Nice Job Wal-Mart

The screenshot below looks like crap. It is Wal-Mart’s entry into the competitive world of on-line video downloads.

Wal-Mart FF Version

It is crap because the screenshot was taken from Firefox. So why is it crap? Well it looks fine in Internet Explorer so in essence it isn’t but it is crap but because the mastermind that wrote the code failed to test it in Firefox makes it crap on more than one level. He or she just isolated about 30% of users. I hope that coder got the boot.

The other thing is that it has been this way for a few days. If I was Wal-Mart I would have fixed it pronto, nope. Double black mark. It is rather ironic is that the user that is going to utilize this service is more than likely an early adopter. Who are early adopters? Usually geeks. What do geeks browse with? Usually Firefox. So potentially they have just isolated a lot more than 30%.

Stupid oversight that could cost them dearly.

Render in IE for Optimal Viewing:

Wal-Mart in IE Screenshot

Web Development Resources

One of the things that I found extremely difficult to adapt to and learn was when I was challenged to built a website for the podcast when it first started. Sure the page had a theme, but it was limited and there were heaps of other features that I wanted to include and the template was very hard to manipulate. There are some great on-line resources popping up that I wish I had then and this is another one.

Free Layouts.com is one of the better sites that I have found for heaps of resources related to building your web site. What’s more it is all free and from a green site. There are a number of dodgy sites out there and I am sure their resources come with a few “extras” that you were not counting on. Not so with Free Layouts.com who offer a great array of layouts, tools and templates including:

  • Website Templates
  • Flash Templates
  • MySpace Layouts, Templates and Generators
  • CMS Templates; including WordPress Themes and Text Pattern Templates
  • Website Generators and Tools
  • Articles and Tutorials

Sure you need a bit of knowledge, however this is where I was at when I was battling the template and the HTML. In the end the code looked like a train wreck. According to a web page developer friend of mine. With these resources you might just be able to put something out that will look great. At the very least it is a shortcut to the inclusion on your page of some complex elements that you probably would not attempt, like flash.

The site looks to be under constant development with new material added often. If you are even thinking of building a website and have never attempted it before then this is definitely worth checking out. Especially for you MySpace junkies out there , there is some great looking layouts here. For the rest of you this looks to be a worthwhile resource that may hold a few gems that you did not know about.

Obligatory Non Conformism

Today, well yesterday Sebastian posted a story on his blog. The post was essentially about Skype spam. Anyway the story got put up on Digg and ended up on the front page. Sebastian has experienced a pretty big jump in traffic on his blog, to say the least. For Sebastian this has been a big confidence boost, there is however, more to the story than that.

If I were him I would be shit scared about what I would write next. To that end I ask this question; does the idea of social networking and peer review put undue pressure on bloggers, authors, writers or anyone that produces any sort of public content, to follow everybody else and produce what people want to hear because they get noticed.

This is such an easy way to respond to "being noticed" or to have something admired by others. Or to have someone of influence say that you have produced something of value. Do I appease these people and everyone else or do I just keep doing what I want to do because that is what I am enjoying doing? Tough questions, for me I think it would be hard. We all look for confirmation, acceptance and respect within the world in which we live, and definitely within our peers and those people that we regard as our "audience".

That caused me to think about how this type of notice generates this kind of pressure and what type of "surfer" is the average "Digger". The only way I can judge that is to think about the way which I look at articles posted on Digg. I look at the catchy title of the article, if it takes my fancy or I think it is news worthy, I click it. I might read the whole thing I might not. I then click the back button (I might Digg it I might not). It might have just be morbid curiosity that caused me to click the story in the first place and not even wanting to Digg it in the first place. Or it might have been the comments on the story that made me have a look. More so the article title may have caused an emotive response in me that made me read it, nothing to do with who wrote it or what it was about or how well it was written.

