Monthly Archives: August 2007

>Visualize site visits with CrazyEgg

>Want to visualize your website visits? CrazyEgg is a service that shows your website with an overlay that indicates where visitors clicked. Quite nice. Best of all, the cheapest version of CrazyEgg is free!

Crazy Egg helps you identify where people click on the page, as well as compare different versions of the same page. Although the options seem to be limited, the basic functionality is quite powerful.

Downside for your visitors is that your site needs another DNS lookup and then pulls in a 23.7K JavaScript file.

CrazyEgg does not seem to integrate with other tools, such as Google Analytics.

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Posted by on 27 August 2007 in web design


>Emulate an iPhone [updated]

>Want to know how your web application will look and work on an iPhone, but you don’t own one?

iPhoney emulates an iPhone on your Mac OS X 10.4 installation. It uses WebKit for rendering, the engine that is also used by Safari.

Overall, iPhoney is quite nice. Here are some features that would improve it even further:

  • support iPhone-like scrolling and zooming, without scroll bars;
  • improve the zoomed out view so it looks accurate (this may be a WebKit problem instead of an iPhoney problem and may apply to the iPhone as well);
  • by default apply the iPhone user agent string, instead of a generic WebKit agent string;
  • although Flash is not displayed, when querying the installed plugins from JavaScript, Flash is indicated as installed (if it is installed in Safari).
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Posted by on 27 August 2007 in iphone, iphoney, mac, macos, macosx, web design


>Improve website performance with Yslow

A while ago I blogged about Firebug, a great Firefox extension for analyzing web pages (including CSS and JavaScript) and the interactivity between a browser and web servers.

Yahoo! have built on Firebug to produce a tool that goes even further. They call it: YSlow for Firebug.

Based on “Thirteen Simple Rules for Speeding Up Your Web Site” YSlow analyzes a web page, produces some reports (with a score card) and gives advice on improvements. This can be a great help in improving your website’s performance and reduce it’s bandwidth usage.

Also see this blog entry:


>Cinema displays with video and audio

>Here’s my tiny wish list for an improved Apple Cinema display:

  • a built-in iSight video camera;
  • built-in speakers, similar to the new iMac speakers, on the bottom of the screen, facing downwards.

This way, an Apple Cinema display is an excellent companion for a Mac Mini or a Mac Pro.

With a built-in video camera and speakers, Mac Mini/Pro users no longer have to buy and connect an external video camera and external speakers. This will greatly improve the esthetics of their Mac.

Of course, the video camera and speakers are connected to the Mac using just a single USB cable, the same cable that also provides access to the other USB 2.0 ports on the screen.

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Posted by on 20 August 2007 in apple, cinema, display, isight, screen


>Keynote ’08 [updated x2]

Just today I fetched the trial version of Apple‘s iWork ’08, after ordering it on-line. At 468.9 MB, the download is quite substantial.

First of all, the iWork ’08 trial installation does not affect my (purchased) iWork ’06. That’s a good start, this will allow you to try it out with the possibility to rollback to iWork ’06 easily.

Pages and Numbers don’t really interest me, but Keynote is to me a fundamental tool for creating stunning presentations (to re-use Steve Job’s marketing terminology) and even for creating website designs.

Below are my first findings. Bear with me, I’ve just tested it for an hour or so. Missing another feature? Drop a comment.

So what’s new in Keynote ’08?

  • An alpha filter wizard, which works kind-of OK. It works well when there are clear edges between the image and the background. This may increase my productivity slightly, though, since I will have to go out to GIMP (my image editor program) less often.
  • More transition- and text-effects, of which only a few, like blur will be useful to me, since I need to be careful with the eye-candy to keep my presentations looking professional.
  • Actions that allow you to move, rotate, enlarge and otherwise manipulate your objects in an animation. This is to me the most compelling feature of Keynote ’08. It will allow me to build more advanced presentations, with professional animations that will once again make PowerPoint-users wonder what software is used, cause it’s definitely not theirs.
  • Export to Flash seems to have improved, more features are now supported than in Keynote ’06.

What do I miss in Keynote ’08?

