News and events
Managing and choosing fonts
With the new generation of browsers supporting embedded fonts in a consistent way, it is time for us as web designers to start taking typography serious.
One small part of this is how we manage and choose fonts. I confess, I have put little thought into font management. The result is that my choice of font is often not as thought through as it should be. A massive drop-down list in Photoshop does not inspire considered typography.
However, a couple of discovers this week have inspired me to put more thought into the subject.
The first is a review of 25 font management tools. This include both free and paid for software. It also has options for both the Mac, PC and even Linux.
You might ask why we need a font management tool at all. Trust me, if you start installing a lot of fonts on your system you will soon discover why. Large number of fonts become unmanageable and can cause serious performance problems. As a minimum you need an easy way to enable or disable fonts.
The second discovery was an online/AIR font application that displays text of your choice in every font available on your system. This in itself makes font selection much easier. However, this application also enables you to narrow the field by removing unsuitable fonts. It is a great visual way of getting the right typographic look.
jQuery supercharges menu rollovers
Although I am a standards based designer through and through, I have always felt like the nerd in the class. After all it is the Flash kids that get all the girls and attract all the attention with their cool (if somewhat inaccessible) animations and effects.
4 years ago Dave Shea attempted to smarten up our image a little with CSS Sprites. This was a technique for doing CSS based rollovers on menu items. It wasn’t as eye catching as Flash but it was a start and at least I didn’t feel dirty after I used it.
Using jQuery Dave takes the plain old CSS sprite menu and gives it an attractive new look. However, at the same time he maintains its accessibility thanks to progressive enhancement.
It is a slightly long winded article (like I can talk!) in places nevertheless it is a nice illustration of what jQuery and CSS are capable of. It is also a technique we can all make use of right now, something A List Apart has been missing sometimes of late.
Can Google Chrome Topple IE?
Without a doubt the biggest story of the week is that Google has launched its own browser called Chrome. At the moment the browser is only available for windows although a mac and linux will follow shortly.
More on my thoughts can be found here
Feature: Choosing a Hosting Company
Hosting companies are a dime a dozen. They all offer very similar packages and all seem competitive on price. How then do you choose between them. We discuss this in this weeks feature.
John: Hi I’m Marcus Lillington.
Teifion: No I want to be Marcus Lillington. Marcus is the cool one he doesn’t get my name too wrong.
John: No no. You agreed that we would both be Marcus.
Teifion: That’s a fair compromise. No one want’s to be Paul. Anyway right. On with the show. So Marcus what did you generally think of the conference?
John: I thought it was really good actually. Yeah I enjoyed it all. I enjoyed the free coffee.
Teifion: Which you didn’t tell me about till right at the end so I only got one cup.
John: No that’s right.
Teifion: I thought I was a bit unfair.
John: I thought it was sort of obvious there was free coffee. But with regards to the speakers, yeah I enjoyed all of them. Some of the speakers were speaking about things I don’t really you know, I’m not involved with directly but they all put their points across really well. I enjoyed all of them. I think I can take something away from each speaker. What did you think?
Teifion: I quite liked the fact that none of them talked for too long or too little. They were all quite engrossing and though again not directly related to what I do they were all very interesting and I did end up taking something away from it.
John: Yeah and there was humour in there as well.
Teifion: Oh there was Matt and Matt are hilarious.
John: Yeah Matt and Matt get the award for comic.
Teifion: With that subject what was your favorite talk during it?
John: My favorite talk was Tantek on microformats.
Teifion: Okay summarize roughly what he talked about. Except microformats that just kinda basic.
John: Yeah it is really. You know the concept of how microformats are I don’t really know what I’m saying again.
Teifion: Just keep going Paul does.
John: Yeah just how you shouldn’t have to keep reinputting data into all these different sites, all these different social networks that we go on. They should all, you know there should be one sort of central hub which is your sort of central place where you put all your details in and all these other sites that you choose to join up to and put information on. They should all just link up. Microformats again is a new subject to me. I’ve only done a basic vCard and that’s about it. It’s definitely something I’m going to read into.
Teifion: I’ll definitely agree with that summary.
John: Although a little long winded.
Teifion: No not long winded at all. Remember the people who listen to this are used to listening to Paul.
John: Yeah that’s true.
Teifion: Well I’d say that my favorite talk was Jeremy Keith on the system of the world it’s titled. I would have titled it something more like "Why the cloud can be smart and why it can be stupid. Why you think you can predict it and why you really can’t." It was a great intellectual talk and I’m pretty sure that most of it went over my head. Possibly into the head of who ever was sitting behind me. He basically said that you can’t predict what will be the next big thing like Facebook or Twitter but you can create good foundations or nurture something so that it’s more likely to be the next big thing.
