Tuesday, January 31

Another Grogmaster Redesign

After poking through the CSS Zen Garden and reading the accompanying book, I got super excited and inspired to do some web design. I can’t speak highly enough of The Zen of CSS Design. It’s like Creating Killer Web Sites for Web 2.0 the standards-compliant, Firefox and IE6 age. I can honestly say that I was over-inspired after reading the book and looking at some of the amazing designs (Ballade is probably my favorite) and had trouble thinking of anything other than redesigning this site.

I had a few goals for this design. Unlike the last redesign, I wanted to use color and images. I’ve been trying my hand at photography, and thought I’d try to incorporate something from that. Also, I wanted to really increase the prominence of my del.icio.us bookmarks, since that’s where the activity seems to be recently.

A trip to the Monteray Bay Aquarium netted me a handful of good photos, with some of the jellyfish being the best. And, since the nautical theme fits in with the (declared) pirateliness of this blog, I figured I’d give it a shot. I actually tried the photo of the black nettle first, but couldn’t get the color palette right. This blue jellyfish had some workable colors, and a few Photoshop filters later I had an image for the upper left.

There are a few things left that I’d like to clean up. I kind of punted on the style for the comments, and I don’t have anything at the bottoms of the pages to amuse and delight visitors. In particular, I’d like to put links to other posts, so folks who come in through search engines can easily get to some of the worthwhile stuff I’ve written. I also may sprinkle a few little icons here and there, too, but I’m kind of sick of messing with images right now.

Wednesday, January 25

Flying Cat

The more you watch, the funnier this is. Make sure you have the sound on. Btw, this is a (possibly unofficial) Nokia commerical and no cat was actually harmed. Full urban legend info from Scopes. (Thx Pandagon)

Tuesday, January 24

Spam to Make You Smile

I won't deign to link to or identify the source of this, but as spammers use more sophisticated fake blogs to (attempt to) defeat the anti-spam robots, stuff like this pops up:
How horrible would it be to be buried by an avalanche. Lost under a huge patch of fallen ice while people try to dig through looking for you. I guess you wouldn't be without drinking water at least with all that snow. It would just be a clostraphobia thing, you know what I mean? And there would be no surfing the internet or updating a blog or doing anything mindless like researching 4 rv tub shower faucet.

Performancing’s Blogging Extension

For this post, I’m trying out the new, 1.1 version of Performancing’s blogging extension for Firefox. (See the release notes.) I think there’s a lot of potential in a blogging extension, but it’s not really realized in this product.

My #1 request is to make it easier to make links to pages — that being my blogging hangup — and I can see a few missed opportunities in that regard. For example, there’s a tab that shows a history of my past 10 posts. I’d like to be able to drag these in to the posting window (or at least right-click and get a “Copy permalink”) to make a link to them. There’s del.icio.us integration, but no clear way to include a link I’ve bookmarked in a blog post. Finally, I’d love a little shelf to collect links and images that I can then put into a post.

I do like its location on the screen, though. It occupies a panel below the web page, so it’s always visible as you write a post, even as you flip through tabs and search for stuff to write about. In that way, I think it may be slightly more useful to me than, say, BlogThis!, even if it is 10x uglier.

So, while I probably won’t use it day to day (or whenever I do blog), I’m certainly keeping my eye on this tool.

Waiting to publish to see its HTML generation… Should be okay, since it appears to use Midas, which is Mozilla’s rich text editor. (At Blogger we have significant code to clean up the output of both Midas and IE’s rich text editor.)

Monday, January 23

Odd Blogging Block

I’ve just caught myself keeping a page over at Backpack with a list of things I’d like to blog about, and a few notes about each one. This begs the question: “why not just blog those things directly?”

The interface over there is not significantly harder or easier to use than Blogger’s, especially now that BlogThis! has been so improved. But there, did you see that? I can’t help making definitive links when I blog. It’s really slowing me down, and the extra effort required to make links like that, or include eye-catching little pictures like the one above, seems to be the difference between blogging and making notes about blogging.

Oh, and I’m working on a new design for this blog (one that might actually include color), so there’s both the time allocation, but also I think a feeling that I don’t want to post to an “obsolete” template. On top of that, the current design looks a little off for short posts. So I feel like I need to write longer ones.

But that’s me. What keeps you from blogging?

Thursday, January 19

Idea: “Realistic Preview” Greasemonkey Script

I was thinking of a post I’d like to write that would have some floated images, but hitting the wall that previewing such posts is kind of a pain in Blogger. The issue is that the Preview feature doesn’t give you a good enough sense of how the post will look on the blog itself. The font size, body width, leading, etc., are all off. So I wouldn’t be able to tell if the images were too big, or needed borders or padding, or any number of stylistic things.

It would probably be pretty trivial to hack up a Greasemonkey script that would add me-specified styles to the Blogger posting page that could show the Preview in something more approaching my blog’s style.

Though I’m realizing now that Camino, my browser-of-choice du jour, lacks Greasemonkey support. Maybe a bookmarklet could do the trick?

(By the way, my favorite source for seeing people push Blogger’s envelope is Freshblog. Go Blogger hax0rs go!)

There are so many possibilities for merging posting and blog pages that I’d like to get some more of this homebrew rocking, as a good testbed for what’s useful enough to actually implement for reals.

Thursday, January 12

iPhoto 6 Quick Impressions

I had a few minutes to play around with iPhoto 6 last night after I finished installing iLife ’06. I didn’t yet have a chance to look at the big changes (photocasting, new books/calendars) but I noticed a few little differences:
  • Scrolling around the library view is a lot faster.
  • The format of the library has changed. Instead of the old year/month/day directory structure, it’s now year/roll. Also, the originals and rendered versions have parallel structures, rather than the old “Originals” folder that used to be in the day folder. This is a step forward because it’s now much easier to pick a set of originals and back it up (very important with 5+ meg RAW photos). This is a step backward because it’s harder to find where to save a JPEG when you use an external editor to process the RAW.
  • There are two new settings for RAW files. You can have RAWs sent to the external editor now, and you can have iPhoto save RAWs that it processes as TIFFs. The former is nice, since in iPhoto 5 you needed to remember to drag-and-drop photos to get the RAW versions into an external editor. I probably won’t use the latter option, as the TIFFs are huge and JPEGs look quite fine for my purposes.
  • The comparison feature is pretty nice in full screen editing, but you need to duplicate a photo in order to compare it with itself.
I’m always most excited about new book templates in each successive version of iPhoto. I’m also looking forward to the supposedly higher-quality printing process. The quality of the image printing in the last book I ordered was slightly disappointing.

Friday, January 6

Opera Site Patching Works

Opera site compatibility guy Hallvord Steen writes:
Now call me an optimist, but we have about half a year's experience with browser.js and I'm seeing evidence of the opposite. Three good examples are allmusic.com, shockwave.com and atomfilms.com - they all had long-standing issues with Opera, they were patched successfully with browser.js and a few months after the patch, each site was fixed by the webmaster!
As a web developer, I can attest that I want my site to work in Opera, but I don't necessarily have the time or know-how to fix this or that little thing. (Or big thing, like when Blogger posting was broken in Opera.) Having someone come and say "this is what you need to fix" is wonderful both for getting the results and also building goodwill towards the product.