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Posted on Dec 13, 2011

Brad Frost: The Mobile Case for Progressive Enhancement

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Wise thoughts from Brad Frost:

Jack Bishop and I gave a presentation at BK.js a few weeks ago about progressive enhancement for the mobile web (thanks Marco Carag!) During the Q&A, someone asked “With all this diversity and inconsistent/shaky support for this Javascript for mobile browsers, why don’t we just rely more on HTML?” EXACTLY. Yet it was asked as a question.

There’s a mentality that in order to do create functional experiences in the browser, especially for mobile, you need to use some hardcore JS framework, rewrite the scrolling logic, add a bunch of interstitial animations, create overlays and add swipes. I have nothing against frameworks or these techniques, but for whatever reason people think they’re a prerequisite for creating mobile web experiences. They’re not.

Posted on Dec 12, 2011

Louis C.K. Can’t Stop the Pirates

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Via GigaOM, an explanation of Louis C.K.’s novel idea:

With the release of his latest standup special Live at the Beacon Theater, comedian Louis C.K. went straight to his core audience with a cheap, easy-to-stream and easy-to-download distribution strategy. He asked interested viewers to pay just $5 via PayPal and in exchange they were given access to two streams of the show and two downloads of the show.

I hope this works out for him (and I’d like to see others try it is he is successful).

Posted on Jun 28, 2011

Mark Boulton: A New Canon

Author/designer/genius-kinda-guy Mark Boulton puts forth the proposition that responsive design is creating a new canon for web designers and developers.

In the real world, responsive design is nothing new. Products adapt to our needs. Technology monitors local environments to adjust lighting, temperature and even physical spaces. But what about web? In designing with words, the desire to bind content to a device has been around as long as there have been books. Mark will take you from desire to implementation, from theory to practice. How can we build upon what we know from literally hundreds of years of responsive design practice to define a new era of online publishing? An era where we strive for the same level of human / technology connection that started with the monks.


View his slides, listen to his talk.

Posted on Apr 27, 2011

Interested in Building a Web App for WFYI?

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I just saw this in WFYI’s tweetstream – “Interested in designing the official WFYI Mobile App?? Here’s the link to details. http://www.wfyi.org/rfp_MobileApp_2011.docx.

It links to an RFP for a pretty full-featured web app. I’m going to post it in full here, just in case you don’t want to hassle with the Word doc.

WFYI is central Indiana’s public broadcasting station, staffed by some pretty pretty decent, hardworking people (I used to work there, so trust me on this). They actually do a lot of outreach in the community beyond simply broadcasting, so this is a chance to do some good for the community. This is a pretty big step forward for them, and I’m glad to see it. If you think you are in a position to help out a great organization (and make some money in the process) check it out.


WFYI RFP

Summary

WFYI is seeking to select a mobile application developer to design and deploy the official WFYI app.

This request for proposals (“RFP”) seeks independent digital design and development firms to plan, create and produce the official WFYI mobile application. The primary goal is to provide easy, on the go access to WFYI’s unique services.

Background

WFYI desires to develop and utilize a multiplatform, unique, interactive and compelling digital representation of our services. The goal is to provide our audience with all WFYI related content that might possibly be needed while using a mobile device.

WFYI’s mission reads:
As a trusted catalyst for lifelong learning, WFYI Public Media engages and enriches our community through distinctive programs and services.

Goals

WFYI would like a mobile app that gives our audience access to WFYI’s services at their fingertips. This includes television and radio schedules, the ability to listen to streaming radio, tune in reminders, program promotion, membership information, and event promotion and information.

Requirements

The app must function on both the Apple (iPhone and iPad) and Android platforms
The app must display the WFYI television schedules
The app must display the WFYI radio schedules
The app must be able to offer tune in reminders for calendars
The app must be able to offer reminders as an email forward
The app must be able to offer reminders as a like on Facebook
The app must be able to offer reminders as a share on Twitter
The app must be able to stream the WFYI radio stations
The app must be able to play a message pre-roll on the streams
The app must link to WFYI’s YouTube channel
The app must have a “contribute now” button
The app must be able display banner ads
The app must be able to display the WFYI radio news RSS feed
The app must be able to display WFYI event promotion information
The app must be able to display WFYI Member Magazine Highlights
The app must have and alarm clock/sleep timer with stream stop/start
The app must display Indianapolis weather and traffic information

Objectives

Objectives include, but are not limited to…

  • Increasing the reach of the mission of WFYI
  • Broaden access to social networking platforms already in use by WFYI
  • Disseminate information easily to attendees at our signature events
  • Integration with www.wfyi.org

Revenue Streams

Revenue streams would include easy access to membership renewal, as well as banner ads for underwriting clients.

Posted on Feb 25, 2011

CSS Properties Index

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Very nice. Jens Meiert has a “continuously updated list of all CSS properties.” Quite a list, with CSS version for each entry (no mention of browser support, though).

