Archive | November 2011

Fans who leave early piss me off

I was at the Man Utd v Benfica game yesterday which finished 2-2. It was quite an exciting game – I certainly did my fair share of shouting, getting annoyed and partook in some quite horrific swearing at their number 14, the like of which I wouldn’t usually use (I’m sorry, Maxi Pereira, it’s a funny old game™).

Anyway, the point is that from the 75th minute onwards (when it was already 2-2), people sat round me were setting off home. Why? Were they bored? I can’t see the point in getting a ticket for a game if you’re going to leave early even if the game is finely poised at 2-2. They’d all paid £40-£45 each for their tickets.

Ok, they can find the result later on but they were actually at the game. It’s like going to the cinema and leaving 10 minutes before the end saying, “it’s ok, I can read the review when I get home to find out what happened at the end”.

Here are my views on the matter: If your team is winning 4-0, I think you should stay to applaud the team off at the end but in effect the game’s over, so you can go. If your team’s 4-0 down and want to leave in protest, you may do so, but no less than 5 minutes before the end.

If beating the traffic is one of the things you factor in when going to watch a match, you should seriously consider your position as a football supporter. Either that or go and see a team where traffic’s not an issue. The non-league will happily let you in and with the lack of traffic, you may even see 90 minutes worth of football.

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Official: I’m More Liberal Than Ghandi

I’ve just discovered a great website called The Political Compass. If you’re not entirely sure where you sit within the political spectrum, left or right, authoritarian or libertarian, take their test, you’ll find it interesting.

They show you where the political parties of the U.K. sit relative to this scale, and each other. It’s very enlightening. One thing that stands out for me is that nearly all of the political parties err on the side of authoritarianism, which goes some way towards explaining why I have such a hard time deciding who to vote for as, for me, there is no-one, apart from the Greens – and I’m not especially environmentally conscious (it doesn’t really sit with being a motorsport fan).

I’ve transposed my graph with the political parties and political figures to see where I sit. I appear to be especially liberal, which is nice, though I must admit I expected to be more to the right, economically, but it appears not. Either way, I’m quite a distance from Hitler and Thatcher, which suits me fine!

Give it a try and let me know your figures.

Main Stats

Economic Left/Right: -5.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.85

My Political Compass

My Political Compass

The FA, Fifa and the whole poppy debacle

Poppy Field

There’s a big hullabaloo taking place over the decision by Fifa to not allow the Football Association to embroider remembrance poppies on England shirts for the forthcoming humiliating 4-0 defeat against Spain this weekend. Some have called for the FA to ignore the ruling but Fifa has instructed the referee to abandon the match if the players are wearing the emblem, which would somewhat negate any gain in doing so.

Of course, the right-wing brigade have jumped on this. The Daily Mail have it as their third-top story of the day, despite the fact the decision has already been made. A footnote for you, the story is third to “Are Olympics chiefs ASHAMED of our military history?” (no, I wouldn’t have thought so) and “Frankie kicked off X Factor over ‘cocaine boasts'” (a man of whom we’ll hear nothing about from 4-6 weeks time, forevermore).

Menin Gate - S. A. Brown

It could have happened to any one of us

A two-minute silence will take place before the game, as is usual for football matches close to or on the 11th November, but it’s the poppy thing that has got the media so annoyed.

Fifa say:

Fifa fully acknowledges the significance of the poppy appeal and the ways in which it helps commemorate Remembrance Day.

But, on the subject of wearing the emblem on the matchday kit:

Players’ equipment are that they should not carry any political, religious or commercial messages. The same regulations are applied globally, and uniformly, in the event of similar requests by other nations to commemorate historical events.

I can see where they’re coming from. If they flouted this rule, what’s to stop another national association putting a symbol on a shirt that may offend people? It’s not a far jump from this to political symbols. In fact, some may say that a poppy is a political symbol already, especially with the to-ing and fro-ing over this decision (the FA are still trying to get the decision overturned). As a user named Pinkman says on The Guardian website:

It’s an entirely sensible move from FIFA, one of the very few times you can say that. It’d open up a huge can of worms if they allowed England to do this.

Not that this would happen, but imagine if Serbia emblazoned their shirt with an emblem remembering their troops that died in the Kosovo War. It’d cause a shitstorm of controversy.

The poppy is a fairly uncontroversial symbol to most, but that’s not the point. FIFA shouldn’t have to evaluate the merits of each different cause when deciding what can go on a shirt. It’s a game – it’s not a political rally.

Here’s another comment from The Guardian’s website, by a user named CLM76:

Christ alive this whole thing is so lame. What will happen if England’s players don’t have a poppy on their shirts? Will we all suddenly magically forget the sacrifices made in the wars?

Well, they’ve never had them before presumably, what with it being AGAINST FIFA RULES and everything, so I guess, er, everything will go on as it always has.

To the people on Twitter saying that poppies on an England shirt is the FREEDOM OUR FOREFATHERS DIED FOR… If you really believe that, I suggest you take a long hard look at yourself. And bear in mind that if FIFA allows this, there will be a precedent set, and a case that every tuppenny ha’penny cause should be allowed on the shirt of any country that asks for it.

I agree entirely with both of these. On the other hand, this comment from the Daily Mail website by Jaide (permalink not available), says:

There should never be a ban on wearing a poppy. I think Fifa need to back down and apologise for being so disrespectful to the men and women who have lost their lives fighting for the protection of this country.

