Hi. I'm John.

Sometimes I make games. Sometimes I make websites. This is my blog.

Category Archives: Freelancing


‘Nothing is “Built On Twitter”‘

Dustin Curtis nails it when he writes about Twitter:

And that leads to me to the final thing I want to talk about, which is also the most important: Twitter has fucked up its platform. Twitter has turned into a place where famous people and news organizations broadcast text. That’s it. Nothing great is Built On Twitter, even though it should be the most powerful realtime communications platform on Earth. There are simply no developer integration features for building stuff on top of Twitter as a platform, and that is absurd and disappointing. The fact that automatic tweets from apps are considered rude is one of the biggest failings of Twitter’s product team–Twitter should be the place for apps to broadcast realtime information about someone. And yet the culture around the Twitter community has effectively banned such behavior because the product doesn’t have features to filter/organize such notifications.

Twitter started off as a content creator’s dream. They had a freely available API and a massive, growing data-set open to anyone with some basic programming skills. That avenue was closed a few years after launch when they bit the hand that fed them and blocked basic API access to successful apps.

While I agree with Mr. Curtis’ overall opinion of the Twitter platform, I’m not convinced Twitter is “the right person for the job.” The service that Twitter provides should be given to the people who contribute to it, like Wikipedia does. The content and the platform should be completely open. Giving this responsibility to one for-profit company is simply a ticking time bomb.

It’s for this reason that I recommend as many interested people as possible look into running or contributing to the GNU Social platform. It’s a federated Twitter-alike service that’s completely open-source. People on one network can follow and reply to people who are on another. Even better is that there’s no 140-character limit!

The Power of Twitter (or, how it never hurts to ask)

Transport Tycoon

Open TTD Title ScreenTransport Tycoon Deluxe had a profound impact on my life when I was in high school. A friend an I found it in a nested-away folder on one of those pirate-rich, home-burned CDs that contained ripped games and were passed around between classes. At the start, we had no idea what a great game Transport Tycoon was but the graphics were really impressive and the game ran swell on our hardware (a 486SX at 33MHz and a Cyrix MediaGX at 180MHz). Not only were the graphics great, but the music was really catchy, as well. All of us (friends who later became enamoured themselves with the game) found ourselves humming it for months and years after.

I play the music now and again, even years later. It’s classic 16-bit MIDI is music to my ears. Still, I have always wondered what a live band adaptation would sound like.

Enter Twitter

Conversation on Twitter with John BroomhallSome people wonder what the point of Twitter is. I, myself, was one of those people until I realized about two months after joining that A) your experience is directly related to the quality of the people you follow, and B) it gives you direct access to famous people you would have no other way of contacting.

Hey wait! Why not contact John Broomhall about him doing a live band version of the Transport Tycoon!

Gamasutra

Game developers and artists in the game development industry frequently guest post on Gamasutra, a blog dedicated to the art of game development. Guess what? John Broomhall wrote a guest post centred about his 20+ year experience in the game soundtrack field and included a little nugget which interested yours truly: a live band adaptation of Transport Tycoon’s soundtrack!

I’d just like to thank Mr. Broomhall for doing this and giving me such enjoyable music to listen to all these years. Also to Twitter for making it possible for us to directly speak to people who have made direct impacts on our lives!

drupal-to-wordpress

Moving a site from Drupal 7 to WordPress

I’m in the process of moving my videogaming blog, GameBlaster64, over to WordPress. The most recent security vulnerability with Drupal coupled with the fact that core updates must still be done manually has pushed me to head in that direction. Drupal has always been a lot more work than WordPress and I didn’t really need all the extra functionality anyway.

In under a month, GameBlaster64 will be 4 years old. There are hundreds of posts, thousands of pages, and tons of images. It’s going to be 301 redirect galore. To help with this, I wrote a small PHP script to grab the URLs of the taxonomies and articles I’ve been writing. It uses WordPress functions to import blog posts, along with their attached tags from the Drupal 7 database.

