Ken Edwards is a web developer, gaming nerd, and Movable Type junkie. You can find fresh-er content on Twitter, find him on Facebook and LinkedIn.

April 5, 2012

TN3 jQuery Image Gallery: Slideshow Crossfade & Losing a Customer

I have worked with many different slideshow frameworks over the years. I have found most all of the time that the people who create them to be helpful, nice people. A coworker had mentioned to me the TN3 Gallery, which does look pretty nice. The only problem I had with their demos was not one of them displayed images with different dimensions - which is just about the most important thing to me when deciding if a new library is worth my time.

I noticed they had a Get Satisfaction site, and I quickly found that I was far from the first person to bring this issue to their attention. The problem with TN3, and in my experience Nivo, is that it stacks every frame on top of each other, but does not put a solid (say black) background behind each frame - it fades the image, not the div. At least TN3 centers the images by default, I will give them credit there.

I was not the first one to bring this up in this thread, John Meloy did. This thread was 8 months old but since the employee response was not actually a solution, but a compromise to be able to use their TN3 slider, I decided to jump in.

I honestly hoped than in 8 months that the company had figured out a way to address the problem. After doing some testing with the free/lite version of TN3, I found that not to be the case.

While I admit my first comment was a bit flippent, my response was pretty much the same as one of John Meloy's comments:

Me:

Really? That is the best answer you have? Well, no sale then.

Ben (employee):

Ken, yes image sizes need to be identical for effects to work.

If your images aren't the same size all you need to do is open them up in photoshop, increase the canvas size (not the image size) and then save them as transparent pngs. They'll look just like they do now, and continue to function with the gallery's effects.

Please let me know if you have any more queries,

Thanks

Me:

Thanks for the reply Ben, but that is just not practical. I am not making the photo galleries manually, I am building a gallery for a client in Movable Type. Nivo Slider has this same issue, I guess I will go back to my old trusty standby, AnythingSlider (which handles different sized images very well).

But you won't see that comment in the Get Satisfaction thread, because Ben deleted it. Why? Because "Unfortunately we can't use this forum to critique third party products."

WHA? Who is critiquing other products. We (John and I) are critiquing YOUR product. So while I am typing my response, I get the emails that more comments are posted.

Ben:

The TN3 Gallery will handle different sized images. You are simply restricted to the slide transition. This isn't a technical restriction, it's because the other transitions do not work visually if the images aren't the same size. Please let me know if you have any more concerns about this,

John:

I hate to say it on a TN3 support forum, but there are ways to crossfade two images of a different aspect ratio. They just haven't implemented it that way for whatever weird reason. Galleria works great. Sorry TN3.

Ben moderated that one to Oblivion, too. The reason? Because "Again, we regret that we can't allow customers to critique other products. We can only discuss the merits of the TN3 Gallery here."

In translation: Again, we regret that we can't allow customers to critique our products.

I mean god forbid that when talking about a feature of Gallery X that we also speak of the same feature that Gallery Y or Gallery Z does and how it is handled there. It is not like TN3 has the trademark on crossfading between frames using jQuery. Every gallery library does that. I could write the jQuery to do that from scratch if I really wanted to waste my time.

Ben:

John, there are ways to crossfade different sized images, but none of them are compatible with the effects in the TN3 Gallery. It's like fitting a square peg in a round hole. Please let me know if you have any other queries.

Shockingly, Ben did not delete my response to this nonsense. It is safe to say that it will be the last time I contribute anything at all to TN3. I was actually going to make a Movable Type plugin to work with TN3 that would allow people to use it just like they have created a WordPress plugin. But if the company wants to treat other developers in the mannor, I am not going to waste my time.

My final response on this mannor (as of right now is still on the Get Satisfaction thread).

You are serious? You deleted my comment for merely mentioning 2 other jQuery libraries out there for photo galleries? That is absolutely pathetic. That is not the way to build trust in the community of people who use a product.

Yes, it handles different sized images, it does not however handle them gracefully. There are a number of jQuery/HTML5 galleries that handle the issue and allow for a slide transition [Edit: I meant crossfade, obviously]. It usually involves centering the image horizontally/vertically, and JS is pretty darn good at math, and then coloring the background black/white/whatever.

