Posts in the Books Category

Getting Mixed In/Up

Published 15 years, 6 months ago

Remember the redesign competition I mentioned (along with a lot of other people) a while back?  They’ve announced the prizes up for grabs, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the Grand Prize package includes a copy of Eric Meyer on CSS.  I do have to wonder how much use it will be to someone who can successfully restyle another person’s site with CSS… but hey, no complaints here!  Good luck to all the entrants.

Contrary to what Zeldman has to say, I generally don’t wish I were not writing a book.  When I’m writing a book, I enjoy it because it’s something I like to do and because I wouldn’t have agreed to do it if I weren’t excited about the project.  When I’m not writing a book, I enjoy the time off, but usually get back to the authorial keyboard within six months or so.

Rewriting a book, though… that’s a whole other story, and one with distinctly fewer comedic overtones.  I hate having to revise my own work, because my deep-seated impulse to tinker usually drives down the quality of the text.  The dread spectre of endless revision is tempered by the glimmer of needed new material, but to me, it’s like mixing chocolate syrup into a thick vanilla milk shake: the end result isn’t as awful as it could have been, but Lord, it sure isn’t good.

(It may help your understanding of the previous paragraph to know that I loathe chocolate.  No sympathy is necessary, because believe me, I’m not missing out on anything.  Call to mind a food that you truly despise; something that, if you accidentally got a mouthful, you would instantly spit out and then try to scrape off your tongue.  That’s what chocolate is like for me.  Kat couldn’t be happier, because I never try to steal her dessert.)

Reviewing other people’s work isn’t bad.  I’m currently reviewing two books, and this morning I started getting severe dèjá vu.  The chapters I was reviewing for both books referred to the same sites, and even had screenshots of those sites that were taken on the same day.  I’m about 98% certain it was all just a big coincidence.  Either that or the computers that run the Matrix are getting less creative.


Harmful Considerations

Published 15 years, 6 months ago

Tantek muses: “I wonder who is going to write the ‘”Considered Harmful” Essays Considered Harmful’ essay.”  It’s always a weird feeling when I share a brain with someone other than my wife.  I almost wrote that essay a few months ago, when I’d been sent one too many “considered harmful” links, and that was going to be pretty much its exact title.  Guess I’d better jump on the idea now, before someone else does it.  If I had to make a guess, I’d say look for something to show up tomorrow.

Fly the really friendly skies: Hooters adds airline wings (CNN).  I can’t decide if this a highly creative way to bankrupt a restaurant chain or a brilliant move.  I suppose if the airline is repositioned as high-end CEO charter service, with prices to match, it could be a hugely profitable business.  Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word “hugely” in the previous sentence.  Sorry.

Speaking of odd commercial news, it would seem the Segway is a popular item (CNN) after all.  I’m having trouble believing this isn’t just more hype, since Amazon doesn’t want to give out sales figures, and I’ve never really understood why anyone would want to spend a large chunk of money on a really high-tech scooter.  Then again, I don’t understand people spending large amounts of money on sporting-event tickets and memorabilia, so what do I know?

Well, at least somebody finally did what I’ve been expecting, and decided Eric Meyer on CSS was picking up too many five-star reviews.  It managed to collect 23 top ratings in a row before the backlash started, so I feel pretty good about that.  I won’t even try rebutting the three-star review, as it makes some reasonable points.  The book is not a cure-all; no book ever is, which is why I wrote the “Should You Buy This Book?” text.

Meanwhile, the United States may or may not be going to war with one or more members of its self-created “Axis of Evil.”  Not that I think those were countries with our best interests at the forefront of their minds—and why should they have?—but throwing around labels with a level of sophistication not too far above fourth-grade recess just doesn’t seem like a good way to manage foreign policy.

I should talk.  My Christmas gifts included an XBox game where you can use a giant robot to blow up everything around you, including buildings, a so-so rock album, a comic-book movie, and a truly deranged comedy cult classic.  Too bad I couldn’t come up with anything personally meaningful to request for the holidays this year.  At least I found out that my family does in fact know me well, as I was given quite a few Eeyore-themed items.  The slippers were an especially nice touch.

Over at his own journal, The Ferrett comments rather directly on the sexualization of pre-adults in the movies.  I agree with him in a generic sense, although I disagree that the “Harry Potter” cast was destined to be over-eroticized.  Just because an author does a remarkable job of making characters real (for certain definitions of the term “real”), that doesn’t force an eroticization of the same characters on film.  No, I think that’s just the evolution of video storytelling over the last several decades—and it’s been happening for longer than most of us realize.  The Major and the Minor is a movie about a young woman posing as a 12-year-old who falls in love with a man who thinks she’s, well, twelve.  Of course he has no interest in her other than semi-paternal, but by the end of the movie they end up together, depsite his being engaged at the movie’s outset.  It stars Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland and was written by Billy Widler, so that will give you a hint regarding its age.  My parents weren’t even born when it was filmed.  So making sexual objects out of minors is not exactly new.


Under Review

Published 15 years, 7 months ago

For most authors, Amazon.com is the closest we get to a stock market for book popularity.  Despite their apparent randomness, tracking the rankings can become an obsession; in fact, I’m not really sure why else Junglescan exists.  The reader reviews are also a source of potential obsession.