Here is my script. If you’re moving from Drupal 7 to WordPress, you’ll hopefully find it useful.

An experiment in front page design

My gaming site and gaming persona, GameBlaster64, has been online for just over 3 years. In that time, the front page has never changed in any significant way. It’s still a blog layout, much like this one. Given that it’s more of a videogame review/preview/opinion site combined with a sort of wiki archive, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to have it this way.

So, tonight, I changed it.

GameBlaster64 Front Page

The New Layout

Instead of articles listed in chronological order with full bodies, only the 9 most recent article titles + one thumbnail each will be displayed, with no pagination, in a grid. People who go to the front page of a site aren’t interested at all in articles that are months old, so why bother offering pagination? They want to see, immediately, what’s new and what’s changed since the last time they hit the site (if they don’t already subscribe to the RSS).

The content on the site is categorized by taxonomy, aka tags, so users who want to look at, say, all the articles on Minecraft, are totally free to do that. The taxonomy pages are laid out just like the front page, except with pagination, since those folks are probably looking for an article in particular or just want to read from A-Z. The most popular taxonomy tags and posts are available in the header.

The only other site I can think of that eschews pagination on the front page in favor of a grid layout is Google News.

Hopefully my users will like it!

On being secure

With all the recent news about the US government collecting and analyzing everything we do online and in our daily lives, we’ve all been looking for ways to increase our privacy.

Today, an article was posted on Hacker News about Google Analytics not being served over https. After reading this, I remembered that I use it and questioned whether or not I should keep it on this blog. Google Analytics has been installed on this blog for years, but today I found it hard to answer exactly why. It provides no real value to me other than satisfying my curiosity.

In the end, I decided to remove it. Not only because it is not served over https, but because the only real parties it benefits are Google and the NSA. My site is not large or popular, but it’s just one less site on the network being tracked through that channel.

I believe, in life, we should lead by example. I believe the web should be secure by default. I believe web servers should only function when using encryption (Supporting http was a design flaw, https should have been the only option. Even a self-signed certificate is safer than plaintext http.)

To that end, I’ve come up with a short list of simple things us website owners can do in order to hinder attacks or snooping by third parties. I’ll compare my own site against this post and update as I move toward compliance (red means failure):

  1. Serve content only when encrypted by perfect forward secrecy.
  2. Serve content entirely from web hosts and CDNs under your control.
  3. Encourage others to do the same.

It’s amazing how quickly my view on this has changed. If you would have asked me a year ago whether or not it was important to self-host images and scripts used on your site (or whether you should even be hosting your blog yourself versus using a third-party service like Tumblr), I would have answered an emphatic no and provided many reasons why letting a bigger, better player handle that is much better.  As a site operator, I want my site to be as fast as possible. As a web user, I want to be as secure as possible. Which is more important?

With the way things are now, it’s worth being a second or two slower to serve knowing that your stuff is your own.

Some web traffic data for my part-time video game blog

When I first started making websites, I went looking for web traffic data for other people’s websites in an attempt to set a sort of realistic goal post. I wanted to know: what sort of traffic is realistic for a site that’s just starting out? How will I know if the site is successful or popular? Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information available. So, for those that come after me, here’s what my video game site, GameBlaster64, has looked like traffic-wise since day one (January 20, 2011).

Traffic for gameblaster64

Click/tap for larger image

My site is not entirely popular, but it’s not barren, either. I post sporadically, maybe once every week on average. The content quality is good, though: all of the posts are original articles, not found anywhere else on the web. I’m always on-topic and share my posts on Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Stumbleupon. I don’t pay for traffic. All of this is organic.

Looking at the data, I find it interesting that although I have hundreds of articles, the ones about popular or trendy topics are right at the top of the popularity chart. Though it’s only one data point, my site’s traffic data seems to support the notion that following trends returns greater interest than long-tail but focused content, i.e., writing things about Minecraft is more popular than covering older/indie/non-mainstream titles or news, even if the latter is much more numerous in post count.

