For all of the regular readers of sourcegate, you probably noticed over the past weeks that the user interface for the blog has changed, especially if viewing it on a mobile device. Thanks to ZeroTheme and a little prodding from Google Webmaster Tools, this became a quick, straightforward reality.
A Multi-purpose Blog
Where sourcegate is my collection point for technical tips for hardware and software, from PCs to mobile devices, it is also the “sandbox” test site for my blog development work, from design to functionality to content. So when I needed to make to changes to my primary personal blog, The Hot Iron, those changes were made on sourcegate first, then integrated there.
Google Made Me Do It And I Am Glad
I got the email shown above from Google Webmaster Tools that The Hot Iron was not mobile-friendly. As a Web professional, I already knew this. As my focus on The Hot Iron has been on content, I made the conscious decision to focus my efforts there, knowing the site needed some design work. But when I got this alert and learned more about how Google tags mobile-friendly sites as such in search results on mobile devices, I had to take action.
The goal of that action was to make the site mobile-friendly and look nice, all without reworking the entire site. Breaking this down, I was seeking to integrate a framework to achieve this, give it a simple but elegant design and not make any major changes, realizing I would most likely have to make some or want to once I got into the weeds.
Building a better design
For the mobile-friendly design, I chose ZeroTheme, a free framework and template set. Its framework allows for the development of custom, responsive Web templates. For those not familiar with the term, a responsive user interface is one which can conform or “respond” to the size of the Web browser window and screen from the largest HDTV screen to a mobile device. As I did not want - or need to - have separate UIs for a standard (a.k.a. on a PC or Mac display) and a mobile browser, I went responsive. I also chose a basic template from the framework called ZBasic. I decided to keep the same linear layout for sourcegate rather than opting for something akin to a news site.
The integration of ZeroTheme was straightforward, and made easy by how I developed my blog sites long ago. I first setup the code on the server, setup a test page with the template, made some customizations to intgrate the name, colors, etc., then added the template to the blog page-by-page. I started with the simplest page, the about page, then worked my way to the home page.
As I look back on the process, it took about a week to integrate, broken into blocks from 1 to 3 hours. Had I a whole day, I could have done it all at once, rather it took about 12 hours. I decided to remove some content from the sidebars, namely recent posts and categories, and made them menu items. Overall, the template was good for aout 90% of the site, with the remainder 10% being required changes. One significant change was with AddThis sharing buttons, as I integrated a newer, more elegant sharing toolbar. It was good to revisit AddThis functionality as I hadn’t done so in a while. The integration into its final destination on The Hot Iron took only a few hours, as I knew what and where to make changes on the sourcegate-specific templates. One additional change was integrating the CentUp button on The Hot Iron.
Below you can see what sourcegate looked like before the new design template was integrated. The significant difference is the whole Web site is not presented in tiny print with the new design, and the focus is on the content, as it should be.
I am pleased with the outcome of the integration of the ZeroTheme responsive template, as it met my goals going into the effort, and I have already received feedback from people that reading either blog is easier on a mobile device. I have also found the sites are now tagged as mobile-friendly in Google search results, which is an added bonus. There is more work to do, such as modifying ad banners to also be responsive, but for now I am happy with the result.
This is from sourcegate, souvenirs (aka tech tips and resources) collected along a web developer’s journey by Mike Maddaloni, a mobile, Web and business strategist based in Chicago.
The more we use digital cameras the more we have a record of when – and sometimes where – the photo was taken. But as we digitize older photos – whether scanning paper pictures or digitizing from negatives – the resulting image created has the date/time stamp of when the files was created, not when the picture was captured.
For Windows, I have used SKTimeStamp which creates another tab on the Properties dialog as shown below.
SKTimeStamp is an open source tool that works great and gets the job done… providing you remember when you took the original photo!
This is from sourcegate, souvenirs (aka tech tips and resources) collected along a web developer’s journey by Mike Maddaloni, a Web and business strategist based in Chicago..
Graphic Design • Windows • Windows Software • (0) Comments • Permalink
Every time I use join.me, I still can’t believe it is as powerful and easy-to-use as it is, and it still offers a free version.
Join.me is a browser-based screen sharing utility, allowing you to share your entire desktop window as well as control of the mouse and keyboard on a desktop. In addition to the browser launch ability they do have mobile apps, but I haven’t tried them yet. It works great on both PC and Mac and on whatever browser you choose. Yes, there is a pro version that offers all of the basic features plus others geared towards those who use it frequently, and I would imagine if you were a power user the pro version would be for you.
But for the casual user or someone who has to show a long-lost relative how to tweet or something like that, join.me fits the bill nicely. It is offered by LogMeIn, the Woburn, MA based company who has been in the remote screen and computer access business for a while.
Browsers • Mobile Phones • Web-based Services • Windows • (0) Comments • Permalink
Recently I had an issue with a Windows 2008 Server I access via Remote Desktop where Explorer.exe crashed and I was not able to restart or recover it. I searched and found many documents which looked like they would work, but they did not. However, they were correct, and I was reading them wrong.
As stated in this article all you need to do is type Ctrl-Alt-End into Remote Desktop. Note, that is CONTROL and ALT and END, not DEL! I was reading it as DEL, which is typically the way you try to restart a PC.
