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Twitter This, Twitter That
When the blue bird chirps, we've Tweet'd w/in the past hour.
It seems that the whole world is a-flutter, over little blue birds (which are the universal symbol for "Twitter", a increasingly popular "micro-blogging" service). Twitter is used to make 140-character comments about what you're doing. You can even embed photos, videos and links - to be rendered in-place, by browser add-on applications. Use it to keep in touch with "friends", for time-delayed "conversations", social networking, staying on top of important (and not-so important) breaking news, popular topics, wasting your employers time or digging deeper into research: trends, keywords, news and other things.
We started tweeting early this year and I finally got around to customizing a "twitter status update", which you'll find in our "Site Tools" section of our blog sidebar. It's a bit different than most Twitter status updates I've seen and here's how it works:
IF you see the blue-bird a-singing (animated musical notes), it means that we've "tweeted" within the last hour or so. Hovering over this little blue twitter bird will reveal a stylish pop-up containing our latest "tweet" (140-char story-line of "what we're doing right now"). It's a great way to see what we're up to, see how witty we can be and we think it's a nice add-on (a mini-blog, if you will).
Randsco No Longer Supports Internet Explorer Six
Last month, we made the decision to drop support for Internet Explorer version six (IE6). Visitors using this eight-year-old browser will see a pop-up information box, when they land here. The box says:
Update Your Browser
As of May 2009, we no longer support Internet Explorer 6. The reasons for this decision are many.
We strongly recommend that you upgrade your browser to a newer version. The current version is Internet Explorer 8. The upgrade is free.
Hint: For a better browser, use FireFox.
To learn about our reasoning for this move, what it means for visitors, the problems with IE6 and why FireFox beats IE hands-down ... read on.
Why We Dropped Support for IE6
IE6 is listed as #8 of The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time
Below is a short list of some of the reasons behind our decision to drop support for Internet Explorer 6:
- IE6 is old and antiquated
- IE6 is crappy compared to modern alternatives
- IE6 support costs web-developers frustration & time
- IE6 needs to go - now
IE6 Is Old
The release date for Internet Explorer Six is Aug 2001. That was before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center! IE6 is older than the iPod, the television show "24", IE5 for the Mac and the Hummer H2.
At its peak, in 2003, IE6 commanded roughly 95% of the browser market and created for Microsoft, a browser monopoly that resulted in a U.S. Justice court case against the company.
Success of IE6 is attributable to a number of factors:
- Unlike early version of Netscape & Opera, IE6 was free
- It was bundled and integrated with the most popular O/S - Windows
- It was the best browser available at the time and competitors were lacking
IE6 Is a Crappy Browser
IE6 may have been the best browser in 2001, but this is 2009 and eight years is an Eon of time, technologically speaking. Compared to modern browsers - which are many and all free - IE6 is wildly inferior. Here's a brief list of some reasons why:
- IE6 is much less secure against malware, spyware & viruses
- IE6 lacks new features like native tabbed browsing
- IE6 doesn't support transparent PNG graphic files
- IE6 doesn't support many CSS directives (e.g., :hover, :first-child & min/max-width)
- IE6 doesn't support web standards well
- IE6 work flows are slow
compared to modern browsers
Finding Directions in IE8
A good comparison of modern -vs- ancient work flows can be demonstrated by looking up directions to an address contained in an online email:
1) highlight the address in your email;
2) right-click and "copy";
3) open a new IE6 window;
4) find or type in a mapping website URL;
5) paste the address into the mapping site;
6) press [Enter] and wait for a response;
7) return to email to pick up where you left off. IE8 (modern):
1) highlight the address in your email;
2) Right-click and "Map with Live Search" As you can see, IE8 can dramatically speed up this work flow in this example, by eliminating 5 (or more) steps. Click for other new features in Internet Explorer 8
IE6 is one of The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time.
Sometimes we include a list of "additional information" links at the end of our articles. Generally, they've been styled on the fly, but we thought it was high time to spend a bit of attention on this detail. The resulting CSS-styled ordered list looks nice, includes a block hover effect, a "visited" status indicator and is XHTML/CSS valid. We thought people might like to use it on their website, so included a tutorial and ZIP file.
