Using Furl for almost a year.

Furl logoI’ve been using Furl for almost a year now. In fact it was Jul 23, 2004 at 23:13:58 GMT that I ‘furled’ my very first furl: Furl – How to Save. Using it on a daily basis, I collected some 500+ interesting, funny, need-to-know, nice-to-know or what-else public links. Not much compared to others, but still a respectable number nonetheless. 🙂

So what have I been hamstering this past year? Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

Continue reading “Using Furl for almost a year.”

MediaWiki and Google Sitemaps

As I could not find an extension or script specifically for MediaWiki that would automatically deploy a Google Sitemap, I thought, why not build one myself? And in the process try and learn some PHP on the way.

So here’s my result: https://www.thinklemon.com/wiki/sitemap.xml.php

It’s submitted to Google as of yet. Let’s see what it’ll do. …

A decade of WebDev.

What did people do before there was the internet? Well, they … uhm… well there was tv and board games. You had to do stuff using pen (as opposed to an ink-cartridge) and paper. And I think you physically went to a store to buy stuff. But seriously, the World Wide Web (does anyone call it that nowadays?) is only some 15 years old. It was in 1990 that the first browser and webserver saw the light by the hand of this guy called Tim Berners-Lee. So you could say he was the first web developer. But that’s just the prehistory. We’re living in 2005 right now. What was it like for web developers like say in 1995? The web was alive and kicking for 5 years then. Or was it? Let’s have a look at june 1995.

Continue reading “A decade of WebDev.”

Turning off the ‘friendly HTTP error messages’ in Firefox

Get Firefox By accident I stumbled upon this Firefox somewhat equivalent of IE’s ‘Show friendly HTTP error messages’ option. Any webdeveloper should have this turned off by default. How else will you know what the problem is? So here’s how to do it:

  1. Open up a new tab (CTRL+T) or window (CTRL+N).
  2. Type in de addressbar: about:config.
  3. In the filterbar type: error and press enter.
  4. Now set the value of the ‘browser.xul.error_pages.enabled‘ to ‘true‘. Double clicking will do.
  5. Restart Firefox.

Now you’ll get extended warnings instead of the simple warning dialogs when, for example, you accidentaly link to a non-existant domain. Or, like me, the dreaded ‘The document contains no data’.

If you don’t know where to find this in IE: ‘Tools’ > ‘Internet Options…’ > ‘Advanced’-tab > Near the end of the ‘Browsing’-section. > Uncheck.

Usability Week 2005 San Francisco

Nielsen Norman Group This week, from June 20 till 25, the Nielsen Norman Group is holding a conference on usability in San Francisco. This is the last in a series of conferences which were held in New York, Stockholm and London.

The Usability Week 2005 Conference is:

Usability Week 2005 takes you beyond the typical conference experience, offering a three-day usability camp, a two-day intensive on interaction design, and several exceptional day-long tutorials that get both broad and deep on core usability topics. Attend as few or as many days as you like.

My lucky colleague, who somehow managed to be in San Francisco this week, is attending some topics. While we’re sweating it at the office. Being interested in web usability I just want to know what’s being covered. So strolling around the standard search tools it struck me that there are no reports, experiences, comments, etc. to be found. Google, nope. MSN, nothing. Yahoo, uhm. Technorati & Feedster, nada. What could this mean?

  1. Or usability experts don’t know how to blog
  2. Or NNg forces an NDA on every attendee
  3. Or there simply isn’t anything to report
  4. Or …

Dear Mr. Nielsen, please have a look at this aggregated coverage site of the XTech conference. Wouldn’t that be a good idea for your next conference?

The end of IE 5

IE LogoI’ve given up on IE 4 and Netscape 4 a while ago. Meaning I won’t do anything extra for them anymore. They’ll just have to take the page as-is, no unnecessary or fatal script errors though, but that’s where it ends. If it doesn’t work or looks horrible, too bad.

So how about IE 5? Will I say goodbye to that one too? Well, as long as there is a substantial public I will support it. But a quick scan of some statistics is showing a decline. Take a look at the W3Schools stats, which states a 2.8% audience of IE 5 in June. Looking at my own stats, I have to look hard to find any record of IE 5. But this will differ from site to site, so I haven’t written it off yet. So give it another half year or so?

