Bad type

I’d like to take a minute to share a little Photoshop trick I picked up a while back. One of the main duties of my job is to take designs done in Illustrator or Photoshop and turn them in to functional websites. This means that I’m often the person responsible for taking graphical elements out of the comps our designers hand me and making those fit in the XHTML.

So when I see something like this on a website, it makes me cringe (screenshot from eBay’s homepage today):

Bad letter spacing on eBay

This is a classic example of what happens when you let your intern make graphics. I added the circles to point out the particularly bad areas in case you aren’t typographically inclined. Photoshop does a terrible job of kerning your small type, and when it’s not anti-aliased, the problem areas stand out much more.

How do you fix it? You could make them go back and manually adjust the spacing between each letter pair until it looks perfect, which could take hours… Or, you could select your type, and in the Character palette in Photoshop turn off the “Fractional widths” option (screenshot below).

Character palette

This will give you nicely spaced type at small sizes. It’s perfect for making those buttons with the non anti-aliased Verdana type that we have all had to make 20 times in our careers.

Yes, it’s that simple. Now go fix your type.

Random WordPress comment spam

Well, for x-mas I got an amazing amount of comment spam. And the best part is that it doesn’t even advertise for anything. I recently renamed my wp-comments-post.php file to try and cut back on the comment spam I was getting, and it was working until today. The worst part is that the spam isn’t even advertising anything, it’s just random characters and random names, so I can’t filter it at all. It’s like someone just wants to annoy me.

So not cool.

Anyone have new suggestions on how to cut back on the spam? I’d like to implement a forced preview for my comments anyway, so maybe there are new WordPress plugins out since the last time I checked a few weeks ago that can help me out?

iVillage Redesign

For some reason nobody told me that the iVillage redesign that we did was partially launched last month.

This was one of the first projects I worked on when I moved to New York. We decided on a CSS layout using XHTML 1.0 transitional (sent as text/html), with some Flash peppered around. Right now only the entertainment section is using the new design, with the other sections to follow as their internal team takes our template and adapts the content in the other sections. Unfortunately the site doesn’t validate because of one little error(!) that I’ll be passing along to their internal team along with a few small visual errors to fix.

It uses a similar method to the suckerfish dropdowns for the flyout menus on the left navigation, and some basic CSS rollovers for the main navigaion tabs at the top.

I would have liked to use my FlashObject embed for the Flash content, but this was handed over to their internal team way before I had even thought it up, so it uses generic Javascript to detect and embed the Flash movies.

UPDATE (12-22-2004): Looks like the one validation error was in some content that has now rotated off of the homepage, so now it validates!

UPDATE (01-31-2005): The whole site went live this week.


It snowed sometime last night. I didn’t even realize it until I left for the office.

Here’s a crappy cameraphone picture I took of my street:

Snow on 13th St.

It’s also 16(f) degrees outside. My toes are frozen.

The Life Aquatic and the number 11

I just got back from seeing the newest Wes Anderson movie, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. It was pretty good and definitely had the Wes Anderson trademarks: the un-fatherly father figure, the son without a role model, the rampant use of Futura.

I don’t want to give anything away, so let me just get to the point: all throughout the movie there are tons of references to the number 11. Some don’t seem to fit in at all with what’s going on and seem to have no real relevance to anything. I’m hoping that maybe someone can figure it out and clue me in.

Trying not to give any spoilers, here’s a list of things I noticed (there are more I think, but I can’t remember them all!):

  • Owen Wilson says about the shark: “I’ve got a feeling that we could see it from 111 feet in the air” (or something close)
  • The crewmember’s kid (German kid) is 11 years old(?)
  • In the sub the reporter says randomly about her baby “In 12 years he’ll be 11 1/2”
  • The last bowie song has the lyrics “I’m up on the eleventh floor / And I’m watching the cruisers below”

I also thought there was some mention of a “room 111” towards the beginning, but I’m not sure.

So what’s the big deal with the number 11? Someone give me a clue.

UPDATE (12-22-2004): I posted a thread on IMDB about this. No responses with any good guesses, but someone did point out that the Royal Tenenbaums lived at 111 Archer ave.