Gilles Vandenoostende

Hi, I'm Gilles Vandenoostende - designer, illustrator and digital busybody with a love of language, based in Ghent, Belgium.

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

So Obama won I guess

I’ve always taken the Bill Hicks approach when viewing politics in America:

“I’ll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. ‘I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.’ ‘I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.’ ‘Hey, wait a minute, there’s one guy holding out both puppets!’” – Bill Hicks

I’d love for Obama to prove me wrong in the next 4 years and actually changes a few things, but for now I’m just glad someone who believes in magic underwear isn’t allowed near the nuclear launch codes.

Double Fine breaks all Kickstarter records

Wow. When I linked to this Kickstarter yesterday I had no idea it would turn out anything like this. In just 8 hours, gamers from around the world pitched in and got the game to its $400.000 target. But they didn’t stop there, donations kept coming and at time of writing the total sits at a whopping $1,262,086 – over three times what was asked. And there’s still 32 days left to go. Double Fine have already said that the extra funds will go towards releasing the game in multiple languages, on multiple platforms, and to generally just making it better than they had hoped would be possible. I wish them all the best of luck, and as a backer I’m especially looking forward to the documentary they’re planning to make about the game as it’s being developed.

If they can pull this off, it could revolutionize the games industry. The way things work today is that major publishers have to be pitched to, and if you convince them that your game has the potential to make back its investment and more, they’ll fund you. The results are predictable: most games today are either sequels, reboots, remakes, re-imaginings or otherwise derivative of successful games that have come before. Crowd-funding has just proven itself to be a valid alternative to the traditional publisher system, provided you’ve got the talent and fan-base to pull it off.

And it might also be the perfect answer to all the piracy concerns plaguing the industry – think about it: people have paid money here for a game that doesn’t even exist yet. Even if no one buys the game other than the backers (and I doubt that, seeing the massive enthusiasm the game has received), they won’t lose any money or jobs over it.

Between this, the runaway success of self-funded games like Minecraft and the rise of digital distribution (Steam, the App Stores, etc…), it seems like there’s never been a greater time to be an indie games developer.

On Vendor Prefixes

Remy Sharp weighs in on the same issue as the post I linked to earlier:

We do like vendor prefixes. They give us access to bleeding edge CSS properties, and make our sites look cool. But there’s a serious problem: non-webkit vendors are giving serious consideration to implementing the -webkit prefix to a number of CSS properties.

This is bat shit crazy, but where the web has arrived to. This is one developer’s opinion, but you need to voice your opinion now, and if you’re agreement that this is madness, you need to act now. Make your voice hear, blog about it, tweet about it: make a lot of noise.

The entire point of vendor prefixes was to allow browsers to implement experimental features without breaking things. Since browsers are clever enough to ignore any CSS they don’t understand, it’s a clean, effective and safe way for front-end developers to focus on delivering modern, cutting-edge sites without compromising the site’s content or functionality for people using other browsers.

Provided the HTML of your site is 100% standards compliant you can feel safe adding certain effects using vendor prefixes, since it could never break browsers that do not support them*. It’s the embodiment of the progressive enhancement principle! You also have perfect granular control over  your styles: having different values is easy with prefixes, should there be any cross-browser issues. Compare and contrast that to all the havoc the box-model caused because one browser interpreted the standard a little differently from the rest…

By considering to support -webkit prefixes, Mozilla, Opera and Microsoft risk breaking the web. What if Internet Explorer’s implementation of -webkit-box-shadow causes problems, for example? Then we couldn’t use that feature anywhere anymore! Our options would be reduced to either:

  1. Sniffing the user’s browser or device to serve separate styles to each – BAD
  2. Figuring out new CSS Hacks, and turning our beautiful code into something resembling a Regular Expression – BAD
  3. Going back to only using stuff that’s 100% standard and universal – BORING

So, not good then. So what can be done to prevent this?

  1. Us web-developers have to take more care in implementing all prefixes, and not just the most popular ones, provided it makes sense for the project.
  2. The CSS Working Groups could speed things up and just standardize the stable parts of the spec. What’s the stable part? How about the part browser vendors are willing to implement, even at the cost of their own pride?

 

* And noone really cares about CSS validation, now do they?

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

» EFF: ACTA Signed by 8 of 11 Countries – Now What?

