That’s Pretty Clever

25 Jul 2020

I was over at my friend’s place—in the backyard, outside—playing some games. Thankful for the warm summer nights and not looking forward to a pandemic lasting through winter. One of the games we played was a dice game called That’s Pretty Clever. We each had our own piece of paper and pen to mark off various items to be scored at the end. The scorecard is very specific to the game ...

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Consuming to Produce

14 Jan 2020

As the clock turns over an arbitrary time boundary that marks one year from the next, many reflect on their past and make promises of change for the future. Not one to want to feel left out in such reflecting, I, too, have made promises for the year (and, really, years) ahead. Well, one in particular: be more creative. Being more creative was purposely vague so as to leave numerous avenues ...

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Coming Home

11 Jan 2019

I travel quite a bit. I enjoy travel. I can sleep on planes. I get to see new places. I get to enjoy new experiences. And then I get home. The house is quiet. My cat used to greet me upon my arrival. Then I think his hearing started to go. And then he died last year while I was on a trip. The house is quiet. I’ve developed a routine when I get home. No matter the hour, I unpac...

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Photo Editing Workflow With Lightroom and Lightroom Mobile

05 Jun 2017

From time to time, I like to take photos. (See Instagram and Flickr.) I have a couple phones and a couple DSLRs. Over the years, I’ve muddled my way through different processes and have struggled to find something that felt easy and effortless—especially when working across multiple devices like I do. In the past, I’d move all images off a device, into a big ol’ folder, sorted by date, ...

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Matias Wireless Keyboard

20 Mar 2017

I don’t normally do product reviews but the Matias Wireless Keyboard looked like a great addition. The Matias keyboard has the same layout as the full wired Apple keyboard—with full-sized arrow keys and full number pad. But it’s wireless! The keyboard comes in colours to match your MacBook. In my case, I got the Gold. They've done a good job of matching the style. The keyboard tak...

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On Platform Independence

08 Nov 2016

As I explore running on Windows, I've been thinking about the apps and tools that I use. I went through a similar exercise when I dove into Android. I definitely felt that one's enjoyment of a platform might come to how much you're willing to embrace that company's entire ecosystem. Using all Apple products for close to 10 years now had meant that moving from device to device was relatively eff...

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Running into Windows

03 Oct 2016

I enjoy exploring an ecosystem. Last year, I spent a month with an Android phone and tablet to see how they compared to iOS. Now, I'm going to try something similar by switching to Windows as my primary machine. Dave Rupert went through a similar exercise. Microsoft was kind enough to offer up a Surface Book for this experiment. When the Surface Book was announced, lots of people gave it very p...

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How do I learn?

22 Sep 2016

I hear this question quite a bit lately. Our industry feels like it’s expanding exponentially with new techniques and technologies. People feel overwhelmed and unsure how to ingest it all. I’ve found that I have 3 phases to my learning process: Reading Building Writing Reading — Superficial Learning I read a lot. I’ll click on links from Hacker News, Facebook, and Twit...

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Physical Web Beacons

15 Sep 2016

After hearing about the Physical Web through a second-hand tweet, I decided to look into what it is and why we want it. The Physical Web is essentially a way to broadcast a URL using Bluetooth (Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE, specifically). Devices can then listen for those beacons. The beacons can broadcast to a distance from a few centimetres away to possible 450 metres away. The Physi...

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Working Remotely

03 Aug 2016

I’ve been fortunate over the past decade to have been able to, in various capacities, work from home—or work in place, as some like to call it. First as a freelancer, then Yahoo!, then again when I went to work at Xero, and now back to working for myself. Shopify has been the exception to the rule in that time and while I tried to instill a culture of remote work, I don’t think I manage...

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Lunch and Learn

30 Jun 2016

A couple months ago, I started letting people book some time on my calendar to chat. Working from home by myself, things can be somewhat isolating. Years ago, a handful of folks in the Ottawa area would get together for lunch from time to time. We called it GeekLunch. I wanted to recreate a bit of that connection but expand it beyond my locale. Tools like Skype and Google Hangouts makes ...

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Bad Manager

29 Jun 2016

Over my career, I’ve had the opportunity of being a manager from time to time. In my late teens and early 20s, I worked at Toys’R’Us. I stocked shelves, hopped on cash, built bikes, and unloaded trucks. It was retail but it was a job and it paid the bills. Barely. Kind of. The hierarchy within a given store is the store manager, the assistant manager, the department heads, and th...

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Just One Cable

30 Dec 2015

When I bought the 12" MacBook, I waited for Apple to release its own monitor that had a single USB-C connector that would feed power, display, and act as USB hub for my MacBook. This is, by far, my ideal situation. Alas, such a monitor doesn’t exist—neither Apple nor, by my research, has anybody released such a thing. So, I bought a new widescreen monitor for home. The 34” LG 21:9 c...

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Not good enough

01 Nov 2015

It’s easy to say how somebody isn’t living up to your expectations. I fail to live up to my own expectations of myself on a nearly daily basis. When it comes to web development, it’s easy to pick apart a site and complain about how it could’ve been done better. “Your site isn’t accessible enough.” “Your site isn’t fast enough.” “Your site isn’t designed well enough...

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Ten Years in Contrast

11 Jan 2015

Ten years ago today I wrote a colour contrast checker. I put together this tool because, at the time, I needed to check the contrast between two values and the tool I used to use was buggy and then stopped working. The code I put together was extremely hacky—a combination of 3rd-party scripts and ill-architected JavaScript. I just needed something that worked. In the beginning, you could s...

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My Custom Video Setup

03 Jan 2015

For a couple years now, I’ve wanted to do an online version of the SMACSS Workshop—one that people can buy and download any time they want. I’ve hosted a couple online workshops (thanks e4h!) but I wasn’t happy with the videos that resulted from it. I streamed from home which resulted in poor audio and a crappy backdrop. (Which was all my fault, not e4h!) More recently, I partnered up ...

