Firefox 2.0 delayed. So what!

Firefox 2.0 might not be out until October. So what. I like being the first kid on the block with the latest software so I downloaded the beta as soon as it came out. It was OK. The new features include an anti-phishing tool, which is nice; new tab features — which are available as extensions in 1.5 and better search, allowing you to search individual websites — which is nice, but … ho-hum. In fact, I find all the new features a little ho-hum. What I would have liked to have seen was a serious de-bloating and a serious speed injection. I use Firefox now, because I have to. I would much prefer to use Opera, but alas, many websites don’t work in Opera. I’m also looking forward to Swift, but for now it’s just way too buggy.

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Published in: on August 17, 2006 at 12:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Windows live writer – initial thoughts

NOTE: THIS WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED TO http://www.jasonmayoff.com/blog

Ok, so here’s a post using Windows Live Writer. When I first started the program up, it crashed my computer. It took me a second time of starting and crashing to realize what the problem was. Windows Live Writer does not seem to like ZoneAlarm. So the next time I started it up, I turned off ZoneAlarm first and turned on Windows Firewall, which oddly enough it has no conflicts with. Imagine that.

As soon as it starts up, Windows Live Writer asks you a few questions about your blog, downloads a few things, presumably it’s stylesheet and layout and then presents you with a window in which you write your blog.

There are menu options to add images

links

and maps.

Well, that’s as far as I’ve gotten so far. Let’s see if I can publish it. Cross your fingers! If you’re reading this then it has in fact been published.

UPDATE: I’m now editing this in my regular WordPress online editor. I noticed that while it got most of it right, WLR didn’t get my font size correct. I wonder if it will fix things, when I republish, with this new content.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Apparently not, and in fact this new content seems to be too small as well. It might have something to do with the changes I made to the original WP template, but if so, then obviously WLR is not working properly.  Also, it’s supposed to look exactly the same in the editor and on the page and it does not.  The pictures are a little bit off.

Published in: on August 14, 2006 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Windows Live Writer

Windows has released this desktop app, called Windows Live Writer for writing blogs. I don’t have time to download it now, but I will later today and let you know what it’s all about. In the meantime, go download it yourself and tell me what you think.

Microsoft says:
Windows Live Writer is a desktop application that makes it easier to compose compelling blog posts using Windows Live Spaces or your current blog service.

So it should be compatible with WordPress and others.

Published in: on August 14, 2006 at 2:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Google Videos to change interface

TechCrunch blogged about this

Looks like they want to make their interface look more like Youtube‘s. They probably have a way to readily monetize the system, perhaps with more than just Google ads, and want to get the jump on Youtube. If I were Youtube, I’d be listening and start rolling out anything new now. If Google Videos gives me the ability to, say, buy all my videos and any other I like , on DVD with a nice image etched (of my own design) on the front for $7.99, then maybe I’ll just move them over there to get the DVD and forget to move back.

Why hasn’t Youtube done anything like that yet, anyway? Just like Flickr for pictures, they should and can easily offer some sort of added-value features that people will pay for. Maybe it’s a matter of finding a provider who can supply the anticipated demand from all those millions (zillions?) of users. In any case, Youtube has got to get movin’ on this.

Published in: on August 13, 2006 at 2:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Protopage version 3 update

One of my favourite Web 2.0 (Ugh!) start pages is Protopage. I like the full control you have over placing widgets or gadgets or whatever it is they call them. I found a while ago that they really needed an upgrade from version 2 and have since stopped using it. In fact, I have stopped using all start pages.

I found I was using Protopage mainly for web feeds and that I didn’t often use its other features. I also hated the numbered pages they have, where many other start pages now use tabs. In the end I switched to Bloglines, which I find is the best online feed reader out there, although I think it leaves a lot to be desired. But that’s for another post.

The protopage people now say :

With version 3 we’re going beyond expectations to create some powerful ways for you to organize and categorize your page content. We’re also creating the means for you to extend Protopage and add your own functionality – so you’ll be able to customize your Protopage even more than ever before. The look and feel has also had a spring clean.

They have said version 3 will be available sometime this quarter, which, if I’m not mistaken, ends at the end of September…. so still another month and a half away, although they could roll it out anytime now. I’m excited and I hope they give me enough reason to switch back.

I wonder now whether anyone is actually still even using these start pages, or were they a fad that is now becoming so … last Friday. Is it just me who’s stopped? I’d love to see some stats.

Published in: on August 12, 2006 at 2:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Google moves groups, adds video

google

Have you noticed? Google has added Video to it’s top links and has removed Groups from the prime position it’s had all these years. Instead, Books, Froogle and Groups and “even more >>” are grouped into a drop-down list.

In its blog Google says:

Search has always been a fundamental paradigm here, so we’re constantly working to integrate more services into the main search experience. So while you can go to specific search services directly through the More>> dropdown, you’ll also find great results from Books, Groups, and Froogle by just searching Google. As our product line evolves, we’re also finding that we have a few destinations that people need to get to directly — sometimes because the user experience relies heavily on browsing (News, Video) or because there’s a different way of searching (Maps).

Google also says it plans to introduce more changes over the next few months. I guess this shows the importance Google is placing on its video search as it tries to compete with YouTube.com

At the time of this posting, the changes have not been Google Canada (www.google.ca)

UPDATE: Here’s what happened to Froogle, which was also moved off the main links section, and Google Videos after the switchover.

