Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Blackle Search

I was working with another web nut recently and he alerted me to an alternative to search engine, powered by "Google Custom Search", called "Blackle". When you visit the site you are presented with the standard Google layout, only the background is totally black. The reason behind the black background is it attempts to save energy every time you conduct a search. The reason it works is because by default your screen colour is black as an alternative to predominantly white backgrounds that website designers tend to favour. The site also reminds you every time that you use it the amount of energy saved to date, as well as reminding you that every bit of energy saved counts.

I understand that the reason that the majority of website backgrounds are white, is because when you print a page, it would obviously consume allot of printer ink if you had to print black pages with while text on them, rather than a white background with black text, so obviously this theory could not be used on a large amount of websites. However in the case of a search engine why not use a black background, as it is very rare that you want to print your search results out.

The theory that "Blackle" is based on is that "Image displayed is primarily a function of the user's colour settings and desktop graphics, as well as the colour and size of open application windows; a given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen." Roberson et al, 2002.

Because of the popularity of Google, if Google actually replaced the background of their search engine with a black background we would save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year. These figures are taken from a blog post titled "Black Google Would Save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year".

The website was create by an Australian business called "Heap Media", who have created a number of other online products which are worth taking a look at. One of my other favourites is "Anonomi" which basically replaces an email address, on a "Contact Us" page, with a contact form that hides your contact email address. This prevent those spam bots from collecting you email address and can reduce the amount of spam you receive, by preventing your email address to getting on one of those nasty email lists.

There are also some interesting sites related to saving energy if you are interested in the subject, with one of the most popular blogs being

If anyone out there has any other interesting energy saving websites they would like alert readers off, please add as a comment to this post with a link as it would be greatly appreciated, because this is a topic I am quite interested in.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Web based Operating System

Something that has interested me recently with all of the "Web 2" activity going on is the area web based Operating Systems. I have stumbled across this one which seems to be in use mainly in Europe called "eyeos". Its a very simple operating system, if you can call it that, however toots a number of simple applications that are functional in a web browser. Who knows this could be the way of the future, but I think that it has a long way to go yet before it can replace the likes of Windows, Linux or MAC OS. I mean I played with it for a couple of hours to see what sort of functions I could perform with it and it runs quite well and doesn't seem to fall over, however the big drawback is the limited amount of applications for the OS. It comes with a "Notepad" style application as well as a few games and office applications, but every application had many shortcomings. I would have a look at it as it is quite interesting and as a web developer it is interesting the technology that is used to hold it together, but Ii think it has a long way to go before I trade in my current OS.

One other concern of mine in this arena is do I want my computer applications and data in the hands of a Company that cold virtually access my information at any time they want. Maybe I'm paranoid but I think you can see my point.

Take a look at the link below;

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Apple "Safari" - New Windows Browser

Long time no tech tips post. This is a true reflection of amount of current project work I have at the moment. Anyway lets explore my latest Internet discoveries..

There is now a forth major contender in the browser market for Windows users. Most of us have heard of "Internet Explorer", "FireFox" (My personal favorite), "Opera" but now there is one from Apple "Safari". So after installing and having a play with it I quiet enjoyed the browsing experience. It is quick, has all the features the other browsers have, and has quiet a nice look and feel. I even set it as my default browser for a couple of days, however as a developer could not trade all of my FireFox extensions, for the new browser, so switched back not too long after.

I'm not going to lie, the browser does render pages and launch quicker than all of the other browsers and features all the modern features, such as "tabbed browsing", "pop-up blocker", "auto-fill forms" and built in "RSS Reader" and does come with the classic Apple look and feel (just like i-Tunes really) but it is really a browser for a basic Internet user. Another cool feature is the find feature which actually highlights the word searched upon in a pretty cool animated way.

One thing I don't like is that I couldn't use my bookmarks with the browser and I'm not sure Apple are going to open up the browser for developers to build in extra functionality. We will see I guess as it still is in beta.

I think that the main reason that Apple launched this browser is because the i-phone has just been released and the browser on this phone is Safari. It is definitely a strategic move to attempt to get Windows website developers to build support for the browser into their websites so that the i-phone can handle web based applications. I mean if they had not released the browser then I'm sure that the majority of us web developers would not bother supporting the browser unless it is a major contender on Windows machines. Another interesting point to make is there are millions of i-Pod users who download i-Tunes to manage their music, in the near future I can for see a move from Apple to include the browser with the download of the i-Tunes application. This will put them in a good position to take a good share of the browser market for Windows PCs.

