big thing that I do remember, is I had a lot of trouble with probably two things…

Without visuals these end up being, “very strange” and I really didn’t feel that I could produce the visuals that I wanted for them (even if I got the story written).

The way that writing for them, the text just didn’t work that well for me, as it is written as code.  This is probably a reasonable example (from the renypy.org site):

define s = Character('Sylvie', color="#c8ffc8")
define m = Character('Me', color="#c8c8ff")

label start:

    s "Hi there! How was class?"

    m "Good..."

    "I can't bring myself to admit that it all went in one ear and out the other."

    s "Are you going home now? Wanna walk back with me?"

    m "Sure!"

I’m not sure how well this ends up formatting… But this is kind of what seems to be a significant part of how this ends up working in actual practice.

So, I gave up on that, and I guess another factor, (and it could well not have remained a factor if other things didn’t really end up being unpleasant) is that the development and all of that was kind of not very nice place for talking about what is going on with your game, and getting help.

So, someone mentioned Twine and it is a platform for writing “interactive fiction”.  And asked about how to handle stuff around media, and making it work without having to go through extra steps, and I probably have a solution there which I could get to work, if I were to go there.

I found the code tended to work better for me:

:: Passage Name

[[Go to the cellar->Cellar]] is a link that goes to a passage named "Cellar".
[[Parachuting<-Jump]] is a link that goes to a passage named "Parachuting".
[[Down the hatch]] is a link that goes to a passage named "Down the hatch".

Sort of made a lot more sense to me, and this isn’t just some dialogue, but actually includes some code…

Also one other major factor is that for the most part, whitespace is not important.  Though there are cases where a mistake in whitespace has been a problem.

And probably for me, a major factor why I now have 3 different projects that I’ve put a lot of effort into, has been that the development community has always been, “Hmmm… that’s weird, can you let me know more about the details”.

But still.  While I’d say that always has appealed to me, I have spent hours working on stuff like that, and felt it was basically, “nothing”.

So I had done a “game jam” on itch.io which I created a game based on a tutorial for Godot.  I wanted to work in Godot for a number of reasons, and the “Dodge the Creeps Tutorial” showed up.  I think from the time I started working on it, I probably took about 36 hours to get a game working well enough to be OK with sharing it.  It was more like 4 hours of actual coding/debugging and possibly a good deal less than that, but a big problem came up which was that I was using a version which wasn’t going to work with the code, and I spent a good deal of time trying to get it to work for me.

That simple Godot game was probably the favourite game that I worked on.  There really isn’t any “story” that I need to go into to make it, “fun” and it was just about trying to figure out where I wanted to go with the game in terms of how to modify it.

So, that discussion lead to thinking about how to do something like that.

I was thinking about the kinds of games that sort of fell into being able to create something which is playable in a relatively short time, but might end up being a game that could have multiple releases that actually are improving the game, not just fixing bugs which are found with it.

So, that game, as it starts, doesn’t really develop over time.  And in a lot of ways that’s something that would need to happen for a game to be long-term enjoyable for people.

So I was thinking of games like Asteroids, Pong, Apple Panic, Loderunner, Donkey Kong, and a lot of different games like that.  Most of them are some form of a 2D game, and these are “old” games that people are still playing.

So, without really going into it, I decided something like this just made sense for the next game project…  But I didn’t go anywhere with it.  Then someone in a game development chat, was talking about game design, and game play, and I started to think more, and realized that I probably need to look in terms of that.

And that started me thinking about how game design, and game play sort of work.  And I need to seriously go through trying to figure this out.

To me, there are elements of, “world” and “character”.  Some games there isn’t much sense of character, as it’s like a “solitaire” type game like most of the card solitaire games, or mahjong.

There is just a “world” which has what you have, and you just kind of “work” and the character element is really downplayed.

Then most games have more of a character involved.  Whether it is your spaceship and enemies in something like Asteroids, or all the way up to some of the 3D multiplayer games.

And of course there is how much or how little “story” there is in your game.


  • World
  • Characters
  • Story
  • Gameplay

Probably a good place to think about these things.

So, this was probably a good sort of thinking about things and starting to look where I want to think about how to move forward with this.

For now, I think I’m going to leave this post here.  I need to think a lot more about how these kind of come together.

