Microsoft

IE6 and IE7 limit CSS links to 30

Saturday, August 15th, 2009 | Business | 1 Comment

Help!  Working in Drupal and having trouble getting stylesheets to work?  Did they break all of a sudden in Internet Explorer only?

I can’t see my stylesheets anymore in IE6 or IE7!

Internet Explorer limits the number of stylesheets included with a LINK tag

That’s right.  If you include an additional CSS file beyond 30, it will break other CSS files.

This problem is only in IE6 and IE7.  Officially I’m sure Microsoft says the fix is to upgrade to IE8.

What code causes the problem? Perfectly valid code below:

[sourcecode language='html'] [/sourcecode]

Just repeat that 31 times, and you will see an error.

The Solution

While <link> tags may have issues beyond 30 stylesheets being included, you can cheat with using @import.

For example, include CSS using the following instead:

[sourcecode language='html']

[/sourcecode]

If you’re working in Drupal, there’s a module that implements this fix for you, IE Unlimited CSS Loader.

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Google Calendar Sync – Easy Calendar Backup

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 | Personal | 5 Comments

I run Microsoft Outlook 2007 as my main email / calendar application.  Say what you want, but I love it (I’m always open to suggestions if anyone has them).

The problem that I encountered last week, what happens when your entire calendar / datebook for the next year is lost to a computer crash?

How do you recover?

I introduce, Google Calendar Sync.  Yes, it’s meant to give you access to your calendar online, but a useful secondary feature is that it’s an online backup.

The Situation

My iPhone syncs with my Outlook calendar, my Outlook calendar syncs with my Google Calendar, and all data is shared.

Last week with my computer failure, I had to reinstall everything.  I knew having my email hosted at Google would make it easy to both access it while the computer was down, as well as let me sync up when the computer came back up.

I never realized how easy it would be to re-import all of my calendar information into outlook.  I thought it would be some combination of iPhone syncing (which has my full calendar) and exporting from Google Calendar.

The solution

After getting my empty outlook installed, I went to Install Google Calendar Sync.  It works in Windows 7 64-bit for me, even though Google says it won’t.  

It is an easy install, and seconds later my entire calendar was back in my Outlook!

I don’t have much to write, it’s just so easy.

The Conclusion

You have important data.  It is so convenient to have access to your calendar online, as well as on your computer, or on your iPhone.  It’s also a great way to backup and recover rapidly.

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Windows 7 – First Impressions

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 | Personal | No Comments

It’s been a while — life has been quite busy.  Drupal, WordPress, Blender, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Illustrator, Flex, Flash, Actionscript, Papervision.  Even got some bicycling and racquetball in there on the weekends.

In the past, wow, month.  I’ve been up to quite a bit, and will be posting things on here about them all.  Right now my main focus is on my new install of Microsoft Windows 7 (the Release Candidate) while it is still fresh in my mind.

Background, Vista Recovery

A little bit of background, last week on Thursday I woke up to my Vista (32-bit) workstation completely hosed.  After a lengthy chat session with a Dell support rep (I can’t say how happy I was with the Dell support guy, he was friendly, smart, and patient through an almost 6 hour long chat session), I managed to get access to the files on my disk to back them up.  Happily, I reformatted.  I really needed it. 

The most amazing thing was when I put the Microsoft Vista DVD in, and it actually got my system to boot into “windows’.  Of course I had no icons or anything, the system was actually fixed by the Vista repair actions (a first for me, usually the only use I have for those is to get a command prompt to see the extent of the damage).

While the machine was on, but with no desktop — I was able to map to the drives through another computer and backup information (\\{Computer IP}\C$, D$, E$ until I found drives K, L and M).  That took forever, but it was successful.

Windows Vista 32-bit Install

It took FOREVER to get all the updates installed.  I know updates just accumulate while software is out.  I don’t remember it taking this long to update my XP machine which I had to reinstall 3 or 4 years into the lifecycle.  Maybe Vista just has more updates, but it took forever to get my machine back in working order.

Once I was up again, things were much faster (as they always are after a fresh format). 

I want to note, I’ve never had many Vista 32-bit driver issues, or any performance issues.  The few issues I had revolved around a few pieces of software that didn’t have drivers or fully compatible version for a few months after the Vista launch.

Welcome to Windows 7, how Vista should have been – the first 24 hours

Wow.  I downloaded the 64-bit Release Candidate from the official Windows 7 page yesterday.  I want to take advantage of the 16 slots my machine has for RAM.  Who wouldn’t?

I have a lot of good, and some bad, things to say about Windows 7 so far.

