And all that Malarkey

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The inevitable price

This week at Smashing Conference in New York, I had the very great pleasure of meeting Chris Lilley. I recognised Chris’ name, but it took me a day to remember that he had been the chairman of the ‘Style and Formatting Properties Working Group’ at the W3C, a precursor to the CSS Working Group. Chris is a hugely important person in the history of the web.

15 years of Dao

It’s amazing to think that John Allsopp’s oft-quoted article, A Dao of Web Design was published fifteen years ago today. A List Apart asked me what John’s article means to me now, but rather than focus on Dao’s flexible design principles, I wanted to talk about a passage that never seems to get a mention.

Taglines and Truisms, and ten years of 24ways

Ten years ago, in 2005, my friend Drew MacLellan asked if I would contribute a short article to the then new 24ways, “advent calendar for web geeks” and “a daily dose of web design and development goodness” throughout December.

Trying and failing

We’re half-way through a project, designing a web ‘application’ for a client. This means writing lots of HTML and making plenty of template pages.

Looking back at Five Simple Steps

I’d been in Nottingham for the day, catching up with friends including Owen Gregory. Driving home, an idea started to develop. Owen and I worked together on client projects at the time and I trust him to give me an honest opinion, so I pulled the car over, called him and explained the idea. A book called ‘Hardboiled Web Design.’

My iWatch prediction

I’m putting my stake in the ground. If and when Apple releases what all the pundits keep calling an ‘iWatch,’ the tagline on their invitation to the press event will read:

It’s about time.

Five Simple Steps years old is (almost) five years old

Well, not quite yet, but later this month. They’ve been going from strength to strength and while there hasn’t been a blockbuster book since Hicks’ Icon Handbook, their Pocket Guides series contains some real gems.

They’ve updated their site ready for the birthday celebrations and a little bird tells me they’ll soon be celebrating with a sale, starting next week. That will be a great time to pick up that copy of Hardboiled Web Design you haven’t got around to buying.

It’s 2014. Web Design Isn’t Dead

Zeldman in fine form:

Never fear, web design generalists: many companies and organizations require your services and always will — from universities still seeking webmasters, to startups seeking seasoned folks with multiple areas of understanding to direct and coordinate the activities of younger specialists. But if jack-of-all web work is feeling stale, now may be the time to up your game as a graphic designer, or experience designer, or front end developer. “Diversify or die” is overstating things when the world needs generalists, too. But “follow the path you love” will always be good advice.

Putting the boot in

Two weeks before Christmas I took a train to Birmingham to meet a new client. After our meeting I wandered to the Bull Ring and went into the Dr. Martens shop there to buy a new pair of boots.

Why Instagram video isn’t for me

I’ve lived with the new video feature in Instagram for about a week and while I was originally sceptical about whether video and Instagram would be a good match, I thought it best to wait a while before forming an expressing an opinion.

Not click. Not tap. Not select. Press

Cennydd Bowles thinks:

Users used to tap phones and click mice. But the latest high-end devices combine the two, and it’s now highly likely your interface needs to be designed with both touch and mouse/trackpad in mind. So, unless I’m sure only one applies, I’ve stopped saying “click” and “tap”. Instead, I say “select.’

That’s smart thinking, but I’m not convinced “select.’ is the right word either. I can’t imagine talking an ‘average“ person through an interface and saying “Now ‘select’ the Submit button to buy (those ape action figures).’” That’s why I’m going with “press.’ because whether on an input type is physical or virtual, keyboard, d-pad button, trackpad or mouse, that’s what people do.

Two years smoke free

I can remember the first cigarette I ever smoked. It was 1983 and on my way to art foundation one day, I stopped my car at Kettering railway station and bought a packet of ten Benson & Hedges and a box of Swan matches. I pulled on the cellophane band, tore off the top and flipped open the golden box. I’ll never forget the smell of tobacco that rises from a freshly opened pack or the bitter smell of a match. I slipped a cigarette between my lips, struck a match and lit it.

Come on down

Yesterday, when I appeared on The Web Ahead, I issued this challenge to anyone who complains about hearing familiar faces speak at web conferences:

Good honest folk

I spent last week in Geneva. Nothing out of the ordinary about that as I’ve been working there fairly regularly over the last couple of years. But last week was my birthday week — Tuesday. 47. A new wallet. Thanks for asking — so they had to be very special people to persuade me to spend the week with them. They were. Good honest folk.

