I really love the new header image; the colors are wonderful. Do you know where this shot was taken? Also, when do we (and our kayaks) leave? : ) Can’t wait.
What's a Browser?
Here is an interesting short video of a guy asking people if they know what a browser is, and whether they know the difference between a browser and a search engine. Turns out only 8% of the people knew the difference. The video includes this great quote: "Google predominates the market, obviously."
That number seems shockingly low to me, but at the same time I guess I’m not surprised. A large percentage of otherwise-intelligent people seem to mentally freeze up when the topic of computers arises. Couple that with the fact that people don’t actually need to know what these terms mean in order to use the internet, and the 8% result isn’t so surprising.
Still, I wonder why so many people have this kind of reaction to anything computer-related. I’d say there’s hardly anybody who doesn’t know the difference between, say, their cable TV provider and the various TV channels that they can watch through that provider; yet a similar kind of situation with computer issues totally baffles them. Maybe the internet is still too new for most people to understand it yet.
The video reminds me of this great article from a few weeks ago. It’s about some changes that Facebook was making to their login process, and for a while it apparently was the #1 search result on Google when you searched for "Facebook login". If you scroll down to the comments on the article, you’ll see that there are thousands of them, mostly like these ones:
Quoting confused people:
#5. The new facebook sucks> NOW LET ME IN.
#19. This is such a mess I can’t do a thing on my facebook .The changes you have made are ridiculous,I can’t even login!!!!!I am very upset!!!
#28. OK can I long in now
#31. I am not happy!!!,I was starting to feel comfortable with it now I am all confuse How do I sign in?
#43. Nothing like being taken hostage on our own computer :-(
#47. Why wont you let me sign in?
Apparently a huge number of people get to Facebook -- and presumably all the sites that they visit -- not by typing "facebook.com" into their browser’s address bar, but rather by going to Google and typing "facebook" into it, then clicking on the first search result.
It’d be easy to chalk this up to those people simply being clueless, but I think it also shows that, to whatever extent we IT people have tried to make our products and services user-friendly, there’s still a fundamental disconnect for a large percentage of the population which may indicate that on some level we’ve failed. And ironically this works to Facebook’s advantage, because to many people Facebook is the internet, just as AOL was the internet for many people a decade ago.
New Website Theme
I’m not quite finished tweaking this new layout, but I’ve been working on it in bits and pieces for a while now, and I want to push it out while the snowbird header photo is still in season. And it’s been over 18 months since I put up that last theme, so clearly it’s time.
As usual, if you’re using an outdated and incompetent browser (and do I really need to point out that that’s developer slang for IE?), you won’t notice some of the nice new effects, since your browser doesn’t support them.
Toilet Paper 2.0
Here’s that new layout I was talking about. At first I wasn’t crazy about the navigation headers -- the orange blocks on the right -- but they’ve grown on me.
Holy Crap, It's Still Snowing Here?
Sorry about that. A couple months ago I created a new layout but never quite finished it, but I’ve had my browser set to use that one so I haven’t seen the snowy header image in a long time. I’ll try to get the new one tidied up soon and make it live.
Probably the best thing about working from home is being able to spend all day every day with your cat. Here are a few cat videos showing Cheshire doing funny stuff around the house. The "wind" videos aren’t bad but the "water" ones are great.
I’ve also just finished adding a feature to my photos pages whereby video files such as these can be played right within the page, instead of having to click a "download" link to view the video in a separate application on your system. But embedding videos in web pages like this is tricky and error-prone so please let me know whether/how it works for you.
I’m guessing thats what it’s called? =] Anyway I wanted to say that I love the winter picture! It’s awesome!
Well that didn’t last long. I liked the idea of the different striped backgrounds with solids on top, and of course gray and white seem to be my favorite colors for designs, but it was just too flat, lacking contrast, and lacking bright colors.
So it’s in with the new. I’ve been putting a ton of time into a big project for a client that’s coming up on its deadline, and as usual, after doing a lot of hard coding for a few days straight, it’s a huge help to take some time and switch gears into design mode. (Of course, going outside occasionally helps too.)
New Site Theme
Well it’s out with the old and in with the new here at nodivisions. The previous layout was up for 15 months, which may be the record for this site.
The new layout is mostly gray, which seems to be my favorite color, but I may try to add some more color here and there. The tagline "shenanigans and tomfoolery" is from this Apple UK ad. And on that topic: the naughty step is always serious.
Intermediate Destinations on Google Maps
Google Maps now supports intermediate destinations when mapping routes, or "multi-point directions" as they call it. This is really cool; now they just need to add the ability to specify a point/destination by simply clicking a spot on the map.
Now I just need somewhere to go...
