Grief with IE8

Usually, it’s IE7 that’s the problem but there have been two instances in the last few days where IE8 has played up with problems I have never seen before.  Usually a cursory IE8 browser check requires a few CSS changes.,

Problem One

Disappearing images – nothing. All gone. Some considerable digging revealed I could put


into the image style and it would work. The disappearing trick affected any image with a style. Never seen it before. The hack worked. I suspected PIE but removing that from the style made no difference. Examined the rest of the CSS and it appeared fine. The images were fine in all browsers except IE8.

Problem Two

High tide body background.

I’ve had this before and add ‘fixed’ to CSS gradients and it sorts it out. Not this time. Put a plain colour on the body (or the <html>) and it’s fine. Again, only IE8.

I gave up on this one, for the time being but I will revisit it because this should never happen.

Problem Three

Disappearing background colours.  This is a problem related is CSS3PIE and when that is removed, voila!, they appear.  Don’t know why.

Problem Four

Mousing over a <div> and having the background colour show through. Strange and all IE8.

Thank you once again Bill.

The Filter Bubble

I take pride in not only developing a usable website – and hopefully an attractive one – but also one that generates revenue. This means that it has to appear on the first page of Google.

It’s a battle between me and Google. In South Africa, it’s not too difficult to get websites on to the first page, sometimes within a week but for reasons unknown, others struggle.

Doing the Google Check

Part of the search optimization routine is to check that you’re having some effect, that your clients’ sites are marching, however slowly up Google’s results pages.

I generally check every couple of months to see that these sites either continue to do well or are improving. The trouble is, Google remembers all your searches and and assumes you’re really searching for whatever is on those websites.

Of course you’re not. You’re looking to see where the sites are positioned for various search strings. You already know what’s on the websites – you created them but Google doesn’t know this, simply that you continue to search for them.

Bein’ a smartass, it gives these websites priority over other websites. If your website of interest is on page 5 of Google and you keep checking up on it, you notice to your great satisfaction that it slowly percolates up. But only for you. This is the ‘filter bubble’.

Being Just a User

This isn’t of much use. You want the search results that someone searching for the site for the first time would get.

The way to get around this is to constantly delete your browsing history. There are several addons to Chrome (which I use) and I assume for other browsers. Chrome allows an anonymous search which collects no information and deletes all traces when closed. You may find that your chosen website is not so well positioned as you thought but these are the pages that first time visitors to that site will get.

A Google Alternative

Another option is which claims to be the most private search engine.  It uses Google’s database so the results (as far as I can make out) are identical to those achieved by searching Google itself but without the predictions. Another option is

Using several browsers also helps to overcome the ‘helpfulness’ of Google and Chrome permits the deletion of browsing history – but I don’t trust it.

Prospects – Getting to the Gig

OK, what are you wearing? There is one rule. Be the best dressed person in the room.

007I work in Durban which is very humid in summer. Wear a suit and you look like a sloppy journalist just out of the pub. Have the aircon in the car turned up high.

If you wear a jacket, leave it on the car hook. Don’t forget that the guys you are meeting probably work in air conditioned offices.There is a workaround though.

Most young male company men have a uniform. Blue long sleeve shirt, brown long pants, brown shoes. I wear something similar – a different coloured shirt – and a tie. It doesn’t hurt and you can leave it loose until just before you get out the car.

Getting to the Gig

Never be late. If I have never been to meetings there before I always allow an extra twenty minutes even if I get there OK and have to sit in the car for a few minutes. Park in the shade if there is any. I’m a Luddite and don’t have a GPS although should invest in one.

GPS or not, get a ding on the freeway and you will be 30 minutes late.


I limit site visits to within 10kms of Durban CBD. I have driven plenty further on the odd occasion but you are in no way regarded as enthusiastic, more as pathetic and desperate.

Your Wheels

vetteI know this is not an easy thing to change but the wheels should display authority and sufficient cash. Not a beach buggy.  And make sure it’s not covered in bird shit and full of baby things and supermarket bags.

I use a somewhat geriatric Audi A4. It’s enough, I hope to distinguish me as a discerning motorist. I used to have a 1976 Corvette which was guaranteed to get the conversation started.

External Evaluation

Right, we’ve done some detective work and have now arrived at the prospects. Big operation? Small? How many staff about?

Look in the staff car park. A row of luxury cars will also tell you something about the company’s largesse. Lots of Dough?


Maybe but the row of SUVs will all probably be on lease which may mean they have no money for a website – can go either way. But you may find out during the meeting.

Turned Up Early?

Always be on time – obvious really.  Late for a meeting may also imply late replies to website queries. I have found that if you arrive early, it’s taken as a sign of professionalism rather than desperation.

Internal Evaluation

You’ll get a good idea of what the prospect might pay by simply looking around. Expensive fixtures, plants, hardware like computers, maybe even a server will indicate that they are looking for a top end website. The boardroom, where most meetings are held will tell you a great deal.

If you are ushered to a tiny room packed with product or piles of paper then it’s likely the prospect wants ‘just a web page’ and is looking for the lowest possible price. You don’t know however, often until you get to the place but when I see this sort of operation, I’ve pretty well wasted a couple of hours.




Startpage – a Google Alternative?

I’m getting sick of Google throwing its weight around and increasingly paranoid about my online details. Startpage claims to be completely anonymous and uses the Google search engine so I’m giving it a try. If it works, it’ll be my default search engine. As a web designer I still have to use Google for my clients.

“Every time you use a regular search engine, your search data is recorded. Major search engines capture your IP address and use tracking cookies to make a record of your search terms, the time of your visit, and the links you choose – then they store that information in a giant database.

Those searches reveal a shocking amount of personal information about you, such as your interests, family circumstances, political leanings, medical conditions, and more. This information is modern-day gold for marketers, government officials, black-hat hackers and criminals – all of whom would love to get their hands on your private search data.”