Missing the bloody point

After I posted my review of Hammer – the simple to use, GUI app that helps me design with HTML – this week, several people tweeted a few alternatives. Oooh, oooh, let’s go look!

Backing Ormr

Although Adobe have said nothing officially, their silence says it all. Unofficially my little birdies tell me that Fireworks is not being updated for retina displays so the tool I’ve used and loved for a decade or more is effectively dead.

Don’ worry, be ’appy

With the help of TapbotsNetbot client, it looks like might be gathering steam. If’s your thing, you’ll now find me there too although I guess I’m not alone in being unsure when I’ll use instead of Twitter.

Follow me on (Damn that name isn’t getting any easier to say.)

The long goodbye to Fireworks

Adobe announced yesterday that Creative Cloud customers (like me) will receive an upgrade to HiDPI and Retina Display Support. This sounds like great news if you’re a Photoshop or Lightroom user — two apps that will receive the update first — but not if your everyday design app is Fireworks, not Photoshop. There was no mention of when (or more likely if) Fireworks will be upgraded.


It’s been a mad couple of weeks since I came back from holiday. This week onsite with my friends at STV and the first spent head down on another project. But before I could get back to work, I had to set up our new studio.

Retina size screen grabs without a retina Mac

Making screenshots for the some portfolio panels for my new site design — It’s out on Wednesday kids — I came across a problem. I couldn’t get screenshots sharp enough for a retina display because I’m snapping on a plain ol’ Macbook Air.


Never Buy The Sun

I haven’t posted lyrics for a while, but it seemed appropriate this week, both with the news (no pun intended) this week that Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson face charges relating to phone hacking and the fact that I put the final, final, final touches to my design for the upcoming Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report into the Hillsborough Disaster that will be launched in September.

Turn on Fireworks CS6 auto-save

My beloved Fireworks, now in CS6, encountered an error yesterday and refused to save. My only option was to Force Quit the app and lose half an hour’s work. Hey ho.

Then I found out that auto-save might have helped me, maybe lose less work. Here’s what I did.

MICKY the world’s cleverest CHIMPANZEE

Before she died at the fantastic age of 98, my Nana gave me her boxes of family photographs. She knew I value family histories and would keep her things safe. I’m in the process of organising them and in one box I found a tourism brochure from Liverpool from around 1938/39. In it, an advertisement, for Liverpool Zoological Park caught my interest. In particular, “MICKY,” the world’s cleverest CHIMPANZEE.

Pay up

My contribution to The Pastry Box Project this month:

There’s no reason why anyone should have to wait more than 24 hours for the money you owe them, especially people you work with.

So the next time you receive an invoice from a contractor or supplier, pay it right away. Don’t wait a month, a week, a day or even an hour longer than you have to. Better still, find out how to pay them before they start any work. That way you can pay them immediately when you receive their invoice.

They’ll feel good and so will you.

(This post was inspired by the experience of someone I know.)


This morning I picked up the phone to (just) Holly, a chirpy sounding lady who asked if we played music ‘within our business.’ If we did, we’d need a license. I told her we didn’t (yeah, shoot first and ask questions later) and she said we’d be removed from their list (whatever that is.)

Thoughts on pricing

This post from Jolly Bureau ties in very nicely with what I wrote for The Pastry Box Project this month. So I thought I’d elaborate on:

About a year ago, I left day rates and job rates behind and started estimating, billing and working on projects on a weekly basis. A year on and I’m better organised, more productive and less stressed than ever before. Our accounts are in better shape and no one owes us money for longer than a week. It was one of the best business moves I’ve made.

Escape From The Planet Of The Apes

When I set up my home/office wireless after switching broadband providers, I called the downstairs router’s network ‘Planet Of The Apes.’ And why not? ‘Andy Clarke’s Network’ is a boring name. (And Planet Of The Apes is a better movie than Star Wars.)

Then I called the Airport Extreme extended upstairs network ‘Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes’ and the Airport Express I keep under my desk ‘Beneath The Planet Of The Apes.’

I bought a mifi today because I’m working in London a fair bit over the next few months and the client site doesn’t have open wifi. I could stick with the network’s given name, 3MobileWiFi-c602, but ‘Escape From The Planet Of The Apes’ seems much, much more appropriate.

Hi honey, I’m home!

