How to hide CSS from buggy browsers

Here’s a nice little article entitled ‘How to hide CSS from buggy browsers.’ This would include individuals who insist on using archaic browsers such as Netscape Navigator 4.n and Microsoft 5.n. Or as the how-to page states:

There are several browsers where all the tricks listed here don’t work (maybe they are too standards compliant, maybe they have exploitable bugs that I don’t know yet):

  • Netscape 6.01 up
  • Mozilla 0.9.1 up

Definately something I’m going to use with the Redland re-write as I do have some users who are literally afraid of the computer to the point that they won’t upgrade any application because their afraid it might void the warranty of their 4 year old machine.

With church and charity sites, this is a slightly larger problem than other demographics.

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Protecting your website’s email addresses from being used by spammers

Here is an interesting article by way of UC Berkeley’s Computing and Communications newsletter. It offers an exhaustive description of the various methods one can employ to fend off evil spammers (yes, I know those last two words are redundant).

Here are some bullet points of the various tactics you can employ on your church web site:

Now go read the article and read the pros and cons of each of the above methods.

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Free Methodist Church Websites, Now!

So a lonely bachelor is moved to the plains of Texas by his employer. Lonely, he seeks the company of man’s best friend and proceeds to look in the want ads. There he find what he seeks “Free, Methodist Puppies. Call Farmer Bob at 915-555-1212.” So our bachelor calls the farmer and makes an appointment to take his pick of the litter.

Being a city boy, our single friend gets to the farm, and is awed by a pack of yapping little squinty eyed labradors who are blindly nudging their way about their mom for a meal. The bachelor selects a pup and proceeds to pick him up and leave when the farmer informs him that the little dog needs to stay with her mom another four weeks until she’s weaned. Grudgingly, the bachelor assents and impatiently counts the days until he can bring his new best friend home.

Well the day arrives and first thing in the morning, our single guy heads to the farm, scoops up his little bundle of love and heads for his car, when he turns around again and asks the farmer “Oh, I forgot, what type of puppies did you say these were?”

The farmer replies “Them’s Baptist Puppies …”

The bachelor thinks for a minute. Something doesn’t sound quite right. So he digs deep into his pockets until he pulls a crumpled copy of the ad from his pocket and says “but wait, this ad here says Methodist puppies.”

The farmer replies “yup, but now their eyes is opened!”

I first heard this joke back in I believe 1981 or 82 during Larry Eubank’s first sermon after being ordained as a minister at Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, MD. Now I know some of you Methodists (Free or otherwise) out there are saying “hey wait …” but if you’re quick, you can switch the denominations then call up your favorite Baptist friend and lay this one on him. I swear, it works just as well the other way around.

Anyway, my point is not groaner jokes, but to simply open the eyes of my Free Methodist readers to a page that offers free web site hosting to Free Methodist Churches that offer a nice platform if you’ve got a small to medium-sized church with an equally medium to small budget to match.

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Shady Grove Baptist Church Splash Page

Here is a quote by Vincent Flanders from the January 2001 edition of ibizInterviews about the usability of splash pages:


Wal-Mart doesn’t block the entrance to its stores by making you watch a movie or make you listen to someone who explains the history of the company. That’s what a splash page does. It blocks your visitor from getting to the meat of your site. Also, certain search engines give a higher ranking to the contents of your root page (where the splash page is located) and splash pages rarely have any information. A splash page can hurt your rankings with a search engine.

A point Father Flanders would later reemphasize with a brilliantly irritating parody splash-page on America’s Website this past December.

Unfortunately, the good folks at Shady Grove Baptist Church in Bossier City, LA don’t appear to be aware of this point as they greet users with a rather grainy 22kb splash page that offers nothing more than their name for an obligatory five seconds. Which is just enough time for someone to hit the back button before getting blasted by a MIDI file of “Glory to His Name” — DON’T DO THIS!

If I had only 10 minutes to fix this site, I’d lose the splash page and the MIDI file within the first 5 seconds. I would also drop the counter at the bottom of the page that reads exactly 1 visit, along with the 30kb header JPEG atop their page bearing the name of the church crowned with a yellow banner that reads “Over 10000 Hits” — like this is a McDonald’s or something.

Yeah, I know, that last remark was a little bit on the Strong Bad side, but if you strip away the above objects, lose the beveled buttons and the grainy background that give the page that 1997 look, you eventually find a page with content that is organized. The problem is, the good stuff is hidden under a bowl with contrivances that won’t bring a single person into your church. If anything, they inspire seekers to find their back button as quickly as possible. Remember, people are visiting your site to because they’re members and need something quickly, or are seekers and want to find out more about your church’s personality and purpose. Anything that gets in the way of those messages should be stripped from your site immediately.

