Recent Web Development Posts



October 1, 2008

Elgg 1.0 Install Script is Finicky as Hell

EDIT 2: It bleeping works. I honestly do not know how the installer can work at meancode.biz and have access to mod_rewrite and that .htaccess file and not have the correct access/privileges to mod_rewrite and the .htaccess file on spoiledlittlebitch.com. For that, I have no answer. To fix my problem I *DID NOT* do what the Wiki said to do (it says to add

AllowOverride all
to .htaccess which breaks the entire domain giving me a wonderful error 500) but did manually copy the entire htaccess_dist into my .htaccess file. It should be noted that for my first install, I *DID NOT* have to do that.

EDIT: This has been documented. Though I do not understand how this could be an issue with my mod_rewrite, as meancode.biz and spoiledlittlebitch.com are on the same bleeping account.

So I installed Elgg 1.0 the other day as a test. Went by with flying colors. Add the MySQL info, done.

Not so today. Since I am installing it on the same account, just a different domain, I figured I would try and use the same database. I can do this with Movable Type, it is a great feature. Just point a fresh install to an existing (good) database, and you are set.

Continue reading "Elgg 1.0 Install Script is Finicky as Hell" »

September 4, 2008

My favorite new tag

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE7" />

June 5, 2008

Using PHPList for Newsletters

Many people use PHPList to send email newsletters of all sizes. One of the services that I provide is the development of these newsletters. PHPList is a very nice application, but being open source it is a little rough around the edges. The user interface is not very user friendly, but I have been able to fix that with a little bit of HTML and Javascript. I found someones freely available PHPList admin template and simply expanded upon it. Take a look at the before and after shots. Before:

Continue reading "Using PHPList for Newsletters" »

June 2, 2008

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 Beta Impressions

Adobe has released a beta of Dreamweaver CS4 for you to download at the Adobe Labs site. Be sure and do so if you make your living in web development. Although the beta is slower than molasses in January (not kidding) it has some wonderful new features. Here is a nice little bulleted list of what I found in my snooping around. I cannot wait until this ships!

  • You can now select Version Control in a site defenition, which uses Subversion. Very nice to have Subversions integrated. Very nice indeed.
  • The Mac version finally has "dockable" windows. This is a very Windows-type thing, and something very non-Mac. This is, however, the Adobe CS3/4 interface. It is about time Adobe gave Dreamweaver the "Adobefied" look. It should have been included in Dreamweaver CS3.
  • The Mac version now supports "hot swappable" global interface changes, from Coder to Designer, to Dual Screen. It also has Classic, which is how Dreamweaver has been for 10 years, so I think I am going to stick with that.
  • This is small, but comes along with the new CS4 interface. I can finally dock Properties with the Search/Reference/Validation/etc. group of panels. This means when I do a search and replace, I don't always have an odd window floating that I have to close. Nice.
  • You now see a visual representation of related files (such as js and css) and can even click and read them (although if they are on a remote server, you obviously cannot write to them). This is another great time saver to have.
  • The WYSIWYG rendering has vastly improved over CS3. CSS layouts that used to look mangeled in DW CS3 now display properly in CS4.
  • There is a new coding feature called Code Navigator which you can get to from the Tag Inspector at the bottom of the document window (or Command+Control+N). This basically shows you the CSS tree from the element you have selected all the way back up to the block level tag (say a DIV or TABLE tag). The Web Developer Firefox extention does this, and it is wonderful to have it in DW now. You can also Command+Option+click to go strait to that CSS rule.
  • One new feature with CSS is the ability to apply an inline style (using SPAN) to an element using the exact same CSS Rule Defenition interface as if you were creating a style for an external file. This is great if you are making a quick one-of change.
  • While the CSS Rule Defenition window has not changed, they have renamed a number of items to make consistant with their actual names outside of a WYSIWYG editor. "Weight" in CS3 becomes "Font-weight" in CS4, which is good, because it actually is font-weight.
  • DW code hinting is very solid. DW 4 adds code hints for Spry, Prototype, and jQuery. Also there is a new Ajax control, Spry Tooltip. CS3 had XML Spry data sets, but now you have HTML data sets, making it much easier to make snazzy looking tabular data. It detects TABLEs, DIVs, and even lists.
  • Photoshop Smart Objects have gotten better. No surprise there, you saw that one coming.
  • Live View is another new feature, allowing you to see the live site in WebKit, but still be able to edit the source code.
  • There is a new view, called Split Code, which is something BBEdit has had for ages. It allows you to have two code views of the same document. This is a huge time saver here.
  • The Page Properties window has expanded a bit. There is now a place to specify legacy HTML settings as well as a place to specify the CSS equivelents. They have also added a place to easily style the Heading tags. That is nice for the novice user, and a speady way of making six CSS defenitions to boot.
  • The moved Check Spelling, because they got rid of the Text menu all together (it now lives in the Format menu) Check Spelling is now under the Commands menu; took me a while to find it.
  • In the upper left of the DW CS4 interface there is very quick access to the Extention Manager, Sites, and the four different views. I love having such easy access to Sites and Extention Manager.
  • Extention Manager has entirely been rewritten and looks more in line with Bridge, but Chromeless (which is just weird on a Mac). It migrated all my previous extensions without a hitch. Nothing to complain about there.

So while the beta is slow as a dog (lets be clear, DW has never been that fast on the Mac) it is a wonderful glimpse of what the future brings post Macromedia. I am sure that Adobe has infused AIR into CS4 in any way it can, so we will have that look forward to as well. 

March 13, 2008

Movable Type Community Solution

UPDATE: I do not appreciate being used in some embroiled WP v. MT argument. Thanks but no thanks (for those not playing along at home, I refer you to this post). My point in this post was not to voice frustration, merely point out the differences.

I have been a non-paying, and paying customer for years. Before MT cost money, I donated. Because I did that, I -- like many others who donated -- were given free personal licenses for MT 3 when it came out. That was a very kind gesture for them.

My comments below are a stepping off point, and I am not merely "trying" to use MTCS for a client. I am using MTCS for a client. I have yet to come upon a situation where I am butting heads with the software, the difference in MTCS being that many parts of the coding, specifically the use of many global templates, is not found in MTOS or MT 4.1 Commercial. Movable Type as a whole is very malleable software. I have been successful in using it in very different ways, and that is why I am a huge supporter of the platform.

I have had the opportunity to work with a number of the people at Six Apart, and they are great people to work with. Their paid support is amazing, and fast, and the user community over at the community forums and ProNet are equally amazing.

It is amazing to think that I have been using Movable Type for five years. I have created many sites and blogs in it. Now I am moving on to something bigger, much bigger: Movable Type Community Solution.

I cannot tell you who the client it, but lets go with "big secret client" for "big secret project."

Continue reading "Movable Type Community Solution" »

March 5, 2008

Microsoft's Interoperability Principles and IE8

From the IEBlog entry:

We’ve decided that IE8 will, by default, interpret web content in the most standards compliant way it can. This decision is a change from what we’ve posted previously.

I'm sorry, what? No, really, I just fell off my chair, can you please repeat that? 

Microsoft recently published a set of Interoperability Principles. Thinking about IE8’s behavior with these principles in mind, interpreting web content in the most standards compliant way possible is a better thing to do. 

Is it April 1 yet? No? No. Man, they even have a press release about it. I am shocked. And awe'd. I can't believe what I am reading. Seriously, go read the IEBlog post. Read it twice even (I had to).

This is ginormous news for web development. I guess it will put the IE Box Model hack out of business. Thank you Microsoft, for coming to your senses on creating a web browser. Now lets not fuck up the implimentation of IE8.

Do you think the standards-complient browsers such as Firefox and Opera had anything to do with this decision? 

February 23, 2008

AOL ending all support for Netscape on March 1

Read this news from Ars.

It is kind of sad to read this. I may be dating myself here but I am old enough to remember Mosaic Netscape and NCSA Mosaic web browsers. Netscape IPO was in 1995, and I remember that, too.

Later there was the Netscape Navigator browser, I remember version 1.1N very well.

Continue reading "AOL ending all support for Netscape on March 1" »

Sound SEO Advice from Fathom SEO

One of the guys who worked for me many hears ago, Kurt Kurt Krejny, got a job at a SEO firm. He has an informative blog post, and you should go read it, 10 Traffic-Stealing Weeds That Suck the Life Out of Your Google Garden and How to Yank Them.

January 20, 2008

Encode & Decode HTML Enteties

You may not understand what that means, but there are many out there that do. This tool is indispensable at encoding and decoding HTML entities.

October 1, 2007

Using mod_ssl on Mac OS X

This might seem greek to some, but I was ecstatic (yes, geek dance and all) when I found it. I needed to figure out how to create a CSR (Certificate Signing Request) in OS X and there it was, in plain mono-spaced font, a thing of beauty.

For the uninitiated, that is how to setup a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate on a web server (Apache) in OS X.

