Pingdom’s Speed Test is a Must

pingdomOne of my favorite services for developers and entrepreneurs is Pingdom. They offer a tool which notifies you if your website is down or non-responsive. I also like Pingdom because their staff is very responsive. The company is based in Sweden.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on testing and optimizing the speed of my websites. Google has stated that the faster a website is, that there might be a chance for better rankings. Better speed also makes for a better experience and more importantly for a smaller load in weight and time.

Pingdom has a speed testing tool which I’ve been using and it’s really sweet. It’s free to use and you can test to your heart’s delight. By using the Pingdom speed test tool, I found that my style sheet was pulling in old images. By removing those images, I increased the speed by nearly 50% overall.

The tool tracks: total loading time, total objects, external domains, html, xhtml, css, images, scripts and plugins. The graph loads in real-time so you can watch how a browser loads your objects one by one. There are tools including Yahoo’s YSlow and Google Chrome offers some of this functionality but the Pingdom tool just seems easier to use and you can save the tests as well.

Leave a comment if you know of other good, reliable speed testing tools.

Firefox 3.6 Released

Firefox 3.6 was released today – the company notes a 20% speed improvement over version 3.5.  Apparently over 350 million users use Firefox as their browser of choice.

Here’s a list from Firefox of the new features in 3.6:

  • Personas: Personalize the look of your Firefox by selecting new themes called Personas in a single click and without a restart
  • Plugin Updater: To keep you safe from potential security vulnerabilities, Firefox will now detect out of date plugins
  • Stability improvements: Firefox 3.6 significantly decreased crashes caused by third party software – all without sacrificing our extensibility in any way
  • Form Complete: When filling out an online form, Firefox suggests information for fields based on your common answers in similar field
  • Performance: Improved JavaScript performance, overall browser responsiveness, and startup time
  • Open Video and Audio: With the world’s best implementation of HTML 5 audio and video support, now video can be displayed full screen and supports poster frames

And here’s an updates list from the developer side: 

  • Support for the latest HTML5 specification, including the File API for local file handling
  • Font Support: In addition to OpenType and TrueType fonts, 3.6 now supports the new Web Open Font Format WOFF)
  • CSS gradients: Supports linear and radial CSS gradients which allow for a smoother transition between colors
  • Device orientation: Firefox 3.6 exposes the orientation of the laptop or device to Web pages

Chrome Improves Auto-Complete

A few days ago, I opened Chrome on my Vista 64-bit computer and noticed something different when I went to fill in a form. The auto-complete feature was different than it had been in the past; different than any other browser I’ve used. Now, the auto-complete (or auto-suggest, I guess, is more appropriate) feature on Web forms is now more inline with the way the browser address/search bar works in Chrome.

When you begin typing, instead of simply loading a list of suggestions, it automatically selects the most appropriate item from the list of suggestions. Therefore, if the selected suggestion is correct, you can simply hit the tab key to move onto the next form field. No longer do you have to choose an option using the mouse pointer or the cursor keys, it automatically chooses one for you.

Today, I updated Chrome on my Linux Mint installation, as well, and noticed that the feature has been implemented there, too. Therefore, this feature is definitely available in the latest “unstable” (or “developer’s”) versions of Chrome for Ubuntu and Windows, at least. Is anyone else seeing this in their versions of Chrome? Any idea when this feature was added? I don’t see it in any of the official release notes from Google.

WordPress 2.9.1 Released

WordPress has announced the release of WordPress 2.9.1 today. There were a bunch of major fixes and you can read the full list of changes here. Apparently some hosts weren’t able to properly handle the trackbacks and scheduled post changes in the overall 2.9 release.

You should be able to upgrade by selecting the Tools menu on the left side of the admin interface and then selecting Upgrade from the menu. If you have been using the beta release you should upgrade as well.

Add the Extract Filter to Photoshop CS4

Adobe Photoshop CS4For those of you that upgraded to Photoshop CS4, you may have noticed that the “Extract” filter is missing from the program. From what I’ve read, Adobe’s reasoning is that they are building a better method to extract an image from its background, so they’ve gone ahead and removed the filter (among others) before they’ve provided another solution.

Thankfully, Adobe has provided us with a stopgap solution for the time being. On Adobe’s Web site, you can find a zip archive that includes the “ExtractPlus” filter, along with seven other plugins for Photoshop CS4. If you want to use the extract filter, go ahead and download the archive and install the plugins according to the readme.

Twitbird Pro – A Nice Twitter Client for the iPhone

Twitbird iconTwitbird Pro (TBP) is a really nice Twitter client for the iPhone. Although the interface is a little amateurish (although, it almost perfectly mimics the native SMS interface on the iPhone), TBP is packed full of really nice features. Following are some of the really cool things you can do with TBP. Keep in mind that the latest version of TBP was released over a month ago, so native retweets, geolocation, lists, etc. were not yet available on Twitter. I’m hoping that a new version of TBP will be coming soon with those features built in.