Hi, I'm Kyle Meyer.

A web developer living in sunny Portland, OR

Facebook increasingly irrelevant

I'm coming to realize Facebook isn't the best forum for sharing much of the information it provides facilities for. Facebook's poor at sharing quality photos (quality truly is operative), bad for long-form writing[1], worse than Twitter or Tumblr for short or otherwise nonessential authoring, worse than LinkedIn for business networking, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. It is truly a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none (perhaps except abusing user's trust in them through dubious privacy issues).

What people really need is a single directory through which others can discover their friends content around the web—a "homepage" for the non-technical, if you will. A single page with granular security that provides access to people's content around the web. Friendster mostly did that, but was purchased and shut down by Facebook.

Hm.


[1] I tried posting this on Facebook, but hit an arbitrary status-length limit, further illustrating my point.

Narrow Google Maps & Overflowing Copyright Notices: Solving the problem The Right Way™

Ever wanted to embed a very narrow Google map in one of your websites, only to find that the copyright notice bleeds out onto surrounding content?

There is a correct way to solve this problem without breaking the terms and conditions you agreed to when you got your API key. Don't hide the copyright notice or decrease the size as that breaks the terms; instead, include this in your stylesheet:

#map div span { white-space: normal ! important; }

Voila! Fixed.

Where I stagger, sweaty, out the gate

I was never one for carnival rides.

The noise is the first thing, the shrill cries, screams, and mechanical creaking, the uncouth discussions, the loud talking, the small children, the greediness of toddlers still unaware of their own self-centered viewpoint, the assault of the attendees' subtle tastes. Everything at a fair screams for your attention; each ride or stand is an island of assault on your senses, promising an extreme experience or ridiculously insensible prize. I know many, many folks that have an empty spot in their living room just waiting to be filled with a six-foot tall stuffed gorilla bear.

I went to the Portland Rose Festival's Waterfront Village Saturday. I went with my ladyfriend who is, unbeknownst to me until this day, a carnival ride junky. With requisite machismo running high, I agreed to go big, to ride the big rides, the scary, the janky. How bad could it be?

As it turns out, pretty bad.

After the third ride, I was sweating ice water, pot-sticker skinned, the skin of a man about to have a heart attack. It was impending-doom sweat. Something wasn't right with me and I was fighting back vomit. I was determined to sit out the last ride which appeared to be the worst of all, a contraption that spins you in a circle while you spin in a larger one, g-forces gluing you to your chair, destroying your insides for a small charge. "Funtastic", indeed.

"This will wreck me," I remember saying, still panting.

The ladyfriend went, bravely, into the line by herself to await her turn. She gets to the front of the line, and is stopped. Surely, she is too short to ride this as it looks like Satan himself created this machine. She's turned away, thank God, walks over, and says:

"I have to ride it with a partner—no singles! Please?"

Shit.

Conspicuous Consumption

People are so fucking stoked for the new iPhone. I arrived at the Pioneer Place Apple store a little before seven this morning, expecting to find a line, but found a crowd instead, sixty nerds deep. Thankfully, I was next to some rather interesting people to pass the time with, especially important because of the apocalyptic failure that was the in-store activation process. By the time I walked out of the store with my new iPhone at 10:30 (still inactive), there were about 300 people in line, first in switchbacks and then stretching down the walkway and around a fountain. Extrapolating my two hour, thirty minute wait (from the time they started selling at 8am until I finished), with sixty people in front of me, it led to a 2.5 minute wait per person. With 300 people, that wait would be a mind-blowing twelve and a half hours.

You’re a masseuse? Please, scratch my back.

Website design and development is still a mystery to the majority of the internet-using public. Sure, they've meddled with Frontpage or maybe even Dreamweaver; they've made a page about Led Zeppelin in the 90's with “Under Construction” .gifs, and have used some sort of service to bling-out their space; they consider themselves internet power users. Why then, when someone hears I make websites, is the knee–jerk reaction to request services from me for free or for a nominal fee or trade? The only other parallel I can draw is a doctor: people do ask doctors to look at things for them, or ask their advice. That's fine, and in many cases, I'm sure they're glad to help. In many cases, I'm glad to be of assistance with my friends' or family's website needs. At the same time, can I or that doctor really say no? Can we deny a friend's request for help, guidance, or assistance? Not unless you want to seem like a megajerk.

I don't ask you to scratch my back or remodel my house, work on my range-of-motion post-injury, paint me free art for my wall, balance my checkbook, do my taxes, refinance my home, scratch my back, give me a pedicure, teach me to salsa, give me discounts on electronics, give me your couch, be my personal shopper, publish my book, give me your bike, let me sleep with your sister, or teach me calculus. Why should you?

Understanding Web Design

Web as the Medium

Last week, a coworker and I were looking at entering Kittelson’s recent advertising landing pages for the Webby Awards. We began by looking at the previous years’ winners in the professional services category, of which we’d be entering under as an civil engineering consulting firm. The results? Well, here’s a screenshot:

The 2007 winner is an over-engineered, inaccessible flash abomination, chock full of animations and video clips, superfluous movement, and music. It’s fantastic for what it is—a movie showing high-end flash development that looks beautiful in a screenshot, but for a professional services firm? This is when I realized that there’s no point in entering the Webbys.

Web Design Isn’t Graphic Design—Does David Bowie Know That?

The Webby Awards are judged by an illustrious crowd of political columnists, singers, musicians, and personalities, including David Bowie and Beck. It should come as no surprise then that sites like the one above win; people outside of this industry view web design just like graphic design—taken at face value for aesthetic purposes.

This struck my coworker and me as very broken, and it appears that Jeffrey Zeldman in A List Apart’s most recent issue agrees:

It’s hard to understand web design when you don’t understand the web. And it’s hard to understand the web when those who are paid to explain it either don’t get it themselves, or are obliged for commercial reasons to suppress some of what they know, emphasizing the Barnumesque over the brilliant.

The winning sites look fabulous as screen shots in glossy design annuals. When the winners become judges, they reward work like their own. Thus sites that behave like TV and look good between covers continue to be created, and a generation of clients and art directors thinks that stuff is the cream of web design.

The trouble is, web design, although it employs elements of graphic design and illustration, does not map to them. If one must compare the web to other media, typography would be a better choice. For a web design, like a typeface, is an environment for someone else’s expression.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe my work deserves to win, but it’s rather disheartening knowing the biggest and most well-known award in the web industry is missing the mark almost entirely. Outside of some special categories—notably, Best Visual Design - Function and Best Practices (Both of which, by the way, went to Flickr)—the vast majority of all winning sites were flash-based.

Is that really where the internet is headed?