Monday: December 4, 2006
- The eight types of annoying morning commuters.
As a Westchester resident working in Manhattan, I often opt to take mass transit to get into the city (parking can be an expensive venture anyway). Over the years I have mentally formed a list with the types of people that generally annoy me during said morning commute. But before reading further, I urge you to use your imagination and visualize yourself sitting next to these types of people in an enclosed space for an undisclosed amount of time on a daily basis.
- The Untouchable
To kick off this list I will begin with the category of commuter that I myself fit into - I like to call them (and myself) the 'untouchables'. And no, I am not referring to the Sean Connery and Kevin Costner type of untouchable. This is a group of people who literally does not want to be touched in any way shape or form. This type of commuter does not want to have any part of another individual whilst riding the train. They (or we, I should properly say as I do consider myself part of the group) just want to be left alone and as previously stated, untouched. They will sometimes sit in dark places of the train in an effort to have other commuters avoid sitting next to them. In the event that another passenger decides to sit next to this type of person, they will cower as close to whatever opposite side they can find for aversion. Again, I can sympathize with this group or else I wouldn't have written this article on a train... by myself.
- The Discourteous Seat Requester
This classification of is directed to the type of morning train rider who will strive to sit in the seat next to you (much to the dismay of 'the untouchable'). This act will most of the time cause you to have to get up to make way for said rider to sit in the window seat (or aisle sit depending on your preference). Now this is not the core of the problem - people should be able to sit wherever they please, and furthermore I am more than happy to oblige a seat if none are available. However, if you want to sit next to me but don't want to bother asking for the seat then I have a reason to have some discourse with you. Simply staring at me to a point that it is both uncomfortable for you and I will not get you the desired seating space next to me nor will it make me move. Grunting doesn't work either. Be a human and say 'excuse me' (your mommy would be proud).
- The Spacetaker
The Spacetaker is primarily and definitively the type of individual who has to have all of their personal belongings strewn across your seat and their seat for no apparent reason. These items may include but are not limited to jackets, purses, laptop bags, newspapers and so on. These items will make their way into your personal seating space and the owner who happens to be sitting RIGHT NEXT TO YOU will not even bat an eye (or say 'excuse me'). This is why we have overhead racks. Put your stuff up there before I kill you.
- The Newspaper Man (Spacetaker Part II)
This designation of commuter was originally set to go along with the previous type, but after some careful thinking I decided they would best be split into two different classes. The Newspaper Man's sole job is to read the New York Times (or any other major periodical for that matter) full spread. By doing so, they basically take up a third of your personal space simply so they can read two pages of their morning news at once. This is annoying and it needs to stop. I don't care how important the morning paper is to you. Fold your newspaper over one way and leave what little shred of personal space I have alone. You can take more of the information in if you focus on one page at a time anyway, genius.
- The Smelly Food Eater
In the world of business sometimes there just isn't room for breakfast. I can totally understand that being a morning commuter myself. Sometimes there really is no time to grab a quick bite in the morning. There is however, a type of commuter who can somehow find the time for food and will proceed to dine on their breakfast for the entire duration of the train ride. Now I'm not referring to the NutriGrain Bar or even the buttered bagel guy. I'm talking about the person who sits right next to you and proceeds to unwrap a greasy, runny, overly smelly egg sandwich and eat it gingerly at their own pace. To top it off, there are no windows to open to allow for proper ventilation so the smell recycles itself throughout the train. And this is the type of smell that if not mentally or physically prepared for, will make you sick. I would like to say thanks to this type of commuter for their continued contribution to an unhealthy air supply. By the way, you have a piece of scrambled egg with ketchup plastered to your chin and you look like a total idiot.
- The Sniffler
Another giant annoyance of mine while riding the train in the morning is a classification of a passenger that I like to call 'The Sniffler'. This is the type of person who either doesn't know what tissues are for or how to use them in any way shape or form. The end result is a lovely, loud, disgusting snorting sound that every single passenger can hear distinctly for the duration of the commute. Other passengers will frequently toss dirty looks at The Sniffler, but those looks will simply be ignored and the snorts, sniffles and wheezes will continue to pour out of their nostrils. The only way to end the reign of terror brought on by this commuter is to exit the train. Do us all a favor and buy a box of tissues (and learn how to use them), Captain Snorts-a-lot.