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Getting a Helping Hand

08 Jun 2012

It's hard to find time in a day to get everything done, especially when little things (and little people) get in the way. Personally, I've often let something slide for way too long because I didn't want to deal with the minor hassle. Knowing people who have had success with Fancy Hands, I decided to give it a go. Its basic service is 5 requests for $25. That's $5 for each task and there's no h...

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Journey into the World of Vim

13 Feb 2011

I used to make it a part of my day to learn a new tool or find a shortcut for something I already did. It's a habit I got out of for awhile. I called it my laziness: I don't want to spend time operating a tool; I want to spend time building what needs to get built. In my heyday, I'd have my machine customized to the nines. Lots of shortcuts and gestures and bells and whistles to help me be pro...

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How I Use VMWare Fusion and Snapshots

15 Dec 2010

Let’s face it, testing multiple browsers on multiple systems isn’t very practical. But it's still a fact of life for the web developer. What I’m about to show you is how I manage testing in multiple browser versions. About three years ago, I used to do all of my development on a Windows laptop. I had an old Mac G3 tower, an Ubuntu server, and a Windows 2000 server. All of these...

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I'm Following You

04 Nov 2010

I'm not usually the type of person to talk about who I follow or why I follow someone on a social network. And yet, here I am writing a blog post about it. Okay then... I've always liked Twitter. I like it's simplicity. I also like that there's the ability to do a one-way association by following somebody without requiring a reciprocal association. If you look at the list of people that I follow,...

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Finishing an Email

01 Apr 2010

I've commented on this before but I have a protocol that I usually use when emailing someone. I like to finish my emails in a way that acknowledges that you have reached the end of the message. My first email tends to be on the more formal side. [Cheers | Best regards | All the best | Best of luck to you], Jonathan Once the formality is out of the way, I keep it short. The verbosity is...

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Hundred Pushups

31 Mar 2010

Have you heard of Hundred Pushups? It's a simple six-week program to build up your strength by slowly increasing the number of pushups you can complete. By the end of six weeks, you should be able to complete 100 and along the way you've gotten a short workout working multiple muscle groups. Since I'm still trying to lose weight, I figured I'd get started on the program (yesterday was my first da...

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Screencast: Webkit in Titanium

23 Apr 2009

It's the honeymoon phase of learning a new platform. That part where you really enjoy the features that it offers. It's fun and exciting. You've yet to discover all the weird quirks and limitations. This little screencast is of my little frolic through the fields that is Webkit in Titanium. If, like me, you've been hearing about all the nice features that have been going into Webkit then come alo...

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Colour Contrast Check Tool Updated

30 Mar 2009

Over five years ago, I put together a really simple tool that let you specify a foreground colour and a background colour. The tool would spit out whether it met the W3C guidelines for acceptable levels of contrast as part of AERT. A year later, I added convenient sliders for adjusting the red, green and blue (RGB) values. I decided to take a moment to update the tool with a couple new features. ...

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Blog Blazers

14 Feb 2009

Just over a year ago, Stephane Grenier emailed me asking if I'd be willing to answer a few questions on my success as a blogger for a book he was putting together. That book turned into Blog Blazers, a collection of interviews with bloggers from across various industries. Although the questions asked are the same for each blogger, it's interesting to see the similarities of how each person has ac...

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Pardon Me

15 Jan 2009

Here's the thing... I was having some issues with a previous host and I needed to get off, quick. In doing so, I'm pushing this design — Blick Blocky Retro — live. I don't have comments enabled, yet. I'm probably missing a bunch of content that fell outside the land of blog. In any case, I'm on a new server now. And I'll get the comments live along with a more formal introduction pos...

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Mail.app vs Entourage

11 Dec 2008

It's been a few weeks since I've been on this lovely MacBook Pro. It's a fabulous little laptop. And probably one of the tasks I've spent the most time doing is sending and receiving email. Keep in mind, this is from the point of view of a die-hard Windows user of many years. I've been using Microsoft Outlook and had really gotten to like the most recent version in Office 2007. My default view in...

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The New Switcheroo

15 Nov 2008

I've been using a Microsoft operating system ever since I got a 386sx back in the day. First DOS, then any number of Windows iterations. From 95, to 2000, to XP. It's been a long streak that has finally come to an end. I have switched to a Mac as my primary machine. Why did it take so long? I jokingly say that I've harboured a grudge against Apple ever since they ditched the IIgs for the Mac. Tr...

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Project Management via Email

21 Apr 2008

Hearing the news that Basecamp now supports the ability to reply to messages and comments via email reminded me of an idea for a project I had once. This was a few years ago now but, at the place I used to work, I tried to think of how most of the office worked with clients and with each other. A project would be set in the web-based project management app, people would get assigned to the proje...

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Maintaining your Personal Brand Online

17 Mar 2008

This seems like a really subtle thing but it's something that I've tried to do and that is establish a personal brand and maintain it throughout all of my online activities. Maintaining a personal brand using your own name or alias can actually be easier than maintaining a corporate brand, especially when it comes to social networks or blog comments. Using a company name within blog comments or s...

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09 Feb 2008

“CommandShift3 is like Hot or Not. Except, instead of clicking on hot babes, you click on hot websites.” A very straightforward concept and one that has definitely caught on with a bunch of people. One of the neat things they've done that I like, is the video you see when you submit your site. They've conveniently compiled a list of all the videos for your perusal. Ben Brown and Taylo...

