Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Daisy 2007 Web Tools

These are now available in beta from http://www.daisy.co.uk/WebTools/.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Beware of Laptops

My son, George, provides support to PCs, through his company, PC 24 Hour.

This weekend he's been trying to resurrect a laptop, that has been dropped.

No problem in that, as the nature of their use, makes them much more vulnerable to failure. But this one had not been backed up. And no paper copies had been made of important documents and contracts.

So far, Goerge has not been able to reconstruct the data on the laptop.

I never use a laptop.

Partly this is because of the fact, I like a proper mouse, keyboard and screen, but mainly because of the security problems and the droppability.

How many people have had their laptops stolen? How many have been dropped?

If you must have such a device, then make sure you back up important documents to another computer or CD-Rom regularly.

If you don't, you could end up like George's client.

Tip - Use the Daisy AutoBackup/FTP to make secure copies of your data.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Latest Version of the Daisy Web Tools

The Daisy Web Tools started as a single program used to demonstrate the use of embedded browsers within Visual Basic programs. This technology is fully explained in a separate section. The software has grown into a collection of useful programs which are summarised below :-

The latest version is now available for download.

Web Site Loading Times

Not paying attention to loading times is just sloppy.

I have broadband here in deepest Suffolk in the UK, but all I get is a 500Kb connection as I’m just on the limit of broadband from my exchange. My son gets several times this in Winchester, which is a major town of about 50,000 people. So don’t believe because someone has broadband, they can download a large file in seconds. But still it’s a lot better than dialup.

A few rules that web site designers should use :-

1. The most important is that if you can, follow the dear old BBC. Their web site must be one of the busiest in the world and each page is a separate HTML page. No on-line database or complicated ASP etc. means that there is much less handshaking before the actual page arrives in your browser.

2. Compress graphics. I’ve seen sites that use a 250Kb gif, when if it was compressed it would be perhaps a quarter of this.

3. Use proper small images rather than large ones with a height and width. Some galleries do this and they are excruciatingly slow.

4. If you want a large image, put the small one in a web page and ask people to click for the large.

5. Don’t use complicated menus that need a whole load of unnecessary junk to be downloaded from the Internet.

6. Keep pages reasonably small. Don’t have a long page that goes on and on.

7. If you have a large PDF document on your site, put up an HTML preview of some of it, so punters can check if they want to spend a long time downloading. I actually don’t like PDF, as it’s another thing for the punter to install.

8. Avoid Flash. Never seen any point to it anyway, as it just annoys clients.

But above all keep things simple, even if this means a few more pages.

Restarting the Blog

I have been remis over the last couple of years about this Daisy News blog.

So it's being restarted.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Image Theft

I have an alternative view on this.

I allow all of the images on my site, that I have taken myself to be used by others with impunity. They are only 600 pixels wide or so and more information than art. I do ask that people put a link to where the image came from.

About a year ago I did a site for a mediation company at www.indepmed.com. I needed an image to sum up divorce and separation, but couldn’t find a small image that was suitable. I thought about staging it, but then would you want a picture of yourself on a site about divorce. I wouldn’t! So I found an image from David Starkey’s book on Henry VIII and his wives. I asked his permission, he gave it and I used part of the image. I of course made a link to his book on Amazon.

So I agree about image theft of high quality images, but small, informational ones, may well be worth more to you to give away free, provided that a reverse link is provided.

As an aside to this, I’m trying to persuade a model friend to do a series of body part pictures, (not naughty ones), that can be used on web sites for free. Hands pointing, feet, eyes etc. to be used with just a link back to her site.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Drop-Down Menus

I actually don’t like java-script menus, as I prefer everything to be just one click to get from page to page. Some are good, but others are definitely not that. So I tend to have a two level menu, which I put across the top of the page under the banner, with traditional tool-tips. As these days I tend to design all web sites to A4 pages so they can be easily printed, it works well.

But you really want to make sure that the web site gets entwined properly around the search engines.

So I always make a web site a series of individual pages with their own URLs, just like most of the BBC’s web site. And then make sure that all pages are linked from the home page that is submitted to the search engine. (One of the reasons, I wrote my Web Site Spider, was to check that all pages are linked to the home page, even if the route is rather long!)

If you are using a complicated java-script and it is not obvious to the search engine how you get to certain pages, then make sure you have some links in the text. You can always use a site map, which on some web sites, is the best way to find the page you want anyway.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Bank Phishing Scams

I believe that the number of phishing e-mails for a particular bank does reflect that bank’s security, in that the better the security the less likely a customer is to be fooled. Remember, by security I would include the publicity and information that banks send to customers to warn of on-line fraud.

Take Nationwide, which is quite a large UK bank, where I have had contact with the security department. Scams were tried on this bank a couple of years ago and I have been told that they were not very successful. I have not seen one since. If I was a scammer, I wouldn’t bother if I didn’t get any money.

Scams were also tried on most other UK banks. Again nothing at all in the last year or so!

So as Barclays and Halifax get nearly all of the e-mails, I am pretty sure that these are the only banks where the scammers have been successful. Intriguingly, I believe that these scam e-mails are one group of fraudsters. Why for instance, do Barclays stop and then Halifax start? And vice-versa! I’m analysing some of the e-mails in detail to see if I can find more evidence of one group.

Now if it is one group, why aren’t the banks doing more to stop it?

As I have said before, we need a law which would make each bank show how much they lose to fraud each year and to what methods. This would mean they had to get it right, as they wouldn’t want to see business disappear.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Printing Pages

As I said in an earlier post, my Christmas project was to crack the problem of printing pages that are too wide for the printer.

Without writing a complete browser, it would obviously be impossible to print a long page that spread over more than one, but I have found and programmed a solution to the problem of printing a page that is say 1200 pixels wide and about 1600 deep. The solution takes a bitmap of the page and sizes it to the printer.

I have programmed the solution into a browser, which is part of my Daisy Web Tools. The web site is not quite finished yet, as I’m developing the other products in the suite.

The print solution is in the Multiple and Presentation Browsers. They also contain the ability to print a web page without those annoying headers at the top and bottom.

To get this printing just use the Print button in either browser.

If anybody wants to use the program, there is a temporary registration that will give full access to the programs.

One of the uses of the Presentation Browser may well be in the field of such things as copyright, where when you see an infringement, you can then print the whole page, add a few notes to it and then send it to your lawyer!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Web Page Display Size

Just a small point!

I am perhaps a control freak myself, in that I run a large 1280 x 1024 screen, with usually my browser windows set to about 800 x 600. I get really annoyed when someone automatically resizes my browser window, so I immediately stop looking at the site, delete the copy of the browser and load a new one. Which of course I have to resize! Grrr!

So one thing I believe you should never never do, is resize the browser window. It annoys many intensely. How many sales have you lost? An interesting thing would be to check the log file and see how many people leave the site immediately after the resize. I always do! Remember too, that a lot of nasty sites do this and many people associate resizing with all of the worst parts of the Internet.

Incidentally, I have a program that I wrote called the Daisy Multiple Browser that opens several copies of IE in the same dialog. The latest version of this allows me to set the dialog to a range of sizes. It also stops the windows being resized!

One of the reasons I am so pedantic about window size is that I write extensive notes on how to use the Internet and I like to have all the captured images at exactly the same scale.

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