- The Jibber-jabber
Since one can usually get pretty decent cell phone reception on a commuter train, some enterprising passengers will take advantage of this to the maximum. Now having a quick cell phone conversation is one thing but speaking so loudly that the entire train can hear you is another. And yet again, tossing a disapproving look to the person carries no effect either. They just continue to go along thinking that we all care what's going on in their personal bubble. Look, I really don't want or need to know that your doctor thinks you should have your third nipple removed. I'm sure the rest of us didn't need to know either. Turn down the volume or hang up your phone. This also applies to passengers who insist on having abnormally loud conversations regarding karaoke bars and daytime television talk shows as well.
- The Loud Music Listener
I am a card carrying iPod user on my daily morning commutes. I can't imagine riding into the city on a daily basis without this device. Turns out that I am not the only one who relies on music to get them through the morning commute. This of course is in regards to people who have to play their iPods (or whatever other personal music device you can think of) with volume so loud that it must cause their ears to bleed (or at least I hope it does). Music that pours through their headphones so loudly that other people wearing headphones listening to their own music (like me) can hear. You are going to go deaf, really, they've done studies on this - pick up a trade magazine next time and read this for yourself. Give your ears some rest, they will need it. I also hate to mention it but the entire train now knows that you listen to Flock of Seagulls - repeatedly.
So that about sums it up. Was there a type of commuter that was left off this list? Share your own thoughts by writing a comment on this post. Other general commuting horror stories are welcome as well.
- The Untouchable
Monday: November 20, 2006
- How not to steal a website design.
I came across an interesting referral in the GeekLikeMe.net traffic logs over the weekend. It looked like someone was trying to pull down all of the images and source for this site multiple times. Not entirely odd, this happens normally day to day whenever someone visits the site. It got a little stranger though when I started seeing my own images being called from a remote destination. Turns out someone wanted to take the latest design of GeekLikeMe.net and have their way with it and perhaps even call it their own. Take a look:
Looks kinda similar to this site, wouldn't you say? The pixel poaching doesn't stop with just images. It looks like along with my graphics he wanted the underlying HTML code as well. Upon looking at the source code it is almost a note-perfect copy what I had coded here - line breaks and all. And in an even more interesting move, they decided to label their 'logo' geeklikeme.gif in their source. I guess this is to remind the author where they got the design from. Brilliant!
Along with using the initial images from GeekLikeMe.net - he also brought along some of the fellow geeks that adorn every left side of a GLM page. Glad to see some of my existing friends get some love on a site that looks like mine, but of course is not mine at all.
What really boggles me about this act of copycatting is that there is really not a whole lot of world class design going on with my site. It's basically just a really simple layout. Why even bother going through the trouble of stealing this and not just make your own? Obviously it was easy for the copycatter to make the code work just by pulling it off the site. There also had to be some sort of Photoshop skills involved to change the actual text on the navigation buttons (although its choppy if you look real close). I guess some questions will never be answered.
The title of this site is apparently called XSU. I come to this conclusion because that's all I can make out from the logo. I am including it in this post to simply show my gratitude for the author of the XSU website for using my design and my code without my permission. Feel free to do with this logo as you wish. A quick moving around of the letters yielded SUX.
In closing, one has to ask the question if imitation really does equal flattery when and if the imitation is so very poorly done. Give XSU a look for yourself.
Friday: October 27, 2006
- Deal sites you may not have known about, but should.
You can really find some great bargains on the Internet if you know where to look. Over the past couple of years I've gotten into the habit of browsing deal sites on a daily basis. Here are some of my favorite surf points I like to check out when I have some free time to bargain shop.
If you don't know about Woot.com by now you should. Woot showcases a different product on a daily basis with significantly near-closeout prices. The end result is a price tag on certain items that you probably would have a hard time finding anywhere else. For the better deal gems of Woot, its better to visit their site first thing in the morning as there is usually a set quantity of items they are selling (and hot items will sell out fast). Get yourself a copy of the dashboard widget to be more prepared for the morning rush on popular deal days. In addition, they will occasionally have a 'woot-off' in which multiple items are sold off while supplies last throughout the day.
This site is great simply because the design is well thought out which makes it very easy to find the things you're looking for thanks to the inclusion of product thumbnails. Another great thing about this site is the variety of deals. Deals can range anywhere from tech schwag to household goods and kitchen items. You never know when a kitchen gadget may come in handy (especially if the price is right). There is also a dashboard widget for my fellow Mac OS X users.
