Archive for the_time('F Y')

Sharky’s Game Development Blog
17 August 2006 in .Net | Comments (2)

Lawrence from Intergen has started his blog which I’ve hosted on my domain. Rather than being the usual blog about random things Lawrence is writing in the style of a game journal. He’s currently developing a cool flight game using Managed Direct X 9.0c and C# (don’t all geeks want to write a game? :) ). I’ve been having a play around and so far I’ve been really impressed.

You can check out his screen shots which have come a long way already and perhaps discuss and provide comments about his development. It will make his day :) )

RSS Feed Sharky’s Blog

 - JD

Vista undelete Vs. OS X undelete
17 August 2006 in Apple & Windows | Comments (13)

Recently Apple unveiled some of the features expected in the next update to OS X. Some of them were pretty cool but I couldn’t help but feel this time Apple was copying more things from Microsoft than many people may realise. Let me start by stating that I’m interested in buying a MacBook – they seem pretty cool and the fact I could run Windows on it is the real killer feature in my eyes. This post is just to discuss one feature of OS X.

In the next version of OS X there is a feature to fly back in time and view previous versions of files. Sounds good and is certainly useful. In typical Apple style there is a funky app for ”flying” back in time to view versions. The only thing is that I can’t help but feel that while it does look cool, it’s the sort of thing you’re going to find a total pain in the ass  to have to go flying every time you want to see previous editions.

What some people don’t realise is that this feature is available today in Windows 2003 and XP. It’s called Windows Shadow Copy. I’ve worked on several client sites where this feature is enabled and it works easily (file properties show all previous versions of the file). Windows Vista will enable it by default as well as beefing up the tools to find previous versions so no surprises that OS X will include it. What gets me a wee bit is when Apple fans think Apple invents everything.

On top of this, from what I’ve read so far the technology behind the Apple version of undelete is horribly inefficient.

In Windows there is a driver which uses 15% of the drive space to keep the block differences in files for restoration. If you only change 2 blocks worth of data in a 10MB document you’re only using 2 blocks to have the revision.

In OS X you need a separate drive. You can’t use it if you only have one disk. On top of this, it does a complete file copy so if you add a full stop to that 10MB document you just lost 10MB of space for a backup copy. That seems like a pretty bad implementation. Having a separate drive does offer that physical redundancy but the fact is this solution is not designed for drive backups but revision backups so you’re not going to have all your data anyway (unless you’ve edited ALL of it).

I trust future versions of OS X will fix some of this up but explain to me again how OS X is Vista 2.0?

 - JD

Live Writer Plugins
17 August 2006 in .Net & Code | Comments (3)

Having only been out a couple of days there are already plugins for Live Writer coming out which is fantastic to see. There have been some people ripping on Live Writer for missing some features (like tagging and flickr support) and disregarded what I see as one of the most powerful features of Live Writer – a pluggable API (download the SDK here).

Already up are the following plug-ins:

  • Flickr4Writer – A plugin to insert your images from Flickr
  • Tag4Writer – A plugin to insert tags (Including Technorati integration)
  • Currently Listening – For all the people who think we want to know what you’re listening to ;)

I’m looking forward to seeing some of the more funky plugins that come out over the next few weeks :) Keep in mind these are first version plugins so your mileage may vary.

 - JD

How to be better in bed
17 August 2006 in Blogging | Comments (3)

Clicking this link to vote for me will ensure you’re even more of a fantastic lover than you are already :) I understand that the competition is coming to an end soon so the winner can be announced at TechEd next week (read: do not delay your vote! ;) )

I won’t go so far as to say you should email this to five friends in 15 minutes or you’ll get bad luck for the rest of your life though ;)

– JD

Developing with web standards
17 August 2006 in Code & Intergen | Comments (1)

Many of us know that it’s a good idea to ensure what we develop is compliant with relevant standards (HTML 4.01, XHTML, maybe even E-Government Web Guidelines). However when it comes to actually ensuring that you’re developing sites that conform to these types of standards it can be difficult to validate that you’re doing it right.

I’m not going to delve into E-Government Web Guidelines in this post (it’s a much bigger kettle of fish than I can bring myself to write about at he moment) but will look at some tools that I find invaluable in aiding the development of pages that conform to W3C HTML & XHTML standards.

