Archive for March, 2005

Rounded Corners Using CSS

b.rtop, b.rbottom{display:block;background: #FFF}
b.rtop b, b.rbottom b{display:block;height: 1px; overflow: hidden; background: #ddd}
b.r1{margin: 0 5px}
b.r2{margin: 0 3px}
b.r3{margin: 0 2px}
b.rtop b.r4, b.rbottom b.r4{margin: 0 1px;height: 2px}

My pal Ben Simon sent me this URL a while ago that describes a technique for creating rounded corners using just CSS and no images. Check out Nifty Corners for the full scoop. Hopefully you are
looking at an example right now, unless it doesn’t work in your
browser for some reason (I haven’t done extensive testing). If it
doesn’t work, leave a comment here so people will know the compatibility
limitations.

Update: I have no idea why this wouldn’t work in IE. An isolated version of the code works fine as do the examples. I suspect it’s just buggy IE rendering, but if anyone can figure out why it’s not working, and can suggest a fix, I will publicly shower him or her with praise.

Yahoo! Launches Creative Commons Search

I discovered from Lawrence
Lessig
that Yahoo! has recently launched a
new search tool
that only searches work licensed under the Creative Commons
license meaning it is free to use and build upon (usually with some restrictions).
This is an incredibly useful tool for anyone who does any type of writing or
publishing (including, of course, bloggers).

I really like what I’ve been seeing from Yahoo! lately. I think a lot of people
have considered it a foregone conclusion that Google was going to own search and
the communities around it. I like to see companies like Yahoo!, Microsoft,
and Amazon saying "Not so fast." I think Yahoo! has been most aggressive
in their positioning lately (Y!Q
contextual search
, Firefox
support for their toolbar
, public search
API
, purchase
of Flickr
,
etc.), and I think they probably have a better understanding of community than
almost anyone. I expect that we will continue to see impressive tools and services
from Yahoo! in the future as the competition for search and community continue
to heat up.

MXNA Java Category

I’m thinking of adding a Java category to MXNA. Anyone have any favorite Java blogs?

Will the New Browser Wars End Before Really Getting Started?

Before the announcement that Yahoo! was buying Flickr,
the big Yahoo! news was that all Yahoo! services would soon be compatible with Firefox,
and all new services that Yahoo! released would also be Firefox compatible. Well, according
to ZDNet Australia
,Yahoo! has backpedalled somewhat, calling their original
statement "factually incorrect." I’m not here to beat Yahoo! up for either having
a change of heart, or for releasing inaccurate information since 1) accidents happen,
and 2) I have no problem with people (or companies) changing their minds when they
need to, as long as it doesn’t have a major negative impact on existing customers.
However, I do think Yahoo’s correction foreshadows another interesting shift in
browser distribution.

My prediction: the new
version of Internet Explorer
along with the release
of Tiger
will deal a massive
blow to Firefox, and the feeling that we are all in for another era of
bloody browser wars. I don’t have a list of IE 7 features in front of me, but
Microsoft is smart enough to deliver a browser that their customers are going
to want while many Mac users who are currently using Firefox because of issues
with Safari will be curious enough about the
new version
to give it another chance. I believe the result will be a sharp
decline in Firefox adoption.

That’s not to say Firefox will go away. Those of use in the IT field will
continue to use it (at least I will — I can’t live without certain plugins), but
I think IE 7 and Tiger will go a long way toward pulling Firefox out of the mainstream.

CSS XML Buttons

It’s not rocket science, but here’s an easy way to make XML buttons(or any kind of button you want) using CSS. In other words, this
button (XML) is not an image, but is done all with CSS. I like using
CSS buttons when I can because it gives me a lot of control over
the look, and I can change the label easily without opening an image
editing application. See? Christian Cantrell

Anyway, here’s the CSS class:

.xml-icon {
padding: 0px 3px 1px 3px;
margin: 0;
text-align: center;
font-family: Tahoma, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
font-size: 11px;
font-weight: bold;
color: #fff;
background-color: #ff6600;
border: 1px solid;
border-color: #ffc8a4 #3f1a01 #3f1a01 #ffc8a4;
cursor: pointer;
}

New Aggregator in Testing

Thanks to a comment left by Roger Benningfield in
response to yesterday’s
post
,
I am evaluating Shrook.
So far, I’m very happy with it. It has a very iTunes-like interface with a library
containing all your feeds which you add to one or more groups (like playlists).
Below are the features that really set it apart from other aggregators I’ve used:

  • Smart groups. Smart groups dynamically categorize content based on one or more
    filters.
  • iPod support. Export everything to iPod notes.
  • Server synchronization. Synchronize with Shrook’s servers (which unfortunately
    are currently being upgraded) so you can access your feeds via the web. By synching
    with their servers, you can also sync to other instances of Shrook on other
    Macs.
  • Distributed checking. When new items are found, they are reported to a central
    server which allows other Shrook clients to be updated faster than if they
    simply waited to aggregate.
  • Scrapbook. Drag items into one or more scrapbooks to save for later.

