Archive for the_time('F Y')

28 February 2006 in Code & Tools | Comments (0)

A while back I posted some information about some cool things happening with UI on Linux. As it turns out that was all just prototyping for something much bigger.

XGL is the final result of that prototyping and I have to say – it looks wicked. I don’t know about functional but it certainly adds the much needed gloss that the linux desktop has lacked.

Some of the cool features:

  • Rotating cube “desktop” to change between virtual desktops
  • Applications can “wrap” around the “corners” of the virtual desktops
  • Windows wobble seamlessly and naturally
  • Windows “stick” to each other and stretch as you pull them away
  • Transparency works amazingly (Quake running at varying level of opacity, videos on videos).
  • A lot of extra cool stuff

Sure, you could argue that a lot of this is just eye candy and doesn’t add anything to the usability but, then again, maybe it does. I haven’t used it but sure would like to try.

Here is a video demonstrating XGL in action. A word of warning, it’s 54MB but well worth it.

- JD

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 151 user reviews.

16 February 2006 in Intergen | Comments (0)

Recently several people I know have decided to make the jump into blogging so I thought I’d post a small write up for each as they started.

Today a friend of mine, James Story, started blogging. He’s pretty much into a whole variety of tech stuff – O/R Mappers, VSTS and FPGAs to name a few.

He’s written his first entry about VSTS and how to upgrade it and keep it working with Cruise Control. Why not pop over and say hello? :)

Other folks I know should be starting soon (come on Andrew!!) so I’ll mention them as they pop up.

- JD

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 217 user reviews.

15 February 2006 in General | Comments (1)

I like to think that I’m one of those geeks who actually has an eye for a nice UI. I’ll usually notice if there is a single pixel incorrect in a gradient, if buttons don’t align or aren’t a standard size. I’m not big on writing console applications because I enjoy the UI design process too much (“The UI is the system”).

As part of this interest I like to read occasionally on various topics relating to UI design. Reading about things a bit more in depth than how to space buttons is something that I get from Phil Cockfield’s blog. Phil has a tonne more stuff about interaction and design – my tiny mention here doesn’t give credit to that – you’ll just have to read for yourself :)

This morning I found the Yahoo UI Blog which is a nice place to read up about design pattern in web UI. If you’re into reading about the Review Design Pattern or Rating an Object Pattern this is a good place to start.

Now I don’t want to give the impression that I know too much about UI – it really is just a pet interest, so if anybody has some great links to UI related content I’d greatly appreciate it. Do you have a site you refer to about all things UI?

Update: Dan reminded me of Jakob Nielson’s website

- JD

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 150 user reviews.

11 February 2006 in Google | Comments (0)

Only moments after posting my last entry I see that the email solutions from Google have been reveled. This allows customers to use Gmail services, manage the services and even re-theme the look of Gmail.
Click here to sign up for a beta

Google already provides email hosting for San Jose University.

This could be useful for smaller organisations but I don’t really see too much value at the moment. You can get hosted email with multiple mailboxes, web mail etc from an uncountable number of other providers.

Update 1: Google blog entry about the new service.

Update 2: Howdy to all the folks hitting this entry from the Google Blog :-) Why not leave your thoughts about Google managed email?

- JD

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 206 user reviews.

11 February 2006 in Google & Search Technology | Comments (1)

Geek commented about updates to Gmail to provide integration with gTalk. You can now save your chat histories into Gmail with plans for the future to integrate a web based version of their chat client. I wonder how fat Gmail has to get before people start complaining about it being slow/confusing. Personally I’m happy with Meebo – I use that for chat, if I want email I’ll use Gmail.

Google Desktop Search
A new version of Google Desktop Search is out. New features include the ability to search across multiple machines, password protection and the ability to share the search with other users.

This is all good to see, it’s about time I tried GDS again and just checked out how well it is doing these days.

Big Daddy
On related Google news, Google is making a significant update to it’s search engine. The changes come under the code name “Big Daddy” and are significantly more than an algorithm update. The changes include data centre changes and crawler changes. For the first time yet, Google is allowing people to test the changes by detailing the IP addresses of Big Daddy enabled data centres. There has been considerable comment that the changes have made a big impact on the rankings.

You can test your website on Big Daddy with these IP addresses:


This is complete rumor, but from the looks of the javascript changes Gmail could soon provide email hosting for third party domain names (so you can have @yourdomain). This isn’t too interesting but I thought I’d throw a rumor out for the end of the week :-)
Gmail javascript snippit

Of course all the fanatic Google lovers out there expect this to be the “Exchange-killer”… *rolls eyes*. I think that’s enough Google for one post :)

- JD

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 260 user reviews.

6 February 2006 in Search Technology | Comments (1)

BMW-Germany has just been knocked out the Google search results. According to Matt Cutt’s weblog (Google employee, great blog) they used deceptive practices in an attempt to get a better search ranking. They got snapped and now have had their website page-rank set to zero. Apparently is not far behind.

It will be interesting to see if Google continues to enforce their terms of service or if they will just make an example of a few big names.

What I find surprising about this is that surely BMW-Germany would have actually been positioned very highly without this sort of time wasting. Personally I don’t mind Google using some of it’s dominance to try and push people into better web practices.

- JD

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 220 user reviews.

3 February 2006 in Search Technology | Comments (0)

I’ve just noticed that today Google has updated their Analytics application to display a “Site Overlay”. This allows you to browse to any page of your website and it overlays data about the popularity of each hyperlink.

Clicking on a hyperlink displays how many times it has been click, what % that is of overall clicks etc. Something that you don’t really see until looking at some higher end (read: expensive) statistics tools. Very cool.

I’ll try and add a screenshot when I get back to Wellington this evening.

- JD

P.S. Anyone who isn’t using Google Analytics, you can request to be invited at It is certainly well worth it (in fact it’s free ;) )

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 249 user reviews.

3 February 2006 in Microsoft | Comments (0)

Recently I’ve been trying to play around with WinFS Beta 1 a smidge. I’m always interested in data storage and organisation of information so it’s very much a hobby thing at the moment.

I’ve been picking up little bits here and there about WinFS and on the off chance anybody else is interested I thought I would put them up here.

WinFS: An intro to the framework classes

WinFS Data Associations: Linking your data together

WinFS: Working with the data store

The official WinFS blog

General WinFS install and how it stores raw data

Some data-unification theory from Microsoft

The WinFS Type system: Demystified

I’ll try and put these into my bookmarks at some point (I have an account and have one link in there at the moment :) ). If you know of any other good references (I prefer coding related articles) then leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list.

- JD

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 252 user reviews.