Monday, March 16, 2015

To work or not to work

Now I don't normally write on here, as you can see, but I'm so confused about the UK system of benefits that I thought I'd get my thoughts down on 'paper'.

So I've worked for almost all of my adult life and only been out of work for a couple of weeks. I guess I'm lucky that way, but then I've worked my backside off to get to where I am today. I've chased jobs, I've worked weekends, I've done all nighters. And whilst I've got a nice little flat, a wife who loves me and two beautiful boys, I feel that I'm being treated unfairly with the UK benefits system.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm proud to live in a country that cares for its underprivileged men, women and children. There are plenty of people out there who are still working hard, raising children, but still can't get enough pay to live on. They then rightly get top-ups from the government. It's so good that people come to this country specifically for it - but then that's another discussion.

The type of people that I'm talking about are the one's that don't work, and have no plans to. The one's that get everything paid for them - and say they 'deserve' it for having another child. The one's that get 2 and 3 bed houses - all paid for by the benefits system. My wife and I are just saving up for a new house as we don't really have enough space in our flat. We both work hard - my wife looking after the boys whilst working - and myself travelling an hour each way for a decent wage. But because we work hard we are above the level where we can get any help from the Government at all. Yet other people get moved into bigger houses - because they had more children - all paid for by the benefits system. Surely they should only get a bigger place if they start, at the very least, part-time work? "But I've got my children to look after..." - well so has my wife - and we don't get our mortgage paid for us? 

And it doesn't stop with housing? Our boys are in Nursery now for one afternoon a week which we have to pay through the nose for - whilst other parents get funded Nursery places (15 hours a week) from 2 years - because they are on low incomes or don't work at all? I'm not saying they shouldn't get it - all kids should have a great education - but why can't our children get it free? Just because we work hard it feels like we're being punished - as we couldn't, and this is the funny bit, AFFORD to put them in from age two for that many hours a week!? How is that a fair system? We work hard, pay our taxes, and yet our children won't get the benefit of an extra years education?

I'm almost getting to the point where I'm going to give up work - and yes I'll be short of money - but not THAT short as everything would be paid for me? But I just couldn't do it. I need to work. To be useful to society. To do my bit. To be the best British citizen that I can be.

Rant over. ;)

Monday, July 07, 2014

Outlook 2013 OFT Issues

Well I don't write on this blog unless something really important comes up... and this is one of them.

If you are an email designer, at some point you will be asked to create an 'OFT' file – an Outlook template file – that the client can send themselves. Whilst this is very easy to do (I won't go into exactly how here – just Google it) a new bug in Outlook 2013 has caused me issues recently. The issue involves embedding images in the OFT file – basically Outlook 2013 refuses to do it. It needs a proper external link – the thought process is to reduce email size I think?

Here: http://www.msoutlook.info/question/730 explains this in more detail, and includes a fix on how to get around the issue. I hope other designers will find this useful!

Monday, November 04, 2013

Chrome font rendering issues

So this is a weird little bug in Google's Chrome browser that I've come across whilst building my own website. I'm talking about Chrome's strange rendering of web fonts - or lack of antialiasing - that leaves the fonts with jagged edges and looking rubbish!

As a designer, the introduction of web fonts - @font-face and Google's own webfonts - has allowed us to give websites great typography - whilst keeping SEO compatibility to its maximum. These fonts look great and are cross-browser compatible - even down to IE6 - or so I thought...

So here is what is happening. I've implemented fonts on my webpage. In Firefox, IE and Safari, looking good. Then I thought I'd just check Chrome - but knowing that the fonts are Google's own - there shouldn't be an issue... Ahhh!! Now that isn't how it's supposed to look? The fonts have jagged edges, look heavier than they should be, and quite frankly look awful. After trawlling the web for more than a few hours, this seemed to be a known issue. And there are two ways that people seem to be using to fix this...

1) The shadow way. The idea is to try and soften the edges of the fonts utilizing CSS3 shadows. There are lots of sites out there to explain this - but for me, this didn't work. The fonts still looked bad - but had a little glow. Not really what I wanted. The thing that worked for me is...

2) SVG rendering. So this fix is using the @font-face web fonts. To use these fonts you have to call the font files in the CSS. This is a standard call...

@font-face {
font
-family: 'chunk-webfont';
src
: url('../../includes/fonts/chunk-webfont.eot');
src
: url('../../includes/fonts/chunk-webfont.eot?#iefix') format('eot'),
url
('../../includes/fonts/chunk-webfont.woff') format('woff'),
url
('../../includes/fonts/chunk-webfont.ttf') format('truetype'),
url
('../../includes/fonts/chunk-webfont.svg#
chunk-webfont') format('svg');}
It seems that Chrome doesn't render the TTF fonts so we need to get Chrome to use the SVG font files first. To do this we can tell Chrome to use them as the initial font to implement...

@font-face {
font
-family: 'chunk-webfont';
src
: url('../../includes/fonts/chunk-webfont.eot');
src
: url('../../includes/fonts/chunk-webfont.eot?#iefix') format('eot'),
url
('../../includes/fonts/chunk-webfont.woff') format('woff'),
url
('../../includes/fonts/chunk-webfont.ttf') format('truetype'),
url
('../../includes/fonts/chunk-webfont.svg#chunk-webfont
') format('svg');
}
@media screen and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio:0) {
@font-face {
font
-family: 'chunk-webfont';
src
: url('../../includes/fonts/chunk-webfont.svg#chunk-webfont
') format('svg');
}
}
This didn't work totally for me either. There were still jagged edges and the font positioning had shifted. The main fix for this issue - which it's taken a while to find is two fold...

Firstly, on the @font-face standard SVG call line... url('../webfont-name.svg#webfont-name') format('svg'); -  take out the #webfont-name so it reads as url('../webfont-name.svg') format('svg'); And most importantly...

Font-weight: normal; on ALL tags. Chrome seems to put on a heavier weight to all fonts - this clears this and makes the fonts render perfectly! :) You could do the reverse - put font-weight:normal; in your CSS body tag - then you'd have to specify a weight for headers. Either way should work fine.

I've also noticed that this part of the fix also makes Google Fonts render properly too - so a double bonus! 

Now the fonts are all rendering like they should, I can get on with building the site properly!! Hopefully this post will help other people out too.


Web stuff, emails and tips and tricks

Hi. I'm Ronnie. I'm a graphic designer. Over the last 15 years or so I've done work for multi-national companies (like Canon, Oracle, Nokia, TelĂ©fonica, Mizuno and the BBC), helped local start-ups and everything in-between. 

For the last 8 years or so I've been mainly digital based as that is where I believe the world is going. I've started this blog to write down all the little tips and tricks that I've picked up over the years - and indeed the new things that I pick up daily! In the hope that I won't forget things - and that others can learn as well.

Cheers,

Ronnie