A Conflict of Interest

TIME.com: The Paper Trail — Jun. 07, 2004

As if there was ever any doubt…

The e-mail says Feith approved arrangements for the contract “contingent on informing WH [White House] tomorrow. We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w VP’s [Vice President’s] office.” Three days later, the Army Corps of Engineers gave Halliburton the contract, without seeking other bids. TIME located the e-mail among documents provided by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group.

If anyone is suprised, then they haven’t been paying attention. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the conflict of interest that has been going on here all along. I mean really – no other bids? Former Halliburton CEO now the veep of the USA? Rush to war under false claims? Hello? Anyone getting this?

A Book For Memorial Day

Amazon.com: See Naples and Die: A World War II Memoir of a United States Army Ski Trooper in the Mountains of Italy

This is a book by my great uncle, Robert Ellis. In this book, he recounts his experiences in the ski patrol of the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division.

Uncle Robert hated war. He had seen it. He knew what it meant. I can only imagine. So on my Memorial Day, I’ll take a minute to think about what he experienced, try to understand it all, and to hope for peace.

Art Under Attack in San Francisco

SFGate: Attacked for art, S.F. gallery to close. Backers rally after violent responses to painting of tortured Iraqis.

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” — Albert Einstein

This is unbelievable. It is especially unbelievable that this would happen here in San Francisco, which is a city known for tolerance and freedom of expression. I sincerely hope that this business owner can find the resolve and support to keep her gallery open. These domestic terrorists that did this to her shop must not be allowed to win their way through violence and fear. They have no respect for American values, cast a barbaric pall over our society, and erode the very essence of freedom in our country.

The furor began on May 16, when Colwell, an East Bay artist, made an addition to his monthlong showing at Haigh’s gallery on Powell Street. Angered by the pictures he saw of Iraqi prisoners being abused, he created a black-and- white painting depicting three hooded and naked men undergoing electric shock torture by American soldiers. Colwell, who took down his paintings Saturday, declined to comment.

Two days after the painting went up, Haigh arrived at her gallery to find broken glass, eggs and trash strewn outside her storefront. Haigh also began receiving the first of about 200 angry voice mails, e-mails and death threats.

A week ago, a man walked into the gallery and spat in Haigh’s face. On Tuesday, Haigh decided to temporarily close the gallery and began to consider giving up on her dream of owning an art gallery. Just two days later, another man knocked on the door of the gallery and then punched Haigh in the face, knocking her out, breaking her nose and causing a concussion.

These are terrorists in our own country, pushing their own agenda through violence, fear, and intimidation.

Five Designers Out to Make Over the Web

Design by Fire: Design Eye for the Usability Guy

This is hilarious. Even if you’re not a web designer, it’s still funny. (I wouldn’t know since I am one, so take that with a grain of sodium chloride)

In the web professional community, there has always been this tug-of-war between the ‘usability’ camp and the ‘design’ camp, with one side saying too much design gets in the way of usability, and the other saying that too much focus on usability tends to make for a dull, bland user experience. It seems silly to me that one should exclude the other, but whatever – that’s where we’re at.

This article is basically a thorough roast of Jacob Nielsen (web usability icon and author of the book “Designing Web Usability” and the UseIt website) and at the same time is an excellent example of how to achieve good design and good usability simultaneously.

What makes it hilarious, aside from them taking Nielsen to task on his sermons, is that they do it all tongue-in-cheek, as if it were set to the popular TV show that I’ve never seen: “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” While they are roasting Nielsen and making you crack up, they teach you several aspects of good web redesign by example. Enjoy!

Tool

Macromedia – Press Room : Major Performance and Stability Boosts for Macromedia Dreamweaver and Studio Released

Yes, that is yours truly quoted in the fourth paragraph. I am such a tool…

The update does increase performance on my PowerBook dramatically. I do almost all my HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP work in Dreamweaver now, thanks to this major bug fix release. Good stuff. I’d be much less productive without it.

Speaking of… I see Dreamweaver in it’s latest incarnation as a productivity tool for web designers. Sure, there are some WYSIWIG features and I sure do use them from time to time, but it’s not the usual thing. To get the most out of Dreamweaver, you really have to understand HTML and CSS. Design View in Dreamweaver is for quick checks, quickly moving absolutely positioned elements to the right ballpark, and working with text in a more human way than sifting through reams of code and struggling to remember character entities.

But all the while, the web developer using Dreamweaver must keep in close contact with their code. I write up all my HTML and CSS in Code View when starting new pages, and am constantly checking and re-checking my output in Design View as well as major browsers. Dreamweaver can’t understand the semantic intent of your copy, and can’t write CSS in the most logical, hierarchical, and compact way. Both those activities and other related issues require a thinking web developer with a good knowledge of the underlying technologies in order to create a truly excellent web page that looks good and functions well. Simply throwing a bunch of objects together in Design View is going to create a bulky and disorganized mess that probably works in only one or two browsers, if that.

Where I see the productivity benefits when using Dreamweaver are in things like the code completion – a drop-down list of possible attributes appear when you’re cranking out code in Code View that list all the possible choices, which makes it easier to remember things like what properties go with the select tag or what the possible values are for a given CSS shorthand property. Site management is another feature I like – simplifying search and replace from criteria as narrow as a selected code block to an entire site, managing file operations, and enabling some basic collaboration so you don’t have to configure CVS or buy SourceSafe, or–God forbid–Teamsite, just to work with a couple other web developers and not be constantly clobbering each others’ work. There’s tons more, those just

Basically my take is, if you don’t know what you’re doing, Dreamweaver isn’t going to help much. But that is not to say that Dreamweaver can’t help you get there. It is an outstanding web development tool, and a huge time saver. The latest version creates valid HTML out of the box. There are tools out there that perhaps in one way or another do a better job of a feature or two, but it is the sum of it’s parts that make it my primary web development tool.