Collecting the Internet So You Don't Have To

We work on the Internet. As such, we are constantly consuming information. Believe me, there is a lot of it out there. Sometimes we even forget things unless we write them down. Our blog covers everything from web standards to the muppets, php to comic books, music and everything else that we find interesting. Leave us a note when you drop by.

EO Winnipeg Launch

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Ross McDowall
Ross McDowall Senior Web Developer
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Ross McDowall Fearless Dwarven Warrior


The Entrepreneurs Organization Winnipeg is a chapter of EO Worldwide. This site was an opportunity for us to flex our programming muscles by applying flash video using a content managed system making the flash videos a dynamic part of the content. The client required the ability to add short promotional videos associated to upcoming events. Rather than describing the events through copy, they decided to use edited video promotion. We therefore had to provide them with specific functionality to upload images, flash video files, and specific flash players for each video.

The second part to this site was to provide a members only section with videos targeted specifically to members of the organization. This required a site login which would allow access to this section. The client also wanted to provide the viewer with a video about us section. This allows them to add and update video messages providing the viewer with an explanation of what the organization is all about.

The third part of the site was to allow members to register for the listed upcoming events. By providing this functionality we are able to supply the event organizers with a logistics tool indicating how many people will be attending a specified event. Some additional functionality allowing non-members to purchase event tickets online will be added at a later date.

Halloween

Event
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Halloween 2006!!

Having a kid brings this event back to life. I really can t wait!

Patriots vs Vikings

Event
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

While I m not a big fan of either the Patriots or the Vikings, it is MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL!

ps. I ll be away from the office Friday through to Wednesday, Nov 1.

A Realignment In Progress

General
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
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http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

We are currently undergoing a bit of a realignment, please pardon the interruption.

Over the next week or so we are going to be implementing the following:

  • new blog system
  • re-aligned site
  • fresh coat of paint .. er pixels

Stay tuned loyal visitor. We appreciate you coming by and hopefully you like the new visuallizard.com as much as the old one.

WAMP5

Technology
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

In the past two years, I’ve had to learn how to install Apache, PHP, and MySQL on a Windows machine, a process I was able to leave to another department in the past. I had to learn how to deal with my.ini files, php.ini files, httpd.conf files, moving the htdocs folders, move MySQL’s data folder, etc. And every time, every time I thought I had the process down, the next time I touched a box, guaranteed I ran into a problem that had me fiddling with settings for over an hour or two.

Maybe it was just me. :) Needless to say, I was sick and tired of wrestling with it. When a new project came up that required I relearn the whole installation over to accommodate PHP5 and MySQL5, it nearly broke me... but luckily WAMP5 was there to save me!

2 For The Road - According to Apple

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Well, Apple has finally added the Core Duo 2 processors to their Macbook Pro line. Santa .... are you listening?

Great Resource for Web Designers

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

After 10 years of building web sites, I found many of these links to be pretty good resources and reminders. This page is the kind of resource I would have paid money for when I started out. For all you up and comers, bookmark this one and refer to it often. A List Aparts Resources for Beginners - Part 1 and Part 2.

Enjoy.

Maple Grove Dog Park

General
Doug Ross
Doug Ross CFO / Partner
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Doug Ross Master of Space and Time

I have a beautiful husky that I love taking to one of the few off leash parks in the city. There is currently construction going on at the park and most of the dog owners that I have talked to don't really know what is going on in regards to this issue.

I have contacted the City Councilor for the area Gord Steves with regards to this matter and he has sent me the plans for the park which doesn't look as bad as I first thought..

Click this link to open a PDF of the plans so you can see the proposed development.

Hopefully this construction phase will lead to a better facility for all and that we can all co-exist together.

Engage the Cloaking Device...

General
Ross McDowall
Ross McDowall Senior Web Developer
Visual Lizard
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1 (204) 957-5520 ext:151
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http://www.visuallizard.com
Ross McDowall Fearless Dwarven Warrior

US and UK scientists using a "metamaterial" made of fibreglass and copper successfully cloaked a copper cylinder rendering it invisible to the microwave detectors they were using. While the object was still optically visible, their microwave measuring instruments indicated that the copper cylinder was not there. According to these scientists, microwaves behave in a similar fashion to radar waves. Essentially what is being said here is that will eventually be possible to render an object invisible to radar. The military applications are of course stupendous.

From the standpoint of a lay person, we have been informed of stealth technology which renders some high-tech bombers almost invisible to radar making them very effective military weapons. This new discovery could make current stealth technology seem like a medieval weapon in modern warfare. The application of this technology, once perfected, could render a fighter jet or bomber completely invisible to radar.

It is probably very fortunate that this technology was not found during the Cold War. Imagine the weapons proliferation that would have taken place if it was available. First Strike capability was the real worry in those days, and this technology would allow that capability. Let’s hope that this discovery will not lead down that road.