While we’ve been collectively staring ourselves blind at SOPA, something even more insidious - ACTA - has for all intents and purposes already been passed. Only the EU, Mexico and Switzerland have yet to sign, but that is only a matter of time.

Now with a name like that, it’s easy to think it’s a well meaning and innocuous bit of legislation. Don’t let that fool you:

And unlike the Americans, who still have something remotely resembling a direct democracy, and can do something concrete like write their congressman, we in the EU have no such options, as the European government is not democratically elected and thus cannot be held accountable.

We’re already living in 1984. Our only hope is that the politicians responsible for selling us out did so out of incompetence rather than malice.

Welcome to my blog, 2.0

So, I’ve finally gotten round to updating this blog’s theme to closely match my main site’s look & feel. I hope you like it, and as always, should you run into any bugs or annoyances, let me know.

Now, I might be flattering myself by assuming you may have noticed this blog has become more active as of late. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of posting at least one update every day, and so far it’s working out, I think. Partly because I stopped worrying so much.

The power of the internet is that if someone has already made the point you wanted to make, there’s no reason to regurgitate the entire discourse again – just link to it, stupid. Which is what I’m doing, mostly.

Some of you might recognize this approach as being the same as John Gruber’s, and you’d be right. Daring Fireball happens to be one of my favourite blogs, and I’m not about to hide my influences. And looking around, there’s a lot of other blogs that seem to follow the same model of being part “original programming”, and part “linked list”, to borrow Gruber’s parlance. And it’s not hard to see the appeal of said model.

Think of it like commenting. I figured that instead of posting some anonymous comment on someone else’s blog, for it to be moderated, altered, ignored or deleted, why not take complete ownership of my opinion and post it on my own blog?

I’ll still try to write original articles. But if I should come across another blog during my research that makes the point just as good or even better than I ever could, I’ll just link to it instead. And in the mean time, I’ll be getting a lot of practice and hopefully become a much better writer than I am now.

The Eldritch Freshmaker (soft)-launched!

The Eldritch Freshmaker 2.0

As some of my closer friends might know, about 3 years ago in 2008 I started a webcomic called the Eldritch Freshmaker to collect some of my sketches and drawings. But as with most side-projects, work, social obligations, other interests and a lot of good videogames soon got in the way and it sadly fell into oblivion.

Recently I got the urge again to draw some more comics, but then I looked at the site as it was and just couldn’t live with it, being the nit-picking web-designer that I am. So it was back to the drawing board and lots of sketching, coding and designing later, the Freshmaker has a brand-new custom WordPress theme that’ll hopefully keep me creatively stimulated enough for another bout of comics.

In the mean time, while I get to work inking and colouring the latest batch of comics I’ve sketched out you can all do me a real favour if you’d just scoot on over to http://www.eldritchfreshmaker.com and give it a little test drive to make sure I haven’t left any nasty bugs in there.

If you do chance upon a bug, please let me know via twitter (@gillesv or @fresheldritch) or e-mail ([email protected]) and I shall be eternally grateful. (unless you’re on IE6: I’ve deliberately chosen not to support you lot, as you’re holding back progress on the internet)

“Banners, Google and Anguish” or “No random numbers please, we’re Google.”

We in the online advertising industry make banners. A lot of banners. They’re a necessary evil of online advertising and annoy us all on a regular basis, but they get results, and that’s all that matters in the long run.

We don’t publish these banners ourselves, instead relying on various Media Centrals to deploy and distribute our ads to the various publishers and eventually across your favourite websites on the intertubes.

Contrary to what you might think, most banner ads aren’t just randomly cobbled together pieces of Flash animation, engineered only to aggravate. There are strict rules and regulations that enforce a level of quality and police the potential disruptiveness of banners.

You can’t, for example, open pop-ups willy-nilly, or start playing sound without user interaction. The Media Centrals enforce these rules and guidelines by decompiling every banner and checking the code for malicious scripts and the presence of certain required snippets of code for the banner to work as it’s supposed to (Well, most of them do anyway. There are a couple of shady Media Centrals out there who’ll publish anything really, but we don’t use them).

Most of the time, this all works without a problem. Aside from a few annoyances that stem from the lack of a standardized “clicktag”, the Centrals don’t needlessly scrutinize our banners. Until a few days ago, that is. (more…)

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