I’ll start with the positive:

  • The install process was a piece of cake, I’m running a raid controller for my OS drive (raid 0, living on the edge) — and didn’t have to do anything special
  • Updates to the OS through windows update were painless.  I want to say it was less than 10% of the downloads required by my Vista install a few days earlier, though the software isn’t even released yet.
  • Hardware wise, I have had ZERO, 0, problems with Windows Live 7.  not like the handful of hardware issues Vista32-bit had at launch
  • Google Chrome is giving me some issues.  I can get it to work occassionally but it always ends up “crashing” somehow.
  • I actually am not minding IE8, but I miss Chrome
  • Faster.  It’s true, this runs faster out of the box than my tweaked Vista install
  • Clean and easy interface.
  • Lots of room for running applications
  • Most of my old installers worked, a few of the installers had 64-bit versions I had to download
  • Everything with regards to the network seems to respond faster
  • It’s free! (for now)
  • Cleaner Start Menu
  • Higher Windows Experience Ratings

The Bad:

  • IE8 (yes, I don’t mind it, but I dislike having to use it instead of my Chrome)
  • Google Chrome won’t work well
  • Things have obviously moved, and I”m not comfortable with the locations yet.  This is really just me being stubborn
  • It will expire in 2010, and require a purchase

Conclusion

I’m happy with the install and highly recommend it.  I have not lost any productivity.  I’m not sure I’ve gained any though. 

I will continue to report on my experiences.

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How do I use transparent PNGs in IE6: Using AlphaImageLoader

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 | Tutorials | No Comments

Internet Explorer is a tough beast.  It was very popular years ago.  Unfortunately, it’s still in use in out there.

This site, www.seangw.com, has a fairly technical crowd.  We still see approximately 3% of our visits from IE6 (Firefox is the most popular at 64%, then IE7 at 14%, Safari at 10%, then Chrome at 5%).  

I don’t believe IE6 should be supported anymore.  In many jobs, that isn’t our decision to make.  We can recommend ignoring IE6 specific issues, but should do so intelligently:

  • Identify the current IE6 audience (knowing it will probably decrease over time)
  • Approximate the cost of supporting IE6 (depends on what you are trying to do)
  • Present the pertinent information to the client, and let them make an informed decision
  • You should tell the client what you feel, but make sure they understand the difference between emotion and facts

Note: If your client makes $1,000,000 online every year, ignoring that minor 3% audience means possibly ignoring about $30,000 in revenue.  Math is enlightening sometimes.

At that, you are here, and STILL want to do transparent PNGs in IE6.  

How to implement transparent PNGs in IE6
It’s pretty standard the method for implementing transparent PNGs in IE6 by now.  

This method is for implementations in CSS (you are using CSS, aren’t you?).  

Frequently I find myself making a quick browser detect for IE6 (since there are oh so many issues that only affect IE6).  I use basic IE conditional comments:

<body>
<head>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css" type="text/css" />

<!-- [if lte IE 6]>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="styleIE6.css" type="text/css" />
< ![endif] -->
</head>
<body>
</body>
</html>

There you go, now when you setup your styles in style.css and realize they don’t work in ie6, edit them in styleIE6.css to get them working again.

Assuming you defined a logo in style.css as follows:

#logo {
  width: 300px; 
  height: 150px;
  background: url(images/logo.png) no-repeat left top;
}

You will find that the PNG does NOT work in IE6.

The fix is easy, we tell IE6 to use the Microsoft DXImageTransform AlphaImageLoader to render the PNG. So we add an IE6 specific change ot the styleIE6.css file:

#logo {
  background: transparent;
  filter: progid:DXImageTransform:Microsoft.AlphaImageLoader(src='images/logo.png', sizingMethod='scale');
}

There you go. It should work now.

The background: transparent thing tells the browser to ignore the originally defined background used in the original CSS document.

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In Google We Trust

Friday, January 9th, 2009 | Personal | No Comments

I hear about the anti trust lawsuits against Microsoft.  Honestly, I think they are a little bit of “hey, lets get the big guy — he’ll pay us to go away” — but still, we’re protecting our bests interests.  

We trust Google.  Google has always been the digital apple of software user’s eyes.  Think about it, when was the last time you were pissed at Google?  So we trust google.  We trust google’s famous mantra “Do No Evil”.  We trust all of our emails with Google.  We trust Google with our digital lives, and sometimes more (how many of us acknowledge Google’s Picasa web albums as what we consider acceptable backup of some of our most precious moments.  We condiser Google a member of our family, someone we would trust with most of our private information.  

