Get a $30 CSS book for free

For the next 14 days, you can download The Art & Science Of CSS (a $29.95 value) for free.

There are two ways to get it:

– follow @sitepointdotcom on Twitter
– visit

Here’s an excerpt from the email I just received from

Freebies like this are few and far between, so help us spread the word. Tell everyone you think might be interested in a FREE CSS book about the SitePoint 14-day Twitaway!

Ok, there you go. It’s a good deal. You’ll get 227 pages of CSS goodness. If you don’t know much about CSS, it may be especially useful. And, hey, it’s free.

On Dvorak and the future of the keyboard

1. Dvorak-Qwerty redux

I decided to test out Tweetdeck, a new Twitter application in Beta developed on the Adobe Air platform. I like it. But when I attempted to hide the app with the shortcut ?-H … it didn’t work. Then it hit me. It’s an Adobe app. Of course it doesn’t work. That’s because I type using a keyboard layout called Dvorak.

It’s a common enough layout that it’s included as an international keyboard option for both the Mac and PC. The Mac also has a unique keyboard layout called ‘Dvorak-Qwerty,’ which I use. This allows one to type using the Dvorak layout, but use Qwerty key combos. It’s a thoughtful tip of the hat to Dvorak users who know and rely on standard Qwerty keyboard shortcuts.

Most of the applications on my Mac respect this convention and work very well with the D-Q layout. The glaring exceptions are Microsoft Office and Adobe products. I’ve given up on Microsoft ever fixing this problem, seeing as the OS still doesn’t include a D-Q option (and likely never will). But Adobe? Come on. I can’t imagine that fixing this little glitch would take much time. Correct me if I’m wrong, Adobe.

I’ve written about this on Adobe forums, I’ve sent in suggestions, I’ve posted on this topic here and on other blogs. Nothing has changed. While I’m sure that there are not many Dvorak typists using Adobe creative suites who rely on Qwerty key combos, I’m surely not the only one! And, hey, we’re paying customers. And those suites are expensive.

Someday, I hope that Adobe will fix this relatively simple thing. Adobe: take heed that Smile on my Mac fixed this same problem with TextExpander with one simple update. I wrote to them about the problem. And it was fixed with their next update a few weeks later. Now that’s service.

2. This Dvorak post rocks

So, I got an email a while back from Francis Siefken from the Netherlands, a fellow Dvorak user. He put forward a convincing case that switching the U and the I on the Dvorak keyboard would lead to even greater efficiencies. I love this kind of analysis.

Check out his post even if you don’t use Dvorak, if only to appreciate the time and thought he clearly put into this. It seems that his blog may have went into hiatus after this one post (something that I can certainly appreciate!), but it’s worth the read nonetheless. As is how he named his son, which also appears on this page. I hope we’ll see more posts on his blog someday soon.

My view: why not switch the U and I keys? The point is that the keyboard—our primary interface to the digital realm—must continue to evolve. Dvorak, while imperfect, is arguably an evolutionary leap forward from Qwerty. But why stop there? I say let’s continue to perfect the layout of keys to meet our needs.

Note that Siefken emphasizes that the primary benefit of Dvorak isn’t necessarily speed. It’s comfort. If you’re someone who types a lot (as in all day, every day) it may be worth your time to learn Dvorak if you’re not already heavily invested in Qwerty. Let the keyboard evolve, and let repetitive stress be damned!

The careful reader might now ask why I don’t use Dvorak keyboard shortcuts, preferring instead to keep using Qwerty shortcuts. The answer? The most-used shortcut keys are largely grouped down by the ? key, so it’s easier and faster. D-Q is a great combo.

3. On the evolution of the keyboard

And speaking of the evolution of keyboards, check out the Optimus Maximus. It’s expensive as hell, but wow. It’s the future of keyboards.

