Archive for the 'Tech' Category

Yahoo Front Page May 06 redesign

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

Here’s a shocker for you, I actually like the May 06 Yahoo redesign. (Well, aside from the fact that the browser I use, Camino, is not supported already, but that’s probably because of a lack of Ajax support.) As a designer, I can see the direction where Yahoo’s designers are going with the page and it echos many of the same elements that have been recently unveiled on the newly redesigned NY Times and not quite there yet CNN home pages.

Elements I like…

*Boxy boxes. Even though these boxes are like that I do know that Yahoo uses rounded corners in their other branded pages. See Yahoo Tech for an example of this.

*Menu buttons and action box (with the Mail, Weather functions) background.

*Page colors are muted (gray and blue on a white background), stay in background, while photos and video pop out.

*Call to action colors are yellow and orange.

*Drop down hover action for the Mail, Weather, etc. functions.

*Overall feedback I heard from others about the page - new page has less text and seems easier to read.

*Left hand menu seems better organized. The caveat for Yahoo designers is that I wonder if the new organization will direct traffic differently than in the past.

*Major page elements float and have the margins around the boxes - but that was on the old page too. This is indicating that Yahoo is probably planning to allow some configuration of the boxes.

*Designed use of nearly the whole width of the page, save for a margin (depending on screen width).

Elements I don’t like…

*I think the Aqua looking accents will age a little too quickly.

*Yahoo Pulse box can’t be configured to show Pulse items you’d want to see.

*There are some text ads in some weird spots - i.e. a text ads in margins between the boxes on the page.

*When I first viewed the page via Firefox/Windows on 5/16, the left hand buttons had different text sizes - as if to promote various services. The text size issue appears fixed on Firefox/Mac this morning 5/17.

Aside from the look and feel aspects, I will let others debate if portals are so “Web 1.0″. Personally, I have been using Yahoo News and Weather on a daily basis for some time now - I think Yahoo executes those two functions nicely and they are easier to use than some other services. If my use of Yahoo qualifies as a portal which Yahoo provides or organizes content, so be it.

However, I thought that once a long, long time ago, Yahoo had unveiled a simpler Google like search page.

MacBooks and Marketing Apple

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

I shall add my voice to the chorus and note that I think that the new MacBooks look awfully cool, especially the black one.

I won’t be trading in my trusty PowerBook in the near future, but a discussion I had tonight centered upon the thought of “Why doesn’t Apple have a trade in program for individuals?”, especially for those of us who turn out to be company cheerleaders. I know I have had influenced at least $6,000 worth of Apple product sales within the last three years or so.

One other great marketing idea was “Why doesn’t Apple have a wedding registry? A 30 inch Cinema Display would make the perfect wedding gift.”

See, I’d be a great addition to the Apple marketing team. :-P

[tags]macbook, apple[/tags]

Apple Store Suburban Square Grand Opening

Saturday, May 13th, 2006

A not so hypothetical question for my readers: What’s worse, getting an email about a store grand opening or putting said grand opening on one’s social calendar?

Since I mentioned the Apple Store Suburban Square Grand Opening a few days ago, I somehow found myself in Ardmore, PA at the ungodly hour of 10:10am this morning. Not only was there a line out the door, it was around the corner and snaked along three sides of the building. At least I was there in time to get an official Apple Store (hugely oversized for my petite frame) t-shirt.

The line was so long (and oh yes, there was a security guard outside directing traffic) and regular people who were shopping at Suburban Square didn’t get what the hubbub was about. In fact, a middle aged couple had the misfortune to ask a few people in line around me what the occasion was.

Middle aged couple: “What is going on?”

People around me in line: “The Apple store just opened today.”

Middle aged couple: “No, really, what’s going on? What are they doing?”

An excited person in line replied with “It’s the Apple Store Grand Opening!”

Middle aged couple looked at each other incredulously and walked away.

Among the sights in the store, ooh shiny Mac Minis, 30 inch Cinema Displays, Video iPods and hot MacBookPro action. I spent about a good 45 minutes in the store, egging on a Video iPod purchase and people watching. The activity died down about 11:30ish, when the t-shirts ran out. Oh, and there were lots of bloggers. Bloggers taking pictures and video - like the quicktime movie below (hint, click on the image).

Apple Store Ardmore

Update: 5/15/06 Two things, first, in case you were wondering there’s a whole Web site devoted just to Apple Stores…now you know.

Secondly, a certain blog author made an appearance in this video about the Grand Opening.

bit by color via lazy css

Monday, May 8th, 2006

At work, because I’m doing more concept and presentation rather than straight on Web dev, my markup and CSS are optimized for churning out ideas of “can we do it?” rather than cross-browser rendering. Also, I write markup and CSS by hand, and the simple editor I use doesn’t correct for small idiocyncrasies.

