I use Mozilla Firefox browser every day, all day, for building websites. The latest version of Firefox included a very ill-advised "improvement" that renders all standalone gif, png, and jpg images centered in the browser window on a black background. The old rendering behavior was to simply display the image in the upper-left-hand corner of the screen on a white background. This old behaviour, although not at all fancy, it is ideal for transparent gif and png images.
Think of the hundreds of millions of gif and png images that are embedded as thumbnails on websites that require the user to click on the thumbnail to view it in the zoomed-in or full size view. Those hundreds of millions of images are now broken and most are unviewable. Technical and academic websites rely heavily on these click-to-view larger transparent gif and png images and now they are screwed.
The fix, unfortunately, isn't a simple toggle in the the Firefox options, nor a more advanced "about:config" setting ... the only way to fix it is to hack the user chrome css settings buried deep, deep down inside the Firefox user-specific application settings. Bah.
Thankfully, I found a simple Firefox add-on that you can install and doesn't even require a reboot to start working. It's called Old Default Image Style and you can get it via the Firefox Addons repository.
Get it. Love it.
In the meantime, until this so-called improvement is rolled back to the old behavior, or improved to deal with transparent images, I will be consulting a Voodoo priestess in order to put a hex on the Firefox UI developers who thought this change was a good idea. I'd like to pay the priestess for the "set hair on fire" hex, but I can only afford the less expensive "chronic toe fungus" hex. Ah well, we do what we can.
Joomla 1.7 Stable has been released. Here are the highlights:
This is a long overdue feature, but I'm glad the developers took the extra time to make an updater that not only updates extensions, but also the Joomla core. What am I talking about? In the past, if you wanted to upgrade from, say, Joomla 1.5.22 to 1.5.23 you had to download the patch update, load it via FTP (or SSH or Cpanel) to your server, extract the file using unzip or gzip, then go into Joomla and check to see if the update worked. A rather tedious process.
Now you can simply search for Joomla core patches and updates in your Joomla admin panel, and if any are found, click the "install" button and you are done. Nice! This simple procedure also works with compatible third-party extensions.
For those of you reading this and trying to decide between Wordpress, Drupal, and Joomla as your CMS of choice, Wordpress and Joomla allow both core file and extension / plugin updates via the one-click process. Drupal allows for module updates via the one-click process, but not core file updates which still must be uploaded to your server and extracted, etcetera, etcetera.
Wordpress still leads the way in one regard, however ... it does allow you to search for and install extensions via the admin control panel. Joomla still requires you to find extensions on their extension directory, download them, then install them via the Admin control panel. One day, with luck, Joomla will also have a search and install system built right into the Admin CP.
Six-Month Release Cycle
Rather than wait years for major updates, the Joomla team has committed to releasing on a six-month cycle. This is an obvious improvement because enhancements to the Joomla core will actually not be obsolete when the updates are released.
Improved Multi-Language Support
This is mainly an improvement in how the menus and language picker work. Good to see Joomla is still committed to this important feature.
- Ability to pick a unique user name for the super admin during installation (used to be forced to use "Admin")
- Improved search menu options
- Better example code to assist extension developers
- New form validation features to protect against hackers
- Submit article form improvements
- Batch processing (copy & move) of articles is now available in the same way as it is for categories and menu items.
For further details on all of these improvements, be sure to visit the official announcement page.
This page will help you create content for your website.
Download the Word document version of the questions (see below for sample)
Don't worry about the grammar! Start by jotting down simple, short answers to each question.
Once your short answers are completed, simply write a few sentences that explain each short answer. Before you know it, you'll have lots of great content for your website.
Jan. 24, 2011 - UPDATE: Joomla.org has updated and improved the Extensions Directory's advanced search utility. Now we can search extensions by their compatibility with the various Joomla versions. Check it out: New Joomla Extensions Advanced Search.
The info below is now obsolete.
Something that has irked me for some time now is the fact that the JED (Joomla Extension Directory) doesn't have a dedicated category, or a filter, that shows extensions based on their Joomla version compatibility. That is, you can't simply click a button in the JED and see all the Joomla v1.0 native extensions, or the v1.5 native extensions, or the v1.6 native extensions.
This wasn't a huge deal before when you could make older J1.0 extensions work in J1.5 by enabling the legacy mode. But now, with J1.6, our most favourite-ist J1.5 plugins aren't going to work at all.
