It’s Time To Unite

Recently .Net magazine launched a campaign to bring down Internet Explorer 6:

The premise is simple: Internet Explorer 6 is antiquated, doesn’t support key web standards, and should be phased out.

When I was developing this site, I chose to use PHP to generate browser specific CSS. This method is less than ideal, as browser sniffing is fraught with potential pitfalls, but I thought it was the best way to avoid the ugly CSS hacks needed to get around bugs in Internet Explorer 5 and 6. I decided some time ago that when I next change the appearance of this site, I will not be using any browser specific hacks, so I’m happy to make it official by signing up to this campaign. Internet Explorer 6 is an outdated piece of software that doesn’t deserve the time it takes to support it. It doesn’t even support PNG transparency; IE6 was released in 2001, almost 6 years after the release of the PNG standard.

So long, IE6. I’m very, very glad to see the back of you.

Lipstick on a Pig

I received the following email today (I’ve removed information that could identify the company involved):

Hello. I`m Chris [redacted], Director at [redacted]. A wholly owned subsidiary of the [redacted], we were the [redacted] retail mobile phone website (launched in [redacted]) and are now the [redacted] mobile phone store in the UK.

I was searching the web for decent potential partners and came across drawingbusiness.com. I have an idea which I hope you will find useful:-

We would like to have our editorial team research and hand write some content for you to add to a page on drawingbusiness.com. We will agree a subject with you that is relevant to both of our sites (it won`t be a sales pitch for us!) and will include a single simple text link back to a relevant content page on our site. The content will be uniquely written for you and will not be re-used elsewhere. It should be helpful to your visitors and of course the search engines, as will the presence of a relevant link back to us. Hopefully we will also benefit from the link in the longer term. We are not currently in the position of being able to exchange or return links so we thought this could be a good alternative.

Naturally there are no costs whatsoever for you.

If this isn`t appropriate for you, please accept my sincere apologies for having troubled you.

*** IMPORTANT – PLEASE USE OUR RESPONSE PAGE IF POSSIBLE ***
We have found that quite a few emails go missing — plus I`m either out or in meetings much of the time and can take a while to reply to emails — so we have created a simple and quick-to-use response page that provides detailed information and answers to questions on the various options and allows you to send us messages . . and much more! You can access it here:-

Page: http://[redacted]/partner-response.html
Your Access Code: [redacted]

REMOVAL If you feel you should not have received this email, I`m sorry – please just reply with REMOVE in the subject.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Kind Regards – Chris [redacted]
Director
[redacted]
[redacted] Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of [redacted] Group PLC
Registered in England no. [redacted] at [redacted]

However much you dress it up, it’s still link mining. I suppose I should be flattered that my paltry site has drawn the attention of such a big player in the mobile phone industry. But instead, I just feel icky.

Posted in Opinion | Comments Off on Lipstick on a Pig

Take flight with your iPhone

My good friend, top code monkey and bloody nice bloke Bobbin Threadbare of Hidden Games has just released his first game for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Air Cadets is a fun little 3D arcade style flying game, designed from the outset to be quick and easy to learn and play. The 3D graphics push the iPhone and iPod Touch hard, and the presentation of the game is polished and well designed, with great character and graphic design.

Bobbin has priced it at a very reasonable £2.99, and it’s available now on the iTunes App Store. For more details visit the Air Cadets web site.

I have been assimilated

Well, I’ve managed to avoid the (highly dubious) delights of Facebook and MySpace, but have recently succumbed to the siren call of Twitter. I have known about it for a long time, but had never really seen the point; now that I’ve signed up, I’m starting to understand it’s appeal. I’ve discovered some interesting new sites by clicking through other “People” lists, and renewed contact with someone I haven’t chatted to in years, which in itself makes it worth the time it took to sign up. I’m also finding it interesting to follow the posts of some of my favourite Apple pundits and developers.

If you are at all interested, you can follow my Twitter posts.

Posted in Diary | Comments Off on I have been assimilated

One Good Apple

In an effort to start updating this blog more frequently, I have decided to begin writing a series of occasional articles entitled “One Good Apple”, in which I will try and outline some of the problems and advantages of being the only Apple Mac user in a Windows environment.

I started work at Full Fat about sixteen months ago, and spent the first nine months wrestling with a Windows XP machine. I tried to like it, really I did, but eventually the boss got fed up of my whinging and sulking, and invested in the mighty Mac Pro that I am using now. Luckily for me, as well as having management willing to invest in relatively expensive hardware to keep me happy, our IT department (Mat) was also willing to support a new OS in what has previously been a Windows only environment. Overall, integrating the Mac into the companies network has been relatively painless. However, there have been a few minor technical hurdles and “gotchas” to overcome, so I thought I would use this blog to outline some of the benefits and burdens of being the only Apple in a company of some thirty plus Windows XP users.