And what’s Apple doing on this front? Perhaps making an Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) keyboard of their own. Will it be cheaper than the Optimus Maximus? Probably. Will Art.Lebedev Studios, creator of the Optimus and other wonderful and expensive design goodies, sue Apple? This might be a story we hear more about next year.

The tyranny of the news reader

I’ve been thinking lately about news readers. I use NetNewsWire on my Mac and my iPhone. It’s a good reader, and I’ve grown to depend on the automated syncing of my feeds between my desktop and phone. I, like many people, only sync ‘must read’ items to my iPhone. My Mac client is where I download all of my subscribed feeds.

As an aside, here’s how to selectively sync your feeds if you use NetNewsWire. The hard way: You get to these settings by logging into your account (assuming you’ve created one) at Then you choose ‘Settings,’ then ‘Edit Locations.’ From here, you can choose which feeds to track on which platform, among many other options. It takes some work to set up initially, but I find it’s useful to only sync selected feeds to my iPhone in the interest of bandwidth. The easier way: Fire up NNW on your iPhone or Touch, then select a feed title. Choose ‘Edit.’ Then choose ‘Delete.’ This will bring up an option to unsubscribe from the feed everywhere, or just not sync it to the mobile device. Much simpler.

What I’ve been thinking about is the creeping tyranny of my feed reader. I’ve found that I’ve become quite feed-complacent. I have a large set of feeds that I routinely read, and the feed reader saves me time. That’s the purpose of a feed reader, right? But over time, I’ve found that I don’t surf around like I used to.

I tend to prefer my feed reader because it’s so fast and easy. The result is that I’ve been reading the same feeds for quite some time, and I find that I rarely add new feeds these days. As I track a lot of mac-related feeds, I’ve found that it’s a bit of an echo chamber. The same posts appear over and over, and it’s relatively rare to find something new that hasn’t yet been reported on in ten other places.

It seems to me that I used to find a lot of hidden gems by randomly roaming the web. I don’t do that as much these days, but I’m going to start exploring again. The internet is a vast place, so there really isn’t a good reason to get complacent.

A good tool to break out of the tyranny of the same-old-feeds is StumbleUpon. If you’ve never used it, it’s worth a look.

The advantage of this service as opposed to, say, random web searching, is that you can select a subset of categories that interest you. Then, when you have a few spare moments and feel like exploring, you click the Stumble button (I use a FireFox toolbar) and are taken to a randomized site that falls somewhere within the range of the site categories that interest you. Sometimes the sites suck. Sometimes the sites are magnificent.

The one thing that is certain is that the service will take you to sites you may have never otherwise encountered. As a blogger, I’m often looking for something new and interesting to comment on, or looking for an interesting site or idea to share. This service is a great idea generator. It’s also a good way to enjoy yourself as you explore the web … and rediscover why it’s called the World Wide Web.

So this is a call (to myself, really) to break away from the news reader more often and surf. And it’s a call to refresh my feeds more often. There’s a lot of content out there waiting to be discovered.

Things now at 0.9.6

Cultured Code’s Things continues to improve, and it continues to be in Beta.

At version 0.9.6, it remains my favorite task manager, and it’s better than ever.

With today’s update, Things adds an important new component: global searching. This much-requested feature makes it easy to quickly sort through your sea of tasks by tags, title, note, or all of the above at once. Search results pop up on the fly as you type.

The developers have also added a small button to the search results (which apparently has no name). I’ll call it the search context button. Here’s how it works: select an item from your search results, click this button, and you are presented with the context (or the original list/project) of that item. This will come in handy.

It would be nice, though, to have a ‘back’ button to return to search results for those times that you just want to peek at the associated items tied to a given task, and then wish to return to your search results.

You can still download the public Beta for free. Things will be officially launched at January’s MacWorld.

If you like it, consider signing up for their newsletter prior to the official launch for a 20 percent discount (you’ll be able to pick it up for $39; regular price will be $49).

If you’ve read my review of this app, note that many of the concerns I raised in that review have been met. I use it daily on my Mac and iPhone, and I like it.