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How I built an effective blog comment spam blocker

05 Feb 2008

Mention comment spam and most people, in particular those crazy WordPress users, mention Akismet. Great tool and I have nothing against it but I wanted to build my own, avoiding the external call to the Akismet service. What has been interesting to see, is just how effective it is. Turns out, my spammers are quite obvious. As you might see, I don't use CAPTCHAs and I don't use JavaScript detectio...

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GridIron Flow

16 Jan 2008

GridIron Software is a local Ottawa company who's coming out with a pretty cool product. It's called Flow and it's essentially an application to track your workflow. I had a chance a couple months ago to get a sneak peek at what they were working on and I'm pretty sure I had a smile on my face the entire time they were showing me what it can do. It's impressive how unobtrusive it is. There's no ne...

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Determining Next Date with Excel

11 Nov 2007

Excuse me while I self-document something. I've been using Excel for years. I've done some crazy stuff with Excel. One of the more tame things that I've done is track my finances with it. I have a spreadsheet that I've entered all my bills and especially indicated all the ones that automatically withdraw from my bank account. However, I want to know the next time they're going to come out. I can...

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Summer Update

31 Jul 2007

I've been in a creative rut and haven't eeked out a blog post in over two weeks. But I haven't been idle... I've been wrapping up a number of projects that I've had on the go, which is nice. A bunch more are also starting up but smaller stuff at the moment. If there's one thing that I enjoy about the freelance, it's the fact that I can adjust the type of projects I take on to give myself differe...

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Track Comments with Co.mments

04 Jul 2007

I've been using for months now and Co.mments is by far my favourite way to track comments on a site. How does it work? Through the use of a bookmarklet, I just hit a button on a page whose comments I wish to track. It doesn't matter if the site uses WordPress, Movable Type or a custom home-grown solution. And you don't have to leave a comment in order to continually track the page. Even better...

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The Untapped Power of Design Galleries

25 May 2007

There's a love-hate relationship that many designers have with design galleries like CSS Remix. They offer decent traffic when we get listed. Traffic hopefully leads to sales leads. Stuff we all like, of course. But we hate them for the (usually) useless comments and the voting that does a good job of narrowing down sites to a number between 3.0 and 3.5. But there's an untapped source of data he...

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Recent Podcasts

25 Mar 2007

Although I haven't mustered up the courage to put together my own podcast, I have managed to get into a couple others. The Art Institute of Atlanta Aaron Walter graciously asked me to speak to his class at the Art Institute of Atlanta. I basically ramble on for way too long on design and freelance. The first 13 minutes has me talking about how I got into the industry. The next 17 minutes, I ta...

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And the winner is...

15 Jan 2007

Congratulations go to Teevio! His winning entry has won him an Interactive Pass for SXSW 2007. Many thanks to everybody that took the time to put in an entry. Putting this little contest together was fun and was a nailbiter right to the end. It demonstrated that my wife and I are diametrically opposite when it comes to what we were looking for. She, being ever so smart, thought of a point sys...

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Mid-week Update

09 Jan 2007

I had a few things I wanted to mention and separate posts about each didn't seem warranted so here it is: 3 days left! The SXSW 2007 Interactive Pass Contest was off to a strong start with a bunch of really good entries. It should be fun coming up with a winner. My wife will be assisting in the judging so who knows what direction the final results will lean towards! Remember, the deadline is th...

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Getting Help from CHM

08 Jan 2007

If you're a developer on a Windows machine (which my stats would seem to say is likely!) then you may be interested to know that most languages offer compiled help files that you can download to your machine. Almost every application for Windows comes with a help file. Do a search on your drive for *.CHM and you'll uncover a whole collection of these help files on your system. I prefer the CH...

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Have a Mint

07 Jan 2007

Shaun Inman released Mint well over a year ago and I've only just caved in and purchased a copy. I never felt it was worth the $30 when so many other free alternatives were available. However, one thing I've discovered is that I like stats. I like them very much. As a result of all the rave reviews I've heard elsewhere, I decided to pay for a copy myself. As it turns out, Mint is pretty darned c...

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All Comments

29 Dec 2006

I recently added something a little fun to the site: a way to view all comments by a particular person. I've wanted to do this for awhile because I think it's a great way to get a sense of the vibe and history someone might have on a particular site (in this case, mine). Does someone tend to always be crabby or have they generally been pretty good? On any of the comments on the site, just click ...

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Is this working?

07 Nov 2006

I updated my comments handling to limit the amount of useless spam that I was getting but I feel that I've inadvertantly managed to make things more difficult for everybody else. I suppose that's one of the problems with custom-developing your own backend: functionality hasn't been tested by hundreds or thousands of people to find bugs. I've added (hopefully) more helpful error messaging and made...

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WithCake gets bought out

21 Oct 2006

"WithCake gets bought out by young, exciting entreprenuer." Okay, I'm neither young nor exciting but to be a tad cheeky, I've decided to merge the WithCake articles into Snook.ca. I had originally set up the other site as I felt the continuous chatter on all things CakePHP might be annoying but as it turns out, my chatter hasn't been so continuous. A quick survey seemed to say it'd be good to shar...

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Still here?

20 Oct 2006

I think there's actually an official delurking day but this isn't it. I'm just curious. I've been running this blog now for a few years and it has been interesting to see people come and go when it comes to commenting — both here and on other blogs. So, if you've never left a comment, or haven't in a while, stop by and say hello. ...

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The Ultimate Web Page

19 Sep 2006

Sometimes people hit an idea right on the nose. My wife brought home this comic strip and it's so pertinent to what we do. Sister - "Mom says you're designing a web page for school. Little brother - "Yup." "And not just any web page, but the ultimate web page." "I'm using every tool in the box. HTML... XHTML... CSS... XML... SOAP... AJAX... Flash... Perl... JavaScript... you name it." Sis...