  • Reflections on any objects, not just on images. Why not also allow it on text and on groups of objects?
  • Proper scaling, so that two adjecent objects, that have no space in between do not suddenly show a line when the presentation is shown at a higher than standard resolution.
  • More image formats to export to. Preview already supports a lot more, so why restrict Keynote to just TIFF, JPEG and PNG?
  • Export sheet transitions to Flash, this was not supported in Keynote ’06 either.
  • Bugfix for polygons in Flash export. Some free form objects (polygons) look distorted when exported to Flash. This is a long-outstanding bug.
  • Rich Web 2.0 export, like the new iPhoto supports with the web gallery feature. The Flash export feature is nice, but looks ancient compared to the new iPhoto ’08 possibilities. For example, it doesn’t scale at all; and the same applies to the HTML-export.
  • Bugfix for color distortion in PDF export. When you have a simple transparent PNG in your Keynote presentation, you may find that when you export to PDF, the colors have changed quite a bit. This was a problem in Keynote ’06 already, and persists in Keynote ’08.

My conclusion: Keynote ’08 offers a relatively small number of features. But although there are just a few, these make Keynote even more powerful than it was, while keeping usability at an outstanding level.
Perhaps some bugs were squashed, but not the ones I reported. Close interaction with customers is definitely an area where Apple can (and should) make improvements.

Updated (August 13): Here’s some more feedback:

  • good: the Office 2007 file formats are supported;
  • bad: the OpenDocument file formats are not supported;
  • bad: Keynote ’08 seems quite a bit slower at saving big presentations than Keynote ’06.

Updated (August 15): Some more:

  • good: zooming is faster than in iWork ’06;
  • bad: reflections of overlapping images do not overlap, they blend;
  • bad: properties cannot be set on grouped objects, even if the properties apply to all contained objects;
  • bad: image clipping cannot be triggered with a key press (for rotation this is possible by using the Cmd-key on a corner handle);
  • bad: when setting a radius (e.g. for a shadow) by using the mouse-controlled widget, it typically skips the most logical settings (45, 90, 135, 180, etc. degrees);
  • very bad: when adjusting an image, the preview is not exactly the same as the end result – this is a regression since iWork ’06.
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Posted by on 8 August 2007 in apple, iwork, keynote, mac, macos, macosx, numbers, osx, pages


>Eclipse on Mac OS X

Because I wanted to apply some automated refactoring, I decided to give Eclipse a chance, after sticking with Vim for years. I tried other tools, but always fell back to Vim, because it just works very good for me.

Here’s some of the things I found:

  • Creating a new project from an existing Ant build file works flawlessly.
  • The look-and-feel is not exactly Mac-like, but the integrated window with panels inside are a lot more screenspace-efficient than the floating windows that typical Mac applications (e.g. Keynote) offer.
  • Customizing Java code style preferences is intuitive and powerful.
  • Keyboard shortcuts are properly converted to Ma-style (e.g. Shift-Cmd-L).
  • The Save As command is not bound to the standard keybaord shortcut Shift-Cmd-S. Instead, this keyboard combo saves all files.
  • Refactoring tools work very well.
  • By default, the Javadoc for the JDK is not found, so hovering over a JavaSE class, such as java.lang.Object, does not show a description, but rather an error message. I would expect this to be standard functionality, perhaps offered as an option during installation or at least as a warning (e.g. “Unable to find Javadoc for JDK”).
  • There does not seem to be a way to indent variable declarations like this:
int       groupCount = groups.length;
int itemGroupSpacing = _config.getItemGroupSpacing();
  • Code completion is more advanced than in Vim; the alternative for Ctrl-P in Vim seems to be Ctrl-Period in Eclipse, but Eclipse also offers Ctrl-Space.
  • Cmd-P shows a Page Setup dialog, instead of a standard Print dialog.
  • The About dialog is referenced both from the program menu and from the Help menu.
  • Triple-click (with the left mouse button) does not select the whole line. This is a typical mouse shortcut with editors.

I tested Eclipse 3.2.1. The current version may be (even) better.

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Posted by on 6 August 2007 in ant, eclipse, java, refactoring, vim