Archive for July, 2009

Dead Images – Followup

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

I did an amount of research about the MIME-type errors I was getting.

It turns out Webkit (that means both Safari and Chrome, as well as some others) has a problem with caching, such that errors in a file will remain permanently. I flushed the cache, and it all works (except for the favicon, but I’ve never liked .ICOs).

The reason things went off was that I had defragmented my flash drive, which is incidentally also my localhost. Taking most of those files off and putting them back on fixed most of it, but some javascript files were stubborn.

I have no clue why it transmits my favicon as text/html, but I the problem with my JS was that it was interpreting it as ‘other’, even though it was being sent as javascript. Even completely replacing the file didn’t work.

Installed Web-Apps

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

These past few days, there has been a topic in the WHATWG about somehow making web apps run in the background, so we can always have them on — the way you have your email always on.

While searching around for an answer, I realized I’ve basically been doing that very thing for a number of days: I have a web-page saved as an application using Google Chrome.

When you use Chrome’s “Create application shortcut…” option, you’re left with a shortcut that tries to look like it’s for an application. When you open it, you get a very minimal UI: A favicon (that can be pressed for options), the title, and the caption buttons. The rest of the window is there for the application.

This is basically just a redesigned tab. You can select an option to turn it back into a tab, and you can drag it back into the browser. But it remembers its size and position when you close it, and you can use Google Gears with some applications to store data on your system.

I’ve been using the Chrome applications with Google Reader. I know there are some feed readers that actually are applications, but I think Chrome is my favourite application. The width limit isn’t stupid like it is in TweetDeck, and the UI isn’t cludgy like it is in the Windows Live collection.
Google Reader opens up in a thin, tall window on the right side of my screen. In the title bar is the text, “Google Reader,” as well as the number of new feeds.
It checks for new feeds every couple of minutes, and I just need to look at the Taskbar button to see how many.

There are only two things wrong with this setup:
1) I have to look for it, which is fine enough for my reader, but wouldn’t be good for something like an IM client or email. It needs notification.
2) I have this big button sitting in the Taskbar when I’m trying to search through for folders I have open. I’d love if I could minimize it to the notification area, and it could notify me when it found new things.

As it stands, I would love for Google Reader to play a sound when it found something new. It could do that.

I might try to make some sort of web app, soon, that works well with the Chrome application shortcuts.

Getting Business

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

I think the hardest part of setting up a business — especially if you’ve never done if before, and have no friends in higher places — is that you can’t just sit back and let the clients come to you.

I liken myself, these past few months, to a spider on a web. I spun the web, and I’m sitting on it, but I’m starving while I wait for flies.
It’s not a good analogy, because I’m not preying on anyone, but I’m not sure there’s an animal that spins a web and greets anything it catches with a warm and heartfelt manner.

So, solutions: If you’ve made the business, you need clients. If you’ve done the work, and you made your business plan, you’ll know your target market. It’s just a matter of getting out personally and talking to people from that market.

You see, there are three ways of getting out there. You could be introduced to everyone by a friend, and have all the contacts handed to you; you could choose a great location and optimize your site for search-engines, so people can find you easily; or you can meet everyone personally and become well-known in the community.

I don’t know anyone in the web field, so the first option is right out.
I’ve built a nice little site, and I’m putting my words on a ton of blogs, but I’ve so far been almost completely unsuccessful at getting anyone to even notice I’m here. I’ve fiddled with things on both sites, but Cozy Cabbage Web Design & Development, my Winnipeg Web Design firm, is nowhere near the top of the lists. (I think this site is more well-known, because I use it everywhere on the web to represent me, so I’ll do the self-linking this once). This blog, too has never had any subscribers (possibly because I only write trash and musings). Furthermore, I could become well-known in the web community, but that means nothing to some random person walking down the street. If I stopped and asked someone, they would’t know who Doug Bowman is, or Jeffery Zeldman, or Dave Shea, or any of the rest.
And that leaves ‘getting out there’. I’m doing a bunch of research on local businesses, and I’ll have to get in touch with everyone to see if there are new businesses starting up around me. I can also talk to established web design companies in the city, so see what they have to say.

It’s time for a whole lot of work.


Monday, July 27th, 2009

I’m mainly a developer, but the artistic streak runs through my family. I was the only student in my grade, at my high-school, who stuck with band class until graduation. I sometimes draw. I was selected, for reasons I might barely understand (I was young) to be taken out of school for half a day each week or so to take art classes at the art gallery.

