Friday, 15 June 2012

Can ... can't ... shouldn't

There have been a few newsy stories that caught my eye today.

There's the schoolgirl whose popular blog about her school dinners has been stopped by the local council. The BBC's Rory C-J reckons it's just a publicity stunt and the council explain that they have now stopped photographs being taken in the school canteen. [Later: they've changed their collective mind now!]

What I find interesting about this story, apart from the delightful blog itself, is that it looks as if 'the management' (fans of Hale and Pace should do the accent here of course) only got worried when the mainstream media picked up on the story.

The Register reports on a statement by Sarah Lamb of the group Girl Geek Dinners saying that sexism in TV shows such as The IT Crowd is preventing women from thinking about a career in IT. Reg reporter Anna Leach refers to Ms Lamb as a Girl Geek Dinner lady (you can see why this comes second in the list can't you?) but funny as that is I applaud any attempt to get girls interested in any kind of science or technology. (I once had a bit of a row during a BBC appointment board with the Editor of Blue Peter about this.)

Mind you: turning it off and on again does fix most problems with digital technology. Buffers get clogged, memory overflows, civilisations rise and fall. You know the sort of thing. And you did watch The IT Crowd didn't you?

Which brings us untidily to the subject of browsers. Once upon a time you had to buy them ... my first even came in a box! For the first edition of our book we needed to put a browser on the accompanying CD-ROM (which was built like a web site) and only Microsoft were willing to waive any licence fee. So I do have a bit of a soft spot for Internet Explorer ... up to it's final majestic Mac implementation of IE 5.5.

Since then we all know that it's been a bit of a pain, especially when it ruled the browsing roost. It was famously quirky (including a quirks mode) and had an unsympathetic approach to standards in the any colour as long as it's black style pioneered by Henry Ford.

I've tended to do web builds that worked about the same across the main browsers, but then I don't do nothin' fancy. The acres of conditional CSS that's needed to cope with browsers these days seems crazy. I could almost believe it's a kind of reverse taxation, where the cost burden is shifted from the browser writers to the web designers.

'Enough!' I hear you cry. Or at least I hear the cry from Australia. The online retailer has now implemented an IE7 tax of 0.1% for every month since IE7 was launched (now standing at 6.8%). Since they sell things like televisions this could be no small thing. Their web site even calls it an Internet Explorer Tax and points out that "you or your system administrator has been in a coma for over 5 years". The tax, says the site, is to recoup some of the cost of coping with IE7's quirks: apparently this was as much time as Chrome, Safari and Firefox combined but for only 3% of the customers.

Do you think you could sell that one to your clients?

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