John you are going to get your comment deleted to, just like mine was. I was thinking of purchasing a single site license just to be able to futz with all the features, but not after this experience.

And no Ben, it is not like fitting a square peg in a round hole. The real world does not always have exacting pixel fitting images. And yes, you can have nice crossfades with different heights or widths in a gallery.

And yes, I am disputing the removal of my comment.

November 18, 2011

Skyrim Overworld Map Could Be Better

There is not a lot to complain about in Skyrim, but a game that you will spend over 100 hours in really does need a fairly functional overworld map. There is no denying that the map in Skyrim is much better than Oblivion, but it still leaves some things to be desired.

1) Why on EARTH are the Dunmer ruins not on the map at all? When you find one, they do not display on the map as a marker of any kind. This is mind boggling, considering some of the best weapons, armor, and smithing items are found within.

2) Why doesn't the map have some sort of legend of any kind, so it is very clear what each icon means.

3) Why doesn't the (missing) legend allow me to toggle on/off specific icons on the map? It gets pretty darn crowded after 100 hours of wandering around Skyrim, and being able to toggle items on/off would sure make navigating the game a bit easier.

4) Why can't the map display the (discovered) paths up mountains? One of my other major frustrations in this game is that you may take a half hour trying to find the ONE way to get to the summit of a mountain. A game like this does NOT need to be artificially lengthened like that.

All four of these things will likely come in the form of mods for the PC version of the game. My fourth issue has already been addressed, somewhat, with a Google Street View-type view of the world map.

Skyrim "The Forsworn Conspiracy" Glitch

This glitch has been the topic of more than one Yahoo Answers topics, but only one of them had the exact flavor of the glitch I had. Yes, this glitch has a few different incarnations, isn't that just grand.

I will try and be as spoiler free as possible. Note that if you are on PC you have one thing the PS3/360 version does not: the console. Like other TES games, you can use the console to step through a quest just like you would debug a program. I am not here to address the PC version or the console in Skyrim. The above link has the correct console commands for you.

During your investigation go back to the shrine EVERY TIME and talk to Eltrys. The quest markers DO NOT tell you to do this. For one, you will get more money out of him, but the real reason is that the quest will not completely bug out. You need to investigate 2 people, investigate both and report to Eltrys. This is one quest where it really DOES NOT help to do all the misc. parts at once. That seems to cause this wonderful little glitch.

After investigating both persons, you will want to go to the treasure house and speak with this guy there. And finally DO NOT go and kill Nepos, as much as you would like to at this point. That may/may not result in the glitch, too (I did not try every permutation here, I do in fact have real work to do today).

Go back to the shrine once you are done in the treasure house. You will immediately be greeted by guards, the quest will complete, and the following quest will start right away!

The Glitch: You head back to the shrine and there is a white waypoint parker hovering next to the right column, but not over the guard himself. Some have said to just use the Wait command for an hour. This did not work for me. Complete the quest as stated above, and everything will come out peachy. Complete the following quest and you will get all your stuff back safely.


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November 17, 2010

Hulu Plus Officially Launches at $7.99

Today Hulu Plus is out of preview, something that I have been using since July. I have been very happy with the service both on my PS3 and my iPod Touch. Now I like it even more.

Origionally priced at $9.99 a month - which is what all Preview users have been paying - now costs you $2 less. Not only that, they are taking good care of us early adopters:

Since we're now offering Hulu Plus at a lower price than during the preview, your subscription fee has been lowered to $7.99/month, and on your next billing cycle, we'll also automatically credit your account with $2 for each month you've been a subscriber. In addition, we're now offering a 1-week free trial for all new subscribers, so we'll be issuing you an additional $2 credit since the free trial wasn't in place during the preview.

They also have a nice referral plan in place now, so if you sign up here you get 2 weeks free trial and I get 2 weeks free, that is not a bad deal at all.

They have expanded the amount of content that is available on Hulu Plus (meaning on devices like the PS3 and iPod Touch) and even added a couple more devices since they started the Preview program (4th generation iPod Touch, for example).