I do run ads from Google AdSense and make some money from Amazon affiliate links, but it’s not enough to quit my day job. Not even close. Still, it pays for our Minecraft server, which is professionally hosted in NYC by the amazing people at Nuclear Fallout. And, I get enjoyment from the creative outlet, covering the industry I love.

Relaunched: Going Debt Free

Going Debt Free Logo

The new logo.

Just a quick post to let my readers know that, after a 3-year hiatus, I’ve relaunched Going Debt Free. I cover the reasons for the downtime in a few blog posts, but I want to focus on moving forward with the agenda and building the site back up (and surpassing) its former glory.

The newest change? I’ve upgraded the software to enable the WordPress Network feature, which gives my readers their very own blog on the site. I want to try and build Going Debt Free into a solid repository of great articles written by people on their very own path to debt freedom.

Here’s to making Going Debt Free grow during the rest of 2013.

 

Featured WordPress Plugin: W3 Total Cache

Let me be straight with you: Every WordPress blog on the web should have this plugin installed.

And, no, I’m also not being paid to say that. :)

W3 Total Cache is exactly what its name suggests: A total caching solution for WordPress blogs. WordPress is a good publishing platform and content management system (CMS) but runs into problems quickly when more than a few visitors hit your site. Even moderately busy websites can buckle under the strain of the database connection pools, stylesheets, Javascript, and HTML that WordPress uses.

Some of the neat features that W3 Total Cache includes:

  1. “Minifies” CSS, Javascript, and HTML by removing all whitespace. To see an example, view the source code of this page. This means there is less data to send to viewers of your website which also means your website loads faster.
  2. Final output is cached and then re-served to the next viewer without having to rebuild. This means that in many circumstances, your blog might only be recreating your site dynamically once an hour. Otherwise, the cached version will be served, greatly increasing the performance and stability of your site.
  3. Uses advanced disk caching techniques to cache output or can also take advantage of Memcache technology (if supported by your server) to increase speed even more.

Before W3 Total Cache I was a fan of WP Super Cache. And before that, I used WP Cache. Neither of the latter two can hold a candle to the capabilities and caching power of W3 Total Cache.

For more information on how this plugin can increase your website’s performance, take a look at W3 Total Cache on the WordPress Extend website.

How to Network in a Web 2.0 World – Part 2.0

Note: This is a continuation of part 1 of How to Network in a Web 2.0 World. Please read the first blog post on the subject before proceeding with this one.

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve got profiles at the 3 most popular social networking websites, it’s time to put them to good use. To do that, we’re going to leverage the equalizing power of the Internet to gain access to high-profile people in the markets you’re selling your services to or working in. You will be amazed how accessible CEOs and other top-tier people are on services like Twitter and Facebook.

Your Brand

Branding is an entire industry by itself and far out of the scope of this blog post. However, we can tackle a small part of it to get you on your way. The easiest way to help brand yourself is to have a consistent image that you’re delivering to people who see you. This way, they will remember you and associate you with that image. Think Coca-cola and you likely think of a red sign with white text. Or Nintendo brings up imagery of Mario.

Be sure that your profile picture is the same across all of the social networking sites you’re a part of. This way, when people see a thumbnail of your profile pic, they will remember who you are and associate you with it.

Another trick is to always use the same nickname or handle on every service. For example, my handle is Rocky1138. If you search for Rocky1138 on Google or Yahoo or Bing you will see a lot of the websites I write on or tweets from Twitter.

Facebook Vanity URLs

When adjusting your profile on Facebook you are presented with the option of creating a “vanity URL,” which is a word you associate in the Facebook website address with your Facebook profile. This is an easy way to make your Facebook profile memorable to people. For example, my Facebook profile is located at http://www.facebook.com/webprogrammer. Whenever anyone goes to that link, it will take them to my Facebook profile. Pick a good Vanity URL such as your name or something easy to remember that you wouldn’t mind putting on your business cards.