With this fact in mind, one wants the ability to find all the v1.6 compatible plugins quickly, rather than have to visually scan through the dozens of categories looking for the blue-coloured "1.6 Native" icons. Personally, I have been typing the text "1.6 Native" into the JED search, but that only brings up 45 of the 1.6 native extensions. There had to be, I thought, a better way! Enter jen4web to the rescue.
Jen4web is a user on the Joomla.org forums who posted this crafty little URL for finding Joomla 1.6 native extensions:
http://extensions.joomla.org/search?q=&t=2075 (now obsolete, see intro info above)
Use that URL and you'll find, at the time of this writing, 108 Joomla 1.6 native extensions.
Thank you, Jen! :)
Joomla 1.6 was released yesterday, somewhat earlier than expected, which is an odd thing to say since we waited so very long for it. Although the filename for the download is "Joomla_1.6.0-Stable-Full_Package.zip," it's not stable by a long shot.
I will be testing this first release over the coming days and weeks with a variety of v1.6-compatible third-party extensions to see how everything functions together. When, and only when, I'm comfortable with how everything works together, and I'm confident that there aren't any security issues, will I begin using v1.6 for client websites. It could easily be several more months, and several patches in, before I'm happy with everything.
And yet, despite those cautious sentiments, I am super excited about v1.6's completely revamped user permissions system, aka the "ACL", because as I have said in earlier blog postings, the ACL enchancements will provide many exciting new opportunities to not only improve and streamline our clients' internal operations, but also their interactions with their customers.
I just learned recently, like a lot of other Joomla site builders seem to be learning lately, that there will not be an official migration script built into Joomla v1.6. Needless to say, many people who base their web development business on Joomla are not happy.
Today's Joomla tip is to compress your CSS and JS for quicker page load speeds.
Joomla websites, especially ones built with third-party templates, can have multiple CSS style sheets and scripts. Each of these style sheets and scripts takes a bit of time to download to a user's browser and if there's enough of them, they can slow your initial page load speeds to a crawl.
Joomla v1.6 Release Candidate 1 was released today. You can download it here.
I have installed it and done a quick look around. The visual layout of the article permissions interface appears to be completely revamped since the earlier betas. Rather than the endless dropdown lists, there's now a combination of a user group explorer-like tree where you can highlight user groups, and to the right of that are the various access and editing permission dropdowns. Here are some screenshots showing the differences:
The old article permissions layout from the earlier J1.6 betas:
Here's the new layout in J1.6 Release Candidate 1 (click to view larger):
Not sure what prompted the change as the original layout seemed fairly usable, but I do like the newer version, too.
Last time I looked at Joomla 1.6 it was still in Alpha, now it's all the way to Beta 7, so time to see what's new in the administrative control panel or ACP.
Here's what I'm covering in this post:
- Interface (e.g., buttons, wording)
- Template Manager
- Extension Manager: Update, Manage, Discover, Warnings
The much anticipated Joomla 1.6 Beta 1 was released this Monday, May 17th, 2010.
I've only just started to play with the new features, so I can't comment in depth just yet.
Upon first glance, however, I can say that J1.6B-1 is, in a word, clean. The admin interface has been stripped down to its essentials and it's apparent that a great deal of thought has gone into the design and layout of features.
The headliners of the new J1.6 show are the improved ACL and unlimited nested categories, but there are more improvements under the hood than just those two. From the announcement on Joomla ...
Key Features in Joomla 1.6:
- New Access Control System: Allows site administrators control over who can view and manage content.
- Unlimited Depth Organizational Model: Gives site administrators and content creators user-defined category levels that allow for the creation of a category tree with as many or as few levels for organizing articles and other content as needed.
- One-Click Extension Updates: Allows users to keep sites secure and controlled by simplifying the process of updating extensions.
- Semantic XHTML Layouts: Provides a better baseline for content presentation.
I'll test these new features over the coming days and will report my findings :)
Do you use WAMP to develop websites on your local machine? Did you just manage to break it and now you are desperate to find a way to fix it? If you want to spend several hours hunting down and fixing the errors, don't read this blog post! If you'd like to fix it in 5 minutes, then read on.