Posted in Game Development | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

The Myth of Data Security

There are people who have talked to me recently about, “it is scary what you can do with data” and I have stated that by deleting their messages after 7 days protects them.

This is at best misguided, and I’m not saying much about the people who are publicly making such statements as part of journalism, because I don’t believe they are saying what they don’t believe, or at least don’t believe well enough to make it worth saying.

Here is what someone who claims to know about the risk of what can “be done with data” will know that any of the following things will cause it to be indexed:

  • Being opened on any of these devices:
    • Apple
    • Google
    • Microsoft
    • SuperMicro
    • Huawei
  • Being posted publicly
  • Being shared publicly after having been posted privately

Based on this information, it seems that there simply isn’t likely that the “data” portion is protected.  The being posted publicly, or being shared publicly after having been shared privately means not only is it indexed, but it is also being archived (often publicly).

This information which I think is pretty clear to say that you can’t protect your data (end to end cryptography is the best that you can achieve, but I’d question whether it isn’t at least indexed in the vast majority of cases (ie. it gets indexed by Apple, Google, Microsoft, SuperMicro, or Huawei) is practically impossible, though there is a possibility it wouldn’t be indexed by all of these companies, but the chances it’s not indexed by at least one of them are practically impossible.

So, tech journalists who are talking about whether or not doing certain things would be helpful, sure, they believe that, but either because they aren’t really talking about the risks of the “data” but the risk that a human will find it, and act on it, or they are really just hoping that simply reducing the active access can reduce those risks.

Posted in Computer Security, Data Security | Comments closed

Email List…

I was checking some stuff out on MailChimp, and I notice a user I never noticed before had unsubscribed.  I was trying to delete the account, and I couldn’t, and then I see, “Unsubscribe reason: Spammy content”.

This person subscribed to this newsletter on September 3rd, and I posted *nothing* which they wouldn’t have been able to see at that time, so their subscribe *knew* what they were getting.  So, I guess that


Literally subscribed for the *sole* purpose to unsubscribe with that claim…

So…  I guess they may just want some *genuine* spam…

Sorry, feeling a smidge vindictive, as they decided they wanted to do that…

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Mastodon Setup (hopefully final update)

Today I finally found out how to generate log files.  They are “less than ideal” but they are good enough that I figured out what the main problem was and it was a typing mistake.  I had (and I’m not sure how this happened):


When what it should have been was:


This was setup as a security feature, and I think at one point I made changes to that section of code thinking that the recommended security that was there, could end up getting things fixed.

From what I can tell, things are working “as expected”.  Well, mostly, some things aren’t working quite how I would like, but I think it is all well enough.

So, if you want, you can go over and join the Mastodon instance.


Posted in Business News, FLOSS, Linux, Product News, Site News, Web Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Mastodon Setup further updates…

I haven’t seen a whole lot of improvement today, but I did see that I ended up with some toots coming in which are closer to when things were happening on the system, but it seems that for the most part this really isn’t working all that well.  It’s OK.  I’m kind of getting frustrated, but I guess I can live with how things are for now.

One thing, someone was talking about it on one of the other mastodon instances, and I saw that I just am looking “very generic” and I didn’t really like that so I did a quick bit of work to try to get something together that looks at least different, even if it’s not really all that fancy…

"Mastodon on Open Psychology" with a simple background with green hills and clouds

This is the “thumbnail” which I created for the mastodon instance.

It certainly isn’t generic, so I think that’s a big plus.  But it’s also not all that nice.  I mean I do like what I ended up with, considering the amount of effort that I put into it, but it’s still not something that I’d say should be sitting around for long like this.

I did think that I liked the way it turned out when I took the text off so I also created a version like that:

green hills with clouds

This is what it looks like when I take the text off.

I actually think this ended up turning out not too badly at all.  The nice thing with working in a digital format is that if I do the layers thing correctly, I can usually get stuff to look fairly decent because I don’t have to worry about how each element works with the rest, until I start to get to that level of work with it…

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Mastodon Setup – More information

Last night (about 23 hours ago apparently) I shared about setting up a Mastodon instance, and that things were kind of working but not really.

I shared that https://mastodon.openpsychology.net/ is open for registrations, and that people would be able to sign up there (at least for the time being).

And I hoped that people signing up, would help with getting things worked out.