That’s why I’m unaccountably pleased that Eric Meyer on CSS has just completed the “Dash to One Hundred Stars”: since publication, twenty reader reviews have been posted, and every single one is five stars.  I’ve been rooting for this to happen ever since it passed a dozen five-star reviews, actually, which sounds stupid even to me.  After all, what this proves is that twenty people who use Amazon really liked the book; it’s not a conferment of sainthood or anything.  The book won’t be a five-star experience for everyone, which is one reason I wrote some material explaining the target audience.  Maybe that really did help the book get into the hands of those who would like it, and keep it away from those who wouldn’t.

Other books of mine haven’t fared as well.  The CSS2.0 Programmer’s Reference has recently picked up two one-star Amazon.com reviews, but both of them gave me an arid chuckle.  So far as I can tell, in both cases a person thought they were buying some sort of tutorial or guide, and when they discovered they had something else, they decided that was my fault.  One guy even looked through the book in a store, bought it, and then discovered the book was of no use to him… and then decided to go post a review on Amazon where he admitted to his mistake in the course of blasting the book.  It reminded me a lot of the guy who blasted CSS:TDG for being a “light tutorial” and “not a reference at all.”  (Maybe they should just swap books!)

I admit to feeling a certain regret that these people spent money on my books that could have been better invested in something else, but at the same time I can’t help but be amused.  Caveat emptor, if you prefer, but I think of it more as, “A lack of intelligent buying on your part does not constitute an authoring failure on mine.”

Anyway… one hundred stars in twenty reviews!  That feels pretty darned good, no matter how irrelevant the yardstick might be.  Somehow I feel like Will Smith in Men in Black: “Still, that was a pretty good shot, though.”


BD4D Comes To Town

Published 15 years, 8 months ago

Hey, By Designers For Designers (BD4D) is coming to Cleveland on November 15th!  The featured speaker is Derek Hess, a local guy with national exposure, and the co-sponsor of the series is New Riders, the people who published my latest book.  Assuming no major upheavals in my schedule, I’ll be there—how about you?

Speaking of Eric Meyer on CSS, it appears to have sold out its initial print run of almost 7,000 copies, and a sizeable second print run should be done within a few weeks.  So if you’re on back-order waiting for a copy, your patience should soon be rewarded.


Write a Haiku, Win a Book

Published 15 years, 11 months ago

In one of those surreal turns that really makes life worth living, I spotted a link (on zeldman.com) to a contest at Consolation Champs where the winning haiku gets a free copy of Eric Meyer on CSS.  I love haiku; it’s probably my favorite poetic form and about the only one in which I ever intentionally set out to compose verse.  Some of the entries are funny, others elegant, still others sublime… and I was very amused by the entry that says, in effect, “CSS is inferior to HTML-based design.”  Check it out!

With everything else going on, it’s nice to know that life still retains its capacity to surprise and delight.  It can be all too easy to forget that simple but important truth.


The Scrooged Prophecies

Published 16 years, 3 days ago

Happy anniversary to us.  If you like, you can work out the anniversary number from the text of our honeymoon journal.

Ser Zeldman did me the great favor of publishing a glowing note regarding my latest book, which adds to his already incredible favor of writing a truly wonderful Foreword for the same book.  Thanks, Jeffrey.

I don’t know how many of your remember the 1988 movie Scrooged (one of my favorite holiday movies, by the way, despite the fact that much of the primary cast and the director inexplicably wishes it had never happened) but it turns out to have been disturbingly prophetic.


Project 4 Now Online

Published 16 years, 1 week ago

Over the weekend, InformIT published the primary text of Project 4 of my latest book as an article (registration is required to read it).  The article elicited a few reader responses, including this one, which I absolutely love:

Great article. This article presents some new things about CSS that I didnt know. It also uses a very practical example which helps grasp the material. I have never heard of Eric Meyer before. From the detail and attention shown in this article, I expect to hear his name more.

Wow, tough room.  No matter.  It’s always nice to be regarded as an up-and-comer!


Really, You Can Buy EMOC!

Published 16 years, 3 weeks ago

Okay, here’s the deal: when Eric Meyer on CSS arrived at the New Riders warehouse, it apparently wasn’t a full shipment.  This led to the book being taken off the “coming soon” list without actually landing on the “available now” list.  I guess it landed on the “incomplete shipment” list, and the New Riders Web site took that to mean “no longer available.”  Or something.  Either way, the book is now available for order from the New Riders Web site!  Let the bells ring out in celebration!

As for Amazon, Borders, etc., the Web sites still claim the book will be published on 15 August 2002.  Not true: it’s already been published.  Somehow the data feed got polluted.  In fact, the book should be available for shipping somewhere around 9 July, as the Barnes & Noble site correctly states (or did when I wrote this).  So feel free to pre-order!  You won’t have to wait six weeks, but more like one or two.

And the book really is gorgeous.  I keep flipping it open to random points just to admire its design.  This means that I have to get moving on an update of the companion Web site.  Soon to come: project files for all 13 projects, bonus material that was cut from the theatrical release, and more!