I suggest you give it a go, check its features on the Apple site and start supporting it as a developer, as I imagine with the i-Phone and i-Tunes download amounts will make this browser quiet available to the public. On top of that why not reach the i-Phone mobile application market by making sure your website works in the browser correctly. Download the browser from the link below;

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Skype control panel for business users

Skype now offers a console to manage a collection of Skype accounts for business users and from having a quick look at it it seems like a great way for business users to communicate with each other for free or at a reduced rate for non Skype numbers. Seems like an advantage for all users taking advantage of the all of the latest free voice based software at the moment, and is obviously a move by Skype to make a move towards trying to get more business's to user their services. Had been meaning to post this up a day or so ago however have been working on tight deadlines at the moment and have had to basically churn out the front-end of about five sections of a site in about 2 days flat. Anyway the new web based interface allows you to manage all allocated Skype accounts with one interface. It provides a centrally place to allocate credit or automatically recharge accounts, and manage invoicing with one simple system. To find out further details on this product check the link below;

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ensure Googlebot crawls your site feeds

Want to get ensure Googlebot crawls your site feeds? To get your site feeds indexed and appear in the search results for Google's personalized homepage and Google Reader the code that needs to added to ensure that your feed is included in the index is listed below. This code is to be added to the header of your web page and uses the <link> tag.

For an Atom Feed;
<link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" title="subske's tech know how?" href="">

For an RSS Feed;

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="subske's tech know how?" href="">

Friday, May 25, 2007

Australian date format with date field in notes view column

Have been working on a Domino based website today as the client reported that the date format of their promotions listings had changed to American date format. After playing with the date and time settings on the server, then on the field that contained the date I decided a workaround was needed so that regardless of these settings the date would display in Australian format regardless. So from no on if you are displaying a date in an embedded notes view's column, on the web, why not use this work around. Solution is to break each part of the date up and rebuild the date in the desired Australian format. The code below speaks for its self as is pretty simple. Now should the domino database ever move servers or date and time settings on the server change this will have no affect on the display of the date. Here is the simple notes formula language to use.

day := @If(@Length(@Text(@Day(specialweekend))) <= 1;"0"+@Text(@Day(specialweekend));@Text(@Day(specialweekend)));
month := @If(@Length(@Text(@Month(specialweekend))) <= 1;"0"+@Text(@Month(specialweekend));@Text(@Month(specialweekend)));
year := @Text(@Year(specialweekend));

day + "/" + month + "/" + year

Monday, May 21, 2007

disable button based on text link

Wrote this bit of JavaScript to basically disable the next button unless a link in the content is clicked. It was built to run out of a CMS system so that the JavaScript can go on any page without causing an error, but only disables the next button if the link is contained in the body. It can be used to force users to view links before they can move onto the next page.

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
<title>Enable me once link is clicked</title>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">


To access the document and enable next button <a href="#" id="fixednext" onClick="javascript:enableMe('next');">click here</a>
<input name="Next" type="button" id="next" value="Next">
<p> </p>

<script language="JavaScript">

if (document.getElementById('fixednext')==null) { }
else {

function enableMe(nextid) {



Stumbled upon a free tool that can be used to transfer files of up to 4GB in size between users of the Netizen software. The transfer is secure as it uses 128-bit AES encryption and you are able to start, stop and resume your file transfer at any time. It is quiet a cool tool that can be used to transfer large files across the web securely to family, friends or other people from the dark side.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The importance of site maps

Site maps are an important part of a website as they provide your users will a page that enable them to access any part of a website from one page and also provide search engine spiders with a definitive list of all of the main pages that your website contains. Not only does it help confused and lost users find their way around you site but it helps the search engines work out all of the main pages of your website. Please note that I am not talking here about Google Site maps the service Google have to enable you to submit your site structure to them to index. I am talking about a page that contains links to all of the main sections of your website.

A successful site map will aim to achieve the following;
- Show detailed quick access to all site sections.
- Provide search engine spiders with more information on which pages to index.
- Include descriptive links and "alt" tags for each of the links, including keywords, to improve search engine ranking for your keywords.
- If you can provide a short description of what you will expect to find when each link is clicked this really does help the user to navigate your site.

I have found that a site with a site map generally has more of its page indexed in the main search engines and allows users to access your site through individual pages rather than straight from the home page. I have also found that when I visit a site and cant find what I want straight away busying the site navigation or search then the site map is where you head, which points out to me that if the site did not have a site map and I hasn't found what I wanted at this point Ii probably would have left the site. This means that they have their roll in retaining users on your site.