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In Transition

14 Sep 2006

I've finally given up on Movable Type. It's done well for me over the years but I was starting to see its limitations with page builds starting to give errors and taking longer and longer to build a new page. With that, i've moved to a custom-built CakePHP backend. It's nothing fancy at the moment, as I really just wanted to duplicate what I had before but now that its in place, it should give...

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Web Developer Needed

23 Aug 2006

Update: This position has been filled. Thank you for your interest. If you've been reading this blog for some time, this subject title might seem familiar. Back then, my client was looking for a developer to work on his application. Through a series of events, I ended up becoming that developer (I had originally only planned to do the design and front-end). Things have been moving along and now I'...

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An email from Shaun Inman

21 Aug 2006

It's not every day you get an email from Mr. Inman. Okay, it's not everyday I get an email from him. Well, today is that day. The subject line was a little cut off so I clicked on the message. Turns out it says, "Everything in you will improve with growth hormone." Hmmm, intriguing. "Human Growth Hormone is produced naturally by your body with the purpose of keeping your system fine and fit. Wi...

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Off to Webvisions 2006

19 Jul 2006

I'm heading off to Webvisions 2006. It should be a fun couple days to catch up with a bunch of people I got to meet at SXSW, get to meet a bunch of new folks, and finally, to get my presentation to the masses. In case you missed it, I'll be presenting Rapid DOM Scripting and Ajax Development where I'll go over some ways to speed up development. And in case you miss the presentation (or heck, even...

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Simple Business Workshop

28 Jun 2006

I was intrigued by this when one of the guys behind it emailed me about the Simple Business Workshop. In their words, The Simple Business Workshop is a one-day intensive seminar that will teach finance, marketing and operations skills and methods to creative professionals who wish to develop their freelance careers into a proper business or who have a business they wish to make more effective. It...

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DOM and Ajax Presentation

12 Jun 2006

Webvisions 2006 is just over a month away. For those of you attending (and really, even those of you who are not), what would you expect to hear in a presentation titled "Rapid DOM/AJAX Development"? My plan is to provide a bunch of examples and really just talk about different approaches to web application development using DOM Scripting and Ajax. There's obviously a lot of material that could b...

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Saving a Design for Posterity

30 May 2006

This is more a question than an answer: How do you save a design for posterity? The problem is that site designs change over time but the main content doesn't. Design-specific comments, both in your own site and linked to from other sites, become outdated and irrelevant each time the site design changes. Do we have an obligation to maintain those designs? Should there be a design archive? Screensh...

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Upcoming Carson Workshops

25 May 2006

Looking to brush up on your AJAX or DOM Scripting? Well, if you plan on being in London (UK) or New York you might be interested in the following Carson Workshops. They're quite reasonably priced, too, considering the hands-on knowledge you'll get out of these. Maybe they'll do a session up here in Canada sometime. (or maybe I can convince Derek Featherstone to do one with me here in Ottawa.) Bui...

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Webvisions 2006

10 May 2006

Webvisions 2006 is coming up on July 20th and 21st. It's a web conference in Portland, Oregon and features a decent line-up including the likes of Jeremy Keith, Garrett Dimon and Dan Cederholm (I wonder if he'll bring his ukelele). This year, I get the priviledge of presenting. In fact, I'll be presenting my session, Rapid DOM/Ajax Development, right before Jeremy Keith. I saw Jeremy present at S...

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Triple Interview at Fadtastic

29 Mar 2006

Johan Van Den Rym over at Fadtastic took the time to interview myself, Robert Nyman, and Dustin Diaz. My answers seem almost curt in comparison to Nyman and Dustin. ...

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24 Mar 2006

When I was at SXSW this year, I got to see Tantek Çelik. Not one-on-one, mind you, but his presentation on Creating Building Blocks for Independants. While I knew of him before, I didn't feel passionate about any of his work such as microformats. It was an interesting presentation and it managed to change my opinion of him and the work he does. He seems genuinely interested in building tool...

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Use Multiple Desktops with Synergy

22 Mar 2006

Somebody at SXSW told me about this but I totally forget who it was now. Whoever you are, thank you! “Synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems without special hardware. It's intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own display.” To the left of me is my Mac, to the r...

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I'm on my way

09 Mar 2006

I'm reminded of that song from the Proclaimers... "I'm on my way, from misery to happiness today". I'm currently on layover in Detroit waiting for my flight to Austin. That's right, I'm on my way to SXSW. I'm going to attempt to post updates over the next few days as well as post some pictures up to Flickr. I'll have my camera with me the whole time and you can bet I'll be taking lots of photos! W...

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Podcast Interview with Dustin Diaz

08 Mar 2006

Dustin has a few podcasts under his belt and I've had the pleasure of getting in on Episode 5: The State of JavaScript. I think this podcast should be voted for best intro ever. There's a one second delay between myself and Dustin which may sound a little awkward at times. And it's a little wierd to listen to my own voice. But hopefully you all enjoy it. Maybe I'll have to start up my own podcast...

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Is your name "Jonathan Snook"? I'm sorry.

26 Feb 2006

I did a quick ego-search on Google for "Jonathan Snook". I feel bad for any other Jonathan Snook's in the world. In the first 100 links, only about 4 of them didn't apply to me. Is it the power of a 'blog'? Although, if anyone ever needs to track me down, I shouldn't be hard to find. There's my site, my Flickr profile, my Odeo profile, my Blogger profile... If I stopped contributing to the online ...

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When you know a day is going to hurt

16 Feb 2006

This code hurts: <div class="leftNavLink" id="leftLink3"><a class="main" onmouseover="document.getElementById('leftLink3').className='leftNavLinkSelected'" onmouseout="document.getElementById('leftLink3').className='leftNavLink'" href="http://www.example.com/">Link Location</a></div> Because :hover just isn't supported well enough. ...

