Archive for December, 2008

Happy New Year from Liron!

Happy 2009

I couldn’t have picked a better time for 2008 to finally be over. Here’s to a great 2009!
Feel free to use this image on your website, please link back to

Download wallpaper
Download PSD

Hello again, Zenith (a New Year’s resolution)

In Summer 2004, I created Zenith, an icon set which was an experiment in open-source interface design, released under the GPL. The challenge was to create a unique general-purpose icon set using entirely open-source graphics software and to release it under a creative license. It was designed in Inkscape and edited in The Gimp.

4 and a half years later, Zenith has been downloaded over 76,000 times on DeviantArt and over 63,000 times on It’s been ported to Open Exchange and linked to from the dark corners of the internet.

The reason I am pulling Zenith out of the depths of my archives is that I want to make a resolution for 2009 and hope it’s one you’d be interested in sharing. This resolution is to make a conscious effort to release more design works under creative licenses. This means – more works under the Creative Commons, more works under GPL, more works under the public domain. I like Zenith, not necessarily for it’s design, but for the opportunities it has created both for me and for others around the world.

In 2009, please make an effort to share some of your designs and illustrations so that up and coming designers, open source projects and the internet at large can benefit from your creativity and hard work.

Download Zenith

Re: Sometimes miracles happen

The internet has been heating up in the past few days on the subject of the conflict between Israel and the Hamas. Cem wrote an interesting post (translation) on the improvement of the relations between Turkey and Greece following the 1999 Izmit earthquake. I commented on this post, and then realized the comment would have been a post within itself, so here it is:

While I’d like to believe that the previous situation between Greece and Turkey would have been a viable benchmark point, unfortunately reality, from my perspective, is somewhat different.

The earthquake was indeed a catastrophe, and Greece’s willingness to extend a hand in aid was admirable. Set to scale, Palestinians and Israelis alike will mention that life in the Gaza Strip is catastrophic from a day-to-day perspective, however the international media has largely chosen to ignore the little-known fact that Israel has provided and continues to provide the Gaza Strip with electricity infrastructure, water, communications systems and medical aid. When the situation between the Hamas and the Fatah escalated, injured parties from both sides sought refuge inside Israel and were treated at Israeli hospitals. Israeli organizations routinely operate inside of the Gaza Strip in order to distribute food and supplies.

Inside Israel, pictures of Israeli/Palestinian cooperation are routinely shown in the Israeli media. Palestinian media professionals are routinely interviewed and the stories of life inside the Gaza Strip are aired. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of reporting by the Gazan media specifically and Arab media reporting in general. If the Turkish media would have chosen to ignore the Greek aid and not report on it, the situation today between Turks and Greeks may have very well been different.

For any type of “miracle” to happen in the future, Israel needs to uproot it’s settlements outside the borders and the Palestinians need to stop indoctrinating their children to murder. The situation will not get any better before the Palestinian people have something to live for, and no longer feel like they have nothing to lose. I believe Israel needs to take a harsh stand against the Hamas, an organization which is bittering the lives of both the Israeli and Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. Under Hamas, international aid money (and Israeli money, including the taxes I continue to pay) has been directed towards trafficking and deployment of weapons. Since the Hamas took power in the Gaza Strip, what existed of the Palestinian economy and the quality of life in the region has plummeted. Israel needs to go into the Gaza Strip (despite the controversy) uproot the Hamas (for the sake of both peoples) and start controlling and distributing aid directly (instead of just funneling money globally, like they do now), while investing finance into Palestinian businesses and promoting Palestinian grassroots organizations to build up the Palestinian economy towards self-sustainability. The moment this happens, international businesses will take notice, and the Palestinian economy will boom – leading towards a new era of cooperation and security.

This is why I am not entirely shocked or horrified by the situation in the Gaza Strip in the past few days. Olmert himself (who I am not normally a fan of) had a moment of honesty and clarity when he declared to the Israeli media: “It is going to get worse before it gets better, for both sides of this conflict”. I can only hope that the decisions made from this point forth will be beneficial towards both peoples. It’s going to be rough, but we’ll get there eventually.

So that is my “official” take on the current events in Gaza, make of it what you will. Despite the circumstances, I’d like to wish everyone (everyone) a happy and heartwarming final night of Hanukkah, from my small little apartment in Hamburg.

On the 8th night of Hanukkah my true love gave to me

My military legacy lives on

While browsing wikipedia and the Israeli Military website yesterday, I came across some stock graphics of military ranks that I did for the army back during my service (which ended in 2002). I was a webdesigner for the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit during my service and if my memory serves, I did these for a presentation.

It’s amusing to come across these after so many years, and it’s even more amusing to see them used officially, and on Wikipedia. It’s not so amusing to see them reduced to low-quality GIFs. :(

How to add a “get firefox” site ribbon for IE visitors

Throughout coding this website, the amount of IE-specific CSS hacks I’ve had to resort to has been startling. IE’s (mis)handling of simple margins and padding attributes while adding said attributes in places in which they were not defined is embarrassing. Internet Explorer is a joke. :twisted:

Yesterday’s Freakanalytics disclosed that 25% of my site visitors still use IE. I figured to use IE’s weaknesses to my advantage to add a site ribbon that only IE users will see, urging them to get Firefox. This is what it looks like.