Twitter

Twitter will connect you with very important people around the world and give you access to those who can hire you or contract your services in the future. An easy way to get hold of the best people in your industry is to use a website like WeFollow.

WeFollow will show you the top Twitter accounts in the world for a search term you type in. If you type in “php” you will get 1,602 people you can follow, including the #1 twitterer which is coincidentally the person that invented PHP. After using Twitter for a few weeks to build up a tweet history, spend a day and a half to follow the entire list of people in your search. If even half of them follow you in return, that’s still potentially hundreds of like-minded people that will be listening and watching your tweets.

I have gotten plenty of work from people who’ve been following me on Twitter and got in touch with me because of something I tweeted about. This is a great way to get work.

I hope this has helped moves you forward in networking in a web 2.0 world. There’s still plenty more we can do, so keep an eye out for part 3 on the horizon.

5 Really Great Freelancing Websites + RSS Feeds

If you are a freelancer you may already read the articles from some of these websites. Possibly on a daily basis. If you’re new to the freelancing game or considering a jump to self-employment, this list might help you out.

These sites typically deal with Web Design or Web Development, though there is very likely a lot of information you could use in any career. If you’re not working with websites, programming, software development, or managing a team, take a look anyway. You may find something you like.

When working from home or on your own, saving time is like precious sugar increasing the flavor and making sweet the rest of the day. Instead of reading each of these websites (and others) on a daily basis by individually going to them one-by-one, use a feed reader such as Google Reader or Akregator. These services are completely free and will pull new articles from the sites you love and put them all in one spot, saving you time.

Okay, enough of that. Onto the list!

1. Web Worker Daily

Web URL: http://webworkerdaily.com/
Feed URL: http://webworkerdaily.com/feed

Daily tips on how to improve your freelancing performance, reduce costs, and build a better business.

2. FreelanceSwitch

Web URL: http://freelanceswitch.com/
Feed URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/FreelanceSwitch

A bit more relaxed, this one is a community of freelancers and can help bring you into a crowd of like-minded people.

3. Lifehacker

Web URL: http://www.lifehacker.com/
Feed URL: http://feeds.gawker.com/lifehacker/full

While not directly related to freelancing, this website has excellent articles on reducing your cost of living, reusing old items in new ways, and living a more successful and fulfilling lifestyle. A definite read.

4. Elance

Web URL: http://www.elance.com/p/landing/provider.html?source=index
Feed URL: (Today’s Jobs) http://www.elance.com/todaysjobs

A website dedicated to either a) finding you work or b) finding professionals to do the work you need done. If you’re either, sign yourself up and start doing business.

5. AllAboutFreelance

Web URL: http://allaboutfreelance.com/
Feed URL: http://allaboutfreelance.com/feed/

Usually funny but very informative. This site should definitely be on your watch list.

Well that should get you started.  I’m always interested in learning about new sites, though. If you’ve got an awesome freelance site, please mention it in the comments. Much appreciated!

Coffee and Code in Guelph

If you’re a developer looking for something to do on Tuesday nights, look no further: Coffee and Code has come to Guelph. We meet between 7:30pm and 9:30pm to network, discuss relevant programming topics, and get some work done. It’s a great opportunity to meet some like-minded individuals and work in a setting other than your usual lair. Bring your laptop and whatever else you’ll need to do your thing.

Cory Fowler began the Coffee and Code event in Guelph a few weeks ago and has been diligently building up some momentum with it. I think it’s been going for 5 weeks now. I started going on the third week.

Next meeting place: The Albion on Gordon St. Hopefully we’ll see you there!

DemoCampGuelph9 – May 13, 2009 – Be there!

Coming up fast is the next DemoCamp in Guelph. It’s scheduled for May 13th and this time it will be at the eBar on Quebec St. Attending the DemoCamp is completely free and definitely recommended if you’re into programming, new technology, servers, hardware, software, games, or anything else with computers. Usually there are drinks and food included, so come and have fun!

