Archive for March, 2008

Sunday, March 30th 2008

New Blog Design

If you’ve been here before you might have noticed the new design. I got inspired yesterday and thought I should have one if those hip dark wallpaper pattern inspired blog designs.

If you still see my old default design, the Tech Blue, just click Dark Pattern at the top of the page.

I started off by finding a suitable pattern for the background. I found this one:

Black and white pattern background

at theinspirationgallery.com, inverted it and used curves to make the pattern a dark grey.

To increase the readability I added a see-through (40 % opaque) black to the main section using the following CSS3 declaration:

#main {background-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.4);}

This is what it should look like:

Screenshot of David Naylor's new dark blog design.

So far, only Firefox 3 and Safari 3 have support for semi-transparent colours (RGBA/HSLA), but I think the text is fairly readable even if you don’t get the darker background. Hopefully the number of Firefox 3 users will increase to about 20 % when it is released this summer, thanks to the auto-update feature of Firefox 2.

I’ve also changed the font to Lucida Sans Unicode (Lucida Grande on the mac), inspired by John Lilly’s blog. I decided to use it for both titles and text.

And here’s what a quote looks like:

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

Douglas Adams

Overall I’m really pleased with the new look. Do shout if you find any annoying bugs.

Wednesday, March 26th 2008

New Shoes

I thought I’d do something I’ve never done before: I thought I’d blog my new shoes. Just for fun. 🙂

So without further ado, here they are:

New wedding shoes

So… what should you write when you blog an item of clothing, or footwear? I guess I should write where I got them… make, model, price perhaps?

Shop: Din Sko in Eskilstuna. Make: Ecco. Model: I haven’t got a clue. Price: 995 SEK.

New wedding shoes

That makes them the most expensive pair of shoes I’ve ever bought. But then I’m planning to use them for my wedding, and perhaps one or two other weddings. So you’ll have to try and mentally replace those brown jeans with fancy black trousers.

They’re very comfortable and I’m walking around with them indoors to soften them up a bit.

Oh, and by the way: Today I found a fairly decent amount of fuzz in my belly button, from my new t-shirt.

Tuesday, March 18th 2008

Favourites on Flickr

I’ve been going through my photos and putting together a collection of my favourites. I’m quite pleased with the outcome. It looks very colourful when they’re all put on the same page:

Thumbnails of favourites from Flickr

To get the large versions of the photos, click View as slideshow at the top of the page.

Tuesday, March 18th 2008

Interesting: Sigma 50mm f/1.4

Sigma 50mm 1:1.4 EX DG HSM

Sigma just announced the new Sigma 50mm 1:1.4 EX. Since I’m a bit disappointed with the performance of my Canon EF 50mm f/1.4, this might be an interesting alternative if the price is right. (I find the Canon 50mm 1.4 is only usably sharp from about f/2.2.)

Edit: Just realized I published a quick sharpness test of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 last year.

Wednesday, March 5th 2008

Good news from Redmond

I’m a bit late to the party, but in the last couple of days we’ve had two great pieces of news from Microsoft:

  1. IE8 will render web pages in IE8 standards mode by default, not IE7 standards mode as was previously announced.
  2. The first beta of IE8 has been released for testing.

Internet Explorer IE 8 logo

In the IE8 beta announcement I really like the sound of this paragraph (emphasis mine):

One theme I hope developers notice here is interoperability. The team understands how big an impact differences between browsers (and previous versions of IE in particular) have had on developers in terms of wasted time, frustration, and (in some cases) limiting the experience that they deliver to users. We want to deliver a big step forward in real-world interoperability for developers with IE8, and standards are at the core of our approach. This topic deserves a lot more than just this paragraph; expect more soon.

That’s really the first time they have properly acknowledged all the pain web developers have felt over the years. Sure, they have admitted they were behind the times back when they released IE7, but this was the first real reference to the huge annoyance IE has been to web developers.

