2005.04.08

Awesome Firefox Extensions

Anthony Lieuallen of Arantius.com has a great page called Awesome Firefox Extensions. If you're new to Firefox or extensions, or are interested in finding some great new one, definitely head over there to check it out.

One extension not listed that I would personally recommend is Target Alert. This extension adds a small icon next to any links that aren't to standard web pages. For example, it inserts a small envelope icon next to any email links, and a small PDF icon next to any .pdf links. (The PDF alert is particularily useful, since loading a PDF is slow sluggish and I often want to avoid it all together!) It offers alerts for many file extension (you can turn on and off as needed), and also alerts to links that will open new windows. The new window alert is great, because I then know to press alt-shirt to force the load into a new tab instead of a new browser window.

Anyways, I've been meaning to publish my recommended list of extensions, but this will have to do for now.

Posted by Nate Koechley on April 8, 2005 at 04:31 PM in Accessibility, Internationalization, CSS Media Types, Browsers, HOWTO's and Tutorials, References, Software and Tools, Web Development | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

2005.04.07

Three Weeks of W3C

Below are pointers to about a dozen activites coming out of the World Wide Web Consortium over the last three weeks. You can follow along on their homepage or with their feed. Standards-based design and development can be about more than using existing standards; in the best cases, it's about helping to create the standards in the first place! By being aware of the work underway at the W3C, you can have a good sense of where the industry and technologies are going, even if you don't get your hands dirty in any of the working groups.

Three Weeks Worth


Working Draft: SVG's XML Binding Language (sXBL)

2005-04-06: The Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) Working Group and the CSS Working Group have released a third Working Draft of SVG's XML Binding Language (sXBL). The sXBL language defines the presentation and interactive behavior of elements outside the SVG namespace. The XBL task force welcomes comments and seeks feedback on three issues outlined in the status section. Visit the SVG and CSS home pages. (News archive)

Last Call: XQuery, XPath and XSLT

2005-04-04: The XML Query Working Group and the XSL Working Group released twelve Working Drafts for the XQuery, XPath and XSLT languages. Seven are in last call through 13 May. Important for databases, search engines and object repositories, XML Query can perform searches, queries and joins over collections of documents. XSLT transforms documents into different markup or formats. Both XQuery and XSLT 2 use XPath expressions and operate on XPath Data Model instances. Visit the XML home page. (News archive)

Working Draft: Compound Document Use Cases and Requirements

2005-04-04: The Compound Document Formats Working Group has released an updated Working Draft of Compound Document by Reference Use Cases and Requirements Version 1.0. A compound document combines multiple formats, such as XHTML, SVG, XForms, MathML and SMIL. This draft introduces compounding by a reference like img, object, link, src and XLink. Compounding by inclusion is planned for a later phase. Visit the Compound Document home page. (News archive)

Last Call: Web Services Addressing

2005-03-31: The Web Services Addressing Working Group has released two Last Call Working Drafts. Web Services Addressing - Core enables messaging systems to support transmission through networks that include processing nodes such as endpoint managers, firewalls, and gateways. SOAP Binding defines the core properties' association to SOAP messages. Visit the Web services home page. (News archive)

XML Binary Characterization Notes Published

2005-03-31: The XML Binary Characterization Working Group has released its evaluation, recommending that W3C produce a standard for binary interchange of XML. Published today as a Working Group Note, XML Binary Characterization is supported by use cases, properties and measurement methodologies. Optimized serialization can improve the generation, parsing, transmission and storage of XML-based data. Visit the XML home page. (News archive)

Upcoming W3C Talks

2005-03-31: Browse W3C presentations and events also available as an RSS channel. (News archive)

Last Call: XML Schema Component Designators

2005-03-29: The XML Schema Working Group has released a Last Call Working Draft of XML Schema: Component Designators. Comments are welcome through 26 April. The document defines a scheme for identifying the XML Schema components specified by the XML Schema Recommendation Part 1 and Part 2. Visit the XML home page. (News archive)

