IE 7 Readiness toolkit

Chris Wilson, during his @media presentation mentioned in passing the IE 7 Readiness Toolkit. This vaguely uninspiring title hides a very nice collection of essential tools for discerning web developers on Windows.

IE is painful we already know that. We have a large number of tools available in Firefox to help us out, but sometimes you need to go to the source. Along with a nice rip off implementation of a web developer toolbar, it also put me onto the Fiddler (what is it about these names) which is an HTTP Debugging proxy. What? Well it sits next to IE and monitors all HTTP traffic, allowing you to find out exactly what’s going on. Very handy indeed, and worth running just to see what’s really going on, especially in Ajax land.

A couple of other interesting tools are included that I’ve not had a look at yet, the Expression Finder looks particularly interesting. It basically tracks down any hacks in your files and tells you off.

All in all a good move from Microsoft. What with Open Search being integrated into IE 7 as well, and RSS maybe reacing a tipping point eventually (Non geeks will believe my predictions one day) things might be looking up.

And then it was all over

Yes folks. @media 2006 is all over. Except for the year thing, everything else really was doubled. Double the people. Double the speakers. Double the number of chairs (no sitting on the floor this time!)

I made a list of a couple of things to make sure I did. Well how did I do?

  • Take photos – Check. I’ll upload as I get a chance, but in the meantime their are already quite a few over on the atmedia flickr tag
  • More SubEthaEdit note taking – With the problems with the wi-fi this was held to a single session on WCAG 2.0 with Steve and Ben
  • Eat food (You know who I’m talking about) – Again score one. Some photos from a nice mexican place on the Thursday with Olly and Adam
  • Keep updating the syndicator thing – Again wi-fi problems but I did it each night anyhow. 38 new posts over the few days, and I need to add a few more sites. I do keep wondering about just using Technorati anyhow?
  • Watch the football (sorry, it is the World Cup) – I wont talk about that. Until I switched from drinking Corona to Asashi it was a little dull.

Apart from that I got up to the usual geekery. Met lots of people. Drank a few beers. Went to a few talks and panels.

I wandered around with a whole host of people. I’d try and name drop but I’d miss someone and make them feel bad. Well, ok, probably not but their you go.

The evening of the first night of the conference was particularly amusing. Wetherspoons for food, a short rant with PPK and James about (what else) Javascript and then spending the evening under the stars with Patrick, Andy and a few others was, er, entertaining? slightly disturbing? bordering on stalking? All of those and more.

Their is simply too much to say and too little time. Which sort of explains the lack of details about the sessions and my take on them. I’ll probably post more about how I think the social side of things really is an integral part of these do’s, and how Molly really does deserve some sort of medal, and, well, you get the slighty hyper idea. And with my wi-fi hopefully working at home by now keep your readers peeled for both irreverant (sorry – irrelevant) banter and hopefully a couple of interesting insights and highlights.

More name dropping next time. Promise. Oh, and leave a comment if I said hi, it’s always a pleasure guys.

Internet? Check. @media. Check!

Right. It might have taken an overlong trip to London but I’ve finally got a spare moment and internet access. All back to normal hopefully soon. (mmmm)

Anyway… @media! It was ages ago, then some magical time warp type thing happened and it’s June all of a sudden. And I cant wait. Which is fairly handy as I’ll shortly be heading out to the pre show party to meet at least some people I know (or at least vaguely recognise from somewhere, once, maybe) and hopefully some new faces, always a solid part of the conferences I think.

Some of the things I want to do over the next couple of days, besides listen to alot of good stuff. (Rereading this I realised I just refered to Molly, Tantek, Jeffrey, Eric and everyone as good stuff. This is likely to be something of an understatement. No offence intended!)

  • Take photos
  • More SubEthaEdit note taking
  • Eat food (You know who I’m talking about)
  • Keep updating the syndicator thing
  • Watch the football (sorry, it is the World Cup)

And I’ve no idea which sessions I’m going along to before you ask. I’m still pretending I can go to all of them to avoid the disapointment.

I’ve been doing all sorts of stuff I want to blog about; I’m doing a Masters type usability and testing certificate, playing with more PEAR, I’ve been having a play with Codeigniter quite a bit as well, which is lovely (thanks Matt) and have a couple more small apps in the oven. I also want to clean up a couple of olders ones (the mailing list, the feed syndicator, etc.) and still need to get round to writing a proper article. And that’s before @media, I dont want to thing how busy I’ll make myself after than once I get even more ideas.

Oh, and apologies for the delay in getting the calendar updated. And I’ve no idea why some people couldn’t find it with the search tool. Anyway, updated now, so at least people shouldn’t get lost tomorrow.

Moving and Friends

I’m afraid you’ll have to bare with me at the moment. I’m busy, moving house, have no internet outside work (except open wi-fi points) and oh, did I mention I’m busy?

I have the usual raft of ideas, inability to really finish things unless I try and a dangerous penchant for playing with ever more scripting languages (XOTcl anyone?).

Oh, the friends bit? Inspired by Molly and her incredible ability to be open about her life, I thought I’d say a huge Thank you to everyone who helped me move house this week. Much appreciated. It could have gone oh so wrong, but everyone chipping in meant everything worked out just fine.


I dont often just post links to things I find interesting. I try and warble on more about something or other that’s on my mind. However, being rather busy and coming across something that really stood out makes this here post different.

I stumbled upon DabbleDB the other day. Watched the video. Thought to my self “That’s pretty darn slick”.

DabbleDB is, pretty simply, an online database. For everyone. Ever. The blurb from the site says:

Dabble DB combines the best of group spreadsheets, custom databases, and intranet web applications into a new way to manage and share your information on the web

What does that mean? It’s basically MS Access, but better and available through a web browser. Too complicated you say? Too hard to grasp? Watch the video. Be impressed.