It also has a nice tutorial on how to "fake" a Certificate Authority so you can use mod_ssl on your own box. Pretty slick

August 23, 2007

Even More Reasons I Hate Flash

I really want to like Flash. I really do. But it does so many things wrong. When displaying HTML objects over a Flash file, such as xbox.com with the HTML drop down menu over the Flash file, you get a "flicker" every once in a while, sometimes the background of the rollover goes transparent too.

This is what is called a "feature" of Flash, and there is no way around it. That is just the way life is.

The second reason in today's lesson is a bit more technical. It has to do with the z-index of the web page (think of layers in Photoshop, or layers of a cake, or whatever) and the fact that Flash totally ignores it completely.

Flash always rises to the top layer, no matter the z-index you set. The only way to deal with this is to set a parameter making wmode = opaque. The fact that wmode does not equal opaque in the first place is even more baffling.

This makes combining Flash and HTML objects a total pain in the ass. This is why many sites do not have hybrid designs, or if they do, Flash is completely contained in one area and it does not interact with anything else on a page.

You would think by version 9 of something they could make Flash more usable. Flash is a usability nightmare. I fear it always will be. It is really a shame that SVG never caught on.

May 20, 2007

Host Monster Worth a Look for Rails Development

My current host, Stormwire (who I have been with for over five years) will not install Ruby and Ruby on Rails on my shared-server reseller account. They gave me the option to purchase a dedicated box. It is a good price, but far more than I can afford right now.

Thanks to my friend Pratap, I am now using Host Monster (in addition to Stormwire). While their features page lists some worthless bullet points, such as "Javascript/DHTML," they offer a lot.

If you purchase for 2 years, you get their hosting plan for $5.95 a month. This comes with a free domain, as long as you keep the plan and domain name with them. Nice deal there. Other important stats:

300 GB disk storage
3,000 GB/mo of bandwidth
SSH shell access
Ruby/Ruby On Rails v1.2.3 (even though the site says 1.1)
Support For Custom PHP.INI Files
SSL Secure Server (shared)

The rest of the bullet points every host has, usually because they use cPanel. Sadly Host Monster offers no reseller account, so no WHM. But for $5.95 a month, I am sold.

I called with questions, got through right away, and even found out that I can cancel and they refund the difference. Not bad at all.

August 14, 2006

AJAX Hello World!

This tutorial will teach you how to create a hello world web page using AJAX technologies.
Source: Dynamic AJAX

It's easy, give it a try!

July 23, 2006

Which New Browser Is Best: Firefox 2, Internet Explorer 7, or Opera 9?

For a long time, there was nothing to talk about in web browsers. You used Internet Explorer, and that was it. Oh, to be sure, some Mozilla/Netscape holdouts clung to their ways, as did a smattering of users of Opera, Konqueror, and other obscurities. Internet Explorer itself hasn't had a major version change since the release of 6.0 in 2001, so there wasn't much to talk about there, either for five long years.
Source: ExtremeTech

Granted, IE7 and FF2 are still in beta, but this is one very in-depth look at these three "next-gen" web browsers.

On a related note: if you have not downloaded Opera 9 yet, you really should.

July 22, 2006

W3Counter Global Web Stats

This report shows statistics aggregated across all active websites tracked by W3Counter.

For example, 11% of all viewers still look at the web at 800x600. That is a lot, considering the stats are gathered based on an analysis of 1,536,728 distinct visits across 1,507 websites (today).

Users of Firefox 1.0 and 1.5 make up 26% of viewers. That is an encouraging number for web developers everywhere.

Source: W3Counter.com

They even offer stat tracking for your own site. It costs money, of course, but it looks like a good service if you do not have a stats package on your web server.

July 9, 2006

Adobe To Phase Out FreeHand, GoLive -- Revisited

Several online Web sites have posted information in the past couple of days stating that Adobe Systems will discontinue development and support for two of its products: GoLive and Freehand. Adobe says the reports are not correct and the products are not being discontinued.
Source: Macworld News

I posted about this earlier, from a MacNN story.

Rob Griffiths sent me an email Friday about the story on Macworld, as he saw my post on Breaking Windows. Oddly, both the Macworld and MacNN articles source the same post on the French site MacGeneration.

Continue reading "Adobe To Phase Out FreeHand, GoLive -- Revisited" »

June 24, 2006

Adobe To Phase Out FreeHand, GoLive

Adobe said that it will discontinue Macromedia Freehand illustration and and its own GoLive web design product, as the company simplifies its product line following the recent purchase and aquisition of Macromedia.
Source: MacNN

Thank God they are killing GoLive. And seeing as no one uses FreeHand anymore, that was an obvious choice too.

It's a shame, GoLive was a great product back when it was GoLive CyberStudio. It is obvious that Dreamweaver owns the market, and I am glad Adobe understands that too.

June 3, 2006

New IAB Research Shows 12% Of Web Users Reject Cookies

New research commissioned by the IAB and presented at its board meeting this week shows that as many as 12 percent of consumers don't accept third-party cookies--that is, the cookies set by ad servers and analytics companies that track the Web sites that consumers visit and the ads they view, among other data.
Source: MediaPost Publications

So the IAB is looking into an ad campaign to educate brain wash us into not blocking ads. This is a brilliant idea. Why don't you yahoos get a clue that people block cookies and firewall known ad servers because we don't want to see the ads -- especially the f'ing Flash ones that blink fast enough to give even a normal person a seizure.

May 8, 2006

37signals Job Board

The Job Board is here to connect people and companies who value simplicity, great design, beautiful code, Getting Real, and usability. Most of these folks are Basecamp users as well so you won't have to train them how to use your Basecamp.
I think 37signals got tired of all the emails asking about where to find people to hire.

April 6, 2006

Microsoft patches IE after Eolas ruling

Microsoft has confirmed an April release date for a patch designed to ensure that Internet Explorer can work around a disputed patent for technology allowing web browsers to access interactive application programs.

In a blog posting, the firm warned that the ActiveX-related patch could disrupt existing uses of the technology and advised developers to test the updates on their systems. The patch has already been made available for download for this purpose, but the forthcoming April update will install the patch on all remaining systems.

Source: The Register

So Microsoft is bending before they have actually "lost" the case? I say good for them. If/when Eolas wins this, it is going to be hell on the little guy.

January 20, 2006

SafariTest Mac Browser Compatibility Tester

How does your website look on Apple Safari? SafariTest will return a screenshot of your page as viewed with Safari.

Some notes: frames and Flash movies are not perfectly supported; f your page uses client-side redirection you must enter the final address; to view password protected pages use this syntax: http://[username]:[password]@[URL].

This is a great service for those Windows web based developers who care what their Web sites look like in Safari. It also uses PNG so the screen shots look very nice.

This is also something to bookmark if you want to get a full screen shot of a web site. Meaning from the top to the bottom of the page.

December 19, 2005

Microsoft Officially Drops IE For Mac, Recommends Safari

Microsoft stated two years ago that support for Internet Explorer for Mac would end in 2005. It has finally been two years. Two very long and painful years if you ask me.

In a note posted to Microsoft's Mactopia Web site, "Microsoft will end support for Internet Explorer for Mac on December 31st, 2005, and will provide no further security or performance updates." This is already the case, but only unofficially. They will also pull downloads of IE for Mac as of January 31st, 2006.

Continue reading "Microsoft Officially Drops IE For Mac, Recommends Safari" »

October 31, 2005

Court rejects Microsoft's patent appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court Monday refused to consider an appeal by Microsoft Corp in a case involving claims by a privately held California software firm [Eolas] and the University of California that Microsoft infringed on their patents with its Internet Explorer browser.
Source: CNN Money

This is that Eolas debacle that I have written a lot about. It looks like it is finally over. Of course looks can be deceiving. This case now goes back to the federal court. So I am sure this will not be the last we hear of it.

So what is the big deal?

The case sparked concerns that Microsoft would have to alter its Internet browser, making it unable to run certain applets, or mini-applications, that run on Web pages. Microsoft's browser is used by nine of every 10 Web surfers.
If Internet Explorer had to change the way it used the EMBED tag for applets/plugins (such as Flash and QuickTime) we would have a large problem on our hands.

Suppose Internet Explorer was forced to change their browser and no one else was, that could get ugly. Even if every web browser had to make a change for applets/plugins it would be a lot of work for both the browser and web developers.

The World Wide Web Consortium is claiming "prior art" in this case, which I agree. As much as I like seeing the government sticking it to Microsoft, this is not the place.

September 7, 2005

Basecamp now offers time tracking

My favorite web application, Basecamp, just got a huge upgrade. Plus and Premium users now have the ability to use time tracking. I was looking at another web based solution, Blinksale, but having time tracking within Basecamp is so much better than using a separate application.

Basecamp is a web based project management application. It has an elegant design that is easy to understand by my clients, and extends beyond the web with support for RSS, iCal and FTP.

