Simon Willison’s Weblog

Wednesday, 14th August 2002

Thanks for the link

Stuart has pointed out that this is the second time Jeffrey Zeldman (who is actually Eric Meyer) has spelt my name wrong :)

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PHP and ID3 tags

MP3 Piranha is a clever application which indexes your MP3 collection and uses the Amazon Web Service API to look up the album cover, related albums and provide a link to buy the album from Amazon. Out of curiosity, I ran a search for a PHP library to decode ID3 tags to see if such a thing could be built with PHP, and came up with this script by Leknor. The class is well written and I learnt a lot about ID3 tags looking through it—it seems they take up the last 128 bytes of an MP3 file and can be decoded using PHP’s unpack() function.

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Q tag bad

Mark Pilgrim explains why the <q> tag is bad for accessibility.

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Alchemist contest

AlltheWeb.com introduced an innovative feature called Alchemist a while ago which allows visitors to customise the site by specifying the URL to their own style sheet. They have now announced a CSS design contest for the service, with top prizes of $750 in Amazon vouchers available for three categories (“Simple, Yet Beautiful”, “To CSS Infinity and Beyond” and “So 22nd Century”). This is a great oportunity for advocates of CSS to show just how powerful it really is.

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Bulletin board spam

My friend Tim recently received a spam from a company called TrafficBBS, who specialise in bulk submissions to 50,000 search engines and 120,000+ BBS (web based bulletin boards). A quick look at their list of targetted forums reveals that they are spidering and spamming a whole bunch of simple web based forum scripts that don’t require user authentication, such as WWWBoard. This is a form of spam I wasn’t aware of until now. It’s scary to think how easily the system could be expanded to automatically register on more advanced widespread forum systems such as vBulletin.

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Controlled vocabularies

Christina Wodtke: Mind your phraseology!, a tutorial on controlled vocabularies. The concept is very similar to that used by TopicMaps—relationships are defined between terms that take in to account hierarchies, associated terms and even alternative spellings. I’m planning an overhaul of the category / metadata system used on this blog in the near future and Christina’s tutorial has given me a whole load of new ideas.

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SitePoint CSS experiment

SitePoint are trialling a new design for their front page. For fun, I had a go at recreating the new design using structural XHTML and CSS. The result isn’t my normal style (I normally avoid fixed pixel font sizes and go for liquid rather than fixed width layouts) but replicates the existing design nicely and looks good in IE 5/6, Mozilla and Opera 6 on Windows. Netscape 4 doesn’t get the stylesheet and I have yet to try it out on a mac.

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Tidakada

Spotted in my referrals: tidak ada, a beautifully designed blog covering web development and other related topics. This is another great example of what you can achieve with some creative CSS.

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Optimising Javascript

A thread on SitePoint lead me to these two excellent tutorials: Javascript Optimisation and Tackling JavaScript strict warnings.

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2002 » August

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