Archive for January, 2009

Seven things. Happy now?

I’ve been tagged by Joe Drew and Grey Hodge for Seven Things, the syphilis of blog memes.

The rules

1. Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

Seven things

1. I was obsessed with many things as a kid, and one of those was lizards. This started at age 8, when I realized my mom would not let us get a second cat but had no policy regarding reptiles. In the beginning I got geckos and anoles, but eventually I grew my collection to about 15 lizards at a time. At its peak, I was managing complex feeding schedules and vitamin ratios, ordering weekly boxes of live crickets, and seeing a specialized reptile vet when something was sick. I was also the youngest regular participant at monthly Missouri reptile conventions, where my favorite attendees were the biker dudes with iguanas in matching miniature leather jackets.

2. My first website, Jennynet, launched in 1992, when I was 8. It featured a Myst fan site (in ’93), a care guide for various reptile species (see #1), a form you could fill out if you wanted me to send free stickers in the mail, links, a bio, and a shoutout to various friends and relatives (which proved useless since none had modems). The HTML was written in SimpleText documents, and the graphics were made in Kid Pix.

3. My first official paychecked job was as a train conductor at a zoo.

4. I love altitude, and my favorite physical activities involve it; hang gliding, flying planes, and skydiving. It’s my goal to get certified in all three in the next few years.

5. Two people have proposed to me.

6. My vision is horrible. I’m legally blind (-8 in each eye), and colorblind too. I wanted to be a fighter pilot as a kid, but was told it would never happen because of my vision. Turns out they were lying because of laser correction. Oh well.

7. Last week I nearly rick-rolled Nancy Pelosi. I got tickets to Obama’s inauguration by calling Pelosi’s office early and getting on their list, and subsequently flew to DC for Obamastock (which was awesome). Afterwards, everyone who got tickets was invited to a Pelosi-hosted lunch near the capitol. I went, wondering if Pelosi herself would show up for congressional cold cuts. She did! This was only a short time after Pelosi ruined rick-rolling by releasing a video of her cats which cut to Astley halfway through. So, seeing Pelosi across the room, I realized we had to exact revenge (for the glory of the internets). I turned to my friend Akiva and asked what devices he had on him. He had an iPhone – perfect! I suggested we go up to Pelosi and say oh, Nancy dear, you won’t believe the horrible video of you on YouTube, here, have a look – and then pull an iPhone Astley on her. Unfortunately, by the time our scheme was ready to go, she’d slipped out of the room and we couldn’t find her afterwards.

I’m tagging no one, because this madness must end.

Do you use your back button?

Patrick Dubroy suspects you don’t.

Today he spoke at Mozilla about his very interesting research and field studies regarding how people use tabs in Firefox. He found that people who don’t use tabs really aren’t using the back button much – his participants’ median was once per 50 clicks, and that the more tabs a user opens the less they use the back button.

This really gives voice to some of the thoughts I was having about how the back button and tabs are related. In a sense, the back button is allowing you to go back in history blindly – there’s no way (other than remembering) to know where pressing back will take you. Opening new pages in tabs, however, give you a visual indicator of where you’d been, and allows you to skip backwards in time as far as you need. It can also prevent procrastination by showing you what you were doing (“Right, I was answering an email before I opened 5 Wikipedia pages”).

Another problematic relation between tabs and the back button, as Patrick pointed out, is that your 10 open tabs may all have different back histories. How can you possibly be expected to remember all 10 histories? You can’t, and if you have 10 tabs you probably aren’t using back much as a result.

Another problem of the back button is that it doesn’t work with all media (such as Flash sites) and sucks with web applications (like Google documents). I’ve been trapped many times by accidentally pressing back while banking or using a form, only to find that my data has been lost. These sites tend to offer their own navigation methods.

So, what tabs and the back button have in common is that they are ways to manage browsing histories. Tabs may have made an improvement on the back button, but they still present some navigation limitations.

HTML5 video tag update

Some changes are coming for the HTML5 video tag in the nightlies:

– Time-scrubber will be implemented
– Volume control will work (not just mute/unmute)
– Controls will be invisible until mouseover for videos that play on load, and visible until the user presses play for videos that don’t play on load
– Some graphic spiffups:


The graphics are being changed (in part because of your feedback) with attention to providing better contrast on differently colored backgrounds.

Other features coming up soon are notification when a video is buffering, and perhaps a time elapsed/total time indication.

The design for the controls is about as simple as it can be, because much like the browser, it is there to help you navigate your content but not compete with your content. I was surprised looking around the web at how over-designed and branded so many video controls are.