Introducing “Blocks 2015″

blocksYesterday, I blogged about the 5k Awards. I mentioned that I managed to find the “Blocks” project that Wouter de Jong and I entered, but that it didn’t work in modern day browsers. Of course, that was rather unsatisfactory.

So today, with the help of jsbeautifier.org, I spent some time fixing the javascript code, removing 20th century browser checks, and coverting upper case HTML tags to lowercase. The result is a working version of the original project. It may not look like much now, but 15 years ago, it did really well in the 5k Awards, reaching the top 5 in all categories.

Like the 2000 version, it lacks some basic HTML things – like a doctype declaration – to keep the file size down. It’s functionally and visually identical to the old version, but it now works in recent versions of Chrome, Firefox and IE. And thanks to modern day minifiers, the whole thing is now under 4 kilobytes.

Check it out here:

http://media.roytanck.com/5k/blocks/

It’s been 15 years since “The 5K”

Yesterday, Jeffrey Zeldman posted an article on the A List Apart blog about the 5K Awards. I actually entered this competition in 2000, so this post brought back memories. Fond memories of a competition that would be as relevant today as it was back then. Also, it’s not every day that you interact with both @zeldman and @stewart in a single Twitter thread :). So I thought I’d recap.
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Quick test: Retina images vs. regular ones

There’s been a lot of debate among web professionals about whether or not it makes sense to server “retina” images to website visitors who’s devices support high pixel densities. In order to take full advantage of the sharpness of the new iPad’s screen, website owners would need to prepare their images at four times the number of pixels of normal (“72dpi”) web images.

I ran a few quick tests to see how much all those extra pixels affected overall file size. I used 130 randomly chosen jpeg images (all straight from my DSLR camera), and ran Photoshop and Irfanview batches to crop and scale them to a couple of often-used sizes. I used the same JPEG settings each time, and made sure the only difference between the images would be that the retina ones were four times sharper.
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Pics from the WordPress Meetup Amersfoort 2011

Last night’s WordPress meetup in Amersfoort was, at least as far as I’m concerned, a resounding success. Around 70 people attended, and we had a lot of interesting speakers. Most of the presentations were captured on video, and will be placed online later. For now, I’ve put the snapshots I managed to take on Flickr for you. Enjoy!

I’ve also created a Flickr pool for Dutch meetup images. Please feel free to add you pics there. I’m still pretty new to Flickr, but I think I allowed everyone to contribute…

Getting my Flickr/Picasa widget working again with Picasa’s new feeds

Recently, Picasa started serving its RSS feeds over https. From what I can tell, this has caused quite a view “clients” to fail. Digital photo frames seem to be affected, and so is my Flickr widget. Fortunately, there’s a quick fix.

I’ve run a few tests, and it seems that simply removing the “s” from “https” fixes the issue. Every feed I tried could be called up over regular old http as well, and all of them worked with my widget.
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WordPress meetup Amersfoort

The great thing about WordPress is that there’s a huge, active and helpful community of users and developers. There have been WordCamps organized all of the world, as well as many smaller meetups. Last week, Kaj Rietberg and I put together just such a meetup in the Dutch city of Amersfoort.

The event was sponsored by open source development company 4WORX and hosted at the neighboring Dara restaurant (recommended!). Kaj and I were happy to welcome around 25 WordPress enthusiasts, a couple of whom had been tricked beforehand into preparing presentations. Kaj has written a more detailed account over at the WordCampNL website (in Dutch) which includes the slides from two speakers.
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Browsers are pretty quick at scaling images

I used to be a real nitpicker when it came to preparing images for the web. I’d laugh at people using large images in web pages, showing them in a smaller format by setting the width and height properties.

In the days before broadband was everywhere it was bad karma to do this, because a large image file would take a long time to download. You needed to prepare the image at the size you were going to be displaying it. Nowadays, things are a little different.
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Why do I still not love GDGT?

GDGT logoWhen I first heard about gdgt.com, I thought the startup founded by Peter Rojas and Ryan Block was terribly clever, and right up my alley. The idea of having gadget freaks keep “had”, “have” and “want” lists makes sense both from a user’s perspective and from an advertiser’s. When the website opened to the public I was quick to register and started adding things to my lists. Some stuff that wasn’t in there yet. It was amazing to see how much stuff was entered by users.

But I don’t buy a new gadget every day, so keeping the lists up-to-date doesn’t require me to visit GDGT daily. Considering how Rojas and Block were also involved in Engadget and Gizmodo, I was hoping their new effort would replace both those blogs and become a one-stop shop for technology enthusiasts. So far, at least for me, it hasn’t.
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Introducing Snapatar: Update your Twitter avatar from your webcam

Twitter by it’s very nature is a very limited service. That’s what’s fun about it. Some people manage to be really clever and witty in 140 characters. But there’s only so much you can express in a tweet. The other main way to express your personality on Twitter is through your avatar image (or ‘profile picture’ as Twitter calls them).

Snapatar screenshot

Many of the people I follow have carefully designed avatars that they don’t change very often. But what if you could have your avatar be as current as your tweets. Showing you exactly the way you look today, doing what you’re doing right now? That’s where Snapatar comes in.
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Why web designers should consider using a PC too

dell studio hybrid mini desktopI came across this post on Smashing Magazine yesterday, and while it offers some fine reasons for web developers to use a PC, I thought it missed a few too. Most of these venture into web designer territory somewhat, but I wanted to mention them nontheless.
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