We need Google.   On my daily routine, I must use some aspect of Google every 5 minutes.  It’s disgusting if you think about it.  How much we rely on certain things, notions, and ideas to be constant in our lives.  How much of the web relies on Google?  Lets look at what I use Google for:

  • My Gmail account
  • My seangw.com email (I won’t even get into how much of my life depends on that email service)
  • My calendar gets sync’d with my google calendar
  • Support for all of my technical issues
  • Reference material for my profession
  • IM
  • It’s where I send my family to see photos
  • This blog submits every post to Google
  • This blog uses Google’s Adsense, for advertising revenue (however small that may be)
  • 80% of the traffic on this blog comes from Google
  • I throw out those pesky outdated firmware CD’s that come with hardware, because I can google for updated drivers and firmware
  • Desktop Search
  • Web traffic analysis (analytics)
  • SEO tools
  • You Tube (enough said)

I’m sure there are dozens more uses I have on a daily basis for Google’s technology. 

Now what if one day I couldn’t log into any of the services I use at Google?  We depend on google.  I think if I found out I couldn’t use Google products and services, my life would change dramatically.

An article on Chris Brogan‘s blog, When Google Owns You, describes the story of Nick Saber, who loses his Google account.

The problem with monopolies is that we end up relying on them.  Even if there is no mal-intent, what if a mistake occurs?  A simple keystroke on a keyboard somewhere can probably delete our online lives.  

When do we trust a company too much?

Google likely knows more about you, than your significant other.  Additionally, you probably rely on Google (funtionally at least) more than your spouse.  

I’m going to think about Google in a different way. They have a lot of control, for a company who has automated email responses.  

After all, individually, Google doesn’t need us.

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Favorite Software for Web Development

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 | Business | 1 Comment

Sometimes when you start out doing something on computers, it seems so hard until you get the tools that everyone else uses.

In this post I’m asking everyone else for feedback, what do you like to use?  Go ahead and comment it in there, I’ll add it to the article as I see em.

Below are some of my favorite pieces of software for web development, some will be very obvious (Flash, Photoshop, etc.) … some maybe not so much:

TextPad
I love textpad for basic text changes from everything PHP, to HTML, to writing notes.   It’s great to have multiple documents, line numbers, quick global / file / local search and replaces etc.  I use this when I’m working with source files, XML definition files, CSS files, to CFM or other formats.  I love it.  

HomeSite
Those of you who know homesite, will know it’s pretty much gone nowadays.   The heyday was many years ago.  The direct FTP editing was amazingly useful.  It has some features that I still go back to now and then.  Mostly search and replace functionality, FTP based editing (right on ther server … mostly), document formatting (code sweeper), and other utilitarian functions.  

CuteFTP Pro
Working on the web, we all are in constant use of FTP (more so than we should be).  Cute FTP has always been a staple of my software toolbox.  It’s so easy to launch connections to all the FTP servers you use throughout the day, keep them open for jumping between projects.  The number of protocols it supports is flexible (FTP, FTP w/ SSL, SFTP, HTTP, HTTPS, etc.), and it always seem to be able to connect.  The speeds and setting are highly configurable.  It’s nice having 50 simultaneous downloads going at a time.

Tortoise SVN
Whoever isn’t using SVN, should be using SVN (or CVS or whatever other version control system you can think of).  Tortoise SVN is an essential windows interface enhancement to integrate SVN into the file browser.  For those of you who use CVS, there’s a Tortoise CVS as well.  It is easy to look at version histories, compare files based on modification dates, and to pull down new updates.  

Subversion
Source control is underutilized in my experience.   So many sites aren’t run with source control.  Think of the advantages: automatic source control, automatic offsite backup (if you use an external host — which I would love to recommend svnrepository.com, a very cheap hosted SVN repository).  Read about it, get used to it, it will save a project.

Eclipse
You were waiting for me to say it weren’t you?   An open source IDE.  Technically it started as a Java IDE (most Java developers should be intimately familiar with this).  Thanks to add-ons developed by the community, it supports, quite adeptly, PHP and other web development technologies.  It has built in SVN support, supports deployment scripts… its amazing.  Try it, explore the community around it.  Check out the Subclipse add-on, as well as the Web Developer Tools, and Eclipse XML Editors and Tools.

Adobe Flash (Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium)
Pretty much a no brainer, you need Adobe Flash to develop flash.  It’s a great tool, worth every penny.

Adobe Photoshop (Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium)
Another obvious one.  Photoshop is a requirements for all web development.  No, you shouldn’t be doing web design work as a developer.  However, there is always the need to look at colors, size things, cut up images, process original artwork, the list goes on forever.  I really recommend the Adobe Creative Suite, we use almost all of the software anyway.  

Microsoft Word (Microsoft Office)
You will always need this (or another decent word processor).  Yes, you can get by without it.  However the sheer amount of things Word can handle: Estimates, Proposals, Letterheads, Envelopes, Labels, the list goes on and on.. you will wish you had it someday.

Microsoft Excel (Microsoft Office)
Another one that you don’t always think about, but excel makes writing estimates so much easier.  You can update your entire estimate based upon a new discount, manage hours, track changes.  I’ve used Google’s online spreadsheets before – they are great.  But they aren’t fully able to replace excel yet. 

