Archive for Usability

Forum BB Email-List Etiquette

I have long had a pet peeve with forums and discussion boards. People simply do not pay attention!!

There are a few simple rules that should be adhered to with every forum/BB posting (if you want your questions looked at/answered)

Numero Uno: Please search the forum first to see if your question has already been answered. Many people that want to answer your question will simply ignore it if your question has been answered succintly and the problem solved in the recent past. Almost every (caveat) forum has a stupid search button for just that purpose! The same questions appear over and over again, albeit with ridculous disclaimers like “Sorry if this is a repeat post, I was too lazy to look it up so I am posting again and again and again. Sorry again, please forgive me. I am new to all of this.” Who cares? It is common sense to look for a search and see if you can find what you need. About 7 calories…TOPS!

Numero Dos: Provide ALL, I repeat, ALL information about your problem. This has been said over and over again but does not seem to sink in. If you are getting a “Run Time Error”, simply mentioning that there is a run time error gives people no clue. (of course, if you are using Windows as a Desktop OS, try changing that first!) Give supporting information, people. If this is a web app, say you are using Internet Explorer, this is the URL of your app, the version number, what created the problem, what you think the problem might be. A single line post like “freaky error, very interesting, HELP HELP HELP” reminds me of my physics advisor in college. If you expect someone to spend time reading your post and find some more time to help you out, your one liner will get ignored. You dont care enough to type some words, people dont care enough to answer your questions! Please post code, links to stuff, information, browser, OS, server and anything else you deem pertinent. There can never be too much information in a BB question.

Numero Tres: If you are seeking help, or “participating in the community” in any way (such as submitting bugs, providing feedback, announcing your engagement to Elmo) QUIT BEING A FREAKING TROLL! Any community that you feel that strongly against, you should not be visiting anyways! In real life, that kind of action would land you in jail and worse, land you a job as someone’s princess! Come on. If you dislike something or someone that much, move on, go somewhere else. If you kick someone in the nuts, how do you expect them to turn around and help you get off your lazy ass? Trolls are unappreciated. Period.
PS: And if you think posting as anonymous is protecting you, think again. If you are connected to the Internet and are not posting “telepathically”, you are traceable and quite vulnerable (unless of course, you use an Amiga, then I give up!)

Numero Quatro: If you dont like an answer, instead of being a jackass, be respectful. Ignore it if the answer was a troll. That is hard to do, I concede. But that behaviour is necessary. Trolling is an occupation for many people (spammers). Your retort, however, can poison the discussion and the end result is that you dont get the answer you obviously wanted.

Numero Canc: Unless you are going to add ANYTHING to the dicussion, dont add to it! Sounds obvious doesn’t it? One liners that say “me too! I wish this would work!” are useless. Leave them out! They add traffic and confusion and people that want to help, are turned off by them. So if you want an answer to your question (and no-one has answered yet), leave it alone and check back in a few. Give it a few days. Rest your hiney. If there is no answer in a few days, then try your 2 bits. In extreme cases when you just cannot wait (not because you are itching to get your porn dialer working before you roommate, but more pressing reasons such as your pet rock dieing!!) find an IRC channel or email one of the people from the forum asking for quick help.

Numero Six: “Thank you” or “worked great, thanks for the response” are, on the other hand, welcome and greatly appreciated. Even people that help out on forums, BBs and email lists need feedback and a good pat on the back is always welcomed! Give some thanks for heaven’s sake. If you got your little doodad to work, go back to the forum that helped you and tell them that it worked well. Threads and emails that are left hanging add to the traffic of the forum but never authenticate the solution, leading to redundant posts (see Numero Uno). Spend another 7 calories, hit your back arrow a couple of time, and tell people that the solution suggested worked (or failed as the case may be, failed ones come back though) Dont be selfish. People are spending their time helping you, give some back.

Oh Yes. And PLEASE READ THROUGH THE POSTS THOROUGHLY. The answer is, many times, ignored and the question posted again and again.

Forums are like P2P (Kazaa, Bearshare etc. Free for all file sharing). If you dont give, dont expect a lot in return!

Firefox Tweaks

- Enter about:config in the address bar and press Enter
- Scroll down to nglayout.initialpaint.delay
- Double-click nglayout.initialpaint.delay
- Change the default value of 250 to 0
- network.http.max-connections = 64
- network.http.max-connections-per-server=21
- network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server=8

Install Browser Gestures for Firefox

Install Web Development Toolbar

Here is a list of all KeyBoard Shortcuts for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera. A table if you like. Very useful!

More to come as I think of them or get comments with them.

This makes Firefox pretty darn fast and extremely fun to use!!

As from NuclearMoose…an avid Firefox/Mozilla user:

I suggest also EditCSS which will load a site’s stylesheet(s) into the sidebar. You can then fool with the CSS all you like, and you will see the changes. Once you have discovered a fix or something that you really like, you can simply hightlight the CSS, copy/paste it into your stylesheet, and upload it to your server. It’s available through the same extension page as all the other FB/FF extensions. I’m using FireFox, and it works just fine.

Others I recommend are:
Copy Image
Bookmark Links checker
Bookmark Backup
Dictionary Search
Tabbrowser Extensions
ChromeEdit is nice for hacking profile files.
Chatzilla is a nice IRC client.
and let’s not forget the Spell Checker Front End 0.3.5.

Have fun!

FireFox 0.8 is out!