I’ve blogged about previous DemoCamps before, namely the 6th and 7th events here in Guelph. At the 6th event, I presented Jack of All Links.

For more details on the upcoming DemoCampGuelph9 event, check out the DemoCampGuelph homepage.

How to Network in a Web 2.0 World – Part 1

TwitterFox - Firefox Twitter Plugin

TwitterFox – Firefox Twitter Plugin

As a web developer my job is more than just programming code. I’m required to cut up graphics, keep up-to-date with web standards (CSS, XHTML, et al.), and build a reputation for myself in a way that many other workers in many other jobs simply aren’t required to do.

There has always been a need for every worker in every industry to maintain a good level of professionalism and efficiency in order to gain a good referral when looking for future employment, but with web developers this is amplified.

Why?

Everything about the web is social; we chat online, send E-Mails, play online games, receive world news instantly, and have public profiles on any number of social networking services – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Orkut, and more.  There is competiton everywhere. Everyone is fighting each other for attention and recognition.

Who’s out there?

Computerworld suggests that 1 in 5 employers looks at prospective employees on social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, and others) to determine if that person would be a good fit for their company. With numbers like that, you cannot afford to be reckless with regards to your online persona.

What can you do?

This first part of this article is designed to get you up to speed on a few techniques and sites that will help you build an online persona that future employers, when searching for you, will find.

I got my first programming gig because my employer found me on Google. The same could happen to you. Let’s make sure what they see shows you in the most positive light possible.

The Basics

The most important things you can do when creating an online profile is ensuring that your data is always accurate, timely, and professional. Always imagine that your boss can see everything you put online — because he/she can! Never let data grow stale. Always be adding, updating, and building.

To start, there are three websites you will need to create an account on. Those three are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We’ll go through each briefly, but I always recommend that some time is spent with each one to get used to the features it offers.

Facebook

Website: http://www.facebook.com/

Who hasn’t heard of Facebook? Unless you’ve been living under a technological rock for the past few years, you’ve at least heard of this service. Facebook is a website where over 90 million people have created profiles that allow them to share photos and contact details, network, and meet friends.  Put simply: If you’re not on Facebook, who are you?

LinkedIn

Website: http://www.linkedin.com/

LinkedIn is Facebook’s older, more experienced cousin. This site’s specific purpose is to build an online resume and accomplishments list that other people in your industry can use to search and find you. While Facebook is geared to a more personal audience, LinkedIn is strictly for professionals. Over 35 million people have built online profiles already and there are more joining each day. Chances are someone you know or work with is on this site.

As you build your profile, consider it an online resume.  This will help to give you an idea of what it should look like to someone reading it.

A neat feature that LinkedIn has is the ability to search your E-Mail contacts for people on LinkedIn that you might know. This saves you the hassle of trying to build an initial network. From there, you can be introduced to people that they know and so on, building your network even larger.

Twitter

Website: http://www.twitter.com/

Ah, Twitter. You’ll either love it or hate it. I personally dislike this service, but I find myself using it every day. It is a uniquely simple but completely addicting service. The idea is called ‘micro-blogging‘, meaning that you send brief (140 letters or less) updates of what you’re doing or thinking and people can respond.  The photo at the top-right of this article shows a typical Twitter experience.

As you continue to update the world to your thoughts and work, people will begin to ‘follow’ you and they will get your tweets (the term for each update you put out). In turn, you can ‘follow’ their tweets.

The biggest draw of Twitter is that you can find and communicate with very high-profile people you may never normally have access to. Some top CEOs and other big-wigs are on here. If you communicate often enough and start to gather a following, you can find yourself in a conversation with people you never thought possible!

This ends part one of “How to Network in a Web 2.0 World.” Continue onto Part 2.0.

