Technology


IE7 and CSS Support

firefoxI see IE7 is available for download. I don't dare download it myself, but I've seen it in action and there are honest to goodness tabs at work. This IEBlog entry is from August, but if Microsoft delivered what they promised, many of those horrible CSS interpretation bugs from IE6 have been fixed. This is good news.

I can't tell you how often I'd use valid CSS for an effect that worked perfect in Firefox but was completely ignored in Internet Explorer. Of course, IE6 is still out there so we still have to code for those poor souls, but there is now a little light at the end of the tunnel.

I mentioned I haven't installed IE7 myself. At some point, I'll have to install it for development purposes, but as far as my personal use, I have no interest in leaving Firefox. There are many extensions I now rely on to get through my browsing day. I can't imagine life without Adblock. Firefox + Adblock = An ad-free torontomike.com.

Those of you running XP SP2 who refuse to ditch IE, I urge you to try IE7. The rest of you should get Firefox and try a few of my favourite Firefox Extensions.

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Songbird's Second Shot

musicIt's been eight months since I first downloaded and tried Songbird. Back then it was a "proof of concept" and it kept crashing on me. I ended up going back to iTunes for my MP3 playing needs.

I want to use Songbird. It's open source and seems to get it. I'm itching to kick iTunes to the curb and fly solo with Songbird. The version I played with today is Songbird 0.2 Developer Preview RC2 and it's much better. It was stable and the features have come a long way. You're not only playing files in your personal library but you can easily scrape media files from the web and play them as if they're local. You use the thing as a web browser, click a link to an MP3 and play. You can add the song to your playlist, download it to your library grab the lyrics or whatever. It's easy to search the web for media too. Again, you're not just playing your files, you're playing the web.

It's not quite as fast as I'd like it to be and it still has a ways to go before I'll ridicule people who haven't made the switch, but things are looking up. I'm going to use it throughout the week to see if it sticks. Maybe I'll get lucky and FoxyTunes will release an update that works with it.

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Widgets All Around

webI'm blaming MySpace. When MySpace exploded, everyone and their dog created their own web page. If you've ever been to a MySpace page, it's damn ugly, and there are widgets everywhere. There are slideshows, Flash games, maps, video, audio and more bling than you can shake a stick at. The kids love their widgets and jam their page with them.

Would you like Google gadgets for your webpage? Google's got 1220 of them, from the current moon phase to PacMan. Wait a minute, I used to love PacMan. Can I really add this delightful game to my site by simply pasting in a little JavaScript?

Aren't Widgets fun!

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The MySpace Beast

webI've ranted about MySpace before. I hate MySpace and I'll never have a page there, but I can't deny the power MySpace beholds. If you ignore MySpace, you're doomed to fail. The MySpace beast cannot be denied.

Toronto city councillor Frances Nunziata has unveiled her new MySpace page which will act as her official campaign web page for November's municipal election. She'll save money on design and hosting, but I don't think thirteen and fourteen year olds can vote. Besides, are 55 year olds even allowed to have a MySpace page? I mean, legally?

Meanwhile, MySpace will offer a special sneek preview screening of "Borat," the new comedy from Sacha Baron Cohen. MySpace users will actually get to see this flick before it hits theatres. Again, you can't deny this MySpace beast. From the TIFF to MySpace, Borat is movin' and shakin'.

It's butt ugly and aimed entire at the young and dumb, but MySpace is a force to be reckoned with. Sigh.

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Flickr's Photo Bias Revealed

flickrThe Flickr MT plug-in I use for the home page displays the last seven pictures uploaded to my Flickr account in the sidebar. On every other page you'll see ads, but on the home page you see pictures. You'll see pictures, unless the image uploaded to my account is a screen capture and not a photograph. When I upload a screen capture, you'll see an ugly Flickr message explaining that the image could not be displayed.

This is Flickr's ugly photograph bias. They won't allow screen captures to be viewed in searches or other public realms, including displays from my little plug-in. In fact, if the majority of your pictures are screen captures, they'll label your entire account NIPSA, which is Flickr speak for "Not in Public Site Areas".

Personally, I don't see the harm in allowing screen captures in public areas. When I took a screen cap of myself as a South Park character, it was blocked from public areas. That's just wrong!

Flickr is my favourite social networking site, but this photo-only policy paints an ugly picture.

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Wikiality

wikipediaHave you seen Stephen Colbert's send up of Wikipedia? It's very funny, but is it true? When I'm doing research, Wikipedia is often my first stop. Sadly, no Wikipedia page linked directly to this site, until now.

Since anyone can edit a Wikipedia entry, I visited the Howard Glassman page and decided to add a couple of external links. First I added a link to Humble Howard's official site and then I got really bold. I threw in a link to my Humble Howard, Are You Okay? page.

Here we are one day later and my edits are still there. That wiki page is getting some traffic too, because a google search for humble howard has it at #5. My page is #4 and the official site is #2. Now I wonder what would happen if I edited the elephant page to say there are more elephants in Africa today than there were ten years ago...

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Interoperability

gaimAnnounced last October, Canadian users of the Yahoo! and MSN instant messengers will now be able to communicate with each other. They call it interoperability and interested IMers in Canada can sign up for the beta test software at ca.messenger.yahoo.com or ideas.live.com.

For the past six months I've been using Gaim to communicate with YIM, MSN and GTalk users with a single slick client. The catch is you have to have accounts with each platform, but you can run this thing on Windows or Linux. I, for one, welcome this new interoperability and I'm grateful for the opportunity to write and say interoperability as often as possible.

f any1 wntz 2 cht w me on9, wrte me 4 my username

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When The Web Went World Wide

webFifteen years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee shared this on the alt.hypertext discussion group so others could download it and "try it". The World Wide Web went world wide and the rest is history.

We've come a long way in fifteen years, but you know this is just the tip of the iceberg. I can tell I like that expression when referring to the World Wide Web, because I used it here and here. I use it because I believe it to be true. Not long ago we were a little naive but through the years the web has changed our daily habits and dramatically enhanced communique.

If you need a phone number, do you check the white or yellow pages or do you hit the web? If you need driving directions, do you hunt down the Perly's or do you hit the web? If you need to communicate something to someone that isn't particularly time sensitive, do you write them a letter or send them an email? If you're looking for stats, schedules, standings or scores from the sport of your choice, do you check the paper or hit the web? When you need to know who was in what movie with whom, do you buy a movie guide or hit the web? What about those billion trivial questions you have throughout the day, and that frequent need to get the straight up facts about this, that and the other? Do you go to the library and read the encyclopedias or do you hit the web?

In fifteen years, everything about the way we communicate has changed. The way we share pictures, opinions and information will never be the same.

It's the tip of the iceberg. You can quote me on that.

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Blogging Is Social

mouseAlthough this blog has been around for almost four years, I only started accepting comments in early February. That's almost six months ago, but today a single entry received more legitimate comments than any other entry in the history of this site.

Throughout the day, well over a thousand fans of Humble Howard hit my "Humble Howard, Are You Okay?" entry from July 14. Today was the day he was expected back from vacation but instead it was announced that Mad Dog and Billie were taking over Mix 99.9 in the mornings. This prompted thousands to Google Humble Howard which led people in massive waves to that entry. We're at 56 comments and counting, blowing away all previous records.

It truly makes you appreciate this brave new world we live in. People from all over the GTA (and a few from Buffalo) awaken to realize a radio pal was off the air and one by one they hit Google in search of further details. Without a doubt, a quick entry I wrote on July 14th because of a spike in hits from people wondering if Humble Howard Glassman had left 99.9 has become the de-facto Humble Howard tribute page where people are sharing their feelings about the man, offering him and his family support and expressing to Mix 99.9 management that they are not happy. Humble himself has chimed in.

Blogging is social. There's dynamic interaction. A topic is introduced and a virtual discussion open to anyone with internet access is encouraged. Voices are heard, in hours fans conglomerate and all principles involved can follow the discourse. Aware of the relevance, more are able to find this discussion thanks to extremely high rankings in Google, such as this #1 ranking for a search on Humble Howard Glassman. In a very real sense, geography ceases to inhibit interaction and instead fuels it. Nothing is more social.

Humble Howard never got to say thanks and farewell to his audience, but now something more spectacular is possible. His audience can say thanks and farewell to him. And don't think for a moment he won't be reading every word of praise.

Now that's cool.

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My Firefox Extensions

FirefoxThere are many things I love about Firefox, but a big part of the allure are the many extensions I use daily to enrich my web experience. I can't imagine life without many of the sixteen extensions I currently have installed.

Here are my sweet sixteen:

  • DOM Inspector - Inspect the DOM of HTML, XUL, and XML pages
  • Adblock - Filters ads from web pages
  • Adblock Filterset.G Updater - Synchronizes Adblock with Filterset.G
  • Tabbrowser Preferences - Enhances control over some aspects of tabbed browsing
  • Download Statusbar - View and manage downloads from a tidy statusbar
  • Web Developer - Adds a menu and a toolbar with various web developer tools
  • IE View - Open pages in IE via Firefox menus
  • Forecastfox - Get weather forecasts and display it in any toolbar or statusbar
  • LinkChecker - Check the validity of links on any webpage
  • Gmail Notifier - A notifier for Gmail accounts
  • PDF Download - Allows you to choose what you want to do with a PDF file
  • del.icio.us - Keep, share and discover all your favourite things
  • Copy Plain Text - Copies text without formatting
  • Wizz RSS News Reader - A handy RSS reader
  • Image Zoom - Adds zoom funcitonality for images
  • Google Toolbar for Firefox - Take the power of Google with you anywhere on the web

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