Working Draft: RDF/Topic Maps Interoperability

2005-03-29: The Semantic Web Best Practices and Deployment Working Group has released the First Public Working Draft of A Survey of RDF/Topic Maps Interoperability Proposals. The document is a starting point for establishing standard guidelines for combined usage of the W3C RDF/OWL family and the ISO family of Topic Maps standards. The group expects to publish Survey and Guidelines Working Group Notes based on this draft. Visit the Semantic Web home page. (News archive)

RDF Data Access Use Cases and Requirements Updated

2005-03-25: The RDF Data Access Working Group has released an updated Working Draft of RDF Data Access Use Cases and Requirements. The draft suggests how an RDF query language and data access protocol could be used in the construction of novel, useful Semantic Web applications in areas like Web publishing, personal information management, transportation and tourism. The group invites feedback on which features are required for a first version of SPARQL and which should be postponed in order to expedite deployment of others. Visit the Semantic Web home page. (News archive)

C

all for Participation: W3C Workshop on XML Schema 1.0 User Experiences

2005-03-23: Position papers are due 20 May for the W3C Workshop on XML Schema 1.0 User Experiences to be held 21-22 June in Redwood Shores, California, USA. Schema authors and users, developers and vendors of schema-aware code generators, middleware, validators, and the W3C XML Schema Working Group will gather to discuss user experience with XML Schema 1.0. The workshop goal is to arrive at plan of action for XML Schema 1.0 interoperability, errata and clarification. Read about W3C workshops and visit the XML home page. (News archive)

Last Call: Timed Text Distribution Profile

2005-03-21: The Timed Text (TT) Working Group has released a Last Call Working Draft of the Timed Text (TT) Authoring Format 1.0 Distribution Format Exchange Profile (DFXP). The format enables authors and authoring systems to interchange style, layout and timing associated with text. DFXP helps to transform and distribute subtitles and captions to legacy systems. Comments are welcome through 11 April. Visit the Synchronized Multimedia home page. (News archive)

Working Draft: Compound Document Use Cases and Requirements

2005-03-15: The Compound Document Formats Working Group has released the First Public Working Draft of Compound Document by Reference Use Cases and Requirements Version 1.0. A compound document combines multiple formats, such as XHTML, SVG, XForms, MathML and SMIL. This draft introduces compounding by a reference like img, object, link, src and XLink. Compounding by inclusion is planned for a later phase. Visit the Compound Document home page. (News archive)

Working Draft: Timed Text Distribution Profile

2005-03-14: The Timed Text (TT) Working Group has released an updated Working Draft of the Timed Text (TT) Authoring Format 1.0 Distribution Format Exchange Profile (DFXP). The format enables authors and authoring systems to interchange style, layout and timing associated with text. DFXP helps to transform and distribute subtitles and captions to legacy systems. Visit the Synchronized Multimedia home page. (News archive)

Call for Participation: W3C Workshop on Frameworks for Semantics in Web Services

2005-02-10: Position papers are due 22 April for the W3C Workshop on Frameworks for Semantics in Web Services to be held 9-10 June in Innsbruck, Austria. Participants will discuss possible future W3C work on a comprehensive and expressive framework for describing all aspects of Web services. The workshop's goal is to envision more powerful tools and fuller automation using Semantic Web technologies such as RDF and OWL. Read about W3C workshops and visit the Web services home page. (News archive)

Posted by Nate Koechley on April 7, 2005 at 01:15 AM in Accessibility, Internationalization, CSS Media Types, Browsers, News, References, Search, Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Networking and Community, Software and Tools, Web Development, Yahoo! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2005.03.30

Flickr Tips: Monitoring Comments and Configuring Alerts

Monitoring Comments and Conversations

After I used Flickr for a while, I started to pay more and more attention to the social and community aspects. I haven't ventured onto the message boards or chat yet, but I enjoy leaving comments on photos and having conversations there.

