Critical Section

Archive: March 6, 2003

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Frames, Too

Thursday,  03/06/03  11:16 PM

Yeah, this site uses frames, as described previously.  And yeah, they aren't perfect.  But I recently made them a little better.

I made two slight changes, both of which will help visitors who have limited screen real estate:

  1. Added the ability to "close" the header.
  2. Added the ability to resize the navigation bar.

My computer monitor runs at 1600 x 1200 pixels and I use "normal" fonts, so I have a ton of real estate.  (And I like it that way :)  But some people run at 1024 x 768 or even 800 x 600, and for them room on the screen is at a premium.

Close Header

In order to close the header, I added a little "close box" in the upper right corner.  When clicked, it causes the frameset to reload itself without the header (just the main frame and the navigation bar).  This frees up all that room for people who don't have enough.  If you're interested please try clicking it; you can use the "back" button to restore the header.

I also made the border between the main window and the navigation bar resizable.  This means it can be dragged left or right to make the navigation bar bigger or smaller.  For people who have little real estate, they may wish to drag it to the right, obscuring part [or all!] of the navigation bar, but making more room for the main frame.  Conversly, people who use larger than normal fonts can drag the frame border to the left, so the entire navigation bar becomes visible.  If you're interested please try it; you can drag the border just at the left edge of the blue regions in the navigation bar.  To restore the original layout, just "refresh" the page.

Neither of these changes make anything worse - you may freely ignore the close box and choose never to resize the navigation bar.  These are minor enhancements which will only be useful to a small number of visitors, but hey, I want you guys to be happy!

[ Later - People have asked, what do I test with:

  • Windows - IE 5.5 and 6.0, Mozilla 1.2, Opera 7.0.  This is the order of popularity with visitors to Critical Section, by the way.
  • Mac - IE 5.2, Mozilla 1.2, Safari 1.0 beta.  This is the order of popularity.
  • Linux - Mozilla 1.2.

This illustrates a benefit of frames over CSS - they've been around so long, browsers pretty much implement them the same way.  Even venerable Netscape 4.7 supports them. ]

[ Even later - I decided to serve a special home page to robots, please see Site Optimization... ]

 

World of Ends

Thursday,  03/06/03  11:17 PM

Figure and GroundDoc Searles has teamed with David Weinberger to produce World of Ends.  It purports to explain what the Internet is, but actually seems to spend most of its words explaining what it is not.  Kind of a figure and ground thing.  Here are my thoughts on their "list of truths":

  1. The Internet isn't complicated.
    Well, architecturally it isn't, which was the point.  But from the inherent simplicity a network of staggering complexity has arisen, defying simple characterization.
  2. The Internet isn't a thing.  It's an agreement.
    I disagree, the Internet is a thing.  In fact, it is a Thing.  If it wasn't a thing, you wouldn't be able to make a list of 10 things about it.
  3. The Internet is stupid.
    This is intended to convey that the Internet doesn't "think".  I think it could have been better said as "The Internet is simple".  See (1) above.  Except that in many ways it is complicated, and it does "think".  Take DayPop for example.  Or Google News.
  4. Adding value to the Internet lowers its value.
    This is false.  It sounds cute, like it might be a key finding, but it isn't.  Any network fosters a "power-effect", adding value increases its value exponentially (see Metcalf's Law).
  5. All the Internet's value grows on its edges.
    Uh, no.  The value adds tend to come on the edges, but the growth can be in the middle.  This is why eBay, Yahoo, Amazon, and Google are so valuable.
  6. Money moves to the suburbs.
    This doesn't make sense, so it isn't even false.  The underlying point is that to maximize the value of the Internet, the barriers to entry at the edges should be kept low.  That is a good point.  {It also contradicts (4) and (5).}
  7. The end of the world?  Nah, the world of ends.
    The premise here is meaningless, they're just trying to be cute again.  The "world of ends" part is true.  There is no middle to the Internet, which is a good thing.
  8. The Internet's three virtues:
    1. Nobody owns it.
      Yep.
    2. Everyone can use it.
      Yep.
    3. Anybody can improve it.
      You betcha.
  9. If the Internet is so simple, why have so many been so boneheaded about it?
    This doesn't fit in with the rest, it is not a statement about the Internet, but a question.  Kind of a boneheaded question, which makes it kind of recursive, eh?  The answer given to the posed question is essentially "business and government don't like it".  That seems wrong.  The Internet is a new thing, and people try to understand new things by relating them to old things.  Sometimes the analogies are valid, leading to insight, and sometimes they aren't, leading to boneheadedness...
  10. Some mistakes we can stop making already.
    Again, not a statement about the Internet, and not a question either.  But it introduces some observations:
    1. Bits are not like lightweight atoms.
      True.  The RIAA and MPAA haven't figured this out yet.
    2. The value of the Internet is not the value of its content.
      True.  The FCC and FTC haven't figured this out yet.
    3. The Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it.
      True.  The radical left and the religious right haven't figured this out yet.

Of course they missed another mistake we can stop making already: "Trying to characterize the Internet by a list of simple truths".  They should have stuck to the three sub-bullets of (8) and quit!

 
 

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