CSS: The Definitive Guide

CSS is the de-facto standard of web styling and is used to enhance the presentation of markup languages. Web designers everywhere use it to improve accessibility and maintain consistency amongst pages.


CSS: The Definitive Guide – Eric A. Meyer is an excellent place to begin learning about CSS. All you require to have is a beginner’s knowledge of HTML and you are ready to go. Meyer is a well known web design consultant, author and an expert on CSS.

Meyer starts from the basics of cascade and inheritance and drills into details of not only how but also why of almost all topics. You would find details of how and why even on oft ignored topics as font and colour units used. The reader is not bored with details of obsolete or proprietary CSS properties. Instead, Meyer focuses only on properties (CSS2 and standard CSS2.1) which are supported by most web browsers and are actually in use today.

The related properties are grouped together into separate chapters and they are well organized. For example, the chapter on font properties is followed by one on text properties and one visual formatting by a chapter on padding and borders. This makes it easy for the reader to find what he is looking for.

A couple of interesting chapters on UI styles and non-screen media complete an exhaustive and informative book. This is followed by an appendix of various CSS properties references that you will find yourself going back to again and again.

The book lacks only two things. Colour pages and problem solving. The book tells you about floating and positioning but does not tell how to use it to create a two column layout. Nevertheless, it is a very informative and useful book. Though not “definitive” it is certainly a great book for anyone, right from experienced users to complete novices.

Disclaimer: I was provided the book for review by O’Reilly Media.

We don’t give a damn!!

Hugh Macleod, of Gaping Void fame, has put up this “Nobody Cares” manifesto by Dennis Howlett. I agree with all of it, but find the below mentioned points very relevant.

* Adding value is the most important thing you have to do – nobody believes you. Clients can read a 1,000 websites and see that same vacuuous statement. Stuff your website with client stories, preferably written by clients and not some PR outfit.

* We work hard to earn letters behind our names – nobody cares. Importance isn’t derived from academic achievement but what you do for others.

Reminds me of the farewell mail of a dear friend who left the company for greener pastures. He asked in a company townhall, what is “Quality” and “Adding Value” which the management keeps talking about?? And no one had an answer!!

Maybe they should read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Orhan Pamuk – Nobel Lecture

Read Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel Lecture here. Below are few lines that I really loved from it.

‘What is happiness?’ Was happiness thinking that I lived a deep life in that lonely room? Or was happiness leading a comfortable life in society, believing in the same things as everyone else, or acting as if you did?

For me, to be a writer is to acknowledge the secret wounds that we carry inside us, the wounds so secret that we ourselves are barely aware of them, and to patiently explore them, know them, illuminate them, to own these pains and wounds, and to make them a conscious part of our spirits and our writing.

I write because I love the smell of paper, pen, and ink.

Link via India Uncut.

Madhusala – Bachchan

Madhusala by Harivansh Rai Bachchan is one of my favourite Hindi poems of all time. Below are a few excerpts from it. You can read the entire thing here.

मुसलमान औ’ हिन्दू है दो, एक, मगर, उनका प्याला,
एक, मगर, उनका मदिरालय, एक, मगर, उनकी हाला,
दोनों रहते एक न जब तक मस्जिद मन्दिर में जाते,
बैर बढ़ाते मस्जिद मन्दिर मेल कराती मधुशाला!।५०।

आज करे परहेज़ जगत, पर, कल पीनी होगी हाला,
आज करे इन्कार जगत पर कल पीना होगा प्याला,
होने दो पैदा मद का महमूद जगत में कोई, फिर
जहाँ अभी हैं मन्दिर मस्जिद वहाँ बनेगी मधुशाला।।५३।

कभी न सुन पड़ता, ‘इसने, हा, छू दी मेरी हाला’,
कभी न कोई कहता, ‘उसने जूठा कर डाला प्याला’,
सभी जाति के लोग यहाँ पर साथ बैठकर पीते हैं,
सौ सुधारकों का करती है काम अकेले मधुशाला।।५७।

छोटे-से जीवन में कितना प्यार करुँ, पी लूँ हाला,
आने के ही साथ जगत में कहलाया ‘जानेवाला’,
स्वागत के ही साथ विदा की होती देखी तैयारी,
बंद लगी होने खुलते ही मेरी जीवन-मधुशाला।।६६।

PS: A few spellings may be incorrect but there is only that much a transliterator can do.

Tech and Art

Do you see beauty in a recursive loop?? Do the curves of a V-twin engine of a Harley Davidson remind you of finely carved Greek statues?? Do you hear music in the sound of a V-10 F1 engine (you will be missed)? If your answer to all of these is a yes, then you are a technologist at your heart, whether or not you have a tech degree.

Ever since I joined Evalueserve, I had always wondered why they called it the state-of-the-art instead of state-of-the-technology, or why they called it prior art instead of existing technology. Finally stumbled on the answer yesterday while reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Turns out that the word technology is derived from the Greek word techne, meaning art, skill or craft. One of the wisest races to have ever existed, the Greeks, in all their wisdom, never saw any difference between art and technology and never had different words for them. No wonder their buildings are considered works of art in the modern world.

So next time you find yourself comparing Bach to Knuth or Michelangelo to the engineers of Ferrari, don’t be surprised.