Continue reading "Basecamp now offers time tracking" »

August 9, 2005

Macromedia unveils Studio 8

San Francisco-based Macromedia Inc. on Monday will announce Studio 8, the newest version of the company’s suite of applications for content authoring. Studio 8 sheds FreeHand, but adds two other applications giving the suite a better mix for its target customer, according to the company. Studio 8 now includes Dreamweaver 8; Flash Professional 8 (including a new Flash 8 Video Encoder); Fireworks 8; Contribute 3; and FlashPaper 2.
Source: MacCentral

There is only one application I get excited about more then Photoshop, and that is Dreamweaver.

MacCentral has a preview of the new Dreamweaver, Flash, and Fireworks. Dreamweaver just looks amazing.

After looking at the new features of the entire suite, I will be plunking down the $399 for the upgrade to Studio 8.

I am very interested to see the new text rendering engine in Flash 8 Professional. I am glad they "unsplit" Flash, last release had a Pro and non pro version, which I thought was pretty dumb.

As for the new Dreamweaver, the new background FTP is about time. The redesigned CSS panel looks great as well. The visual tools for CSS development look outstanding. The Mac version now finally has a tabbed interface for open documents too. Thats another "its about time" feature, as the Windows version of Dreamweaver has had this feature for some time now. New coding tools look great. This looks like a really solid upgrade for Dreamweaver, and may be some foreshadowing in regards to GoLive.

July 2, 2005

10 Bad Project Warning Signs

One of the great things about being a freelance web designer is the ability to turn down projects. I’ve come across a few projects recently that sounded interesting but made me feel nervous... As such I’ve written up a list of bad project warning signs.
Source: Blogography

Some sound advice for web designers our any freelancer.

July 1, 2005

PHP Studio released

Neometric Software has released PHP Studio 1.0. The software lets users write, visualized and test PHP Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) code. PHP Studio costs US$25 to register and requires Mac OS X v10.3 or later.
Source: MacCentral

I wonder how it stacks up to Zend Studio 4, which costs a lot more, but is a lot more complete.

But the $25 price tag is great for casual PHP work. If you don't use Dreamweaver, or Zend Studio, this might be something to look into.

PHP Studio has a searchable Functions Browser that is nice. The Help Browser is nothing more then a window that loads the documentation on php.net. But that is still helpful nonetheless.

May 21, 2005

Netscape 8.0 Released

From the do-we-care Dept.

Netscape 8 is out! Not for OS X though. I will have to try it out in Virtual PC. It includes a toggle which allows switching between Mozilla and Microsoft's rendering engines as needed. How exciting and revolutionary!

The funny line of the day goes to a Slashdot post: "They certainly aren't instilling a lot of confidence in their own code base. Netscape 8 switches to IE rendering when visiting www.netscape.com."

Continue reading "Netscape 8.0 Released" »

May 16, 2005

Group: Internet Explorer share slips below 90 percent

NEW YORK (AP) -- Microsoft Corp.'s share of the U.S. browser market has slipped below 90 percent as the Firefox browser continues to grow in popularity, according to independent tracking by WebSideStory.
Source: CNN

I really love the sounds of this. It means more and more people are discovering for the first time that there is a web browser our there other then Internet Explorer.

May 8, 2005

Embedding QuickTime into web pages

Why would Apple move the location of such important information as the fun OBJECT code needed because of WinIE 5.5 SP2 so WMP doesn't hijack QuickTime? Well they did. And it took some searching, but here is something like the old one.

It has been a while since I have dealt with QT, the last time I was still working at CTLT, and Apple had just posted the ActiveX/ anti-hijacking code. Well I am back to QT for this Photochemical Sciences Outreach site. Fun stuff.

I also found some QuickTime detection scripts, but I cannot find the same page with the ActiveX code that I had bookmarked years ago. So here it is:

<object classid="clsid:02BF25D5-8C17-4B23-BC80-D3488ABDDC6B" codebase="http://www.apple.com/qtactivex/qtplugin.cab" height="256" width="320"><param name="src" value="posterframe.mov">

<embed src="posterframe.mov" width="320" height="256" PLUGINSPAGE="http://quicktime.apple.com" type="video/quicktime" CONTROLLER=false LOOP=false AUTOPLAY=false href="movie.mov" target=myself></embed></object>
To clarify, this snippet includes the code needed to prevent WMP hijacking, as well as how to use a poster frame correctly. A note about using a poster frame: the web page, movie, and poster frame must live in the same directory. I don't know why, it just does.

Apple has added some great pages on their QuickTime Tutorials section, I just wish it was organized a little better. I can't imagine the page with this code is NOT on their site anymore, I just cannot find it.

May 7, 2005

Basecamp: Project Management Utopia

That is what it says atop the Basecamp web site: Project Management Utopia. And they are not kidding.

I tried the free trial and bought a plan within the same day. Not only is this the cheapest web based project management app I have seen, it is also the easiest to use. The interface the 37signals created for Basecamp is down right elegant.

Continue reading "Basecamp: Project Management Utopia" »

May 5, 2005

Reason I hate Flash #459

Annoying sound effects. Annoying sound effects that have a ton of base.

Exhibit #1
Be sure to mouse over the car logos, as well as the "collision center" button.

Exhibit #2
They have tamed this down since I bookmarked it. Mouse over "New Vehicle Inventory" or "Used Vehicle Inventory." It also helps to turn your speakers up. Not work safe!

Exhibit #3
Mouse over the "Dick Says Yes.com" button. Funny I just heard that in exhibit #1. Another annoying aspect of people who use Flash. They all go and grab the same FlashKit sound effect.

Why do people do this? In general, people do not want to hear sounds going off left and right, they surely do not need a stereo base beat for a button either. If you are in an office, or a school, or a library, or sitting at home browsing the web listening to your favorite music in iTunes (totally hypothetical here) wild button noises are the last thing you want to hear. Unless the sound effect has a purpose, it should die.

Sound effects can be used in Flash successfully if they are subtle. Most Flash designers do not know the meaning of the word subtle.

March 19, 2005

WMP 9 component exports content in QT-based apps

Popwire on Friday released Windows Media 9 Export Component, which exports content in Windows Media Viewer 9 format from any QuickTime-based application. Verified to work with QuickTime Pro 6.5.2, Final Cut Pro HD 4.5, iMovie 4.0.1 and Discreet Cleaner 6.0.2, the software features one-pass CBR and VBR encoding, 32 presets and automatic de-interlacing, with support for fractional frame rates and natural key frames. Pricing is US$29.95 and Mac OS X v10.3.5 and QuickTime 6.5.2 are required.
Source: MacCentral

This is good news. Don't look at your monitor like that! It is great news, it really is. When I worked at CTLT one of the things we had to deal with was Windows users who did not have QuickTime, or who preferred Windows Media. If this software was available at that time, we would have bought licenses for all our compression machines. Being able to create Windows Media versions of your content is very important to your audience, and this looks like a great app to do that.

Microsoft yielding to IE standards pressure?

After a years-long drumbeat of developer complaints, Microsoft may finally be budging on its support for standards and on key missing features in its Internet Explorer browser.
Source: C|Net News.com

If Microsoft would make a standards compliant browser, it would make my life as a web designer much easier. I could go on and on about this point. But plain and simple: If Internet Explorer adhered to web standards, I could focus on making better web sites faster and not spending at least half my time fine tuning for IE.

March 9, 2005

Microsoft wins latest round in Eolas patent battle

Microsoft has won the latest round in its long running battle with Eolas Technologies over the ownership of the patents regarding plug-ins for browsers.
Source: PC Pro

Now Microsoft can try and claim prior art again. I really do not see how they can do that.

This has been going on for a while, and I don't see it ending anytime soon. Microsoft survived the DOJ, they will probably survive Eolas.

This has gone on so long that I have lost count on who is winning and who is losing. I just don't want to have to change the way I use the OBJECT and EMBED tags.

October 23, 2004

Mozilla/Firefox Web Developer Extension

Thanks to Rob for making this a Pick of the Week at MacOSXHints.com. I have never heard of it, but I think I will have Firefox open a lot more because of it.

Be sure to look at the detailed list of features, and download this very handy extension today!

October 15, 2004

Simple CSS Tabs from Silver Orange Labs

This is a great example of using bullet lists, nesting bullet lists for sub navigation is tabs, and its all ready for you in a zip file for download.

October 11, 2004

Microsoft strengthens HTML patent with Eolas

Microsoft has won a patent for automatically downloading software using the OBJECT tag, and to strengthen it's claim has relied on none other than the infamous Eolas patent.

Source: Builder.com

October 10, 2004

SpamStopper is very useful utility

SpamStopper is a web designer’s utility that will help keep email address harvesting spambots from grabbing email addresses from your website(s). No, I’m not joking — this actually works!

How does it work? SpamStopper encodes the text of your email address so that it no longer looks like an email address in your HTML, which makes all the current harvesting spambots ignore it when they scan internet pages. Basically, indexing spiders look for certain email address-identifying characters, and SpamStopper makes it so that those characters aren’t displayed — it’s pretty much that simple.

Be sure and take a look at this totally free utility. Sure I have found web pages that do this, but having an application with a nice GUI is so much better. Kudos to the developer!

October 7, 2004

The PHP Function Index for Mac OS X

The PHP Function Index for Mac OS X. Check it out! Thanks to Rob for pointing this one out to me.