Adding Pizazz to an Ordered List
A lot of online articles include, at the end of the article, a list of "additional resources" - or links - for further reading and research. Several Randsco articles have such a list, but styling them is generally an afterthought, because most of the energy goes into the article itself.
Ideally, additional information links would be contained in an ordered list. It's semantically correct and allows visitors to reference a particular link by number. Unfortunately, we don't always follow our own advice and some of these links are held in simple paragraphs which may, or may not, be numbered.
Have a look at the demo page and read on to get the ZIP file, learn about the design, look at the code and see the live example.
I have John of wow-factor.com to thank for turning me on to an amazing mashup of music by an Israeli named "Kutiman". Kutiman has mixed a variety of disparate YouTube videos, creating amazing new music. Rarely does something cross my desk that astounds me. This did.
Israeli Musician "Kutiman" Mixes YouTube Videos to Make a New Vibe
Every once in a while, you run across something on the Internet that blows your socks off and redefines your very understanding of the world. So it was for me, when my Australian mate turned me onto Thru-You, an online album of recycled YouTube music.
"Wow," Scott said, replaying the music again and again, in an effort to digest and fully comprehend the creative genius at work.
"The vision, patience, technical and musical knowledge that's required [to pull together unrelated YouTube videos and mix them into a completely new sound] is just astounding," Scott claimed, upon watching (and hearing) "The Mother of All Funk Chords", which is the first of seven songs contained in this online album.
See if you agree. Watch Kutiman's YouTube mix and learn more about the controversy that it created!
For the second time in five years, my computer bit the dust. This time, however, armed with a "Ghosted" image of my operating system, it was a snap to start over with a clean install of Win XP Home Edition. Learn how Norton Ghost can allow you to laugh at viruses, corrupted system files, driver problems, malware and software conflict. Reimage your system drive in 10 minutes flat.
A new computer is a bit like the attic in a new home - shiny, clean and empty. You are happy. You begin to fill it with your belongings and life is good.
As time passes, you store more items into your now, not-as-new attic. Finding things becomes more difficult. The attic is filling up and you're running out of storage space. Bugs, water leaks, the kids and other things are randomly damaging some of the items you've stored. Tools and appliances no longer function properly when you pull them from storage and try to use them.
"It worked last time," you think, "What happened?" Frustrated, you throw the item away, go down to the store and buy a newer version, perhaps by a different manufacturer. At least this new one works.
More time goes by. You take a Saturday and instead of having fun playing with your family, or going golfing, you spend the entire day cleaning the attic and organizing it. You throw away some items, reorganize contents of boxes, re-label others and generally shuffle things about. You feel good about it, in the end, and the result is that the attic functions better.
More time trickles by and you now realize that the attic is getting cluttered again. You think, "Didn't I give up a weekend to organize it, not so long ago?" Discouraged, you devote another weekend. Soon, "organizing the attic" becomes a regular, unwanted and unrewarding chore.
"Couldn't I just throw this out?" you ask yourself, looking at some loose parts to the dim light. "Better not, they might be an important part of a favorite game, useful tool or something. I might need it later."
Bugs, dust, mildew and chaos creep into your, now old, attic. You pull out your hair. The attic isn't even much good for storage anymore. It's messy, you can't find stuff and you can barely walk around. Most of what you pull out, no longer functions properly. Aaargh!
You realize you need to start over and you fantasize about a new, clean storage space. "Wouldn't a clean, new attic, filled with things like my (now old, moth-eaten) vinyl record collection, be great? (Since it's your fantasy, the record albums aren't old any more, they're in the same condition they were when you first stored them).
This scenario may be a fantasy for your attic, but it can be reality for your - similarly afflicted - computer.
Unlike your attic, you can start over with your computer's operating system. Just like it was 'brand new'. Remember? Bug-free, clean and functioning? Better still, you can also have spanking new copies of the programs you use, the settings you've tweaked, your bookmarked favorites, special fonts, treasured pictures, important documents and other precious data.
Best of all ... you don't have to spend days laboring to reinstall Windows (and the billion updates that came after). Nor do you have to reinstall every program, re-tweak the settings (if you can even remember where they are), or installing hardware and their pesky drivers. In less than an half an hour, in most cases, you can 'start over' with a 'brand new' computer!
Sound too good to be true? I'm here to say it's possible. All you have to do is purchase and use a disk imaging back-up program by Symantec called "Norton Ghost".