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Photo-Caption Zoom v3

April 10th, 2006  · stk

Introducing Photo-caption Zoom (version 3)! If you liked earlier versions, you'll love PZ3. The IE z-index bug is squashed, no more image resizing, choose thumb sizes 'on-the-fly' & do it with 70% less code. The easiest PZ ever. This version does more, with much less.

EZ PZ3 - Better, easier, lighter.

Latest Version: v080630 Changes: see red text w/yellow background, where applicable.

Images in this article utilize the newest, third version of a pure-CSS image zooming technique I've named "Photo-caption Zoom" ( or PZ3 ). When you move your mouse over an image, it will 'zoom' to reveal a larger image with a caption. There are a variety of pure-CSS image zooming methods, but this was the first to combine an image with a caption. It saves page real estate, it looks nice and this third version is more robust and easier to use than ever.

Although the end results of PZ3 appear identical to the last version (PZ2), the underlying CSS methodology is completely different! PZ3 offers significant improvements over PZ2 and does it with nearly 70% less code. It does more, with a lot less!

PZ3 satisfies most everything on my original wish list for a photo-caption solution. This version is the culmination of over a year's-worth of trial & error, of CSS/XHTML learning & experimentation and of countless hours searching the Internet for existing solutions. The results of PZ3 speak for themselves.

- PZ HZtory -
Photo-caption Zoom is a pure-CSS, xhtml-valid technique that I developed over a year ago. It zooms a thumbnail image on mouseover, showing a larger picture with a caption. It uses a single, simple image for both the thumbnail and zoom. It's designed to be easily deployed.

  • PZ1 - Jan 31, 2005: The original. It rearranges page flow, making room for the zoomed image and its caption. (i.e., one can still read the document when the image is zoomed).
  • PZ2 - Jun 15, 2005: Version 2. The zoomed image overlays the document, which means that page elements no longer shift or migrate. (A IE z-index bug is documented and a work-a-round is achieved, which limits usage).
  • PZ3 - Apr 11, 2006: This third version supercedes its predecessor - PZ2. The IE z-index bug that limits PZ2 has been fixed, it's 70% lighter (less code), and pixel-perfect thumb/zoom sizes are defined in the HTML. Basically, it rocks! It's so easy, I'm calling it EZ-PZ.
  • PZ3 - 30-Jun-2008: Version numbers added (dated version numbers, starting with "v080630", have been added to the CSS file, so users can tell at a glance if they have the latest CSS/XHTML code)

    CSS corrected to allow correct toggling of the caption (Cap|noCap option)

If you're new to the Photo-caption Zoom technique, I recommend you begin here, which has links to all the Photo-caption Zoom pages on this website and covers 9 different methods, in detail. (Even those that I investigated early on). Each has cut'n-paste CSS/XHTML code you can use on your own pages.

Collaborating to develop PZ3 proves that two heads are better than one. This code resulted from batting it back and forth, across the Atlantic Ocean, to my U.K. business partner and mate, ¥åßßå. I owe him a deep debt of gratitude for his efforts and the time he spent helping me. Thanks ¥åßßå!

Feature List
(Items in RED are enhancements over PZ2)

•  Valid XHTML code
•  Pure-CSS (no javascript)
•  Cross-browser/Cross-platform compliant
•  Single image for both thumb/zoom
•  Nice-looking (customizable) caption
•  Overlays document (no layout shifting)
•  IE z-index bug: SQUASHED!
•  No image resizing necessary!
•  Thumb sizes defined on the fly!
•  Toggle borders on|off
•  Toggle link cursor on|off
•  Toggle caption on|off
•  Code reduced by nearly 70%
•  Quirks-mode support
•  30-Jun-2008 - Version numbers added
•  Easiest PZ ever - EZ-PZ!