A must stop for every Mac addict. Dealmac is simply a terrific resource to get all kinds of deals on Mac related products. A perfect place to shop for the best iPod and iPod accessory prices for that perfect holiday gift. Of course this site isn't just about Mac products as it branches out into other types of techie items such as PDAs and cell phones. Like GottaDeal.com, dealmac.com takes the time out to include thumbnails (a welcome addition) that keep me checking back their site on a daily basis. I am also a fan of this site simply because they too took the time out to make a nifty dashboard widget so I can self-obsess over product purchases even further. One last side note, dealmac is just one of five sites in the deal-insert-subject-here sites. You can also browse dealram.com, a great resource for getting the cheapest prices on memory, as well as dealcam.com if you're in the market for a digital camera.
So you've found a great deal on Mac hardware via dealmac.com - now what about software? If you're looking for software on the cheap for your beloved Apple, then look no further. Everyday there is a new program up for purchase from shareware developers all around the Mac community at very reasonable prices. If you're looking for a productivity application or just an extra game for your laptop you should swing by this site often. From time to time this site will offer a 'mysteryZOT' - multiple software packages thrown together in one deal at an extremely low price. You can also take comfort in knowing that when you purchase a piece of software from MacZot - you are encouraging (and possibly feeding) the potentially struggling shareware developer.
DealsOnTheWeb.com always gets a daily visit from me as well. I also like this site due to its core simplicity. The deals here are usually of the techie variety, and that's just fine with me. There is one tiny thing that bugs me about this site - it takes two clicks to get to the actual deal. A minor annoyance however to find the cheap deals on products.
Another site where you may discover some great bargains is SlickDeals.com. This site has a broad range of categories of deals. So much so, that it deservered a mention on this list. Out of all the sites listed I enjoy SlickDeals the most simply for its variety. From cheap DVD's to feather down comforters, this site is worth a visit for the online bargain shopper.
Crocodeals is a deal site that wants you to know about 'wild online discounts' - and that's not a problem as long as they deliver on said slogan. Thankfully, they usually do. Most of the items from this site tend to be of the tech genre, but they manage to sprinkle in a vacuum cleaner bargain every now and then. Sadly, there is no dashboard widget as of this posting, but I will give this site due credit since it makes use of thumbnails (which makes skimming the deals all that much easier for those of us on the go).
And there you have it. In parting I will give off a handy tip that will speed up your search of online bargains. Bookmark all of the afforementioned sites into a folder. When you're ready to hunt for deals, right click on the bookmarks folder and choose 'open in tabs' (this should work in either Firefox or Internet Explorer 7). All of your sites will open in one window and you can, in a very real sense, do some quick window shopping.
With Black Friday rapidly approaching, it may be worth visiting these sites more often than usual. I say this because several of the places in the above list make special sections for this mass consumer event where you can usually find even bigger bargains if you poke around enough. And before you ask, no, none of the listed websites paid me to say that (I wished they did).
Any deal sites you feel we might have overlooked? Leave a comment for the rest of us.
Friday: September 29, 2006
- 11 slightly strange products for geeky parents.
As you might have guessed, I am a geek. As a geek, I enjoy playing with gadgets. For those in the know (or who read my site regularly - all 5 of you), I am also a newly proud parent. As such, I have decided to take a stroll around the Internet looking for what kind of baby gadgets a geeky parent may be inclined to find. In doing so, I have found several items that I would like to share with you. Some are interesting, some are kind of scary, and others are just plain strange.
- DNA Portraits
Nothing is more comforting than sprucing up your child's room by converting it into a scene from CSI. However if you happen to be a true fan, this site will allow you to make portraits from either your DNA or your fingerprints. To receive the DNA print you will need to send the company a sample using their handy extraction kit (swab your cheek with a special Q-tip). Your DNA apparently can make some interesting art - or it could potentially incriminate you. That being said, now I'm not so sure that I am quite comfortable sending my DNA through the mail, willingly.
- The Intellicot
Something about this product vaguely reminds me of Michael Jackson's hyperbaric chamber. Basically, this is a crib that can rock your kid to sleep and help him/her develop sleeping patterns, all without the need of a parent. In other words, this is another reason to have kids without actually caring for them - you know, like television. As an added bonus it reduces back strain due to child neglect! Brilliant!