No one has signed up, and so far I don’t seem to have much improvement…

But on the good news front, I decided to fix (or at least look at) the IPv6 setup, and maybe that has improved stuff.  The setup was clearly broken.

Which probably means that it’s broken here too.

I’m not quite sure that it’s “fixed” there, but at least I can connect out, and I had been able to connect in a way that actually was seeing connections.

But I’m not entirely sure that the problem there has actually been fixed.

Some good news.  I’ve had a couple new posts that look like they are from more recently than the previous most recent posts, but still…

They are still older than the oldest post on the server itself.

I checked to see if I could find any logs which might give me more information than what shows up in the Sidekiq log that I can get access to online.

I couldn’t find anything more.


Some of it is working…

It’s coming, and I’m hoping that the recurring jobs which haven’t been run yet, might actually help some of that, and that the plugging away at it might actually help too.

So, I don’t really know.

I think that adding a dozen or so follows seems to be helpful to some extent.

Still.  More people there *might* be a helpful thing.  And I’m still trying to figure out if anyone can help with any of this now or not.

Posted in Business News, Computer Support, Linux, Product News, Site News, Virtual Machines, Web Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Mastodon instance setup

Over the last approximately 2 weeks we have been working on setting up our fist Mastodon Instance which we’re now at the state that we want to let people know about as things are kind of settling out.  We currently have 3 accounts there which is enough to feel that things are working “reasonably well”.

I think by the time I finish writing this up, I will have a bit better idea of how things go…  So here goes.

This is a bit of a timeline:

  • Friend asks me about what it takes to set up a mastodon instance and I respond with what I know off the top of my head.
  • I ask about what the reason for wanting to set up the instance is, and I get really excited about it.
  • I decide that if I can, I want to be involved with this project.
  • I do a little bit of research and see that I might be able to do enough of it in a way I like, so try to get as far as I can without an accessible host.
  • I decide that I can do it.
  • I start to set up the instance on a linode.
  • I run into a step which I’m not quite sure I want to tackle, and leave it for a bit.
  • I decide I want to tackle it, and see if I can get it up and running.
  • I find what *look* like pretty close to drop in place scripts to do what I have been having issues with.
  • They need some work, I set them up.
  • I start running, and it “works, but.”
  • I fix some issues, but still not working correctly.
  • Decide to give a bit of a try with a “test” of following different accounts.
  • It kind of fixes some of that stuff.
  • Finally decide, it’s time to see what happens with regular users.
  • We are now a bit over 24 hours since getting it up and running, and…

OK, let’s expand that timeline:

Friend asks about setting up mastodon

A friend asked me about what it takes to set up mastodon, and I said what I knew from the top of my head.

That information was along the lines of, “there is masto.host which you can set up, or you can set up an instance on your ‘own’ machine.  I don’t really think I want to set something up on my own machine, because last time I looked, I kind of balked at the instructions.”

That was off the top of my head, and we started talking about it more, and then I did a bit of research about what it costs for masto.host, and what that would mean, and then also looked at the instructions out there…

And I went, “hmmm…  These instructions look like they could work better than I thought they would, for how they should be setup.”

And kind of left that at that for a bit (basically overnight type bit) and then…

I ask about what the reason

I ask about what the reason is thinking that there is already plenty of instances out there, and why would someone be putting in what seems like pretty significant effort to have an instance setup.

I find out the reason, and I realize that this is something that I really want to see myself, or that if I found out about it, I’d be pretty excited.

We talk about it, and I decide that I’m pretty into it, do more research and decide to move forward with seeing if I can set something up.

I don’t really say why I feel I want to do this, because I want to hear the passion without throwing my passion for the topic out there (and we’re not at getting something setup for that quite yet).

I want to set this up

I decide that I want to set this up, and start to see if at least the basic components can be setup to a level that I want to set up an instance that will end up being a decent thing.

I also tell the friend that the reason that I think this is such a fantastic idea is because the community that this is about is one I belong to and that I’ve struggled with that stuff myself.

I end up doing enough testing of setting up that I really want to give spinning up a new instance a go.

Setting up Linode instance and GitLab documentation

I decide that I have enough information that I can probably set something up on Linode, and decide that the best thing about trying to set this up is to actually document my process because I think that I should do this from a perspective that I will be doing it again.