The code is cross-browser/platform compatible: PC Browsers tested - MSIE (IE6, IE7 & IE8), Firefox (v1.5, v2.0 & v3.x), Netscape (v8 & v9), & Opera (v8.x, v9.02§, v9.x); winSafari; Google Chrome (v1 & v2); Flock (v1 & v2); Mac Browsers tested - Firefox, Opera and Safari (v2.x & v3.x).

To date, there have been no reported browser problems. Please comment on viewbility if you're using a different [O/S|browser] combination.

To get the code and learn more about PZ3, please continue ...


§ Problems with Opera v9.02?

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Updated: 6-Sep-2011
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Highlighted Search Terms

January 25th, 2006  · stk
If you have a b2evolution blog, you'll be interested in this plugin by Astonish Me!. It highlights multiple search terms and actually improves the relevant search returns. See it demonstrated and get your hands on a copy.

03-Feb-2007 - New Version!

Search term highlighting has been absent from this blog for several months (ever since upgrading from v1.6 "alpha" to v1.8.2 "Summer Beta" in July). The good news is that search term highlighting has RETURNED for v1.9.2 "Kyoto". It skipped the v1.8 series (might be gotten to work with it, however ... anyone want to try?).

It's different from the original a tad.

  1. One-click install - (no skin hacking)! :D
  2. Doesn't necessarily improve search results.**

**(It's 'brand new' and we're still testing it).

If you want to give it a try ... head here.

Finally, a Search That Works

I'm happy to announce that Astonish Me has come up with a plug-in that actually improves search results, in addition to highlighting multiple search terms.

First, this is "bleeding edge" stuff. It is really targeted for b2evolution versions 1.7 CVS and higher. It's loaded here, in a v1.6 "Alpha" release, but because v1.6 lacks certain SESSIONS PHP functions, it doesn't work perfectly. (Still, it's superior to what's available 'out of the box', and because of that, I'm using it and it's available for you to preview).

Check it out. Type a search term like "Alex" into the search box on the sidebar and hit "Go". See how the term is highlighted? Sweet. :)

Try more than one term ... such as "alex rachel" ... see how each term is colored differently?

If you're interested in finding out why it beats the standard search and to find out more about how you can get your hands on the plugin for your blog ... read on ...

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Updated: 18-Feb-2007
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Web Dev·b2evo

Automated SPAM - Meet thy Enemy

December 17th, 2005  · stk

Your blog is your blog and you want people to comment on your posts, because you want to know what people think of your thoughts, meet new people, see familiar names and have guests add value.

Then along comes some schmuck who leaves a trackback or comment SPAM full of meaningless gobbleygook and you feel violated. What's worse ... it just keeps coming and coming.

Yes, there are methods to deter automated trackback SPAM and comment SPAM and I've even outlined some easy and effective methods on this blog. I've been fortunate, as we've never been hit with automated SPAM - knock on wood.

However, I set up a default b2evo site (Amsterdam version) in June, then went on vacation and didn't open it again for 2 months. By the time I did, it had over 10,000 referral SPAM records and nearly 5,000 automated comments/trackbacks. 88|

Who uses automated SPAMming programs ... and Why?

Sometimes it's good to know the enemy ... so I went on a little google foray today. First ... keywords to find such folks seem to be revolved around "ranking" and "marketing" ... and searches led me to a few interesting sites (I masked the URL's to prevent giving them more of what they want - ranking and marketing).

If you're interested in scratching the ugly underbelly of internet marketing ... read on (it's a short story ;) ) ...

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Updated: 17-Dec-2005
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Astonish Me

December 11th, 2005  · stk
b2evo

After a year working with b2evolution, I've decided to join forces with a British programmer, combining our efforts and creating a value-added website presence at a soon-to-be-announced web location. Initially, our goal will be to provide b2evo-specific add-on features, tutorials and plug-ins. Many of these features will be free, in the spirit of Open Source software, but because we both hope to continue full-time development, we'll be accepting donations, offering site subscriptions, and taking on website consulting work. And we're planning on extending support, articles and features beyond b2evolution, covering such diverse topics as CSS, XHTML, site maintenance, design and a number of other open source applications.