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July 5, 2010

Best Practices: Creating KML/KMZ; Google Earth Browser Plugin

I have spent the last couple weeks working with KML and KMZ files that were provided by a third party. While most if not all of these suggestions or "Best Practices" may seem like basic knowledge to any web designer/developer, they are not common knowledge to all. My job (one of many) is to make a web site perform well, load fast, and generally not seem "broken" or "buggy" to the user. In this case I had to figure out exactly how to reduce the size of KMZ files, and get them loading propery in Google Earth in the browser.

Through trial and error, and by that I mean a lot of trials, and a lot of errors, I have come to understand that the Desktop version of Google Earth is much more forgiving than its Browser Plugin counterpart. For the project, we are embedding KMZ into a web page, and not providing a link to download and then view in the Desktop version of Google Earth.

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April 14, 2010

Fake Kevin Butler PlayStation Network Spam

So I got one of these spam messages. Over the top obvious. But considering that it means the sender (who is in my Friends List) would have to be stupid enough to believe it and send it on... well lets just say I am pretty sure we have no hope left for humanity. It is the classic chain email thing "send this to X people and you will win $1 M dollars" bull shit.

Then I got a second one, and now a third. It is not like I haven't seen numerous MS Points scams come across my Live account, it just needs to stop. Here is the message, transcribed with all grammar/punctuation intact. Never a subject to the message:

Hello there Playstation Network user I am Kevin Butler from Sony Entertainment Company I would like to stop this spaming rumor about Playstation Network users have to pay to playing online,please help me stop the rumor spaming if you send this to 35 people you will be granted $37 on playstation store just check your wallet money on playstation store.This message is tracked by me Kevin and Sony Entertainment Company.

Like I said, anyone who would send this message on, they win a Darwin award. So I did some digging, and found variations on this message pop up.

It needs to stop folks. I hope Kevin Butler comes and kicks your ass if you are sending these PSN messages.

April 4, 2010

I used to have this blog...

Well, it has been some time since I have written here. Did I get burnt out? Run out of time. Not really. Twitter happened.

I joined Twitter in January of 2007, but have in the past year used it more regularly.

But I have the itch to blog again. Mainly to rant about stuff. So yay, Breaking Windows is back!

September 10, 2009

Off to San Francisco Today

It has been a long time since I have updated this blog. This has to do with the fact that I am writing more on Blogcritics, plus running the Gaming section; blogging on BG Views; developing BG Views; and lastly I pretty much use Twitter as a blog mechanism these days.

Today I fly to San Francisco to the EA Blogger Day event, which I went to last year as well. It should be fun, check my Twitter account for updates while I am there. I will have a write up on Blogcritics and talk about it on our radio show as well. I will likely write about it for The BG News, too.

June 14, 2009

Tiger Woods 10 Wii Course List

Tiger Woods 10 on the Wii has 27 courses. The only thing I could really ask for in this list is Glen Abbey Golf Club and Spyglass Hill.

Banff Springs
Bay Hill Club
Bethpage Black Course
Cog Hill CC
Doral Golf Resort
Eastlake Golf Course
Fancourt Golf Course
Firestone CC
Gary Player CC
Harbor Town Golf Links
Hazeltine Golf Club
The K Club
Kiawah Island Golf
Oakmont Golf Club
Pebble Beach
Pinehurst No. 2
Riviera CC
Sheshan GC
St. Andrews
Torrey Pines Golf Course
TPC Boston
TPC Sawgrass
TPC Scottsdale
Turnberry Ailsa
Wentworth Golf Club
Westchester Golf Course
Wolf Creek Resort

In contrast, the Xbox 360/PS3 versions have 16 courses.

May 24, 2009

My 1 vs. 100 Beta Experience

I recently wrote about my impressions on Blogcritics. Check it out if you have not. Saturday night the show was at 7 PM EST instead of 9 PM EST, a much better time of day if you ask me. Again there was no lag to speak of, but Chris Cashman and Jade kept getting cut off mid-sentence for the first part of the show. I guess that cannot be helped. Jade is from Xbox Canada, and was on for a fair bit of the entire show.

There was one person who won it all, beating all 100 Mob members. That was pretty cool to see. Of course in the beta no Microsoft Points are awarded, but winning $125 worth of MSP for a few minutes of trivia questions does not seem that difficult (until you are in the hot seat, of course). They got the woman on the phone to talk about getting through 15 questions and beating the Mob. The entire "live" experience is really a neat thing, on so many levels.