One thing that is a pain with site maps is that unless you are driving the links out of a database then you have to make sure that you keep these pages up to date as should any 404 messages appear on this page down the track then this can have negative affects on you search engine ranking.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Smooth Image Buttons

I am always browsing and have decided that I am going to start posting just about anything new that I come across that I find on the web. This will mean that I have a place that myself and others can come and find out what is new to web developers like myself out there. Here is a cool script to create a set of buttons that can be used either as navigation or to create a web based tool bar. The buttons you can create can have up to four states: none, over, down, and up. This makes the button feel more real than a simple mouseover. In addition, the different button states are all part of the same background image.

Yahoo to offer unlimited storage for email accounts

Sorry for the limited posts recently, I have been quiet sick and its taken me a few weeks to recover. Plus now I'm back at work, well yes you can imagine how much catching up I am having to do. I'm still in the process of doing so!!

I found this interesting article the other day, it is about an upgrade to Yahoo mail accounts. The article toots that the are about to offer unlimited storage to their email accounts this month. I have logged into my Yahoo account, which I keep just to check out what is going on a Yahoo, and it doesn't seem like this change has been implemented yet however it would be an interesting prospect to have an unlimited online email account. I mean I though Google where providing a large offering by offering 2.8GB accounts but an unlimited one seems like a huge giving. Let hope it happens soon as it may push Google to provide even more capacity than they currently do. Not sure that it will sway current Google account holders to move to Yahoo as it is quiet an annoyance to change email accounts but we will see, although I am not sure that this is their motivation. Maybe they are just being good guys by trying to provide there current users with more ability to share photos, video clips etc as today sending these sorts of files seems to be more common place. Check the article at the link below;

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Optimising Page Content Guidelines and Tool

Over the past few months I have been optimising the content of a website to try to achieve the highest possible results in the main search engines ( ). After trial and error I have found that the guidelines described below seems to work the best. When populating the page content with keywords, you want to contain your keywords in your content as much as possible, without going too overboard. The reason being that if you include your keywords too much then the search engines will identify your page as spam which will have a negative affect on your rankings. This is to prevent those pages that contain nothing but keywords and advertisements from finding themselves highly ranked in the search engines. I have found that a good keyword to content percentage to aim for is about 2-3%, when your page content is between 300 - 1200 words. A good online tool to use to check the keyword to content % of your page is "Live Keyword Analysis",, which allows you to type up to three of your keywords, in three field located at the top of the page, and paste your page content in a rich text field in the body of the page. The page then computes the % ratio that your keywords are included in the content of your page. I find it quiet a useful tool as helps me refine my content and lets me know if I am going over the top by including too many keywords or if I need to add the keywords a few more times. I also recommend that you keep the contents of your pages between 300 and 1200 words as a guide, as having too much content on one page can prevent the search engine spiders from indexing your whole page and also turn your readers away. Stick to these guidelines when you are writing your page content and you can be happy knowing that you are doing as much as you can do, in relation to optimising page content, to get high rankings in the search engines.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Mozilla Addons dedicated site

What a busy week this one has been, and yes, bonus I have been blessed with a four day Easter weekend!

I stumbled across a post today which is a few days old which includes a write up on FireFox and the fact that the Mozilla Cooperation have now launched a specific site for listing extensions and other personalisation features for their products. As I love the FireFox browser, a few reasons being the fact that I feel more secure, am offered a huge amount of useful extensions that assist with website development and the fact that it performs better than any other browser, I was quick to check out the new site. ( The site is branded with the familiar Mozilla look and feel and at first feels like you were in the old extensions section of the old site. I quickly found though that the site boasts refined navigation, to make it easier to access different sections of the products that I am able to customise, and more prominently links to a section designed to get you to create your own extensions. (When I get a few more long weekends, I will definitely be taking some time to come up with something useful for web developers out there) There also seems to be more information about each of the extensions on each individual page, with each page allowing you to check reviews and related discussions on the extension.

The fact that Mozilla have expanded this section of the site leads me to believe that their support to other like minded developers out their is strong and that they are keen to promote 3rd party extensions for their products. I'm sure this will make for ongoing innovation in their browser and products in the future, allowing developers to take the browser platform to new levels.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Auto reply email script - LotusScript

Today I had to write a script to run in a Lotus Notes database that generates an auto reply email when a form is submitted. The email is sent to the email address specified in the "Email" field on the form. This script is relatively simple, written in LotusScript and works a treat. One tricky thing that I had to work out was to be able to send the email from a specific email address, as setting "From" field did not work. When the email hit the Domino server its value was set Anonymous. This causes problems as allot of spam filters reject the email, including Google's, which was what I was originally testing with. I have commented out the "ReplyTo" as even without this set, when you click reply in your Inbox the email still replies to If someone out there knows why this is I would be interested.