That’s End… END! Plus Control and Alt with it. Try it, and let me know if it works for you.
Business Services • Internet General • Windows • Windows Software • (0) Comments • Permalink
Recently I migrated to a new Dell Latitude E6320 and in the process of moving my software from my old PC to this one, I needed to activate my license for Microsoft Office XP. When I chose to activate it online, for some reason it didn’t work. Then I was given the option to activate it by phone. However, no phone numbers were displayed. So who was I to call?
In searching for a phone number for Microsoft (which I didn’t think I would ever find) I found this post and thread on TechRepublic on Microsoft product activation. I called, and I have Office XP up and running, and used it to write this short post!
Windows • Windows Software • (0) Comments • Permalink
Recently when trying to recover my PC from the dead after a botched encryption attempt (a story for another time) and I needed to boot from my DVD/CD drive with a CD, but all I had was an ISO image, which I needed to make into a CD. After all these years, I never had to do this before and didn’t know what to do.
First I needed to track down a blank CD-ROM (thanks Chris!) then I needed to see how to put this ISO image on it so I could boot it. I found Free ISO Burner and it did the trick and allowed me to make my bootable CD. Of course my recovery failed, but it was not for lack of trying.
Windows • Windows Software • (0) Comments • Permalink
Classic ASP (or ASP 3.0) code still works, and thus is still supported by Microsoft in its latest version of IIs, version 7. However, many default settings have to be changed in order for ASP to work as it did in older versions of IIS. One is sending ASP error messages to the browser, and you can see how to change IIS7 to see them in this post from the IIS blogs.
Active Server Pages • Browsers • Web Development • Windows • (0) Comments • Permalink
Recently I migrated from an old, chugging notebook running Windows XP to a shiny, fast and new Dell Latitude E6320 running Windows 7, and among all of the files and software I needed to port over was my email, for which I have been using Mozilla Thunderbird version 2 for several years. I was aware of the newest version 10, however I was more interested in getting my email up and running on the same version, or a lower one if necessary, then make the upgrade at a later time. Productivity and a tight timeline were the overarching factors in this decision.
When I researched into how to best move it, I found that version 2 was no longer available, and version 3 was the lowest supported version. I then looked into various sources across the Web, including Thunderbird’s own great support site.
One item to note is that I had the toughest time determining how to get the dialog to choose your profile when I first launch Thunderbird. This is driven by a file names profiles.ini, which lives in the application data folder of both Windows XP and 7. This file needed to be copied over manually – and in my case modified for new file paths – in order for Thunderbird to launch with the dialog to select which profile I wanted to access. I have 3 profiles for my install, and love this feature and wanted to preserve it. In previous versions of Thunderbird (I don’t know which number0 you could “launch” this dialog, but I don’t know if that still exists.
Also note I keep my mail folders at the root level of my hard drive, and not nested under a Thunderbird or application folder.
Following this research I put together and executed on a plan that worked, and I am outlining it here for your own ease of migration.
1. Backup all mail folders, the Thunderbird 2 folder and the profiles.ini file on the old PC.
2. Install Thunderbird version 3 over version 2 on the old PC.
3. Launch Thunderbird version 3, testing everything on the old PC.
4. Copy all mail folders and the profiles.ini file from the old PC onto a Flash drive.
5. Install Thunderbird version 3 on the new PC.
6. Copy all mail folders to the new PC.
7. Copy profiles.ini to a temp folder on the new PC, make a backup copy of it, and modify the original to set the new paths for the mail folders.
8. Make a backup copy of the profiles.ini file in the application data folder on the new PC, and move the edited file from the temp folder to the application data folder.
9. Launch Thunderbird version 3, testing everything on the new PC.
10. Get back to work.
I have also set my online backup software to backup the profiles.ini file as well as the mail folders, for if I need to restore it, I will need all of it.
Your comments are welcome on this process. Have you done it another way? Was this useful?
Business Services • Internet General • QA • Windows • Windows Software • (0) Comments • Permalink
It seems installing an SSL certificate is much more time consuming and laborious than the application process for getting one, including providing all sorts of business documentation to prove who you are!
Some SSL providers offer better instructions than others. When I am looking for information on installing SSL certs, one site typically gives me all the help I need, SSL Shopper. For example, this article on how to use SSL certificates with Exchange 2007 was extremely helpful when I was not getting the support from my “managed” server vendor.
SSL Shopper is an independent SSL comparison site, and not a provider of SSL certs themselves. If you need help installing a cert, in my opinion they are the best place to start. I’d welcome your thoughts if they are helpful for you, or if you have another source of information - please post it in the comments.
Business Services • eCommerce • Internet General • Web-based Services • (1) Comments • Permalink
Wondering why you can’t do wildcard host header binding in IIS7? I was too, and I dound this great article on wildcard host header binding and subdomains in IIS7 at Dirk.net In short, you need a dedicated IP address for the site if you want to do it. With the shortage of IP addresses, it’s probably not likely for a small Web site. The post also references this forum thread on IIS.net on the topic, with a pretty lame response from someone at Microsoft. Here’s to it being added in the future!Active Server Pages • Internet General • Web Development • (1) Comments • Permalink