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Server Switched

04 Feb 2006

If you can see this, that means the DNS for you or your feedreader has worked swimmingly. Now to see what's broken (if anything). This should conclude a successful switch from 1and1 to Dreamhost. ...

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What's the best XML editor?

18 Jan 2006

In what is almost becoming a regular series of "What's best", I'm looking to see what the best XML editor is out there. While I am specifically looking for a Windows version, feel free to recommend Mac software as I'm sure other readers might be interested. One of the really nice to have features would be the ability to test XPath expressions. ...

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Retrospection, Introspection and Future-spection

31 Dec 2005

There are quite a few people with their “Best of” lists and their predictions of the year to come. I had originally intended to do the same and browsed my archive to find a personal list of what I liked but was somewhat surprised. I had expected to find a large collection of well-thought and delightful articles ala 456 Berea Street. Instead I found mostly stuff I encountered during developmen...

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Merry Christmas

23 Dec 2005

With only two days left before Christmas, I'm thinking I should start my shopping. And maybe wrap a few of the presents. In any case, I just wanted to take this moment to wish you a Merry Christmas (or Happy <celebratory event> if you're not into the whole Christmas thing). I hope Santa (or other gift-giving entity) brings you plenty of gifts! Hmmm, what are the chances he's going to bring m...

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Going Solo

19 Dec 2005

After working at Fuel Industries for almost two years and working with some really great clients on some very cool projects, I have made the decision to go solo. It's funny though because "going solo" isn't a very accurate description of things. There are some really supportive people, especially within 9rules, that have been there to lend a helping hand or to let me know of possible work opport...

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CSSVista, you done me wrong!

26 Nov 2005

So, I'm working on this page. I've spent about four or five hours on it. Lots of fun layout hurdles. I start getting close to the end and I'm just about to fix a couple things in Internet Explorer. I remember hearing about CSSVista and it's fantastic capabilities to live edit CSS and preview it in IE and Firefox. "Perfect," I thought. It'll save me the time of fixing it in IE only for it to break ...

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Google Ads to target content. What about Google search?

19 Nov 2005

You can now target specific content on your site to be labelled as valuable, rich content to make the Google Ads more targetted and thus hopefully increasing your clickthroughs and leaving you with a big pile of cash. What I haven't figured out is why Google Search hasn't decided to come up with a search-agnostic way to weight the importance of content in a similar way. In doing so, Google searche...

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YourTotalSite defunct

01 Nov 2005

That's right folks. Garrett Dimon has decided to pull the plug on YourTotalSite. Having had the opportunity to contribute a little, it will be a little sad to see it go. Garrett put a lot of effort and care into the site but with multiple things on the go, he made the decision to close the doors and invest the time more wisely on other projects that will hopefully have a greater impact on the web ...

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Server Issues

31 Oct 2005

Sorry folks. My site was down from Saturday afternoon until Monday afternoon. At the moment, I can say that I'm none too happy with 1and1 hosting. It's hard to really complain when the hosting is free (I signed up during their big "3 years free" plan) but it's frustrating when you get no help in getting things back up to speed. Why would I spend money on the service after my service is done? Noti...

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How do you sign an email

06 Oct 2005

From an actual conversation with my wife: You received my, “We’ve chatted before and you’re cool with a nonprofessional signature” as opposed to my “You’re my wife and get the cutesy inside joke signature”. I also have the “This is strictly business so heres my salutation and full name signature.” What’s your email signature? ...

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Now added: Quick Links

05 Oct 2005

My apologies to anybody who's been come across any oddities with both the feeds and the site in the past little while. I've added a new category/feature to the site called Quick Links. Quick Links are just that. They're a link with maybe a quick blurb of text. They don't deserve a full page with comments but they do deserve space on the home page and they do deserve to be in the feed. I've been ...

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Full Feeds are back

03 Oct 2005

Noone really put up much of a fuss but after a month, it has really been hard to tell whether it has made a difference either way. With that in mind, I've reinstated full-text feeds. ("Reinstated"...like my feed was being punished or something). Hope it wasn't too much of an inconvenience. ...

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Upgrading to MovableType 3.2

17 Sep 2005

While I've mentioned the possibility of switching blog software, it hasn't happened yet. In the meantime, I've upgraded to the latest version of MovableType. If anything seems broken, be sure to send me a quick note. ...

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SOAP Request Parameter Order Can Make a Difference

17 Sep 2005

I built a SOAP request that wasn't working. It took about an hour or so to discover that it wasn't working due to parameter order. It's best to put the parameters in the same order that's in the WSDL. What was also interesting was that the element names that I used in the SOAP request actually didn't make a difference. It was specifically checking the order. A third party built the web service in...

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snook.ca on WebJillion

01 Sep 2005

I can't believe I hadn't seen this before now: snook.ca on WebJillion. ...

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Opera 8 for Free (Ad-free that is)

30 Aug 2005

Opera is offering an ad-free version of their software for one day only! That would be today! You can download it from download.com and while the site says you have to send an e-mail to get your registration code, you can also go to the Opera site to get your code (I'm currently experiencing timeouts so e-mail may just be easier). (via ForeverGeek) ...

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FeedBurner and excerpt feeds

29 Aug 2005

I just enabled FeedBurner and set up a redirect on my main feed URL. This should be completely transparent and you should not have to update your feed subscriptions. In doing so and since no-one seemed to object, I've also switched to excerpt feeds. If something seems wonky, let me know. ...

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Design Tweaks

25 Aug 2005

I've made a small promise to myself not to redesign this site. At least not for a while. Seeing all the wicked designs out there truly is inspiring. Instead, I've resolved to incremental touches. The Sidebar One thing I was never truly happy with was the sidebar. It originally was dark gray text over a dotted border (like the comments header) but it seemed dull. I tried doing a nice rounded bord...

