Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Soo ... (Score 1) 450

Innovators innovate. It's what they do.

Yes, the romantic rogue genius, the world-changing entrepreneur - these people will always innovate, no matter who tries to stop them. When people - that is to say, IP-dependent businesses - talk about "hindering innovation", they're saying that they'll invest less. As many people here point out, being a "scientist" is now a career path for most people instead of a "calling". To these businesses, less innovation means hiring fewer sound technicians, pharmacologists, graphic artists. Whether you agree that hiring more workers to solve a problem assembly-line style is actually innovation, or that "innovation" can be attributable to an entire company, is another issue entirely :)

Submission + - British record companies win £41m in dam

Benjamin Fox writes: "The BBC reports that online retailer CD-Wow has been ordered to pay £41m to the British Phonographic Industry. The London High Court ruled that Hong Kong-based CD-Wow, which imports cheap (but genuine) CDs from Hong Kong and elsewhere to the U.K., is "'in substantial breach' of a 2004 agreement to stop importing CDs." This is a serious blow to proponents of an open, no-barrier music market."

Submission + - Hard drive failure greater thant vendor estimates.

Agent2592 writes: "Here is a very interesting article on a study about hard drive failure. Notable from the article: -Hard drive failure rate is much higher that what the vendors suggest -SCSI/FC discs ("server class"), contrary to common perception DO NOT have a significant advantage over PATA/SATA ("desktop class") when it comes to failure rate. -Operating temperature and failure rate DO NOT have a significant correlation. In other words discs kept at a lower operating temperature fail just as much. (RAPID & frequent temperature change do have an impact) -There is NO reliable predictor of failure. (SMART included)"

Submission + - CSS Web Site Design

Paul S. R. Chisholm writes: "Eric A. Meyer is a serious Cascading Style Sheets guru. He's written several books on the subject, including the O'Reilly "Definitive Guide." His latest, CSS Web Site Design, is written for a different audience, the kind of people who would rather learn by doing than wade through a lot of theory. Does it suit the needs of that audience? Yes, and people beyond that audience as well.

[EDITORS, PLEASE NOTE — Please do not publish my e-mail address!]

People learn in different ways:
  • By reading a bunch of theory, once, and immediately being able to apply it.
  • By reading a bunch of theory, once, and stumbling the first time they apply it, but achieving proficiency the second or third time.
  • By reading something, thinking they understand it, but really not having a clue when it comes to concrete application. (Please, no jokes about managers.)
  • By working through some specific examples (and maybe later copying-and-pasting from them).
  • By taking a course, with an instructor who walks you through theory and examples and usually a few exercises (or more than a few).
For the first two, there's O'Reilly's Cascading Style Sheets: the Definitive Guide. For the last two, there's CSS Web Site Design Hands-On Training from the Hands-On Training series. Both books are written by Eric A. Meyer, who's done a lot with CSS. In this latest book, he takes a complex web page, and changes its appearance and layout without modifying the HTML. Instead, he modifies the "styles" for different elements in the HTML. (Meyer usually embeds styles into HTML, to make the examples simpler. He describes how to use external style sheets, and uses them exclusively in the last chapter.) When CSS is used correctly, it can handle all the details of a web page's appearance, and even fine-tune a lot of those details, leaving nothing in the HTML but the content and an abstract description of how it's organized. This is a good thing.

The first chapter, and the beginning of the second and third chapters, describe a little bit of theory. The entire rest of the book (other than then appendices) consists of a series of exercises. Each chapter covers one topic, and each exercise in the chapter shows how to use a particular CSS tag or technique. Chapters 2 through 9 are effectively one big exercise, taking a single web page and making dozens of small changes to its appearance. (Using the same web page helps avoid distraction. Honestly, though, I hope I never again read about "Thomas Twining's English coffee house.") Chapter 10 starts with the same content as a bare HTML page and an empty style sheet, and then element by element adds to the style sheet so the web page has the desired design. Finally, there's a very nice reference section for CSS2 properties, some answers to "frequently asked" questions, and a decent list of pointers to more information on CSS.

