Rob Tomlinson's blog

These posts are on a broad range of topics – mostly about web design and development — but off-topic posts are scattered about.

Bookmark icons and Apple Touch icons

The favicon has been around since 1999 as a 16 pixel square image in the .ico format. Although it can now be provided at a size of 64 pixels square, it’s function remains the same. It appears next to a web page’s page title on your browser’s tab or alongside the URL address of a web page within your browser’s bookmark system. If you don’t have a custom favicon image provided for your website, your browser will provide a default image.

This is how the favicon for this website shows up inside my copy of the Google Chrome browser:

Mapping your business

I‘ve been getting nicely revved up recently about using maps on websites – not plain old Google maps that help people plan a route to your door, but maps with multiple markers that help people visualise your business.

What does your business have that can be put on a map?

Clients, offices, properties for sale or for rent, tourist destinations, chateaux for rent, nearest airports, best bathing beaches, bars, weekly markets, schools, universities, cinemas … You get the idea. It’s anything that has longitude and latitude.

Eddie Izzard and Pingdom

There’s a magic line of comedian Eddie Izzard’s in his Glorious tour about plane safety and the top-up valve on life jackets:

… and they have these life jackets and … they’ve got a little pipe here for top-up. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want top-up. I want stays-up!

Here’s he is in a clip from YouTube. It’s about 1:07 minutes in:

Web slideshows: the business case - for or against?

I‘ve recently been pondering on the merits – or otherwise – of using slideshows (aka carousels). These are pretty much ubiquitous these days but I have my doubts as to their real value. Just because something might look great and can be used is not sufficient enough justification for using it. So here are some thoughts on where and when a slideshow can and shouldn’t be used.

From impoverishment to enlightenment with Internet Explorer

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is acknowledged by web designers to be a special case. The Microsoft juggernaut decided in its own wisdom to just do things differently with IE with the result that coders had to jump hoops to make their work look acceptable when viewed through the quirky prism of IE.

The murky past

Without digging back into the primordial soup, versions 6, 7 and 8 of IE made life extremely difficult for coders. Although these browsers supported CSS, they didn’t match the W3C standard. The ‘broken box model’ was the most notorious ‘feature’ of these early browsers.

Fonts - giving shape to meaning

Webfonts are here and are getting better – and I’ve started using them increasingly on some of the sites I’ve been working on. Whilst I’m cautious about adopting new trends for the sake of it, the arguments for using webfonts are more and more persuasive.

Telephone virus scam - in English, in France

Today I received a call from a guy who said he worked for a Microsoft subsidiary based in Liverpool. His pitch was that their computer systems were laden with emails that had come from my computer and, because his company was in the business of computer security, he could tell that my computer had been compromised and was bulging with viruses.

I asked him to forward me some example emails, but he declined, saying they weren’t allowed to do this.

His accent was Indian – and I’d read a couple of articles about this sort of scam being run out of India. I played along with it for a while.

Adieu Minitel !

It’s official: the plug is finally being pulled on France’s Minitel service on 30th June this year!

Way ahead of its time

Launched way back in 1982, the Minitel service was revolutionary, enabling at its height 25 million subscribers to communicate with each other safely and conveniently.

The chestnut leaf breakout

My workstation here in the Gers overlooks a magnificant horse-chestnut tree, aesculus hippocastanum (the conker variety, not the sweet chestnut one). It provides shade from the blasting sun and in April it transforms itself with countless bunches of pink-tinged white blossom. Bit by bit it etched itself on my imagination to the point where part of it had figuratively found purchase on the masthead on this website (in the 2010 and 2011 designs).

La garde-robe

My schoolboy humour and enjoyment of vocabulary get equal kicks from the medieval toilet suspended on the back wall of Trapeharde. Although the date over the front door is 1809, it’s fairly likely that the shell and structure of parts of the place pre-date that. The toilet alone is suggestive of this given its rough and ready design.