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June 30, 2005

Early bird ends Tonight

Just to let you know, today is the last day of early bird pricing for WE'05, so to save $150 off our regular price, sign up by midnight June 30.

The response to Web Essentials this year has been simply overwhelming. It's still three months until the conference, but we are well on the way to selling out. 5 times as many people have signed up as for the same time last year. This year's new event, a breakfast featuring Tantek Çelik, is already fully booked, so if you are keen to come to WE'05, please don't delay too long.

If you are from outside Australia, and might be thinking it's just too far or too expensive, then maybe you should think again. It's not so far nor as expensive to get here as you might imagine, and Australia is a very affordable destination. We now have people coming from New Zealand (a very big turn out this year, well done guys) every state and Territory of Australia (Western Australia is half the travel time from the west coast of the US, give or take, BTW) Thailand, Japan and even Finland (you'll have to try hard to come further than that). A special prize for whoever comes the furthest.

We'd love to see some people from the States, Canada, and the rest of South East Asia, and beyond.
We have more info on international travel here.

Can't wait for September.


June 30, 2005 in Web Essentials | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 27, 2005

Reminder - Free Web Essentials seminar this Thursday

For those of you in and around Sydney, a quick reminder about this Thursday's free Web Essentials seminar, featuring Peter Ottery, from Daemon, formerly at FairfaxDigital, chief designer for the Sydney Morning Herald's online transition to standards based code, and Roger Hudson, well known usability and accessibility expert, speaking and answering your questions about standards based design, usability and accessibility.

For more see


It's also a great opportunity to meet your peers here in Sydney's web development community.

There'll be door prizes, drinks and finger food, as well as two fine speakers.

Door prizes include

  • A ticket to the Web Essentials Conference
  • Two tickets to the sell out Web Essentials breakfast featuring Tantek Çelik
  • Copies of the leading CSS Editor Style Master

All you have to do is RSVP to rsvp@webessentials.org, and turn up to

University of Technology, Sydney
Room 6.03.22, Peter Johnson Building, Harris St, Ultimo
map: http://www.uts.edu.au/about/mapsdirections/bway.html
June 30, 6.00 for 6.30pm

Just a couple of minutes walk from central station and broadway.

Look forward to seeing you there,


June 27, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2005

Vale Nigel McFarlane

There is never an easy way to deliver sad news.

Nigel McFarlane, well known Australian web development expert, author and commentator on technology, particularly free and open source, and Mozilla has passed away suddenly.

In the 1990s Nigel authored a number of successful Javascript books, and more recently wrote Rapid Application Development with Mozilla, and most recently of all, Firefox Hacks (or the O'Rielly Hacks series).

Maxine and I both contributed hacks to that book, which has been very well received.

Nigel spoke last year at Web Essentials, we threw him to the lions at the last session for our Web Standards "smackdown" where we charged our speakers with the task of rousing the crowd about web standards, in the style of WWF Smackdowns (silly but a lot of fun and a high energy way of finishing the conference), and very recently at a Web Standards Group meeting in Melbourne.

Nigel was always generous with his time and energy, speaking at conferences, writing articles, doing interviews, posting to newsgroups and mailing lists. All things that don't usually pay much if anything at all, but vital for building an industry.

Nigel will certainly be missed by us in the Australian web standards community, and I'm sure by many around the world. I believe an obituary will appear next week in the Sydney Morning Herald technology section. I'll link to that when it appears.

Vale Nigel.

June 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 17, 2005

for what it is worth

Every day I find myself throwing out dozens of trackback pings. Dozens of them.

This on top of comment spam, and tens of thousands (you read right) of spam emails a day.

I'm pretty damn sick of it.

Yes, its only a minor inconvenience, in the scheme of things.

But really and truly. Why do I bother?

What do you $%^&s think you achieving? Google juice? Think again. Not a damn drop.

In the mean time, the people who made the web the valuable resource you parasites attempt to suck dry are day by day diminished by your behavior.
All societies have their parasites, but in most of them, you can't hide the way you think you can in the online world.

Just needed to get that off my chest.

Spam, software pirates, trackback and comment spam.

Like I said, I'm pretty sick of it all.

June 17, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 13, 2005

Safari on Windows revisited

More than a year ago, I published an article here speculating about Safari on Windows. OK, so I was wrong, but Nokia has now announced Safari for Nokia series 600 mobile phones (last week, Apple open sourced the heart of Safari WebKit, WebCore and Javascript core, its these components Nokia are using.)

So how long 'til someone releases a browser based on these components for Windows?

June 13, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 08, 2005

Free Seminar from Web Essentials

It must be busy around here (believe me it is).

Just a quick note for Sydney and environs readers about a free seminar that Web Essentials is holding on June 30, at UTS.

We have two experienced presenters, with lots of valuable insight in the fields of web design, development and accessibility speaking, plus food and refreshments (beer wine and soft drinks), with the opportunity for you to hear two great speakers, then meet and mingle with your peers, on us.

Peter Ottery is a highly experienced developer who was closely involved in the transtion to web standards at Fairfax Digital. Peter will present a case study around the recent launch of the MyCareer site, covering both his experiences of dealing with the larger organisation as well as practical, stylish web standards techniques.

Roger Hudson is a widely respected accessibility consultant. Working from recent research he has been conducting he will present on The Ultimate Accessible Table.