I’ve worked for myself for the last fourteen years and for most of that I’ve worked in my office at home.

Unlock Twitter for iPhone’s power user mode

If you’ve been using Twitter and the Twitter app for iPhone for a while, you’ll probably miss having access to your direct messages in the toolbar since Twitter replaced it with the ‘discover’ button (whatever that does.) Don’t worry, because some friends of mine who work at Twitter in San Francisco showed me a way to unlock a hidden power user mode that puts DMs back in the toolbar.

Shooting square

When I upgraded my phone to an iPhone 4S it instantly took over as my main camera. I use Camera+ and ProHDR, olloclip lens attachments and POPA and I couldn’t be happier with the results I get.


This week I was sat in a hotel in London and uploaded at photo to Instagram. It was a kangaroo I met a couple of weeks ago at a sanctuary near Brisbane.

It’s a half decent photo.


But posting the photo felt wrong.

I know plenty of people who post Instagram photos from weeks or even months back. But Instagram isn’t Flickr and photos on Instagram should be from today, or at a push from yesterday.

You know. Like insta(nt).

Anything else is a Delayagram.

Attention. This is an automated computer system alert

Like, I guess, many people, we leave our computers running when we’re not using them. We keep apps like iChat and Skype running too, with the sound turned up, in case anyone should call.

So I’m sitting in the studio, alone, this morning, listening to The Talk Show while I get my head clear for a day’s work, when the Mac behind me starts to talk (video below.)

It turns out it’s repeating, recorded spam, coming through Skype.

How can this even happen?


Out of curiosity, I typed w w w dot pee gee em ess gee dot com into my browser. I’ve seen this type of fake virus scanner before, and I use a Mac so I can just laugh at them. Most interesting though is how these tricksters managed to talk to me over Skype without my permission.

Update 2

It turns out this is old news for some people. As you were.

My year in music

My favourites

I don’t use socially, but I left it scrobbling so it could compile the soundtrack to my 2011.

No Ice Cream Sandwich for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1?

Bruce Lawson asked:

If I buy a Galaxy Tab 10.1 today, do I get a *timely* over-the-air upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich for free?

Samsung UK replied:

This is not guaranteed. Honeycomb was made specifically for the 10.1, so there are no plans for release at present.

I guess that I just expected, when I bought my Galaxy Tab 10.1 this summer, that I’d get software updates from Samsung the same way I get them for my iOS devices. Sure enough I did get one — one that replaced stock Honeycomb with Samsung’s own TouchWiz variant — an update I didn’t want but was told that if I didn’t update, I wouldn’t get any upgrades in future.

Now it looks like my Galaxy Tab 10.1 — already the most expensive shaving mirror I’ve ever bought — is going to stay stuck in 2011. Does the same go for Tabs still on the shelves of your favourite big box retailer? What about the 10.1N variant I saw in Germany two weeks ago?

Samsung doesn’t get software.


I doubt it’ll come as much of a surprise to learn that I love my iPhone 4S. It was a major upgrade from the 3G I swapped my original iPhone for last September, but I’ve been less impressed with its battery life. Now I think I’ve found the culprit. Foursquare

The Verge

Joshua Topolsky

We think of The Verge (and its underlying CMS) as something akin to an app. A piece of software that is being constantly developed and updated. Today we’re launching with The Verge 1.0, but 1.1 and 1.2 are just around the corner.

This Is My Next — my favourite tech, gadget site over the last few months — has (right on cue) become The Verge.

If you’ve been reading This Is My Next, you’ll know there’s been a lot to like about the quality of its journalism. There’s a lot to like about the new site’s design too, from the strong layout of its review pages to many of the design details.

I can see myself spending a lot of time on the Apple hub. I love the category/brand tabs in the review sidebar navigation. They’re not unique, they’re not new, but here they just ‘work’. The ‘jump to’ overlay on product review pages, like this one for the iPhone 4S, just works too. It’s obvious that everyone involved in The Verge cares about the details.

Compared to Engadget, Gizmodo or the recent TechCrunch redesign disaster, The Verge’s design is a treat and it looks like a worthy successor to This Is My Next. So far, I love it.

The Official Unofficial Hardboiled Web Design Index

From time to time, I get asked, “Why no index in Hardboiled Web Design?” My usual flippant answer being, “What? You want it even thicker?” Still, I know some people like indexes and the Hardboiled paperback doesn’t have one, (unless you count searching in the PDF version). Steven Milne has taken matters into his own hands with his unofficial Hardboiled Index.

