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.
Conceptual sight into our future with amazing gadgets, social technology and augmented reality. This graduation project is cool short movie illustrating how our future might be and unfortunately most likely will be as technology continues to invade our lives.
Remember Quake - a highly dynamic first person shooter for PC? Warsow is a similar type of game with great fast-paced and balanced gameplay. The game is completely free and runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.
Its like a really-nice version of Hotmail with Skype video calling built in, all in a clean Metro style interface. Seriously, it looks sharp! You can register now for an @outlook.com email address, if so inclined.
If, like us, you have recently updated to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, you may have noticed that your Coda application is no longer updating or accessing your SVN repositories. It seems Mountain Lion does not come with SVN, regardless if you've done a clean install or upgraded from a previous version of OS X.
You can test this by opening a new Terminal window and typing...
...in the command line. If you get a "command not found" response, then this is your problem. :/
Another horrible font choice out of the gate from Apple. Granted we have to remember who they are targeting and designers are no longer their market, but jeez, how about a little legibility? What a mess of a font.
"Yes,' said Frodo. 'I shall keep the Ring from the foolish parasities who wish to destroy it. For shockingly, many wish to destroy the Ring! They wish to keep the Ring from the rightful ownership of the rugged individualist who made it as his own.'"
If you haven't heard, OS X Mountain Lion is out. I'm currently emailing in this link to the blog from the new Mail.app. Go over to Ars and read up on John Siracusa's amazingly detailed review of the new OS X.
The WHATWG would now focus on an evolving, "living standard," while the W3C would stick to producing static "snapshots" using its traditional numbered versioning system. While some are worried that this is going to lead to HTML forking, Ian Hickson says the fears are largely unfounded.
Agreed with him on every point. US gun control laws are pretty much non-existant. Their laws threaten our safety as legally store bough guns are being brought into Canada and sold illegally to people who plan to use them, for not so legal purposes. Not to mention how the US can stomach senseless tragedy after tragedy and not get angry enough to want these laws abolished.
2 degrees Celsius. 565 Gigatons. 2,795 Gigatons.
Read it and weep. Literally. For the world stands on in-action and soon it will burn and there will be nothing we can do to stop it. What happens then? My daughters are 8 and 6 and this will all take place within their lifetimes. While my generation is not without guilt, our parents generation sold us all out years ago. So we need to fix it. Turn off your AC when you don't need it. Install anything that helps you save. Petition, write, lobby government to make laws that force businesses to change. We lack time. We need to think differently about changing climate change ... and soon.
If some of your fancy transformations stopped working after updating to Firefox 14 do not panic, this is not a bug. Firefox 14 drops support for CSS3 transform skew() property in favor of skewX() and skewY(). MDN is stating that skew() is non-standard and you won't find it on W3C either. Unfortunately this also breaks the shorthand properties like -moz-transform: skew(10deg) rotate(6deg); including rotate().
This is the price we pay for using latest and non-finalized features, but this is the only way to test and bring those features to the masses. So go ahead and update your styles! You can also follow discussion on Reddit.
Vyclone is a new, cool and free way to shoot video of events on iPhone with your friends. The app uploads all the videos, automatically syncs them together and even makes the "magic" cuts for you. But you have all the control of the RAW file and can make your own edits. Then share final product with others.
Video editing always scared me, but it looks that this new service will cure my fears!
As impressive as Nolan's "Batman Begins" was in 2005, no one was prepared for how amazing "The Dark Knight" was when it hit theatres in 2008. As such, many fans have high expectations of the third film, myself included!
The new feature, rolling out to merchants who have claimed venues on the social service, allows them to post text messages, special promotions, and photos to the Foursquare activity feeds of loyal patrons who are in the vicinity.
"Grum's takedown resulted from the efforts of many individuals," wrote Atif Mushtaq, senior staff scientist at security firm FireEye. "This collaboration is sending a strong message to all the spammers: 'Stop sending us spam. We don't need your cheap Viagra or fake Rolex. Do something else, work in a Subway or McDonalds, or sell hotdogs, but don't send us spam.'"
The thought on rising sea levels is that melting glaciers are adding water to the oceans, but that is only part of the story. This explanation is simple enough for even young children to understand... let's hope those folks who are in charge of policy can learn from some elementary school science.