For more info on when and where, as well as how to RSVP, check out the Web Essentials website. Hope to see you June 30


June 8, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 07, 2005

Biting bullets

For several years, we developed or apps at westciv using a wonderful development tool/language called Prograph. A genuinely revolutionary, and to this day still unique programming language, in which you visually developed "object flow diagrams" that became your executable applications. It had unbelieveable features, such as the ability to write code, including develop classes and their methods while the application executed, and was a joy to work with. It also had the best cross platform class framework I have ever seen. Applications written on the Mac required very little work to run on Windows. And vice versa.

The first 2 versions of Style Master, for Mac and Windows, as well as Layout Master, and an earlier Mac only app we wrote, Palimpsest, were all written using Prograph.
But as time passed, and Prograph did not have the success that its developers, Pictorius International, expected, it became less and less of a focus, and slipped further and further behind.

The final straw came for us when after a lot of work by the Prograph community, particularly a smart amazingly hard working guy named Daniel Taylor, it transpired that the Prograph PPC compiler misused the stack, and so clashed with Aqua. All Prograph apps were effectively dead on Mac OS X.

To keep Style Master alive, we needed to rewrite the whole app from the ground up.

Given our druthers, of course we would not have done that. If somehow we could have got Style Master for Mac OS X to compile and run properly, we would have done that. And by now I imagine Style Master would no longer be viable.

Sometimes you need to bite the bullet, for long term viability. That year or so of pain while we rewrote Style Master gave us long term viability. Mac OS X for PPC (with Mac OS X for Intel really not that costly as far as I can tell from this distance) Windows and even the possibility of Linux.

My completely uninformed guess, based only on my experience with our own dependence on software development tools is that Apple realized sometime in the last 6 months that IBM and Freescale, the developers of the PowerPC chip family, simply weren't going to deliver the performance improvements and feature sets they need. At that point, they needed to bite the bullet. The G5 powerbook was probably never going to happen. Even the long awaited, and for Steven Job's probably increasingly embarrassing 3GHz PPCs might never happen. IBM had much bigger fish to fry - with the use of IBM chips in PlayStation 3 and XBox 360, these devices would likely consume 10s of times the number of chips compared to the number of units Apple would purchase, giving Apple little or no power in their relationship with IBM. Even though Apple will command no more power in their Intel relationship, one of Intel's main focusses is desktop and mobile chips. At least Apple will be on a level footing with their main competitors.

I'd suggest this is a reactive strategy, but one Apple seem to have long been prepared for (with apparently secret versions of Mac OS X running on Intel all along). Maybe I'm wrong, maybe Apple had planned this transition all along, once the migration to Mac OS X was effectively complete, a it most certainly is now.

Is it good, bad or neutral? With complex real world situations, Hamlet's rather depressing observation, "nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" is probably most apt.
Apple may suffer a crippling downturn in unit sales, as customers feel all PPC Macs are being End of Lined.
But, presumptuous as it is to compare the experience of one small software development company with one of the great visionary technology companies of the last quarter century, our experience of biting the bullet gave us much greater flexibility, and many more options once that transition was complete. If Apple pulls off what in some ways might be the easiest major technical transition of its three major seismic shifts (developers should at least find the effort of porting to Mac OS X Intel much less arduous that porting from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X) then it opens many possible strategic options, particularly by way of licensing.

Who knows.

June 7, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 06, 2005

Web standards workshops with Russ Weakley and John Allsopp

My grandfather was a teacher. He has long since passed on, he'd be well over one hundred today, but even in the last few years I've met students of his who recall him fondly after half a century. I'm sure we can all recall the best teachers we had at school. Somehow many years later they seem to have an ongoing effect, a legacy. And I'm sure we can all recall the less than stellar teachers, who may have even made our lives something of a hell at school.

I've always loved teaching. I've taught in the private, public and volunteer sectors, mostly adults, on and off for well over a decade. Indeed, much of what we do at westciv I really see as teaching. Style Master grew out of an advanced HTML course I put together at a TAFE (a state run technical college system here in Australia) where I realized good tools were important for CSS, and they were thin on the ground, to say the least. And of course we have tutorials and courses from westciv to help people learn standards based web development.

For several years now I've been heavily involved in training for Surf LifeSaving, a volunteer organization here in Australia that provides lifesaving patrols for hundreds of beaches all round Australia at weekends and on public holidays from October to April.

Over the last couple of years I've been speaking a bit at conferences, both here and overseas, and running a few workshops. I've even ended up being involved with organizing conferences here in Australia.

So you could definitely say training and teaching is in my blood. I get a real buzz from it. Seeing people learn, gain new skills, understand something new - its wonderful to help people do that.

All this is a roundabout way of letting you know that Web Essentials, the company which organizes the conferences called, well Web Essentials, is putting on a series of Workshops, developed and presented by Russ Weakley and me. Russ, well known for his wonderful tutorials and articles at Max Design, and as one of the founders of the Web Standards Group (as well as Web Essentials) is a dynamic, passionate speaker, and a great educator. I'm genuinely excited to be teaching with him.

We are running two days of workshops - one more introductory, and one more advanced, standards based web design and development, with a real focus on CSS. You can take one or both days, as suits your needs and experience, and you'll come away with a really firm understanding, and many new skills. It will be a solid 7 hours of training each day, with fully catered breaks and lunch. You'll also get plenty of materials to take away to back up your learning. And you'll get two of the most enthusiastic trainers you are ever likely to meet :-)

We are coming to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra, between July 18 and July 29, in nice central locations.

Class sizes will be quite small, so if you are interested, it might be an idea to register sooner rather than later.

Hope to see you at one of these venues


June 6, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack