Archive for October, 2013


Names suiting occupation

October 23, 2013

Sometimes a person’s name was just made for the occupation they have. When I was a kid, the only butcher in my small town was… Mr Butcher! Seriously. And for many years the spokesperson for the Bureau of Meteorology in our state was a Mr Southern.

In last week’s local paper, a veterinary clinic was advertising for a vet nurse, and the names of the top of the ad included a Dr Cockerill and a Dr Bunny ;-)


(I couldn’t figure out the odd-looking logo until I looked closely — it’s a paw print [in white] over a red cross, in case you were wondering.)


More find and replace tricks

October 22, 2013

This blog post is really for me, so that I don’t lose the link to this handy article:


‘So that’ versus ‘such that’

October 21, 2013

Based on a writing tip I wrote recently for my work colleagues.


Susan asked: I see ‘such that’ used frequently these days, especially in […] documents. It’s used instead of ‘so that’. What are your thoughts?

She then gave an example:

The [ABC management system] ensures that critical information related to health, environment, safety, reliability and efficiency is developed, accessible, and maintained such that the workforce has access to and is using the most current information.

I wasn’t sure of the differences so I had to look this one up, and found a decent explanation here:

In essence:

  • ‘Such that’ focuses on consequences, or HOW something is done
  • ‘So that’ focuses on purpose, or WHY something is done

So in the example above, ‘so that’ would be more appropriate as it’s referring to the purpose (the WHY) of the [ABC management system], which is to give the workforce access to the most current information.

A simple, if macabre, example to show the difference:

  • The doctor changed Mary’s medication so that she died. This sounds like the doctor wanted to kill her (purpose).
  • The doctor changed Mary’s medication such that she died. This sounds like the doctor made a mistake (consequences).



Microsoft marketing needs a proofreader

October 18, 2013


microsoftAnd what on earth is that font they’ve used for the email where the ‘i’ and ‘t’ letters are all smaller than usual, and the ‘p’ is more bulbous than usual and bulges into the descender space? It just doesn’t ‘read’ well — the eye doesn’t flow naturally across the word and letter forms and so the brain has to hesitate (microseconds) to interpret the word.

One other thing: I read this email in Outlook 2010 on a Windows 7 computer, so it was was unlikely that it was a font rendering problem.


Unfortunate kerning…

October 17, 2013

If you choose a font for your website or documentation that’s not from one of the standard/common/well-known font families, you should check the kerning (the spacing between various letters) before making it public, especially the kerning between round and straight letters.

Otherwise, you might get something like this:

kerning I read it as ‘The rapists working…’ at first, then my brain went ‘Whoa!’ and reinterpreted it correctly as ‘Therapists working…’

While this kerning issue may not be a problem with most letters (our brain adjusts quickly to slightly odd spacing), when it creates a new set of words totally unrelated to the context, then there’s an issue. Bottom line: Test your font choices before publication/distribution!


Super easy zebra-striped tables using CSS selectors

October 16, 2013

I read about this trick in an article in the October 2013 issue of Australian Personal Computer (‘Powerful styling with CSS selectors’ by John Allsopp, p98-100) and thought I’d give it a try.

Wow! Super simple! Much better and cleaner than using JavaScript or coding each table row with an odd/even class.

The result

Here’s the result (ignore the ugly colors — they were just for testing the code):

zebra_tables01 The CSS

Here’s the code in my test CSS file that created the differently colored rows for odd and even rows (yes, I comment my code, especially where I can’t figure out what a color is by the hex value):


How simple and elegant is that! Basically just two lines of CSS and you’re done. Of course, substitute your own colors.

One caveat: If you have a TH row at the top of the table, it gets ‘counted’ as Row 1 (an odd row), so the color striping is ‘out’ by one.


And here’s the bare bones HTML code I used for my test file:


Thanks for the article, John!

(John’s article has more on how this all works, and how to assign different column colors using math in the CSS, but for this post I just wanted to share the simplicity of the doing ‘zebra’ striped tables with CSS.)


In what world is this usable?

October 15, 2013

The Australian Yellow Pages website ( has undergone several incarnations in its lifetime, but this latest one takes the cake.

I’m sure they’ve made changes to deal with the mobile and small device world, and perhaps the current site works well on those devices (I just checked on my tablet and phone and it works fine). But it’s just horrible on a standard desktop monitor, even when I widened Firefox across two monitors:


No matter what I did, the drop-down list would not expand its width to show all the ‘home maintenance’ options. As I said, it works fine on my Android tablet and Android smartphone, but NOT on Firefox my desktop.


Update: And today it works fine! So why wouldn’t it work properly on Firefox yesterday? (rhetorical question — no need to answer…)