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Archive: 'Interviews' Category

AIGA Interview

For those of you who’ve always wanted to hear me talk very quickly over a phone connection: AIGA has put up a podcast of me talking with Liz Danzico about design, code, and An Event Apart.  At the end of last week, they published a similar interview clip of The Zeldman.  There are more interview clips to come from each of us in the next three weeks, so keep an eye on the AIGA site or their feed.

Originally these weren’t quite podcasts because they weren’t part of a feed, and thus had no enclosure to download through your aggregator.  AIGA has fixed that now, and you can grab the AIGA podcast feed via the Podcast directory page.  Or, if you want, go to the previously-linked individual resource pages and download the MP3 files directly.  Either one works for me.

Skewered By a Transcript

A little while back, David Poteet of New City Media conducted an interview with me, and the much-edited version is not only a part of today’s UIEtips newsletter, but also published as a full article on the UIE web site.  In it, I lay out my case for why standards-oriented design is a good thing from a non-technical purity-neutral point of view, and use eBay as my Exhibit A for a site that could reap big returns from moving toward using standards.  Ethan has already called the article a “great read”, further cementing his reputation as the whacked-out loon of the standards world.

I have to be honest: reading the full transcription of the interview was a deeply shocking and humbling experience.  In the past, when reading transcripts of news interviews and commentary shows, I’ve winced and clucked over the mangled syntax of the people being transcribed.  False starts, weird shifts, strange commas, unfinished sentences, mind-number repetition, long rambling assaults on syntax and coherence—what was wrong with these people?  Are these the best minds our society can produce?  Can none of them do so much as utter a sentence with a clear point and progression?  How many “you know”s does one person really need?

Then I read the transcription of me, and was utterly horrified.  I sounded exactly like everyone else!  Worse, at times.  Here’s but one example, from a portion of the interview that didn’t get used in the edited version.  (Note that this was conducted before I moved to my current host; so far as I know I’m no longer in danger of hitting any caps.)

Yeah, you’re talking about actually, you know, reducing the bandwidth bill and saving money, in that sense.  I mean, for most people, for my site, MeyerWeb, I’m actually getting close to, I’m having some bandwidth, I’m getting close to hitting a bandwidth ceiling with my current provider —

And then, not five seconds later:

It’s less of an issue because I’m paying more, 30, 40, 50, whatever number of dollars per month and as long as I don’t put up The Matrix Reloaded for people to download and, you know, they use several terabytes worth of data in a month, you know, that’s what I pay.  I don’t have to pay extra bandwidth.  That gets rolled into the cost.

The horror.  The horror!

Thankfully, the published version of the interview makes me sound a good deal less like an epileptic chimp—so you might want to check it out, if you have a few spare minutes.

You know, a lot of people have told me I write like I speak.  Apparently, they were all being very, very kind to me.

Finding Fame and Fortu—Okay, Just Fame

You probably know that I’m a long-time Macintosh user, going back to the days of the single-floppy Mac SE.  At one point, I worked in a computer lab that had a “Changing the world, one person at a time” poster on the wall.  Every single one of my books, articles, and other resources has been written or developed on a Mac.  So you can imagine how thrilled I am to be featured in an Apple Pro article.  Not only can you find out a little bit about how I got into this whole CSS thing, but see a picture of me dropping some fat horns on my listeners.

I’ll put this Pro file on the shelf with being made a comic strip character as “ways to know I’ve really made it”.  But you know what really told me I’d arrived?  Discovering that someone had created a Wikipedia entry about me.  It was a pretty stubby page at the time, but its mere existence was enough to drop my jaw into my lap.  Now I find myself wondering if I should edit my own entry to include a full biography and related links, or if that would in some way be incredibly gauche.  (And asking someone else to do it for me would just be gauche by proxy, which is worse.)

It’s an odd thing to be famous, even when the fame is limited to a specific field of activity.  As a matter of fact, I was recently asked to write an article about the “fame game” and I’m still mulling over how to tackle it.  See, when you get right down to it, being well-known is both a reward and a restraint.  When people look to you, there’s a certain set of expectations that gets imposed upon you, whether you want them or not.  You’re supposed to always be right, always be fair, and always be in agreement with whoever’s looking to you.  None of these things are possible.