Sub Initialize

Dim Session As New NotesSession
Dim DocWeb As NotesDocument
Dim DBCur As NotesDatabase
Dim tmpEmail As String
Dim EmailTo As String
Dim rtitem As NotesRichTextItem

Set DBCur = Session.CurrentDatabase
Set DocWeb = Session.DocumentContext

tmpEmail = DocWeb.GetFirstItem("Email").Text

Set WorkApps = New NotesDocument(DBCur)
Set rtitem = New NotesRichTextItem( WorkApps , "Body")

WorkApps.SendTo = tmpEmail
WorkApps.Principal = ""
WorkApps.INetFrom = ""
WorkApps.DisplaySent = ""
'WorkApps.ReplyTo = ""
'WorkApps.From = ""
WorkApps.Form = "Memo"
WorkApps.Subject = "Job Application Received - Munch Technologies"

Call rtitem.appendtext("This email is to let you know that we have received your job application.")
Call rtitem.AddNewline(2)
Call rtitem.appendtext("If you are required for an interview, a member of the Munch Technologies Management Team will contact you directly.")
Call rtitem.AddNewline(2)
Call rtitem.appendtext("Thank you for taking the time to complete the application form. Your application will be kept on file for 3 months.")
Call rtitem.AddNewline(2)
Call rtitem.appendtext("For any further information please contact us directly through the contact us section at")
Call rtitem.AddNewline(2)

WorkApps.send True

End Sub

Hope you Lotus Notes heads out there find this useful.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Search Engine Optimization tips

I'm always trying to keep up to date with the latest techniques to achieve high listings in the search engines. Here's a couple of search engine optimisation tips that seem to work;

- The first couple of paragraphs on a page should be heavily populated with your desired keywords. On top of this include keywords throughout the remainder of your copy, however it does seem to be these first couple that really make the difference.
- At the top a page of content include some anchored links to the relevant sections on the page. Try to make the link, and respective 'alt' text include your keywords. Also make the title of the section of the page you are linking to contain the keyword as well as the first line of the paragraph.
- When adding sections to your pages content divide them with titles using <h1>, <h2> tags rather than a CSS class. Search engines can identify these as titles to your pages copy then and pay them more attention. Also include keywords in these titles .
- Incorporate some social bookmarking tags (services such as and Digg ) at the bottom of each page so that users can create inbound links to your pages. At the same time specify the tags to be your keywords. The more links to you site including your keywords the better. These will also create back links to your site which ultimately increase your sites link popularity.

Click on the SEO category at the bottom of this post to check out some of my other search engine optimisation tips. I hope to build up quiet a bank over time.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Keyword saturation tip

To obtain high rankings in the search engines for your desired keywords you have to repeat your keywords throughout your content. Doing so without careful thought can lead to a poor reading experience for users, as you end up with repeated phrases throughout your content, which can make your copy quiet unnatural to read. I was reading an article by Karon Thackston, a specialist in optimising website content for search engines. She discusses keyword saturation a technique used to include as many keywords in your content without destroying the quality for you websites content. One point that she makes is that you can split up your keywords with punctuation and the search engines still treat the you keywords the same as if there were no punctuation. For example you use the keyword "Sydney City apartment complexes". You can split this up to read "there are some great opportunities in Sydney City. Apartment complexes are some of the..." and the search engines will treat this the same as if there were no "." there. This tip allows you to include your keyword in your content a few extra times without reducing the quality of sites content.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Add This - Bookmark & RSS buttons

If you have a website then you will know that maintaining shortcuts for your users to bookmark your site to their bookmark manager or RSS feed to the feed reader of their choice has become become a bit of a task. Which bookmark manager or RSS reader are your visitors using? If I add a shortcut to bookmark with one tool should I add one for the other tool. There are that many out there now that if you were to include links to them all then you would end up with a huge amount of icons on each page to perform these simple operations. There is "Google Bookmarks", "", "Digg", "Furl", "Diigo", "Technorati", "Shadows" just to name a few.