John: Yeah that’s a good summary there as well. I mean basically I thought it was just about a black swan.
Teifion: That is true actually. It’s just all about the black swan. You can’t predict it. It’s got a big effect and after it you’ll all go back and say "Hey we knew this was coming.
John: We knew this black swan was going to be born.
Teifion: Yeah that’s how it works isn’t it. Tell you what, what do you think the best moment of the conference was to you?
John: Ah. I mean there’s a lot of moments but the best moment has got to be Teifion, as Marcus calls you, when you went up to Ryan Carson to thank him for the free complimentary tickets to dConstruct.
Teifion: I’d like to point out that yesterday as in the day before the conference I had a 5 hour train journey from South Wales to Brighton. I then went to bed really late and got up really early. I was really tired and confused.
John: Still no excuse. You call yourself a student.
Teifion: No I’m a graduate.
John: Oh okay. There’s a slight difference. But luckily for Teifion I pulled him back at the last moment to save his ???? it wasn’t Carsonified that supplied the tickets it was Clearleft.
Teifion: I knew it was Clearleft that supplied the tickets. I just got confused. Tall guys in hats are very confusing.
John: What about you? What was your favorite moment?
Teifion: I think it was when we actually went up to thank Jeremy for putting the whole event on and for possibly the free tickets. It wasn’t actually Jeremy that we needed to thank aparently. I like the way that you sort of thought how to do it. You went for the wussy catch his eye approach. I just walked up and said "hi thanks for the tickets. Have a business card." I didn’t actually give him a business card.
John: No but that is a funny point. Tef did hand out quite a few business cards. Which is good I mean networking is really good. Apart from the lady who you tried to impose your business card on.
Teifion: I don’t think she heard me.
John: No she just blanked you.
Teifion: It’s possible. It’s happened before. You remember why we went to see Jeremy don’t you. It’s because sadly Marcus your jokes are sadly not up to the calibre that we would like. Granted their not dire, I mean if Paul was in charge of it they would be dire or worse. But I think Marcus’ jokes could do with some improvements. So we went up to Jeremy to ask him for a joke. Do you want to tell the joke.
John: Yeah I would love to tell a joke. Apart from the fact that I actually can’t remember it. But seeing as you already knew it and knew the punch line you can tell it.
Teifion: Okay why did the chicken cross the mobile strip?
John: I don’t know. Why did the chicken cross the mobile strip?
Teifion: To get to the same side. If you don’t know what a mobile strip is Google it.
John: Unfortunately I don’t.
Teifion: That’s a shame. Well I suppose we’re hitting the 6 minute mark which if we were Paul we’d go "Well lets start on the news." or maybe waffle on a bit more. We’re actually going to have to conclude this partly because it’s not our own podcast. So I figured what we could do is we can end it with a question. What do you think of that idea?
John: Good idea.
Teifion: Well what I’m going to do now is I’m going to put you on the spot and I’m going to pause it for 30 seconds and you are going to come up with a question and then you’re going to ask it.
John: Brilliant. Was that the pause?
Teifion: Yes a good long 30 seconds.
John: I thought you were just going to do a pretend pause and then we’d just go right into it.
Teifion: No that would be something that Paul would do. Paul’s not cool.
John: My question to both of you Paul and Marcus is, "Would you advise up and coming web designers or developers to email and get in contact with local agencies with regards to getting some kind of work experience with them? Even if it’s only for like a day or two." So that’s my question.
Teifion: Fair enough. I suppose I could add a sort of additional question. It is "If you put so much effort into your work Paul you presume you put a lot of effort in to your family like. I know you put a lot of effort into youth work. Why is it so hard for you to put just a little tiny bit of effort into learning how to pronounce a name that so many people I know can so easily pronounce? It’s (he didn’t spell it so I don’t know). It’s really not that hard.
Teifion: See if you knew me for longer you’d be able to pronounce it. Maybe Paul’s just not cool enough.
John: Maybe you should all just call him Ty from now on.
Teifion: That could work. Anyway that’s it.
John: O I’ve got one more point. Stanton.
Teifion: Where is Stanton?
John: Stanton we agree well we met him. He said he wanted to help and come in and say a few words at the end of the podcast but we don’t know where he is. He was last seen
Teifion: chatting up randoms.
John: Yeah that sums it up.
Teifion: I could guess at what he would say I could be completely wrong though.
John: I think we should end it on that note.
Thanks goes to Curtis McHale for transcribing this review.