Email spam is a scourge upon humanity. Not only does it steal our valuable and limited time away from more important or fun tasks, but it also costs untold billions of dollars in terms of bandwidth, and very often it's downright offensive. A pox on it and they who send it!
I don't claim to be an expert in the area of eliminating email spam, but I have all but eliminated the scourge of spam in my life and I have 8 separate email addresses, all of which are published on the web in various places so they've all been picked up by email spammers.
What follows is a brief history of my attempts to eliminate spam and my eventual solution of choice.
I run several online forums, and one forum is in the health field and it is constantly under assault by people and bots who want to spam it with ads for cheap pills. No amount of CAPTCHA or skill-testing questions can stop these determined individuals, so I've resorted to approving every new registration.
Most registrations from the spammers are easy to spot because they have user names with a number in it. For example, "johnsmith858". Then there are the ones with no imagination whatsoever who use names like "buycheappillsonline". Occasionally, however, I get a registered user name that seems legit, so I have to decide to approve or not approve. What if I approve it and it's a spammer? What if I delete it and it's a real person who wanted to use the board? Rather than rely on my gut (something I used to do) I now use StopForumSpam.com to check whether the person is a spammer or not. So far, it has been 100% on target with all my "is it?" or "isn't it?" registrations.
All you have to do is take either the user name, IP, or email address of the new user registration and plug it into the StopForumSpam.com website and you'll get an answer in a few milliseconds.
Fantastic utility that takes the guesswork out of new forum registrations. Here's the link again: StopForumSpam.com.
You don't have to be a Fortune 500 company to put out a press release. Even if you are a solopreneur, you can do it. Check out Gail's excellent blog post where she shows you how to integrate today's social media tools into your next (and perhaps first) press release.
Link: Creating Social Media Press Releases
Note: If you would like Gail to work with you on your next press release, or to improve your website's social media presence, or just improve your search engine rankings, give her a call at our main, toll-free A1Media.ca phone number: 1-877-228-0422.
Is the Joomla wrapper feature a good thing? Or, is it just an evil thing used by lazy web developers? If this is a question that keeps you awake at night, pull up a chair and get ready to be dazzled! Okay, maybe dazzled is over-selling it. Get ready to be ... INFORMED! Heh! That's the ticket.
One of the biggest challenges in using Joomla as a business website is the lack of sufficiently granular permissons. Granular permissions? That's geek-speak for the ability to set who can access what on the website.
Tuesday, May 12th, Google announced its new Search Options feature for Google Search. Now, instead having to visually sift through page after page of search results, you can, as the Google execs say, "slice and dice" your results.
Two weeks of twittering and I am already suffering Twitter overload.
Twitter is a very fun application that is easy to get started in and easy to get addicted to. After the encouragement from a friend, and despite my ever-present reluctance to "put my self out there," I signed up for a Twitter account, slapped up my goofy mug, and got twittering.
Have you ever wanted to compare two text documents to see exactly what has changed from one version to the next? I find myself in this situation frequently when I need to compare two versions of code contained in separately dated versions of a PHP or HTML page. To make the comparison between the two text files I use a powerful text-difference analyzer called CSDiff by Component Software. CSDiff is an easy-to-use, powerful, feature-rich application, and best of all, it's free!
Folks either love Google or hate them with the burning white heat of a million imploding suns. We actually like it. Currently, we are totally in-like with Google Document's templates. Need a personal expense tracking spreadsheet? No problem. Need a mortgage calculator? Got that. Party invitation template? Yup. Business plan, letterhead, resume, invoice? Yep. Yep. and Yep! All you need is a free Google Gmail account and you're off and running.
As a follow-up to our 4 Reasons To Keep Your Content Fresh article, here's 6 quick and easy ways to add fresh content to your website.
- Announce new product and/or service offerings
- Publish customer testimonials
- Add YouTube videos
- Add a Google news feeds
- Start a corporate blog
- Publish a newsletter
Why would you want "fresh" content on your website?
1. Fresh Beats Static: Fresh content, that is to say new, timely content, lets casual visitors to your website know that you are an active on-going business. For example, if you had to choose between two vendors, and all you had to base your decision on was the information on their websites, which company would you choose: the company with the static information that could've been written ten years ago? or the company with news and information updates from the last week on their website? Chances are you'll go with the company that has the new info on their website.