September 16, 2004

Dreamweaver MX 2004 FTP upload slow as molasses in January

I have had it up to here with Dreamweaver's FTP upload. This was brought back to my attention today as I was updating the Print Materials page on the Robin For Congress Web site today.

The FTP upload in Dreamweaver only has one saving grace. When I save a document, it will upload it to the server automagicly. Since I was in DW and did not feel like opening Fetch, I decided to upload the 3 PDF files. That was a bad idea. I forgot how bad DW's FTP upload was.

So I uploaded these 3 PDF files in Fetch just to see the time difference. There is a big difference. I am not supprised. It took almost half the time to upload in Fetch.

I have used DW since version 1.2. I have never been happy with the FTP upload feature in DW. You would think that at version 7.0.1 they would have made the FTP faster.

Macromedia, are you listening? It is so slow I would go as far as saying unacceptable. The only reason I except it is because of convenience. And no I am not just talking about uploading PDF files. If I upload a folder full of HTML files in Fetch, it takes the fraction of the time that it does in DW.

I am not impressed Macromedia.

September 10, 2004

Ten CSS tricks — corrected and improved

Recent Evolt article Ten CSS tricks you may not know, is seeing plenty of discussion, so it deserves a bit of a critique.

I posted this link the other day, and it sure has seen its fair share of linkage. It is also nice to see this appendix to the original article.

Source: Tantek's Thoughts

September 7, 2004

Color schemes generator 2

Another great hex color picker. This one allows you to choose a color scheme and then display pastel and pale variations.

Ten CSS tricks you may not know

8. Vertically aligning with CSS Vertically aligning with tables was a doddle. To make cell content line up in the middle of a cell you would use vertical-align: middle. This doesn't really work with a CSS layout. Say you have a navigation menu item whose height is assigned 2em and you insert this vertical align command into the CSS rule. It basically won't make a difference and the text will be pushed to the top of the box. Hmmm... not the desired effect. The solution? Specify the line height to be the same as the height of the box itself in the CSS. In this instance, the box is 2em high, so we would insert line-height: 2em into the CSS rule and the text now floats in the middle of the box - perfect! and other great tips... Source: evolt.org

9 steps to a quicker MT3.1x installation

Neil has put together a pretty good check list of things to help with the new MT 3.1x install:

So now that I’ve upgraded I can fill you in on what you should do to make MT 3.1x work fast. I’ve covered some aspects in other entries but I’m repeating them here for the sake of completeness.

On a related note, MT is now using Smarty for both dynamic publishing and caching. Pretty cool. I am glad I did not bail for WordPress when MT 3.0 was released. Reason being I have been using Smarty for bgnews.com for years now as a Digital Partners member. I am very interested how the integration of Smarty into MT will work.

July 20, 2004

UC fires back at Microsoft in browser battle

The University of California hit back at Microsoft in its pitched patent battle over fundamental Web browsing technology. UC and its one-man software spinoff Eolas on July 16 filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the federal circuit, in Washington, D.C., to counter Microsoft's request for an appeal in a patent infringement case that has rattled the Web, from site authors to browser vendors to standards groups... Source: C|Net News.com Are you getting tired of hearing about this? I am. And this is rather important to use web geeks. I almost feel as though "prior art" should prevail here. And the only reason Eolas is going after Microsoft is because they do actually have the insane money they are asking for. What the heck happened to the web being a free medium?

June 22, 2004

ASCII Table.com

I was looking for the HTML number codes to display them as an example on a web page without having to put spaces in-between them. Doing a google search came up with this site as the first result. Although what I am looking for has nothing to do with the ACSII table, the site does have two great pages for reference. One is the images on the home page, the other is the larger chart on the "HTML Codes" page. The site is framed (grrr) or I would link directly to that page. Example: &#64; = @

June 8, 2004

Microsoft appeals Eolas decision

Microsoft filed a brief, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn a $565 million patent infringement judgment. The 174-page document, filed June 3, attacks a U.S. District Court decision that said Microsoft violated a patent, owned by the University of California and its Eolas spinoff. The patent describes how a Web browser can run plug-in applications. Source: ZDNet Yet another step in this Eolas case. If you are not up to snuff on this, please see my previous posts. This Eolas thing is not small, and it is not just Microsoft that would/could be effected by this ruling.

June 5, 2004

Sizing Up the Browsers

When you're creating a Web page, size matters. There's limited space to work with, and page elements take up certain amounts of space. It's a land of constraints, and you've got to know the rules before you get started. Unfortunately, the browser makers have been naughty, so the rules aren't simple. Each Web browser has its own playing field with its own quirks. If we don't get to know every one of these playing fields, then our pages might very well look crappy in some browser. Source: Webmonkey Webmonkey has always had great stuff. I came across this article, that takes a look at the differences in all the major browsers (sans Safari for some reason) with regard to canvas size, text size, and form elements. They even provide Photoshop files showing the differences in canvas size. Very handy. (Although I had to unzip them in Windows, 10.3 did not like the zip files for some reason.)

May 18, 2004

Microsoft wins delay in Eolas appeal

Microsoft has been granted an extension of its May 17 deadline to file an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Eolas patent case. In August, the University of California and its Eolas spin-off won a $521 million judgment against Microsoft for infringement on the patent, which describes how Web browsers handle plug-in applications. Source: C|Net News.com Be sure to read my other posts about Eolas if you do not know the back story by now.

April 8, 2004

Web group recommends DOM Level 3

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), of which Apple is a member, has released the Document Object Model Level 3 Core and Load and Save specifications as a W3C Recommendations. The specifications reflect cross-industry agreement on a standard API (applications programming interface) for manipulating documents and data through a programming language (such as Java). A W3C Recommendation indicates that a specification is stable, contributes to Web interoperability, and has been reviewed by the W3C Membership, who favor its adoption by the industry. Since the inception of the DOM Activity in 1997, over 20 organizations -- including Apple -- have contributed to the evolution of 10 DOM standards. Source: MacMinute Great. Now even more browsers will be out of date!

March 15, 2004

Dreamweaver MX 2004 7.0.1

Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 (7.0.1) fixes known problems in Dreamweaver MX 2004. Some of these issues could cause Dreamweaver to perform slowly or occasionally crash, so all current Dreamweaver MX 2004 users should download and install this software update. It is no secret that Dreamweaver, for the last 3 versions, has been a dog running on the Mac in comparison to its Windows counterpart. It does not matter if its my PowerBook G4, or the PowerMac G5 at work, Dreamweaver is just dog slow. It screams in Windows. Why is this? For the most part, Dreamweaver is not a compiled application. There is very little that is not user extensible. I love this feature, I just wished the performance (on the Mac) was closer to the performance I see in the Windows version. I will take a slower DW on a Mac then a screaming fast DW in Windows any day though. Enter this 7.0.1 (thats DW MX 2004 for those counting) update. I see immediate results on the Mac. Its not as fast as the Windows version, but a huge improvement over 7.0.0. I can now open up and switch between 2 or more documents without it taking forever and a day to open the documents, and work on them all. I am really impressed with the speed improbements that Macromedeia has made. It makes using MX 2004 on a Mac a lot more tolerable then when MX 2004 was first released.

March 7, 2004

A Recipe for Learning Web Design

I get asked "how can I become a Web designer" all to often, and guess what, thats how this article starts! Written by the same guy, D. Keith Robinson, who pens the Asterisk blog (which is a good read, by the way).
Web design and its related fields are still relatively young in the grand scheme of things and are still developing. One of the questions I’m often asked is, “how can I become a Web designer?” The answer isn’t simple. There are many different paths one can take to become a professional Web designer, each as different as the individuals that make up the Web design community.

Today, many successful Web professionals are self-taught and many of these have jumped into the Web via another industry. These are also the ones who are most likely to have been at it the longest. Only recently have we seen large numbers of people come straight into Web design from formal education programs. In most cases, this formal education alone doesn’t prepare one for success...

Source: Digital Web Magazine His point about web technologies changing so rapidly that traditional classes are not enough are spot on.

Dreamweaver MX 2004: The Missing Manual Is Out

O'Reilly has announced the release of "Dreamweaver MX 2004: The Missing Manual." Dreamweaver writer and teacher David Sawyer McFarland has teamed with Missing Manual creator David Pogue to produce a user guide for Dreamweaver MX -- this time for the 2004 release. The new book gives Web designers a variety of "tools and techniques they need to get their work onto the Web faster and more professionally." "Dreamweaver MX 2004: The Missing Manual" is published by Pogue Press and O'Reilly, and sells for US$34.95 (Amazon has it for $10 cheaper, not a sunrise there). This is for everyone who has asked me what book to buy to learn more about DW MX 2004. I own the DW MX Missing Manual book, and it is great. Every book in the Missing Manual series is great (especially those written by David Pogue).