So I was caught surprised when I found out my lazy way to express background color in a td tag wasn’t working properly in Firefox. Worked fine in IE6 though.

lazy way: bgcolor=”cc0099″

cross browser rendering: bgcolor=”#cc0099″

The problem? I neglected to add a #sign to the hex color. This method namely wasn’t working in table cells. In my markup I wasn’t seeing issues with font-color and it didn’t matter if it was HTML bgcolor or CSS background.

New Apple Store in Ardmore

Monday, May 8th, 2006

Maybe I can’t get Radiohead tickets, but at least I get emails about the Grand Opening of the Apple Store in Ardmore, PA.

Now there will be no less than three Apple stores within reasonable driving distance, including King of Prussia, PA and the home of Tax Free shopping, Christiana, DE.

Satellite Radio Hack, Continued

Monday, May 1st, 2006

Remember that earlier I had posted about how some satellite radio units were broadcasting their signal to cars around them? Well, there has been at least two mentions of the phenomena in the media recently.

The Wall Street Journal, FTC Tunes In on XM’s Marketing, April 28, 2006

Separately, XM said the Federal Communications Commission determined the company’s SkyFi2 radio transmitter doesn’t comply with FCC emission rules, meaning the signal it transmits to a dashboard car radio is often too strong….

Many consumers without satellite radio have reported picking up its signals, presumably from nearby cars using FM modulators to transmit the signals to their radios. “XM’s immediate problem is that unless they are confident that the accusation against them is wrong, they really have to pull the model off the market until the problem is resolved,” says Mr. Tannenwald. “

The Associated Press, Some NPR, Christian Radio Hearing Stern, April 28, 2006

Their favorite stations aren’t broadcasting Stern’s show, which has moved to satellite radio provider Sirius. Instead, poorly installed or defective satellite radio units, which act as mini-FM transmitters, are being blamed…Some of the units use FM signals to broadcast the satellite signal to the car’s audio system, using frequencies low on the FM band such as 88.1, often reserved for noncommercial, religious or educational stations. The signal from the satellite system can sometimes override broadcasts from those stations for listeners in nearby cars.

If (or should I say when) the FCC decides that both XM and Sirius have overpowered FM modulator units, I wonder how these units would ever be recalled. For the record, I’ve only heard the Howard Stern show (i.e. Sirius) overpowering my radio receiver station. Since switching my XM SkyFI receiver station to 107.1 I haven’t had any issues with hearing other people’s satellite radio.

new cell phone

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

My three year old cell phone began to restart itself intermittently a few weeks ago and I faced the fact that I probably needed a new cellphone. Since I was eligible for the “new for every two” program at VerizonWireless, I decided this past weekend to drop by the local store and see the phones for myself. Basically, I wanted to hold one before committing to it.

I managed to walk out of the store with the cheesy sounding the LG VX9800 - The V. Surprisingly enough, I thought I would walk out of the store with a Motorola phone, but I wasn’t impressed with the Razr or the 815E.

My initial thoughts about the LG is that I like the full keyboard, but I worry about the scratching the outside screen if I ever drop the phone. (My old Kyocera 2235 was built like a tank compared to this.) It feels a little bulky (although when I compared it to an older LG phone, the thickness was about the same) for my petite hands. I like the internal screen, the speakers and the lighted keyboard.

As for usability, I’m still getting used to the menus and specifically I’m still trying to figure out if I can set a one button shortcut to set the phone on vibrate. The vibrate mode is, uh, very attention getting. The Bluetooth feature did sync wonderfully with my PowerBook, although the phone’s OBEX profile (at least with OS X 10.3.9) only supports Address Book/Contact syncing and using the phone as a modem. No file transfer.

As for the other built-in features, I tried the 1.3mp camera at the concert I went to on Saturday night and I have about 35 1280 x 960 full size blurry pics of the stage from the second to last row in section 204 of the Tweeter Center. The phone does record 1 minute bits of sound, and while the sound from the stage wasn’t captured all that well, the phone picked up the chattering fo the audience members around me. I can get a MiniSD card to increase the phone’s memory if I want. Also, the Web browser on the phone doesn’t work with WordPress. Yes, I tried. :-P

I am not a fan of the Motorola made Bluetooth headset over the ear speaker/headset dealie I got with the phone though. It feels small and cheap.

Finally, kudos to the VerizonWireless salesguy who helped me. He didn’t try to upsell me on anything other than what I went in for.

If you were wondering…

Sunday, April 2nd, 2006

a pair of iPod Shuffle earbuds can make it through a trip to the washing machine and dryer. Albeit emerging a little frayed, and they still work.

[tags]Apple, iPod[/tags]

I spy an Intel MacBookPro!

Monday, March 27th, 2006

*Ahem*

Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/417.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Safari/417.9.2

[tags] Apple, MacBook Pro, OS X, site statistics [/tags]

RSS agent geekery

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

The number of RSS readers and feed aggregation services is just amazing, especially considering how many of these did not exist even a year ago. Here’s a sampling of RSS related agents I’m seeing in my site logs now.

