19 April 2008

Gratuitous Mobile Device Post

by Frank Turk

I realize that I'm the only one on earth who cares about this, but I haven't posted here in two weeks, I have insomnia and a hacking cough that's causing me a lot of pain, and you weren't really doing anything else. If you don't want to read about my experiments with my new iPod Touch, just skip down to the Dose of Spurgeon, below, and God Bless you.

So I was away on a business trip two weeks ago and won a 16 GB iPod Touch at the conference I was attending. Completely fabulous. And I have a wireless network in my house, so my iPod is now like my personal access point to the universe in every place within 100 ft (~30m for you metric types) of my router. And I have really pushed the thing to its limit, noticing stuff like my own home blog doesn't render at all in the iPod Safari browser due to that site's heavy reliance on Flash to do a lot of the dirty work.

So, note to Apple: iPod/iPhone needs Flash support.

But that said, you can obviously read this blog -- the one you are reading right now -- in your iPhone/iPod without many problems, but it takes like 500 years to load, and then you have to zoom in and scroll, and blablahblah. Yes: it looks very nice, but suddenly we're back in 1999 when bandwidth was a major consideration in web design and the old rules about content start rearing their ugly heads.

So what to do? How does this get fixed?

Honestly: I'm working on a way to redirect your mobile device to a mobile-friendly feed which still gives you the graphics and stuff but in a way which doesn't cause you to shake your iPhone in such a way that DHS will show up at your house and take it into protective custody. But until that work bears fruit, my suggestion is that you link your mobile device to our built-in ATOM feed for the blog, which your iPhone/iPod will handle very well, and leave all the in-line graphics in tact. I know: you will miss the rotating TeamPyro logos and all the sidebar stuff if you do this. That is why I am working on a better solution than merely grabbing the raw feed. However, until then, no sense in punishing yourself.

I'm sure I have something deeper than that to say after listening to R.C. Sproul expound on the curse motif, but it won't come to me until I stop trying to cough up a lung.

Carry on.


Evan Williams said...

There is a simple way of causing the same page to render differently on a mobile device using CSS, saving the need for a complicated redirect system. CSS supports rendering a page based on the media used to view it, so your pages can be rendered differently on Computer screens, TVs, projectors, mobile devices, and when printed.

To use this, save the CSS you currently have to an external host, then write new CSS rules for mobile devices (and whatever other media you require, print is always a good one to have)rembering to employ the

"display: none;"

property on objects that would cause slow-down (such as all the images on the side-bar). Save these documents to the external host as well.

Finally, go into the blogger CSS options, and enter the following code (typed entirely from memory, it may not be completely correct, but it gives you the general gist):

@media screen
@import url(location of screen CSS);

@media handheld
@import url(location of mobile CSS);

and so on linking all the media types used. this serves a dual purpose of allowing rendering on different media types, and speeding up page loads as the client will cache the CSS, rather than reloading it on each page load as you have it now.

For more information, and a list of media types see here


S. Todd Young said...

It was nice to meet you this week at T4G... Did you stay in town long enough to catch the earthquake on Friday morning?


Dan Paden said...

I haven't posted here in two weeks, I have insomnia and a hacking cough that's causing me a lot of pain...


...I was away on a business trip two weeks ago and won a 16 GB iPod Touch at the conference I was attending.

Are these two things unrelated? I think not. Apparently iPods cause a hacking cough.

Frank Turk said...


I can't decide if that's brilliant or ugly.

Frank Turk said...


I'm aware of the method of using an alternative CSS for various media types. Nobody but you and me understood all that, so that's why I didn't geek out in my post. This is a "simple way" in theory; in practice, it means rebuilding the CSS from scratch to ensure that the page renders well after it encounters the "display: none" objects. And if one is doing that, one might as well employ some other cool stuff like deploying ways to make viewing one post at a time an option for the reader.

Thanks, however, for trying to help out. I'm glad I'm not the only one who's awake at Oh-Dark-hundred contemplating web design.

John said...

There's actually a wordpress plugin that auto-reconfigures the CSS for mobile browsers, although it doesn't work for iPhone since it recognizes mobile safari as a full-featured browser. Of course, you'd have to be using the superior blog platform to try it out, Frank (snark snark).

Google reader works great with mobile safari, have you tried it?

BTW, Mr. almost-an-iPhone-owner, Weren't you listening when Piper said "Get thee behind me, Satan?"

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about the hacking cough and potential loss of lung, Frank. Maybe I should have told you about the highly infectious respiratory thing I had going on before I shook your hand at BoB last week. Oh well...

BTW, Team Pyro and several other worthy blogs I frequent work passably in the browser on my Blackberry. I used it to great effect the other night during a less-than-entertaining school function. Yeah, I was there for my kids, but...

Dan Paden said...

I can't decide if that's brilliant or ugly.

What? "Silly" wasn't an option?

Seriously, I sympathize with the lung thing. Every so often, my hayfever sneaks up behind me and assaults me, and I sneeze so much, so hard, and so long, that my rib cage is sore for a couple of days afterward.

I'm told it's quite comical to watch, though.

SolaMeanie said...


I hope and pray you feel better. If you've got the same bug going through my family and office, it ain't fun.

Now, on another note. You aren't supposed to tempt people to envy. That's what you do when you post brags about your new toys. I am physically ill with envy and greed at the moment.

Shame, shame, shame.

Biblically Reforming said...

Another nice little work around is to use the mobile version of Google Reader. Google has some of the best mobile sites around, and they do an excellent job of showing RSS feeds on a mobile device.

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

Don't give me an excuse to buy an iphone.

Check out the complete article @ http://www.engadget.com/2008/03/12/68-of-americans-suffer-disconnection-anxiety-should-probably-g/

68% of Americans suffer disconnection anxiety

The study used research collected on almost 5,000 people over two years, and found that feelings of "disconnect anxiety" affected people of all ages, triggering sentiments like "dazed," "disoriented," "tense," "inadequate" and even "panic.

If you like PDF’s you can read the complete research article @