- The Daddle
Growing up I remember playing 'horsy' with my pop as well. However, it never occurred to me adding an actual saddle to the mix would make the experience all that more real. It is impressive to ponder the fact that someone took this act of pretend-time and marketed a product out of it. Nothing screams dignity (or make your little one feel more like a cowboy/cowgirl) like strapping a fake saddle on your back. Giddyup. Who am I kidding, I'd probably buy one.
- Magnetic Paint
I have to admit that this is one cool product. The ability to turn any wall into a magnetized space sends chills down my geeky spine. Even more so, the thought of being able to bestow this gift upon my offspring at some point. And for extra credit, the ability to say 'you mean, your room didn't have magnetic paint?'. Apparently, this is a hot product because according to the site below the paint is out of stock - must be the attractive appeal.
- The Rock Star Baby Stroller
Let's face it, everybody (geek or non-geek) wants to be a rock star. Now you too can live that dream through your child with your very own 'Rock Star' stroller. And this ain't just any old stroller either. This one is personally endorsed by actual rock stars (say it ain't so Tico!). The stroller has such compelling features such as lightweight aluminum frame, lockable swivel wheels, and pneumatic rear tires - but who cares. Bon Jovi says I should buy this. Also comes with a free copy of 'Slippery When Wet'.
- The Empathy Belly
Now you too can simulate a pregnancy even if you are not equipped with the proper genetics to birth a child. Features include: simulated fetal kicking, thirty pound weight, backaches, frequent urination, and people laughing at you if you happen to be wearing this in public. Added bonus: You no longer have to deal with your wife's 'you try being pregnant for a change' nagging.
Note: this item also made a cameo in the movie 'Ten Things I Hate About You'. Shut up, you know you saw that movie too.
- The Zaky Infant Pillow
Teach your child the art of fake affection with these pillow shaped hands. They simulate the warmth and loving care that you could never provide. After all, why hold and cuddle your little one when these hands apparently do a better job than you. Notice how the hands come bundled in pairs of two, just like in real life. Why Mommy, what terribly large hands you have!
- iCrib Sound System
Yes folks, your iPod can truly go anywhere - even to the crib. Perhaps you want to bring the soothing sounds of Jethro Tull's Crest of a Knave or maybe the yodeling stylings of Shakira's Whenever Whatever to your baby's personal domain. I'm sure the melodic verses of 'le ro lo le lo le' (that's an actual lyric - she wrote that) will send your little one to dreamland. Alternatively, this humble iPod accessory could potentially be useful if you happen to load your device with nothing but Baby Mozart CDs - but who in their right mind does that? In any event, your kid will either grow to love your musical tastes (whether they like it or not) or you are branding them an Apple customer for life. It's a win-win for all.
- The Baby Keeper
Did you know that your baby can make a handy toilet paper dispenser in a pinch? This product essentially straps a child to any lavatory door, dangling - more appropriately, so you can urinate in peace. Now I'm sure this product can have its obvious benefits at times when you need a free hand to use the bathroom, but something just seems odd and out of place about hanging a child on a door like this. However, nothing says 'here Mommy, wipe your ass' better than your child holding the toilet paper for you. I bet that if you make your kid hold the newspaper for you as well will make this deal even sweeter. Ok, that may be going too far - or is it?
- Toaster Art
Back on track to an item that I am actually excited about discussing - toaster art. Essentially, this will make fun shapes and designs on your morning buttered treat. The designs in question get toasted just a little bit more than the rest of the slice, thus giving a charcoaled etched look to said slice of bread. I don't know about you, but this gives my world new meaning. I can now send hidden messages to other people (mainly over breakfast) in toast form. IN TOAST FORM! My next communique will be on toast - given that the jelly doesn't hide the message.
- Playdoh Fragrance
As a kid, I fondly remember playing with Playdoh. In fact, I even recall having that little factory edition that could spit out neat little shapes. But you know what I remember most of all about Playdoh? That smell of doom. The memory of recoiling in horror at the scent of my post-fingered Playdoh. Something about the chemical aroma - well - makes you want to yack up a rubber tire. And for some reason that odor would not go away with a simple washing of the hands, no - it had to linger for a good 2-3 additional soaks. Lucky for all of us, someone decided that this lovely bouquet (the essence, if you will) was something that had to be bottled. Put away your Calvin Klein, girl. Just put it away.
Any other geeky baby products you feel should have been on this list? Drop us a line or feel free to post a comment.