March 6, 2004

Feds reject Eolas browser patent

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued a preliminary decision invalidating Eolas' claim to Web browser technology central to a case against Microsoft, which could save the software giant more than half a billion dollars in damages. If upheld, this also means Microsoft will not be required to make changes that would have crippled IE's ability to work with plug-ins like QuickTime and Flash. Eolas has 60 days to respond to the decision. The USPTO has only invalidated 151 patents out of nearly 4 million patents awarded since 1988. Source: C|Net News.com I have written about Eolas, so if you are late to the party check these out: This latest news from the USPTO is huge news, and something I am very happy to hear. Eolas has 60 days to respond to the decision, so we will see more news within 2 months on this I am sure. This is not just big news for Microsoft, sure they would save a lot of money, but this is bigger news for the web developer communities.

March 4, 2004

Defending your Email Address

As you may, or may not know, evil spam harvesting bots collect email addresses on web pages. There are a few ways to defend yourself. Unfortunately this is yet another thing to think about. You can put your email address as an image (non clickable) in the page, you could do something like user [at] domain [dot] com, but both of these solutions to the problem do not allow the end user the ease of getting ahold of you. You can also only put a form on the site, but this forces someone to use the form (some people would rather use an email client). This is a great way to handle the problem, but your email address is still hard coded into HIDDEN form fields (in most cases). The best solution for this method is using PHP (although PHP is not always available), thus your email address is never in the source code. There is a way to display your email address using javascript to perform a "document.write" and concatenate parts of code and variables together to make the mailto link. This is by far the slickest solution. There is one glaring problem though. This solution does not comply to usability and accessibility standards. It does not pass Government Section 508, or Bobby guidelines. But if usability or accessibility compliance is not your thing, then this javascript tip sure is slick.
<script language="javascript"> <!-- var contact = " Ken Edwards" var email = "ken" var emailHost = "meancode.com" document.write("<a href=" + "mail" + "to:" + email + "@" + emailHost + ">" + contact + "</a>") //--> </script>
This script can be put anywhere in the page, it does not have to be in the head region. If you put it in your head region, you will have to break the script up into two, one for the vars and one for the document.write. But wait, there's more! The best way to defend your email address (other then not having it on a web page altogether) is to ASCII encode it. Web Browsers render ASCII, and thus this method does not hinder the usability (or accessibility) in any way. Spam bots, as far as I know, do not know how to decode ASCII yet. It would take some smart programming, and a lot of processing power for them to do that. I strongly suggest you ASCII encode your email addresses on your web pages. Only the @ and the . (period) need to be encoded. &#64; = @ &#46; = . (period) There is a nice PHP script I have found that will encode your entire email address. This does not work that well I have found, so I don't recommend it. I think that ASCII encoding your email address is the best way to defend yourself from SPAM. Please send this to anyone else who would benefit from the ASCII encoding trick. SPAM is one of those problems that affect everyone, even if you are not directly involved. I think everyone should use this trick on their web sites. It would no doubt cut down on the amount of SPAM accumulated because of harvesting bots. UPDATED
In Response to Neil T'a comments: Excellent point about accessibility. For a moment there I was not thinking of accessibility, I was just thinking of my loathing for SPAM, and how much of it I know I receive because of my email address being on web pages. I am not totally sure a screenreader could not read the name. Unless of course the screenreader did not have javascript enabled. But when you are worried about screenreaders then you are also concerned with Bobby and Section 508 compliance. So this trick is not for you. And who these days turns JavaScript off? I couple years ago I would have agreed with that statement. But not today. For university or government sites you would not use this javascript, I doubt it would pass Bobby or Section 508 standards. I would imagine ASCII encoding would fly though. I was right, Bobby did not like this. UsableNet Lift (a service/product that checks usability and accessibility standards, including section 508) did not like it either. It suggested using a NOSCRIPT tag, but said that was not in the 508 spec. Lift had other issues other then the NOSCRIPT problem. I would not want to put a standard mailto: link in a NOSCRIPT tag though. Your email address is going to be written in the source of the page, thus, accomplishing nothing. So what have we learned here? This javascript method is not accessibility friendly. Does this matter? Nope, it sure doesn't, not for 99% of you. Lift gave a green light to the ASCII encoding trick. So this is the one I suggest using unless you don't care about the non javascript folks, or you are developing university or government sites. And if encoding the @ sign and the . (period) is not enough for you, then encode the entire thing! I like the user [at] domain [dot] com trick too, but that is as counterproductive as putting an image with your email address on the page.

February 10, 2004

VeriSign Reconsiders Site Finder

A company that plays a key role in managing the Internet's domain system is considering whether to restart a controversial search service that makes money off Web users' typos, a move that threatens to reignite a debate over who controls key segments of the Internet. Stratton Sclavos, chief executive of VeriSign Inc., told investors in a conference call last month that the company might relaunch its "Site Finder" service as early as April. Source: Washington Post SiteFinder can go to hell as far as I am concerned. If I type a URL wrong I like to be able to correct the one or so letters I mistyped, not have to retype the entire thing, as well as be forced to see advertising. Not to mention it is bad for web developers. The public backlash (again) will (again) kill SiteFinder (again). If VeriSign considers this again, I hope ICANN tells them to shove it, and while they are at it, ICANN needs to get a back bone and really take it to VeriSign. Verisign needs to be stopped, and ICANN is in a place to do it, if they only would stand up. From Slashdot: Can we outsource VeriSign to India? Very clever.

W3C recommends Semantic Web specs

The Web's leading standards group finalized two drafts at the core of its ambitious effort to let computers glean meaning from the documents they help create, store and transfer. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) on Tuesday will publish recommendations for the Resource Definition Framework (RDF) and the Web Ontology Language (OWL), both key parts of its Semantic Web project. The Semantic Web has stirred controversy in the past among critics, who liken it to failed artificial intelligence schemes and suspect it of draining W3C resources from more pressing commercial projects like those defining Web services technologies. Source: C|Net News.com

February 7, 2004

RSS Feeds for BG News and DP Network (Updated)

This was originally written in March 2003. I have edited and added to it now in February 2004. Our users wanted it. So I had a challenge in head of me. The RSS feed is complete! Boy oh boy am I exited about this. Web Monkeys just get exited about stuff like this. I have coded 2 RSS templates for The BG News CMS with some syntax help from Eric at Digital Partners (DP). Digital Partners home grown CMS (they call it Open Communications System or OCS these days) is written in the SMARTY php temple lanugage. SMARTY was closed, but ispi has open sourced it, so check it out if you get the chance. I like SMARTY a lot, I wish I had more time to learn more. Since March 2003 I have worked on editing a few different templates, and am starting a new template, and in doing this I have learned a lot about SMARTY. I really like this CMS, I like the logic I am afforded the most I think. I wish I could write my own PHP backend so I could install it on my own server and use it. I have created a RSS feed pulls the 3 most recent articles from each section. It is a 1.0 feed, I will not be hard at all to create a RSS 2.0 feed. I created the RSS 2.0 feed, and both validate, well, sort of. The RSS 1.0 feed has some white space at the beginning of the feed, and the validator does not like that. If I manually take out that white space and re-validate, it works. Eric figured out how to fix this with my RSS 2.0 feed, and since that is the one we publicize, we never went back to fix the white space problem in the RSS 1.0 feed. What I am most proud of is the fact that every school's site in the DP network can now use the RSS feed that I created. All told from the time I started pestering Digital Partners about having an RSS feed for our site, to completing both templates, to final legalese, it was about an entire year. Being able to contribute the RSS template to the network is really great. Its not really much, but hey, its more then nothing! I know DP was working on a syndication scheme that was home grown and not standards based, and since I was pushing RSS so much, Monte wrote a RSS Plugin, which is so great for the community. It sure is better to have a standards based syndication method. At first Digital Partners was apprehensive about the RSS thing. They charge for syndication of their content in a lot of their sites (Digital Partners is but one network in the ispi family). I am glad they finally decided to green light my RSS idea. Tomorrow I will put an article in our "Resources" section of the site detailing the feed as well as how to use if for people who don't know what RSS is. I have had a number of emails from users of bgnews.com and this sure will make them happy. I added the article, but have yet to add the info for Windows, using FeedReader (because it is free). This is still on my list of things to do. This is the addy for the feed: well it seems that there are legal and business issues that Digital Partners is dealing with right now. so until they get resolved I am not going to post the feed. Legal and business issues are finalized. You can get to the feeds here: http://www.bgnews.com/?template=rss http://www.bgnews.com/?template=rss2 Now if you go to that web page, and then try to go anywhere else on bgnews.com you will find yourself going absolutely nowhere fast. This is because the site has set a cookie for that template. Click here: http://www.bgnews.com/?template=default That will get you back to the main template. Also if you want to see the PDA/Mobile Phone template, I recently tweaked it a bit: http://www.bgnews.com/?template=pda The pda template is also a great way to view the site on low bandwidth. Next up is a text only template. It will be like the pda template but have all the functions as the main template such as the archive and the search etc. etc. I am about halfway done with the text template now: http://www.bgnews.com/?template=text Next on the list is a total rewrite of the default template, that has been up for a few years now, and it is getting old. I don't like it anymore. I want a proportional design. The work is never done.