Published in: on August 12, 2006 at 2:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Swift: Webkit-based browser for Windows

swift_logo.png

Saw something about this browser called Swift at CSS Insider and so, being the browser nut that I am, I downloaded it and tried it. That thing is pretty much instantaneous. There is absolutely no waiting to load a web page. Well, it’s fast, but I did a little, unscientific comparison with Firefox and it’s not that much better. It does, however feel very light and robust. Probably because it is. It’s in alpha and there’s probably not a whole lot to it yet. It crashed on me twice already in 4 times using it. I also noticed I couldn’t input a password on any password sites. It’s obvisouly not ready for prime time yet, but it has potential and it’s something to keep an eye on.

The site’s own tagline says: “A web browser for Windows based on the Apple Webkit rendering engine”

Web designers and developers take note. There could soon be a new browser for you to watch out for. I truly hope it will be fully standards-compliant.

Published in: on August 10, 2006 at 4:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Programmer meet designer

I came across this great site where designers and programmers can find each other. Often designers aren’t that great at programming and vice versa. That makes it tough for freelance web developers to build decent sites. They might look great, but function poorly or function great, but look horrendous. This site puts programmers in touch with people who can actually make a nice-looking design and designers in touch with the people who can put their designs into practice. You have the option of posting listings asking for a one-time or multi-job collaborator or for someone to work with on a long-term basis.

At one point earlier this year, I was considering setting up a site exactly like this. I just never got a round tuit.
This site was obviously designed by a programmer, without the help of a designer.

Here’s the site’s own description of itself:

This site was created to unite programmers and designers because rarely is a person good at both programming and designing. PMD helps programmers and designers partner up to make websites and web applications that look and work great. It also lets entrepreneurs and writers find people to work with.

http://programmermeetdesigner.com/

UPDATE: I just read on this blog that the person who created the site is just 13 years old.

Published in: on August 9, 2006 at 12:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Advice for podcasters

Here are the podcasts I like to listen to (or watch) on a regular or semi-regular basis.

  • Boagworld: news and advice on web design and management
  • TWiT: a roundtable discussion of the latest trends in high tech
  • The Word Nerds: A weekly podcast about language
  • Practical Web Design magazine: The podcast to accompany the print magazine (this podcast is done by the same guy who does the Boagworld podcast, Paul Boag)
  • Escape Pod: fun short science fiction and fantasy
  • Rocketboom: A fun short video podcast on various topics, often news-related
  • Photoshop TV: A video podcast with some great photoshop tutorials

I’ve listened to many and found that for the topics that interest me, these are the most professionally done podcasts and the most informative or entertaining ones. Many other podcasts might have interesting content, but if the host uses a cheap $10 microphone or if I constantly have to turn the volume up or down when another speaker starts talking or when the music starts playing, because the production is horrible then I just can’t listen to it. It’s not worth it for me. Others, like Diggnation might be very well produced and put together and even have some interesting content, but don’t appeal to me on various other levels (and I do like beer.)

If I could give all you podcasters some advice from a listeners point of view, here it is:
(this applies mainly to audio podcasts)

  • Make sure the audio levels for all the talkers and the music are the same. You can easily fix this, if need be, after it’s recorded, using audio editing software.
  • If you’re a spoken word podcast, keep the music to a minimum or don’t use music at all. Sometimes I’ve got 5 minutes in my car to listen to part of a podcast. I want to hear what YOU have to say, I don’t want to hear some song, as relevant as it may be. Theme music, or music used as a bridge is OK, but don’t play more than a few (10-20) seconds of any song.
  • If you are interviewing someone, and playing that interview as-is, don’t spend too much time on the history of the person (unless of course that’s the topic of discussion.) If your guest is there to talk about the price of tea in China, then immediately start talking about the price of tea in China. You can, in a few seconds, give me speakers credentials (tea economist from Hunan province), rather than asking him or her to talk about it, something which could be a very boring 2,3,4 or 5 minutes. If you really must have your guest talk about himself, then do it at the end of the interview.
  • Don’t be afraid to banter and have fun. I want the facts, but I want the facts in a fun and/or interesting manner. If I wanted just the facts, I could get my computer text-to-speech reader to read the news and create an MP3 to listen to it. I want to hear YOU. I want to hear your personality along with your opinions and thoughts on the information you’re presenting. Great examples of this are the Boagworld and TWiT podcasts.

UPDATE: Here’s some great advice on podcasting from Podcast Free America

Published in: on August 7, 2006 at 2:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Google Desktop

I’m way late on this I know, but I thought since Google is starting to push its desktop program now, that I’d download it again and review it. I found when I first tried it, for searching my computer, it slowed everything down and I didn’t like it. This time, I’m trying it mainly for the widgets. I’ve been using Yahoo! Widgets and I kind of like it. I have three or four I keep on my desktop all the time.

I find there aren’t nearly as many Google widgets available, but then again I haven’t really searched around, I’ve only used the ones Google provides when you click Add Widgets. I find it odd, that there’s not even a Google Reader widget.

(Now this is odd. I’ve just installed Google Desktop and tried out a few widgets, and my virus scanner popped up with a virus notice. That almost never happens. I’ll have to investigate. I have no idea whether this program caused it, or not. I hope not, for Google’s sake.))

I like the look of the widgets, but then Yahoo! Widgets were cool looking as well. There are enough widgets to let me switch from Yahoo!, but whether I stick with it will be determined over the next few days. I’ll report back.

google.jpgI also like this feature. Click ctrl twice and a google search box widget pops up. It’s got a suggest feature in it, and then takes you to your browser for the full results.

Published in: on August 5, 2006 at 2:16 am  Leave a Comment