Nevertheless, I am where I am because I worked to get here (and was lucky), and I’ve no real complaints about the position I occupy.  All told, it’s not a bad thing.  It isn’t even a good thing.  It just kind of is.

So there’s still the question of what I might write about the “fame game”.  As it was posed to me, the editor was interested in my thoughts on “how influential designers and developers must balance ‘responsibility’ to the community with their own need to say what’s on their mind and use their clout to get good things done”.  In many ways, it’s the classic “how do you feel about being a role model?” question.  I’m not entirely sure I’m qualified to answer the question, although I do have some ideas.  I often wonder what the community thinks, though.

So I’ll throw it out to you lot: in your personal opinion, how should influencers balance community responsibility with personal expression—or does there need to be a balance at all?

Cold Comfort

c|net seems to have injected a note of disbelief into its headline “AOL plans to revitalize Netscape?” and I suppose they could be forgiven if that was intentional.  My read on the situation is that AOL is going to put their efforts into the portal; the fact that the positions are in Columbus, Ohio, the site of their Compuserve division, was my primary tip-off.  Apparently there will be a new version of the Netscape browser this summer, based on Mozilla 1.7, but that to me bespeaks a piggyback strategy.  They’ll employ enough coders to wrap the Netscape/AOL chrome around Mozilla, and call it macaroni.  Not that this is a bad approach.  I just expect that it means Netscape isn’t about to re-enter the browser development space, nor will they be asking me if I’d like my old job back.  I’d love to be wrong, but I get the sense that they’re going to chase eyeballs.

Enough about my former employer; let’s have me talk for a bit.  I did just that with Russ Weakley of Maxdesign and the Web Standards Group, and the result is now available for your enjoyment, or for your frustration if you’re of certain persuasions.  Font-size zealots of all kinds, I’m looking in your direction.

There was more stuff I was going to talk about, but a severe cold/stomach bug/allergy condition has my brain operating at about one-fifth its usual speed.  Maybe it’ll come back to me tomorrow.  The only reason I’m even typing this entry is that I accidentally took a daytime medication instead of the nighttime equivalent, so now instead of sleeping off the illness I’m propped up in bed snuffling my way through it.  Bleah.

It’s On Every Channel!

I got word yesterday that More Eric Meyer on CSS has already come back from the printers, so it ought to be available within a week or so.  Woo hoo!  I’ve put up a companion site with the table of contents; the project files will be online soon.  And yes—that really is the cover.

Speaking of books, the second edition of Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide is now available pretty much everywhere.  Over at Amazon, its sales rank has been hovering around 200 for a couple of weeks now, so that’s pretty cool.  I’ve heard from a few readers who already have their copies, and some errata reports have started to come in.  Joy!  It’s always frustrating to finish a book, because I know that the errors that got missed will immediately be spotted by all the readers.  No matter how hard we tried, some errors are going to slip through.  The perfectionist in me quails at that knowledge.

But then, releasing a new book does afford me the chance to be amused by reader reviews.  Here’s one that had me chuckling:

i understand the basics of css already, i just needed something to outline the syntax and concepts in css2 and then just function as a reference. this book did neither, and i’ve found it to be a complete waste.

Yeah, I guess you probably would.  Say it with me, sparky: “Definitive Guide.”  Not “Reference.”  It’s not an outline, and wasn’t when the first edition came out.  If you need a reference with a quick outline, you could always try the CSS2.0 Programmer’s Reference, which has, of all things, an outline of the syntax and concepts of CSS2 and provides a full property reference.  Amazing.

I know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes you can get a little guidance from its title.

Anyone who reads Italian might be interested in an interview with me conducted by Marco Trevisan.  For those who don’t do as the Romans do, the English version should be available in the near future.

Update: Gini‘s sister is doing better, although she was evicted from the hospital even though still suffering a lot of pain.  Ferrett tells me that it looks like some of meyerweb’s readers did contribute to the support fund, and again, Kat and I both thank you for reaching out.

