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Friday, December 13, 2002
Thursday, December 12, 2002

I don't believe in mythology and never believed in Santa even when I was a child. But let me read my daily horoscope before any further discussion :-)

Separation of Content and Presentation debate considered harmful for the Web (and for the Web only)

For the time being, and if you are a Web content provider, you have three choices:

  1. HTML 4.01. The language was published almost 5 years ago and the W3C has consistently refused any addition to HTML since the 24th of april 1998. Only a few errata and clarifications were accepted into the 1999 XMas edition of HTML 4.01 (by the way, no, X in XMas does not mean eXtensible; you are infected by the XML-everywhere fever if you believe the contrary and you need to see a exorcist urgently).
  2. XHTML 1.x in all its avatars. Basically, it's an XML reformulation of HTML 4 and you have the choice between the normal and the xml-gurus-hate-presentational-content version of it. Sorry to say, but unless you want to export to the web data stored in XML format using proprietary DTDs or Schemas, there is no real incentive right now for a move to XHTML. All the arguments you can read here and there explaining why you should switch to XHTML, why XHTML is sooooo better for you, all these arguments are just crap (When I think on all the crap I learned in high school, it's a wonder I can think at all).
  3. XHTML 2.0. Forget it for at least three reasons:
    1. Do you really think you will have XHTML 2.0 editors and browsers on your desk tomorrow ?
    2. Have you seen the differences between HTML/XHTML1 and XHTML 2 ?
    3. It's a nightmare; when I read XHTML 2.0, I can't help thinking that jwz, who is rarely the finest diplomat (and that's not negative from my pov, let's call a cat a cat), was right in his opinion about W3C.

Hey, pal, the ball's in your hands, make up your mind. Yeah, yeah, all these people shouting "NO, don't use a presentation attribute, that's bad" in your back. Or even "Can't you see the STYLE attribute is evil!!!". Annoying, isn't it ? You want the simplicity of an XMLized HTML 4, but you can't find in XHTML the features you need because you need to rely on some hypothetic styling engine ?

There is a fourth way. The fourth way should be called xHTML 5 because it should not be a super-strict-XMLization of HTML produced by a bunch of XML gurus on crack (no kidding, XML gurus must be on crack to make a monster like XML Schemas, but that's another "considered harmful" debate), but a real and fair followup to HTML 4. It's xHTML and not XHTML nor Xhtml because the important part is HTML, not the X.

Here is what I have specifically in mind.

  1. xHTML 5 is an XML language. xHTML 5 has a DTD, no Schema. XML Schemas are a better proof of existence of the devil than XSL-FO.
  2. only three presentation elements should be kept because of their super-wide usage. B, I and U. These three elements should be part of a sub-DTD available for integration thru system entity in all DTDs (if that's not clear, blame the time, it's 5am here and apparently I've just survived a layoff, though it's not fully sure yet).
  3. all elements should have a normative default CSS style for visual media. For instance: em { font-style: italic; }
  4. presentational attributes are allowed, and to give my real point of view encouraged, if and only if they have a normative CSS definition for visual media. For instance: p[align] { text-align: attr(align); } or td[bgcolor] { background-color: attr(bgcolor); }
  5. let's put in xHTML 5 all the stuff the web authors need since 1998 and never got from the W3C: more META keywords, BGCOLOR on all elements, BGIMAGE on all elements, HEIGHT on TABLE, and so many other things. Drop me a mail if you have a suggestion. The contest is open.

Presentation hints are not bad. Closing the eyes in front of reality is bad, fanatism is bad. The Web just does not need strict separation between content and presentation. The Web needs Keep It Simple and Stupid. Because the customers of the Web are you, me, your child, your gran'ma, and the stupid sales guy next door. The stupid sale guy next door does not care about XML and strictness and he is right doing so. He wants a simple way of doing sexy documents, period. Other customers of the Web are Web authors. And Web authors want, need power and simplicity.

XHTML is simplicity without power. And I'm not sure about simplicity.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Confirming. And Netscape is badly impacted. In France, the 11th of december is Saint-Daniel. Hey Daniel, what a bad Saint-Daniel.

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Resizable images

Get a decent browser (see this for my definition of decent browser) and try this demo of resizable images through side and corner handles

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Blatantly stolen from Blogzilla

Scope is a multi-tabbed browser which displays web pages using either the IE or Mozilla engine - or both if you want to compare pages side by side. In addition to being extremely fast, Scope is very, very lightweight - only about 250k for the whole program!

I've been Tantek'ed

Tantek, your blog is unreadable in Gecko based browsers. I have to apply #now { display: none; } with a bookmarklet to read it... See what it looks like if I don't.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

I like the design of Shirley's blog. I like the contents too.

Monday, December 09, 2002
Aral or Arhell ?

If you have more knowledge of world's geography than G.W. Bush, you have already heard of the Aral sea. The Aral sea is dying, thanks to the Soviets who used the water of all the rivers going to the Aral sea to irrigate the coton fields. Massive environmental destructions, as always.

But that's not the most frightening about the Aral sea ! In its center, there is an island called Resurrection Island. It keeps growing because the water level keeps decreasing. On the western coast of Aral, the soviets had built an R&D biological center and, of course, they studied biological weapons. After the end of Soviet Union, the scientists have stored the remaining germs on Resurrection Island, in sealed barrels immerged in chlorinated water. They stored there 100 tons of anthrax. This was officially reported by american experts who visited the site in the late 90's and by a french medical newspaper "Le Quotidien du Médecin"; the newspaper was quoted by book author René Cagnat in his book "La rumeur des steppes". Important detail, René Cagnat is a former french diplomat, a very reliable source; he is now retired but stayed in Central Asia. He went there. He saw, he knows.

As I said above, the island is expanding, it will soon be linked to the coast. And some cases of animal anthrax have been reported on the island, showing that the barrels are not hermetic enough. Oh, did I mention that the Aral sea is in one the most explosive areas of the world, just a few hundreds of kms away from Afghanistan for instance, where misery is so high that everything can be sold and bought ? Everything. Even germs.

Hey, the reports mention anthrax barrels. But what else ?...

By the way, if you're a french reader, don't use the word anthrax in French, because it does not have the same meaning. English anthrax is French charbon. French anthrax is totally different and is linked to furuncles.

Yum Yum

Maria, Andrea, Laure, Christophe and I have decided to test/taste one super-restaurant per year. We started last saturday with "Le Relais Louis XIII", rue des Grands Augustins in Paris (Joe Francis, if you read this, this is 30 meters away from the restaurant where we had dinner together last time you were in Paris with Maggie).

  • the place is just marvelous: it's the place where Louis XIII learned about the death of his father and therefore became King of France. The portrait of his mother close to the entrance is only 400 years old. It's cosy, classic style, large tables, no noise from the street. Very nice place.
  • service is just remarkable: the waiters are all friendly and smiling, they are not as distant as they use to be in french elitist restaurants. The wine waiter recommended us a not too expensive wine that I will remember, de-li-cious. The service is never intrusive and always answers very fast to your requests.
  • food is excellent, quality is top, tastes are yummy. And quantity is great: to tell the truth, I could not finish the main dish !
  • price is a bit expensive if you don't choose the lunch menu. With champagne, white wine, red wine, lunch à la carte (mise-en-bouche, soup, starters, main dish, cheese and pastries) and coffee, we peaked at 168 euros per person... That's why we are going to test one restaurant only per year.
  • what we preferred: potatoe cooked with truffles and caviar, ravioli of lobster and foie gras, roasted duck (1/2 duck per person !!!), roe deer steak and all pastries; and as I said above, the wines were exceptional.
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