I set up the Linode instance and create a project on GitLab to store the documentation on.

I start working on getting things setup.  This was February 1st according to GitLab, and it probably all started about 2 or 3 days earlier that the idea started to be processed by me.

Running into issues

After having set the system up as far as I could (I think it probably took about 2 days to get as far as I could just slightly modify the instructions, or more like 36 hours) I run into the problem I often run into.

The instructions assume I’m running systemd which I’d rather not do unless I have to (in fact I’ve decided to not run certain things simply because I can’t find instructions that don’t basically amount to, “If you don’t want to run systemd for this hopefully userspace programme, you will be on your own.”

So, I decide to leave it, because I’m at a point I can’t really focus on that sort of thing (I do try to do something with it, but just can’t even get the most basic bits done).

Take a break for a while

I will admit I just let it sit there for about 10 days before I decide I’m ready to tackle it, and more or less stay in that space of wanting to tackle it, and then it takes a few days to get to a point that I decide to actually do something.

Then yesterday I decide to do a bit of a search, and I end up finding there are OpenRC scripts that someone is sharing that look like they should be pretty much drop and run with them.

It wasn’t quite that easy, but it was only a few different things that had to be changed, and I saved the files over on GitLab so that when I next setup an instance that it will work fairly well as it is.

I start running, and it “works, but.”

I manage to get everything running, at least I think so, but I don’t see how I can log in, so have to figure that out (nice instructions are available, but I didn’t write it down) and I manage to log in.

Then I start looking at getting all the settings right, and checking to see how everything is running, and it all looks “Kind of OK,” so I start to do some testing…


A bunch of stuff is failing, and this just doesn’t make sense…

I can’t figure out where any of what I can see is incorrectly setup stuff is running, and am kind of ready to give up, then I realize that I have a temporary database setup that might have something to do with it.

I restart it, and the obviously wrong settings become correct…  But still testing isn’t quite working, so I sleep on it…

I fix some issues, but still not working correctly.

Those issues are fixed, and I keep doing testing, but nothing seems to be working quite right (still) so I just wait to see what I get then I decide to send a message on Mastodon, and see what people will say.

I use my current main account, and send it out, and get some response to that, and it seems like there are people who at least have some idea as to what I might be able to get some help with.

Eventually my initial messages get a response and there is a comment (and I didn’t really get an answer, because I failed to provide enough information) about whether different instances are behaving differently…

Decide to give a bit of a try with a “test” of following different accounts.

So, this is an idea, I can dump my follows from my main account, and see what happens with that, and see if anything gets fixed…

As soon as that ends up getting resolved to a reasonable level and just straggling processes, I take a look around, and things look somewhat better, not fixed, but better.  There *are* messages arriving from other instances.  Sure they’re old, but they aren’t so old that they’re not really useful (like several months old (June I think)) but only about a day older than the instance I am running is.  So, it’s only about 2 days behind when I last looked.  And so far that hasn’t changed…

Finally decide, it’s time to see what happens with regular users.

And at this point, because I really am thinking it needs to have a little more local activity, I create an account for my more “personal” stuff, and see how that goes.  I import stuff from a different instance, because well it’s different stuff, and decide that I’m ready to get some friends up and going with it.

We are now a bit over 24 hours since getting it up and running, and…

I am now looking, and I see that we are kind of looking to go, “public alpha”.  Probably more like a beta, but I’m not happy with where things are, and I think that enough isn’t working.

Federation isn’t working anywhere near as well as I would like, but then some of that might actually resolve before too long on its own.  I have had a couple of different people talk about, “improper IPv6 setup” but I’m not even sure what that might mean.  Or more, what I think about that is I don’t know what that might mean in my case, I do know what could happen as I’ve tried things, and it just really means that I have had problems with it when I don’t have it setup correctly, but I’m not quite sure if there could be something wrong, as things do seem to be working…

So, I’m open to new people joining.  I’m going to post this over on Patreon, and maybe a bit later on Ko-fi.  Well, a link to this, and a link to the instance itself.

Posted in Computer Support, Linux, Virtual Machines, Web Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Essential Oil Label Work

Today I have been working on doing some essential oil labels.  So far I’ve only really got one done:

label design for essential oils

Essential Oil Label – Lavender Essential Oil

This is pretty much what we have for the label, it’s not a lot to it, but I guess it’s just that it’s work which has been done.