How effective is this learn-by-example approach? It varies. For some of the book, such as chapter 4 on page layout, and chapter 7 on margins and borders, I was really glad I worked through all the examples and got to see before-and-after results for each change. (Put another way: If I'd lost the CD, I'd have had a tough time getting through those chapters. Or maybe not; the examples can be downloaded via the book's errata page.) On the other hand, in the chapters on foregrounds and backgrounds, typography, and print styling, it was easy enough to just look at the HTML/CSS and screenshots in the book; the interactive approach wasn't of much benefit, at least to me.

CSS Web Site Design's use of full-color screenshots was very effective, and pretty much necessary for showing some of the effects. The book laid flat pretty decently, though not perfectly, especially in the early part of the book. I found (and reported) about sixteen typos, none which was too terrible; not bad for a book of this length and detail, but not great.

No book can cover everything. This is a "how to" book, not a "what to do" book. You'll learn a bit about design, but mostly about how to implement design via CSS. If you want to learn a lot about how to design web pages and sites, you'll need to go elsewhere. You'll also need to start elsewhere if you don't know much about HTML/XHTML. (CSS Web Site Design has a few introductory words about HTML. I was surprised, and disappointed, it didn't say much at all about the <div> tag. That tag is hardly ever used except in conjunction with CSS. Thus, it's something even experienced HTMLers might need a little help with.)

This book is over 400 pages long, with lots of fairly big pictures (screenshots). CSS: The Definitive Guide is over 500 pages long, with a lot fewer pictures. What's the difference? The Definitive Guide spends much more time on theory. It also goes into some specific details CSS Web Site Design shows only by example, such as the four elements of specificity (inline, ID, class, tag) for resolving style conflicts, and margin value replication. The Definitive Guide also spends whole chapters on some subjects, such as lists and user interface elements, that CSS Web Site Design covers in two or three pages.

Is this a good book for everyone? Pretty close. For people who learn by doing, this is probably a great resource. Personally, I'd rather get an explanation of how everything works; even so, I got quite a bit out out of this book, more than from another book I've read on the subject. (The name has been omitted to protect the guilty.) CSS Web Site Design may not teach you enough to be featured on the main page of the CSS Zen Garden, but if you don't know much about CSS, you will after reading this book.

For more information, see the book's web page and the author's site.

That's what I think about CSS Web Site Design. What I think about CSS itself is another matter. Yes, it's a huge improvement over using tables (and changing document structure) to control layout, but ... well, let's just say I cringe every time someone talks about "negative margins." Bruce Eckel has written more (and more perceptively) on this subject in his article, Web Standards: Only Less of a Mess.

Paul S. R. Chisholm has been developing software for more than 25 years. He's worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Ascend Communications/ Lucent Technologies, Cisco Systems, and some small startups you've never heard of. This review does not necessarily reflect the opinions of any past, present, or future employers."
The Internet

Submission + - What isn't possible online that should be?

yddod writes: "With everything that can be done online these days, what is still missing? You can share photos, watch videos, connect with friends, shop for almost anything and manage your finances among many thousands of other things. What are the top 3 things that you wish you could do online that you cannot do now? They could be just for entertainment purposes or just a way to make your life easier."

Submission + - Identification through Reverse DNS?

An anonymous reader writes: I've recently noticed that the reverse DNS name given to my IP from my ISP contains my mac address. It seems to me that regardless of IP address/dhcp logs that this could serve as a permanent unique identifier for a person. How many other ISPs do this? Are we clearing our google cookies periodically for nothing? Is this a privacy hole that should be closed up? I can see the ISPs internally being able to recognize their clients uniquely, but to the rest of the Internet is it a security violation for people to be tracked by an unchanging hostname?

Submission + - Pornographic Film Uses a 14-year-old's Picture

orgelspieler writes: "According to The Consumerist, a budding UK photographer, Lara Jade Coton, took a self-portrait (SFW) at the tender age of fourteen. To her dismay, the photograph ended up on the cover of a porno flick. It seems that several of the sites selling the video have removed her photo, but there are still a few out there selling the infringing cover."

Submission + - No charges for chatroom suicide observers

Benjamin Fox writes: "The BBC reports that chatroom participants who apparently "watched" a man commit kill himself will not face charges for the comments made up to and during the suicide. A crown prosecution spokesman said, "We examined all the evidence passed to us by the police and have concluded that none of the comments made in the chatroom amounted to a criminal offense." What could this mean for electronic witnesses of other meatspace crimes and tragedies in the UK?"

Slashdot Top Deals

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers. -- Pablo Picasso