Let’s make the Web faster – Google’s new Code Section “Speed”

google-speed-code-header

I can still remember the first days of the web when I we were using Mosaic and later Netscape as browsers. Although websites consisted mostly of simple  text and a sometimes even some images, the speed was terrible. Sometimes it took minutes to load entire pages. Nowadays we have tons of images on every single page plus animations, flash and other media types. The web got way faster in the last 10 years. Big companies started to invest money into infrastructure and ISPs evolved with their services.

Let’s take Google as an example. They can provide search results within a fraction of a second though there are quadrillions of data to be parsed an processed. Google can do that trick only because of their enormous server farms and highly streamlined websites. But Google wants to go to the next level: surfing the web should be as instantaneous as “flipping through the pages of a glossy magazine”.

Let’s make the Web faster

Google introduced a new Code section called Speed. You can find there many useful articles on how to optimize the performance of your website and web server. And if you have some ideas about improving the speed of the web you can post it there too. It’s definitely a good resource for beginners and professionals.

Here is a short introduction video made by some guys at Google:

[youtube]IWWBnJEsUtU[/youtube]


Missing the Extract Filter in Photoshop CS4? Download it from Adobe.com

missing-extract-filter-cs4-header

Photoshop comes with a very powerful filter for extracting complicated areas like hair, clouds, trees and others. Whenever I need to extract parts of an photo where there are no sharp edges the Extract Filter is the best tool for the job.

Photoshop CS4 does not include the Extract Filter in the basic installation but you can copy it from the Goodies folder on the install DVD. You can also download it directly from Adobe’s website.

Download

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Optional plug-ins pack includes:
• Bigger Tiles
• Picture Package (ContactSheetII)
• ExtractPlus
• PatternMaker
• PhotomergeUI
• TWAIN
• Web Photo Gallery (WebContactSheetII) plus presets
• Textures for Texturizer
• script for Layer Comps to Web Photo Gallery

Mac Download:
http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=4047

Windows Download:
http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=4048

Power Tip #2: Softer Volume Control on a Mac

soft-volume-control-header

This is another part of the Power Tip Series. Today I’d like to show you how to control the volume softer on a Mac.


Normal Volume Control

As you already know turning the sound volume up you press volume-up and respectively you press volume-down to turn the volume down. On your screen you see the current volume settings:

normal-volume-control

Now what can be sometimes annoying is the fact that the jumps from level to level are to strong. But there is a trick.


Soft Volume Control

When you press shift+alt together with the volume control keys you will notice that the volume will increase/decrease in smaller steps (usually one third of a box). So this is what you will see on your screen:

soft-volume-control


Reloading an IFrame via Ajax Request in Firefox and IE

iframe-ajax-reload-header

Recently I was working on a web project where I needed to show a preview window which was basically an IFrame. As the whole page navigation was based on Ajax calls I was looking for a bulletproof method for reloading an IFrame.

The first solution (only Firefox)

IFrame code:

1
<iframe id="preview_content" src="preview.php"></iframe>

Ajax code:

1
2
var iframe = document.getElementById("preview_content");
iframe.contentDocument.location.reload(true);

Well, this solution was working quite nice with Firefox but IE wouldn’t reload the page at all.


The proper solution

Ajax code:

1
2
var iframe = document.getElementById("preview_content");
iframe.src = "preview.php?x="+Math.round(Math.random());

The additional parameter x (a random number) will cause IE to reload the IFrame properly without using the cache.


Brand-New iPhone OS 3.0 Update available

iphone-os-30-update-header

The long awaited software update for the iPhone is finally available. There are no big surprises but some necessary features for your iPhone.

Copy, Cut & Paste

One of the features I was missing since the very first moment was the ability to copy and paste throughout all applications on the iPhone. I am so glad to have that functionality now.

iphone-copy-cut-paste


Next Generation iPhone Apps

The new update will bring tons of new apps with more advanced functionalities to the AppStore.