The gift of giving

I got different two scarves last Christmas, from two different people. But the difference wasn’t the colour, or the fabric, it was the giving.

To Russia With Love

It’s a ??????? ?????? ????, this web design design lark. Who’d have thought that learning a bit of code would’ve meant I got travel around the world and to places I never thought I’d see?


I’ve always believed that content on the web should be free (from presentation).

From Air To Eternity

My new Macbook Air arrived this evening and it’s the best laptop I’ve ever owned. Less than an hour after unpacking it, it’s already the travelling production powerhouse I wanted.


I’m tired. Really tired. Not just the tiredness that comes from back-to-back transatlantic flights crammed into airline seats (although I have another one of those to look forward to today), but the kind of tiredness that goes deep into my bones.

Hard Graft’s Heritage iPad Case

If you own anything made by Apple, you possibly already know about Hard Graft. I’ve been a huge fan of them, their cases and sleeves since a friend introduced me to them a year or so ago. So when Apple announced the iPad, I knew I wanted a Hard Graft case for it. Hell, I wanted a Hard Graft iPad case even before there was an iPad. And now I have one.

Thank your lucky stars

Do you occasionally have to explain to a client why the site you made for them using CSS looks different for people who use very old browsing software? You should thank your lucky stars.


A simple game time waster (and an old school blog meme). Go to the address bar in your browser and type a letter. Start with “a”, end with “z”. Here is what I found.


Some things are best expressed without words.

The Book of Taliesyn

Ambling around a five storey bookstore in the Jinbocho area of Tokyo today, in the computer section I stumbled across a Japanese translation of my Transcending CSS and CSS Best Practice by Miki Ofuji.


First a disclaimer. I smoke cigarettes. I know that they are bad for me will probably kill me early or make me ill, but I for now at least I choose to smoke because I like something they give me physiologically.


As true now as it was in 1986.


Yesterday I took a call (and received an email) from a long-standing client. I designed for them in 2001/2. Over the last year, the staff responsible for updating their site had changed, they had mislaid their passwords and they needed help. So help was what they got.

Aussie Rules

A little over a week ago, but what seems like much, much, longer, my wife and I made the long trip from home to Australia to host three Visual Web Design Masterclasses in partnership with our good friends at Web Directions. It proved to be quite a week.

Wireframes on DVD

I’m currently spending my time writing and preparing content for a new DVD title, Designing Accessibility (For A Beautiful Web), part of a series of DVDs that I am making for New Riders, that will be published sometime in 2009.

The most effective debt collecting email I ever wrote

Running a small business means that I divide my time between the things that I love doing (project planning, designing and dealing with people) and the things that I don’t enjoy so much (business planning, accounting and dealing with (some) people).

Compare The Meerkat

Nothing drives me crazy like TV ads for insurance comparison web sites (if I hear once more that you don’t have to be a computer wizard to use, I might just drive over the edge).

Who will watch the Watchmen

I promise. In the run up to the opening of the Watchmen movie next year, I will resist the urge to write about or link to every piece of Watchmen trivia.

Motorcycle diaries

Some of you might know that I’ve been passionate about learning to ride large motorcycles for a while and have been taking a DAS course at Pro Bike. While I’ve not yet managed to pass my test (that’s another story), I am determined and today more inspired than ever by an email from my friend Pascal who has just completed a ride from southern France to Beijing and back.


On strong recomendation I plumped for the latest version of the Lacie Biggest FW800 RAID.

The World Turned Upside Down

We will not worship the God they serve, a God of greed who feeds the rich while poor folk starve.

Musical baton

I’ve been passed the baton by John Oxton

Copy copy

It seems to be the season for discussion on rips. My issue is not one of design theft, but of copy theft.

Underpants over my trousers

It seems like a good opportunity to get my house in order and resolve a domain name dilemma that I have created for myself. But how best to go about swapping two domain names?

Getting client sign-off

An eagerness to please should always push a designer to do the best for a client. But there are times where just when you thought the job was finished, a client will say, Can we just add…. The four stage sign-off sheet can be our best friend.

Rolling out the welcome mat

This is And All That Malarkey, Andy Clarke’s personal site where I write about stuff that takes my fancy. I hope you like what you read.

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