Reviewing Firefox 2.0 RC3

Technology
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Firefox2 RC3
 

Microsoft offically released the latest version of Internet Explorer 7, and we immediately downloaded and installed it on one of the test boxes here at Visual Lizard. Julian has posted his first impressions on the new browser, focusing on how websites render in the new browser. I’ll probably spend some more time with it next week, but I warn you now... it’s looking like I will not be a fan of it. Also, it seems IE7 still completely buggers up FTP through Windows Explorer (though, we had IE7 Beta3 running on the same machine and it might be that version’s fault.

So, in the spirit of things, I downloaded and tried out Firefox 2.0 RC3, the pre-release candidate of Mozilla’s excellent browser. It isn’t a major rejiggering, as in IE7, but rather a realigning of existing elements and addition of popular features. Here are a couple quick impressions:

  • Unlike previous versions, the tab bar is on by default; the option to have the bar disappear when only one tab was open has been completely removed. With IE7 supporting tabs, it looks like single window browsers are officially on the way out.
  • Speaking of which, each tab now has it’s own close button. Also, where the close button used to be in previous version, there’s a pulldown list of all open tabs... I guess for those power users that have a bazillion tabs open *shrug* :)
  • The search field comes with great defaults, with a "Manage Search Engines" option that makes it a breeze to add more. Also, if using Google or Yahoo, the search bar provides keyword suggestions while you type. Handy.
  • Also under "Options", extensions and themes have been grouped together under "Add-ons".
  • In the "Options", you can set Google Reader (my personal favourite reader) to handle RSS feeds.
  • Built in spell check for all input and textarea form fields. As anyone knows, my spelling is criminal... so thank god! :)
  • Unfortunately, the browser’s not 100% stable yet. Our Catalyst CMS system uses the excellent javascript FCKEditor, and Firefox 2.0 RC3 crashes almost religiously when it encounters it. I failed to get this post up three times before switching over to IE6 :/

Overall, I’m liking the latest version of Firefox. Familiar enough that you’re immediately comfortable with it, but sprinkled with many new "hey, that’s neat" moments. Unfortunately, the FCKEditor crash issue makes it near unuseable as my regular browser, but I’ll cross my fingers for a fix and be looking forward to the final release. :)

Internet Explorer 7

General
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Internet Explorer 7 has officially been released. It is live and you can download it from Microsoft.com/ie/. If you have been building web sites for any number of years, you are familiar with the dread that is IE 6 when it comes to CSS and how it interprets the specifications [1] [2.1] [3]. Well, IE 7, out of the box, does certainly do a better job than IE 6.

Today’s post is a really quick review of the IE 7 browser. Here are a few things, in no particular order, that we have noticed so far:


  • Fly out menus are breaking. If your site uses semantic markup on unordered lists and reveals those lists based on visitor movement, you are likely going to be frustrated when you visit in IE 7. We are looking under the hood as you read this to try and determine a solution and will post it once we have solved the issue.
  • Handling of SSL certificates is scary. If you visit a site with an expired SSL certificate, you are not given a popup warning, but a FULL screen warning. On top of that, you are shown a Green shield with a check box. When you click it, it closes the browser. You have to click the Red shield with the X on it actually advance to the site in question. Very backwards at first glance.
  • FTP is still broken and unuseable. See Wil’s IE 7 Beta 3 FTP post for more details.
  • Tabbed browsing is now part of IE. Unlike Firefox, IE does it right away without having to enable tabbed-browsing. So full marks to IE for this.
  • Floated LIs are getting blown up to the width of the containing element. This is likely a flaw in our CSS. We will post the cause and fix when we sort it out.
  • Centering of all text. This is again likely a flaw in our CSS. We will post a cause and fix when we sort it out.

As for when the general public will be getting IE 7 pushed to them, that happens on November 1st. For all our developer friends, prepare your fingers, there are many hours of upgrading CSS coming before Christmas.

Ya know what grinds my gears?!?

General
Doug Ross
Doug Ross CFO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:112
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Doug Ross Master of Space and Time

I use Google all the time for searches. That is no surprise since 60% of Internet users go there for searches. My problem is that when I search for something, say for barbecues, instead of getting results for sites that might actually use I tend to get sites that are just referral pages for sponsored links.

It seems that people just make pages that have sponsored links on them to take me to pages with other peoples sponsored links. So I get no information about Barbecues, but I can sure link to a lot of them.

Now I understand that this is how some people think they will get rich. Russ Whitney(idiot) is one of those "get rich in real estate" snake oil salesman. He focuses on real estate but I remember him passing though town in the past saying you could get rich placing small "ads" on the Internet. If he is responsible for these annoying link sites I will be paying him a visit in the near future with a feather pillow and bucket of tar.

Now as a disclaimer I haven't attended any of his seminars and never met him so maybe I can't call him an idiot. However, con-men have been around since the dawn of time and here are some examples of feedback from his seminars.

Google ...feel free to stop these sites from appearing in my search results...whats that?...you make money on these sponsored Google links....my mistake! Continue clogging the Internet ( it's a series of Tubes Ya know! )

Sony Bravia Ad

General
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Sony has launched a new TV called the Bravia. Their TV ad for it is absolutely stunning. I've watched 7 times already. Link tip from Coudal.