Microsoft itself has a helping hand in the decline by pushing IE 6 with it’s Windowsupdate service, pulling support for Windows 2000, pushing XP and Server 2003. There is even the upcoming IE 7. And more importantly it doesn’t support IE 5 no longer (or at least will do so very, very soon).

Gervase Markham has a nice post about the IE 5 decline. He even invites us, web developers, to drop support for it already. I wouldn’t go that far, yet. Although with so many alternatives available I wonder why anyone will want to keep hanging on to IE 5.

If you’re still using IE 5, please take a look at IE 6, Firefox or maybe Opera. Oh and for those on a Mac. There’s Safari, Firefox or Camino.

What do search engines see in my page?

Search engines are your ultimate blind visitors. They don’t see JavaScript, stumble over framesets, ignore CSS, feel around HTML-tags and leave them alone, choke on Flash. All they really want to see is content. And that content is plain text. Text that can be indexed, weighed, stored, chunked, ranked & retrieved. Or whatever it is they do…

So if you want a glimpse of what Google/Yahoo/MSN can really see in your pages take a look at the Search Engine Spider Simulator. It’ll take your page, strip off all HTML, media, links, meta-info and commonly used words. What is left is a resumé of all the unique words that are on your page.

Now if this simulator doesn’t return anything maybe that’s your explanation for not being indexed.
No content? Why bother.

IE 7 around the corner…

Looking back at my blog I see that I post a lot about Firefox. But there is another browser around that is even more popular. Yes, Internet Explorer!

Unfortunately IE6 has been around since 2001(?) and hasn’t been updated since. Apart from the occasional Service Pack or Security Update, IE6 has basically remained the same for about 4 years.

You say: “Hold up. The sites I visit are getting more advanced! So IE6 is up-to-date.”

Yes and No. IE6 is a capable browser. It has been ever since its release in 2001(?). But… back then IE6 was just a newbie. The majority of the browsing public was using IE4. And every webdeveloper/-designer can tell you that although the technology was there, ‘we’ had to consider making our pages visible in IE4, and God-Forbid NS4. So there was no way we could use all the nice ‘cool’ features of IE6.

Now that no-one is using IE4 or NS4 anymore (If you do, consider upgrading! Please!) we developers are using more & more sophisticated techniques. Like CSS, XHTML and/or XMLHTTPRequest. The latter was originally conceived in IE4’s RDS, but back then no-one used it. Nowadays Google’s GMail revolves around it. But I digress.

Back to the story. Seemingly to Firefox’s success the developers at Microsoft woke up. Back in january the development team was brought to life again. And they promised a beta version would be available mid-2005. (It’s june already.) I’m not trying to sound negative. But having Firefox as default browser for over half a year I’m anxious to see what comes from Redmond. I see they promise tabs, maybe RSS, …

BUT it will all be ONLY available for people running on Windows XP Service Pack 2! Way to go Microsoft. No longer available for Mac, Windows 2000, Windows 98SE, Windows ME. I personally think that’s not a good strategy. But that’s me.

To do: Upgrade family to Servicepack 2…

Viewing WAP sites with Firefox

Screenshot CitiWiz WAP site.In a follow up to my previous post about RSS2WAP I got curious. Is there a Firefox extension available that would enable me to view WAP sites? Well, yes there is!

The wmlbrowser extension makes Firefox a fully-fledged WAP-browser. (See screenshot of the CitiWiz WAP site to the right)

Although every mobile device will present the content visually different, this is a nice interpretation of what you can expect. Further pro’s in no particular order are:

  • Cut development time by serving up pages locally instead of uploading every change to your WAP site.
  • Develop in your favorite browser. 😉
  • Browse your site using a mouse instead of a quirky phone-keyboard.
  • No telco costs.
  • No slow connection.
  • No need to install a, buggy, third-party WAP-browser.
  • Browse *any* WAP-site there is. Ringtone anyone?

You can get the extension from Mozilla Update.