In several instances, I've asked for travel advice and questions about the locations and people in certain photos. Other times I've inquired about the techniques used to capture wonderful photographs or after-effects. In all these cases, it's easy to comment but it had always been hard for me to remember where I'd commented, and notice when a reply was posted.

Then I discovered the Photos you've commented on page. This page solves all those problems for me: in a clean way, it presents all the photos you've commented on. It's ordered by most recent activity, so you see photos you've recently commented on, as well as those that have been recently replied to. It works great, and has encouraged me to contribute and participate even more.

Notes and also Comments are shown in this nicely-integrated view.

Configuring Flickr Alerts

The Flickr mailbox is OK, but it doesn't' really fit into my personal online workflow. I prefer to receive my notifications in email. To set it up so Flickr sends you email instead of only adding to your Flickr mailbox, click My Account from the top of any page. From there click Notifications from Flickr (which you'll see on the right, under the Privacy Settings header) and adjust the settings. For the four choices on the page, I have "Yes", "Yes", "As soon as it happens" and "Yes please!".

To modify which email address these messages are sent to, click "Edit your email address" from back on the My Account page. (I set up an Address Guard on Yahoo Mail, which allows you to create a unique mail address, which I use to keep "alert" messages like this out of my main inbox.)

If you haven't played with Flickr for at least 10 hours, start now. You'll discover cooler and cooler features the more you use it. In fact, this "discoverability" aspect of Flickr is one of it's great strengths and attributes.

Posted by Nate Koechley on March 30, 2005 at 09:30 PM in HOWTO's and Tutorials, Idea, Knowledge & Content Management, Metadata, Photos, References, Social Networking and Community, Software and Tools | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

2005.03.17

[Invites] Filangy - Your Personal Search Engine

Filangy is a personal search engine. There are a few startups and companies playing in this space right now, but Filangy is my early favorite. Other's have written about it, including John Battelle's Search Blog, Larry Borsato, and a thorough write-up on Rob's Blog. (You can always check the latest murmurings by running a Technorati search.

Filangy is an intelligent search tool integrated with a search engine to make searching productive. We offer features that allow users to personalize their search experience. Two of the features that we have launched in our beta products are WebMarks and WebCache.
WebCache
This is a secure, web-enabled archive of all your visited webpages.
WebMarks
These are your portable favorites that are accessible from anywhere.

In other words, Filangy captures every page you visit (while it's enabled -- its' easy to pause it if you're feeling secretive), and also allows for instantaneous bookmarking while you're on a page. When you use Filangy to search, you can limit it to either of these groups: pages you've been on before; pages you've bookmarked.

I've got a few extra invites. Leave a comment or send me an email if you'd like one of them. Please include a sentence or two on the root of your curiosity and why you'll be a good recipient. (I just want to make sure that, like extra pets, they're going to good homes.)

Like most of my favorite apps these days, the value of the services is only slowly revealed. The more you use it, the more help it's able to provide. The more you use it, the more advanced features on the interface become visible... While it's somewhat counter-intuitive to hide value initially, this wonder and dare-i-say glee of discovery pays huge dividends. Anyways, let me know what you think if you've been using it, and like I said, let me know if you need an invite.

Posted by Nate Koechley on March 17, 2005 at 03:26 PM in Gadgets, Knowledge & Content Management, Metadata, References, Search, Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Software and Tools | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

2005.03.09

W3C: Working Draft: CSS3 Backgrounds and Borders

The CSS Working Group has released a Working Draft of CSS3 Backgrounds and Borders Module. The Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) language is used to render structured documents like HTML and XML on screen, on paper and in speech. Replacing two separate CSS3 modules, the draft proposes CSS Level 3 functionality including borders consisting of images and backgrounds with multiple images. (emphasis mine)

It's great to see work continue in these areas. It's due to their move to modularity that components can be released independently like this. I know I'm not alone in my excitment at the possibility of better control of backgrounds and borders (since so much of CSS design comes down to backgrounds and border tweaks).

Posted by Nate Koechley on March 9, 2005 at 01:44 PM in Accessibility, Internationalization, CSS Media Types, Browsers, References, Web Development | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

W3C: Specifying the Language of XHTML and HTML Content

The W3C's Internationalization GEO (Guidelines, Education & Outreach) Working Group has published an updated Working Draft of Specifying the Language of Content. Part of a series designed for authors, the document is an aid to specifying the language of content for an international audience.

This is still a working draft, so comments are welcome!

Posted by Nate Koechley on March 9, 2005 at 01:40 PM in Accessibility, Internationalization, CSS Media Types, Browsers, References, Web Development | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2005.02.16

FeedBurner Stats, Podcasts, Specialized RSS Clients


podcast_growth
Originally uploaded by natekoechley.
Feedburner, an RSS feed tracking company (that I use to understand my RSS statistics and readership), has been releasing some very interesting statistics recently. This batch provides some insight into the Podcasting space:


  • Since the beginning of 2005, the number of podcast feeds managed by Feedburner has more than doubled from 871 to 1746.

  • Four different rss aggregators specialized for podcasts are in the Top 50 RSS Aggregators list. This illustrates a trend that's sure to continue... There are already clients specializing in aggregating video -- how long until photo-specific show up?



Thanks for sharing, Feedburner, it's a great post. Thanks also for the interesting and valuable service you provide.


Posted by Nate Koechley on February 16, 2005 at 12:44 AM in Blogging, RSS, Browsers, Metadata, Pop Culture, References, Software and Tools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2005.02.15

News from the World Wide Web Consortium

For better or worse, I only catch up on my W3 reading every month or so. That said, here's the stuff that caught my eye recently:

Posted by Nate Koechley on February 15, 2005 at 04:58 PM in Accessibility, Internationalization, CSS Media Types, Browsers, Engineering, Layered Semantic Markup, References, Software and Tools, Web Development | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2005.02.09

Semantic Markup - Create, Support and Extract

Semantic Data Extractor

As Kevin Ryan pointed out at work yesterday, the W3's Semantic Data Extractor is a pretty sweet tool. I've been steadily promoting Layered Semantic Markup at work -- the importance of meaningful markup as the core of web development. This is a great tool to show that value, and remind that the reason you put meaning in is to get meaning out.

The tool tries to extract information from a semantically-rich HTML document. It only uses information available through the good usage of the semantics provided by HTML. “The aim is to show that providing semantically rich HTML gives much more value to your code: using semantically rich HTML allows a better use of CSS, and makes your HTML intelligible to a wider range of user agents (especially search engines bots).”

To see it in action, check out the new next.yahoo.com page. The Extractor handles it pretty well, showing a clear document hierarchy.

What is Layered Semantic Markup?

Today’s Wrong Solution is Tomorrow’s Constraint

Layered Semantic Markup (LSM) is not a technology, but a framework comprised of HTML, XHTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), Javascript, DOM and other Web technologies. LSM allows for appropriately implemented principles and standards.

LSM is a development framework for creating Web documents and experiences. LSM builds for the least capable devices first, then enhances those documents with separate logic for presentation, in ways that do not place an undue burden on baseline devices but which allow a richer experience for those users with modern graphical browser software. LSM supports all user agents, and is inclusive by design. (Progressive Enhancement - Unobtrusive Javascript)

LSM has structural semantic markup at its core, which provides lean, meaningful, accessible pages. This well-built core and the clear separation of structural, presentational and behavioral layers make this development philosophy superior to many short-sighted approaches.

Today’s wrong solution is tomorrow’s constraint. A holistic vision - an underlying philosophy - must guide technical decisions. LSM provides the strategy for a sound and future-ready approach.

LSM embraces Graded Browser Support by using one markup document, subsequently layered with stylesheets and scripts that provide a gradually enhanced experience across a wide variety of browsers and devices.

This approach has profound advantages over other browser support approaches such as graceful degradation. Graded Browser Support recognizes that advanced technology support is not a guarantee of the future, and that legacy software as well as alternative devices (mobile) must always be considered. Graded Browser Support defines support in terms of current capabilities, not in terms of legacy or obsolete software; it embraces accessibility, universality, and peaceful coexistence with more feature-rich browsers/devices; and it allows for adoption of new technology and strategies without leaving any browser/device behind.

Credits

This work is heavily influenced and contains directly passages from Debra Chamra's "Progressive Enhancement: Paving the Way for Future Web Design", Steven Champeon and Nick Finck's presentation "Inclusive Web Design For the Future with Progressive Enhancement", and Steven Champeon's "Progressive Enhancement and the Future of Web Design", all of which may be found here.

Thanks also to the great people who have endlessly debated and developed these topics with me: James Berry, Sean Imler, Todd Kloots, Jon Koshi, Mike Lee, Thomas Sha, Matt Sweeney, Chanel Wheeler, and Christina Wodtke; and everybody else; and to everybody who puts their ideas online so that others may be inspired. Thanks.

Posted by Nate Koechley on February 9, 2005 at 03:22 PM in Accessibility, Internationalization, CSS Media Types, Browsers, Design, Engineering, Idea, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Layered Semantic Markup, References, Search, Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Software and Tools, Visual Design, Web Development | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

2005.02.08

Analyze HTTP Headers and Smart Keyword Search with Firefox

There are several good ways to check out a file's HTTP headers. Tonight I was using http://www.forret.com/projects/analyze/, which is just a simple web form that you enter your URL into.

I know there are more snazzy ways, including Firefox's great extension LiveHTTPHeaders, but sometimes an always-available web page is a fine solution. And, while I totally love the ability to extend and modify Firefox with the ever-growing supply of extensions, I've been trying to keep my browser as lean as possible by only installing ones I really need. For services that require a query to be submitted -- a map request, dictionary lookup, feed subscription or web search -- I've been opting lately to set up Keyword Search in Firefox (as I described several months ago).

(In addition to having less extensions, I find it's just significantly faster to trigger these actions form the keyboard.)

With a few keyword shortcut's set up, my hands are liberated from the mouse to the efficiency and speed of the keyboard. My browser begins to resemble a command line interface. In addition to my newest, headers http://www.yahoo.com, I use these others constantly:

sub http://natek.typepad.com
subscribed to a feed -- fastest possible way to subscribe to an rss feed with bloglines (please don't ruin bloglines Ask!)
ys northern california hiking trails
returns Yahoo Search results page -- 100s of times a day.
wiki Thomas Frank
returns Wikipedia encyclopedia entry -- lots of info types are best answered by an encyclopedia
map [[701 N First Ave, 94089]
returns a Yahoo Maps -- always need for a map
dic efficiency
returns dictionary.com definition
the excitement
returns thesaurus.com entry
by natek
returns my company's intranet (backyard) results -- for looking up coworkers
amaz Talib Kweli
returns Amazon search results -- to grab a book cover or album track listing
imdb War of the Worlds
returns an Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB) search
how to change your car's oil
returns detailed instructions from ehow.com
techno mobilemonday.com
returns blogosphere info on who's talking about http://www.mobilemonday.com/ right now?

Did you notice the ones for Bloglines (sub)? It's great. I am generally motivated to subscribe to some feed while in the midst of being excited or engaged by the content. This time of highest engagement is the time when you least want to interrupt the session to go subscribe -- this shortcut allows me to nearly-instantly subscribe in the heat on the moment.

(In case you're curious, I was looking at headers tonight to verify that the file expiration dates were distant, so that the files would be cached by the client until then.)

Posted by Nate Koechley on February 8, 2005 at 02:33 AM in Blogging, RSS, Browsers, HOWTO's and Tutorials, Idea, My life..., References, Search, Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Software and Tools, Web Development | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack