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So at long last, this year Internet Explorer 6 is finally dying!
At the moment, with only about 8% market share remaining, the long awaited death of IE6 shall be heralded by all web designers and developers out there. Major web services have already stopped supporting them (such as Vimeo and Youtube). Heh, one of my favorite responses to IE6, the "Shockingly Big IE6 Warning" Wordpress Plugin.

So hooray! No more headaches of trying to make websites compatible on IE6 - but does that necessarily mean the life of a web designer is any easier now? Maybe not. Because today, we don't only have to test on web browsers on computers, we now have the plethora of mobile devices that have internet access. Perhaps even make an entirely different interfaces for mobile and touch screens. Although, I do concede to the fact that most of the latest internet capable mobile devices are pretty good at adhering to web standards - especially in comparison to IE6.

So in short, IE6 is a huge headache lifted from the web devs shoulders, but more technologies are filling its place (much smaller headaches but more numerous).



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Back in the latter half of 2009 when Firefox 3.5 was released, I was quite disappointed that the backend 'about:config' feature known as 'browser.link.open_external' was removed from Firefox. Open_external is a preference that specifies how webpages should be opened if an external program (such as email program) opens a URL. In November or so I found a fix, which I talk about more here in this post.

But since Firefox 3.6, and newer updates of the addon fix, they would not work for me. Firefox 3.5 removed the open_external feature, which annoyed me, then a fix for it is now broken in FF 3.6.
I got fed up so I just made my own Firefox extension to fix it!

Restore Open_External 1.0
Restores the functionality of the 'browser.link.open_external' preference that was removed in Firefox 3.5+


(I have now learned how to make script-based FF extensions)

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So back in April, I wrote about a body interface project that I worked on called weBlimp. So in the time since then, the weBlimp team has brought it from a final project in a class, to an academic conference presentation, and now to an Olympic event!

So to update, in October, we were at UC Berkeley to present the concepts behind weBlimp at the ACM Creativity & Cognition 2009 Conference.

The conference was great. It really has me considering grad school now. I also really enjoyed checking out San Francisco and the Bay Area.

A month or two after, we were asked by our University and the City of Surrey to showcase weBlimp during the 2010 Winter Olympics!

Currently, we are working on building of a 'weBlimp 2.0' of higher quality and robustness, in preparation for its installation at the Surrey Holland Park Olympic Celebration Site. The installation will be showcased during the Olympics from February 17-21st.

Also, since our involvement with the Olympics, we have been featured in a number of blogs and news articles:
Surrey Leader
GreenDiary
NotCot
Technabob


Offical weBlimp:
SIAT.SFU.CA/weblimp
weblimp.brianquan.com
@weBlimp on Twitter

Here is the original documentation video on weBlimp. We will try to have a new one after the Olympics.


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So in an effort to make it easier for me to blog, I have been thinking about scripting some automation. Facebook allows you to easily 'share links'. FB's method of link sharing actually takes the content of the URL you are sharing and creates a preview or thumbnails of that content. This allows your friends to easily get an idea what the link is about without clicking on it and also allows you to quickly share things without too much work. Also the quick ability to add your comment on the link is great too. So after some researching, I found out that this method of gathering previews of the content is known as 'Scraping'.

I have been thinking about creating some sort of script to help me blog interesting Internet finds, by link scraping and saving myself some time and effort. While I know there are some other services out there that do this, I dont feel like migrating my blog. So I think some sort of Javascript scriptlet or bookmarklet might be able to do some generic job and integrate it into my blogging.

Now I havent found anything like that out there, so if someone knows of one, PLEASE do let me know. It can save me some effort.

As for creating my own, I've only gotten as far as pseudocode. Haven't had the chance to go any further.

Sort-of-Pseudocode:
link blogging with scrape:

get domain/type of link:
-input link

youtube/vimeo:
-take input link
-get view code
-take predetermined embed code, and insert view code
-paste into new blog entry inputbox

general link:
-extract excerpt of text from html
--only excerpt from body tag
--skip past menus etc, get to meaningful content (tricky)
--remove all other html tags
--concatenate remaining text up to specified character number
-scan thru html for img tags
-extract image urls for img tags
-display images for thumbnail selection, in small size
-take selected image and excerpt text
--insert into preformatted code for displaying a link


If someone else wants to have a go making one, be my guest!