January 16, 2004

Judge rules Microsoft infringed on Eolas patent

I have been keeping a close eye on the Eolas thing, and here is the latest chapter: A Chicago federal judge on Wednesday upheld a $521 million patent verdict against Microsoft that could ultimately force major changes in many of the most common Internet software products. Judge James Zagel said he saw no reason to overturn an August jury verdict that said Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browsing software had infringed on patent rights held jointly by small developer Eolas Technologies and the University of California. Source: C|Net News.com

January 1, 2004

CSS Tips & Tricks, Wiki

The box model hack has been explained in great detail, and in a number of different ways. There are many different ways to hack the CSS box model, and this page does an excellent job of explaining them. The main site also has a mind boggling amount of links to other CSS tips and tricks, not to mention a wiki and a discussion list.

pixy.cz Web Resources

This site has a lot of good articles on CSS and a very nice color picker.
pixy.cz color scheme picker Fast rollovers, no preload needed 3-column layout, no positioning, no hacks Styling Form Fieldsets, Legends and Labels
The site has more stuff, I found these the most useful.

December 28, 2003

ADC: Web Dev Best Practices

The Safari development team at Apple has made a dedicated effort to implement Web standards. This means that the easiest way to ensure optimal rendering of your pages in Safari is by following the standards. Doing so will also guarantee optimal rendering in Mozilla, Opera and Internet Explorer for Macintosh. Of course, each of these browsers has its own minor quirks or legitimate differences of interpretation, so testing your site in all of them is still mandatory. Source: Apple Developer Connection

December 14, 2003

Testing the Three-Click Rule

The Three-Click Rule isn't completely bad. People talk about it with users in mind, even executives who have never designed a web site. The rule may help designers focus on the information that users need and may help them create better web sites. These are admirable qualities. We can't be overly critical of a rule that has the effect of helping designers keep their focus on users and their needs. However, the Three-Click Rule does not focus on the real problem. The number of clicks isn't what is important to users, but whether or not they're successful at finding what they're seeking
Source: User Interface Engineering Long, but good discussion about the "three click rule."

Faking a Slow Connection for Web Development

It is becoming harder and harder to test web sites at a dial-up speed these days. And as much as we would like it, the majority of people do not have broadband. Instead of asking your misfortunate friend who only has a 56k modem to check your work, check it yourself with mod_bandwidth! Over at Quiet Confusion there is an article about the mod_bandwidth module for Apache. If you develop Web or Flash sites (regardless of Operating System) you should check this article out. This article is, however, specific to OS X. You can get the mod_bandwidth module for Windows and Linux though. Following these instructions (and the tip in the comments about adding symbolic links) took me little time and I am now up and running testing sites as though I were on a 28k or 56k modem. This is such a great tool to have at my disposal. Another interesting idea is to use this module to throttle your site traffic, or your own broadband traffic. But who wants to do that? Still, it is another practical use. I have had this running for a few weeks now and I cannot tell you how often I now use it to test my work. There is some related information on this on the Mac OS X Hints site as well, which has some great comments as well.

December 10, 2003

Embedded Color Profile in Photoshop CS

This is one of those small but very welcome additions to the new Photoshop CS. For me, I do not care one bit about the embedded color profile of an image. I mainly use Photoshop for web development. You can now check the box that says "Don't show again" (also available in the Preferences. I cannot tell you how many times I have clicked the "Ignore" button in Photoshop 7, and wished there was an option to turn this off. Well I guess I was not the only person annoyed by this. Thank you Adobe, for adding this feature (its about time).

Web Browser Archive

Check out evolt.com for an archive of web browsers, all the way back to the one that started it all, Mozaic. Some of this is nostalgia, but this is also great for checking your web sites in many web browsers.

December 3, 2003

TypePad 30 Day Free Trial

BEWARE! Be sure to CANCEL your account before your 30 days are up! TypePad does not send an email telling you that your trial is up, it just charges your credit card! For shame Six Apart! For shame! I do like the TypePad service. It was very nice. I do not, however, like the fact that they automatically will charge if you forget to cancel. What a crock!

November 24, 2003

Tables vs. Full CSS Integration

This is a great read that you should read. Thanks to Kurt Krejny for giving me the link. "Tables vs CSS: 15 points to consider when choosing between a traditional table web site and a CSS-P" has a number of very good points. My first experimentations with full on CSS-P have been with the blogs I have created, or helped create. Using CSS-P in this fashion can be a very frustrating experience. Especially when you find out that specific attributes are still not working across the major browsers. While I do not agree with all of it, I do agree with parts of this argument. I have found that I employ a mixture of the two technologies because that is what works in the most possible situations. The one large grain of salt here is the fact that they are trying to sell their product, but still, even with that, these 15 points are worth reading and thinking about.

& #64; and & #46;

What? You don't speak geek? OK. & #64; = @ & #46; = . (period) (space added after the & so it did not render the HTML) So from now on when you have to add a mailto link to a web page, use it! Email apps understand these codes, most spam bots don't. ken@meancode.com

November 13, 2003

Sign the Comment Spam Manifesto

I am fed up with comment SPAM as much as anyone, and so it Adam Kalsey. I cannot stand it when it happens to my blog, or when I see it happened to someone else's blog.
Posting an email address in a public place is not an invitation for companies to send unsolicited advertisements. Hosting a public Web forum or Usenet server does not give companies permission or the moral right to advertise on it. And soliciting comments from the public on a weblog entry or other Web page does not mean that companies or individuals are invited to use it for their advertising purposes. Usenet news succumbed to spam long ago. Email was next. Now spammers have turned their attention to weblogs and comment forms. In order to increase search engine rankings you are posting advertisements to our Web pages. What you failed to understand is that bloggers are smarter, better connected, and more technologically savvy than the average email user. We control the medium that you are now attempting to exploit. You’ve picked a fight with us and it’s a fight you cannot win.
Source: Kalsey Consulting Group Comment SPAM, like all other flavors of SPAM, is evil. DIE DIE DIE. SIGN SIGN SIGN.
What you can do Sign the manifesto by linking to it, leaving a comment or sending a TrackBack ping. Get the word out and let spammers know that their days are numbered. Write tutorials on how to track down spammers and shut down their operations. I wrote about how to get spammer’s affiliate accounts terminated. Perhaps someone else could write up how to trace a domain back to their hosting company. Or how to use tools like dig to find someone’s ISP based on their IP address. Start a posse. People particularly good at tracking down spammers could volunteer to help others. If a blogger is spammed, the volunteers could track down the culprit and shut him down. Stopping comment spam in one corner of the web will be good for everyone.

October 31, 2003

Web patent critics spotlight old technology

Here is more info on the Eolas' patent suit against Microsoft.
The Web community is rummaging desperately through dusty technology archives, in a bid to overturn a sweeping patent verdict that could force major changes on the Internet's most popular software products. Companies and standards bodies are hoping to unearth technology that predates the patent and performs essentially the same functions--a legal concept known as "prior art."
Source: C|Net Frankly, I think this suit for Eolas is a bit of a joke. The only reason Eolas is going after this is because they can, because Microsoft is a big target. What M$ has had to do to IE 6 is pathetic, it is a major annoyance to the web browsing experience. And this time M$ is not to blame, its Eolas' falt. I understand intellectual property, but this is 2003, for how many years has the entire world used technology that is under fire here in this suit? Wouldn't you bring this up, say in 1995? I hope that some "prior art" can be found in this case.

October 19, 2003

Macromedia Offers Assistance for IE Changes

Macromedia has launched what they call Active Content Development Center which has a lot of information about the changes to Internet Exploder. And as much as we (myself in particular) don't like Exploder, the majority of Web users use Exploder. This new site offers a lot, including a great overview (Flash) of the changes as well as a great audio presentation (Flash).

My solution is to not use Exploder, that fixes this issue, I only with it were that simple. Macromedia offers a JavaScript solution that is fairly easy to implement. Leave it to Microsoft to make more work for web developers.

Macromedia also offers Active Content Update Utilities, in the form of a command line utility, visual update utility, and web server module (for IIS 5.5 and 6, and Apache 2). It is a shame there is no module for Apache 1.3.x but as I have read the module architecture for Apache 2 offers a lot more then that of Apache 1.3.x, so I am not surprised that this module is not available for Apache 1.3.x. (These tools are not available yet, November what they are shooting for.)

Macromedia offers these tools under an open-source license and will offer support for them.

It is really nice that Macromedia put this together.

Also posted at BlogCritics.