Pooling our efforts should result in more popular and well-documented plug-ins and features for the b2evolution blogging community at large. We want to promote a savvy, active and strong b2evo community, raising the bar, across the board. Both as a tribute and acknowledgement, we'll be donating 10% of our gross to b2evolution.net (or to whichever open source application we've earned money from).

To start, it will be the two of us, but we're interested in adding to the team and we're looking for dynamic, prolific, well-organized, enthusiastic contributors that can add value to our services. If you're interested, please drop us a line.

We're excited by our joint venture and hope that you will be too. By combining talents, one with 20+ years in programming and developemnt and the other with a similar experience in user support and technical computing, we hope to offer superior enhancements which are easily deployed and well documented.

With a major version release on the horizon (i.e., "Phoenix"), our efforts are timely. We can increase the adoption rate, provide sought-after features and in the process, strenghten the b2evo blogging community. We're both active on the b2evo forums and will remain so. Our individual blogs will continue to be a source of information, but will likely direct you to the new website for detail and downloads. Our goal isn't to make a financial "killing", but we do hope that there's enough monetary support to justify a full-time effort.

Make a list of your desired enhancement requests and features, because we'll be looking to you to help set our direction. What would YOU like to do with b2evolution that you can't do now?

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Updated: 6-Feb-2006
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Filed in:b2evo

Comment & Trackback anti-SPAM Script

November 18th, 2005  · stk

Here is an anti-SPAM Perl script that provides an excellent defense against comment and trackback SPAM. It automatically renames the htsrv directory, using a random, 6-character/number sequence. It turns the "htsrv" directory - necessary for trackbacks and comments - into a moving target, making it difficult to SPAM. Hurrah!

3-Jun-2006: NOTE: The three techniques outlined in this article once worked as a defense against blog comment/trackback SPAM. They have all been defeated by spammers and are no longer effective.. :(

It's recommended that you look here for a table of SPAM-fighting options.

11-Dec-2005: Added - Support for both pre/post Phoenix b2evolution releases. Setting a switch will allow the script to run on either.

Here is an anti-SPAM Perl script that provides an excellent defense against comment and trackback SPAM. It automatically renames the htsrv directory, using a random, 6-character/number sequence. It turns the "htsrv" directory - necessary for trackbacks and comments - into a moving target, making it difficult to SPAM. Hurrah!

Renaming the "htsrv" directory has been our first line of defense and this script makes it even better. I used to manually rename it (then edit the _advanced.php file - only one line - to note the change). Because it was manual, I didn't do it very often - maybe once every couple of months. (One time, I waited too long. The spammers found the new name and BOOM - SPAM). Grrr. :> Changing it often is ideal, but I want to blog, not spend my time renaming files and such. I'm no geek! :roll:

Thanks to Dan MacTough (and some handy-dandy modifications by yours truly) ... there's now a PERL script that does it for you, randomly and automatically! The script runs as a cron job, periodically renaming the "htsrv" directory. Even IF the spammers FIND the moving target, there's only a small window it'll accept SPAM, because the script will run again, change the name & yield 404 "File not Found" errors. HA! Take THAT spammers! :D

If your b2evolution blog has ever been under attack by spammers, either leaving automated comment or trackback spam, then you'll appreciate this tool. I'll also provide two other techniques we use ... both of which are a good defense, as well. I can't guarantee these techniques will keep your b2evolution blog SPAM-free, because that's the nature of SPAM. (You're only SPAM-free ... till BOOM ... you're not). :-/ Still, they've worked for us for nearly a year & this script only tightens the defenses.

For the details on these 3 easy anti-SPAM techniques & the code for the "hidehtsrv" script ... read on ...

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Updated: 17-Jul-2006
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