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The upgrade to Firefox 3.5 was a huge and welcome improvement, especially with its new faster javascript engine. However, one of the most annoying things about the upgrade was the inexplicable removal of the browser.link.open_external option.
open_external Background:
Other applications will often use the systemís default browser to load web pages. When a Mozilla-based browser is running, it can catch links sent by other programs. This preference determines how Mozilla handles those links.

Possible values and their effects:
1 = Open links from external programs in the current window.
2 = Open links from external programs in a new window.
3 = Open links from external programs in new tabs in an existing window. (Default in Firefox)

While this an 'under-the-hood' option that can only be accessed via about:config, it is an important one because in my browsing routine, I want URLs that I click in my email program or instant messaging program to bring up links into new windows, not buried as one of the many tabs in one of the many open browser windows. Also, when it is directed to a tab instead of a new window, the page does not pop-up and into focus for me to read and I have to go searching for it. So i prefer open_external=2.

After months since the update to Firefox 3.5, I have finally found a solution. An AddOn created by mrchucho.net called Tabs Open Relative (Modified) 1.0 (a modified version of the Tabs Open Relative AddOn), which restores the open_external behavior!

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The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy has an amazing planning guide for Bus Rapid Transit systems.

BUS RAPID TRANSIT PLANNING GUIDE
Link: http://www.itdp.org/index.php/microsite ... ing_guide/
It is the culmination of over five years of efforts to document and improve the state of the art in cost-effective public transport solutions for cities. This edition, expanded to over 800 pages, includes ...


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Curitiba: BRT is not just a transportation plan, but a way of urban planning ...

Streetfilms | Curitibaís BRT: Inspired Bus Rapid Transit Around the World
Link: http://www.streetfilms.org/curitibas-brt/
Curitiba, Brazil first adopted its Master Plan in 1968. Since then, it has become a city well known for inventive urban planning and affordable (to the user and the city) public transportation.

For BRT to really be successful, it must be perceived and treated as a form or Rapid Transit - like a subway, not just a bus.

Successful BRT needs:
-Dedicated lane ways.
-STATIONS (not just some bus stop, a real station. remember this is rapid transit, it should be treated like a subway station).
-Advanced fare collection at the stations.
-Fast methods of boarding/disembarking buses.

It is interesting to note that so called rapid bus lines in Metro Vancouver has none of these.

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A San Francisco study on how to deal with parking problems. They suggest better pricing models to curb driver behaviors, instead of building more parking.

Worldchanging: Bright Green: Parking Done Right
Link: http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/010687.html
Decrease the price of parking at times of day, such as mid-morning, when spots are under-utilized Increase the price of parking during times of heavy use, with the goal of achieving an average occupancy rate of 85% Extend the metered parking until later in the evening in certain neighborhoods to mat...


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I love StreetFilms.org! They do an amazing job covering ideas (in practice or in process, past and present) on making urban spaces more livable.
Streetfilms | Documenting Livable Streets Worldwide
Link: www.streetfilms.org
It's not everyday that you get to ride bikes in a big metropolis with a member of Congress, even one who loves to bicycle whenever he can. Rep. Earl Blumenauer dropped by Transportation Alternatives' offices to ...


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City of Surrey "The Future Lives Here"
An economic development showcase for the City of Surrey, British Columbia.



[Update]: Looks like the video got revised - updated the embed link.

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Microsoft Research shows off five different multi-touch mice, each using different methods of multi-touch input
Microsoft Research shows off multitouch mouse prototypes
Link: www.engadget.com/2009/10/05/microsoft-research-shows-off-multitouch-mouse-prototypes/
Rather odd timing, given some recent developments in the Apple camp, but Microsoft Research has just surfaced some of its incredibly wild multitouch mouse prototypes. Each one uses a different touch detection method, and at first glance all five seem to fly in the face of regular ergonomics. ...



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How to Use Content-Aware-Scaling in Photoshop CS4 - Psdtuts+
Link: http://fbshare.me/HMuj
The latest version of Photoshop CS4 offers a variety of new features that save time and work. One of them is the newly added Content-Aware-Scaling feature...


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The Trick or Treat index... Index of neighborhoods that will provide the most candy, with the least walking, and are the safest.
Trick or Treat for a Community | All About Cities
Link: http://allaboutcities.ca/356/


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Time for new business models in the post-modern era.
The middle-man is failing because they have turned it into a war

The Disintermediation Era | HPC
Link: http://www.horsepigcow.com/2009/11/the- ... ation-era/
It must suck to be the middle-man today. Everywhere they turn, it's bad news. Democratization this. Circumventing that. There was a point not that long ago that the middle-man provided great value. The record companies brought music to the masses. ...


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