Agent: Megite/0.1 (http://www.megite.com)

Agent: RSS-SPIDER (RSS Feed Seeker http://www.rss-spider.com/fsb.php)

Agent: FeedOnFeeds/0.1.9 (+http://minutillo.com/steve/feedonfeeds/)

Agent: YahooFeedSeeker/2.0 (compatible; Mozilla 4.0; MSIE 5.5; http://publisher.yahoo.com/rssguide)

Agent: MagpieRSS/0.72 (+http://magpierss.sf.net)

Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.2.1; aggregator:TailRank; http://tailrank.com/robot) Gecko/20021130

Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; Google Desktop)

Agent: Feedfetcher-Google; (+http://www.google.com/feedfetcher.html)

Agent: kinjabot (http://www.kinja.com; 3 Readers)

Agent: FeedLounge (http://my.feedlounge.com/), 1 subscribers, next refresh in approx. 14400 seconds

Agent: JetBrains Omea Reader 2.1.1 (http://www.jetbrains.com/omea/reader/)

Agent: NetNewsWire/2.1b17 (Mac OS X; http://ranchero.com/netnewswire/)

Agent: Syndic8/1.0 (http://www.syndic8.com/)

Agent: MagpieRSS/0.7 (+http://magpierss.sf.net; No cache)

Agent: Bloglines/3.0-rho (http://www.bloglines.com; 18 subscribers)

Agent: Feedster Crawler/1.0; Feedster, Inc. (2 subscribers)

Agent: PluckFeedCrawler/2.0 (compatible; Mozilla 4.0; MSIE 5.5; http://www.pluck.com; 1 subscribers)

Agent: NewsGatorOnline/2.0 (http://www.newsgator.com; 5 subscribers)

Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.2.1; Rojo 1.0; http://www.rojo.com/corporate/help/agg/; Aggregating on behalf of 5 subscriber(s) online at http://www.rojo.com/?feed-id=2508476) Gecko/20021130

Agent: AppleSyndication/52

Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.7.12) Gecko/20050922 Fedora/1.0.7-1.1.fc4 Firefox/1.0.7 [Newsonfeeds]

Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Topix.net; http://www.topix.net/topix/newsfeeds)

Agent: SharpReader/0.9.4.1 (.NET CLR 1.1.4322.573; WinNT 5.1.2600.0)

Agent: rss-bot/1.0 (http://www.plazoo.com)

Agent: AttensaOnline/1.0 (http://www.attensa.com; 1 subscribers)

Agent: RssReader/1.0.88.0 (http://www.rssreader.com) Microsoft Windows NT 5.1.2600.0

iPod Mini battery life

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

Does anyone have good information on how long the batteries on an iPod Mini? I think I have the first generation from the summer of 04 and it seems the battery life is about ~4 hours or so.

[3/26/06: Updated title]

[tags] Apple, iPod, music [/tags]

KinderStart, there’s more (ignored)

Sunday, March 19th, 2006

So the SEO world is abuzz about the KinderStart lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that KinderStart was penalized by Google last year for some unknown reason and has been sandboxed by the search giant and therefore lost massive amounts of traffic. KinderStart’s attorney is arguing that the sandboxing is unfair and is “violating KinderStart’s constitutional right to free speech by blocking search engine results.”

Excuse me while I go review the Bill of Rights. The last time I checked, “The right to be indexed by Google” was not listed.

Aside from the strawman “constitutional” arguement which should, in a just world, lead to this suit being thrown out, I have some serious questions about KinderStart’s motivations. When trolling the Web for more information, suprisingly enough I have not seen any information as to why KinderStart thinks it was sandboxed by Google. In fact, the only evidence that KinderStart proffers that they were sandboxed is the decrease in visitor traffic.

What bothers me is that I’m taking a look at the site, and quite frankly, it’s underwhelming. First of all, this kinderStart site bills itself as a “search engine”. I could point out a number of SEO issues with the site, starting with the appearance of the site, to the use of frames on the top menu, to the lack of easily discoverable sitemaps (no xml, txt nor static html sitemap page), no robots.txt at the site root directory, all the way down to the copyright date in the footer (as of this writing, it says “Copyright 2000 KinderStart.Com, Inc.”).

Little wonder that a page with a copyright date of 2000 has had a decrease in visitor traffic during the past 6 years. Give me a break, people.

Plus, many of the SEO practices that KinderStart.com ignores are listed in the Google Information for Webmasters page.

Talking about biting the hand that feeds you, this morning Sunday, March 19th at 11:23am Eastern Time, KinderStart.com has a strip of Google Ad Words at the top of their page.

If anything, this lawsuit will unfortunately bring a little PR to an unknown amateur looking site, sandboxed or not.

PS: I’ve archived a copy of the KinderStart HTML as of this morning, if anyone needs to take a look at it.

[tags]Google, SEO, marketing, KinderStart[/tags]