The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Saturday, March 30, 2002

A lesson in usability

One of my readers reported a usability problem with my site: he couldn't see one of the links since I was using a rather dark blue to denote unvisited links and he couldn't see distinguish it from the black text (and I suppose, he had turned off underlining on links).

He also said that the typical color for unvisited links should be red, or some other visually outstanding color, to draw attention to them for the reader. My original idea was to have the visually outstanding color for links visited since you, the reader, found the link worthy of visiting.

But, given the visual problems mentioned above, I decided to switch the two colors so now unvisited links will be inviting you to click on them in red, while those tired, old, visited links will now be in blue.

Now, while I'm talking about linking colors, I'm not sure how many of you may have noticed, but the brightness of the links is an indication of how “far” the link is—the brighter it is, the “closer” it is serverwise. That is, the brightest links are to links to other entries in my journal here, while the dimmest links are completely external to my site.

Of course, you can only see it if your browser supports style sheets. And speaking of style sheets … I was expecting to have to fix about a dozen pages to fix the color aspects of the links, but for some reason it slipped my mind that I'm using a style sheet and that all that information about link color is stored in one location so it only took me like fifteen seconds to fix every page here (or rather, on The Boston Diaries—my main home page doesn't use style sheets, so there, I have to fix about a hundred pages).

Score another point for style sheets.

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You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site:, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

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