Most of these posts are likely to focus on technical issues, but I thought it might also be nice to discuss some of the perceptual problems that have ensued from being odd man out. Many people still have a distorted view of Apple and the Mac OS; most often the Mac is dismissed as being “too expensive”, or “just a toy”. Some of these attitudes are just leg pulling and banter intended to provoke my inner Apple Evangelist; others arise from a genuine, or even sometimes wilful lack of understanding.

My intention is to be as forthright and unbiased as possible, but as a Mac user for more than 10 years now, there will inevitably be a bias towards my preferred platform. After using a Windows XP as my primary OS every day for some nine months, I feel I can at least attempt an informed comparison between XP and OS X, but I will state right from the outset that, in my experience, and in terms of usability, XP is markedly inferior to OS X. Given that XP is several years old now, this perhaps isn’t surprising, but given the reception Vista has received from the press and from people I know, it doesn’t seem that Microsoft has made up much ground.

And Leopard is only a few weeks away.

Tinkering with the site

Not that anyone will notice, but I’ve made some very minor tweaks to the site. I think I’ve now updated all the references to my employment status (they should all now say that I’m working for Full Fat and I’ve fixed the problem with the promote page. If you find anything broken, let me know using the contact page.

Posted in Illustration | Comments Off on Tinkering with the site

Working for the man…

If you are interested in my artwork and have visited the site before (I know I have at least one or two regular visitors), then you may have noticed that I haven’t added any new images to my portfolio for quite some time. There are a number of reasons for this, not least being that my wife and I moved house at the beginning of this year.

The main reason though is that I am no longer working as a freelance illustrator. Since May 2006, I have been working full-time as a concept artist for Full Fat, a small independent video-game developer. As well as concept art, I also produce pixel art, 2D animation and interface design.

I have worked on 3 published titles to date, with our current project just entering the beta phase and due for release towards the end of this year. I am hoping to put some samples of my video game artwork on this site soon, but as all the work I produce for Full Fat is subject to licence restrictions and (in some cases) NDA‘s, I haven’t been able to add anything as yet. I am in the process of preparing some samples, and hopefully will get their use approved shortly, so check back if you are interested.

Posted in Diary | Comments Off on Working for the man…

Bloody Vikings

Spam, spam, spam.

I’ve been deluged with it of late. The scumbags that masquerade as SOEs have been using my contact form to send me useless links to useless sites. I’ve been slowly tightening the restrictions on what could be sent via that form; first I banned BBCode, then I was forced to ban web site addresses altogether to try and reduce the deluge. Even that didn’t deter the scripters, and I’ve recently had dozens of emails that are variations of this depressingly idiotic theme:

Hi! Very Good Site! Keep Doing That!
Would you please also visit my homepage?
<a href=  ></a>

or

Hi there! Just couldn't resist your guestbook!
Please also visit my site:
<a href=  ></a>

Seriously, what is the point in sending these sort of messages? What possible value do they have, even to the morons that send them? Apart from their obvious uselessness (there is, after all, no actual link in them), they only come to me. They don’t get forwarded anywhere; the only function they serve is to jam up my inbox, and piss me off.

So, as of today, I have introduced a major change in the way my contact form works. It now uses email authentication, meaning that anyone using it must supply a valid email address, and then click a link that is sent to that address to deliver their message. I realise this is an added inconvenience to legitimate visitors, and I’ve resisted implementing it for as long as possible. But I have to do something to rebalance the signal-to-noise ratio.

It does mean that I’ve been able to relax the restrictions on message content a little (URLs are back in, BBCode is still out), as hopefully anyone who takes the time to verify their email actually has something useful to send me.

Fingers crossed that I’ve managed to slow the spam down a bit, even if it’s just for a while, and my apologies to the genuine visitors who have to go through an extra couple of steps because of the actions of unethical morons who, to quote Google

have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to unfairly manipulate search engine results.

Posted in News | Comments Off on Bloody Vikings

Is there someone else up there we could talk to?

This poor blog has been languishing, unloved and untouched, for quite a while now. A lot of things have changed since I last posted, and I’ve finally decided it’s time to pull my finger out and start updating the site again. I realise not many people (if any) actually read this blog, but it’s here, so I should be updating it.

Now go away, or I shall taunt you for a second time.

Posted in Diary, News | Comments Off on Is there someone else up there we could talk to?