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A More Usable Skype 5 Mac Beta

The new Skype for mac has so many problems. Better video quality but serious UI issues. Full screen mode and partial screen sharing are gone but this skin solves the too-much-whitespace issue.

This skin is easy to install and does a great job.

We’ve created a quick and simple custom style named “RocketTheme.SkypeChatStyle” that incorporates the following:

  • Smaller font sizes
  • Reduced paddings and margins
  • Visible avatars and names for all members of the conversation including yourself
  • Lighter borders and colors

via A Prettier More Usable Skype 5 Mac Beta.

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Dr. Seuss does Star Wars

The Star Wars universe blends with the goofy, strangely-named world of Dr. Seuss pretty easily.

via Not only, but also.: Dr. Seuss does Star Wars.

Posted in Design | 1 Response

Building an HTML email is not like building for the web

A great article about the challenges of building HTML for email clients. I had banged my head on many of these challenges and want to reiterate his point below to “keep it simple”.

While web browsers continue their onward march towards standards, many email clients have stubbornly stayed put. Some have even gone backwards. In 2007, Microsoft switched the Outlook rendering engine from Internet Explorer to Word. Yes, as in the word processor. Add to this the quirks of the major web-based email clients like Gmail and Hotmail, sprinkle in a little Lotus Notes and you’ll soon realize how different the email game is.

via 24 ways: Rock Solid HTML Emails.

Posted in Web Design | 1 Response

TextExpander vs Typeit4me: one bug to rule them

I am trying out “TextExpander” because I was having a problem with Typeit4me where it would stop working often with no reason. The TextExpander folks got back to me quickly with an explanation and I have to assume it is affecting many people. There is a bug in Firefox and Chrome where they enable secure input but don’t disable it.

This bug is particularly infuriating because it doesn’t seem clear to the end user what causes it. However, it does have a cause, a workaround, and it does seem to be getting some traction from the Mozilla folks.

When these browsers display a password field, they turn on secure event input so that no one, including TextExpander, can peek at your passwords. Problem is, if you use the Return key to submit a form from within its secure field, they won’t turn secure event input off. This appears to be a bug they’ve inherited from some Firefox code they use.

The workaround is to use the submit button rather than using Return in the password field. 1Password is similarly affected by this bug. The workaround there is to turn off auto-submit and just use auto-fill then press the button to submit.

THE SOLUTION: Usually when you quit the application that enabled secure input (permanently) it will be disabled and all will be back to normal.

When editing a password field on the Mac, Firefox ultimately calls EnableSecureEventInput to prevent other input managers from sniffing the user’s password. If I exit the password field by clicking in another field, or by clicking the “submit” button, then Firefox properly calls DisableSecureEventInput. However, if I exit the password field by hitting return (thereby submitting the form), then DisableSecureEventInput is not called, and other input managers on the system are permanently locked out of keyboard input.

Steps to Reproduce:

  1. create a form that has an input field of type “password” and an input of type “submit”
  2. use Firefox, and type in the password form
  3. set a breakpoint on DisableSecureEventInput
  4. exit the form by hitting return

Actual Results: DisableSecureEventInput is not called, and other input managers are locked out of keyboard input

via Bug 556873 – exiting a password field by pressing return fails to disable secure entry mode.
Feel free to vote it up….

and after I use TextExpander a while longer I will comment in more detail about how it compares. so far it seems to be faster and not stumble on replacements when I type fast.

Posted in Product Reviews | 5 Responses

PayPal iPhone app review: deposit check with a photo

Another innovative feature from PayPal. This is free. Deposit a check just by taking a photo of it with your iPhone camera.

I tried it and it took 7 days for the check to clear. Not exactly warp speed so I hope that will improve over time. But still feels “futuristic”.

Simple to do:

  1. Launch the PayPal app, click Tools, and choose Add Money From Checks.
  2. View your previous check status or click Capture New Check.
  3. Take a picture of both sides—make sure all the information is clear.
  4. Set the amount of your check and click Process Check.

via PayPal iPhone app now lets you add money to your account for free.

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Redesigning the Boarding Pass

An interesting discussion of why current boarding pass designs are badly designed and don’t serve their users well. With a wide variety of sketches to stimulate the eye.