Want to see something that will make you feel tiny? How about a web page that gives you the size of our planetary system to scale? Just think, that is one star with 8 planets among a single galaxy with approximately 400 billion stars in a sea of billions of galaxies... and you're a part of that.
As heavy internet users ourselves, we encounter forms all over the place. Registration forms, contact forms, payment forms, etc. Usually, getting to the form is a quick trip, a short easy-to-find link that appeals to our impulses. But as most web traffic analysis will show, only a fraction of the people who visit a form actually fill it out. What's happening?
Recently, Luke Wroblewski did a presentation at An Event Apart Austin. Though it focused on the growth of mobile applications, he covered a lot of good points on web forms and usability. His thoughts on the current troubles and recommended practices mirror the advice we regularly give to our clients...
The key is to reduce effort.
Studies have shown that smaller, simpler forms have resulted in an increase in submissions by site visitors. The shorter the form, the easier a form is to fill out, the more likely a visitor is to submit it. The more people fill out and submit forms, the better your form is at doing its job.
When constructing forms, we try to reduce them to their bare essentials. We take a look at the form and take out anything that doesn't have to be there.
One good indicator is multiple fields marked as "optional". What these labels are saying is that this form is asking for more information than is actually required for submission. So if those fields do not need to be filled in what are they doing there?
Also, some information collected is broken up into multiple fields, such as names (commonly separated into first and last) and phone numbers (separated into area code, extension, etc). This is less convenient for a visitor, so why are they set up that way?
Sometimes it is done for validation in order to ensure good data is being collected. Sometimes it is done so the collected data can be easily filtered and sorted and listed in different ways. Sometimes it is to support some other system or process, either computerized or otherwise, that wants the collected data in a specific way. Sometimes it is to collect as much data as they can up front, because there is little guarantee it will be collected later on down the line. And sometimes, it is just to make the form look "right" or "standardized".
The trouble with all the above reasons is that they prioritize the needs of the owners and operators of the site over any benefits to the visitors actually filling in the form. We want to reverse this thinking. Prioritize for the visitors.
A person browsing to your site and filling out your contact form will not be interested if whether or not you can export all the form submissions as an excel file and sort them by last name alphabetically. Their priorities are not your priorities. They care that the contact form is asking for their first, middle, and last names as three separate fields, and that the contact form complains if any of those three fields are left blank. Do not make this an issue that prevents someone from contacting you. Prioritize for the visitors.
An eye-tracking study on four familiar, existing registration forms found that most visitors were "blind" to almost all "required" or "optional" indicators. People went into a form expecting to fill in everything. Oddly enough, some developers try to alleviate this issue by adding more text and more instructions and more design. They end up solving the wrong problem.
An example of this came to light in 2010, on one of Expedia's "buy now" forms. It seemed the optional "company" field was not only unnecessary, but was actually confusing their customers. The solution wasn't to make its purpose more obvious, but to recognize that it could be removed entirely. This minor change lead to more successful form submissions and a $12 million increase in annual profit.
When building web forms, we need to strike a balance between client requirements and general usability. We try to skew it towards the visitors needs since they are the target audience. The easier it is for them to fill out forms, the more likely they will fill out forms. Remeber this and your site will generate more submissions.
We saw Brave last week and this is the next movie I will be taking the kids too. I was trying to count all the past video game characters and, well, basically this game features all of my memories and a neat story. Looking forward to it.
At an event in San Francisco, Microsoft unveiled Office 2013. Ars Technica spent the last week with an advance preview of this version, giving us a look at the individual apps and the suite as a whole.
I've observed this in my own life and it sucks. Interesting people are harder and harder to find as work (all consuming) and family take you to places you have to go versus places you might rather go. If I ever get divorced, my social circle will consist of animals only right now. I need to fix this.
Posting this here because I live in a house with 3 women. You have no idea how many rolls of toilet paper we consume and I'm an over orientation guy, while2 of the 3 are under with 1 indifferent (she is 6 and has an opinion about everything else but not this). This is marked for reference.
In the wake of Apple pulling out of the EPEAT standards (which Apple claims are now hindering their ability to innovate on the thinness and weight of their products) we just wanted to remind you that you can recycle all your old gear directly with Apple.
Yup. We love tea here at Visual Lizard and we indeed drink it on a hot day to, well, have something to drink! Turns out it helps to cool you down. I think Cliff Clavin had this very quote a few decades ago on Cheers. Memories!