A point that is supported in the following statement made by usability expert Jakob Nielsen in an interview last year with Pixelsurgeon:

No, splash screens must die. They give the first impression that the site cares more about its own image than about solving users’ problems. It is true that a site needs a homepage that immediately communicates what the site is about and what users will get out of visiting, but one of the most important feelings to communicate is that of respect for the users’ time. People need to feel that a site is there for them and that it will be easy and worthwhile to spend more time on the site, or they will leave. An attractive visual design helps, as does one that prioritises the available information and features and guides the user’s eye toward the most important stuff. Still, this is a different goal than a magazine cover design, which only has to communicate excitement.

People know that they will be able to operate the magazine’s user interface, so a magazine doesn’t need to communicate ease of use on its cover. In contrast, one of the biggest contributions of a website to a company’s brand reputation is the ability to increase the score for “it’s easy to do business with Company X” on the annual customer satisfaction survey.

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The INQUIRER guide to installing Linux

Tired of being cooped-up in the house because of the cold? Here’s a little gem of a tutorial you might find useful when applied to your old PC: The INQUIRER guide to installing Linux

As they put it “It’s blindingly obvious“:

  1. Installing Linux is easy, really Part One – really
  2. Installing Linux is easy, continued Part Two — getting and preparing for Unix
  3. Installing Linux is easy, with care Part Three Details and Precautions
  4. Installing Linux is easy, flexible Part Four — partitioning
  5. Installing Linux is easy, just watch Part the Fifth — Walking through an install

Gee, do you suppose the author of the article thinks installing Linux is easy? Actually, I’ve done it a couple of times. Its not the install that hurts you. It is dealing with device drivers and servers that is akin to a one-way trip into the deepest crest of Malebolge.

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‘Pelase’ Proof Read #2

They say a picture is worth 1000 words. If that’s the case, than here are at least 990 screaming-out for submission to the Ship-of-Fools Signs and Blunders page:

I have a dream -- a bit out of context

Back in August of ’02, I posted an article entitled “‘Pelase’ Proof Read” which included a sign for a methodist church that read “Don’t let worries kill you, let the Church help.” Similarly, I’m sure what happened to the sign at Olney Elementary is what happens to alot of church and charity web sites. Because of limited layout space, we take short cuts, we abbreviate or offer iconic replacements that have the potential of saying something that might be interpreted in an entirely different way by someone not associated with your organization and its vernacular.

This is why it is important to always find a neutral third-party who is not a member of your church or charity who will walk through proof read your site — if nothing else for clarity of message. Today’s message being the celebration of the birtday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — not every kids fantasy of no school on mondays.

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Erlanger.org

Some of you have asked for good examples of churches. I’ve offered one or two. But as I’ve been exploring the possibility of using MovableType as a Content Management System (CMS) for the Redland Baptist redeploy, discovered a health-services charity that has already done so — and done so well.

Erlanger

Now I may not use their layout for a church, but there is the family & children services charity I’ve been thinking of helping out — and this is a nice format/layout for that type of organization.

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PerlDiver 2.01

It looks like I might to have to find a new reseller account. When I talk to them, I ask them if they’re running PerlDiver so I can see what Perl/CPAN modules they’re running/supporting. What I didn’t know was that recently, PerlDiver has been updated and improved. Here’s the write-up from the page:

Perl Diver v2.01 digs into your server’s perl installation and giving you the information you need and quick and easy to find manner. Perl Diver v2.01 is a great tool for program developers who need to learn about an unfamiliar server quickly, or for people who’ve just moved to a new web server.

PerlDiver 2.01 also helps the perl developer by offering a quick and easy way to see the available perl modules on their server as well as read the module’s documentation.

Considering the price and the installation – this is a tool you cannot afford NOT to have on your server.

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Doing the Mambo

The Mambo Open Source SiteServer is a feature-rich dynamic portal engine/content management tool capable of building sites from several pages to several thousand. Mambo uses PHP/MySQL and features a very comprehensive admin manager. Mambo SiteServer uses a modular framework for component/class extensibility. With Mambo SiteServer there is no need for HTML, XML, DHTML skills. Just enter your content, add a picture and then through the easy to use administrator web-interface click Publish.

Well, at least that’s how they describe themselves. Mambo is an interesting Content Management System. I’ve got mixed feelings about it. I’m not going to use it for my Redland relaunch, but it has some nice features worth looking at — though I’d probably go ahead and purchase the HTMLEditbox upgrade for $10 U.S.

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