I guess the thing about having done this, a lot of how this has kind of not been getting done, is because Inkscape has been giving me some serious problems on my computer for a while.  I had been trying to figure it out, and just had mostly given up.

Then my client was talking about how she would like to work and get the existing labels done differently, and update them, and be able to work with new oils and blends.

We started to talk about how I do things for the work I’d done in the past, and I started to set things up in Inkscape, and everything was going well, until I started to pan my page, because the page was off the screen, and it wouldn’t leave pan mode.

I found (and I’d like to see if anyone else has had this experience) after much poking and prodding, that there seems to be something with, “use pressure sensitive tablet” which causes this behaviour.  I don’t really have much idea what it is.  I got a tablet a while back, and was wanting to use it to do what I’d done for things like the Tongue Emoji that would “work out” and it just didn’t work out.

For stuff like that, I have started to work in Krita, and am really loving it (I have a clown that I’ve created), and I’ve not really been missing Inkscape as I’ve mostly not been using it, or what I’ve been using it for, hasn’t been having any problems.

So…  I am showing this, and it’s really not working well, and I just decide to install Inkscape on the iMac, because, well that just makes sense (right?).  Well, so far I haven’t got it so that it’s working, so, I’d say no…

Anyway…  I decided that I should be able to fix it, if I did a bit of research.  Oddly…  I really didn’t find anything that would work (maybe I wasn’t Ducking it right).

But I started to poke around, and saw the “use pressure sensitive tablet” setting, and was going, “that tablet has been a problem in Inkscape, so I might as well disable that” and then took the idea that it might fix things too.

And it did…

So, I think that I am pretty happy with that.  I’m working on trying to figure out how to render what the labels will look like in Blender.

Posted in Business News, Computer Support, Graphic Design, Linux, OS X (Mac) | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

30 Days of Multimedia — Day 3 — Beginning Web Accessibility

This was something which I was thinking about, as I have been sort of doing some work with a group I belong to, and there are some things which I think should be done in terms of accessibility for stuff with web content:

  1. HTML should work without any CSS or JavaScript
  2. CSS should be used for presentational content
  3. JavaScript should only be used to enhance the HTML and CSS version

Now that is basically just a start, but since we want to keep things pretty simple for a single post here, I think we can start with these things right from the beginning.

HTML should work without any CSS or JavaScript

This is something that a lot of websites will fail because they are using things like JavaScript to control what is displayed, and what is not displayed.  While straight HTML often is pretty “boring” or hard to look at, but if it won’t work when presented as straight HTML, you are likely to have some problems.

When you are working with a content management system (such as WordPress here, or Weebly with that group I’m working with) often it can be difficult to know what all is happening unless you really work hard to dive into it.  With that in mind I will speak of testing in terms of a hand coded site, which I don’t really recommend except as an exercise to learn what is happening underneath, or if you wish to keep things extra simple.

I may write about some of the reasons you may want to hand code your site (usually with some programming to provide some dynamic content) in the next few weeks.  But for now we’re assuming that this is starting from the most basics.

HTML should be for content only and be semantic

This is a bit of a tricky thing  with what I am trying to say here I think.  First off, you HTML should “work” by itself.  That is it should look good enough that it makes sense by itself when it is rendered by the web browser.  But if we say that it is only for content, how do we make it “look good”?

Well the thing is, we don’t need it to actually look good we just need to make sure it makes sense.  So what I am looking at in front of me should never be what the HTML itself looks like:

Compter screen with a lot of different text on

Screenshot of WordPress post editing window

There are a few different things here which are presentational, and would not really work with straight HTML.  And one of those most obvious things is that the content is presented with three distinct columns of content.

Of course, with that said, that doesn’t mean that the way that this presents couldn’t actually work in terms of being straight HTML.  It would be a matter of making sure that what you want to present is in the right order.  And for me, this middle column content probably would present early than either the right or the left.

But when we start working with things in CSS then we can take stuff and present it in an “out-of-order” type way.  So I could have this centre edit window at the top (probably under that title bar that is currently at the top) but then the Categories and Tags from the right as the next elements.  Difficult, but not impossible.

So, the HTML has the content, and only worries about presentation from the perspective that when it displays without CSS and JavaScript it displays in a meaningful way.