I have one defining piece, which I’d say really sums me up. In September of 2007, I decided I’d make drawing a hobby, or habit; whichever you choose.
I took a blue ball-point pen and some leaves of lined loose-leaf, looked on Google Images for a standard half-naked semi-muscular guy, split a page into four sections, and tried drawing the guy in the upper-left section. I shoved the image through a few filters to make it blue and white, so that it would resemble the pen I was using on the paper. It came out horribly, like some sort of headless mannequin resembling a human form only by suggestion.
I tried it again. In the upper-right section, I drew the same figure. This time, I managed to give him a head and keep him looking relatively human.
Once more, I drew the man. On the third attempt, he was shaded and properly defined and — I’d say — almost passable.
At that point, I got bored and left it.

And that’s how it goes. If I start something new, I can learn a tremendous amount about it in a short time, as long as I’m working on it. However, if I stop working on it, my skills quickly fade. I haven’t drawn since late 2008, and I’ve spent the last week tracing over circles and lines and figures in an attempt to relearn how to move my hand. I can already see a marked improvement.

My Definitive Drawing

Dead Images

Friday, July 24th, 2009

I’ve had odd troubles, lately, with images that stopped working for no reason.
The first time I encountered it, I had just defragged my flash drive (it was getting full). Copying them off the card and then back onto the card seemed to fix everything.

Today, completely separate from that first issue, I realized the jQuery wasn’t working on this site. I also noticed that the big icosidodecahedron in the background wasn’t showing up. I recopied a few files, and it’s all the right way again.

But why? I have a hard time understanding how the exact same image can just stop working. The oddest part was that the corrupted files on my flash drive seemed to be transmitting with a MIME type of text/html or something similar. Is that information stored in the file?

CSS Squirrel

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Kyle Weems is an Interactive Designer and humorist for Mindfly in Bellingham, WA. You’d probably know him better as CSSquirrel — and if you don’t know about him, you really should visit his site.

Kyle takes the drama found in the web community and puts it into comic form. Everything from Twitter, to SVG, to HTML5 is included. Every comic is paired with an insightful post about the issue at hand, with comments by the more famous of web designers and developers.

Also, catch his twitter updates in which he counts all the people driving on the wrong side of the road outside his office window.

Visited Links

Friday, July 17th, 2009

I visited to check out my monthly wireless bill, but I took a bit to find the link. The ‘visited’ style, you see, was faded out. I’m not sure what frame of mind I was in, but for some reason I was taking them at face value, and considered the faded links to be unimportant. When I came out of my tired daze and scanned the list item by item, I found the link I was looking at before.

Links, then come in two varieties.

When you have a table of contents before (and/or at the beginning of each chapter of) a large page of text, or if you’ve got a series of items; for example, in a gallery, the links are items you’re ticking off, one by one. These links say, “You’ve already been here.”
The links at grey out when you click on them, as if to tell me that I’ve seen them, and they’re now unimportant. A user’s eyes easily skip over the grey text, so that they can more quickly scan through the list to find things they haven’t seen, yet.
These links might be called ‘search’ links, because you’re looking for different things, and rarely want to see the same link twice.

When you have a link to an application, on the other hand, or perhaps to a real-time info page, the links take you somewhere you’ll return to again and again. The links say, “Welcome back!”
These links are important, because you’re skipping past all the regular links to find them. Because of that, these ones need to stand out from the others. They don’t need to be more emphasized than the other links, but they do need to be different enough to be seen easily by the user as they scan. A different colour of the same luminosity could work.
These might be called ‘recurring’ links, because you go back to them time and again, and need to easily find it later.

I wonder if there are other types of links?

Community Expertise

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

I get my hosting through a guy (Who I’ll call Gushi) who does hosting. Because of this, I don’t have to put up with the GoDaddy-type bureaucracy. It also means I’m working with someone who has their own ambitions.

Two days ago, he mentioned an idea he had: The users of his hosting, because they all tended to fall under similar skill sets, could put a list of their abilities on a page to create a community resource. Gushi provides the hosting, and will set up a mySQL account, but doesn’t even give anyone a homepage to start with. If an artist joins the hosting, they could come to the skill page and ‘hire’ other hostees who have skill in webpage design. Likewise, someone who needs something drawn up can enlist the help of an artist, vector drawer, or graphic designer on the list.

We went through the initial ideas, and it would so far be some sort of Perl module put into the control panel we use to manage our site. The user will add categories and/or skill tags for skills they’re proficient in, and a bit of a write-up about themselves, some prices, and samples.

It’s a great idea, and I’m excited to be working on it.