Browser Upgrade Stats
Microsoft released Internet Explorer 7 in October, and started pushing it out via Automatic Update in November. But this is a phased push, i.e. not everyone will get it at the same time, and some estimates say that it will take months before everyone gets it. (Of course you can avoid the wait and just get it manually if you want to.)
Here are the percentages of my visitors who’ve upgraded to IE7 (and those who’ve upgraded to Firefox 2, which was also released in October), broken down by week:
20061008-20061014: IE6 34%, IE7 04%, FF1.5 40%, FF2 03%
20061015-20061021: IE6 32%, IE7 04%, FF1.5 40%, FF2 04%
20061022-20061028: IE6 34%, IE7 05%, FF1.5 26%, FF2 16%
20061029-20061104: IE6 35%, IE7 07%, FF1.5 23%, FF2 19%
20061105-20061111: IE6 34%, IE7 05%, FF1.5 23%, FF2 21%
20061112-20061118: IE6 33%, IE7 06%, FF1.5 22%, FF2 25%
20061119-20061125: IE6 35%, IE7 08%, FF1.5 17%, FF2 22%
20061126-20061202: IE6 32%, IE7 09%, FF1.5 19%, FF2 25%
20061203-20061209: IE6 30%, IE7 10%, FF1.5 18%, FF2 26%
20061210-20061216: IE6 30%, IE7 11%, FF1.5 15%, FF2 27%
20061217-20061223: IE6 27%, IE7 13%, FF1.5 16%, FF2 27%
20061224-20061230: IE6 28%, IE7 11%, FF1.5 15%, FF2 29%
20061231-20070106: IE6 27%, IE7 13%, FF1.5 14%, FF2 28%
20070107-20070113: IE6 25%, IE7 14%, FF1.5 14%, FF2 29%
20070114-20070120: IE6 25%, IE7 13%, FF1.5 14%, FF2 31%
20070121-20070127: IE6 24%, IE7 13%, FF1.5 14%, FF2 30%
20070128-20070203: IE6 27%, IE7 13%, FF1.5 13%, FF2 29%
20070204-20070210: IE6 26%, IE7 17%, FF1.5 12%, FF2 29%
20070211-20070217: IE6 26%, IE7 16%, FF1.5 10%, FF2 33%
20070218-20070224: IE6 28%, IE7 16%, FF1.5 09%, FF2 30%
20070225-20070303: IE6 25%, IE7 17%, FF1.5 10%, FF2 32%
20070304-20070310: IE6 27%, IE7 15%, FF1.5 09%, FF2 32%
20070311-20070317: IE6 26%, IE7 17%, FF1.5 09%, FF2 33%
20070318-20070324: IE6 25%, IE7 17%, FF1.5 08%, FF2 35%
20070325-20070331: IE6 26%, IE7 17%, FF1.5 08%, FF2 32%
20061008-20061014: IE6 44%, IE7 01%, FF1.5 15%, FF2 00%
20061015-20061021: IE6 48%, IE7 01%, FF1.5 14%, FF2 01%
20061022-20061028: IE6 53%, IE7 02%, FF1.5 13%, FF2 02%
20061029-20061104: IE6 49%, IE7 02%, FF1.5 10%, FF2 05%
20061105-20061111: IE6 43%, IE7 03%, FF1.5 09%, FF2 07%
20061112-20061118: IE6 43%, IE7 04%, FF1.5 11%, FF2 08%
20061119-20061125: IE6 41%, IE7 05%, FF1.5 08%, FF2 08%
20061126-20061202: IE6 38%, IE7 06%, FF1.5 09%, FF2 09%
20061203-20061209: IE6 40%, IE7 06%, FF1.5 08%, FF2 11%
20061210-20061216: IE6 39%, IE7 09%, FF1.5 08%, FF2 12%
20061217-20061223: IE6 34%, IE7 11%, FF1.5 08%, FF2 10%
20061224-20061230: IE6 34%, IE7 08%, FF1.5 08%, FF2 12%
20061231-20070106: IE6 35%, IE7 09%, FF1.5 09%, FF2 13%
20070107-20070113: IE6 35%, IE7 10%, FF1.5 07%, FF2 13%
20070114-20070120: IE6 34%, IE7 08%, FF1.5 06%, FF2 13%
20070121-20070127: IE6 28%, IE7 14%, FF1.5 07%, FF2 14%
20070128-20070203: IE6 30%, IE7 10%, FF1.5 07%, FF2 14%
20070204-20070210: IE6 31%, IE7 13%, FF1.5 07%, FF2 13%
20070211-20070217: IE6 33%, IE7 14%, FF1.5 07%, FF2 15%
20070218-20070224: IE6 36%, IE7 13%, FF1.5 06%, FF2 14%
20070225-20070303: IE6 34%, IE7 13%, FF1.5 06%, FF2 14%
20070304-20070310: IE6 36%, IE7 10%, FF1.5 06%, FF2 14%
20070311-20070317: IE6 34%, IE7 11%, FF1.5 05%, FF2 15%
20070318-20070324: IE6 29%, IE7 13%, FF1.5 06%, FF2 17%
20070325-20070331: IE6 34%, IE7 11%, FF1.5 05%, FF2 13%
Relatively slow uptake thus far; or maybe it just seems that way to me, because the world can’t be rid of IE6 soon enough for me.