Spotlight Search

Searching for files, apps, and other things will get much more easy using the newly integrated Spotlight for iPhone. Spotlight is one of the best productivity tool for Macs – so why shouldn’t it be great for the iPhone as well?

iphone-spotlight

Voice Memos

Sometimes it is quite handy to record some thoughts vocally. Much faster and easier than typing in text.

iphone-voice-memo


There are many more new features that come with this update. To get the new OS 3.0 for your iPhone just follow these steps:

  1. Connect you iPhone with your Mac/PC
  2. Run iTunes
  3. Select your iPhone in the Devices list on the left side
  4. In the iPhone Summary pane, click Check for Update.
  5. Click Download and Install

Power Tip #1: Forward Delete on a Mac

power-tip-forward-delete-header

As of now I will post from time to time short articles with interesting hints on various topics. These articles will be to short to call them tutorials and that’s why I introduced today the Power Tip series.

Today’s power tip is about the forward delete key combination on a Mac computer. As I switched from Windows to Mac missing the Del key I thought this could be a good hint for people in the same.

To delete backwards you use the Backspace key on Windows and Mac the same way.

To delete forward you have the Del key on Windows PCs. On a Mac you won’t find such a key. The solution is to use the fn key together with Backspace.

keyboard-forward-delete

By the way, I tested it with Sun VirtualBox where I run Windows for testing purposes and it worked fine as well. Just hit fn+ctrl+alt+Backspace to get the process list, to log out or to lock the screen.

Fixing a broken Face Detection Database in iPhoto

fix-face-detection-iphoto-header

From time to time iPhoto’s face detection database gets broken and faces are not recognized on new imported photos. It can even happen that face information of old photos is lost or only partially working.

I think one of the reasons could be using iPhoto image library among several users ( there is an how-to i wrote recently: Sharing iPhoto Library among several users on a Mac). To be more precise it could have something to do with file privileges.

Well the bad news here are that there is no fix for that matter from Apple and all face data is lost. The good news: you can reset the database and make it work again.


The Solution

terminal-icon

To reset the face database you need to delete the database files of iPhoto can create a new one. To achieve that you need to launch the Terminal application (you will find it in the Utilities folder within you Applications).


Now type the following commands in the terminal application (before you continue here make as usual a backup and quit iPhoto):

terminal-commands

sudo bash – this will give you superuser privileges after typing the admin password
cd /Users/… – change to the folder where your iPhoto library is located
rm -rf face … – delete the two database files that start with “face”

Now when you run iPhoto again your face database will be empty and you can start to add new faces. Depending on the number of photos you have in you library the first scan of all photos can take a while (10.000 photos made me wait half an hour).

End of PageRank Sculpting with NoFollow Tag

nofollow-pagerank-sculpting-header

Back then when Matt Cutts described the use of PageRank sculpting on YouTube it became soon a very welcome method for SEO professionals to bring more important pages within a website to the top. Although it is a very advanced technique you will find tools on the Internet that will do the job with just a few clicks. Times have changed.

For those who don’t know PageRank sculpting:

PageRank sculpting is a technique of website internal cross linking where you use the NoFollow tag to point to less important pages whereas you remove this tag from links that point to pages you want to bring to the front.

Normal link: <a href=”http://www.google.com“>Google</a>
NoFollow link: <a href=”http://www.google.com” rel=”nofollow“>Google</a>

Google has a pretty good algorithm to distinguish between relevant on rather useless content. With PageRank sculpting you can adjust this a little bit. Say Google thinks that one of your pages is relevant to a visitor but you would like to improve the ranking of your sign up page (which has basically no content) instead, you could achieve it with PageRank sculpting.

links-schema

Every page on a website has a PageRank value from 0 to 10 (or maybe sandboxed). To make it easier to understand it let’s call it page energy. Whenever you link to another page (including internal links) parts of this page energy are passed on to the landing page. So the more backlinks a page has the more relevant it is to Google. It’s like in the real world, the more people someone knows the more important he is (more or less). On the other hand using NoFollow will not pass on this energy (including internal links). Normally you would use NoFollow to link to websites you don’t trust.

Outgoing links on a page share  the whole page energy  in equal parts. So the more outgoing links you have on a page the lesser energy they can pass on.

Knowing this, PageRank sculpting became soon a method to control the energy flow. But as I already mentioned, times have changed. Google didn’t introduce the NoFollow tag for that kind of abuse.

What has changed?

Let’s assume you have a page with 10 outgoing links. Each link would gain 10% of the power that goes to the linked page. Say 5 of these links have the NoFollow tag, this would mean that each link gains 20%.