I need to exercise the application for a few more days before shelling out the
$24.95, but so far, it has made a very good first impression on me. In the meantime,
I’ll try some of your other suggestions, as well, just in case.

I Need a New Aggregator

An unfortunate thing happened to me this morning. I have an old evaluation of NetNewsWire installed alongside the free version of NetNewsWire Lite which I use(d) extensively on a daily basis. This morning, when using Quicksilver to open NetNewsWire Lite, I accidentally opened the old expired evaluation version of NetNewsWire. For some reason, it overwrote all my NetNewsWire Lite feeds with the default list of feeds that come with the application.

This is very much not a good thing. I’m sure I had well over 100 feeds pertaining to everything that interests me (mostly technology, but also some personal weblogs, watch weblogs, etc.). I have a backup from November that will allow me to recover many of my feeds, but my collection was constantly evolving and being refined, so the last four months of tweaks are gone.

Anyway, enough lamenting. I’m looking at this as an opportunity to start fresh with a new collection of feeds, new organization, and certainly a new aggregator. I really like(d) NetNewsWire, but I don’t think I can bring myself to use it again. Additionally, I’m tired or waiting for the 2.0 version just to get Atom support (it’s been in beta for a very very long time).

So my first question is what aggregators are Mac users out there using these days? I’m willing to go with either local or web-based. Once I settle on a new aggregator, I will then ask people to post some of their favorite blogs. I’m pretty sure I can have all my old feeds back with a couple of hours of searching and surfing, but I’d like to use this opportunity to find some new, more obscure feeds worth aggregating. That’s a question for another time, though. First the aggregator.

Advanced JavaScript Settings in Firefox

There are few things I hate more than websites that resize and/or move your browser.
I don’t visit a lot of sites that would tend to use such techniques, but every now
and then, I’ll come across one. I found one the other day (a watch-related site
which I will allow to remain anonymous) at which point I decided I would not quit
until I found a way to configure Firefox to not allow such poor JavaScript behavior.
Fortunately, the solution was simple. Open up Firefox preferences, go to Web Features,
and click on the "Advanced…" button next to JavaScript. You can allow
or disallow the following:

  • Move or resize existing window
  • Raise or lower windows
  • Disable or replace context menus
  • Hide the status bar
  • Change the status bar
  • Change status bar text
  • Change images

If your website relies on any of the functionality listed above, you might want
to consider a redesign. I’m not saying that Firefox is about to take over the world
(though I certainly wouldn’t mind if it did), but I think it’s safe to say that
the trend is toward giving end users more control over their experience. And in
the end, users will simply appreciate your site more if it behaves the way they
want it to rather than the way you want it to.

The Move is Almost Over

I haven’t been blogging much lately because I am still in the process of moving to San Francisco (two weeks after it started). The good news is that I actually got into my house on Saturday, so now it’s primarily a matter of unpacking and getting services turned on. My top priority is an internet connection, and I’m currently investigating both DSL and cable. I’ve used both in the past, and had great luck with both, so at this point, I’m pretty much just comparing pricing.

So my question for you this morning is DSL or cable in the San Francisco area?

Win $50,000 For Your Short Film

Go to Amazon.com, and in the "Special Features"
section (left-hand column, near the bottom), you’ll find a link to the Short
Film Competition
. It’s actually joint sponsored by Amazon, the Tribeca Film
Festival, and American Express, and the prize for a seven minute or less film in
Macromedia Flash format is no less than $50,000. Here’s some info lifted off their
page:

Welcome, filmmaker! Amazon, the Tribeca Film Festival, and American Express invite
you to premiere your short film to an audience of millions by entering our Short
Film Competition, whose grand prize is an American Express prepaid card in the amount
of $50,000.

Through April 13, we’re accepting submissions of films that have a total running
time of no more than 7 minutes and are appropriate for a general audience.

Starting April 18, the films will be presented to Amazon customers, on a random
basis, in the Tribeca Screening Room at Amazon.com. Customers will be invited to
rate the films, on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, to determine the five finalists.

At the end of May, the five highest-rated films will each be featured on the Amazon.com
welcome page over five weeks. Amazon.com customers will again be invited to rate
the five finalists to determine the winner.

Any filmmakers out there who could use an extra 50 large?