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Season's Greetings

November 30

Snow! Here on this corner of the continent we got hit by a big dump of it the other day. (You east coasters are allowed to gloat over the weather. Just this once.)

Lights in the Snow

So, camera in tow, I braved the elements to take a few pictures. One of them showed up over here, then it showed up over here, and the people seem to like it.

A certain Mr. Storey has made the suggestion that I turn this photo into a Christmas card. Given the relative popularity, it's not a bad idea, I could get a few sets of a dozen done up and offer them for sale around these parts. Might be worth a shot... I'm just afraid it's too late for this year.

Printing and shipping mean probably a week or so before I'd have something in my hands, and if I decided to sell them, add an extra week of shipping out from here. That takes us to mid-December, and that's probably just way too late for Christmas cards.

So I'll pose the question to all of you—should I bother this year? I'm wondering who would be interested in a set of 12 cards with that photo (no text, blank interior, thick glossy stock), and if the timing is a problem. Perhaps it's possible that people would just order them anyway and use them next year if it came to that, but that's what I need you to tell me. And if anyone has any suggestions for printers that could turn this around in a hurry, I'm all ears.

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WDN Affiliates

November 28

We just launched what I think is a neat way of allowing people to attend Web Directions for free, or substantially less than the ticket price.

Taking a cue from Amazon, we've set up an affiliates program for those wanting to attend. The basic gist: Get an affiliate code from us. If you get just four other people to sign up with your code, maybe through your blog or by signing up all your friends, you're coming for free baby.

Of, if you prefer, say you and four friends/coworkers want to come en masse; ask us for a code, and when you apply that code to your order one of those seats is free. You end up each saving about 20% off the listed price. What if you've already registered? Get a code anyway, refer four people, and you've got a refund coming your way.

The catch? No catch. Just good old-fashioned free conference seats, to see some of the best speakers working on the web today. Going to play along at home? Let us know in the comments, we'd love to hear what you think about this idea.

Web Directions North

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November 22

A good way of informing someone they missed an alt attribute:

On a sidenote: there's an alt tag missing for an image at your homepage, causing the W3C validator to fail. Just thought you'd like to know.

A less good way of informing someone they missed an alt attribute:

Just a though [sic], when you pride youself [sic] on accessibility, you should make sure your statements are true. Your homepage is not strict XHTML [...] suck it up and be more careful.

When your first contact with someone you don't know ends up implying they're a liar, then delivers a blunt directive over a relatively easy-to-make error, in a world where no one is perfect 100% of the time... you may just be doing more harm than good with that second approach.

Just a though.

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WDN Freebie

November 20

Interested in attending Web Directions North for free?

Digital Web is holding a snowboard design contest to help put you in the mood. First place is a two-day conference pass, with a one day lift pass/coach to Whistler post-conference, plus there are two runner-up prizes of skiing day trips.

So dust off your Photoshop skills and show us what your dream board looks like, and maybe we'll see you in Vancouver in February. (For everyone else, if you haven't reserved your tickets yet, you might want to think about it in a hurry; we're only three months away and that time is going to fly!)

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Accessible Micropatronage

November 9

Something I've always appreciated about Joe Clark is that, within the group of those dedicated to accessibility on the web, he's one of a very select subset that places equal importance on the design of a site. You've likely heard of his adamant stance against WCAG 2 (for reasons that boil down to plain common sense in a lot of cases), and his follow-up project WCAG Samurai.

Now he's decided to place your money where his mouth is. In an ambitious effort to improve the world of accessibility, he has launched The Open & Closed Project, an initiative to write a set of standards for the four fields of accessible media — captioning, audio description, subtitling, and dubbing. The project will develop those standards through research and evidence-gathering, and where research or evidence is missing on a certain topic, they will carry it out themselves.

That's the executive summary, there's a lot more detail on-site, and a short-term pledge drive to kick it off. I'll leave the further explanation to Joe, but if you're interested in supporting this project, it's well worth a look, and perhaps kicking in the price of your morning coffee one day this week.

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Counter Intuitive

November 1

You might assume, having written a book on the subject, that I would be intimately familiar with all the ins and outs of the CSS spec. But since I usually keep my focus on the practical bits that actually work today, that's not necessarily so. Sometimes I get to thinking I'd really like some way to do x with CSS, and it turns out it's actually been around for the better part of a decade.

For example, every time I style an ordered list I wish there were some way to style list item counters independently of the content. Sure you could wrap extra markup around the content to achieve that somewhat, but it's not always practical and rarely desirable.

But, there is a way. There's the counter-increment and counter-reset properties. As a part of generated content, I've simply overlooked them. Turns out they're good at this sort of thing.

You take the style for a simple ordered list (see example):

ol {
	margin-left: 1.5em;
li {
	margin: 0.5em 0;
	list-style: upper-roman;
	list-style-position: inside;

And turn it into something a little fancier by taking control over those list items (see example):

ol {
	margin-left: 1.5em;
	counter-reset: steps;
li {
	margin: 0.5em 0;
	list-style: none;
	counter-increment: steps;
li:before {
	content: counter(steps, upper-roman) ". ";
	font: 11px "Lucida Grande", "Lucida Sans Unicode", arial, sans-serif;
	color: #4e6672;
	float: left;

Of course it only works in Gecko-based browsers and Opera at the moment, so it's still useless for now.

My point isn't really to reveal this as something new, since many of you are likely to comment that you've known about it for years. It's just a nice surprise to find something exists that I often wish existed. Now I guess I can start wishing it were ready to use.

As a tangent, some will argue (not incorrectly) that generated content is a job for script. I suspect this example is a use case that exemplifies how it can be useful for general styling, in the spirit the spec intends; moving this kind of activity to script seems pointless.

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