Archive for February, 2007

Smashing Magazine

Ever heard of Smashing Magazine? Their tagline is “We smash you with the information, which will make your life easier. Really.” And they carry out their promise. Every couple days they post a new entry that literally does smash you with information. The posts vary in web-related topics (css, photoshop, html, php, useful sites, etc.). A lot of their posts consist of a list of links that they think you may find useful. The number of links varies — anywhere from a rare 5 to the largest I’ve seen so far: 83. You’d think that it would be unpleasant reading through 83 links, but it’s quite enjoyable. Smashing Magazine knows what their doing. Try their site out. If your a webmaster, you’ll enjoy it. You may even want to subscribe to their RSS feed. Here’s my current top favorite posts of theirs:

WHAT?! Mcrosoft Virtual PC 2007

Microsoft has just released, for FREE, Virtual PC 2007. It’s a fully-functional program that has been updated to work with Vista. Now why would Microsoft give something away for free? How about this reason: You must buy Vista Ultimate Edition ($499 about) to legally use Vista virtually. So, that may be another option for Mac users wanting to virtualize Windows. Although…. Looking at the download page it seems as if it only runs on Windows! It looks like Microshaft may be using this just for more compatibility for people switching from XP to Vista.

PCWORLD: The Most Annoying Things About Vista

PC World’s got a new page up on their website. It’s called “The Most Annoying Things About Vista“. Hehe. I agree with it totally. I especially like the part about Vista Home Edition. They, correctly, say that it has no reason to exist other than to let Microsoft say “Vista costs as low as $100″. They unfortunately didn’t mention the Vista EULA (End User License Agreement) which states that you must use the really exensive (think $499) version of Vista (Ultimate Edition) if you want to use it on a Mac in combination with Parallels Desktop or VMWare’s emulator. Basically they’re making you pay more because you’re not using it as often as they want. Going back to the subject of Vista Home Edition, it’s a much better deal to just use Windows XP if your computer can’t run one of the “greater” versions of Vista. I’m not going to get Vista. Period. I’d rather get a Mac next time.

iPhone minus the Phone!

I agree with this Digg page here. I wish there was an iPhone without the phone part. I totally don’t like phones. Not even traditional land-line ones. I prefer digital communication, be it email, IM, or videoconferencing. It would be really cool to have a pocket-sized device that has a persistent connection to the web. A full-scale web browser (a mini-Firefox would be better than Safari though), email, IM, etc all in your pocket. Not to mention the fact that the iPhone also has music and video playing capabilities… The iPhone is one amazing gadget, but why the ‘phone’ part? The iPhone’s other features can stand on their own. I’d prefer to have just EDGE, EVDO, or something similar than to have to pay for cellular service. Though what I’d really prefer is beyond the phone-less iPhone. I’d like a pocket sized device that runs a full-scale copy of the Mac OS. The iPhone is a collection of technologies that could one day make the use of a hand-held computer enjoyable rather than irritating. Someone at Apple needs to realize that this is a great opportunity. Remember the OQO? It’s never really caught on, but that’s the first step toward what I believe everyone will one day carry in their pockets.

Vista Speech Recognition

I first saw this video clip on YouTube in early fall (around September 2006). It’s a demo held in Redmond, Washington of the speech recognition features of Windows Vista. It’s hilarious. The “Microsoft Guy” is dictating to the computer and it makes a mistake. He says “delete that” and it writes totally unrelated text after the first part. So the guy says “select all” and it writes a bunch of nonsense after it. It’s funny.

CSS Tab Designer

You’ve probably wanted to make cool-looking menus for you’re website before, right? But a lot of times it’s time-consuming to make them, having to prepare several images, write stylesheets, etc. Well, now there’s an option for building quick CSS menus. It’s called CSS Tab Designer. With CSS Tab Designer you just make a list of entries for the menu, pick a style, and hit generate code. The program will save the HTML, CSS, and images required to the path you specify. You may be wondering what the various styles of menu look like by now, right? Well, you can view a LARGE screenshot of the styles pane by clicking here. Give it a try; at worst you won’t like it. At best, it will be a useful tool to aid the development of you’re website.