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Proof that companies do listen to me.

09 Aug 2005

Blinksale adds custom notes feature for invoices. There's a reason small companies like Firewheel design and 37signals do well; they listen to their customers. ...

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What We Wanted: IE7 Beta 2

30 Jul 2005

Looks like I was right, beta 2 is the browser we've all been waiting for. Microsoft has released a list of fixes that will appear in the second beta of Internet Explorer 7. I suspect the backlash after beta 1 was released pushed them to release the list. Peekaboo bug Guillotine bug Duplicate Character bug Border Chaos No Scroll bug 3 Pixel Text Jog Magic Creeping Text bu...

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Blinksale - Invoicing Great for Freelancers

28 Jul 2005

Based on a lot of the buzz, I've been anxiously awaiting for Firewheel to open Blinksale to the public. Blinksale allows for web-based creation and management of invoices including reminders and thank-you e-mails. Having been using a combination of Excel and Acrobat, I was intrigued to see what the service had to offer. It has a clean interface that I found easy to use but also some caveats due t...

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Internet Explorer 7 Beta 1 Released

28 Jul 2005

Microsoft has released IE7 beta 1 to MSDN subscribers and a number of beta testers (of which I'm neither). There's been some outlash that Microsoft should have released it to a larger group but I'm doubtful that would have made any difference in the success of this release. It is clearly not aimed at us web developers looking for CSS support rivalling that of Firefox or Safari. Whether it will ge...

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FONTSMACK Blog is Live

04 Jul 2005

FONTSMACK now has a blog. I used WordPress, which I've come to appreciate for its ease of use when it comes to templating. Some may be confused by it but having some previous knowledge of PHP certainly comes in handy. Since FONTSMACK is in PHP as well, it was easy enough to tie in most of the template fairly quickly (those ubiquitous header and footer files). Upload and templating took about an ho...

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FontSmack Update

04 Jul 2005

I've started uploading fonts and will continue to do so when I have a chance. In the meantime, I do have the font RSS feed in place. Any new fonts uploaded to the site will appear in the feed. I'll be setting up the official blog for FONTSMACK soon and along with that will be the RSS feed to stay on top of all site activity. I do have the search capabilities developed, it just hasn't been made av...

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Launching FONTSMACK, Part 2

01 Jul 2005

Lesson learned, I hope. Jeff Croft put it best when he said: The bottom line is that this may not break the letter of their law, but it certainly breaks the spirit of it. With that, I won't bother waiting to hear back from the foundries. No commercial fonts will be available on the site (unless I get a really nice e-mail back that says, "Sure!" But how likely is that?). As a result, I'll be revi...

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30 Jun 2005

FONTSMACK is a repository of Macromedia Flash files (SWFs) that you can easily drop into your sIFR-enabled site. After registering the domain name on Monday night, doing the design on Tuesday, and the programming on Wednesday, it's live. FONTSMACK is an idea I had to offer an easy way to add sIFR to your site. It's a little sparse at the moment as I just wanted to get everything up but over th...

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Arriving Late to the Meme Party: Musical Baton

17 May 2005

After Derek, Garrett and Dan passed a baton my way, I felt it only fair to oblige them. Total volume of music on my computer 2 GB. Seriously folks. That's not a typo. There's no missing zeros. The last CD I bought Gwen Stefani: Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Too bad I've already grown tired of it. Song playing right now The Darkness: Friday Night I still love this song. Five songs I listen to a lo...

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Determining Database Field Lengths

16 Apr 2005

Here's the scenario: You've set up your database and now you're building your web page to display the information. You have a text field that stores a city name. In the database you've specified the maximum length to 50 characters. In HTML, you add on your maxlength attribute and specify it as 50. An easier way would be to have it automatically "know" what the length was. In ASP, you can do this ...

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Site Updates

13 Feb 2005

Just a heads up that I've updated the site a little so if anything is askew, be sure to let me know. Updates include: Updated the styles on the comments Added an intro paragraph to the home page E-mail notification checkbox state is maintained in preview (that should make you happy, Mark) You can now use <code> in comments Moved MovableType database from Berkeley to MySQL (which went fairl...

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Instant Messenger Timezone Detection

06 Jan 2005

Hey Scoble, tell Microsoft to put in some sort of timezone detection in Messenger. That'd get me to use it. You'd be able to see what timezone the user you're chatting to happens to be in. Maybe even show a graphic to help highlight where there are in the world. Heck, pop out a map of the world with dots showing where all your contacts happen to be. THAT would be cool. ...

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New PostgreSQL and Rubyonrails web sites

03 Jan 2005

A little while ago, I criticized both the PostgreSQL and Ruby on Rails sites as being ineffective and confusing. How quickly things have changed. I suspect the redesigns were already in development when I wrote that post. I have no delusions of granduer that they redesigned simply because of my post. In any event, both sites are now much cleaner and less confusing. Expect both technologies to gain...

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Override Custom Context Menu in Firefox

23 Dec 2004

So, I'm on this web site and I right-click on the page. I was surprised to find a nicely designed custom context menu. But I thought to myself, "How annoying... I want to use the actual context menu." I tried holding down the CTRL key (don't ask me why) and was pleasantly surprised to find the Firefox context menu. I haven't tried this on a clean install so it could be one of the many plugins tha...

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Happy Holidays!

23 Dec 2004

I've tried to keep this blog to "just-the-facts" but today I'll bend the rules a little. I wanted to wish you a very happy holidays and hope the new year brings you much joy and happiness! ...

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New functionality on snook.ca

10 Dec 2004

I added some new functionality that will hopefully make your life easier. I've added RSS feeds for each category. That way, if only one or two categories interest you then you can subscribe to only those categories. Links to the category RSS feeds are available on the category pages which, while on the site, you can access from the Archives page or via the category link on an post. The other th...