For those of you looking forward to a really nice browser, FireFox 0.8 is out to impress the world! It is a really fast browser, with a lot of really nice interface tweaks, every little bit of technology that has hit the market in the past few months and is shiny and polished. If you are worried about your bookmarks from Mozilla, simply go into your bookmark manager and export from Mozilla and then import in FireFox. It comes with its own installer (unlike older versions) and the browser is really slick. If you do not trust my judgement or have been IE bound for a long time, check it out for yourself. You will be pleasantly surprised.
PS: If you have been having trouble downloading FireFox, try these mirror download sites for FireFox.

PS: While you are at it, if you are a web developer of any sort, make sure you download and install the web developer extensions for FireFox (works in Mozilla and Firebird as well). It is a gem of a tool!

Some very interesting websites

While surfing the web for some information on my particle system algorithm, I came upon some really interesting websites which are all somehow related to particle systems and the internet.
The first is called the Statistics Toolbox Have you ever wanted to know the Average Online Retail Spending by Gender or the Average web usage for the month of September in the US? This and many other interesting tidbits of information on this link.
The second is called Kartoo. If you have ever seen or used the Touchgraph GoogleBrowser, this is an extension of the system with a VERY interesting way of finding information. If I had to research anything on the internet (seriously 8)) I would definitely use this system. Run a search for your own website of blog or keywords to see some interesting demographics about your own website.
The third is a Waypath If you are into blogging, online discussions and tracking, and generally are interested in knowing what people think about a certain subject in the blogosphere, just go to this website and type in your topic. Very interesting bunch of information. I could spend hours! I am thinking of writing a module for WordPress which would let me import related topics and subjects for my blog topics. I have to think about this one. You could look at the little graph at the bottom of this page to see my Buzz-O-Meter ;)
In other news, particle systems is still kicking my ass. I dont think my physics tuned mind quite grasps the concepts of abstract and extremely simplified mechanical laws being put into convoluted code. But I am going to keep throwing shit at it, something has gotta stick, sometime…. :roll:

Information communication and technology overload

How many times in the day do you feel like you are in an information overload? How many times in the day do you check your email or get on your computer and get innundated by instant messages? How many of your get alerts on your pagers or cell phones about incoming messages or news events? How many of you regularly read blogs and feel out of the loop when deprived of the opportunity? Speaking only for myself, I lose touch with my friends and start to feel guilty when I cant receive my email or my email gets disconnected or cancelled for some reason. A couple of years ago Macintosh decided to make their .Mac service a pay service and I was left without any access to my .Mac account (my primary email) for over a week. This freaked me out to no end. It is my primary form of communication, outside my cell phone (which itself is very scary).
Ever since I got into the Information Technology business, I have started to assimilate electronic information in ways which suit me and my lifestyle. These are pertinent only to my madness and may not work for everyone. I have honored and tried to follow the path of Jakob Neilson, an expert in this field. He recently published a very interesting article in BBC News Website called Web Guru Fights Info Pollution A bunch of us recently got very caught up in our blogs, the world of blogging and exposure of our sites. I started thinking about the amount of time that some of my friends and I have spent on this medium and realized that the medium had almost taken over my life (I contend that web programming/int tech is my career and my livelihood, so I love what I do and vice versa). When was the last time you spoke to your mother? :mrgreen:
The Matrix has you…

A List Apart

I came across a really nice aricle on A List Apart called How to Write a Better Weblog. This is interesting reading folks, if you want to make you blog a must visit. :p

I am finally Home

The website I was referring to is called PhpOpenTracker which gives us a visual representation of the visit path of a user as he/she traverses through your webiste. I think this is pretty interesting. If you visit their website, they have a working version of the program. I was thinking of actually implimenting it on my website, but that would require a lot of code mods which I do not have time for. So for the time being I am going to have to refrain from that. I am going to write a CSS lab of sorts where a user could choose a certain CSS for my site and it would explore the possibilities. Sounds very much like templates, which is what it is, but I am not going to store cookies or anything to make it stick. It will simply be an example of what CSS is capable of doing with how little resources.
PS: on a happier note, I did get an honourable mention from our Computing director for “invalurable help” in the present virus and hacking crisis. I exposed another vulnerability in our CISCO router today (Proto 103 for all the COOs out there). Hopefully, they will resolve that soon as well. I have become like the vigilante (wannabe) hacker that helps keep things in perspective and expose problems with our existing network. As Jennifer puts it…”Kinda Scary!”

I have added a couple of different Categories to my Blog

I have been wanting to get some of my thoughts down into my blog but just have not had the opportunity, nor the time to deal with them. I really felt the need to categorize some of the ideas a little better, in other words, add usability to my own thoughts. That is the reason I added the categories back to my page. Let me tell you, text editing a complex PHP script at 0.5 kbps is a pain to say the least. But I got it done.
I found a couple of very interesting sites on the internet about usability. I cant find it right now. I should have it at home. I will re-do this part of the post then.
Here is a little bit of information about changing your Ethernet MAC address in a Windows machine (for educational purposes only). It is interesting and so simple that it should be outlawed.
I found another interesting article on Slashdot about the College Freshman that built a Fusion Reactor. With my Physics background, this is extremely interesting and definitely worth a mention.
I finally broke down and decided to subscribe to They have a very good selection of music and are worth a look-see. They charge $15 for a month and minimum sign up time is three months. They have ALL of George Carlin’s works on MP3s. I have to mention here that the bitrates of all their MP3s are very high (384kbps mostly) and they produce very good CDs. You can burn unlimited CDs with their music and there are very little restrictions unlike other music services online. I really like their service. PS: They have a 14 day eval period. Check them out sometime!