All Tied Up

Fresh from a Taiwanese factory and several FedEx planes, I now have in my claws a brand-spankin’ new 1GHz 15.2″ TiBook.  Ahhhhh…. except for it running OS X, which I still don’t really quite understand.  Thanks to Mac OS X Hacks, I quickly located the terminal window and added it to the Dock for handy access.  <mood type="bliss"/>  I even got the built-in AirPort option even though I don’t have WiFi in the house.  So, of course, I’m in the market for a wireless access point.  Anyone have suggestions for a good one?  Bear in mind the access point will be situated inside a lath-and-plaster house, which may mean a whole lot of metal wire mesh in the walls.  Then again, the house was built in 1920, so I don’t know for sure that they were using much metal in walls back then.

Also bear in mind that I didn’t buy an Airport base station because I didn’t want to spend that much on a wireless extension to my existing wired network.  I’ve been looking at the LinkSys WAP11, as I have a LinkSys router already and the price is right, but I’ve been reading online that its range is limited and I want to cover three floors of the house, plus the front and back yards.  As long as I can good signal at a fifty-foot range from the station, and moderate signal up to one hundred feet, I’ll be more than fine.  I found a how-to on hacking the WAP11 to boost its transmission power, but I don’t know if the current firmware still allows the hack.  What does sort of bother me is that the WAP11 won’t pass through AppleTalk packets.  It’s not that I do tons of AppleTalk, but that it bothers me buying an access point that absolutely slams that door shut.  I will want to communicate between my Classic OS desktop and the TiBook, obviously.

Anyway—have need for wireless access point, need to cover multistory house, will want Mac-to-Mac communication, looking for recommendations.  The more plug-and-play, the better.  Meantime, I have to figure out how to best go about repartioning the hard drive into my usual triad of boot volume, data volume, and scratch-space volume.  And then I have to come up with a catchy name for this beast.  Oh, the crosses I bear.

Somehow I missed the fact that Opera Journal published a short interview with me on Tuesday and Wednesday.  You should probably start with part one, and then follow it to part two.  I think it got broken up because I spent some time answering the first question, but it really is short—five questions, if I counted correctly.  But not a Friday Five.

Standing At a Crossroads

There has been more detailed information written about yesterday’s events, so it’s worth reading if you still care.  Personally, I thought Dave Shea’s summary was quite amusing.

I indicated yesterday that DevEdge would likely not be updated.  That’s because the standards evangelism team has been disbanded.  Two team members were among those let go, and the rest of us went to different places within AOL.  I’m really not sure what made the difference between those who were axed and those who were not. 

As much as I’m unhappy that we’ve come to this pass, I don’t regret for one second having taken the position of Standards Evangelist.  While it lasted, Netscape funded close to ten full-time and part-time positions whose job was to promote standards, not proprietary technology, and to spread that message as far and wide as possible.  They may well have been doing it for selfish reasons, but that hardly matters.  We were able to inform, educate, and proactively help a lot of sites get better cross-browser behavior by using standards.  In our own way, we helped make things better, and we made a difference.

So here’s to Bob Clary, Marcio Galli, Katsuhiko Momoi, Chris Nalls, Tristan Nitot, Arun Ranganathan, Doron Rosenberg, and Susie Wyshak.  We fought the good fight and created a lot of great material, including information about the redesign of DevEdge itself.

Moving forward, I have to decide what I will do: accept the position into which I was reassigned, turn down the reassignment and look for another position within AOL, or decide to take the severance package and leave AOL altogether.  This isn’t exactly an easy call, partly due to the economy, but also because the importance of standards to AOL is not, at present, clear to me.  Perhaps the message has sunk in and there will be a place for someone like me, and perhaps not.  I hope to find out which over the next week or so.  No matter what, I face some tough choices, but at least I have choices.  I can’t say the same about 50 former co-workers.

Meanwhile, DMX Zone just this morning (my time) published an interview with me, so those interested in such things can click away.  Love that Dark Jedi groove thang!  [insert lightsaber sound effects here]

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Since I’ve been known to link to interviews with me in the past, it’s only fair that I give you a chance to participate in an upcoming one.  DMX Zone will be interviewing me in the near future, and you can submit questions to be asked.  If you’ve ever wanted to put me on the spot in public, here’s your chance.  DMX Zone recently published an interview with Jeffrey Zeldman, which I point out not only because it’s interesting but because the graphic they created for it is hilarious.  Not as hilarious as the graphic on Molly’s interview, though.

September 2014
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