The Tragically Hip - World Container

Event
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Man Of The Year

Event
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Robin Williams plays a Jon Stewart like comedian with his own fake news parody program that, on a lark, joins the presidential race. Things really get interesting when he wins! Oops!

Man Of The Year is directed and written by Barry Levinson. Co-stars Christopher Walken and Lewis Black. Sweet.

Google Docs Launches

General
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Google, yeah those guys, have launched their online word processing and spreadsheet application, called, guess ... Google Docs (eesh...anyhow). These are in direct competition to MS Office’s Word and Excel

There are 2 signficant advantages to the google applications:

  • the first is that they are online. This allows you access to your documents from any computer, not just the one you used to write it. It also moves writing collaboration to a new, online realm that prior to this launch, consited of edits in Word and emails back and forth containing the changes. Very cool.
  • FREE. ’nuf said.

Obviously there are some drawbacks as well, like less features (this could easily have gone in the plus list as well), lack of data files on your hard drive (again, this could have gone in the plus list), online connection is a requirement, gmail account is also a requirement (email me if you need one) and interface issues. However, given that this is v1 of the applications, look for all of the above to improve.

Get used to it folks, it will be an online world before long and your computer will just be the dumb terminal for accessing your data. Again, you can argue that this is a good thing. :)

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER VOL. 2

Event
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja
COVER BY: STEVE EPTING
WRITER: ED BRUBAKER
PENCILS: STEVE EPTING, MIKE PERKINS, MICHAEL LARK

THE STORY:
The questions plaguing Captain America’s dreams and memories have been answered in the most brutal way possible. And in the wake of this brutality, General Lukin makes his first all-out assault – tearing open old wounds and threatening to make new scars that will never heal! Collects CAPTAIN AMERICA #8-9 and #11-14.

Interesting Earth Sites

General
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

http://www.breathingearth.net/ gives you a window onto the world that shows births, deaths and consumption per country, in real time. Flash player needed.

http://www.ecofoot.org/ offers you a little quiz to see how much of an eco-footprint you are leaving behind. Prepare to feel guilty.

Jon Stewart on North Korea

General
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

If you haven't heard, North Korea detonated a nuclear test over the weekend. Jon Stewart sums it all up as only he can. Watch it over at Youtube.com.

The Killers - Sam\'s Town

Event
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

The Killers, who sound British when they sing, but are actually from Vegas, have their sophomore album coming out. Interested to say the least.

Oops... double event... I just noticed Wil posted it too. Maybe I ll let him buy this one! ;)

Jet - Shine On

Event
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
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1 (888) 237-9559
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Jet, the Australian group that sold a million iPods with one of their songs (it could be argued that the iPod commercial sold more Jet albums) have a new disc coming tomorrow.

Beck - The Information

Event
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Beck has a new album coming. Love Beck.

The Killers - Sam\'s Town

Event
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

The Killers second album, Sam s Town, gets released on October 3rd. Let s see if it can live up to the hype of their first album, Hot Fuss. Already, I m so-so-ish on the latest single :)

X-Men: The Last Stand DVD

Event
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Well, it s official: Brett Ratner is no Bryan Singer :) I liked the first two movies much more. This sequel came off as too... packed. Too many mutants, to much going on, too much use of the powers, etc. Like someone finally got off the leash and said "now I m going to jam in everything I wanted to see in the first two!"

Ironically, these elements are also it s strengths. Look at everything! The dangeroom! Beast! Juggernaut! Dark Phoenis! So much geekness! Besides, it s not like I m not going to buy the DVD... :)

Evanescence - The Open Door

Event
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Amy Lee and Evanescence come back with their third album, The Open Door. The pre-order for the album, along with the first single Call Me When You re Sober, is now available on iTunes Music Store.

Aaaagh! Use a freakin\' Dictionary!

General
Ross McDowall
Ross McDowall Senior Web Developer
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:151
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Ross McDowall Fearless Dwarven Warrior

Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas has just put out a solo album called "The Dutchess" (sic). Somebody please tell me that this title is a joke or a play on words or something. If it isn’t a joke, somebody please tell me why a copy editor did not even look at the title of this album. Tell me why somebody didn’t bother to look up Duchess in a dictionary. It would only have taken a second as there are many dictionaries online which could have been checked. It is no wonder the English language and the Education system is going to hell in a hand-cart if we are not teaching our kids the proper spelling of simple words. To help you all out, the following is the definition of Duchess according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary Online.

Duchess
Main Entry: duch·ess
Pronunciation: ’duh-chess
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English duchesse, from Anglo-French, from duc duke
1 : the wife or widow of a duke
2 : a woman who holds the rank of duke in her own right

We Love Apple, but ...

General
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Apple, the darlings of the computer world, with their industrial design, user-friendly products and "cool" cache are our favorites. We love our iPods. We are waiting for the Core Duo 2 chips to hit the MACBook Pro line and then we are getting 4 new machines.

However, we also love the environment. Recently Greenpeace has called Apple to task in regards to their products, toxins and waste. We would love to see Apple clean up. Sign up. Act.