- DNA Portraits
Wednesday: September 6, 2006
- The seven deadly sins of corporate email.
Many of us work in a corporate environment. My job falters between information technology and marketing (such is the fate of the web developer these days). As such, I am often bombarded with the annoying email habits of people who lack the basic understanding of...well, email.
- People who set an away email message for every single meaningless event.
I do not need to know that you are out to lunch at from 12:15 to 1:15. Most people know that it is lunch time and chances are you're not around. Do not bother me with your personal digital answering machine. Really, it's not necessary. I also don't need to know that from 3:30 - 4:00 pm you will be getting your teeth cleaned. This does not influence my day to day operations one bit. Stop it; you're making Outlook cry.
- People who can't remember to turn their away message off when they are, in fact, no longer away.
So you're back from vacation, yay. I'm quite happy for you. Now turn off your away message that keeps responding to me in stereo with your normal emails. I don't need dual responses every time I reply to one of your emails reminding me that you were gone fishing last week. How was the dentist by the way?
- People who write the entire message of an email in the subject line.
You'd think telling the difference between two distinct areas when composing an email would be an easy thing. I can't tell you how much fun it is deciphering an email when it is sprawled across the subject line (see 'before and after' below).
- Read receipts.
This habit makes me want to throw a chair out of a window. It is the act of people who feel they have to attach a read receipt to EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF EMAIL they send out - no matter how trivial the subject matter. I guess it makes people feel important. Therefore, I take great pleasure in hitting the cancel button to your paranoid sense of self confirmation. Even more annoying: people who send read receipts on emails regarding whether or not the last email they sent (which had a read receipt too) was actually read. Pure genius!
- People who love to respond to emails marked distinctly as DO NOT REPLY.
When the subject line AND the first line of the body of the email read in big, bold letters DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL why do you still hit Reply? Let's try this together: D-O N-O-T R-E-P-L-Y.
- Incredibly overloaded signatures.
It's not enough that I have to see the scribbled signature of the person who sent me the email, but they also insist on changing the entire style of the email. So when I reply to you, I am stuck with your ugly, yet 'calming' wallpaper. Please fire yourself out of a cannon.
- Pasting entire web pages into the body of an email.
Another act that greatly affects my day to day mood: receiving an email that has an entire (or partial) web page pasted into the body of the message. Outlook is not meant to show web pages (this is why we have web browsers), and by doing so, you are now disrupting the natural order of the Universe. By replying to you (and if I'm too lazy to clean out said pasted web page), we start tracking in piles of HTML code throughout our conversation like mud. Clean your feet and just email me the link to the article, dummy.
And there you have it. Now print this list out and pin it up by the company water cooler. The email-challenged will thank you... hopefully.
- People who set an away email message for every single meaningless event.
Tuesday: August 22, 2006
- Five iPhoto enhancements I would like to see.
I love using iPhoto to organize all of my digital photos. I recently decided to give Picasa a spin and discovered that there are some neat little features I wish iPhoto had. After using the two programs side by side there are some other features that would be nice to see in our favorite little photo application for the Mac.
- Better Spot Focus Feature and Other Photo Manipulations
I'm a big fan of this tool in Picasa (and some of the other photo manipulation tools - we'll get to them later). It can be handy for giving a new look to a photo or even to spruce an older picture into a desktop wallpaper (see desktops to find some examples of this from me). However, this feature is nowhere to be found in iPhoto. Closest thing to that kind of manipulation is the Edge Blur tool but it doesn't let you pick a particular spot as Picasa does. There are some other neat image functions in Picasa I like as well, such as the 'Focal Black and White' tool which basically removes color to any given area. Again, a feature not found in iPhoto. The other glaring advantage of Picasa over iPhoto is that you can choose the area you are looking to 'spot' rather than just the edges of a picture (I am referring to the Matte and Vignette features found in iPhoto).
- Del.icio.us Style Photo Tagging
I don't tag my photos nearly as much as I could because I feel that the process is slightly annoying in iPhoto. You have to go to Preferences, define your keywords and then drag a photo into that particular created keyword. If you have a photo with multiple keywords you want to tag, it makes the process even more of a pain. There must be an easier way to do this. I'd really love to see a place in the application where I can type any given tag (or tags plural) to a given set of photos. If I have entered a tag previously, iPhoto would populate a list of previously used tags - a la del.icio.us - as a possible suggestion. In my opinion, part of the ease of use in the del.icio.us phenomenon is this kind of quick tagging ability. It's quick and painless. Apple should pick up on this and run with it. Ya know, just to make me and the other photo tagging population happy.