I hope we see a beta soon in the States, and I really hope we hear that 1 vs. 100 goes live for real at E3 this year.

May 19, 2009

Hellz Yeah!! Little Mac is Back!

I am so glad that "Hellz Yeah!!" is not on the box art. So, I did not get a pink hoodie, like others did. But you know what? I would likely never wear a pink hoodie. Ever.

PunchOut!! Shirt
(Click to Embiggen)

It says here I am not to spoil the game's "special, super secret" character in my review. I guess I have some playing to do to beat it and find out. Ah well, the game looks good and plays like Punch-Out!! so we are safe there. Have to recommend ditch the Nunchuck and use the Classic Control scheme for this one.

I think this game is going to mean more for those among us who actually played it on the NES. Lots of fun, and nostalgia. I will be talking about this on our radio show tomorrow and will have a full review up on Blogcritics Gaming.

May 16, 2009

I have an Emo Xbox

According to my 360 Voice Blog, I have the superbly saddening "Emo Xbox" badge. I object. I demand a "voice" with the people who run that site. Is it my fault that I have had to buy five Xbox 360 consoles in four years? No, no it is not. When my 360 was down I (mostly) remembered to put up the Vacation Notice.

I will have to ask Ryan what the hell the Emo Xbox badge means.

Fallout 3 Game Corruption Problem

I have a problem but it is not straightforward by any means.

I just got a brand new 360, Arcade, as my last one's DVD drive died. I had an issue that my Gamer Profile got corrupt when trying to use my hard drive on a different 360 until I could afford to purchase a new one of my own.

Read More »

May 7, 2009

All Small and Mighty

Sometimes we get oddball stuff from PR. We recently worked with a firm on a promotion for The Apprentice. One of our other writers wrote the article, I think it was Josh, so I was surprised to get a package in the mail.

It had a "You're Fired" baseball cap and a coupon for $6.50 off All Small and Mighty. I will have to take a photo of the ball cap.

April 6, 2009

My Nintendo DSi Review, Fox "News" DSi Review

Do you smell that, its the smell of bull crap. Here, read the lede:

The new Nintendo DSi handheld gaming console, which arrived in stores April 5 for $170, is a quantum leap forward from the similar-looking DS Lite. It adds another layer of applications and functions to the core DS system to become the first Nintendo handheld that's plenty of fun even without the games.

Fox headlines the review as "A Quantum Leap Forward."

I could literally pick this apart line by line, but I won't. However this one does stand out:

The single new feature promised in the DSi — as in "eye," or "individualization" — sounded like a throwaway gimmick.

Really? Only one new feature promised? I guess DSiWare doesn't count. Look, I am not saying my review is the best one you will read, but at least it is "fair and balanced," which cannot be said about FOX News.

OK sorry I can't stop at just one.

The previously existing Pictochat and Download Play functions are applications as well, but it's two of the new apps — called just "Camera" and "Sound" — that really sell the DSi.

This entire review reminds me of complaining that Time Crisis 4 doesn't have on screen reticles. You can go buy a PMP (that is Personal Media Player for those not paying attention) and get better "Camera" and "Sound" capabilities for under $100. You will get a much higher resolution camera, and OMFG even MP3 support. Oh and video, too.

Little Jonny (or Big Jonny for that matter) may cream his pants over being able to play with his photos or music, but that is not going to keep him entertained very long. This is a portable gaming console, what sells this specific one is the new distribution channel, that being DSiWare.

Also "Wario Ware Slapped!" (it's called Wario Ware Snapped - get it, like snapping a photo) only recognizes the silhouette of your face and hands. Or did you not see Nintendo demo it at GDC this year.

There is nothing worse than misinforming the user in a brand new product review.

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Breaking Windows is © 2003
by Ken Edwards and Matt Paprocki. Some Rights Reserved.
Contact Ken: ken [at] meancode [dot] com
Contact Matt: videogamer [at] bex [dot] net

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of any corporation, business entity, group or club the author has ever been associated with. Feel free to quote anything I say but do me the courtesy of a link back (see Creative Commons license).