The ISA-Bus

One blog to bind them all.

Monthly Archives: October 2011

Web design with pop-ups: Alfonso Azpiri

A month ago I wrote that it’s a pity with pop-ups, that they got such a bad reputation, they could be quite useful. Now I came across a site that uses them quite extensively. It’s a homage to the Spanish comic artist Alfonso Azpiri by the French web designer Loïc Cure, who went by the name Freemouse at the time.

The website was originally set up in January 2001 and got a number of updates in the next three years. When you click on enter, the site opens in a window a bit over 640×480. The various images open in pop-ups as well. Check it out. I liked it.

Why MSIE supported style sheets so early so well

With 4.0, which came with Outlook Express, Microsoft began using style sheets very extensively for HTML mail. The installer contained a number of templates that all used CSS. It’s interesting to think that with a more widespread use of Internet Explorer (it began overtaking Netscape only in 2000), we might have had more CSS and less use of font tags earlier.

Testing some older browsers

When I wrote my previous post, I checked the stuff on some older web browsers too. Then I checked some other things as well. Here’s how well a few older browsers (that I happened to have at hand) display my websites.

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CSS tricks: Usenet or typewriter style emphasis and quotes

On Usenet it was customary to indicate emphasis by enclosing the emphasized passage in certain characters, like this:

This is *bold*, this is _italic_.

When I’ve quoted a Usenet on a webpage, I’ve always replaced these characters with the appropriate tags, since it looks rather silly with a standard (especially serif) font. But now I made a style sheet that uses a typewriter font for the whole text, where italics would look silly. At first I thought I’d revert the text itself, but then I noticed that it can be done completely within the style sheet itself (I’m omitting the usual line breaks to make it easier to read):

em        {font-style: normal;}
em:before {content: "_";}
em:after  {content: "_";}

The equivalent for bold would be:

strong        {font-weight: normal;}
strong:before {content: "*";}
strong:after  {content: "*";}

A similar situation is with quotes. Newer browsers automatically set the appropriate “before” and “after” for the quote tag without specific instruction in the style sheet. To get typewriter quotes, use this:

q {
quotes: "\"" "\"";
}

You cannot use HTML tags for the quotes, it would just be printed out.

One warning: The emphasis trick doesn’t really degradate gracefully. If the browser does not support the content tag (MSIE only did from 8.0 on), the emphasis will be completely lost to the viewer. Though it’s a neat hack, I’ll probably just replace italics with underline in the final style sheet.

1,500 downloads on Download Central, some future plans

Today I uploaded Der Clou! for Amiga/AGA (the DOS version will follow in the next days), and with that, there are now 1,500 downloads on Download Central. It took some time, in June alone I uploaded 200 files, now it took me three months and two weeks to upload a hundred. Here’s some comment on that and my plans for the next future.

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Astoria is encountering technical problems

The chello server is acting up again. The whole site is throwing 404 errors, I can’t access it with FTP either. This could take a couple of days, about a year ago there was a very similar situation. I’ll work on something else in the meantime and keep you updated.

Update: An hour later, everything is working again. Maybe it was just a hiccup.

Update II: I notice that the number of visitors was significantly lower in the last two days, probably due to downtimes, I just hadn’t noticed before. This might continue a few days, then things will certainly go back to normal.

I never really got warm with Final Fantasy

A long time ago, it may have been in 2001, I played the first Final Fantasy game through nearly to the end, except for the end boss fight. End bosses rarely interest me. I took tons of screenshots, but I lost them all later in some hard drive accident. It’s a pity. I think I had screenshots of every single monster in the game.

I know I played Final Fantasy VI in the summer of 2001, for on one of the last days of August I put a couple of screenshots online. Later they wandered around a bit, but I’ve restored them on their original place, so you can admire them, or laugh at them, whatever. I was still rather new to web design then. As for the game, I played it to the end of the World of Balance but never got further. Too many decisions, or something like that.

In the spring or summer of 2003 I played Final Fantasy VII. I took a number of screenshots I haven’t put online so far, but then I don’t really think the world suffers under a lack of Final Fantasy VII screenshots. I played it up to the battle of the Shinra Building, about halfways through the first of three CDs, then I quit. I didn’t like a decision I had made, but didn’t want to fight the whole battle through again either. I wasn’t really fond of the combination of 3D and cartoony characters either.

I played the demo of Final Fantasy VIII once. I was quite impressed. The 3D didn’t really look good yet (that happened a couple of years later, around the time of Doom 3, but good enough that I enjoyed watching the cutscenes like a movie. The plot was a bit cheesy though, the characters rather clichéd.

In a way I never got warm with the Final Fantasy games the way I did with Chrono Trigger, Terranigma, Earthbound, or Dragon Quest. That’s just the way it is.

GIMP, POV-Ray, and Cool Text

Three weeks ago I wrote about my search for flaming text and described a few services I found. I’ve used the one I liked best, FlamingText, quite a lot since then, first for The Orchard, and now for about every other page I redesigned in Astoria Games. FlamingText, I noticed now, is basically just an online GIMP, though with some extra scripts and things.

I had never paid much attention to the GIMP. I had it on my computer once, years ago, but did not have very much use for it then. Now I downloaded and installed it again, and found that creating logos is indeed nearly as easy as on FlamingText. Both ways have their advantages and disadvantages. GIMP expects, but does not come with all those cool fonts you get on FlamingText. You have to find and install them yourself. On the other hand you can use any font you like. While creating a logo is just as easy as on the website, there are less configuration options. FlamingText limits the number of characters, so if you want to create a menu imagemap, it will have to be on the GIMP on your computer.

Creating logos is the GIMP’s killer function. FlamingText isn’t the only website that uses it, Bryan Livingston’s CoolText.com is an even older one, going back to 1998, the year the gimp.org website went online. It’s gone through numerous redesigns, I really like the first one best. Besides creating logos, you can download an enormous number of free fonts here. Picking a font for your logo is easier here as well, since the categories are more meaningful. Speaking of gimp.org: The GIMP has scripts for all the headers and other graphic text the original website used.

Tetsuo Ikegawa has a similar logo service based on POV-Ray. The configuration options can be a bit confusing, so I recommend starting with the oldest generator (dating back to 1996), which is the simplest one as well. But beware, anyone can see the images you create for a while.

RSS link in HTML header no longer works

What happened? It used to be that when you put a link to an RSS feed into the header of a web page, same way you linked a style sheet, then the browser would display an icon in the address bar, easily allowing visitors to view and subscribe to the feed. I just noticed that that no longer works, none of the newer browsers does that any more.

Exocet, the accidental Gothic game font

Moved to new blog