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For History’s Sake

Similar to how we frequently display the front-page headlines of past newspapers during historical events, I submit this 2.0 version for our children and our children’s children:

Barack Obama Elected 2008

America Elects its First Black President

New to Elgg? Need help? Come chat on IRC.

Part of the fun of working on open-source projects is the fact you get to connect with other developers all over the world in a collaborative fashion. Using Internet Relay Chat (IRC), you can connect to other Elgg developers for help or discussion.

If you’re new to IRC, check out the wikipedia article on the subject and download a good IRC client (for Windows) (for Linux KDE).

To connect to the Elgg channel, connect to irc.freenode.org. Then, join channel #elgg.

See you there!

51st Blog Post!

I typically try to avoid posting personal articles but I feel that I should let you know that this post is my 51st post on this blog so far. Yay! :)

It’s been a fun 5 months since I started doing this and I have to say that I’ve learned quite a bit both about writing but also how hard it is to keep a set posting schedule. I’m on-track for posting 50% of the days in this month, but I cannot stress how incredibly hard of a task that is to achieve when you only blog part-time.

I figured to commemorate this occasion, I should link to a few of my most popular articles thus far.

First and foremost, the most popular article on this blog is How to eliminate unwanted characters from a string in PHP. In the world of a web developer, your skill levels increase faster than the world spins. If I were to write the same article again today, the code would be much, much cleaner. It’s almost embarassing how un-optimized that code is. But, you have to start somewhere!

A close second is Securing your Input Forms From MySQL Injection Attacks. This subject has always fascinated me. The first PHP book I ever read had a huge section dedicated to thwarting attacks from user input. I guess ever since it’s just been instilled in my blood to look at user input with intense suspicion.

Finally on a funnier note, my third most popular article is Top 5 Office Don’ts. This one got a lot of negative reaction on DZone but maybe they just have bad office etiquette and took offense. Either that or they have no sense of humor. :)

I’d like to thank all of my readers young and old and hope you’ll all be here for the next 50 articles.

Thank you and see you again soon!

DemoCampGuelph6 was a lot of fun!

I got back from the 6th Guelph DemoCamp around 9:00pm last night. Free beer, free food, a group of 50 or more programmers, and one block away from my apartment. Guelph rules :)

If you live in the Guelph area and you’re interested in going to the next one, there will be another DemoCamp on the 17th of September 2008. You should be there. Presenting stuff is easy: You get 5 minutes to set up, 5 minutes to talk, and 5 minutes to answer questions from the crowd. If you just want to come listen and mingle that’s cool, too.

I presented Jack of All Links to the crowd and it went really well. There were a couple of guys from WeGoWeGo, which is a startup that’s gearing up in Toronto as well as a few other people presenting technology or software they wrote. I really enjoyed it.

I was really surprised at the size of the crowd! I figured there might be at maximum 10 people (I mean, how many programmers *are* there around here anyway) but there were over 50. Exciting!

Get your blog out there! 3 Sites To Help You Increase Traffic To Your Blog

If you’ve just started your own blog or even if you’ve had one for a while but are always on the lookout to incrase your readers then take a few minutes to read this post. Included below are 3 sites that will help build readership  by making your blog more visible and more accessible by people reading (and other bloggers quoting) on the internet.

 

#1. Technorati

Technorati is one of the original and definietly one of the most respected blog catalogs available on the web. By adding your blog to their listings, Technorati will routinely “ping” your blog to look for new posts. Then, it’ll take those posts and make them available to all of its readers giving full credit to you and your blog.  Already there are over 112 million blogs in Technorati’s index!

Technorati also offers a few neat features including the ability for people to become “fans” of your blog as well as a ranking system called “Authority.” The Authority of your blog is determined by how many individual blogs (not just many posts on the same blog) link to yours. The idea is that the most popular blogs will be the ones that most people link to or quote from. Technorati also offers Top 100 blog lists and other ways to see how well you stack up to other bloggers.

