Archive for June, 2006 launches new beta packed with features

June 25th, 2006 Dashboard Beta - 25th June 2006For those that aren’t already part of the revolution in discovering music that is, it’s the flagship product from the same team in the UK that first brought us the AudioScrobbler music engine.

AudioScrobbler builds a music profile based on the artists and tracks that you listen to using either the Player or via a plug-in for your favorite audio player. uses the data collected by AudioScrobbler and adds features such as social networking, tagging, forums and also journals to the mix, offering many ways for you to share your musical tastes with friends, view similar artists to the ones built up in your music profile, listen to samples of your recommended artists and much more.

Some of the most interesting features that I use most often are the ability to read about an artist that I am passionate about, and then view similar artists and explore their musical offerings.

Tag based exploration is also a favorite feature of mine, along with tag based radio allowing users to listen to randomized tracks belonging to a particular genre.

The new offering from now includes a shiny new dashboard element that breaks down into the following sections:

  • My friends online – a summary of which of your linked friends are currently listening with and the most recent songs that they’ve been rocking their feet to.
  • Recommended Artists – a short list of artists that you might be interested in based on your previous listening habits, and also a collection of free songs that you can listen to in full.
  • My Weekly Neighbours Online – other users who have similar music profiles, and the last track that they listened to.
  • Recommended Recent Journal Entries – journals written by other users that have been linked to artists that match your music profile, or from groups that you have joined in the forums.

Overall the new features provide even faster access to exploring new music that is matched to your listening habits, and the new design which is still being tweaked with shows a lot of promise of being more appealing to less technically minded users.

No room for fraud, thanks…

June 21st, 2006

I decided to pay off my credit card this morning because things are moving ahead quite quickly with the flat I’m purchasing and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have anything outstanding to worry about before all the big money needed to move around for it.

When it comes to checking over statements I am not the best person, I buy from a lot of different locations as I move around through London on my way home or when I’m just experiencing things at the weekends, but this morning I noticed a debit that had come out from a post office in a location that I knew I hadn’t been to, and besides I’d rarely ever be seen in a post office with the queues that seem to form in them.

I won’t give out any details, but a relatively small amount has been taken from my account, which I’ve reported to my banks fraud department. I was talking to a friend about it this morning and by possibly the strangest co-incidence he has also been charged an amount by the same mystery post office.

Both amounts were small, so whoever has managed to gather our collective details is smart enough to have tried for amounts that wouldn’t be noticed, but I am still a little upset that we live in a society where people feel within their rights to go to such lengths to take from others.

A large majority of people work hard for their income and their personal possessions, these become part of our livelyhood. Many of those people share with others, be it to a charity or to friends, associates and colleagues via other means.

The people who have the “courage” to commit fraud, taking from the hard workers, an act of hiding behind many guises unable to face the world, what do they actually offer to society? All they are doing is taking from it, with not a care for who their victims are or what situations their victims may be in. I simply don’t understand it, and definately don’t think their is any room for it in our rapidly evolving society.

Finding some balance

June 19th, 2006

I’m finding it increasingly difficult at the moment to find a balance between the amount of time spent contributing to work, the amount of time I spend attempting to be social and the amount of time that is spent on personal projects such as getting my own blog off it’s feet and into a prettier outfit.

Tonight for instance, I wanted to work on the bugs with the theme I was working on for WordPress for my own blog (where you happen to be reading); by the time I’d finished deploying various new features for a client site live and then enjoyed (fallen asleep during) a tube journey home, it was already edging towards 9pm.

Sure, I don’t need to spend time in front of a computer geeking away when that’s what I’ve been doing all day, but it is something that I wanted to do tonight and there are only so many hours in the day before you’re required to get into bed and recharge the batteries before the commercial world comes to get you again.

It’s been suggested that we’ll be moving offices in six to nine months, and the locations that the company have been looking at would probably cut my journey in the mornings and on the way home down from over an hour each way, to half an hour each way. It might not sound like a huge difference for those that have the luxury of a short walk or drive to work, but over here that means less time in the stuffy underground transport system, and an entire hour of the day reclaimed!

Until then I’ll have to make do and remember to get some of that sleep stuff that everyone keeps telling me about… I seem to have been trying to substitute it recently with large amounts of caffiene.

sIFR 3 Alpha

June 18th, 2006

Mark Wubben over at NovemberBorn has recently announced the release of the long awaited sIFR 3 alpha. When I first found the time at work to play with sIFR 2.x and had the opportunity to include it on a UK government site I had been working on I was absolutely convinced that it was the new alternative to accessible text headings.

sIFR (Scalable Inman Flash Replacement) brought the promise of gorgeous looking headings in any font you choose whilst preserving valid structural mark-up and also a saving on the time of having to generate images for each of your graphically styled headings.

In practice after including sIFR on a few client projects I began to stumble across bugs and difficulties, transparent backgrounds, font sizing and font wrapping just to name a few. I became rather resistant to using sIFR 2.x on client sites due to the unpredictable nature of any text that got close to a line in length, that may now change with the sIFR 3 alterations to those features.

I’ve started playing with sIFR 3 alpha today in the new design I’m developing for this blog and I’m already seeing a fair improvement in the features… the font sizing issues appear to have been resolved, transparent backgrounds are supported in full for the browsers that support transparent Flash movies, yes, there are a few bugs remaining but it’s only an alpha release.

Keep your eyes peeled over at the sIFR 3.0 alpha pages for future developments and bugs that fellow developers may have already experienced.

Fired up after @media 2006

June 17th, 2006

It’s been a long time since I’ve written any material that has been publicly available on the web, be it personal or professional. Since then my career has taken many paths from back-end developer through to front-end engineer and accessibility expert, and now to a role as senior developer at a full service digital agency based in London that sits somewhere inbetween the two with a much broader set of skills that need to be dusted off just as frequently.

On Thursday and Friday of this week I had one such opportunity to dust off with my colleagues Will Howat and Helen O’Doherty by attending @media 2006 with speakers such as Eric Meyer (CSS overlord), Molly E. Holzschlag (mother nature of the Web), Jeremy Keith (good turtle), Tantek Çelik and many others. Read the rest of this entry »