Monthly Archives: November 2007

Apple MacBook Pro Review

I’ve been in a different part of the office for the last week working for the first time on a MacBook Pro. It’s the first time I’ve had to really work on a Mac for a number of years – since University in fact. I do own a Candy Mac G3 desktop which is fun to play with form time to time… however, Apples latest foray into laptops is leaving me feeling a little cold. Some things just don’t work well.

The keyboard is very unresponsive. I type heavily and even I have issues with keypresses not being registered which means it takes me ages to get anything done as its all riddled with typos.

Having to press Fn to access loads of common functions is a major pain and theres little in the way of help on the keyboard keys which show nothing.

No HASH symbol (have to type it in because THERES NOT ONE ON THE EFFIN KEYBOARD) … needless to say writing CSS is a major pain.

Vast expanse between front of laptop and keyboard. Sure im working on a 17″ machine but I find im having to type with my hands sideways for comfort as the feel of the front of the machine rubbing aganst my forearm is weird.

Taskbar keeps sliding into view when im casualy wafting the pointer over some work space.

No maximise function. I double click the title bar of a window and it drops it into the dock. This is making me insane!

No doubleclicking on the track pad.

Needless to say, I’m dreading coming into work for the next few days as this ‘puter is full of time wasting features/or lack there of useful features. I thought Apple was supposed to be king of usability… well I guess they dont know everything.

Firefox 3 Beta First Look

Just spied on Digg that there’s a new official version of Firefox out (Firefox 3 Beta).

Get Firefox 3 Beta

Here are a few of my first impressions and some issues I’ve found.

The tab scrolling is nice and smooth with some acceleration

When you open multiple tabs in Firefox 2.x you could quickly jump to loaded tabs. This feature seems a little slow in Firefox 3 Beta.

Sites like Brainfuel.tv render in some weird hieroglyph? Don’t quite know what’s going on there – I’ve noticed it on several websites now.

The contents of some pop-up windows is not displayed.

Firefox 3 hates FCK editor (what I’m currently editing in) and doesn’t show the karat :(

Bookmarks management looks great and is intuitive, but adding a bookmark reveals a clunky dialogue.

No inline spell checking

So whats my verdict? Have a play but don’t kill Firefox 2.x just yet.

Moo Cards Just Arrived

Ordered some Moo Cards a few weeks ago in the vain hope that I’d have something to hand out at BarCamp Leeds. However, it seems that most people got there before me which kind of killed the exclusive first find of them as I thought I was being totally original in finding a new product lol.

Anyway I’m very impressed. They come in some excellent packaging and even our guest visitor Trekker from Taiwan here at xrio.com was blown away by them and has taken many photographs as some sort of cultural phenomena.

The ones I’ve printed are purely for my freelance work but they’ve gone down so well I think it don’t be long before everyone here gets some made.

Oh and they’re really cheap and you get 100 of them at a time.

(photos to come when I get home)

Barcamp Leeds 2007 – My SEO Talk

I was really nervous about yesterdays Barcamp in Leeds as I’d been called out by The Hodge after slating his SEO presentation at a previous GeekUp and asked to co-present an SEO critique session with him. In addition it wasnt until around 8:30 yesterday morning that i realised that the event was an all day thing and not a 7pm start as GeekUp usually is which meant I had to rush to get there.

For those of you who havent been to a BarCamp yet (theres loads all over the world) its a strange format thats basically ‘web2.0′ only in human form with everyone opting on the day to do presentations on something they know about and its all worked out on post it notes on a board so you can see who’s scheduled to talk about what in each room. Althgether it workded really well (apart from anything that relied on technology *cough* The Hodges live linkup with Barcamp Toronto *cough* :)

With time-slots being roughly 20 mins, many people opted to simply introduce a product or service and there were few actual practical sessions which was something Ive been striving for.

…so I attended seminars on:

  • Futurology (we came up with a dog version of Match.com based on the cryptic connections between a dog and disposeable camera)
  • Drupal (which everyone agreed was too hard to get into and customise)
  • Case study on a social loan company who’ve set up a whisky distillary based on community monies
  • Case study on some interesting nodal tagging for the BBC

…and lots more.

Our presentation on SEO went well, tho I found the touch sensitive digital whiteboards a complete nightmare to work with and couldn’t really figure out how to jump into wordtracker etc to give some real impacting feedback so I opted to talk to interested people on a 1-2-1 basis afterwards. Read an impartial review here and SEOMOZ.org has a nice document that supports my comments on link juice and control of your websites internal link structure.

Loads of beer didn’t turn up due to someone not ordering it in advance. And the pub we all ended up in smelt like an armpit lol.

So will I go to the next one? Hell yeah!

Oh and I won an iPod lol!

Designing for GWT (Google Web Toolkit)… in a word, DONT!

The new web development team here at Xrio are mad keen on GWT as a development platform and as someone who’s only ever worked in .NET and ASP and based on the hype I can see why.

The only problem is that until I came along they never had to really bother about making an application look good or be particularly useable. So here’s my watch list for people daring to move into this realm:

  • Do get Firebug for Firefox – its the only way you’ll be able to identify exactly what GWT is throwing on the page.
  • Don’t bother trying to make it semantic – GWT doesn’t understand the concept.
  • Don’t bother trying to make it accessible – GWT doesn’t understand about that either.
  • Don’t add cool jQuery effects – Your dev team will want to replace these with the rubbish built in widgets.
  • Do absolute positioning – it will just save you a lot of time trying to figure out what additional crap code GWT has added in around elements.
  • Do design it to all fit on one screen – GWT doesn’t like multiple screen apps without show/hiding great swathes of information.

So here’s my fail-safe method for GWT design:

  • Sit the developers down and sort out information hierarchy – We use a big tree menu type thing.
  • Get your developers to define GWT panels to group elements for use – these will become usable DIVS.
  • Work through every element and pre-define class names – for absolute positioning.
  • Mock it up in Dreamweaver while they start development and work out your CSS.
  • Integrate CSS into the GWT template.
  • Fix all the bugs/discrepancies with GWT’s presented html.

Happy GWT-ing *groan*