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Creative Web Development - CSS, XHTML, Javascript and RTML for Yahoo Store

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Quick Update

Wow, has it really been 11 days since my last post? That's 11 days of saying "tomorrow, I'll find an hour" - geez. My girlfriend and friends are already starting to see me less and less...and it's only going to get worse for now. It sure did become our busy season fast this year...just a few weeks ago, I remember having enough free time to spend at least an hour a day with Kris, and another with my plants (luckily it's near the end of the season with those).

During September through early December, our Yahoo Store clients are all trying to redesign/update for the holidays, and boy do we have a lot of them right now. We also temporarily lost two programmer (but luckily hired another one, who seems very on-the-ball) so that increased our team's stress for a little bit. They're both on the mend and coming back very soon, thank god.

In what free time I am finding I'm working on a local RTML editor, which is being built in four stages: 1) Typing templates as you would see them on the screen and uploading them; 2) Same as 1 but with a "button bar" interface like the one in Y! Store so you can paste within, paste after etc; 3) full editor with variables page and objects (items) so I can work locally in the same environment. Phase 1 is near completion, but phase 2 is the hard one. I have it conceputalized but as all programmers know - the reality is much more difficult. From phase 2, phase 3 should be easy.

We also went to two weddings I didn't blog about yet. First, my friends Craig and Jen from Delaware got married (congratulations) and THAT was a fun party! I got to see some people I hadn't seen in a while (check out Brian's Deals Blog!) and that's awesome. Hopefully I can find another weekend to go down there and party with them again soon.

And then, my mom got remarried last weekend. The service was small and cozy, and beautiful - the preacher told some really great stories in a very atypical ceremony (should anything less be expected from my family?). My mom looked beautiful (I got to give her away and present the rings), and she seems really happy, which is the most important part. Rick's a really cool guy, I hope they're doing well.

So, that's what's been taking up my time. I've got to get back to work, I'm working on a project that I'm not sure if I'm allowed to disclose until it's done, but hopefully it will turn out very profitable for the company. And, if I get it done in time, more work on Phase 1 of the local RTML editor, which is expected to be finished by Tuesday morning (because I'm training my guys on it Tuesday afternoon).

Until then!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Gmail Conversation Preview Bubbles - Firefox Grease Monkey Script

I have a problem with sorting my email - I set up filters, but never remember to archive everything. Plus, I'm plagued with a habit of marking an email as unread (when I'm busy) so I don't forget to reply - and then forgetting to check unread messages that have moved off-screen.

Fortunately, there's a great script[1] for GreaseMonkey[2] (a FireFox[3] extension[4]) that I've been using for a little while now. By giving the ability to right-click a message in your Inbox to preview, archive, or keep unread it really makes using Gmail much smoother and easier to use. The implementation is excellent and Gmail doesn't load any slower in Firefox for me than at all.

Gmail Conversation Preview Bubbles [persistent.info]

[1] Script (Right-click and Install User Script)
[2] GreaseMonkey Home
[3] Get Firefox
[4] Firefox Extensions from Mozilla.org

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) User-Agent Spoof

Anyone using IE7 who is locked out of OrderMotion or any other applications that don't officially support IE7, here is how to get around it (thanks to MickeyMouse of Tech-Recipes.com for the original post):

IE7 User-agent Spoof for IE6
  1. Click Start
  2. Click Run
  3. In the textbox type regedit and click OK
  4. In the registry editor browse to the following key: [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Internet Settings\ 5.0\ User Agent]
  5. Click the Edit menu
  6. Select New
  7. Select String Value
  8. Name the string: version
  9. Right-click this new string
  10. Select Modify
  11. In the value data box, place this text: MSIE 6.0
  12. Click OK
  13. Close regedit and restart IE
Very special thanks to Justin Rattigan for emailing me the tip!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Difference between Fruits and Vegetables

I was reading around on the internet researching peppers and tomatoes (my two biggest crops this year) wondering to myself, "Is a pepper a fruit or a vegetable?" and found a random posting about the difference between fruits and vegetables. Here's what I IMed to myself at home (I can't find the link anymore - [edit: Difference between fruits and vegetables, thanks Andrey!).

I think the fundamental problem here is that people think that the words 'fruit' and 'vegetable' are mutally exclusive.

Here is a dictionary definition of a vegetable:
The edible part of a plant, such as the root of the beet, the leaf of spinach, or the flower buds of broccoli or cauliflower.

And a dictionary definition of a fruit:
The ripened ovary or ovaries of a seed-bearing plant, together with accessory parts, containing the seeds and occurring in a wide variety of forms.

A tomato (or pepper) is an edible part of a plant. It is also a ripened ovary which contains seeds. Therefore it is a fruit AND a vegetable.

I've heard a million things about the difference and people's takes, but based on everything I've read and heard, as far as I'm concerned that's the definitive answer. I would love to hear anyone else's thoughts on the subject.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Join our Google Talk Pros/Cons Discussion

My friend and I have been discussing the pros and cons of Google Talk and it has raised some interesting points on both sides. Feel free to join us in our discussion at Andrey Smagin's Blog.

