My fave web / dev news from Mix09

Microsoft has:

  • IE8 final being released at noon today. Hoorah!
    Now if MS would just force-upgrade the IE6 holdouts!
  • SuperPreview for side-by-side (or overlaid!) browser layout testing
    I grabbed SuperPreview the moment it was announced yesterday. Looks great for IE6 & 7, but it didn’t find any of my other installed browsers, or show Safari/Mac like the demo, and I see no way to add those. Hm, maybe they’re still working out kinks…
  • Silverlight 3 beta – big wow for high-performance cross-platform video
    That said, Silverlight is still the “Un-web”.
  • Expression Blend 3 previewSketchflow especially looks awesome for bigger projects
    I’m still not sure I personally can trust a WYSIWYG editor. Frontpage still haunts me.

Google Report a Spam Result

Submitted to

Exact query that shows a problem (copy this from the Google search box):
Technet Plus -vs- Action Pack

Resulting Google page that shows problem (copy the Google URL):

The specific web page or site that is misbehaving: Type(s) of problem (check all that apply):

Type(s) of problem (check all that apply):

Cloaked page

Additional details:
To Firefox or Internet Explorer user-agent strings, shows its registration page.  "View this solution now by starting your 7-day free trial…" at the bottom under Accepted solution.  The real answer content is NOT on the page.

But when I switch my browser’s UA string to Googlebot, it shows the real answer content which was in the Google search results.  This is deceptive to users, dilutes Google’s search relevance, and and violates your Webmaster Guidlines at

NOTE: SOMEtimes DOES show the answer at the bottom, so please test from a variety of IPs and browsers.

Interestingly, it’s no new problem and Google is aware of but ignoring it?  Maybe if more people fill out the form to complain…?

IE6, are you still here?!

It’s August 2008, almost 2 years since Internet Explorer 7 came out.  So why on earth does IE6 still have almost the same market share?

Browser Stats

Fri Feb 1 00:01:02 2008 – Sun Aug 31 23:58:00 2008   213.0 Days

1. MSIE 7.x

15370300 (41%)

2. MSIE 6.x

13493578 (36%)

3. FireFox

6230544 (17%)

4. Safari

1276526 (3%)

5. Opera x.x

306845 (1%)


I was sure the world would be (nearly) free of IE6 a year ago, but adoption has slowed so much that it’s only given 1% to IE7 in the last 7 months.

Microsoft, you’re not pushing hard enough — get that fogey out of here ASAP!


And now back to futzing with transparent PNGs for IE6…


Technorati Tags: Internet Explorer,

Grab the nearest book…

Technorati Tags: general geekery


You will not sleep, if you lie there a thousand years, until you have opened your hand and yielded that which is not yours to give or to withhold.  You may think you are dead, but it will be only a dream;  you may think you have come awake, but it will still be only a dream.  Open your hand, and you will sleep indeed — then wake indeed.

From Lilith, by George MacDonald
Found in The Collected Works of C.S. Lewis, page 123


It’s a book meme.  I did this, you do it too:

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
  5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

New site

Business has been good.  Unfortunately, it has been so busy that the smelly old Slingshot Solutions website stuck around way too long.

When I say smelly, think:

  • IE-only (in 2002, IE was 95%+, and Firefox was still a glimmer)
  • IE6-only — IE7 often crashes (why can browsers still be crashed by web code these days?)
  • Outdated in various ways (6.5yrs)
  • Kinda ugly
  • Over-complicated
  • Wordy — can there be too little horn-tooting?
  • Did I mention IE-only?

So my goals for a new site were focused on simplicity and compatibility.  I started designing building it when I started back to Slingshot Solutions full-time, and have been alternating between false starts, second-guessing, and neglect ever since.

It’s finally done now, though.  Please meet the slim and trim new “ 2.0“:
slingfive 2.0  -sm.jpg

It works on any modern browser, plus IE6 (kicking and screaming).  Some other geeky goodness:

  • It’s Javascript-heavy, but it’s all non-obtrusive and progressively-enhanced, so it still works with Javascript disabled.
  • JQuery greatly helped simplify the visuals by hiding less important stuff until it’s needed.  Rather than a second page just for a contact form, Contact Us is just a popup.  Similarly, I built a hide/show toggle for less-important content details.
  • FONTS!  Every web designer hates the fact that you have to choose fonts based on lowest-common denominators (not everyone has your font on their system).  Alternatively, you can use images or Flash to get around this (carefully!).  I certainly wanted automatic as possible, so I tried SIFR (implementation stinks), then settled on DotIR.  Unfortunately v3 only outputs non-transparent GIFs, but with the wonders of open source, I’ve improved it to output anti-aliased transparent PNGs (including IE6 compatibility), and made it medium-trust compatible (for web hosts).  Hopefully my changes will reach the next version.

Weaknesses / to-do:

  • Still way too wordy, this time with TLAs (“acronymy”?).
  • I pulled over my old code section for developers.  I’ve tested none of it though, and will surely need to fix several server-side settings.
  • The layout wrecks at less than 1024×768.  Stats say that covers 90% of the world, but that’s hollow comfort.

For now I’m just happy it’s out and not killing anyone.  Hurrah!

Hooray, Safari is upgrading to IE4!

Dean pointed out that Apple’s Webkit team is finally adding Internet Explorer’s CSS Visual Filters (invented back in 1998 with Internet Explorer 4), and are calling it CSS Masks in Safari.

The sad news is that nobody’s giving the IE team due credit.  The good news is that that power is now there.

So hooray Safari for ignoring web standards!  Yes, I mean that.  I’ll take a good de-facto standard over nothing any day (anyone remember when the W3C actually did stuff?)  Step up to the plate, Opera, Mozilla, and Konqueror!

While you’re at it, don’t forget to grab IE’s other great dev features, too!  If we get DHTML Behaviors, Databinding, CSS Expressions, Conditional Comments, and Deferred Scripts, that will cover my 2005 Dev Wishlist for Other Browsers.
That done, MS-haters could complain less about proprietary/innovation and the the web could keep moving forward.  To be clear, I’m saying the effort to complain about IE’s extras would be better spent copying them in other browsers, helping web developers and by extension users.

Hooray for progress!