October 9, 2003

More about Eolas and Internet Exploder

Microsoft on Tuesday released what it called "modest changes" to Windows and Internet Explorer as a result of the patent suit brought against it by Eolas Technologies.
Source: C|Net But that is not enough I guess...
Eolas Technologies has filed a motion to permanently enjoin Microsoft's distribution of its Internet Explorer browser amid a flurry of court filings by both sides in the pivotal patent infringement case.
Source: C|Net I think this has all gone a bit to far, don't you? The new IE solution is pathetic, I tried it myself. Every time an object, such as Flash, loads, you get a popup dialog that you need to click OK to. Not only that but that is for EVERY Flash object on the page. Oh, and those objects are not cached at all, so if (when) you go back to a page, you need to click OK once more. The solution is obvious, don't use IE. It does not matter what the licensing fees are, Microsoft should pay them. It would be worth it for M$. I would bet they are paying more in legal fees as it is. You can read my other posts about this topic here and here. Interestingly enough Apple has a way, posted on the developer site, to use a javascript to externally load QuickTime objects. This work around could work for other plug-in based technologies as well. I cannot find the link but I will post it when I do (This was discussed on today's The Screen Savers). I think they may have been talking about this page, which is really old news, this came out because of WMP hijacking QuickTime content. Though it does get past the "new" IE dialog boxes.

October 1, 2003

Layout-o-Matic & List-o-Matic

I sure love the Make Code Button. That button is more elusive then the Make Art Button. (the Make Art buttons is a discussion for another post though.) So, what am I talking about? When you can click through a couple prompts and you have code (or art) you can use. Most of the time I do not like the "Make Code" or "Make Art" buttons because the outcome usually comes short to impressing me. Not so with Layout-o-Matic and List-o-matic. Both of these tools create nice code. Layout-o-Matic even will include a version of the box model hack for you. List-o-Matic is a bit more involved, it churns out a list, but then offers up some CSS to make horizontal or vertical navigation menus out of that list. The List-o-Matic was based on the Listamatic site, which has a link to a List-o-Rama Dreamweaver extention that does what List-o-Matic does in DW. You got that? I love it when the Make Code button not only does the job, but does it well.

Flash Detection

I had 3 people ask me how to handle flash detection in their web sites today, And two were phone calls! I should start charging for phone support :-P. As much as I hate Flash, it is useful and fun. But what I really hate is when someone does not have Flash detection, or they have shoddy or malfunctioning Flash detection, that is even worse then not having it at all. I suggest using Macromedia's own Dreamweaver behavior. The Check Plugin behavior only checks if Flash is present, it does not tell what version, etc. The Flash Deployment Kit does check version numbers, as well as can handle upgrading and keeping up to date with the latest build of the Flash plugin (this can be good and bad, as I will explain later).
If you tick the Allow Auto-Update check box in the MM Flash Detection Behavior you may very well annoy the hell out of your audience. If this is checked it will always look for the latest build of which ever Version and Major Revision you choose (it basically makes the Minor Revision field a variable, always asking for the latest and greatest build). A friend of mine found this out the hard way a couple months back. Luckily I was testing the site for him, and I noticed that ever time I went to the site it told me I did not have Flash installed, even though I know I did. Turning this check box off fixed the problem. I understand why it might be important to use that feature, but people should understand what it does before they turn it on.

September 28, 2003

Menu Magic II and Templates

More specifically Menu Magic II (MM2) and Dreamweaver MX Templates. In DW MX, Macromedia changed how templates work, they got smarter. If you use the Menu Magic II extention kit from Project Seven (PVII), be sure to read this PDF they have written. On a related note, I emailed them about this problem (using MM2 in MX templates) and they got back to me right away with the answer, this technote in their infoBase. Very fast tech support from PVII.

September 26, 2003

Rivalries set aside in defense of Internet Explorer

Here is some more, very in-depth, information about the patent infringement brought on by Eolas against Microsoft. I recently wrote about this issue. Source: C|Net

COMSTOR Site Template

comstor.gifThe Template for the COMSTOR template is all but complete. The last thing I need to do is add the DW specific tags. Take a look at how the template looks. I am using the Menu Magic II extension from Project Seven, partly to cut down on development time, and partly to help keep my sanity. I once taught at CTLT how to make a full blown menu system like this with nested submenus and all, its a lot of work to do by hand, and for the most part DW is not much help for layers based work. With the Menu Magic II extension you can select which menu is in the down state (the black "Self Storage" section when the page loads) and which link is in the down state (the Past Clients link in the Commercial Property section) and both are handled in JS parameters in the BODY OnLoad property. That is a very efficient way of handling it, and makes it look even better. Those are JS functions I would rather not code myself that is for sure!

September 22, 2003

Eolas suit may spark HTML changes

I sure hope I never have to take out a license to use the <B> tag anytime in the future! According to this article, the W3C may be changing the OBJECT and EMBED usage.
Options the PAG could recommend include a technical workaround or new wording in HTML and related specifications warning that authors who implement the tags in question should contact the patent holders and take out a license, if necessary. (Source: C|Net)
That would be a big change. All plugins use these tags, QuickTime, Flash, Active X, etc, etc. This is all came to light because of a Eolas' $521 million patent victory over Microsoft and its Internet Explorer browser (Source: C|Net, One, Two, Three, Four) So is Eolas going to go after EVERY business who has used the OBJECT and EMBED framework in their own technology? He (Eolas is a one man operation) already has won a ruling, which we all know doesn't mean anything yet, M$ is going to appeal. Is he going to go after Apple, Macromedia, Sun, etc. as well and make them pay a licensing fee? I think this is all a bit harsh. How long have people used plugins in browsers? I seem to recal Netscape as being the pioneer of the plugin architecture to enhance the Web, but that is beside the point at this point. I am not sure if I agree with M$ or not here. There is a patent here (and how many years has it been with no word of patent infringement by Eolas?) But I get the feeling that Eolas is asking way too much for licensing, I mean, $521 million for the patent case? But, the federal court found that plug-ins and applets in Internet Explorer infringed on patents held by Eolas Technologies and the University of California. Say that again: plug-ins and applets in Internet Explorer. So why is this suit not directed toward other browser developers such as Netscape, Apple, Omni, etc, etc? This is not something M$ did, the use of plug-ins and applets in a web browser is a standard, and ALL web browsers use the standard. That is the part I am confused about. Whatever happens, small scale or large, this is going to change a lot of things for web designers and developers. I wonder how we will be embedding content such as Flash, Quicktime, and Java into web pages in the future. I will end this commentary with this from C|Net:
Microsoft also is said to have proposed other ways to launch applications in a way that could not be held to infringe on the patent, but would avoid the ungainly dialog box solution. One such option would move the data to the Web page itself, rather than pulling it from an external source. In Microsoft's view, attendees said, the patent only covers a situation in which the Web page called up data located elsewhere. The company is said to have told attendees that it believes so-called inline data falls outside the Eolas patent claims because it is described in the HTML protocol published in 1991--three years before the initial Eolas patent filing.... "This is not an issue just for IE," said Wallent. "This is a potential issue for Netscape Navigator, for Opera and for other browser vendors. This is an industry issue..." "The W3C has worked very hard to make the Web remain patent free and this might be the one thing that screws it all up. It's really very frustrating."
Like I said, I hope I do not have to pay for use of the <B> tag. Also posted on BlogCritics.

July 16, 2003

PHP 4.3.2 changes the include statement

GRRRR...... ......... This rant it brought to you in part by the letter "P" As you might have guessed, breakingwindows.com is my first attempt at a Movable Type site (and it shows). Well 210west.com is my second pass at Movable Type the site is a lot more efficient. I am using PHP include statements all over the place. I guess I could just as easily use SSI or MT includes, but I am using PHP includes, quite frankly cuz its less code to type. My host yesterday updated the server to the 4.3.2 build of PHP. It was out the end of May, but thats a different story. Anyway, now includes use the syntax of <?php @include("http://.... or you can use the server root like <?php include("/home/public_html/... and not have to use the @ sign. That @ sign is new. And I just happen to like using the absolute URL. So all of a sudden I get a lot of fun errors all over my page b/c I use includes a lot in my templates. But i am also using includes in all the posts of the 210west site. The byline is put in with an include. Yea, fun. At least they don't have a ton of posts yet. GRRRRR..... So why change something like the syntax of the include statement. Something so simple. I have seen other, larger changes to the PHP language made in the past. And at that point i said "why?" as well. It is just this time when It actually effects me and my meager level of understanding of the PHP language. Oh well. More work for the web monkey to do.

June 26, 2003

Uberlink CSS Rollovers

Those crazy cool folks over at PVII (that would be Project Seven) have a cook tutorial, Uberlink CSS Rollovers. This is pretty slick. Most all of there stuff is. Check it out!

The Firm List

The Firm List is a wonderful site. The site offers both resources and links to web design & development firms. It is only a shame that it is run by one guy. I added my business but to be added sooner he wants me to fork over $50 to be a "Full Member" this will get me on the site faster.

June 24, 2003

Good RSS article

Sharing Your Site with RSS is yet another good article from Webmonkey. I just came across it. On a related note the RSS template for SMARTY is almost finalized I am told. I finished it in April but they are still discussing legal issues and what not.

June 20, 2003

A new CSS color model!