One claim I’m interested in getting first hand experience of is the one regarding Spreadsheets. Most people use spreadsheets as light weight (ie. flimsy) databases, rather than the number crunching powerhouses they really are. DabbleDB seems an ideal replacement to the former, but what about the latter? I remeber seeing Dean Edwards’ playing with a Javascript Spreadsheet a while back.

I have to say I haven’t used DabbleDB yet. I haven’t signed up for a one month trial because I know I wouldn’t have time to explore properly just now. Everything that I’m excited about comes from the video, the site and the attached blog. When (not if) I get round to having a proper look I’ll try and remeber to post something.

Pretty much all your common desktop apps are now available through a browser, except crazy things like image editing. Oh and the browser itself. Now their’s an idea. A meta browser. Within your browser window open up several smaller windows, maybe using different rendering engines or setups running remotely?

Anyone fancy a pint?

Tis about time for another meet up in sunny Newcastle. Pretty short notice but hey, the mailing list has called.

Thursday 25th of May it is

We are aiming for Tilly’s on Westgate road. More info over on

Already a good few people coming along so, if your in the general area, why not join us? If last time is anything to go by expect lots of people who either dont know each other or only know people by domain name discussing anything vaguely (and I do mean vaguely) related to the web.

The way of recognising everyone, as always, is the carrying of a recognisable web related book. Extra points for something really geeky, or really large.

I’m hoping for some good banter and some ideas for the future. Hey maybe even making these a regular shindig? It would save us taking ages to decide when and where to meet. Though on the where bit I pretty impressed. Their seems to be a strong correlation between web people in Newcastle and proper beer. Speaking of beer, I heard a rumour that Steve was buying a round to celebrate his new design.

Python at Microsoft

At work we mainly use Microsoft technologies, .NET and such like, for our development. As I mentioned previously I’m playing with Python at the moment, and getting on quite nicely. With .NET being a framework, aimed at allowing a variety of different languages to access the same class library, I though

I wonder if you can use Python with the .NET framework?

The rather large Programming Python tome alludes to it being on the cards after the implementation of Jython but no more details than that.

I came across a few dated references indicating that it was possible but, and mentioning very slow reference implementations, all of which didn’t bode too well. Then up popped IronPython from an article by Jim Hugunin. This looked like what I was looking for. But it looked unmaintained, the page not having been updated for a couple of years!

But the story continued. Jim, having moved to Microsoft, was still working on IronPython and it looks like it’s moving forwards apace. The latest beta was released on the 20th of April and it looks like 4 more betas before a 1.0 release.

This discovery makes Python appear even more interesting. A nicely designed, cross platform scripting language with full access to the might of the .NET framework and it’s own good looking web development framework in Django.

So, for anyone else looking around for similar details here’s a brief list of up to date information:

Mission Impossible?

I’m quite a fan of mobile devices. I’ve got a Palm, I had a Pogo for jeepers. However, I dont really have a geek phone at the moment (long story) – I’m still using my K700i.

While watching the last day of premiership football in a suitable venue I thought I might see about going to the cinema. With my trusty phone I tried to find what was going on. I waded through pages and pages. I did searches. It sent me round in circles more than once and I gave up more than once. I found some info. I tried to buy tickets. It failed to acknowledge the existence of first the cinema, and then the film.

Someone asked me at a recent talk about how easy it was to make sites compatible with mobile devices and I said (something like) “pretty easy”. I’m not happy with that answer now, so I’m going to change the question. How easy should it be to makes compatible sites?

WML might not be sexy, but it’s still in use all over the place. Support for mobile style sheets for proper web browsing seems all over the shop, with hundreds of different browsers pulling every which way.

Their are a host of IA issues that browsing on a mobile device brings up. A vast number of slightly new challenges to look at – and importantly a whole new way of confusing the user.

It makes you think maybe we need a dominant browser in the mobile space? Something to occupy alot of the ground and for the other browsers to loath and persue endlessly?

We also need some centres of best practice. I’m sure their are some out there. I just dont know where yet. Some references. A Mobile Zen Garden. A good book or two to review. Any thoughts?

Webdesign Bookshelf

It’s rebooting time people. First up a shameless plug for my entry this time around. In the spirit of screenspire here’s a full length picture for those that cant be bothered to visit the site proper.

Webdesign Bookshelf

Only a couple of reviews up at the moment but we will be adding them as fast as out busy fingers can write them. Big thanks to Mathew Patterson and Nicola Dobiecka for their assists here. Otherwise you would just be listening to my blatherings (a little like here then?)

Anyway, let me know what you think. As with all such endeavours more features (and probably fixes) will see the light of day over the next few weeks and months. Once everyone else is up I’ll post my personal faves, along with everyone one else ever.

Web Designer are like Footballers

I do quite a bit of musing on the subject of the community. Lots of other people do similar, just a few of the groups I know about:

Conferences are massive as well. With Carson going down a storm, @media looking to rock the summer again and some people spoke highly of SXSW, but then I wasn’t there (this year).

We all know each other. Think about it?

We are like footballers. We are the Premiership. We hang out in the trendy bars (conferences), we do everything we can to get mentioned in the papers (A-list blogs, A List Apart) and we get multi million pound book deals (DOM Scripting).

But theirs a difference. Youth players (students), the lower leagues (Z-list) and amateurs watch football every week. They read about it every day online and in the papers. Everyone knows who the best players are, whether they like football or not. Even then thats before you get to scouts from the big clubs getting along to youth and lower league games to find the next big thing, or the World Cup. Web design still seems spit between those in the know (probably you) and those not, for whatever reason.

So my question, if their is one, is – is football simply more mature? Do we need scouting systems? World Cups and better training facilities? Or alternatively have I taken this football analogy way too far?