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www.qwant.com - how not to design a website

I was reading in the news the birth of www.qwant.com, a new French search engine. So I said to myself "ok, let's go and have a look." I was in my bath with my iPhone. First impression isn't very good since the website doesn't have a mobile template so you have to zoom in and out to read anything. So I launch my first search and zoom in to read the results. And then, some piece of JavaScript overlays huge column headers on top of my screen - covering 100% of the screen. I can't see the page anymore.

So here is my first impression: it is broken. It's just that the website is not usable with a phone. They have column headers that "float" on top of the page whenever you scroll down and whenever you zoom in, they take up 100% of the screen so nothing works. At all. You cannot even see the search results. Note that it doesn't work at all on Android or anything else with a small screen. Granted, with big-screen Android phones (think the 1280x720 variety), it is just clunky and somewhat usable since you don't have to zoom as widely as with a smaller screen phone.

This is in my opinion the exact opposite of what a website should be about. I mean, what value are you bringing if users cannot see your website?

The column headers that overlap the entire display does bring minimal value to desktop users and annoy phone users to the point of having your entire website useless. Why have them?

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Presto is about to die

And Opera will run WebKit

Yes, Opera will soon be using WebKit as its rendering engine instead of the custom built Presto.

Now, for the average web developer that didn't bother testing on Opera (desktop and/or mobile, and/or mini) it will not change anything. For web developers that bothered, well, it will make things simpler.

But but... variety is good, right?

Well, actually, variety is good and bad at the same time. Opera's efforts toward their engine will now be directed towards WebKit, and will then be used by quite a few browsers: iOS's, Chrome and Safari (hopefully Android's default browser will eventually die and be replaced by Chrome so I won't count it.)

Thanks to all the folks at Opera working on Presto for the past 15 years. I'm sure the future will hold lots of great stuff for you guys.

How to build your own magic wand

Inspired by Harry Potter's universe

We went with my wife and kids to see the Harry Potter studios in the UK. I have to admit that we all were fans of the books and movies, but I wasn't prepared to what went on over here. Being there, immersed in Harry Potter's universe as we had seen for so long onscreen, was truly overwhelming. So much in fact that when we went to the shop at the end of the tour and watched the magic wands there for sale, I stated to my family: "We are all going to have our own." At £25 a pop, that's £125 worth of magic wands! Well, magic seems to exist after all...

To be fair, those wands are really nice, heavy, beautiful, in nice boxes. Real collectibles, not the plastic crap I feared we would be presented with.

And off we went home, with our nice wands. I even went to the trouble of printing custom labels for all the family as you can see after the break. But as the label states, well, those are not toys. The kids got it and reacted nicely. Sometimes we get them out but we don't let them play with them on their own - and even less carry them around with friends.

But this week was Mardi Gras and one of my girls was to have a costume of ... Hermione Granger. So she needed a wand, for school. And there was no way to let her take the collectible - she even agreed with us. So I started the task of home-building custom wands for toys. A second set of wands actually as my other two kids were quick to point out.


Good code vs bad code

'nuff said

Credits go to xkcd of course.

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