Microsoft 'Gatineau' sneak peek

Microsoft ‘Gatineau’ sneak peek

One of the reasons we wanted to wait for our own announcement around the beta functionality is because we wanted to explain where we get our demographic data from. Beta 1 will include the ability to segment data by both age and gender buckets, so you can get more of an idea of what kind of visitors you have. Questions are already being asked on Dave’s blog about where we get this data from; the answer is that we do get this information from users’ Live ID (formerly known as Microsoft Passport) profiles, but I would stress that we get this information anonymously, and there is no use of PII (Personally Identifiable Information, such as name or e-mail address) in the product.

Sounds quite interesting, and I definitely hope to get into the private beta. Honestly, I don’t know how a stats program is really going to impress me, but I could always be proven wrong. Some leaked screenshots below
Gatineau Pic 2Gatineau Pic 4

Interesting Links: 7.19.07

  • Build Your Own Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget: An easy to follow and comprehensive tutorial that walks through how to create a sidebar gadget (including demo code).
  • Jing Project: Visual conversation starts here: The concept of Jing is the always-ready program that instantly captures and shares images and video…from your computer to anywhere.
  • 10 Articles All Bloggers Should Read (at least once):I have about twenty bloggers working for me at any given time. Many new bloggers are often not familiar with the details of blogging software (e.g. the screwy video embed issue with WP) or they don’t know much about the art of blogging.
  • The Open Source Web Design Toolbox:: This pervasiveness of the open source spirit in web design now means that you can use open source software to design both graphics and your CSS and HTML, and you can also use the dozens of reliable open source code resources or thousands of templates to base your own designs on.

This is precisely what happens when I don’t have the energy to blog during the week (thank my internship for that lack of energy). I wanted to get this summary completed before my copy of Harry Potter Deathly Hallows arrives on Saturday morning… I don’t plan on leaving the house all weekend.

Interesting Links: 7.2.07

  • 7 JavaScript Techniques You Should Be Using: One thing to keep in mind as you go through these examples is that there is definitely more than one way to accomplish these tasks—the goal here is to shed a little light on how things can be done in a smarter way.
  • Coding for Content: It all started with one simple goal—an almost obsessive focus on content. That quickly translated to design ideas, but the visual framework was merely the tip of the iceberg.
  • NoFunc Javascript files: Why include ten .js files (ala Yahoo UI) to create one simple effect? Nomadic functions are small, optimized, and fairly specific.

I’ve been sitting on these links for nearly 4 months…oops. This is what happens when my OCD kicks in, and I file several bookmarks in my “Read Later” folder and then promptly forget about the folder. Anyways, very interesting links, well worth the read. The NoFunc site is particularly useful.

Fighting Spam with CSS

Fighting Spam with CSS

I had this problem a few months ago with my old site, and was thus forced to find a solution that was light-weight, easy to implement, and most importantly was effective. I decided to turn toward my friend CSS to help me out. The idea here is setting up a form with a text field and via CSS making it invisible. Then, if a post is sent to a php script handling the request and that text box has information in it, that means a human didn’t fill it out, and the script is simply aborted.

Interesting, and surprisingly simple method for blocking most comment spam. This will be the most likely solution if I run into any comment spam problems here.

Microsoft Surface Thoughts

I didn’t want to clutter the previous post (the one with all the videos) will my thoughts so I figured I’d write this separately. I will just start off with this, Microsoft Surface is ridiculously cool. Not only is this technology cool and interesting, it will also be very useful.
Side note: My big dream job is working on ways to improve the human/computer interaction because frankly, it sucks right now. The way in which people interact with computers is so far from intuitive that it’s almost laughable considering the kind of technology we now have available to us.
What I previously said leads me to say this, I think this Surface technology is a HUGE step in the right direction for improving this human/computer interaction. I’ll base most of my comments on the videos posted in the previous post so if you’re confused then watching a few of those videos may help to illuminate what I’m talking about.
Continue reading “Microsoft Surface Thoughts”

reCAPTCHA: Fight Spam, Read a Book

reCAPTCHA: the official website
reCAPTCHA: A new way to fight spam

You might notice that reCAPTCHA has two words. Why? reCAPTCHA is more than a CAPTCHA, it also helps to digitize old books. One of the words in reCAPTCHA is a word that the computer knows what it is, much like a normal CAPTCHA. However, the other word is a word that the computer can’t read. When you solve a reCAPTCHA, we not only check that you are a human, but use the result on the other word to help read the book!

A very interesting idea, and I think it might just work. Two problems I see here, 1. someone could just as easily mistype the second word (because that is the one you’re helping the computer “read”). This would lead to the computer related OCR recognition being completely wrong. Correctly me if I am wrong, but I’d like to hope these words that we are helping computers to “read” should be compared with the other responses from so-called humans. In theory if 95% of people say a particular word is “the” and 5% of people say the word is “then” well then the choice of “the” should win out right? 2. CAPTCHA, the original CAPTCHA, still haven’t really taken off all that well. I don’t have any exact numbers, but I’d imagine the proliferation of CAPTCHA is somewhere around 25-35% of web forms. That really isn’t a huge number. Based on that, I can’t imagine web developers are going to promptly leap over to a new (or evolved) technology in any kind of mass migration. This sounds like a great idea, and I may just get around to add this to my blog. That being said, I definitely will not be in any kind of hurry to implement this.

Mobile Web Development Resources

So I have recently been charged with developing a mobile version of our office website and/or our IDX (search for available homes) web search. After quite a bit of searching and reading I collected several good resources for mobile web development. I figured these might be useful to someone else at some point so I thought I’d share them.

  • WCSS (WAP CSS) Introduction -WCSS (WAP Cascading Style Sheet or WAP CSS) is the mobile version of cascading style sheet. It is a subset of CSS2 (the cascading style sheet language of the World Wide Web) plus some WAP specific extensions.
  • XHTML Mobile Profile – a rather hideous, but very useful, collection of which XHTML tags work on mobile devices (WAP).
  • XHTML Mobile Profile / XHTML MP Tutorial -a slightly more attractive and approachable version of the XHTML Mobile Profile. Just like above, a valuable resource to have.