- minute forty four -

Movies, Craft Beer and Geek Stuff

I’ve seen a couple of blog posts in the last few weeks on the subject of password masking. Jakob Nielsen’s post entitled Stop Password Masking makes a case for dropping the accepted standard that sees password fields blanked out by a line of bullets or asterisks. Nielsen claims that the security benefits are small at best and the impact on accessibility and usability is huge.

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We all have our own preferences when it comes to using our computers. Weather you’re a Windows, Mac or Linux user there will be applications and utilities that you use every day and probably take for granted. I’m not really talking about big money apps like Photoshop and Illustrator. I mean the little utilities and widgets that you have running in the background or browser plugins that you use in every day browsing. Well here are my top 5.

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When designing a site, obviously a major consideration, at each stage should be your target audience. This isn’t a new idea, it’s the same for any kind of media be it audio, video web or print. Only with the web, however is user interaction something that must be thought through carefully with regards to your target audience. Different people use the web in different ways. I’m not just talking about people with disabilities or people of different genders. Being tech savvy or non-tech savvy can have a massive impact on the way in which users will interact with the site and this, of course, will have knock on effects in terms of repeat visits and those all important money-making conversions. The fact that users may not, and probably will not, know as much about using the internet as you do is something that I think gets overlooked too often.

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I like Apple. Well, let me clarify; I appreciate what apple do. They provide beautiful, well made products that, on the most part, perform at levels well above the most popular competitors. But there are two things that the company does that really grind my gears. One is the fact that they charge absolutely insane amounts for a lot of their products, (You can spec up a MacPro for over £16,000 that won’t be as fast as an £8000 PC) and the other is when they pull the kind of shit they have with the new iPod Shuffle.

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With a growing number of celebrity sign-ups, Twitter is well and truly taking off (in a way I didn’t expect at first) and this has led to many people fearing for the great service’s integrity. Will it become a bloated, meaningless “Who has the longest dick (the most friends)” sort of social network… you know, like MySpace? Well I don’t think it will, or can, ever happen. Let me explain why.

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Tech

Skillz dat killz!

In case you haven’t been paying attention, we appear to be in a recession, and during these hard times it can’t hurt to work on the old skill set and diversify a little so that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. If you’ve been following over the past few months I’ve taught myself how to build a WordPress theme and have actually recently done one as a freelance job. Now however, I thought it was time to turn my hand to something else. When it comes down to it, building a WordPress theme isn’t much more than coding an xHTML and CSS website so I wanted to learn something a bit more… you know, scripty.

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In my last post I discussed a particular web design company’s lack of standards compliance and broke down, why I thought that, although they were cheap, they didn’t offer value for money. This time, I’m going to look at the same issue but from the other side. As a designer, you want to give your client the best but at the same time you don’t want to sell yourself short. Of course there are standards that, no matter what the project, you need to stick to… text alternatives to images, always declaring a doctype, these are fundamentals. But published guidelines can get very very picky and sticking to them 100%… well, it can be a bitch. How far is it feasible to take it?

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So the other day, the local paper came through my door and, being bored, I gave it a quick glance. On the front page, amidst a story of a brave tom cat being involved in some sort of gun based ordeal, I noticed a large full colour advert for a local web design company offering “professional” websites for small-medium businesses for as little as £200! I instantly jumped online and looked at the company’s site, websiteportfolio.co.uk and saw pretty much straight away why the prices were so low.

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Tech

Photos on iPod… GRRRRRR!!!

On the whole I like the way you manage media on your ipod using iTunes. It’s a pretty simple drag and drop affair for music, podcasts videos and playlists… However, I find myself totally frustrated at how photos are handled! You can’t just drag a bunch of photos to your iPod… oh no… you have to go through a very unintuitive sync process. That’s not the worst part though. What I want to use the photo functionality for is to take my favourite shots from my recent outings away with me to show my friends down the pub. I don’t want to keep a full library of photos on there. Once I have some new ones, I want to take the old ones off and put the new ones on. Simple. But because of the needlessly convoluted method of syncing, the easiest way I’ve found to do this is to create a folder called ipod or something and put my latest photos in there for syncing and remove them when I’m done. This way, the next time I sync it will overwrite the photos on the ipod with the empty folder or any new images that I’ve put in there.

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You heard right… Apple, a company that can seemingly do no wrong at the moment might have hit a snag with the iPhone 3G (More specifically, the newest iPhone software and it’s “support for third party apps”). Problem is it’s a snag that Microsoft has all but eliminated from Windows for the past six or seven years. Of course this is just speculation on my part but to be honest, if it looks like tuna, smells like tuna and tastes like tuna… it’s probably tuna. I’m talking about DLL hell.

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