Posted on Feb 24, 2011

UX Magazine – 2016: The User Interface Revolution Underway

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Quite an interesting read from UX Magazine. Here’s a taste:

Looking at the next five years, the role of interface design will only increase in importance as companies compete to win market share worldwide. Ease of use is essential to winning hearts, minds, and customers. With consumer product companies in heated competition, I anticipate a surge of redesign and new design in the near term. These designs will focus on usability, which means we are likely to see breakthrough products over the next several years.

Yet these new interfaces are not going to be uniform; devices and applications will not possess common protocols. For users, each interaction will have to be learned, so despite the improved usability of products, individuals will find themselves learning the quirks and standards of more and more technologies just to get the functionality they seek.

Posted on Jan 5, 2009

Things To Avoid

According to Wikipedia, here is a list of products endorsed by Billy Mays. I think “Buddy Putty” is my favorite product name. It conjures up lots of crude mental images…

  • Aquapel
  • Awesome Auger, Ground Aug, Weed Auger, and Power Extender gardening tools
  • Bedazzler
  • Big City Slider Station
  • Black Swan Furniture
  • Bloomin’ Onion Maker
  • Buddy Putty
  • Calcium Lime Rust
  • Currie Motors Chrysler Credit Hotline
  • Cucco Kitchenware
  • DC Snowboards
  • Ding King automotive dent remover
  • Dualsaw
  • Easy Off Bam!
  • Energize energy supplement
  • EngraveIt
  • FixIt car scratch remover
  • FoneFree wireless cellphone headset
  • Foodsaver
  • ESPN
  • ESPN360
  • FreeFone wireless phone holder
  • Gator Grip
  • Gem It
  • Gopher reach extending tool
  • Handy Switch
  • Hercules Hook wall hangers
  • House Dust
  • iCan Benefit Group, LLC
  • Kaboom
  • Lint-B-Gone lint brush
  • Liquid Diamond car waxing product
  • Mantis Roto-Tiller
  • Micro-Men Duster
  • Mighty Mend It
  • Mighty Putty
  • Miracle Whip
  • Never-Scrub tile cleaner
  • Orange Clean, Orange Glo
  • OxiClean
  • Quik Strip wire stripping tool
  • Ragazzi’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria
  • Samurai Shark knife sharpener
  • Sandstrom OnTV
  • Sealtite Tire Sealant
  • Simoniz Fix It Scratch Remover
  • Steam Buddy
  • Street Options Auto Accessories
  • Swiffer SweeperVac
  • Tommy and Rumble
  • Turbo Tiger vacuum cleaner
  • Turbo Vac vacuum cleaner
  • Vidalia Chop-it
  • Vidalia Slice-it
  • Vidalia Slice Wizard
  • Volkswagen Group of America cars
  • Zorbeez absorbent towels

The only way we can stop him from shouting at us is to ignore him. He will cease to be in demand if no one buys the products he pitches. The power is in your hands.

Posted on Jul 21, 2008

Test Your Site in Multiple Instances of IE With IETester

One of the great annoyances in web design is testing multiple versions of the execrable Internet Explorer. Since it’s used by such a large percentage of people browsing the web, problems with its display of elements on a web page can’t be ignored. Thankfully, Microsoft has been addressing the issues, and their version 7 of Internet Explorer is not too shabby. However, since so many people haven’t yet upgraded, this means testing your design in multiple versions of the browser. This is where Microsoft falls flat. They decided to bundle the browser into their Operating System years ago, with mixed results. It was not a popular decision, and it makes it impossible to install more than one version of IE on your machine. Not under normal circumstances, anyway.

There are a few ways around it. Install a Virtual Machine with IE6 on it. That’s handy. Keep a spare computer lying around, with IE6 installed. Not handy either. A few years back, Joe Maddalone came up with a way to put a standalone version of outdated IE releases on your computer. Tweaks were made by others, culminating in TredoSoft’s MultipleIE. It made it pretty easy to run multiple instances of Internet Explorer on your PC. I found a few issues (some JavaScript problems, mostly) but it’s a handy way to get a quick look at your design in multiple browsers.

DebugBar has taken it one step further with the release of IETester. It operates on the same basic principle as the other method, with one major difference – it’s a tabbed interface, and each tab can display your page in the version of IE of your choice. For example, you can load your page in one tab that uses the IE 5.5 rendering engine, one tab in IE6, one in IE7 and one in IE8 beta. I’ve found it a little easier to use, since each tab displays the version of IE you are using.

It’s still a bit buggy (I run XP with IE7, and I get random crashes). Most issues are discussed in the forums. Give the software a try. It might speed your troubleshooting up a bit.