In other visitor-related news, earlier this week NoDivisions passed 200,000 visitors and Encodable passed 150,000. They’ve been averaging ~200/day (ND) and ~600/day (Enc).
I’m doing some updates to this blog application to make the archives page more search-engine friendly (and to improve the chances that searchers who arrive at my site will find what they’re looking for), and in the process I’m coming across some of my older posts. One of those is "Googlism" and it’s pretty funny.
Public Service Announcement
If you’re using Internet Explorer -- which you shouldn’t be, because you should be using Firefox -- then you should upgrade to the new version (7) that was just recently released. You can get IE7 from microsoft.com.
Groove Salad, Business, and The Secret to Charcoal Grilling
Wow, quiet times around here, no? I know it’s time to make a new post when I get one of those "are you still alive??" emails from my mom.
I’ve been extremely busy with work, which I’m extremely thankful for. July was my most profitable month to date, and business -- both sales and custom work -- seems to be steadily picking up. Don’t get me wrong: my income is still no match for my student loan bills, but I’m making way more money doing web programming than I was making as a PC technician.
A couple weeks ago, Dan imparted unto me the secret to grilling with charcoal. My problem has been that the coals are always too cool to put a nice charred exterior on meats, yet ironically I still can’t avoid making things more dry and well-done than I’d like. Dan’s tip was to spread the coals out unevenly (after they turn gray, of course), so that they are just a single layer deep on one side of the grill, but stacked up on the other side. That way one side of the grill is extremely hot and puts those nice grill-lines on your steaks, but you can move them off to the other cooler side after that.
To wrap things up, I’d like to say that Groove Salad on SomaFM is a great internet radio station. They call it: "A nicely chilled plate of ambient beats and grooves." It’s largely instrumental, and on the occasional vocal track, I usually enjoy the vocals too. I listen to it pretty much all day every day.
I have just completed a redesign of JeanniesPhotos.com:
Click the image to see the screenshot full-size, or just visit jeanniesphotos.com.
I may still need to tweak the text to improve the readability, like the photo-set names when they are on top of the grass at the bottom of the image.
Well it’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep, so what better thing to do than post about the new layout for moredifferent.com that I finished last week:
Click the image to see it full-size, or just visit the site to see it live.
Experimenting with AdSense
I just signed up for AdSense, Google’s ad program. NoDivisions gets about 150-200 unique visitors per day and I’m curious to see if that is at all monetizable. Right now I’ve placed the ad-box at the bottom of the navigation pane; I plan to leave it there for a few weeks, then move it higher up for a few weeks to see if/how that affects the click-through rate. But I doubt I’ll be happy with it at the very top of the nav section, before any of the actual navigational elements, so I may switch to a 3-column layout to have a little more flexibility there.
I launched a new layout on encodable.com today. It’s a variation of a new layout that I launched last Friday; I liked that one, but something about it wasn’t right, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. This new one is cleaner and lighter and I like it much better. Thoughts?
Windmill Photos & Photos For Sale
I’ve just posted my first photo set in quite a while: Windmills from back in September of last year. I’ve been meaning to post these for a few months now.
I’ve also just updated my photo section to include a photo-selling feature. This feature was primarily created for Caleb Foster, though it’s something I’ve been meaning to add for some time.
Caleb is selling both prints and the original full-resolution image files for some of his select shots; I’m selling just the image files, and for now I’ve done a blanket-enable of the sale feature for all of my photos, rather than picking certain ones. I’ll probably go through and select some of them to not sell, or I may just do like Caleb and only pick certain ones for sale. For now it’s all of them though.
Well, I finally went crazy insane and bought an Apple computer.
The Mac Mini is actually pretty cool, mainly because it’s so small. But in any case, I needed a Mac system so that I can develop and debug web pages in its Safari web browser, and that’s basically all I’m going to use the Mini for.
Within a few days of having it up and running, I was able to spend some time getting FileChucker to work properly in Safari, so it now works in all modern browsers.