- Better Spotlight Integration
I also think there should be some tuning up of the iPhoto search. Currently, there are some aspects of Spotlight integrated into the software (real time searching as you type; which is great - but only if you've assigned keywords or comments diligently enough) but not some of the more advanced tricks that would make for better power searching. For example, sometimes I am just looking for photos that were taken at a higher resolution setting. This feature is handy to me because I enjoy making desktop wallpaper and posting it for other people to (I hope) enjoy and download. If a photo isn't of a high enough resolution, it can make for an ugly pixelated mess when ported to your desktop. Having a method to sort the high resolution photos from the low res ones would speed things up in that regard.
Searching by particular EXIF data would be nice to include as well. A feature could be included based off of the time a photo was actually taken to show pictures shot during the day or at night. Click a button to see your day shots, click a button to see your night shots. Basically, just a little something to make organizing a little easier and also add some fun to the mix.
Again, I am aware that some of these kinds of power searching can be done from an advanced Spotlight search (with some clever tweaking) but we are talking about application specific features that would be easier if integrated directly into the software. Who knows, maybe Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) will include this feature.
- Collages, not just for Prints and Books
Another Picasa feature I feel that could be 'adapted' to this software is the ability to make a collage from a given set of photos. Basically, I am referring to the neat drag and drop ability of book creation tool. Apple has some neat tricks up their sleeves with Core Animation and Core Image. They could very well build this feature if only to add the ability to add a 'Buy Poster' function. Until then, if you're looking to make a wall collage of your photos you'll have to follow the Mike Matas Life Poster tutorial.
- One Click Backup Solution
As someone who has inadvertently lost copious amounts of personal data in the past (both photos and various other documents) adding a feature like this would be a ray of sunshine. Just give me a button that says 'BACKUP' that takes my photos and burns them to multiple DVD's. Really, I have a whole stack of them that are just begging to be used as backups. Now for the technical savvy, I am fully aware that you can just drag your Pictures folder from your home directory and burn a backup that way. But try telling that to someone who barely understands the concept of double-clicking (like your parents). It would just make life easier to know the option is there. Photos are a very precious thing. This was the one thing that really resonated with me while watching the WWDC keynote (Scott Forstall portion of the show). Of course, he would later go on to unveil Time Machine which will probably alleviate this request. However, I still think having a dedicated hard copy backup solution for iPhoto is a smart idea. Even a warning message letting you know upon new import of photos to give a reminder that you haven't backed up recently (although potentially annoying - nothing an on/off switch couldn't fix). You may think this a rather paranoid request but you have no idea how special a particular photo is until you lose it. Cheesy, but this really is a true statement.
Anyone have any other iPhoto enhancements they would like to see? Talk amongst yourselves via the comments.
- Better Spot Focus Feature and Other Photo Manipulations
Wednesday: August 2, 2006
- Lightbox makes a great addition to your photoblog.
Lightbox can be integrated into a given site in about five or six steps (give or take your level of programming experience). The documentation on the Lightbox site regarding integration is also very easy to understand even for the novice web developer.
I have to say that this was by far the easiest integration of new code I've worked with in a long time. Kudos to the developer Lokesh Dhakar for making such a clean script that is easy to understand. Inside the script itself resides a table of contents (which I have rarely seen lately) with explanations as to what piece of code does what. It really makes for a refreshing coding experience. The amount of inline commenting that Lokesh took the time out to write is helpful especially if you are looking to mess around with the core functionality. I can't begin to describe the number of times I have had to wade through miles of code without any type of documentation.
I really like the way Lightbox works with displaying photos in the active web browser window rather than having to use a (seemingly deprecated) pop-up window. I've had some problems in the past with pop-ups getting blocked by a browser's security setting. Anyone remember when pop-ups were the 'in-thing' to do on web site? On second thought, I take that back.
As far as customization goes, if you know your way around CSS you can tweak the look and feel of Lightbox as you please. But as it stands, the design configuration right out of the box is very pleasing and laid out very well.
Click on any photo in the GeekLikeMe photoblog to see thie script in action.
Tuesday: July 18, 2006
- My own personal tag cloud.