10 Ways to Annoy the Heck out of Your Visitors

If you’re a webmaster designing a website, there are 10 things you should NOT do unless seriously annoy you’re users. These things include (in no particular order):

  1. Pop-up ads. Don’t even think about it! They may pay well, but most people totally hate having a small window with something as stupid as an advertisement launched right into their face. Admit it, you have a pop-up blocker installed on your computer.
  2. Dark text on a dark background. Does it make any sense to have dark gray text on a black background? NO! You need to make sure that the text is legible. After all, what do you normally do on a website? You read it! You should also note that some people’s monitors display things differently. If I design something that looks great on my CRT, it will likely looked washed out on a Dell Dimension D510’s LCD screen.
  3. Full-Flash websites. Do NOT even consider making your entire website in Adobe Flash. It will take too long to load, search engines will be totally blind to your content, and your users will not like your weird navigation scheme. It’s okay to put Flash on your site, but don’t make the entire site out of it (if you insist on making the site entirely with Flash, at least make an alternate non-flash version). *cough* Warner Brothers *cough*.
  4. Demanding IE. Do not ever demand that your users use Internet Explorer. A large percentage of web users use browsers other than Internet Explorer. Demanding IE will infuriate them. Take Wal-Mart’s video downloads site for example. It launched in Early February and they demanded that users use IE. Guess what? Their site is anything but a success. I use Firefox, and I can’t stand IE. Make sure your site works in Firefox!
  5. Backgrond music. Don’t. Background music takes a long time to load, then proceeds to drive you’re users slowly insane. Put it this way: Do you want Beethoven’s 5th Symphony blasting through your speakers suddenly, just because some webmaster thought it would be cool?
  6. Amateurish practises. Do not make your site look like it was thrown together by Yahoo Geocities’s stupid WYSMBWYGSO (What You See May Be What You Get. Sort Of) editor. Learn HTML and CSS, then make a layout (if you can’t do that, get one from a template site). You’re site should look professional (example: this site) not like a seven-year-old threw it together (example: the 1996 Lego Website). On a similar note, if you must use a free webhost, use one like Awardspace.com. There should be NO ads that are, uh, added by the host (forced ads), and you should have PHP and MySQL access too.
  7. Stupid JavaScript tricks. Aaaaaaaaaaaah!!! People will run away screaming if they see more blinking text, “cursor trails”, or other weird tricks. Don’t disable people’s right-mouse-buttons either. I’m not complaining about JavaScript, just stupid pointless things done with it. I’m a big AJAX fan.
  8. Navigation. Any site should have navigational links on either a sidebar or a “topbar”. The links should not be “broken” and they should be structured in a logical manner that will help your users find what they want. Search tools are useful too. Your visitors shouldn’t feel like they’re stumbling through the middle of nowhere without a map.
  9. Excessive.use.of.dots.in.your.url. If i have to type Del.icio.us or Script.aculo.us one more time I’m going to throw up. Where does the first dot go again? How many dots are there? Aaaagh! “Subdomain Tricks” like this are okay if done correctly, but they annoy a lot of people if they aren’t. Some examples of good ones are: mail.yahoo.com, redwallhp.ntugo.com, ma.gnolia.com, etc. Subdomains are a useful and tool (redwallhp.ntugo.com or you.blogspot.com), but only if used correctly. The URL must be formed in a way that’s easy to remember and type. Oh well, at least it’s better than some of those library and governmental websites like www.bpl.lib.me.us.
  10. Registration for pointless reasons. Don’t make people sign-up just so they can see what’s on your site. Suppose someone sends me a link to a news article that’s allegedly interesting. I shouldn’t have to register just to read it. The websites for “traditional” print publications are the biggest offenders here. The same goes for things like polls. To vote on a poll, you should just be able to click your choice without logging in to anything.

Well there have it, 10 bits of advice you should follow to avoid annoying your potential users.

The New Layout Is Here!

I just put the new layout up. What do you think? The wider content column is great for posting large images and YouTube videos, and the sidebar looks more “sidebar-y” (the old one was too…open. I don’t know how to describe it. It just looked wrong.) How do you like our new tagline on the green strip at the top? “Everything you need to know, and lots of stuff you don’t”. It was suggested to me in the afternoon yesterday. Well, that’s taken care of. Expect to see more blogging soon!

Designing New Layout + Tagline

I’m currently working on a new layout for the blog. The design’s coming a long nicely and those of you with screen resolutions of 1024×768 or greater will (most likely) be pleased to know that the new layout will be wider to take advantage of the ever expanding “real estate” available on monitors. That said, I’ve got a question for all of you. If you look at the top of the blog you’ll see a tagline. “Computers, Internet, Harry Potter, Etc.” is what it currently says. Kind of boring, right? Does anyone have an idea for a new one? Here are some examples of taglines:

  • “Makers of fine wands since 382 B.C.” - Ollivander’s wand shop in Harry Potter.
  • “We smash you with information. This will make you’re life easier. Really.” (or something like that) - Smashing Magazine.
  • “Harry Potter On The Air” - PotterCast.

You get the idea, right? If you have any ideas for a new tagline, post ‘em in the comments.

Is it time for a new layout?

I like my blog’s current layout, but it just seems a little cluttered lately. What do you think? Should I change the blog’s design?


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