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I redesigned.

24 Nov 2004

I debated whether to even post this. Of course I redesigned. I constantly tweak my site left, right and center. The web is permanently under construction. But it still impresses me to see that I didn't have to change any HTML to achieve close to the look I wanted. I say close because I rearranged one element so that the date appeared below the article title instead of above. I also got rid of the...

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New Products

09 Nov 2004

Two fabulous products that are MUST haves: Konfabulator has been released for Windows. It allows you to add various widgets like to-do lists and weather information to your desktop. But the design and polish on these widgets are absolutely fabulous. And be sure to download the full official release of Firefox 1.0. It's been my default browser for awhile now and it should be yours too! Also, for ...

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Bloglines, where are you?

14 Oct 2004

How frustrating. Bloglines has suddenly stopped indexing one of my feeds. Even worse, it's my main article feed. Anybody using Bloglines probably thinks I haven't updated my site in a week (which obviously isn't the case). I sent them an e-mail on Oct 10th and received a fairly prompt reply that they were looking into it. Four days later and I haven't heard a word. Let's hope this issue gets re...

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Upgrading from MovableType 2.64 to 3.1

10 Oct 2004

I've gotten to a certain point in my life where I don't need to be on the bleeding edge of any application. The software running my site just happens to be one of them. After hearing of the latest version of MovableType a few months back, which happens to be the aforementioned software, I decided to hold off. Then yesterday, I got lambasted with about 150 spam comments. I couldn't come up with a ...

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Five Design Trends

01 Oct 2004

I may not be much of a designer (this site being case in point) but I still notice good design and certainly design trends. Back in June, Cameron Moll over at Authentic Boredom made some predictions. No predictions here, though. Just the facts, ma'am. Let's get this party started. The first item on this short list is the vertical drop shadow. Despite Cameron's prediction that the horizontal drop ...

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Software Design Patterns

08 Sep 2004

Here's a list of various design pattern resources: dofactory.com: with C# examples Illustrated GOF Design Patterns in C# Part I: Creational Object Orientation Tips Microsoft patterns and practices ...

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The Knowledge Bubble

07 Sep 2004

Everything you know is contained in a bubble. As you learn about new topics your knowledge bubble gets bigger. It's a simple premise, really. Sometimes you think you have a really big bubble and then the realization of how little you know when somebody tells you about a new concept you've never heard of. You suddenly and furiously find yourself trying to increase the size of your bubble with this ...

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Track Bloglines Readers

31 Aug 2004

One of the downfalls of aggregators like Bloglines is that you never really know how many people are reading your site. With Bloglines in particular, you can see how many have subscribed to your feed but that doesn't necessarily tell you how often they actually read your stuff. In going through the log files for my site, I discovered that there is actually a way to track this. In my RSS feed, I h...

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Web Design Tips for Print Designers

15 Aug 2004

I have 3 quick tips that will make designing for the web easier for everybody involved! 1. Make your canvas bigger than the area you are designing for. How does making the canvas larger help with web design? It forces you to think of the design outside of the fixed widths of your canvas. Probably one of the most common problems I run into with a designer who has never had to code their own crea...

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Perma your RSS!

10 Aug 2004

This is really just to air a pet peeve of mine as it's happened a couple times recently (Molly.com for example). We web developers talk of permanent links for our HTML pages and talk of setting up redirects for pages that actually move but what about RSS feeds? What do you do when you decide to move where your feeds are located? Keep the old RSS feed in the same place but only give it one entry. ...

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A FAQ of rejected ideas

10 Aug 2004

If your company actually has an intranet, it's probably filled with lots of policy about this and that. It might even have a tool to search for departments or employees. But have you ever had an idea and presented it to your boss only to have them say, "oh, we already looked into that and decided it wasn't a good idea." What if the intranet included stuff like this? I call it "The FAQ of rejected ...

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IA and CSS

26 Jul 2004

Presentation on integrating CSS and Information Architecture (IA) design over at natek. Interesting ideas indeed. ...

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Hit Bug in Firefox and Flash

08 Jul 2004

Here's an interesting problem that I ran into. I had a Flash movie sitting in an absolutely positioned div. In testing, there were times where a portion of the Flash movie was sitting too high and was actually positioned partly off the page. In this situation, the "live" area to click on a button within the Flash movie had shifted by the amount that the movie was offset. In other words, if the Fla...

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Logo design

08 Jun 2004

I imagine logo design can be pretty difficult, but sometimes a design is just too close. Check out Firewhite and Watchfire to see what I mean. ...

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The slow redesign process

04 Jun 2004

Having not been a huge fan of the old green design, I'm currently working towards a redesign. The design itself is essentially done and I have the inside template in place. For the next few days, it'll be a mish-mash of design changes as I revamp everything. I feel pretty good about the new design and should make it easier for me to manage everything once it's done. ...

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Super Quick Launch toolbar for free

05 Mar 2004

If you're like me, you probably have numerous key applications that you use on a regular basis. In fact, you may even have them on your Quick Launch taskbar. But what if you could categorize them? Or make sub-folders that opened when you clicked on them? Here's how to do it... The first step is to hijaak the Links toolbar. It behaves differently than the Quick Launch or any custom toolbar. I'll ex...

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a couple of bookmarks

05 Mar 2004

Macroworx Filing Cabinet II - a neat shareware application for storing links to application shortcuts. Style Master 3.5 - application for building CSS. Haven't tried it out yet but I will. ...

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A new kind of spam

23 Feb 2004

A number of blogger sites have a list of other sites who refer to them. They're often in place for the webmasters to see how popular they are but these referral lists can be tricked into displaying links to web sites that do not truly link to them. I've noticed the occasional hit to my referrer list, mostly from porn sites and most recently, one from John Kerry's presedential campaign. This is an...