Posted on Jul 10, 2008

Notepad++ 5.0 Released

Free editor Notepad++ hit the 5.0 mark this past weekend, and it certainly is speedier. I was rumbling along on v4.8 for the past few months, so I got the benefit of two release cycles with my upgrade. Here’s what I get to work with now:

v5.0 enhancements

1. Improve Notepad++ performance – on startup and on exit.
2. Add Calltip capacity.
3. Add HTML/XML tag match highlighting.
4. All the menu commands can be added in context menu, including plugins’ commands, macros and user defined commands.
5. Add bookmarked lines operations : delete all marked lines, copy all marked lines into clipboard, cut all marked lines into clipboard, paste from clipboard to replace all marked lines content.
6. Add rename and delete current document features.
7. Fix crash bug : Open files with date pre-1970.
8. Fix clone mode bug : now the actions done in one view will be synchronized in the cloned view.
9. Add tooltips in document tab to display the full file name path.
10. Change hide lines behaviour : Hide lines now saved during switches.
11. Change file history list behaviour : Most recent closed file is on the top. Add number on list.
12. Caret width and blink rate are customizable.
13. Add asterisk in title bar if file is dirty.
14. The bookmarks’ look & feel are improved.
15. Add “Select all” and “copy” context menu items in Find in files results window.
16. Fix goto line with command line bug.
17. Improve smart highlight / mark all / incremental search highlight all visibility
18. Tabbar’s colours is configurable via Stylers Configurator(Active tab Text, Inactive tab text, Inactive tab background, Active tab focused indicator and Active tab unfocused indicator).
19. Add the smart highlight file size limit – 1.5 MB in order to improve the performance.
20. Add exception handling (dumping filedata).
21. Fix go to line command line bug.
22. Enhance Find in files and Find in all opened files features’ performance.
23. Fix dialog off screen problem under multi-monitor environment.
24. Add 2 plugin message for v5 : NPPM_GETFULLPATHFROMBUFFERID and NPPM_GETPOSFROMBUFFERID.

Included plugins :

1. TexFX v0.24a
2. NppExec v0.2 RC3.2
3. Spell Checker v1.3.1
4. MIME Tools v1.4
5. FTP_synchronize v0.9.6
6. NppExport v0.2.7.3
7. Compare plugin v1.5.1
8. Light Explorer v1.5
9. Doc Monitor v2.1

v4.9 enhancements

1. Add smart highlighting feature (double click a word to highlight all the same word in the document).
2. Enhance visual effect of Mark all feature.
3. Enhance Incremental search dialog docking.
4. Enhance Incremental search : add Highlight all feature.
5. Add auto-hide menu feature (IE7 style menu – Alt or F10 to toggle)
6. Enhance tool bar GUI usability (display a chevron while some tool icons hidden).
7. Add style transparency feature, right click on color to enable.
8. Fix the files not opening by DnD bug.
9. Enhance Find Replace dialog : Add “Extended” option – search (and replace) for tabs(\t), newline(\n\r), and a characters by it’s value (\o, \x, \b, \d, \t, \n, \r and \\).
10. Bug fixed : Find dialog always scrolls text into view now.
11. Add places bar in save as dialog
12. Fix non-recognized relative path bug in command line mode (under Dos prompt).
13. Add 2 messages for doc monitor plugin.
14. Fix the transparency bug (in Styler Configurator).
15. Make search in hidden directory (for Find in files) optional.
16. Fix the replace bug while replacing nothing.
17. Fix the F3 searching direction bug.

Included plugins :

1. TexFX v0.24a
2. NppExec v0.2 RC3.2
3. Spell Checker v1.3.1
4. MIME Tools v1.4
5. FTP_synchronize v0.9.6
6. NppExport v0.2.7.3
7. Compare plugin v1.5.1
8. Light Explorer v1.4
9. Doc Monitor v2.1

The enhanced Find/Replace functionality almost made me swoon.

Posted on Jul 8, 2008

OpenGoo: A Sticky Application

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OpenGoo is an updated branch of activeCollab, the recently-gone-commercial Basecamp clone. I like what the developers have done with the tool. Basically, here is one way the app workflow can go:

  • Create a workspace (rather than activeCollab’s projects)
  • Add tasks, assigning each to a workspace
  • Assign tasks to users
  • Users assign tags to tasks

It’s pretty flexible, with the ability to further refine workspaces by grouping tasks under milestones. You can filter on the tags, so you can get a quick view of what’s delayed, what’s on target and what’s finished. You can set up multiple workspaces. You can add messages, documents, comments and sub tasks (a welcome addition), and most items can be linked to others. The system will kick out emails when a task is assigned, and there is an RSS feed of latest changes to which you can subscribe, so you can be kept up-to-date on the status of items from your RSS reader. There is the ability to upload images (again, which you could link to a task). That is a quick overview of the tool, and there is a lot I left out.

I think my favorite departure from activeCollab is the AJAXy interface. It’s not the AJAX that thrills me, but the intelligent way that they’ve brought all of the features out front. The abilty to filter the tags from any view, for instance, is a huge step forward in the usability of a powerful feature that activeCollab handled poorly. Tags, baby; they’re the future.

They do have some kinks to work out, and they openly admit that. Although a help pane is a click away, it displays nothing. The files exist in the installation; they just don’t appear. Sorting on columns seems to be planned, since greyed-out options exist, but they do nothing yet. Those and a few other issues aside, this is a fantastic job, and I’m glad to see it happen. Read more about the app, check out the demo, and see what these guys are up to.