Rules of thumb for creating HTML emails (in Japanese)

This always turns out to be much more difficult than it should be. Part of the problem is that there are many, many more email clients out there in common use than there are web browsers. And all of these email clients either use their own subset of HTML or, in the case of webmail, special filters that attempt to convert HTML-ized messages into a “sanitized” format.

Here’s some basic rules of thumb to follow:

  • Drop the doctype and head section.
  • Keep it simple. No fancy table nesting.
  • However, do use tables for positioning, rather than CSS.
  • If using CSS, keep it inline, or better yet avoid CSS altogether and use tags to apply style. (Pretend that it’s 1998 and stylesheets don’t exist.)
  • Avoid background images.
  • Call images from the server; don’t attach.
  • Don’t link to documents secured by SSL.
  • Use images as links if you want them to stand out in a color other than blue.
  • Encode Japanese in JIS (iso-2022) for widest email client support.
  • Before you hit that send button, test, check, test and check again, and.. Pray.

Unlike a correction to a web page, you can’t do a quick edit and “take back” what you just put out there. And because you’re pushing information at people rather than allowing them to pull it on their own terms, if the information is not relevant and easy to see, some folks could even become a bit angry. Or potentially very.. very… angry. Expect a call or two. Hoo boy.

For more information, Xavier Frennette has a terrific blog post outlining the types of CSS support in various webmail clients. The folks at Campaign Monitor have followed up with an increadibly thorough chart of all the popular clients. Definitely worth a look.

Finally, consider marketing webmail service. I am. More and more of these are popping up; for a small fee you can offload much of this heavy design lifting to them.

Oga’s Japanese Cuisine

An authentic Japanese bento is the last thing I expected to find in Natick.

Oga’s Japanese Cuisine

Following a seminar about the crazy healthcare reform laws that have befallen Massaschusetts, we decided to stop by Oga’s in Natick to see what the rest of the Boston Japanese community was raving about. Wow, we weren’t disappointed.

Oga’s Sushi BentoThough Oga’s looks pricey for dinner, a formal (read: “fancy-ish”) bento box lunch was only about $12. I had a fairly good tonkatsu pork bento (complete with cabbage and sauce), and Miho a really spectacular sushi box lunch.

Oga’s can be a bit far out of Boston on the highway, but worth the trip. Best bento I’ve ever had in the US.


Speech impediment as the perfect FTP client.

I’ve been on the lookout for a good Windows FTP app ever since LeechFTP made its last public appearance in 1999. Rejoicing time is upon us for today one of the designers at GMAP put me on to FFFTP.


FTP-wise I’ve tried a handful of apps over the last three or four years. I’d settled on SmartFTP for most of the heavy lifting, though it does have a lot of cruft I don’t need and I really loathe its weirdo “address – username” pulldown with accompanying incomprehensible dialog boxes.

FileZilla is promising, but kept startling me with random stability quirks. Likewise checked out CoreFTP “Lite”, which has a really great view-toggle feature going on, as well as an incessant per-directory-click-activated beep which, I suppose, is designed to encourage full version purchasing or else irritating beep-induced madness.

WebDrive was a favorite for quite awhile, though has also proven to be unstable when asked to cooperate with Vista. Plus, WebDrive can be overkill when you just want to quickly pop a file through the ether and be done with it.

FFFTP is cruftless and light and includes the better features of more “advanced” FTP clients; specifically firewall jockeying and even auto Japanese encoding conversion. Nice.

A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar

Here it is.  The bible of Japanese grammar; possibly the one reference a serious student of Japanese really can’t do without.

A Dictionary of Basic Japanese GrammarThe Japan Times’ A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar is packed with essential, truly useful grammar. Each entry begins with a brief explanation of a grammatical pattern then further illustrated via simple examples. Formation notes and additional dialogue samples elaborate on nuances.  Entries are organized alphabetically for quick reference.

When you’re first learning to speak, this reference is a great way to identify and incorporate the speech patterns you hear in conversation around you.  I’d been studying Japanese for a full two years before this was finally recommended to me,  and my spoken Japanese ability improved dramatically once I began to use the grammar dictionary on a daily basis.