Sorry for the Washington Post link, but the article if worth the read, especially if you have grandparents/parents in or headed into assisted living. I, for one, never want to head into assisted living and hope that I get the same end my grandfather got, at home, in his bed, at 92 with his family around him.
When we originally added the "Who We Are" tab to our Facebook page, we pulled over the content from our site's About page. By laying it out with a slightly different stylesheet, we could update both our website and our Facebook page from the same admin editors.
For a couple weeks, we were lucky enough to have Meaghan Gorchynski in the office for a work placement. We presented her with a challenge: update the "Who We Are" tab, keeping the same basic information, but giving it a fun make-over. Something that reflected our pop-culture roots and something that encouraged a bit more exploration.
Inspired by old-school video games and the Eightbit.Me avatar creator, our new "Who We Are" page has both purpose and personality. The "flip-card" portraits on our site have been replaced with a Nintendo-esque environment with our digital characters standing at our actual desk locations; if you come visit us in the Exchange, you'll recognize us immediately! Also, hovering over any of our characters will pop up our smiling faces, job titles, and links to the social media we participate in.
We're super-happy with how this turned out… and we have one or two other small designs by Meaghan that we're bolting together. If you enjoy our "Who We Are" page, be sure to let her know :)
In May 2012, WebAIM conducted a survey of preferences of screen reader users. They received 1782 valid responses to this survey. We recommend reading it but if you are lazy or do not have time here are the conclusions from the survey:
The conclusion identified in the previous screen reader user surveys remains - there is no typical screen reader user. These results highlight significant changes and trends over a span nearly 3.5 years, results that we hope will drive informed web accessibility practices.
A few items of note:
JAWS is still the primary screen reader, but usage continues to decrease as usage of NVDA and VoiceOver increases.
The perception of free or low-cost screen readers is improving.
The perception of accessibility of web content is decreasing.
72% of the respondents use a screen reader on a mobile device, up from only 12% three years ago.
iOS device usage is significantly increasing and well above that of the standard population. Screen reader users represent a notable portion of the iOS device user market. Usage of Android devices is well below that of non-disabled users.
The use of properly structured headings remains of great importance.
The items that cause the most difficulty on the web remain largely unchanged over the last 2.5 years, with inaccessible Flash content and CAPTCHA being the most problematic.
There's usually no need to include the same content in multiple places on your website. After all, the whole point of HTML is to link from one place to another so it's always possible to have only one instance of the content in question. The only times when it's necessary to have two distinct URLs for the same content is when the surrounding navigation, headers, etc. need to change depending on the path the user took to get to it.
For example, when users are browsing through an online store by category it's a better experience when links to the category they were just browsing appear on the page showing information for a product. That allows them to quickly get back to look at other products. In cases like this, having only one URL for the product and keeping track of what the user was viewing in their session quickly gets out of hand. The user can, and often will, have more than one tab open viewing the same site and tracking which links were clicked from where can be complicated. From a programming perspective, it's far easier to have multiple URLs that show the same product, with the different URLs triggering the different navigation display.
But what effect will taking the easy route have on SEO? In the past, not much. For Google, however, this has changed somewhat since the Panda update in February of 2011. That update targeted "low quality" sites, specifically content farms that often have copy-pasted content matching a wide variety of search results and link farms set up to boost another site's SEO by linking back to it with specific keywords. Both of these types of farm site would frequently have largely identical content available at multiple URLs and multiple domains.
Prior to the Panda update, the main "negative" effect of having more than one URL for a given piece of content was that Google would list only one of them in their search results. After Panda, duplicate content pages lost a small amount of Page Rank. Google hasn't specified specifically how much or from what areas, but from what I've read the effect is largest when the duplicate content occurs across domains. It's also likely that keywords in the alternate URLs will not be used for ranking. The actual effect on non-malicious duplicate content, however, should be small. Sites with multiple domains should be redirecting the aliases to their main domain. They should also be using basically the same keywords in all of the URLs that reach a specific page.
However, if your site will have a significant amount of content that can be accessed from more than one URL, consider using rel=canonical. This is a method of indicating which URL you want search engines to use for the duplicated content. The main requirement is that one of the alternative URLs needs to be selected as the canonical one. All of the other URLs will then include a link tag in the page head pointing to the canonical url.