Microsoft PowerPoint (Microsoft Office)
Those proposals are much better with an accompanying presentation. Tell your clients what you do, what they need, in a way that can impact people in a conference room.  Everyone yawns when it comes to yet ANOTHER powerpoint presentation, but you look unprofessional without one in most cases. 

MySQL
Normally this is on a hosted platform, but you need a database to do the cooler web development projects.  MySQL is cheap, but if you want you can substitute in Microsoft SQL Server, or even Oracle.  In my experience if you know why you want MS or Oracle, you can pay for them.  If you don’t know why you want either of those, just go with MySQL.  

PHP MY Admin
Administration software is just as important as the backend engine, at least for development.  It lets you manage a database online, easily, and export simply.  If you haven’t used it, try it. 

SQL Server Management Studio
Another tool for development on SQL servers.  Same as PHP My Admin, arguably much more helpful, but it is a client app.  If you’re working with Oracle, or prefer these desktop applications to the PHPMyAdmin web interface — check out Aqua Data Studio

There are really dozens more tools I consider very useful.  Not exluding:

- Versions of all browsers
- VPN Connectivity software
- Remote Desktop
- VNC Client
- pcAnywhere (not so much anymore)
- Outlook / Email Client

Last but not least, is Google.  It is the best tool you will have when working in web development.

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CSS in IE8 will support “Tables”, fixes problems in CSS

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 | Business | 1 Comment

There’s a great article at Digital Web Magazine, Everything You Know About CSS Is Wrong.

One of the problems that has always plagued CSS is absolute positioning, relative positioning, and the need to set things up like a “table”.  By that I mean setting up three divs to look like the following:

 

In the image above you will see the classic problem, code for a talbe structure like this would look something like:

<div class="outerContainer">
<div class="textContainer">... longer text ...</div>
<div class="textContainer">... shorter text ...</div>
<div class="textContainer">... shorter text ...</div>
</div>

The problem here, being that if the first text container grows, we want the other 2 containers to grow with it.

Obviously, we could specificy a specific height for the textContainer class, and they would all match.  But what if the first container copy grows, or maybe the copy in the 2nd or 3rd container grows longer than the first container.

This becomes even more complex when specificying multiple rows of textContainers, where there are vertically spanning cells as well.

In traditional “non-css” HTML this was done simply through tables, very simply actually.  Now that everyone has turned to CSS to make page sizes smaller, make styling effective, and increase flexibility of layouts — we try to avoid tables unless we are presenting a .. Table.

Normally I would have created a clever background image that has a top, bottom (both divs above and below the textContainers), and a tiling vertical background to appear like all columns have the correct sizing (when in fact they don’t).  Effectively removing control over each textContainer’s background, and the main container’s background from the CSS and putting it into a series of images.  

It worked but we sacrificed flexibility.

Take a look at the article, again, Everything You Know About CSS Is Wrong, as they detail how IE8 aims to fix this behavior through a series of CSS display properties.

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Android and Silverlight will help the iPhone

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008 | Personal | 1 Comment

So the #1 competition that the iPhone has, Google’s Android — and Apple’s big rival’s, Microsoft’s, rich web plug-in Silverlight — Will both help the iPhone?

Absolutely.

Lets all be honest here, Apple’s been holding control of the iPhone in too close.  We all have wanted GPS navigtion (real gps navigation), VOIP applications, alternative email applications, alternative podcasting apps, better browsing experience, and an overall better experience.

Until now, Apple had the final say on all of those things.  Preventing applications that competed with the iPhone’s core functionality, relenting to implement common technologies such as VOIP applications, Flash in Safari, and other nice to have’s.

With the Android platform out there, we can all bet it will soon have both Flash and Silverlight running.  It’s just a matter of time.  

Apple can’t afford to be so stringent, with a fairly capable competitor doing things that will gain it significant market share.

I love my iPhone, but if the Android gets flash and Silverlight (not that I’m a fan of Silverlight, but at least it’s something) — I’d probably give Apple a week or 2 to make an announcement, then go right out and get one.  Not only that, I’d happily leave AT&T for another provider. 

We all hope Apple sees this, and starts helping us out.

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jQuery becomes an official part of Microsoft and Nokia Frameworks

Monday, September 29th, 2008 | Business | No Comments

As posted on the official jQuery blog, “jQuery, Microsoft, and Nokia“, jQuery is being made an official part of the development platforms for both Microsoft and Nokia.

That’s going to be quite the blow to other frameworks.  Does this mean Scriptaculous will be slowing down?

I think this may have been strategic, as Apple has pushed Scriptaculous, and other developers have been using the Yahoo AJAX kit, as well as the Google AJAX kits.

All in all, great news for the talented jQuery team.  A great piece of software that is changing the way the web is being built.

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