Categories
Critters

Rabbit Ridge: Recent Missouri Department of Agriculture Inspections

I just received the recent inspections for Rabbit Ridge from the Missouri Department of Agriculture. This joins with the recent USDA inspections.

As you can see, the MDA has had to do three inspections since April. The MDA also found problems at Rabbit Ridge—some very significant, such as dog with mats, hair loss, and wounds on his feet.

I still don’t have the August 2nd inspection from the USDA. In fact, the USDA pulled the August 15/16 inspections from the APHIS database, though I have a copy linked in my Sept 3 Rabbit Ridge writing.

One thing I like about the MDA reports: they provide the count of adult dogs and puppies. According to the inspection in June, Schrage has 204 adult dogs, 72 puppies, for a total of 276 dogs.

I also estimate that this one breeder has had to be inspected over 10 times so far this year, and there’s still 3 1/2 months more to go in 2011.

State Senator Munzlinger once responded to someone in his district who questioned him on Rabbit Ridge, “I find it disconcerting that some people are willing to ruin the reputation of a licensed breeder in good standing based on personal agendas and rumors.”

You can’t ruin what’s already crap, Senator.

Categories
Specs Technology

Why read about it when you can play

Earlier today I got into a friendly discussion and debate on Twitter about a new web site called W3Fools. The site bills itself as a “W3Schools intervention”, and the purpose is to wake developers up to the fact that W3School tutorials can, and do, have errors.

The problem with a site like W3Fools, I said (using shorter words, or course, since this was Twitter), is that it focuses too much on the negative aspects of W3Schools, without providing a viable alternative.

But, they said, W3Fools does provide links to other sites that provide information on HTML, CSS, or JavaScript. And, I was also told, the reason W3Schools shows up first in search results is because of uncanny use of SEO optimization.

Hmmm.

It may be true that W3Schools makes excellent use of SEO, and it may be equally true that W3Schools commits egregious and painful errors. However, neither of these account for what W3Schools is doing right. If you don’t acknowledge what the site does well, you’re not going to make much headway into turning people off the site—no matter how many cleverly named sites you create.

For instance, one of the superior information sites recommended by W3Fools is the Mozilla Doc Center, or MDC as it is affectionately known. Now, I’m a big fan of MDC. I use it all the time, especially when I want to get a better idea of what Firefox supports. But look at the work you have to put in to learn about a new HTML5 element, such as the new HTML5 hgroup element:

  1. Go to main page
  2. Click on HTML5 link
  3. Search through the topics until you see one that’s titled “Sections and outlines in HTML5”, which you know you want because it mentions hgroup
  4. Have a neuron fire and realize that you can just click directly on hgroup
  5. Go to the hgroup page, past the disclaimer about what version of Firefox supports the element, looking for an example of usage
  6. Realize there is no example of how to use hgroup
  7. Go to the original Sections and Outlines in HTML5 link
  8. Go past some stuff about elephants, looking for example
  9. Go past some bullets about why all this new sectioning stuff is cool, looking for an example
  10. Break down and use your in-page search to find hgroup
  11. Finally find an example of how to use hgroup

As compared to W3Schools:

  1. Go to main page
  2. Click on Learn HTML5 link
  3. Click on New Elements link
  4. Start to scroll down when you realize the new elements are listed along the left side
  5. Click on hgroup
  6. Look at example

One thing W3Schools does well is provide a clean, simple to navigate interface that makes it very easy to find exactly what you need with a minimum of scrolling or searching.

Returning to our comparison between W3Schools and MDC, we then search for information on SQL. Oh, wait a sec: there isn’t anything on SQL at the Mozilla site. That’s because Mozilla is primarily a browser company and is only interested in documenting browser stuff.

So then our intrepid explorer must find another site, this one providing information on SQL. And if they want to learn more about PHP, they have to find yet another site. To learn about ASP? Another site, and so on.

What W3Schools also provides is one-stop shopping for the web developer. Once you’ve become familiar with the interface, and once the site has proved helpful, you’re more likely to return when you need additional information. Let’s face it: wouldn’t you rather use one site than dozens?

Screenshot of W3Schools page showing many of the topics

Let’s say, though, that you need information on CSS3. Well, you know that MDC covers CSS, so you return to the MDC site, and you click on the link that’s labeled “CSS”, and you look for something that says CSS3.