It was like someone put on a blindfold, drank a fifth of whiskey, spun around 100 times, got kicked in the face by a mule (the person who designed this definitely has a mule living with them inside their house) and then just started puking numbers and letters onto the boarding pass at random (yes, I realize that a human didn’t lay this out, if a human had, judging by the train-wreck of design, they would have surely used papyrus). There was nothing given size or color importance over anything else, it was a mess.

via Redesigning the Boarding Pass – Journal – Boarding Pass / Fail.

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Cool Tools: The Best Magazine Articles Ever

This is a great collection of articles covering a wide range of topics. I’ve made my way through half of them and have not been disappointed.

The following are suggestions for the best magazine articles in English ever.  Stars denote how many times a correspondent has suggested it.

This is a work in progress. It is a on-going list of suggestions collectively made by readers of this post. At this point the list has not been vetted or selected by me. In fact, other than the original five items I suggested, all of the articles mentioned here have been recommended by someone other than me.

via Cool Tools: The Best Magazine Articles Ever.

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Plugin notes: Riffly video comments

It’s a module/plugin that integrates with an online service that will host video and audio comments. It lets you add video or audio to a comment or to a blog post – or any node. It uses a flash interface that looks for a mic or webcam attached to your computer.

But this plugin is pretty old and seems to not be updated. Might be another case of a company that could not deliver on the fremuim model. Anyone know of something similar?

WordPress plugin is here.
Drupal module is here.

Demo was here – but not working now so i removed the link:

Note there are ads on the video. Not very intrusive, though.For users who get a premium account advertising is removed (up to the limit of the chosen plan) as well as additional features.

Drupal development notes: you might need to “switch to plain text editor” when leaving multimedia comments.

Posted in Drupal, Web Design, WordPress | Leave a comment

Drupal vs. WordPress – designers take note

I hope to attend this (sarcastically named) session at the upcoming Drupal camp: WordPress is better than Drupal, developers take note. Drupal is far behind WordPress in terms of number of users and that’s a cause for concern in the Drupal community. I am straddling both the Drupal and WP communities and it has been interesting to see how the two products have matured. They are both much better than they were just a couple years ago.

WordPress is much easier to set up and use than Drupal, if your web site fits the WordPress model (which you can read about below). However, Drupal is much more flexible than WordPress, so some projects will benefit from Drupal.

As a developer, i find it helpful to be mentally flexible about the overall options for how to structure a site. But also to learn what is best about both systems and push the core developers to improve the UI.

see also: Drupal vs. WordPress | Poplar ProductivityWare

Posted in Drupal, WordPress | Leave a comment

WordPress com-vs-org

The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org can cause some confusion. Overall WordPress.org allows for complete customization of display/design/branding and also full control over  functionality.

.com has limited number of themes to start with. every theme has some customizations like header/logo and bg color. paying for css upgrade gives another layer of possible customizations.
.org allows virtually any kind of look – complete branding and customization. 1000s of themes to start or build one from scratch.

Functionality: wordpress.com

  • Basic posts, pages and categories. generally there is 1 sidebar and that’s it. So even if you find one theme with a look you like and another theme with useful sidebars that organize your featured content the way you like you can’t combine aspects of different themes.
  • .com will put ads on your pages sometimes—and you are not allowed to put your own ads. (The ads only display to logged out users who are not regular visitors—there is an upgrade to control this feature.)

Functionality: wordpress.org

  • Complex homepage options with sliders and other ways to highlight content
  • multiple sidebars for different sections of a site
  • multiple customizable menus
  • sidebar items that are only active on certain pages/categories/logged in users (Widget Logic)

Most important are plugins that add all kinds of neat features. Here’s some examples of common functions I add for my clients via free plugins:

  • flash based mp3 player and video players
  • flash and non-flash savvy image gallery tool (nextgen gallery just upgraded itself to be savvy about iPad/iPhones that don’t support flash)
  • more SEO options (search engine optimization)
  • powerful form building for contacts and other info (gravity forms)
  • google analytics (detailed stats on who visits your site and how they find out about it; integrates adwords ads.)
  • many options for twitter/facebook/flickr integration (and when the next web service comes up a plugin will appear for it too)
  • zemanta and other tools to help generate content/images
  • custom fonts via typekit or cufon
  • maintenance mode
  • quotes collection (for a page or a sidebar)
  • page navigation (for a view of posts the bottom of the page will say how many pages worth of older posts are available.)

-more control over what urls look like and other subtle things like that
-multiple users. fora big staff or for building a social network or private content.
-ability to sell ads

See also the WordPress.com explanation.

Posted in WordPress | Tagged , , | Leave a comment
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