pity the poor sidekick user

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So I'm stuck here at O'Hare--my 11:30am flight was cancelled, and I'm hoping the 1:30 will still go out. (The first one was a mechanical problem, but Gerald says the weather is getting worse in Rochester, so a later flight is a bit of a gamble.)

Can't find a wifi hotspot here, so I'm using my handy Sidekick phone. Figured I'd read some blogs, get caught up with online goings-on.

I'd forgotten, however, how sidekick-unfriendly many blogs are. Some ways you can help us hapless mobile readers:

1) Don't use margin-left to position your blog content. The sidekick honors this (unlike positioning) and your blog ends up being a one-word-wide column of words. Many MT and typepad default templates do this. Dorothea's site does, too.

2) Don't put the div with your sidebar content above the div with your contnent...this forces us to scrollllllllll forever, which is a PITA using this tiny scoll wheel. Major offenders on my blogroll include Halley Suitt and Joey DeVilla.

3) don't put your comment in a javascript popup, if possible. Link the comments to the comments section of your permanent entry, and then use a named anchor to jump to that part of the page. (Shelley Powers and Joey DeVilla both link to the entry page, but neither one has a comments anchor, so I have to do that long scroll again.)

Of course, you're under no obligation to do any of those things...but it sure would be appreciated if you did.

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http://mamamusings.net/archives/2004/01/31/pity_the_poor_sidekick_user.php... Read More

Sooner or later there will be more folks like Liz surfing on handheld devices. Read More


A few things.

1. Proper Linking
If you want you can keep your comments in a javascript window and still maintain sidekick/javascript-less browser compatibility. Rather than place the javascript in the href attribute, it should be placed in an onclick element, followed by a return false. Then, a regular link to the comments page should be placed in the href attribute. Something like this

<a href = "/path/to/comments" onclick = "window.open(blah blah blah);return false;">Comments</a>

If a browser is javascript aware, it will open the comments window and the return false will stop the browser from following the link. If it's not javascript aware it will just follow the link.

2. User-Agent Sniffing
If you're really serious about providing hiptop support, you could do some user agent sniffing (http://randomfoo.net/?p=2002_09_29_archive.inc#85527115) with a server side language to provide a different, hiptop friendly style sheet for your site (Unfortunately the Hiptop will use the media="screen" stylesheet instead of the media="handheld" stylesheet. That would be too easy).

3. Scrolling with the Sidekick
When you're using the sidekick, hold down on the menu button while scrolling. It acts like a [pg up]/[pg down], which will save your thumb a lot of unneeded wear and tear.

4. For the pedantic masochist
If you want properly rendered text-only sites, you can install the ssh client on your side kick, connect to grace or some other unix system, and then surf with lynx :)

Hm. Suckage noted. Will fix when I have time to cuss CSS.

Shame, though. That's a useful technique. Way easier than absolute positioning.

Alan, thanks! The scollong tip was much appreciated!

I know I still need to make my comments more accessible but I will look into these other issues/suggestions as well - lots of good points!

Mark Pilgrim's tutorial on Dive Into Accessibility gives good pointers on how to present the main content first. This Glish layout is good, too.

And for the love of god, don't make form submissions JavaScript-dependent. I am disappointed though not outraged when the Sidekick's lack of JavaScript means I don't get flying menus or whatever, but I really really need your site's forms to work :D

Liz, thanks for pointing this out.
Mark Pilgrim has a fantastic tutorial on making sites accessible, which takes care of many of the problems you mentioned. Erm--I haven't followed all his prescriptions yet.


Oops, I missed Raena's pointer to the same tutorial, above.

You might want to take a look at what Steven Frank is doing over at Somniphobia. There is a lot going on there, but part of it is presenting RSS feeds scaled appropriately for Danger devices.

I made a PDA version of my blog just so I could read it on my sidekick! :) http://pda.orangehairedboy.com

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This page contains a single entry published on January 31, 2004 1:16 PM.

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