Although can see her point, but it’s just the can of worms that it would open makes the whole thing more harmful than good.

Graveyard near Passendale

Graveyard near Passendale

I wear a poppy and have visited the battlefields, museums and graveyards of Ypres and the surrounding area. I’ve changed my Twitter picture to a photo I took of the Menin gate and have one of those ‘Twibbon’ things with a poppy on it. My Grandma used to sell poppies outside her local supermarket. I used to go around the school I attended selling poppies, so I’m in agreement that people should wear their poppy with pride, if they agree with the statement it makes. However, for sport to get involved and for pressure to be put on the organisations involved is not on.

The Menin Gate, Ypres

The Menin Gate, Ypres

Politics and sport shouldn’t mix, although they do on a daily basis.

Perhaps the final say should fall to the Royal British Legion, who run the Poppy Appeal:

We appreciate that showing support is not always possible under some regulations and we would never seek to impose ourselves in these situations.

EDIT: Now the far-right-wing brigade have got themselves involved. Just what this whole thing needs, eh? See the article headlined EDL stage roof-top protest at Fifa headquarters over poppy ban.

How to become a web designer, for graphic designers

A while ago a friend of a friend asked for some advice on how to become a web designer. They had a background in graphic design and wanted to know the ins and outs of how to move from one discipline to the other. I laid things out in fairly simple but frank terms and am hoping it will help others.

Any feedback would be appreciated, especially from graphic designers who’ve made the jump themselves.

The letter is to my friend who passed it on for me, hence the third-person-ness of it all.

The e-mail in full

Hi Dan,

Things that are unavoidable musts are in red bold.

My thoughts are “sod formal learning”. But if your friend insists, they should take a look at http://training.gbdirect.co.uk/courses/web/. I went on one of their advanced CSS courses in Bradford a while back and it filled in quite a few little gaps I had in my knowledge.

First and foremost, though, I’d start by teaching myself at home. All you need is a program like Notepad (or Notepad++ at http://notepad-plus-plus.org/ though I use PSPad, http://www.pspad.com/, because I have for years and I’m used to it) and somewhere you can draw images, ideally Photoshop and its ‘save for web’ feature. A free alternative is Gimp (http://www.gimp.org/). Play about with things, learn by experimentation.

To learn the code of web design (HTML and CSS), go to http://www.w3schools.com/. When you get confident enough and a bit more advanced, have a look at https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs. These will give a solid grounding in what HTML tags do what and how they can be styled using CSS.

http://www.w3.org/standards/webdesign/ is the place where you find out how to do stuff properly. You can test your code for validity and find any errors by using http://validator.w3.org/ for HTML and http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/ for CSS.

To ask questions, use http://stackoverflow.com/. It’s brilliant and people literally compete to give you great answers to specific questions. If your question’s good enough, you’ll get reputation points which will encourage experienced user to answer your questions. It’s a real community on there, the more you put in, the more you get out.

To see the power of CSS and how it styles websites, go to http://www.csszengarden.com/, read the page, then play with the ‘select a design’ links on the right. Do one for yourself once your CSS knowledge improves.

You say your friend studied graphic design. A good place to show how graphic and web design cross over is at http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/08/27/if-famous-painters-were-web-designers/. It shows what fine and graphic artists’ work could look like if it made the jump to website design. http://www.smashingmagazine.com/ itself is a good resource for ideas and finding out how things are done properly.

Your friend will come across things as they learn about design, but this is just a starter’s guide. I won’t go into Javascript, jQuery, MySQL, PHP, XML, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, XAMPP, phpMyAdmin, SEO or anything else, but as you see I’ve linked to handy places so they can take a look! All these things together are what makes a good, well rounded, knowledgeable web designer though. I’ve been doing this for 12 years, 6 of them day in day out so it all comes with experience and using the things you find, as you need them. You’ll find yourself doing something new very often. The industry moves very quickly. Just today I’ve been trying to do something I’ve never done before! It’s not working yet but I’ll get there in the end.

My Workflow

Personally speaking, I approach all projects in the following way, without fail:

  • Sketch out various ideas on paper to get ideas on layout and what things will be included on the page
  • Make a graphic version of this in Photoshop to design things how they will eventually look on the site
  • Code the HTML to fit the design I’ve created
  • Code the CSS in Mozilla Firefox browser (http://www.getfirefox.com/) using the Firebug extension (http://getfirebug.com/)
  • Test the website as I’m designing it in the following browsers:
    • Mozilla Firefox
    • Internet Explorer 6, 7,  8 and 9
    • Apple Safari
    • Opera Browser
    • Google Chrome
  • Then it’s ready to go!

A few final pieces of advice

  • If you’re not tenacious in finding out why things are wrong and stringently testing to find things that might go wrong, you’ll end up doing twice as much work as you intended to do when people come back to you when it all goes wrong (trust me, I know!). It’s not often you can say “that’ll do” and move on.
  • Design every website as if they’ve never used a website before. Make things obvious.
  • Look at other websites do things that are similar to what you’re designing for and study them.
  • Look at design convention, e.g. where search bars are usually placed – top right of the page, where people look for contact details – in the footer, what colour links are – usually blue, that sort of thing.
  • Future-proof your designs as much as you can. For example, if you’ve get a horizontal navigation bar with six things in it that takes up 80% of the page width, what will you go when someone comes to you with another 6 links to put in it?