Now there is one button that you can add to your site that allows your users to bookmark your site using the bookmark manager of their choice and another button to add your RSS feed to the feed reader of their choice. The website that provides this service is called Add This and boasts they have over 2,000,000 buttons out their on peoples websites, some of these being quiet well know sites. As you can see I have subscribed to their free service and now have these buttons on my blog (down on the right hand side - click on them to check out the full list of providers they support). I'm happy with the service they provide as I will no longer have to keep adding these sorts of buttons to my blog as these two button cover all of the bookmark manager and RSS reader services out there.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Google Apps Premier Edition

Google have updated their Google Apps service so that they now offer a Premier Edition of the service. You get all of the offerings of the Standard Edition (access to Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk and Google Docs and Spreadsheets) along with more services and guarantees. These include 24/7 support for critical issues, 99.9% up-time guarantee for Gmail, 10 GB email quota for each account, no adds, API for setting up an email gateway to conduct a deployment pilot or for archiving of email and compliance, API for integrating single sign-on services, API for migration of calendar data (email migration is coming) and partner technology and services. All of this costs $50 per account which is quiet reasonable if you think of how much other technology providers would charge for all of these services. I believe that the added support and guaranteed up-time for the mail services really make this a serious service to be considered for businesses looking to outsource these core business services. Check out the Premier Edition at

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Yahoo Pipes

Yahoo Pipes is a new online tool from Yahoo that allows you to merge news sources and RSS feeds from the Internet and then query and perform a number of operations on the data to give you a desired output. To give you a clearer idea of its function you can create a pipe that draws data from all of your favorite blogs RSS feeds then perform a search query across them to find is there are any postings that match you query. To get a better idea of what I am talking about I suggest that you check out some of the examples that users have created that perform a number of useful functions. The pipe editor is drag and drop, so you can layout the different elements of the pipe is a relatively easy way for you to understand. The reason I say relatively is because you have to have a fair bit of understanding of URLs and how site searches function before you can really use the interface and its modules. It is a revolutionary tool and the first of its kind that I have seen as it allows you to process data from all over the Internet through you web browser. Check it out at

Saturday, February 24, 2007

FireFox Extension - Dummy Lipsum Generator

If you are in the business of creating web pages then you will know that when you are creating a draft page to present to a client then you need present the page with content so that they can get an idea of how the graphics and content will look on a page together. A handy FireFox extension that I have come across is the "Dummy Lipsum Generator". This extension allows you to create dummy content easily in a couple of clicks by adding a new button to your "Tools" button which performs this operation. It is configurable so that you can specify the number of paragraphs of content to create also provides you with a "Copy to clipboard" option so that you do not have to highlight the content it creates. It works by looking out to the website and then copying the generated text back into the extension interface. To find out more and download the extension visit

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Google - Peronalized search results

If you have a Google account and are logged into your Google account while conducting a search, you will find that the results served, are now are personalized to you. The results you get are influenced by a number of things, your search history, websites and news headlines that you have clicked on, Google bookmarks as well as the information that you have stored on you personalized home page. As this service has only recently been enabled, the results you get will not change all that much to start with but the longer you enable this service the more your results will be tailored to you.

At first I though, i'm not sure that I like the idea. Does this mean that I may be missing out on new sites as they become live because I have only been viewing a group of other websites. After investigating further though I found that Google actually looks at other users search histories that are similar to mine, and serves results that other users have clicked that have search patterns that are close to mine. This means then that it will probably help me find these new websites as these users will have visited sites I want to see.

I wonder if many other search engines will follow this move or if it will be a feature that is received warmly by Google users? As long as it improves my web browsing I am not one to complain and as it is a feature that can be disabled it will at least prevent spammy results from getting listed in my search results.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

YouSendIt file storage

If you do not have your own or access to an FTP server and want to distribute files to clients, family or friends then YouSendIt is a good way to get your files to them. Once you create an account with the site, you can upload files, up to the amount of 2GB, where they are stored for retrieval. The way that you get the files to people is by sending them a notification email that contains a link back to the specific file stored on the site. The email link uses a encrypted URL, which once clicked, requires a login, which makes accessing the file quiet secure. I have been using the free version of the service but if you use the paid version some of the features you get are tracking, which keeps count of how many times the file has been downloaded and branding which allows you to upload your company logo so that the area that the client accesses is branded for your business.

I have found it simple and quiet easy to use and have used to store large graphics of websites that I have been working on for clients. When downloading the files the download speed is fast and I am yet to experience a drop out during download.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Spyware, adware removal tools

Removing spyware can be a time consuming and tricky task as spyware becomes more and more advanced. Fortunately there are a number of Windows tools that are available to help identify and remove spyware, adware, and other malicious code. Here is a list of my personal favourites, which are my favourites because they are free. These are Spybot Search & Destroy and HijackThis. There are also many commercial alternatives which include Ad-Aware and Microsoft's Windows AntiSpyware beta.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Mailto function

After doing some investigation I found that you can actually cc and bcc mail recipients using the simple HTML mailto function. This can be done by using the following syntax is a test subject. This is something that might be useful to some people as I always believed that you could only use the to field and that the cc and bcc were not able to be accessed.