So if you are an avid reader of del.icio.us or a user of flickr you probably already know what a tag cloud is. If you have no idea what I am talking about here is Wikipedia's brief but accurate description:
'A tag cloud (more traditionally known as a weighted list in the field of visual design) is a visual depiction of content tags used on a website. Often, more frequently used tags are depicted in a larger font or otherwise emphasized, while the displayed order is generally alphabetical.'
I decided to try something slightly different with this definition and apply the tag cloud method to something other than just... well tags. For this experiment, lets take a look my daily grind section, specifically the 'how Vin feels today' field. To those who don't regularly read this section of GeekLikeMe (I don't blame you, I wouldn't read me either), basically, I just jot down how I feel and what I'm up to albeit briefly every week day morning. Not really sure why I do it, but now I can't seem to shake off the habit.
I have this tendency to repeat myself a lot in that section. To find out just how much I repeat myself new features were introduced. If a particular sentiment came up previously in the database I would link back to it. It was fun to see the similarities between the two days and what else was going on that day. The same concept was applied for 'music stuck in head', not particularly useful on any level but who cares.
Back to the tag cloud, so I was curious to see what specific sentiments I have used the most since I started. The result set (shown below) seems to be a wacky road map of emotions that I have gone through since inception (first daily grind post was on September 8th, 2004).
... About to get snowed on Absent-minded Accomplished Adventurous Aggravated Aloof Alright Ambitious Ambivalent Angry Annoyed Antsy Anxious Apprehensive Approaching normality Asleep Autopilot Awake Awsome Back to work Barely awake Beat up Been better Behind on work Better Better than usual Beyond exhaustion Blah Bland Blue Blugh. Business as usual Busy Caffeinated Carefree Case of the Mondays Change Charged Clumsy Coded out Cold Collected Comedic Comfortable Comical Content Coughing Cranky Crazed Creative Cynical Deaf Decent Depressed Determined Diligent Disconnected Disregardance Doing OK Dorky Down Dumb Edgy Eh Eh. Energetic Energized Excited Exhausted Extreme anxiety Extremely Happy Extremely productive Extremely tired Eyestrained Fairly good Fairly rested Falling asleep Festive Fidgety Fine. Great. Grand. Foggy Forgetful Freezing Frikken cold Frustrated Full of energy Fully sick Geeky Getting sick Giddy Gluttonous Good Good to be home Goof ball Great Groggy Grouch Grump Grumpy Habitual Half awake Hangin in there Hanging in there Happy Hasty Headache Healthy Hell bent Home Sweet Home Humorous Hungry Hyper Immensely tired In coding hell Inattentive Inconclusive Indifferent Influenza Interested Internetless Irritable Irritated Italian! It's Friday Jetlagged Jittery Just fine Kinda tired Laborious Lackadaisical Laid back Laughing fits Lazy Less busy Like I have a cold, dammit Limey Loose Mad Meh Mellow Merry Migraine More influenza More or less awake Motivated Musical Naucious Nausea Nearly depleted Nearly sick Neat-freak Neato Negative Nerdly Nervous Never better Normal Nostalgic Not bad Not pleasant Not rushing Not so good Not too shabby OK Out of gas Out of it Out of shape Overly humid Overly warm Overtired Overworked Pissed off Pleasant Prepared Prepped Pretty good Pretty good thanks for asking Productive Quite good, thanks Quite nervous Rained on Ready to pass out Ready to Travel Refreshed Regretful Relaxed Relieved Remedial Resourceful Rested Running Rushing Satisfied Sick Sickly Silly Slacker Sleep deprived Sleep please. Sleepwalking Sleepy Slight Headache Slightly annoyed Slightly athletic Slightly better Slightly less humorous Slightly medicated and very sleepy Slightly nervous Slightly recharged Slightly tired and more or less dry Sluggish Slushed Smartass Sniffly Snowed on Snowy So so Somewhat awake Sort of fine Spent Splitting headache Spongelike Spunky Standard Still anxious Still asleep Stressed Stressful Stubborn Studious Stuffed Subservient Suprisingly awake Techie Thankful Tired Tired as all hell Twitchy Ughhhhhh Uncomfortable Uncomfortably warm Undercaffeinated Underslept Unenthused Unenthusiastic Unfocused Unintelligible Unmotivated Unpleasant Unpunctual Unrested Unslept Unthrilled Uppity Utterly Relieved Uuuurrrghn Very good Very sleepy Warm Well caffeinated Well rested Well slept Wired Work mode Worn out Yawn Yawning Zombie Zoning out Zzzzz ...
