Guest design by Blondmonster

fishyI’d been meaning to do a proper redesign of this blog for some time. The content part was reshuffled a couple of months ago, and I was pretty pleased with how that turned out. But the header was a watered down version of the old Papertrail theme and far too boring. That’s why I asked Blondmonster to help me out.

Suzanne‘s a former colleague, and a fabulous designer. I really like the stuff she does, and ‘boring’ is simply not in her vocabulary. She came up with the underwater theme, did all the drawing and all I had to do was put it all together. Hope you like the result. The theme was tailor-made for this blog, so don’t expect it to become available for download any time soon.

My Flickr widget now does Picasa too!

Roy Tanck‘s Flickr Widget requires Flash Player 9 or better.

Talk about picking a poor name for this project. I first considered giving it a catchy name, but decided to simply call it ‘Flickr widget’ becaused that best describes what it does. But then I found that Flickr itself has a Flash widget too. And now I’ve made it support Picasa feeds too, so the name doesn’t make any sense anymore.

The upside is of course that Picasa users can now use the widget to show off their favorite albums on their websites. It accepts the feeds from your ‘My Photos’ page and album pages. If you, like me, have only a couple of albums under ‘My Photos’, the feed from that page will only show the album covers, so it makes more sense to use an album feed (on the left is a trip to the zoo with my daughter in 2007). Like with Flickr, the total number of thumbs shown is limited to 20.

Fortunately, Google uses a very similar feed format to Flickr, so I was able to put support for both into one Flash movie. Please feel free to try it, and let me know if you run into anything.

Get the widget here

Amazing WP-Cumulus javascript port!

wp-cumulus javascriptI never thought this to be possible, but Dawid Fatyga just emailed me about his ‘Stratus‘ project. He’s recreated the 3D Flash movie from WP-Cumulus in Javascript. Sure, it’s no match for Flash’s ultra-smooth anti-aliased scaling (yet?), but that doesn’t really make it any less impressive.

Dawid stressed that it’s still very much a work in progress, and there’s still a lot that can be optimized. I had no success running it in Chrome, but it does work in Firefox. I’m sure that can be fixed. And with Chrome’s ultra-fast Javascript engine it will probaly fly.

Dawid is working towards a possible WordPress plugin implementation, which might mean some healthy competition for WP-Cumulus. I’d love to see if Javascript can beat Flash at its own game (being animation).

P.S. Dawid just emailed me that he’s only been working with Javascript for a few days. Go figure.

On Webwereld’s recent redesign

webwereld logo old and newOne of the few websites that I visit daily has recently been redesigned. At first I thought it simply looked worse, but I decided to give the new designs a chance. Now, a couple of weeks on I still don’t like it, and I’ve also figured out why. Webwereld is in Dutch by the way, so don’t bother trying to read the text in the screenshots.
More On Webwereld’s recent redesign

What’s slowing down my blog?

Page download time

I changed themes mid December, and according to googlebot’s stats, pages have been taking twice as long to load since then. This got me thinking. What was it I added that caused this? Surely I didn’t make the pages twice as heavy?
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Tweet3D: WP-Cumulus and Twitter mashed up…

Edward Terry‘s Tweet3D lets you few any Twitter user’s most frequent topics as a 3D tag cloud. I’m not quite sure what kind of (undoubtably very clever) magic goes on behind the screens, but it appears that the topics are frequently used words. Somehow, Tweet3D extracts these from previous tweets and passes them to Cumulus to be displayed. Pretty nifty stuff!

Roy | September 25, 2008 | English,Web design | Comments (9)
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M and M prototyping

M&M prototyping

Last week, when working on a game for a client, we decided raid the company’s snack machine and prototype the game using colour-sorted M&M’s in order to work out if was any fun and balance the game by adjusting variables. My random number generator supplied the randomness, Masterfoods the colourful candy. Great fun!

Thanks to Suzanne for the picture from her camphone.

Roy | August 1, 2007 | English,Internet,Web design | Comments Off on M and M prototyping
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Photoshop JPEG quality 51 trick

Photoshop Save for Web Optimize settings

I’ve been using this trick for years but it seems it’s never really been blogged about. When saving JPEG files using the “Save for Web” feature (“Save for web & devices” in CS3), the quality slider exhibits some strange behavior. Increasing the quality setting by a single percent usually adds only a little extra file size (about half a kB for the test file I used). Going from 50 to 51 with the same file added a full 10 kB. There’s also quite a difference in image quality between 50 and 51. In fact I feel 51 looks pretty good and is the optimal setting for most web projects. Anything above that is a waste of bandwidth, except perhaps for photography portfolios and such.
More Photoshop JPEG quality 51 trick

Roy | July 12, 2007 | English,Software,Web design | Comments (7)

10 years!

On June 14th 1997 I started my first full-time job at NOB Interactive, the internet branch of Holland’s (then) biggest audiovisual company. This means I’ve been a professional web designer for ten years now, to the day. From HTML 3.2 with lots of frames to tableless semantic XHTML, from 28k8 modems to broadband, from Futuresplash Animator and animated GIF to Flash 9. It’s been lots of fun and I hope to be able to keep doing this for a long time.

Wanted: Tech guru

Every once in a while ideas pop into my head. I can’t help it. Most are crap, but some warrant further investigation. Problem is that I do not have the technical knowledge to look into some of them and create proof-of-concept type applications. I’m pretty good with WordPress and actionscript, but other than that I’m pretty much lost. One of my ideas would require using the Google Maps API for instance, others need somewhat sophisticated database operations or SMS interaction, or… who knows.
More Wanted: Tech guru

Roy | May 28, 2007 | English,Internet,Web design | Comments (1)