Google has changed that algorithm: Now the link power is shared among all outgoing links regardless if you use NoFollow or not. So if you have 10 outgoing links and 8 of them are NoFollow, the remaining 2 will just have each 10% of the link power. Before that change it would be each 50%. The 8 NoFollow links will still not pass on any power.

I’m sure this is causing a lot of headache for many SEO professionals. Well, Google wants to keep our lives exciting ;-)

WordPress 2.8 “Baker” released with major improvements

wordpress-baker-header

WordPress has released the new 2.8 “Baker” version. I already did the automated update and I have to say that I really like it.

These are the new features of WP 2.8 Baker:

  • Browsing and installing new themes within the WP panel
  • CodePress Editor: syntax highlighter and contextual documentation for functions
  • the widget interface has been redesigned
  • new screen options allow rearranging of every page
  • and many more (see full list of changes here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Version_2.8)


Screenshot of the new CodePress Editor (btw, finally):

codepress-screenshot


There is even a video you can watch to see the new features in action:


You should update too, but don’t forget to make a full backup before you start.

Ultimate Spotlight Secrets on Mac OS X

spotlight-secrets-header

I think the majority of mac users would say that spotlight is a really nice tool. But most of them don’t even know what cool tricks Spotlight can even do. In my opinion, Spotlight is one of the best productivity tools that comes for free (well, you have to buy Mac OS anyway).

Windows users can only dream of it. You would need to buy a lot of software to cover the same functionality. And performance I don’t even want to mention here.

So, what can we actually do with Spotlight?

1. Normal Search

Searching for some documents is pretty simple. Just hit cmd+Spacebar (Spotlight will open in the top right corner of you screen) and start typing the phrase. Let’s say we are looking for: script. And voila, we get a list of everything containing script.

spotlight-box


2. Boolean Search

Now that we’ve got a nice list, we want to refine it a little bit. We don’t want to get results that contain editor. Spotlight comes with boolean search functionality. It works with the following operators: AND, OR, NOT. Now the important part here is to type these operators all in capital letters, otherwise they will be understood as search terms.

spotlight-boolean


3. Type Search

When you are looking for a specific type of document, let’s say an image, you can use the kind command followed by a colon and the file type. In this case the command would be script kind:image.

spotlight-kindMake sure that you don’t have any space before and after the colon. There is a list of types you can use with this command:

Search for: Use:
Aliases kind:alias
Applications kind:application, kind:applications, kind:app
Audio kind:audio
Bookmarks kind:bookmark, kind:bookmarks
Browser history kind:history
Contacts kind:contact, kind:contacts
E-mail messages kind:email, kind:emails, kind:mail message
Folders kind:folder, kind:folders, kind:fol
Fonts kind:font, kind:fonts
iCal Events kind:event, kind:events
iCal To-Do Items kind:todo, kind:todos, kind:to do
Images kind:image, kind:images
JPEG files kind:jpeg
Keynote files kind:keynote
Movies kind:movie, kind:movies
MP3 files kind:mp3
Music kind:music
Numbers documents kind:numbers
Pages documents kind:pages
PDF files kind:pdf, kind:pdfs
PowerPoint files kind:powerpoint
Preference panes kind:preference, kind:preferences
Presentations kind:presentation, kind:presentations
QuickTime files kind:quicktime
TIFF files kind:tiff
Word documents kind:word


4. Calculations

There is a nice calculator in the Dashboard but you could use the space for another nice widget. Spotlight can to all basic calculations as well. It also can handle brackets withing the formulas. Furthermore it is capable to handle a few more advanced calculations too, like square root, power, PI, …

As you can see spotlight is more advanced than the regular Dashboard calculator.

spotlight-calculator


5. Application Launcher

That’s my absolute favorite one. The Dock has a limited space to place icons. Of course you can extend it with a stack and put there even more icons but it’s so much simpler with Spotlight. Just start typing fire to show Firefox in the list.  Just think about how many clicks it can take you sometimes to launch a specific application.

spotlight-launch


6. Definition

Another nice feature of spotlight is that it can show you the definition of a word you type. Just hover the definition row in the result set and it will show you the definition of that word in a tooltip. Really nice.

spotlight-definition


7. Show in Finder

If you don’t want to open a document within Spotlight but show it in a Finder window you just press cmd and hold it while clicking the found document.



Spotlight is a powerful tool to speed up your work. It is included in every open/save file dialog box and helps you finding lost files in TimeMachine.