So is the average Digger a discerning surfer? Maybe some are. Those who are will go back to those sites that are worth a second look. That is the challenge that confronts the Dugg. "I am playing the big leauge here, I will have to write something that will be popular enough so that I keep these readers coming back". So with the pressure that is exerted by the average in-discriminating Digger he or she leaves in their wake a blogger (or whatever) who is feeling the heat somewhat. Therefore, is the average Digg turning our Blogosphere into a tabloid dynasty that has zero content? Does it then become tag city that loses it's way, battling over the meager offerings from the few Digg etal. sites that are out there? I think that this entirely possible due to the peer pressure factor. However, I think that there are those that will stand out once the bubble has burst. That means that we need to learn to write for ourselves, as Sebastian would say we need to "be the ball…".

I do not promote my blog much. For me the whole thing is for enjoyment and because I like it. Occasionally, I get a good story that talks about some new idea or news and I get a few more hits but nothing that special. But I know that more people read my blog today on a day to day basis than did a month ago. For that I am very grateful. I am happy to just blog when I want to, about whatever I want to, when I want to. For me that is enough.

How would I cope with "attention"? I really could not tell you because it is not something that I think will happen. For that reason I am not sure what I would do, say or write. Don't get me wrong I would absolutely love it and enjoy the experience especially the bit where your hits go up by the hundreds every couple of minutes, that would just be cool to watch if nothing else! Yet I would like to think I still had an obligation to blog about what I wanted to and still compelled to report that which had merit, regardless of pressure or the need for acceptance.

It may seem like I am flamming Digg in all this but in reality there are people, blogs, content, news items, videos [add mediums here] that should be aknowledged, admired, respected, and commented on within this community. Due to the very nature of the community and peer review this can not be censored, vetted or moderated and that is the way it should be. But the character of the person is tested to the limit in the wake of being Dugg in a big way. The challenge then is to conform or to be an Obligatory Non-conformist.

Because fireworks are wonderful, but they don't happen every day. True fulfillment comes from the tree that you planted as a seedling that is now big enough to hang a swing from for your children.

Global Geek Podcast Number 8 is Out Now!

Hey everybody, just letting you know that the latest podcast is out. Sebastian and I had an absolutely great time preparing for it and doing it. In addition to that we have worked on the audio and we think that it is much improved.

This week we did some things that made a big improvement to the audio, for a start Sebastian bought a mixer and a great microphone (check out the set-up here). I really need to put some photos up as well. The other thing is that I tweeked my audio to try to eliminate some of the background noise that I can not avoid. My computer sounds like a 747 taking off! But here in the tropics you need that as it gets pretty hot. So to do that I turned down the gain and had the microphone very close to my mouth. What do you know it worked. Don't know why I didn't do it before. But I think one of the reasons was that I was not that good with the levels and could not get it right. So I am glad that my skill has improved and I managed to get it so that it sounds good.

Sebastian's additions to his set up has made setting the levels for the show much easier. The reason being that using a mixer on line-in means that you over-ride Skype trying to adjust your audio setting as well as the fact that you can push the sound higher than you would be able to otherwise. The result is that we had a podcast in the raw format where the levels were pretty close. That ment that I did not have to "compress" it much or amplify it nearly as much. The other thing that we did before the show this week was we forwarded Skype on our routers, without going into it; that means better audio and no use of super nodes – rather a forced direct connection. It was an absolute pleasure to edit.

Sebastian was a bit disappointed with the result, he thought it would be better than it was. But as I said to him, look at how we are recording it; we are using Skype, then Hot Recorder to record it. Then after editing it I am encoding it as an mp3, inherently a lossy format and looses some quality in the encoding. Factoring all that in I think that comparatively we have a very good sound, especially if you get out there and have a listen to some podcasts out there that I don't think spend any time or effort on their audio.

Just a note for our regular listeners to Global Geek Podcast that there will not be a show released over next week end as Sebastian is going to South Hampton for inspiration. But we will hopefully be getting a show out mid week next week as the following week end I am working and it is a big effort to get anything out. So It will work out anyway.

Don't forget to check out the podcast if you have not already and don't forget that you can listen to it straight off this page just find the "PODCAST" button on the right and it stream off the site for you.