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Blue Bird of Happiness

June 14th, 2009  · stk

We have a "new" twitter update status tool for our blog. See how it works (will be followed-up with a detailed discussion of how we made it, modified the JavaScript that comes with the Twitter API and some other nifty tricks we added). Some assembly required.

Twitter This, Twitter That

twitter bird

When the blue bird chirps, we've Tweet'd w/in the past hour.

twitter-logo

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).

If you CLICK the blue-bird, whether he's singing or not, you'll get a pop-up list of our last 5 tweets. Each tweet may - or may not - contain links to web-pages or our fellow twitter friends, with whom we're "conversing". Follow the links to learn more. At the bottom of the 5-tweet list is a CSS-rollover link that invites you to "follow us" on twitter. It even degrades gracefully if JavaScript is disabled. We think it's pretty cool.

Coming Soon: A Twitter-torial covering "How to add a Twitter status update to your own blog", which will include detail about using the Twitter API, modifying the JavaScript, make a Twitter status list pop-up and some of the other cool stuff involved in making our own twitter status update tool.

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Updated: 15-Jun-2009
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Helping IE6 Out the Door

June 12th, 2009  · stk

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:

quote

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

- PC World Magazine   

Below is a short list of some of the reasons behind our decision to drop support for Internet Explorer 6:

  1. IE6 is old and antiquated
  2. IE6 is crappy compared to modern alternatives
  3. IE6 support costs web-developers frustration & time
  4. 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 one of The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time.

 

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Updated: 21-Aug-2012
Web View Count: 8844 viewsLast Web Update: 21-Aug-2012

Beautify a Resource List

May 21st, 2009  · stk

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.

We thought it was about time that we come up with a proper "additional information" list. By melding together some existing design ideas and adding our own CSS touches, we have constructed an ordered list that not only looks nice, but also includes a number of other features: a hip CSS roll-over effect; compatibility with fixed-width or liquid layouts; toggle-able ":visited" link status images; pure CSS (no JavaScript, AJAX or jQuery); and it's cross-browser friendly.

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.

Styling an Ordered List

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Updated: 25-May-2009
Web View Count: 33349 viewsLast Web Update: 25-May-2009

Shout Outs

October 30th, 2008  · stk

Randsco is "published" in a French textbook, a Florida reader sent Scott a Penn State baseball hat and Oklahoma's Red Dirt Emporium donated generously to Randsco. (Hmmm ... maybe it's time I find a way to say "thanks" to everyone that's helped Randsco ... here's a start)

Some Recent Kudos

October has been another milestone month for Randsco.com. In addition to setting new records for visitation and Google AdSense revenue, there have been a number of other, off-site developments.

Two of those arrived by mail. First, we received a hard-back book. Randsco.com is now "published"! (One of our online photos was used in the book). Second, just yesterday, Scott received a surprise package. (No, it wasn't a bomb ... it was a Penn State baseball cap! We surmise that it's a "thank you" for the Geographically Challenged article, since it arrived without a note).

The other recent event was an generous, unsolicited donation - (donations of any kind, are a rare event) - by a company in Oklahoma, for the use of the Photo-caption Zoom technique.

Over the years, we've received a variety of unsolicited, creative "thank you's" for helping with HTML code, PHP scripts and/or our CSS techniques. Two that come to mind are a hand-made Afghan rug, which we received from a U.S. Army helicopter pilot stationed in Afghanistan and the other, an Opera CD sent by a Dane, living in Spain, who's wife is a singer.

We've had it on our "to-do" list to add a section that says "thanks" for all the people that have donated, contributed or helped Randsco.com in a meaningful way. This post is a way of biting the bullet and just "starting", though it will take some time to construct something more finalized and formal.

To find out more about our plans for "thank you's" and the story behind the book, the hat and the Oklahoma PZ3 donation ... carry on

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Updated: 11-Apr-2010
Web View Count: 9704 viewsLast Web Update: 11-Apr-2010

MIME talk

September 28th, 2008  · stk

Article updated with new information from the W3C - July 2009

I've advocated for XHTML and CSS, thinking it was the future of the web. I'm no longer convinced of this. We've decided to go back to well-formed tag soup XHTML after realizing the price for serving the "application/xhtml+xml" MIME type wasn't worth the cost. Find out why

mimeBack to XHTML v1.0 Strict and text/html
In other words: "Well-formed Tag Soup"

Since late 2005, we've been serving our pages as XHTML v1.1, using the application/xhtml+xml MIME type for those browsers - notably FireFox, Opera & Safari - that understand it. (To do this, we used server-side scripting to set the MIME type in the header. For more about the technique, read this 2005 article - "Are You Serving XHTML with the Wrong MIME Type?")

XHTML v1.1 has only negligible coding changes from XHTML v1.0 strict. However, unlike XHTML v1.0, its supposed to be served as an XML document (hence the MIME type). So what? Well, serving XML-based web documents (XHTML v1.1 as application/xhtml+xml) comes at a huge price and we're tired of paying it (and our readers are too - *cough* most notably ¥åßßå).

Originally, we viewed XHTML v1.0 as predecessor of HTML, since it was standard-based and eliminated the problems of proprietary tags and sloppy coding. We blindly migrated to XHTML v1.1, thinking we were further future-proofing our pages. HA!

The future direction of the web (XHTML and HTML) is muddled. Consider: HTML isn't being phased out; developers of browsers such as FireFox, Opera and Safari are lobbying for (and developing) HTML 5; the W3C has renewed the HTML working group; and the Chief Technical Officer of Opera says, "I don't think XHTML is a realistic option for the masses. HTML 5 is it." [sources]

To find out what price our readers will no longer have to pay, and more about XHTML v2.0 and HTML 5 ... read on

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Updated: 27-Jul-2009
Web View Count: 9659 viewsLast Web Update: 27-Jul-2009