This was posted by Jake at Utterlyboring.com but it is just so darn cool news I had to post it here. I got his permission of course :-D If you have ever done any major Photoshop or desktop publishing work, you know that adjusting the hue, saturation and lightness (HSL) values of colors is a quick and easy way to adjust colors, especially if you're looking to adjust a color to make it a slightly different shade. Coming, in CSS3 is a whole new color model that will allow HSL colors to be used online. Why is this nice? The advantage of HSL over the current RGB model is that it is far more intuitive: you can guess at the colors you want, and then tweak. It is also easier to create sets of matching colors (by keeping the hue the same and varying the lightness/darkness, and saturation). Here's an article that discusses it a bit more.

April 2, 2003

I hate Flash

I really hate Flash. I would go so far as to say I loath Flash. And why you ask? Ad banners, that's why. When they came to the conclusion that annoying ad banner + Flash = really annoying ad banner there must have been one hell of a celebration. I don't want ad banners to have smooth animation and transparency and sound and interactivity and ... Well you get my point. Because of the use of Flash in ad banners I do not put much importance in anything Flash. Now there are some great things done in Flash, some really funny stuff too. Two of my current favorites are Happy Tree Friends and Strong Bad on the Homestarrunner.com site (This weeks Strong Bad Email is one of the best yet, LOL, and there is even some dialog after the printer paper rolls, very funny. Best one in a while IMO). I could take hours listing all my favorite Flash sites. but i'm not going to, I have other more important things to do (read work). My point is this is what Flash was developed for. It is for entertainment, for interactivity, etc, etc. It was not meant for Corporate America. I refuse to install Flash in Mozilla because of ad banners. You can block images from a server in Mozilla, but you cannot block Flash from a server. The only reason I open Internet Exploder is for Flash stuff, well and checking web sites I work on. There is another reason I hate Flash. It has turned good web sites into total trash because designers get lazy and do not want to support good old HTML web sites. HTML sites are sooo Old School(tm) I guess. In my book (Don't you love that saying, mine would be HUGE) If you are going to have a Flash version of your site, you should also provide a HTML version. And I don't want to here the bull crap that 98% computers that are online have Flash installed. that is not the point now is it? Now obviously Macromedia is going to be pushing Flash on their site. Although not till just recently with the launch of their new site design have they really started to push Flash. They are now using Flash for much of the navigation - more so than they ever have. They are smart though because I can still get to everything at Macromedia.com without using Flash. I do notice they have toned down the use of Flash on their main indexes a lot though. I bet they got some backlash by users on a 56k modem. the drop down menus on the home page are now HTML based and not Flash as they were at the launch of this new design. What really bakes my noodle is that there is no way to go to the Dreamweaver Exchange with out Flash. I will say that It is a great show of what can be done with Cold Fusion, but it is just annoying to need Flash to get to the exchanges. I wish ad banners had not taken a liking to Flash or is it the other way around?. It has tarnished the Flash experience. I hate Flash, I hate Flash ad banners. And lazy people who do not provide more light weight alternates.
IN RESPONSE TO KURT'S POST All valid points Kurt! I cant stand when there is no preloader. preloaders can now be done almost entirely with ActionScripting so there is no exuse for them to take time to load. Also when someone decides to put a large bitmap in Flash, and does not do any kind of optimizing of it! I have had some bad experiences with Flash development (well this one was mixed). I do and I dont't like Flash development. I think it is mainly because I like how Director works. For SIGGRAPH 2000 I worked on a project called Merging Identity ( yes it is broken, it has been for some time now, I do not think Bonnie is going to fix it either) which was a Flash front end and a mangled hodg podg back end of an old Macromedia technology called Generator they have phased out because of Cold Fusion. We also used CF for the project, but this is back in days of Flash 3 and I believe CF 4. CF 5 was a big step, and CF MX is a lot different, and better now. anyways, Generator was the first time Flash could interact with any kind of database, from a flat file to Access, to anything really. this was before Flashing with php was really known. it was pretty much ground breaking what we were doing, and Macromedia donated all the software we needed to do it as well. the project was a big hit at the show, but only because of a lot of last minute and constant babysitting. I was happy to see Generator go. It was a learning experience. now we have Flash remoting and Flash communication server. these are mature, Generator was an infant. this experience I had with Flash and Generator and Cold Fusion is what Flash is all about. just leaving reality behind and try to do something out of the ordinary. in retrospect we now know what we could have done better (a lot better) and I hope that Bonnie wants to do this same type of project again. if you really want me to get into Merging Identity let me know and I will, but its even more technical than the things I just spoke of. you know we did that when ActionScripting was all macro like - not even a programming language yet. man that would have made life easier. But I am rambling, back to Kurt's post. You bring up a good point about not absolutely needed Flash to convey a point. Oh here is something else I cannot stand, and this is being a little picky but hey I have high standards for web design. If the end user does not have Flash you can show a static image in place of the movie. Ad banners do this all the time, web developers could learn something from those advertisers yet! instead of showing the broken puzzle piece icon that you click on to download the plugin why not give the user a more user friendly (and frankly more professional) image or images? Another good point is doing Flash because it is cool and "New School" thats just bull **** in my book. I have a lot of angst about Flash. Flash is supposed to be fun. Merging Identities was fun to a point, but we were trying to push the envelope open too quickly. I agree about getting frustrated with Flash. a lot of my frustration went away with Flash 5 and ActionScripting. I don't like it as much as HTML though. the new XHTML and full use of CSS and CSS-P is very cool and a lot more practical. I still get frustrated at flash and have turned down a lot of high paying freelance jobs because I just do not like Flash development. I should work with Flash MX more I just the new objects in it. It is a heck of a step forward for the product.

April 1, 2003

Snippets in DW MX

I found this out this evening, and it is a little bit annoying. If you have not tried out Snippets in DW MX you owe it to yourself to check them out. As a matter if fact, you should look at the Snippets Exchange. OK on to the annoyance I found. When editing my snippet, in which I spent a lot of time doing I accidentally clicked the Wrap Selection option. Even though I was working with a snippet that uses the Wrap Selection choice, it reset the form, and all my editing was gone! So just don't be clumsy like me!

February 26, 2003

Thinkin about a new web host

I have for 2 or so years now used Tera-Byte for my web hosting. And I am very pleased with them. Their service is much more than I expected from a web hosting company. The price for the features is unbelievable. I get their 4U plan because I can pay monthly, but mainly because I get shell access. There are not many hosting companies that give shell access. It sure is nice when I want to ssh into the server do so something. Sometimes I want to edit a .htaccess or create a .htpasswd file. Or open up and edit a document on the server. This proves to be very handy indeed. So why am I looking for a new web host?

we always want more than we currently have. With MT you can use a perl module called Image::Magick which will resize files and make thumbnails for you. Tera-Byte tells me that I would have to upgrade my account to a dedicated server as this takes too much processing power to do. I would also like subdomains and Tera-Byte does not provide this. I am having a hell of a time finding a hosting company that can beat the price and features I have from Tera-Byte though.

So if you have a suggestion, please post it. If you have used the service before tell me why you like it. The only one I have found so far that I would consider switching to is Feature Price. I could host both my domains (both of them, and still host 2 more) there for $17 a month. They have the perl modules I want to use, and they support subdomains. They have no shell access though. Has anyone used Feature Price? my friend Brian uses Feature Price and he is fairly satisfied with it. I just got off the phone with Feature Price and they are going to offer shell access soon, although he could not give me a price. Well any other suggestions?

February 24, 2003

Acrobat & Word Documents

I decided I needed a new section to put this in as it is an annoyance and a technigue. so the Web Dev category was born. Maybe I'm just picky, but i like to know what i am clicking on. if i am clicking on a link, a word document, an acrobat document, an excel spreadsheet, a zip file, etc, etc. One of my pet peeves is going to a web site and clicking on a link only to find that it is a PDF file. now i have to wait for the PDF Plugin to load into my browser. and let me tell you this is something that takes longer on a Mac then on a PC (not just a fast PC such as mine, even a pokey one). but back to my point. would i have clicked a link had i known it was a PDF? i would have thought about it first. i should not have to look at the browser's status bar to figure out what kind of document it is. also what happened to listing the file size of a document? people used to do that, i dont see this done much at all these days. not everyone has broadband. and even on broadband i like to know the file size. i have two suggestions. the first being less work. just put (PDF) or (DOC) at the end of the link, and put the file size: some huge report (PDF) 864 kb how much work is that? my next example is a little more elaborate. it uses CSS, all you need to do is add the class to the block tag, you do not want to put the class on the A tag. You need the extra line hight so the entire 16x16 icon can be seen, the text is 11 px so if you do not add the extra line hight, part of the icon will get clipped, and not show up.
.worddoc {
background-image: url(wordicon.gif);
background-repeat: no-repeat;
padding-left: 20px;
line-height: 150%;
}

resume.doc (157 kb)

.acrodoc {
background-image: url(acrobaticon.gif);
background-repeat: no-repeat;
padding-left: 20px;
line-height: 150%;
}

resume.pdf (157 kb)

Now that wasnt THAT much more work was it? and it goes a long way for presentation. I just like to know what i am downloading. if it is a PDF, most times I like to right click and download it and not have the browser plugin load it. Showing the user what they will be downloading is a good thing. text is great, but and icon is a visual sign of what they will be getting when they click that link.



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