Category Archives: Technology

General Technology

Web 2.0 as a Guide

Over the past, I’d say, year and a half the term Web 2.0 has been thrown around an awful lot, but with no true definition it’s hard to peg the meaning of the word. For some its definition is a style (subtle gradients, shines, and beta tags), while for others it’s a term used simply to describe the change in technologies used on the web today (AJAX, Ruby on Rails, etc.). I personally see Web 2.0 as a guide more than anything.

While I don’t live or swear by it, I think many do. As a guide the term Web 2.0 gives us a vision of something more intricate, more advanced, yet easier to understand. It produces thoughts of products like Flickr or YouTube. With all of their features and technical intricacies they still remain two of the simplest tools on the web. Web 2.0 is the thought that design and the tools we use to communicate can be advanced and visually pleasing, yet simple at the same time.

This, to me, is the true meaning of the term Web 2.0. I realize I’ve just blabbered on about the most over talked about subject of the year, but with so many different definitions around I just had to throw my own opinion in.

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Filed under Design, Miscellany, Technology, web 2.0, Web Design

MeeboMe and Cutting Back on Software (An Open Challenge)

Goodbye Trillian, hello Meebo. Other than losing the ability to chat via IRC I couldn’t care less about parting with Trillian. It does nothing but slow down my laptop, and even though it is a great program I really don’t need it. Meebo is all I need from now on.

Over the past few weeks I’ve made a serious effort to cut down on the number of resources I rely on. I’ve uninstalled Thunderbird, Firefox, Trillian, and a massive load of other programs that add to the frustration of online activity. I’ve imported all of my bookmarks and compatible plugins from Firefox to Flock, which now manages my bookmarks and my feeds, which I have reduced from about two hundred to maybe twenty essentials.

Thanks to the invention of multiple homepages I can now check my email via my Google Customized Homepage, sign into MySpace for communicating with my friends who are too ignorant to use email, take a quick glance at all my feeds, check up on Random Shapes, AND log in to my Meebo account, which allows all of you wonderful readers to talk to me at any time.

Anyway, the main reason I wanted to write this post is to let you all know that I’ve added the nifty MeeboMe widget to the sidebar of my blog so you can check my online status and get in contact with me whenever you want. Now to issue a challenge. I challenge each and every one of you reading this to cut down on the number of programs you use. Use plugins to combine apps, delete unnecessary files and programs, see exactly what you need and what you don’t.

To be honest the only programs I really use now are Flock (for email, RSS, IM, and general web browsing), iTunes (for musical pleasure), Photoshop (for designing cool shit), and my anti-virus and anti-spyware programs which do a great job and run virtually invisible. Like I said, cut back and see just what you need. Leave me a comment letting me know how it goes and what you now use.

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Filed under blog, Design, Flock, Meebo, Miscellany, Mozilla, Technology, web 2.0, web apps

A Little More Like iTunes – WMP 11 Beta

For some odd reason, the new Windows Media Player 11 Beta reminds me a lot of iTunes with a bit of Songbird flare thrown in. Not only is it just as big a memory hog, WMP11 Beta has inherited some of iTunes’ features that have made it successful.

The Interface

The WMP11 user interface is extremely trimmed down and not as confusing as it has been in previous versions. Sporting a default black glossy look, with some Microsoft Blue accents mixed in, it is both visually pleasing and easy to navigate. While the MTV URGE network sign in button may be a bit distracting, the interface is otherwise slimmed down and does nothing to distract from the listening experience. As always different accent colors can be chosen.

Media Sorting

WMP11 also sports some new, more advanced sorting features absent in previous versions. An enhanced library view allows you to not only see songs, albums, and artists, but the album art is also present to help you pick your way through music you may only be familiar with through sight.

One basic feature I miss is the tiny button that, when selected, opens a drop down menu listing all albums, artists, and play lists in the library. This allowed me to pick and choose what album or artist I wanted to hear without having to fully open the player or navigate to the library.

Mini Mode

Those of you using WMP on a laptop or desktop short of memory are undoubtedly familiar with the Windows Media Player toolbar, otherwise known as the Mini-Player mode. In this version the mini player sports the same black and blue color scheme. As in the full size player the quick select menu has also been ditched, requiring a full sized view of the player to change play lists or albums.

Enhancements

There is some bad news for all of you plug-in and enhancement lovers though. First off, Microsoft has ditched many of the default visualizations that you may have grown used to, but all custom visualizations seem to work just fine when upgrading. All plug-ins are automatically disabled, and most, if not all, do not seem to be compatible, meaning you’ll have to either wait for an update to the plug-in, or revert to an older version of WMP.