The Web Developer Toolbar

webdevelopertoolbar.gif

This is a fantastic extension to FireFox. It gives you great features – more than you would want me to talk about here – just trust me, it’s amazing. A couple of highlight features however that make standards development easier:

  • Validate Local HTML
    This uses the doc type and submits local HTML to the appropriate W3C Validator. Perfect for dev environments where your pages are not publicly accessible.
  • Validate Local CSS
    Same as above but for CSS
  • Validate Feed, Links, Section 508 and WAI
    Each of these does their own validation, but can’t be done from local unfortunately but still fantastic for meeting more standards.

On top of this there are features that just help you out in a big way. Several features that I use almost every day when tinkering with HTML:

  • View Style Information
    This gives you a cross hair to click anywhere on the page and it shows you exactly which styles, from what CSS file, are being applied at that point!
  • Outline Table & Block Elements
    Rather than applying border styles to everything, just click the button and see where the tables and block level elements are. Colour coded for extra greatness.
  • View Source
    Doesn’t sound like a biggy but it opens the source in a background tab, not a new window – fantastic.

As I mention, there are hundreds more features. If you touch HTML at all this extension should be installed right after FireFox. Click here to visit the homepage of the Web Developer Toolbar.

Web Accessibility Toolbar

This tool is an add-in to Internet Explorer and adds much of the functionality that the Web Developer Toolbar adds to FireFox. There are a few differences but they’re similar enough for me not to write heaps about this tool (refer to my feature comments about the Web Developer Toolbar).

Click here to get the Web Accessibility Toolbar.

Both of these tools should be installed, especially if you’re doing ASP.Net development as the server controls in ASP.Net render differently depending on the browser you’re using (you can make some changes using Browser Caps if you’re interesting in really getting into it).

- JD

Google Analytics – No invitation needed!
16 August 2006 in Google | Comments (4)

Google Analytics Logo

Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while will know that I love Google Analytics. I managed to slip in before it went invite only (about six month back) and have been telling people how fantastic it is ever since.

If you haven’t managed to get an invite or haven’t even looked then now is your chance – Google Analytics is open to all.

Click here to go to the Google Analytics site to sign up.

Installation is dead simple, basically just wack a snippet of JavaScript into your page and you’re done. Easy.

 - JD

How to engage your site visitors
16 August 2006 in Blogging & Business & Code | Comments (3)

So you’ve got a pretty popular site. Perhaps you have an e-commerce component to your site. Every single person browsing your site is a prospect. You’ve done well – you’ve build a standard compliant site, you invested in making the shopping experience easy and you provide lots of information about your products.

Now what?

It’s not like you’d open a retail store, stock it up, and then have all your staff sit behind the counter waiting for people to bring their products over to purchase. So why do you let people just roam around your site without engaging them? Or making it easier to engage you? This is a huge area and well worth investigating – how can you engage your site visitors more?

You may recall that earlier in the year I started using Meebo to chat online. It allows you to chat using various networks through a unified rich website (AOL, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ, Jabber). Recently they added an addition to their product line up called “Meebo Me” which is a widget that you can integrate into any HTML page and gives you the power to communicate with site visitors and them the power to communicate with you. All this without needing the site visitor sign-in or register. It’s a fantastic way of communicating with your visitors and letting them ask questions.

MyMeebo

Users can choose to disable the chat feature if they don’t want it which is useful for those who don’t want to be interrupted. It also shows when the web master is offline and allows end users to give themselves a name. It’s all powered by flash but is slick enough for that not to be a big problem.

On top of this you can also see how long a user has been on a page. Perhaps you might want to interact with users if they have been on a page for more than 10 minutes – perhaps they’re thinking about what you’ve written and have a question? It’s just like a retail shop – “You seem to be interested in that product, can I provide any help?”.

We’ve come a long way from static pages where users couldn’t interact. At the moment the big deal is being able to control content. The next step is certainly going to be owned by companies that are willing to invest in getting to know their customers.

- JD

Stu’s blogging too!
16 August 2006 in Blogging & Intergen | Comments (4)

My blog feels like it’s just for advertising new blogs lately! Anyway, blogging fever is catching up with more folks from Intergen and Stewart Robertson is the latest to join the fold.

Stu is a developer at Intergen and his blog is a mixture of personal entries as well as his thoughts on development and test driven methodologies (as well as other geek things :) )

RSS Feed Stu’s Blog

- JD