Surprisingly, when deliberately trying to work with IE’s weaknesses instead of against them, this turned out to be rather easy. Here’s what I did:

Start off with a ribbon image or some other image. Mine says “Internet Explorer users, try Mozilla Firefox”, but you can use any text you want. Download the PSD here if you’d like to see how I created mine (public domain). Upload the image to your images folder.

Next, insert the following hack into your CSS file or header:

* html .IE {
(src='', sizingMethod='crop');

The “* html” bit at the beginning is somewhat of a controversial hack, but it works in order to make sure that browsers other than IE ignore this styling, since they don’t support this command. The “filter:progid:” bit at the bottom is an IE tweak to make sure that IE6 supports the PNG transparency of the image. Make sure to replace the URL in the code to the path of your image. Please make sure that the last two lines of this code (“filter:progid” and “(src”) do not break as above – I needed to break the javascript into two lines so it wouldn’t break my blog in this post.

Next, insert the following code within your page’s body tags. I recommend putting it straight after the body tag opens:

<div class="IE" onclick="'');"></div>

That’s it! I’m sure there are alternative ways to do this, but as I’ve said before: “I’m a designer, Jim, not a developer!” :D

Please post any alternative methods in the comments.

Edit: Aleks recommends using this method instead.


When sitting down to redesign a website, it’s always a good idea to take a hard look at the previous user stats and sift for details which will help you build a better webpage. Of course, me being myself, I didn’t do this. But I am looking at my stats now. So there!

Just looking at user stats isn’t enough, though. You need to dive deep into the bowels of the numbers and pie charts and graphs in order to uncover the really interesting facts. I am consistently in awe of my coworker, the conversion manager (who has a PhD in Particle Physics) and his ability to form numbers into sense. Me, I start sweating when ringing up the bill at a bar.

The user stats for tell an interesting story of my readers. Some are friends, some are family, some lurkers, some are just weird. But here’s what the numbers have to say about you lot.

You’re geeky, german and bored.
Digg users spend the most time on my site, averaging 7 minutes per visit. Users in Germany average at 5 minutes.

You’re confused.
Top google search keywords include “purpose of lipstick” and “google earth oops”.

You’re browsing with a widescreen laptop.
The top 2 screen resolutions are 1280×800 and 1440×900.

You think different.
30% of you are using a Mac.

One of you is a massive freak.
Exactly one (1) of my readers is browsing with a Nintendo Wii.

You like the blond girls.
The overwhelming majority of you are connected through Alice DSL

You’re surfing.
45% of visitors arrive through referring sites.

You’re talking about me behind my back
A few users were referred to my site through a link in gmail or Windows Live mail.

You’re into cellphones.
My top viewed blog content is mobile-related.

You’re designing business cards.
My downloadable template is pretty popular.

What you see is what you get.
The overwhelming majority of users who arrive on the blog main page don’t visit any other page.


Blogs are not dead…they’re resting (Dead Blogger Sketch)

I actually posted this before, but since migrating over to the new design, I broke fixed my character encoding. This is based on Monty Python’s famous Dead Parrot Sketch (watch this first if you’re not familiar).

Dead Blogger Sketch

The cast:

The sketch:
A customer enters a datacenter.

Mr. Bloglines: ‘Ello, I wish to register a complaint.
(The owner does not respond.)

Mr. Bloglines: ‘Ello, Miss?

Owner: What do you mean “miss”?

Mr. Bloglines: I’m sorry, my computer has a virus. I wish to make a complaint!

Owner: We’re closin’ to restart our generators.

Mr. Bloglines: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this blogger what I installed in a rack not half an hour ago from this very facility.

Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, the Drupal Fork … What’s, uh … What’s wrong with it?

Mr. Bloglines: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. ‘E’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!

Owner: No, no, ‘e’s uh,…his IM’s on idle.

Read the rest of this entry »

…and now for something completely different ( 2.0)

The Christmas holiday here in Germany has given me some time to sit down on my tuchus and get creative. Besides trying my hands in digital sculpting in ZBrush, I’ve also given this website a much needed redesign. I know that the previous version of this website had it’s fans (in the words of Lior: “If you redesign your website, I will have to kill you”), but after three years, it was time for a change. I wanted “simple pretty”. So here it is.

There are still some styling bugs here and there (especially if you’re browsing with Internet Explorer, which you shouldn’t, anyway), so please excuse the slightly unswept floor. Thanks a million to Mark and Matthias for helping me test and debug.

Besides the design, I’ve also rewritten the about page and I’m testing out a voicemail widget, so if you’d like to leave me a voice message you can do so on the contact page (flash required).

And for all the lovely folks who have been inquiring how the holiday season has been treating me, I leave you with this:

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Based on the theme "The Fundamentals of Graphic Design" by Arjuna and all included materials are © Liron Tocker 2002-2011 (unless otherwise stated) under the CC BY-NC-SA 3.0