BoagWorld Says Good-Bye

A few days ago, Paul Boag announced that he would not continue publishing the BoagWorld podcast past the beginning of next month. While I understand his reasoning, support his decision and am really looking forward to see what he produces in the future; I am also very sad to hear this news. The BoagWorld podcast has been an invaluable resource for me since I discovered it.

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10 Unexpected Online User Behaviors to Look Out For

When designing a website, there are key user behaviours that should be taken into account. But in order to take them into account, it helps to know them. Below are 10 of the more interesting and less well-known user behaviours that regularly occur in user testing:

People have banner blindness

People don’t notice banners. It’s been found in eye tracking studies their gaze literally avoids settling on any area that looks like an advert instead it seems people actively try to avoid looking at them. This effect is called banner blindness.

Banner blindness affects most people, and has a startling side effect. Useful areas of the site that are overly graphically designed (and end up looking like an advert) are ignored by users as though they were adverts.

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Writing a WordPressMU Widget

While working on a new website today, I found myself needing a widget that would show the archive list from one blog on another blog within my WordPressMU installation. Unfortunately, after a bit of Googling, I couldn’t find any that already existed. It was then that I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I started searching for tutorials on building WordPress widgets. I found some decent tutorials, and was able to put the widget together pretty quickly. However, I then realized that I needed to be able to use multiple instances of the widget, as I have more than one sidebar set up (one or the other is shown, depending on which page the visitor is viewing). Then, it was basically back to the drawing board.

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AES Encryption with PHP and MySQL

Occasionally, you may find the need to encrypt information within a database. One of the standards for encryption is AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). In fact, in a lot of government institutions, AES is the required data encryption method.

At this point, I feel I need to make an important distinction. Encryption is a reversible method of masking data; not to be confused with hashing, which is supposed to be a one-way encoding method (though, many hash methods can be cracked through various types of attacks).

If you do need to encrypt your data, you have a few options when working with PHP and MySQL.

The first option is a pair of built-in MySQL functions. AES_ENCRYPT() and AES_DECRYPT() make it easy to encrypt and decrypt your data directly through a MySQL query. In order to use the AES_ENCRYPT() and AES_DECRYPT() functions, you will need to provide the data (original data should be provided to the encryption function, the encrypted data should be provided to the decryption function) as the first parameter and a 16-bit key as the second parameter. The same key will need to be used for both functions (otherwise, the decryption won’t work properly).

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Google Gets in the Spirit of the World Cup

Goooooal on GoogleThanks to Benjamin Golub for sharing this (at least, that’s where I first saw it). I wonder if they’ll keep this going until the World Cup is over.

 

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WordPress Password-Protected Posts

Following are a few quick tips for working with the built-in functionality to password-protect pages and posts in WordPress. WordPress allows you to add a password to any post or page, and hides the content of that entry until the visitor enters the appropriate password. Each password-protected page has its own unique password, and only one single password is used for that page (as opposed to “Private” pages, which require a user to be logged in with their own username and password for the site).

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Quickbooks Online Available to the Masses

Quickbooks Online - IE6 Warning MessageUp until a few months ago, the only way to use the Quickbooks Online interface was to do so through Internet Explorer. The interface did not work at all for people using browsers other than IE, which meant that it was wholly unavailable to Linux users and Mac users (I have no idea whether it worked on Mac’s version of IE or not, but I’m fairly certain it didn’t).

Then, in October, the application was updated to begin working with Firefox on Windows and Safari on Mac. This was a step in the right direction, but still didn’t make the interface available to Linux users.

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Google Fonts

Google Font LogoOne of many new features in CSS3 that has the Web development and design world clamoring is the introduction (well, reintroduction and standardization, really) of embedded fonts. Commonly referred to as the @font-face property, CSS3 will allow you to use non-standard fonts on your Web pages without having to resort to using images. Instead, you’ll upload the font file (in most cases, a Truetype Font [TTF] file) to a space on the Web, then use the @font-face property to import that font file as a resource for the page.

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Reset Stylesheets

Whenever I begin slicing up a new website design to turn it into a template, one of the first things I do is to implement a reset stylesheet. The ideal reset stylesheet will essentially turn off all of the proprietary default CSS properties that browsers impose on various HTML elements. At the very least, padding and margins need to be reset, as each of the major browsers tend to implement those in completely different manners.

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Three-Column Layouts

For me, it’s pretty rare that I develop fluid website layouts, so I’ve not played much with them. However, as part of a recent project, I needed a way to create a fixed-width sidebar and a fluid second column. I started searching around, and came across an old (January 2006) article from A List Apart (ALA). Although it’s old, it’s still extremely useful. It’s fairly aptly titled “The Holy Grail.”

The article explains how to create a three-column layout with fixed-width side columns and a fluid center column. For this particular application, I modified it slightly to use a two-column layout, but I’ve since realized just how powerful and useful the techniques described in the article are.

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