Apparently I get a lot of headaches, but they get countered with days in which I am relaxed. I shall have to look into that. Then again we all have our good days and bad days, I guess.
Friday: July 14, 2006
- The benefits of webrooting.
Ever wanted to ensure a smoother transition when uploading your newly designed website to your newly purchased web server space? Rolling up your sleeves and setting up a webroot in your code may save you some time and some unnecessary headaches.
Setting up a webroot is simple if your code is structured in a semantic way already. My general practice in designing websites is to give myself virtual include files for the header and footer of the site in question. This way, making global changes is far more easier than having to make individual changes to your website page by page. For those of you advanced web designers this is probably second nature. For those just starting out, this method will save you lots of time. The main content of the page generally lives between the two calls to the header and footer includes (see above example for diagram, if confused).
The next step is to set up the actual webroot variable in your code. You may preferably want to do this in your header include file so that each time a page is loaded, this variable carries over to the rest of your content. In this tutorial, I am going to show how to set up a webroot using ASP (my programming language of choice). The same concept can be applied to those of you who use PHP; you just need to use the proper syntax (which escapes me at the moment).
So lets begin by declaring a variable intuitively called 'WebRoot' for this example. Set this variable equal to whatever folder you are currently coding your website in. In my case, I had been working locally in a folder called 'glm_06' so my webroot becomes '/glm_06/' (the beginning and end slashes are important, we'll get to that later).
Then in the content of your pages start adding this variable to your image tags, anchor tags, and basically any part of your site that has a path pointing to something in your local work folder where your site lives.
You may be asking, why not just avoid this method and just point paths to where they are supposed to go without using this variable? One advantage right off the bat is working with subfolders. If you happen to have a portion of your site that you want to encapsulate into a folder underneath your main work folder, webrooting makes things a whole lot easier. By using a webroot your paths will line up automatically to the root of your server (hence the term webrooting) rather than you having to adjust every single image and href path to work in said subfolder (rather than having to make image paths line up by changing the source path to '../img/' for example).
Finally, this method comes in handy when you need to push your website to a live environment. If your web host demands that all of your HTML documents must live within a designated part of the server, all you would need to do is change the webroot variable in your top include file to sync things up.
While there is nothing groundbreaking here in terms of coding, I felt like explaining the benefits of this methodology because it has helped me out in the past. It may be of more use to those who are just starting out with web programming and don't use this kind of structure. It could possibly save some frustration and be a time saver in the long run.
Friday: July 7, 2006
I recently became a proud parent to a beautiful baby girl. I got to thinking about some of the pros and cons she may have while growing up with her overly geeky dad. This list probably (and obviously) does not pertain to all geeks, it's primarily speaking from my experience and current available skill sets.
On with the list:
Advantage: Multilingual skills. HTML, CSS, ASP. Sure these are programming languages, but it's a start.
Disadvantage: Actual foreign language skills are probably far more important. I'll leave that to my bilingual wife.
Advantage: A vast library of useless movie quotes/facts ranging from Monty Python to Count of Monte Cristo. This makes for some decent comedic timing which Dad hopes to pass on.
Disadvantage: Sometimes Dad isn't nearly as funny as he thinks he is... at all.
Advantage: Her Mom has a very good fashion sense.
Disadvantage: Her Dad, not so much.
Advantage: She will probably have every cool techie toy that comes on the market.
Disadvantage: Dad will have to play with it first.
Advantage: She already has a large library of modern and retro video games.
Disadvantage: Possible pasty white skin from lack of sunlight, just like Daddy.
Advantage: I can't cook. If you tried my cooking you would understand why this is an advantage.
Disadvantage: Same reason.
Advantage: I can teach her how to play up to 3 musical instruments of her choice: drums, guitar, kazoo.
Disadvantage: I have no athletic skills whatsoever. Seriously, none. Once again, my wife will be in charge of that skill, too.
Advantage: Dad is an avid Phish fan.
Disadvantage: Dad is an avid Phish fan.
Advantage: Dad doesn't do drugs of any kind despite attending many, many, many Phish shows.
Disadvantage: Since Dad didn't do any drugs, he has no wacky stories to tell.
Advantage: Three words - Internet Parental Control.
Disadvantage: Since this site is primarily PG, one day she will find out that her Dad once ran a website called GeekLikeMe.