Now in terms of that other bit…  The way that we actually write our code.

I can write all my code in ways that when I apply the CSS a person who is looking at it may have no idea that my code doesn’t really mean a lot:

For example:

<div class="paragraph">This is a paragraph</div>


<p>This is a paragraph</p>

The above will work but because we have ways to do it without reverting to stuff which fails to express what function the content serves, ideally we should work to use those methods wich already exist to handle the content.

For example use an <em> tag rather than a <font> tag to indicate that you are seeking emphasis.  In “days of yore” there were a lot of HTML tags which were presentational such as <center> or (dare I say it) <marquee>.  The latter was never well accepted.

We eventually decided that such things were not really good practices, so we have either done away with them, or made it so that we don’t use them.

CSS should be used for presentational content

This is maybe a bit confusing too.  So if I want something in the centre, what I do is somehow do it in the CSS, not in the HTML file.  Why?  Well in part because as originally designed HTML was designed to convey “information” and presentational (how things look) isn’t conveying information, it is providing a means (ideally) to convey of that information “a little better.”

So another thing, is that you don’t simply put the CSS in the HTML file.  I have seen this repeatedly.  Where there is a lot of code which ends up directly in the HTML file, which is CSS, or JavaScript, that should be elsewhere.

We have the ability to load files, now with how things can end up loading, if there is more file loads, it can end up slowing down the website, but this really should not be handled by dropping the file loads down to a single file (you can technically do this with a PNG file, where you can have the image and all the presentation of it all in the same file, but it’s more of a “scary trick” than anything practical).

Now here is a tricky bit, is whether or not certain “modern” CSS ways of handling thing should be done with CSS or with JavaScript the way it used to be done.  My feeling is that as CSS works, if you can do it with CSS.  Now here is a bit of a problem, how do you handle “older browsers”.

Depending on how you handle things, you might not need to worry, sure your gradient disappears, or your animation disappears, but if you can have it so that the CSS still works in older browsers you can probably be safe.

JavaScript should only be used to enhance the HTML and CSS version

This is a case where “if you don’t need it, then don’t do it,” or more “you can do it, but if you need it to do what you want, your site will not be accessible”.  So the specific issue I was looking at was an “Accordion Box” which was being used by this group which even though it consisted of simply the 3 different items, the code to do so consisted of almost 16K of CSS, with no idea how to go through this.

If the code isn’t self-explanatory it is going to need to be commented, and when I strip the code which is not HTML from that section, I end up with less than 2K, and a lot of that is actually HTML layers of different things, the code which is the actual content comes down to less than 256 bytes.  And everything else should have been in external files, and whatnot.  Now of course, we run into the case which can happen where we then end up with trying to load 12 CSS files, and 12 JavaScript files, because you don’t want to be loading content which isn’t needed, because well you see each byte counts.

Except it doesn’t.  It’s how fast a page will load which counts, and unless you are using both a rather modern browser, and your web server is very well setup, loading 30 files when a lot of that could be combined in probably 3 files, with maybe a maximum of 6 files (except for stuff like images), you probably are far better off trying to get some version which has as few different files as possible.

While I want to *code* my site with the form stuff in a nice set of files, it’s probably not doing a lot of good when I end up loading that set of files, and the accordion set of files, and the image set of files, and the video set of files, and the calendar set of files…

This is in a way sort of part of what is called DRY or “Don’t Repeat Yourself”.  Though not really.  It’s just that when you are doing things like this in development, it is important to make sure that when you see “this isn’t working” you have a means to relatively easily find where the problem might be, but when we are talking about how things will work when you are working with something like a web site, multiple files can slow things down dramatically.

But so can large files.  If I have something which is going to be a small image, like what is called a “favicon” I may want to design it at a resolution of 1024×1024 (just a nice number), but if you are using it as a favicon, it used to be defined as 16×16 and you’re going to be downloading something which goes there (on the tabs of your web browser) in any case, and unless you are doing something which will be displayed everywhere else at a higher resolution you don’t want to have a big file which will take 4000 times longer to download.

So it can be a bit of a balancing act.

I am thinking maybe tomorrow I’ll talk about why you might want to hand code your site, specifically around stuff like speed of loading, and server load.

Posted in 30 Days | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed