magpiebrain

Sam Newman's site, a Consultant at ThoughtWorks

Archive for ‘April, 2004’

I’m a big fan of the “del.icio.us”:http://del.icio.us/ bookmark service. I started using it primarily because it enables me to keep bookmarks synchronized, but have come to appreciate the ease with which you can categorise your bookmarks into multiple categories, and enables you to look at the bookmarks of other people have linked o the same sites as you, thereby providing you with a vast amount of other links you might be interested in. The one annoyance is that I have to visit the del.icio.us page to access my bookmarks. At a pinch it would be great if they could offer a view of your bookmarks which could sit in the Firefox sidebar (like “blo.gs”:http:/blo.gs), however even better would be a firefox plugin which would load your bookmarks into Firefox itself.

The beginnings of such a plugin may well be found in the new “Bookmarks Synchronizer”:http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?t=41742. Currently it only supports the import of XBEL format XML, but it should be an easy job to parse and load del.icio.us’s RSS feed of your bookmarks.

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Well, my first foray into the world of networking has gone surprisingly well. Spured on by the fact that my new company “laptop(My company laptop – The Dell Latitude D600)”:http://catalog.us.dell.com/CS1/cs1page2.aspx?br=3&c=us&cs=04&fm=10435&kc=6W300&l=en&s=bsd comes complete with wireless networking capability, I thought it was time to clean up some of the mess of wires in my house, replace my IpCop box which was cluttering up the space under my desk, retire my slightly grubby stingray ADSL modem and buy some brand spanking new wireless kit.

After much research, I eventually plumped for a “Belkin ADSL Modem With Built-In 11g Wireless Router”:http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Merchant_Id=&Section_Id=201576&pcount=&Product_Id=158009&Section.Section_Path=%2FRoot%2FNetworking%2FWirelessNetworking%2F80211gWi%2E%2E%2Etworking%2F, and one of their 11g cards for my desktop machine, both purchased from “Dabs”:http://www.dabs.com/. Belkin claim the modem can be installed in 5 minutes, and I must say if anything it was quicker. The card took slightly longer to install, but that was due to the incredibly tight fit on the motherboard – but I’ve had trouble with that in the past and put it down to the motherboard rather than the PCI cards themselves. Anyway, after 10 minutes usage, I can highly recommend both the modem and the card. So, I now have a fully functional (WEP-secured) wireless network which will allow me to access the Internet from anywhere within my small, one bedroom flat. Still, it means I can blog on the toilet…

As I “mentioned before(Generate footnotes for printing)”:http://www.magpiebrain.com/archives/000231.html, I recently wrote some Javascript code to produce a more printable version of my pages. Since then I’ve updated the code a little, added a link to each page and refined my printing CSS. The Javascript code handles two tasks – firstly it extracts selected links and creates a footnote for each one. Secondly, it extracts any print stylesheets and displays them in the browser so you can get a better idea of how the printout will work. A couple of niggles still remain – I cannot skip links in blocks which use @id@ rather than @class@, and the markup for the footnotes is horrible. Once I’ve cleaned the code up and fixed the last few remaining issues I’ll post a proper writeup soon.

Now that the code is properly integrated in the new design, I though I’d ask for some feedback.(the ‘Print this page’ link can be found in the top-right hand corner) – you don’t actually have to print, just click the link and see how it looks. I’m especially keen to hear from people with browsers other than Firefox and IE.

I’m using the “MTOutliner(MTOutliner Plugin for Movable Type)”:http://www.cxliv.org/jayseae/movable_type/outliner/ plugin to extract some of my “bloglines”:http://www.bloglines.com/ subscriptions in order to create my blogroll. MTOutliner is capable of loading and parsing an OPML file, and actually provides a special tag to load the OPML file from a named bloglines user:


Today however this seemed to fail – no information was being returned (and no error was generated by the plugin either). I tried referencing the OPML file directly, which seemed to fix the issue:


Which fixed it. I can only theorise that bloglines changed where the OPML files were located. Anyway, everything’s working now.

As you may of noticed, I’ve been having some problems with the “@overflow@(w3c – Overflow and clipping)”:http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2/visufx.html#overflow-clipping property and IE. Simply put, @overflow@ should define how content outside the displayable area is handled. Using the @auto@ value should display scrollbars when required – and this works perfectly on Mozilla. On IE however I couldn’t get it to work at all.

The problem is seems is that IE isn’t bright enough to work out the width of the on screen element – if I give my @pre@ blocks a width (which I can now do with a fixed-width layout) it correctly displays horizontal scrollbars and stops playing havoc with my layout. Its not all plain sailing however – when it adds the horizontal scrollbar, it doesn’t correctly resize the @pre@, and therefore also displays vertical scrollbars! Oh well, such is life…

OK, I finally got around to the redesign this weekend, and its gone fairly well. I’ve moved from a liquid to a fixed layout, as the site was almost unreadable on high resolution monitors and many of the design changes I wanted to make become overly complex. One downside to moving to a fixed-width layout occurs with preformatted blocks of text. @