Jan 2nd, 2007 | Web
Some one sent me a link to this page about REST and when I went to print it, up popped THE MOST AWESOME Print Dialog I’ve EVER seen on the web! I so hope this guy starts a trend…
P.S. Unfortunately it doesn’t work for me to link directly to it, or I would.
Dec 28th, 2006 | Opinion, Programming
The open source ethos is growing fast, and it has finally made its way to website template designs: www.oswd.org. No longer does one have to go to Template Monster or the likes and pay $40-$100 for a cool web design!.
This guy ROCKS! His name is Francis J. Skettino and he’s from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Do him and the rest of the web developer world a favor and blog about him to give him lots of Google-juice (be sure to put a title in your links, something like “title=’Open Source (Free) Website Design Templates’.”)
Dec 16th, 2006 | Miscellaneous
Conventional wisdom is filled with assumptions. One of the things that makes conventional wisdom right most of the time is that those assumptions are usually valid. But sometimes they are not. One of my favorite little anecdotes that illustrates this is the tale of the pot roast:
A newly-wed husband noticed that every time his wife cooked a pot roast she would first cut an inch off either end before putting it in the oven. When he asked why, she said “Because that’s how you are supposed to cook pot roast.” Unsatisfied with her answer he pushed until she admitted that she learned it from her mother.
Waiting until a visit with his wife’s mother, the husband asked “Your daughter tells me you taught her to cook pot roast by first cutting an inch off each end?” to which the mother replied “Well of course, that’s how pot roast is cooked.” But the husband was not to be deterred, and after pressing his mother-in-law on the subject she finally admitted that she’d learned if from *her* mother.
This meant the husband had to ask the wife’s grandmother. When he finally got his chance he asked: “Your granddaughter’s mother told me you taught her to cut an inch off each end of a pot roast before cooking. She swore it was a requirement, but I’m dying to know why? Is there any sane reason to throw away two inches of perfectly good meat in order to cook a pot roast?!?”
Laughing, the grandmother said “Oh, heaven’s no! You see in those days we were very poor and didn’t own much cookware. I cut the ends off the pot roast so it would fit in my only pan!”
And so ends the story…
To me the moral here is that whenever someone starts quoting dogma you really should try and explore its origins. You may find that those firmly-held beliefs are based on mostly unconscious and invalid assumptions.
Dec 5th, 2006 | Web
I just noticed today in my blog logs that I’ve been getting referrals to my Well Designed URLs blog post from a website called LOCALHOST80.com.
I checked it out and it’s a pretty nice list of resources on a whole ranges of topics of interest to web developers, listed below. It appears they handpicked some of the best related sites and best articles on each of the topics I listed below to keep you from having to weed through them yourself. And I really like their navigation too; everything on one page for quick scannability, but you can also click the section title to drill down where they show the site domain for each of the links. And they use nice URLs too. :)
Oct 7th, 2006 | Web
I was listening to one of Scott Hansleman’s podcasts the other day,and in it he mentioned the open source TiddlyWiki so I decided to check it out. For those of you not familiar with wikis yet, have you been living under a rock? (Sorry, just kidding, you can read up on Wikis over at Wikipedia.)
That said, let me talk about the history of my own personal home page and how it relates to TiddlyWiki. For a long time I’d looked for a new personal home page for my browser that would let me easily add/edit/delete/reorganize the common links I use, and TiddlyWiki is now my new favorite in their aspect.
Back in the late 1990’s, after using the web a few years, I moved to a hand edited HTML page on my C: drive for my browser’s "home page" where I stored my favorite links. I would periodically edit that page when I wanted to add or remove links, but I didn’t edit it nearly as often as I would have liked because it always seemed like a bit too much a of PITA. Later I changed my HOSTS file running on my machine to point www.myhomepage.com to a webserver running at localhost which made for a cleaner URL, but it didn’t change the difficulty of editing. This of course masked the real www.myhomepage.com site on the web, but as I didn’t use it I didn’t care! I stuck with that setup for years.
Then came along Google’s Personalized Home Page, and I was overjoyed. I used it for several months, configuring and reconfiguring. I even wished for enhancements to my Google Personalized Home Page, but over time it’s slowness to load just got to be too much for me. I returned back to my custom HTML page at my locally customed domain "www.myhomepage.com."
I even added a "text" field with the full file name of the local file so I could quickly cut and paste the filename into a file open dialog and edit the file. This improved things. But it’s nothng like TiddlyWiki!
I "installed" TiddlyWiki (i.e. copied the "empty" TiddlyWiki .HTML file) into a directory that is FolderShare‘d with my laptop (FolderShare is another of my favorite utilities) so that I can access the most updated verson do matter if I’m on my home computer or my laptop; this was a suggestion Scott Hanselman made, but I’m sure I would have figured it out too! :)
In a similar vein, one thing that makes a TiddlyWiki so cool is it can be stored on a USB key and then accessed from any computer!
How TiddlyWiki works is it uses a collection of "Tiddlers" which are page sections that TiddlyWiki dynamically displays on your page using some useful animations. A Tiddler is analogous to a "Topic Page" on a server-based wiki, but unlike topic page on a server based wiki you can and usually do have many Tiddlers open at the same time.
There are a few things I don’t like about it; nits really such as you can’t rename Tiddlers (or at least I haven’t been able to figure out how.)
I even started thinking about using TiddlyWiki for the home page of a websites I wanted to set up as it allows the disabling of editing over all but localhost. However, after looking into this concept, I realized that it wouldn’t be useful unless editable on another machine besides localhost. And I believe, by it’s very nature, TiddlyWiki could not lockout someone from editing it because all of code for the TiddlyWiki is stored in the HTML file itself! I guess a hybrid could work, and I would like to see that, but then it wouldn’t be a portable single-file solution.
Check it out. I bet you’ll love it too.
Sep 15th, 2006 | Web
The past two days I attended Carson Workshop’s "The Future of Web Apps" presented at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco and I must say it was one of the best conferences I’ve been to in years! Every one of the speakers was excellent each providing invaluable insight, and the energy level was just electric!
I really liked the venure too; an ~800 seat auditorium where the entire single-track conference was held. It had so much better feel than getting stuffed into lots of little breakout rooms at a hotel or a convention center.
Not everything was perfect, i.e. not enough networking opportunities, flaky WiFi, and no exhibit hall, but at $2951 for two days the event was otherwise so incredible that I feel really bad2 even mentioning any negatives! OTOH, Ryan Carson was made fully aware of those problems by people other than me and I get the sense that next time it will be corrected.
Lastly, Ryan announced plans to publish online the audio ala T.E.D. for each presentation which the presenter the agrees, which Ryan definitely encouraged! That’s a very "Creative Commons" approach, and oh so right for a Web 2.0 conference (or any other future conference, for that matter.)
Maybe I had such a good time because I was burned out on 12+ years of Microsoft-oriented conferences and just needed something new.
Whatever the case; Bravo Carson, you definitely made a fan! If you get a chance to attend one of there future conferences on a subject of interest to you, don’t hesitate, don’t think about it; just do it! I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
Aug 30th, 2006 | Miscellaneous
If you’ve not heard of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) you should listen to this presentation Nicholas Negroponte gave about his $100 laptop at the February 2006 T.E.D. conference which I found over at the T.E.D. Blog.
I learned of the T.E.D. blog by reading If your idea is worth spreading, then presentation matters over at Garr Reynold’s blog Presentation Zen, which I learned about by reading A few more Presentation How To’s at Kathy Sierra’s blog Creating Passionate Users whose RSS feed I subscribed to at the time.
Anyway, Nicholas is the former director of the MIT Media Lab and he stepped down from running the lab to found this non-profit organization and focus the rest of his life on OLPC’s goal of ensuring that every child in developing nations has access to a laptop for educational purposes. While some people have fixated on the "$100" price tag or the "laptop" aspect of his project, Nicholas explains that they are missing the point:
"This is an education project, not a laptop project"
OLPC plans to sell laptops to education ministries of nation-states and have those ministries distribute the laptops on the basis of one per child (ages 6-18). Evidently Brazil, Argentina, and Thailand each have ordered 1 million. The OLPC website claims they are also in discussions with China, India, Egypt, and Nigeria (although this article claims India has begged out, which is a shame.) As someone who strongly believes in education’s ability to transform a society’s circumstances, I find this endeavor truly inspiring! While watching it also occurred to me just how many times the course of human history has been changed because of the dogged perseverance of a single individual. I really hope to see Nicholas achieve his goal.
Nov 9th, 2005 | Miscellaneous, Software, Web
I’ve been using FolderShare for a few months now and love it. But I just heard that Microsoft bought it and that it is now free. Cool!
If you normally work on a desktop but need a laptop for travel, FolderShare is a "must have.’ If you need to share files with people who are not in the same location (or even if they there is network with shared rights), it works like a charm. It’s also great for making backups on another machine in case your hard drive crashes (but like mirrored hard disks, it’s not great for protectings files against viruses, etc.)
Anyway, I need to add some people to my "Professional" account but now that it’s free I can’t figure out how. Or maybe it doesn’t even matter anymore?
The other thing I want to know is, what’s the max number of users that can share a folder? If anyone knows, I’d love to find out…
Oct 30th, 2005 | Web
I just found a blog post by Shirley E. Kaiser at her blog entitled Brainstorms & Raves containing an awesome collection of links and related discussion about Apache’s .htaccess.
While admittedly I write mostly for an audience of developers that use Microsoft-technologies, many of the items discussed apply to Microsoft’s IIS if you use a 3rd party tool named ISAPI Rewrite. This tools provides many of the same features of Apache’s .htaccess on IIS via the httpd.ini config file and implements most of its functionality in a manner identical to mod_rewrite on Apache. I absolutely love this tool and I’ve previously blogged about ISAPI Rewrite as well as The Importance of Well-Designed URLs, the latter of which is IMO the most important reason you absolutely need ISAPI Rewrite if you are hosting a website on IIS.
Anyway, the blog post covers topics and links to articles that:
- Explain how and why to rewrite and/or redirect URLs,
- Discuss techniques for reducing hotlinking and bandwidth theft,
- Talk about blocking bad bots and comment spammers,
- Covers regular expressions needed to match the URLs to rewrite or redirect,
- Explains Robots.txt files,
- Lists which bots are good and which are bad, and
- Covers HTTP error code.
A great resource!
Oct 30th, 2005 | Web
I recently came across a free service I’ve been using for about a week, and I’m finding I really like it.
This free service is called RssFwd, as in "RSS Forward", and it’s totally simply to use. Just type an RSS URL into the text box on the RssFwd home page and click sumbit, then key in your email address and click submit again and you’re done!
And you don’t even have to remember a password to list or unsubscribe from your feeds; just follow one of the links provided in any email RssFwd sends you; nothing could be easier!