All custom skins are also incompatible. While they may load and intros may play, WMP11 seems incapable of displaying any media information, not moving past the final frame of the introductory movie or animation. This leaves you guessing where certain controls, like volume and seek, are.

The Final Verdict

While Windows Media Player 11 Beta may need a lot of work, and many are sure to find it lacking in the more important areas, it has some real potential. The slimmed down interface adds to the overall pleasing experience and I personally can’t wait for an update to the beta, or even an official release. But don’t get your hopes up, this looks like it’s been built for Vista, so an official release probably wont be coming anytime soon.

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Filed under Design, Media, Microsoft, Miscellany, Movies, Music, Technology

Redbox – The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

Today was a pretty boring day. I sat around the house all day looking for something to do. AIM conversations were uneventful and overall I was in a bad mood, so a quick trip to the store was put in motion to get me out of the house. Upon realizing there wasn’t a single skate magazine in the entire store my bad mood quickly returned and all was dark again.

At least until I stumbled upon what may be the single greatest thing ever, Redbox, a simple small machine that allows you to rent new movies for the small price of $1 plus some tax. How great is this? A brand new movies for a night for a buck, if they had these in Florida Blockbuster would lose at least one customer.

So as we finished checking out we made our way over to the strange red machine, a large man stood in front of us flying through the rental process like a pro. I was the first to ask about the machine, and after learning how simple a process it was I proceeded to rent two movies, Madea’s Family Reunion and Failure to Launch. Unfortunately Ultraviolet was unavailable.

Again, this has to be the greatest thing to happen since sliced bread. If anyone of high power in Florida reads this, please get a Redbox in my area. I’d be eternally grateful.

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Filed under Elsewhere, Family, holiday, Miscellany, Movies, Skateboarding, Skating, Technology

Reasons I Haven’t Blogged Lately

Skating, Music, Movies, Television, Gaming, Computers, Girls, Dating, Friends, Family, General Teenage Drama, Lack of a Solid Internet Connection, Nothing to Write About, Spending More Time Outdoors, Photoshop Foolery, Design, Work, Job Searches, School Searches, The Mall, Skating, Skating, Skating, Skating, Bowling, The Dock, Skating, More Skating, Lack of Friends, Abundance of Friends, Friends With Benefits, Creation of Long Lists, Pondering Reasons I Haven't Blogged Lately, Attempting to Write Something Useful, Portfolio Redesign, Creating Fake Work to Fill Said Portfolio, Attracting New Clients to Fill Said Portfolio, Home Made Stink Bombs, Home Made Molotov Cocktails, Drifting and Powersliding in a 94 Chevy Cavalier, Law Enforcement, etc. etc. etc.

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Filed under blog, dating, Design, Elsewhere, Family, Friends, Gaming, Media, Miscellany, Movies, Music, Nature, Technology, teen, Television

The Online Learning Curve

With the emergence of AJAX and similar web technologies we’ve been introduced to multiple new features that many users have never seen before except in Desktop Applications. Features line inline editing, drag and drop, and the ability to customize items without ever having to refresh. Up until now we’ve only ever seen these features in the desktop applications we know, love, and use on a daily basis.

While these technologies make using the web easier, and certainly more pleasing, the simplicity comes at a cost, a cost some may not be willing to pay. These technologies not only offer a new way of browsing, but also a new learning curve to explore. It is expected that the majority of internet users are not savvy enough to quickly adapt to inline editing and similar features, which makes building a website around these types of features extremely difficult, but there are a few ways to help break in new users.

Offer some sort of invitation. Style certain parts of the page, important parts, in a different color, or with a noticeable effect that will help attract users. Make sure they know exactly how the website works and how they can use it. Write an introduction post or a simple tutorial, perhaps a video for those who need extra help. Remember to write your guide in laymen’s terms as not to confuse the simpler browsers.

Tool tips or cursor changes are a great way to invite users into new features. When designing a website with these new, rich media technologies it’s important that they know how to use them right off the bat, or your concept and ideas will quickly fall through. While designing a page it’s easy to forget about the user and get lost in your own design fantasies, but you must remember that the user always comes first.

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Filed under Design, Technology, web 2.0, web apps, Web Design

Shutting Down

A brief explanation for my lack of posts. Basically, net access has been cut off at my home, so I’ll be unavailable until I go out and purchase a wireless card for my laptop. In other somewhat related news, I’ve been working at a brand new skate shop for the past 3 or so weeks, and will also be producing two websites plus print and web ads for the shop. Can you say free merch?

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Filed under blog, Design, Elsewhere, Family, Microsoft, Miscellany, Technology, Web Design