[1] My post when Google Talk was released

Traybar Part 2 - Using it to EASILY replace the Start Menu

I posted a few days ago about Traybar, but missed one of the most vital shortcuts - how to actually use it to replace the Start Menu! Here's a quick step by step guide. The screenshots are embedded in the instructions in an attempt to try something new. :) I do this procedure immediately after any new program is installed. The backup is always in my start menu if I need it (which is rarely) and I can immediately delete any crap off my desktop as well.
  1. Navigate the Start Menu to the shortcut you want to add.
  2. Right-click it, choose "Properties", then click "Find Target".
  3. This will take you to the folder with the executable file.
  4. Right-click the .exe file and choose "Add to Traybar".
  5. Choose a Traybar folder on the "Add to Traybar" screen.
  6. The shortcut will be in the bottom of the folder you choose.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Speeding up your Internet Connections in Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Internet Explorer

There are a lot of tweaks out there for speeding up your internet browsing (and downloading) experience, but a lot of them are flim-flam. Some of them do work though, and I plan to post about both types (debunking the former of course), including a pretty nice Word Document I wrote for a few friends and teammates at SolidCactus who I know use Firefox a lot. Unfortunately, I'm away for the holiday weekend and don't have my full resources at my disposal right now.

So, the first one I'll touch upon is the "Max-connections" tweak. Does this work? In my experience, it does immensely. Here's why: when you're browsing a website that has, say, 50 images on it (like a Flickr thumbnail gallery) - HTTP specifications say you're only supposed to download 2 of them at max at a time (4 for HTTP/1.0 servers)[1]. While these numbers reduce load on the servers[2], it also slows down the display of the page, as you're only getting images 2 at a time.

You will also notice this if you try to download multiple files from a site, for example 3 executable or movie files from the same server. If you have two already downloading, the third won't allow you to setup the download until you've finished one, which can lead to a lot of wasted time at the PC if you want to (for example) set up 5 large files to download overnight and then go to bed while they transfer.

As far as what numbers to use for each connection type, I have mine set to 10 (http) and 15 (http/1.0) and it seems to work great. Some recommend using 4 and 8, then trying with 6 and 10 if that's too slow, testing and increasing as you see fit. This is really a matter of personal preference and as I'm constantly downloading batches of files from servers, sometimes I will change mine to as high as 24 and 48.

So, how do you increase this number?

  1. Start the Registry Editor (Start|Run|Regedit)
  2. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Internet Settings
  3. Select New > DWORD Value from the Edit menu
  4. Name the new value MaxConnectionsPer1_0Server
  5. Right-click the MaxConnectionsPer1_0Server value and choose Modify
  6. Under Base, click the radio button next to Decimal
  7. In the Value Data: box enter the number of simultaneous connections you want to set *see note above, and click OK
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 using the new value MaxConnectionsPerServer
  9. Exit the registry editor
  10. Close ALL Explorer windows (I've found it safest to close all Folders too, and/or Reboot to be safe if it doesn't seem to work immediately).
  1. Open Firefox
  2. In the browser address bar type about:config (shortcut to the address bar using Ctrl+L)
  3. In the search box that appears type network.http to shrink the list down to what we need
  4. Find and modify the following values:
    • network.http.max-connections to 128
    • network.http.max-connections-per-server to 48
    • network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-proxy to 24
    • network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server to 12
  5. The reason I use higher number in Firefox is because I tend to have many tabs in firefox and will open a large number at any one time (for example, "Open all Blog bookmarks in new tabs")
  6. Or, if you are very familiar with Firefox and know about user.js you can add the following lines: user_pref("network.http.max-connections", 128);
    user_pref("network.http.max-connections-per-server", 48);
    user_pref("network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-proxy", 24);
    user_pref("network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server", 12);
  1. Open Opera
  2. Go to Options > Network
  3. Change Max connections to server to 48
  4. Change Max total connections to 128
  5. Change Size of network buffer to 32KB (this one might not actually do anything, I don't use Opera enough to have noticed a difference)

[1] W3C HTTP/1.1 Connections RFC
[2] Hacking Firefox (and why this might be a bad idea)
[3] Firefox Speed Settings explained (MozillaZine)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Setting the Default Font in Microsoft Word and Excel

This one is a pretty simple shortcut that stops a major annoyance for me in Microsoft Office. I really hate Times New Roman and much prefer Trebuchet MS, Verdana, Georgia, or even Arial sometimes. And Lord help me if I ever go back to Comic Sans MS...but that's a whole different rant.

So, how do you change the default font in Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel? Piece of cake. 3 screenshots for Word, 2 for Excel - what could be easier?

Changing the Default Font in Microsoft Word

1. Go to the Format menu, and choose "Font". (Alt+O, F)

2. Choose the font you want, and press "Default" (Alt+D) at the bottom.

3. Click "Yes" to the dialog that pops up.

Now I bet you're all cocky, and want to try it in Excel too. Lucky for you, it's even easier than Word!

Changing the Default Font in Microsoft Excel

1. Go to the Tools menu, and choose "Options". (Alt+T, O)

2. Go to the "General" tab and change the "Standard Font" area.

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