Of course, a couple weeks after I buy the thing, Apple releases a big update to the Mini, most notably including the switch from the old PowerPC architecture to the x86 architecture: the Mini now runs either an Intel Core Solo chip or an Intel Core Duo chip. Other fun upgrades include:
...built-in 802.11g and Bluetooth support, 4 USB 2.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet, analog and Dolby Digital audio out, DVI video out, two slots for RAM, and 512MB of PC2-5300 DDR RAM (to go with its 667MHz FSB)...
So that’s kinda stinky, but on the other hand, it’s cool to have one of the last PPC-based Macs too. However, I wouldn’t mind having the increased performance of the newer units:
Steve Jobs claimed that the new Core Solo Mac mini is anywhere from 2.5 to 3.2x faster than its PowerPC 7447 predecessor...
But that’s OK. As I said, I’m not going to use the system very much anyway; I’m just glad to be able to have a system running Safari to debug web applications on.
It’s that time again! And it has been quite a while; my previous layout may have been the longest-running ever -- certainly the longest in a while.
If things just look totally broken, you may have to press Ctrl-R or Ctrl-F5 in your browser to make sure you’re viewing the latest version of the page.
I’m not sure about the blue though (in the sidebar). Does it look good? Does it match the green in the header and the gray in the background? I was experimenting with a lighter gray in place of the blue, and I may switch to that instead. Unless everyone loves the blue, that is.Update: you can use the themes page to switch between themes in Mozilla/Firefox.
I really need a Mac Mini. Why? Because at $499 it’s the most inexpensive Mac OSX system you can get, and because I need a Mac OSX system to do web development on Apple’s Safari browser.
Since Safari’s browser market share is so small, I have always generally written it off as not worth my time to make sure that my webpages work properly in it. But as I’m doing more and more web work, and I now have one product in particular that is generating a lot of interest, I’m getting more Safari/Mac users that want to use my products but can’t.
But I don’t really have $499 to drop on some new hardware right now. There are some less expensive deals to be found on eBay, going for $150-$200 currently, but they’ll probably be a lot closer to $499 in a couple days when their auctions end anyway.
Anyone have a relatively new (OSX, 10.3 or better) but used Apple system they want to part with?
By popular request, I’ve added a bunch of new features since the initial launch, like support for multi-file uploads and e-mail notification of new uploads.
I end up spending quite a bit of time developing it, so although I give it away for free for personal use, I now charge a license fee of $89 for commercial use. That’s worked out pretty well, and pretty much everyone who’s bought it has been fairly gushing about how happy they are with it.
I also have a couple clients who found the uploader one way or another, and then got in touch with me to ask about a customized version of it for their website. So that’s brought in some business as well. It’s been really interesting to watch this project, born strictly out of necessity and given away for free, turn into something that generates revenue for the business.
I’m currently trying to code my way around one irritating issue that some people are having with it, though. [Update: it turned out to be an issue only on these few particular machines, and there was nothing that this script (or any script) could do to get around it.] The whole premise of the script is that when you upload a file to a website through it, it shows you a progress bar and how much time is left before the upload is complete. This requires that the server logs how much data has been uploaded so far, writing this data to a file or database and updating it about once per second during the course of the upload. Then the user’s browser sends a request to the server about once per second to ask for the data from the log: how much has been sent so far? How ’bout now? OK, what about now? Over and over.
The problem is that on some servers, the system is configured to do write-caching, so that when a program saves a file, it doesn’t actually get written to the hard disk right away. Instead it’s kept in memory (RAM) until some predefined time limit has passed (say 5 minutes), and then when that time comes the server does a sync, writing all the cached data from memory to the hard disk.
Such write-caching is done to increase the server’s performance -- writing to memory is many times faster than writing to disk -- and it’s very common. For example, that’s the reason it’s bad to turn off your computer using its power button without doing a shut-down first: some of the files that have been created/changed/saved aren’t actually really saved yet, and they won’t get saved until the next sync, which you might prevent from ever happening if you pull the plug without shutting down.
So how do you get two processes to communicate if you can’t use files to share data? You use IPC, of course. But InterProcess Communication has a tendency to take something simple and make it really complicated really quickly. Once your program has to fork() a server and accept socket communication from the client and try not to bother the actual business of the upload too much, it starts getting hairy.
So I’m taking a little break to remind you that Day 5 (aka Season 5) of 24 starts tonight! The season premiere is 4 hours, with the first 2 starting at 8 PM Eastern on Fox. 24 is one of the best things in life -- and I loathe most TV, so that’s got to tell you something -- and I’m so psyched.
Tasha has added photos to her website! Go see at tashasphotos.com!
(I designed the layout a few months ago, which is why it’s all Autunmy.)