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Flash Frustration

20 Feb 2004

As I'm sure is documented elsewhere, browser implementation of the Flash plugin is inconsistent. In particular, access to FSCommand or Javascript access to and from the Flash plugin is non-existant in Firebird and Firefox. Nor does it work on a Mac (except in N6.2+ apparently but how many users use it, in the grand scheme of things). As well, there's actually no way to detect the browser from with...

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16 Feb 2004

Just because I found it interesting, find any site geographically located near mine using GeoNames. Now, technically, this finds people near the latitude and longitude that I entered which happens to be the city I live in here in Canada. The web site itself is probably physically sitting in the United States somewhere. ...

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Firefox not ready for the mass market

16 Feb 2004

I love Firefox but customizing to any degree and it becomes obvious that it needs a lot of work before it hits a full version of 1.0. While web page rendering is pretty spot on, there are a number of quirks that would certainly prevent me from recommending it to friends and family. It's the spit and polish of any application that really makes it shine. My quick list of things that I think would ...

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Disable Flash plugin

16 Feb 2004

Need a quick and easy way to disable the flash plugin for testing purposes? After discovering that almost all tools on the market didn't work or just required too much fiddling to get them working, I have found a quick way that works. This is on Windows 2000. Rename flash.ocx that resides in the c:\winnt\system32\Macromed\Flash\ folder. Voila...plugin disabled. Rename it back and it's re-enabled!...

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Moving MovableType a success

09 Jan 2004

After hearing of a promotion for free web hosting from 1and1.com, I decided to sign up and see how good it is. My last host wasn't bad but the server did seem to go down for 5-10 minutes on a regular basis. But in moving stuff over, I had to move over my MovableType installation. After hearing of numerous horror stories, I was concerned. I'm using the BerkleyDb configuration so I downloaded my MT ...

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Fusebox Methodology

19 Nov 2003

The Fusebox Methodology is a Web application development process designed using the Fusebox Web Application Standard but can also be applied to Web application development in general. ...

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Import e-mail addresses from a text file into Outlook

19 Nov 2003

To import the contacts into Outlook 2000 you can do the following: Create a new folder under contacts that will store the imported contacts. With the folder selected, click on File > Import and Export and then select 'Import from another program or file'. Select 'Comma Seperated Values' or 'Tab Seperated Values'. Outlook may prompt you to install this feature before proceeding. Select the file to ...

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The ReUseit winner is in!

14 Nov 2003

The winners of the Reuseit contest are in! There are some really great designs and I agree with the judges decision on the winner. ...

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Use of eval in Flash

12 Nov 2003

Sometimes I find programming Flash so frustrating. It seems to break convention in a number of areas that it often leaves me banging my head against my desk for hours. My recent beef: the use of "eval". In programming with javascript, I've enjoyed being able to use eval to evaluate a full expression. For example, eval("myimg.height + 20") would determine the height of my image and then add 20 to i...

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3 versions of IE on one machine

09 Nov 2003

A link from mezzoblue got me to an article on Insert Title that documents running multiple versions of IE on the same machine. I needed to bookmark this! ...

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Mouse Gestures for ALL!

27 Oct 2003

Having become an avid fan of mouse gestures in Mozilla and Opera, I decided to venture out and do a search for a generic mouse gesture application for Windows. Lo and behold I found StrokeIt - Mouse Gestures for Windows. Allows gestures for all application as well as ones tailored to specific applications. And best of all, it's free! ...

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link checkers

24 Oct 2003

I normally use Xenu to check links within a site. Also, check out the W3C Link Checker. ...

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Add Link Toolbar to Firebird

22 Oct 2003

A feature of HTML since version 2 has been the link tag. It's currently used most frequently to link to a stylesheet or a shortcut icon. It can actually be useful for improving the navigability of your sites. The W3C explains the different link types. Firebird, by default, does make use of these great tags but through the link toolbar extension a toolbar will appear on the status bar whenever a ...

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Firebird 0.7 is released

17 Oct 2003

That's right, Mozilla Firebird is out now and there's a couple features that I particularly like such as the alternate stylesheet support and an advanced preferences panel to make it easier to configure. I didn't create a new profile when I installed the new version so I'm not sure if any extensions were included but my All-in-one Gestures extension was still hanging around. Ever since I used ges...

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Arsenal of Tools

26 Sep 2003

I think in every web developers toolbox should be a list of items that they find indispensable. Or at the very least, add some great value from time to time. Here's a few from my list: Zoom Search Engine: This is a javascript-based search engine. Now for most, this may silly but having developed a few HTML-based CD-ROM's now, this has come in quite handy. It works just like most search engines a...

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26 Sep 2003

I really enjoy a good logo. If a company has a good logo, it really enhances the overall branding of the company and can create a sense of familiarity where mere words can't. A recent article in Wired talks about how Apple is putting some new touches to the logo. Very nice! ...

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ISSN for Weblogs

25 Sep 2003

"You can apply for and use an International Standard Serial Number for your Weblog. Your blog will then officially exist in the worldwide standardized encyclopedia of periodicals." Did you know you can get an ISSN for Weblogs? This courtesy of Zeldman's blog (who incidentally does have his own ISSN). ...

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Firebird is hot

24 Sep 2003

I've been an IE fan since version 4 came out so many years ago. Netscape 4 was extremely buggy for me and just didn't feel as comfortable as IE. I've made sure to keep my eye on other browsers since like Opera and the Mozilla bunch. But again, it just didn't feel right. There seemed to be some feature that I loved to use in IE that just wasn't available elsewhere. Then Firebird came along. Still b...

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back to square one

23 Sep 2003

After using blogger for a period of time, I've decided to take the plunge and switch over to MovableType. Oh, the joys of technology. ...

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