What do you mean there isn’t anything that says CSS3? What do you mean that transitions are CSS3—how am I, a CSS3 neophyte, supposed to know this?

Returning to W3Schools, I click the link in the main page that is labeled CSS3. Oh look, in the page that opens, there’s a sidebar link that’s labeled “CSS3 transitions”. And when I click that link, a page opens that provides an immediate example of using CSS3 transitions that I can try, as well as an easy to read a table of browser support.

Screenshot of W3Schools CSS3 transitions page

W3Schools doesn’t throw a lot of text before the examples, primarily because we learn web material best by example. Remember that an entire generation of web developers grew up with “View Source” as our primary learning tool.

But so far, I’ve only compared W3Schools to MDC. There are other useful sites that the W3Fools site approves. So I try the “Google: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript from the ground up” web page. When it opens, I click the link labeled CSS…

And I get a video about using CSS.

A video.

Remember in junior high or high school, when your science teacher would bring out the projector and you knew you were going to get a video? Do you remember that feeling that came over you? How you kind of relaxed, because you know the teacher wasn’t going to ask you any questions, and you didn’t have to write any notes, or even really pay attention?

I bet some of you even fell asleep during the video.

Videos are good for specific types of demonstrations—when something is complex, with many different steps, and the order of the steps and other factors have to be just so.

When it comes to CSS, HTML, and so many other web technologies, though, video is about the most passive and non-interactive learning experience there is. More importantly, if the video doesn’t have captioning, and most don’t, you’re also leaving part of your audience behind.

Now let’s return to the W3Schools site, this time looking at one of the CSS selector tutorials. The first thing you notice is that right below the example there’s a button, labeled “Try it Yourself”.

W3Schools screenshot showing the Try It button

Why read about it, when you can play?

One of the more annoying aspects of trying to learn about a specific HTML element, or a bit of CSS, is that you have to create an entire web page just to try it out. What W3Schools provides is that all important, absolutely essential, one button click to Try it out.

I’m not defending W3Schools. The site has played off the W3C title, though that doesn’t have a lot of meaning nowadays. More importantly, some of the material has errors and the site is resistant to correcting any of these errors, and this is unconscionable.

But you aren’t going to dent the popularity of the site without at least understanding why it is so popular. The W3Schools’ site is not popular because of SEO, and it’s not popular because of the W3 part of the name.

The W3Schools website is so popular because it is so usable.

Categories
Specs Web

Google’s Ta Da moments

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Henri Bergius wrote a piece on Google’s seeming desire to replace all web components, except HTML. Among the “new” technologies:

  • SPDY to replace HTTP
  • schema.org and Microdata to replace a decade’s worth of semantic work with RDF and microformats
  • WebP, a new image format
  • WebM, a new video format
  • And now Dart, to replace JavaScript

However, I wouldn’t leave HTML out. The only editor for HTML5 is a Google employee, Ian Hickson, who has been working with other folks, including another Google employee, to break pieces off the HTML5 specification, take them to WHATWG space, and completely re-write them in isolation. Then, when the pieces are re-written, the editors don’t seem want to bring them back to the W3C. (Or they have to ask Google Legal whether they can do so, completely ignoring the fact that as a W3C member, Google pledged to work with others.)

I’ve been battling this effort with the Editing API and just recently, the same thing happened with the section on dynamic markup insertion.

It’s not that people aren’t happy about these non-HTML components being pulled out of the HTML5 specification, but rather than work with the members of the HTML WG and the W3C, Google has been encouraging people to act unilaterally, aided and abetted by the HTML5 editor.

What’s ironic is that the concepts behind the Editing API and the dynamic markup insertion sections, which includes innerHTML among other things, actually originated with Microsoft. I’ve been waiting for Microsoft to go, “Hold on partner!” Apple already has. (And again).

Google has become all that is arrogant conceit. It believes it can do anything better than anyone else. It has dropped any pretense of seemingly wanting to work with others, and pretends its work is open, as long as it “gives” it all away when it’s finished.

The internet and the web were created so that people could connect; that those who were separated physically could still work together. The roots of the web are based in openness and cooperation, not unilateral decisions that demonstrate little tolerance and no empathy. I’d rather use an imperfect technology created by a team of varied and interested people, then a “perfect” work created in isolation and dumped on the world in some grand “Ta Da!” moment.

An imperfect technology can be perfected, but you can’t fix hubris.