Let’s hope all this means they really will try to move forward on the standards front. If IE8 passes Acid2 it means it must cope with min- and max-widths/heights, so my blog will look as it should for the first time ever in IE. If you happen to be stopping by in the IE8 beta, please send me a screenshot. (My email is in the right hand column.)

Edit: One very important factor which I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere is that they’ve made IE8 available for Windows XP. If they hadn’t, all the dreamy thoughts about standards compliant web developing would have had to be postponted another five years, waiting for Vista to gain some serious market share.

Read more about IE8 and it’s features at microsoft.com. Personally I’m going to wait a bit before I install it. IE beta releases are usually about as stable and reliable as early alphas of Mozilla products, and considering how deep IE is integrated into Windows … Let’s just say I’m not going to risk borking my whole system.

Monday, March 3rd 2008

How to define Firefox 3

Ok, so we all know Firefox 3 will be great. But what will it mean? What will it feel like?

Well it just hit me. Firefox 3 makes Firefox 2 feel like a beta. It’s not that Firefox 2 is buggy or hangs, but there are just so many things in Firefox 3 that work better, easier, faster, simpler.

I guess all the Firefox releases so far have been like that. The improvements make you wonder: Why didn’t they just do that in the first place? That might sound like criticism, but it isn’t.

Instead it’s a matter of the Firefox community and developers managing to think of more and more ways to streamline and simplify the browser for every release.

New location bar

Cropped screenshot of Firefox 3 awesome bar or location bar.

For instance, take the new location bar: When you start typing, Firefox will start listing previously visited pages that match what you’ve typed so far. It will match against URL, page title and bookmark tags. Firefox will take into account how often and how recently you visited the pages in the list and order them accordingly.

The location bar search is very soft, in other words it will find matches with the searched words in any order, and it’ll also find parts of words.

Also, the location bar will learn how you think. Sort of. If you type in “news” and then choose http://www.cnn.com/ from the list of previously visited websites, Firefox will remember that combination of search phrase and web page. The next time you type “news”, CNN will end up higher in the list, if not at the top.

Other new features

Here are a few other things that will make Firefox 3 easier to use and live with:

  • A panel in the Add-ons manager for installing addons straight from within the browser.
  • Another panel in the Add-ons manager for plugins. Makes it very easy to enable and disable plugins as you like in stead of mucking around in the installation folder.
  • Pausable downloads – great for large downloads or if you’re on a dialup connection.
  • Searchable download history.
  • Quick bookmarking – just click the star to save a bookmark! Click it twice if you want to place the bookmark in a particular place, or if you want to tag it.
  • Per-site permission settings for images, cookies, popups and addons, all accessible in a new panel in the page info window.
  • Full page zooming
  • Saved bookmark searches. Allows you to automatically sort your bookmarks into folders based on tags, location (server/URL) or visiting dates. Great for the bookmark addict.
  • New themes making Firefox 3 fit much better in Windows Vista, OS X and in Linux. I’m a little sceptical about the new XP theme though, but then it’s not actually finished yet. See Wikipedia for some fairly up to date screenshots.
  • Malware protection. In the same way Firefox 2 blocked known phishing sites, Firefox 3 will also block sites known to try installing viruses, spyware, etc on your computer.
  • New manager for controlling how your downloads are handled. Similar to the file-type handler in Windows, Firefox lets you set if you want different file types to be saved, opened by a certain program or handled by a plugin.

Speed

One major advantage of Firefox 3 over 2 is its performance. Firefox 3 is quicker and uses less memory than Firefox 2. I haven’t compared the two for speed myself, but the difference in memory usage is easy to see after a few hours of browsing.

I’ve always known Firefox was generally a quick browser, but I obviously hadn’t understood quite how fast it was. Yesterday I did a quick test of various pages in Firefox 3 and IE7. Man, this thing flies! It just sucks the pages down off the net, while IE7 sort of sits there – waiting to be served… If you want to read more about Firefox 3’s performance, see this article by Percy Cabello.

Well, I’m probably forgetting a few things now, but those are probably the main reasons to switch to Firefox 3. I’m predicting we will see a final version some time in July.