Fordie’s Form System – a POSH way to mark up forms

Form layout is one area where designers have struggled to find a sensible way to replace tables with nice clean semantic xhtml + CSS.

In 2005 Andy Clarke demonstrated his approach to form layout at CSS for designers, He wraps the label around the input field, then put the actual label text in a span.

<label> label text<input type="text" /></label>

In the CSS he then sets the label to “display:block” and puts width on the spans. The list items effectively create rows spans columns.

This approach is fine when you only have two elements you want to appear on a line, however, when you start throwing other things into the mix (like required field markers or “help” links) you need a system that can handle more than two elements. This got me thinking…

In late 2005 I came up with a solution I call Fordie’s Form System (FFS).

FFS is based on the premise that a form is essentially a list of questions to which we need an answer, with label being the question and the input being the place for the user to answer it. That being the case, the obvious way to mark up the form (in my mind) is with lists.

I believe that as well as well as providing the structure to hold the form together, the lists add meaning to the markup – making FFS a POSH way to markup forms.

I put all my eggs in a Murdoch shaped basket

Until very recently had my phone, tv and broadband through NTL (now virgin media); I was reasonably happy. The broadband service was pretty good, I never had any real problems, the telephone worked and we switched our TV service from Sky to NTL to take advantage of a cheaper charging structure.

Then last November I got fed up with waiting for NTL to bring out their PVR and switched back to Sky to get Sky+. I have to say I’ve been really pleased with the Sky+ it’s really easy to use and having it means that we never miss any of our favorite programs.

I had been getting 10mb broadband from NTL for £17.50 a month by phoning every few months and threatening to cancel – but recently Virgin haven’t been offering such good deals, the best I managed to get last time I rang was 4mb for £20 odd.

I don’t need 10mb broadband I use wireless all the time so never get anything better than about 5mb anyway, so when I realised I could get Sky’s up to 6mb service for £5 a month it seemed sensible to givr it a whirl. This meant moving my phone line back to BT which I duly did. The sky router arrived on the day the ADSL was due to be activated and the installation went without a hitch. I didn’t expect it to be that easy.

There are other advantages to moving back to a BT / Sky combo for my telecoms & entertainment the BT, here are a few that spring to mind:

  • The BT phone line supports caller ID – this is something I’ve really missed since with NTL, I can’t understand why they don’t offer it
  • Sky have withdrawn some of their channels from Virgin, this includes Sky One which would have been bad news because a lot of or favorite shows are on Sky One
  • Sky talk – Sky offer a call package. You pay BT for your line rental and Sky for your calls. The free package fives you free off peak UK land line calls – but for an extra £5 a month you get anytime calls and you also get international calls to 10 different countries. This includes the US, and since my Sister lives in New York this is a bonus.
  • Overall I think the move to sky is going to save me in the region of £40 per month
  • Now I’ve added the sky movies package I have acees to sky anytime on mobile (which I plan to do another post on later)

On the downside BT wanted to charge £5 a quarter for 1571 (their answering service) but this gave me an excuse to go out and get new telephone handsets with a built in answer machine and caller display so it’s not all bad.

I realise I’m probably in a bit of a honeymoon period with the Sky service at the moment, but for the time being I’m happy, and if the Sky broadband goes down in the next few weeks, I’ve still got virgin to fall back on.

back in the saddle!

I think I’ve finally cracked the various PC issues I’ve been having – last night I reinstalled XP on my laptop (again). I’d done a reinstall last week, but I’d neglected to format the HDD first; the upshot of which was my hard disk was almost completely full of folders XP wouldn’t let me delete.

Now I have a lovely clean install of the OS and the system seems to be running a treat, I slowly installing all my software and running Windows update many many times – I should be totally back to normal soon. All that really remains to be done is a restore of all my important data from back up.

Sky Anytime on PC causes machine to run very slowly

A few weeks back I installed Sky Anytime on PC; since then I had noticed a considerable deterioration in the machines performance – to the point where it was almost unusable.

I didn’t immediately put two and two together, I just assumed that it was time to give the laptop a bit of a spring clean; so I set about uninstalling a bunch of programmes that I had installed but don’t use (including Sky Anytime), ran a scan with Spy bot Search and Destroy, checked that my HD didn’t need defragmenting and so on.

Having done all this there was no discernible difference, the next step was to check what processes where running on my machine. That’s when I found “Kservice.exe” was using a fair amount of memory and CPU time. On investigation it turns out that this is the Peer 2 Peer service used by Sky Anytime on PC to distribute it’s content. I hadn’t even realised that Sky Anytime was a P2P application and certainly wouldn’t expect it to leave a service running on my PC one it had been uninstalled. I was not impressed.

I manually removed Kserver by stopping the service deleting the Kservice folder and romiving all the references to KDX from my registry. I subsequently found out that Sky have an uninstaller that you can download from their website. Hopefuly that’ll do the trick for anyone else who’s having problems with this.