 

#2. Blog Catalog

Blog Catalog is exactly what it says: An online directory of blogs. While that doesn’t sound terribly exciting off the top this site is definitely worth a look. They are quite large, with over 18 billion messages in their message forum and countless blogs listed and updated daily, there is a ton of stuff happening at Blog Catalog.

An interesting feature available on Blog Catalog is the widget you are able to place on your own blog that links your Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and YouTube (among others) accounts and place the updates you do on those sites directly on your blog. For an example of this, take a look to the right side of this blog where you’ll see a red square titled “Latest Updates.”

There are other widgets available too, including one that shows you other Blog Catalog users who have recently read your blog. This service really helps to promote the social aspect of blogging.

 

#3. Zimbio

Zimbio is a relative newcomer to the blog indexing lineup. An interesting feature that sets Zimbio apart from the other services are “Wikizenes”, which are a sort of dynamic magazine that include articles from similar blogs. There are thousands of Wikizenes available to read on the site and you are more than welcome to create your own for everyone else to read as well.

As an example, someone has created a Wikizene on Gordon Ramsay.

 

And Finally…

Last but not least, don’t forget to submit your blog (and your blog posts) to my social search engine and social bookmarking service: Jack of All Links. (I shut Jack of All Links down in 2011.)

I hope this helps you in your quest to promote your blog. I know that it’s helped me immensely with this blog as now all 3 of these services are pinging my blog daily. I’d appreciate any feedback you have, including additional services that are similar to these. If I receive enough I may post a follow-up. Thanks!

Add Jack of All Links to Social Bookmarking Reloaded

Please note that this post is out-of-date and no longer applies. I shut Jack of All Links down in 2011.

If you use the WordPress plugin Social Bookmarking Reloaded then you can benefit from the addition of the Jack of All Links social search engine icon on your pages. For the uninitiated, check out the previous article I wrote about the service. Otherwise, follow these instructions to add Jack of All Links support to Social Bookmarking Reloaded:

 

1. Update your sites.xml file.

Add these lines to the bottom of your “sites.xml” file just before the </social_sites> tag. The file “sites.xml” is located in the “./wp-content/plugins/social-bookmarking-reloaded” directory.

<site>
 <name>Jack of All Links</name>
 <url>http://www.jackofalllinks.com/action/submit?url={link}</url>
 <img>jackofalllinks_mini.png</img>
 <key>jackofalllinks</key>
</site>

 

2. Grab the Jack of All Links mini icon.

Download this image to your Social Bookmarking Reloaded directory (“./wp-content/plugins/social-bookmarking-reloaded”).

 

 

3. Enjoy!

After you do these two simple steps, logging into your blog’s administration panel will give you the ability to select Jack of All Links as one of the icons to show in your “Bookmark to:” bottom bar on each of your posts. For an example, look at the “Bookmark to:” bar on this post!

Top 5 Firefox Extensions for Web Developers

You might be a web developer. You might need to know what HTML element is under your cursor at any given time. You might need to know the hexadecimal value of a pixel is under your cursor at any time. You might have a mile-long CSS file inherited from multiple projects and wonder: “Which styles still apply and which are no longer used?”

Fear not my fellow web developers, web designers, programmers, whateverrers! These 5 Firefox Extensions will help you chop the time spent on any web development task so you can get back to reading blogs during the day. Or work. You choose.

Without further ado, here they are:

 

#1 – Web Developer Extension

I don’t think I’ve ever used a web browser-based tool as much as I have this one. It’s saved me so much time and helped me solve so many problems over the past year. It does practically everything. With tools like “Resize Window” which lets you resize your window to a certain pixel width and height and “View Generated Source” which lets you see the source code used in the website AFTER Javascript runs — Instead of showing function(var 1, var 2) it will actually show the variables that went into that function e.g., function(“john”, “rockefeller”). Cool huh?

Cool features:

  1. A ruler you can use to measure the size of tables, divs, or anything else on your page.
  2. Disable stylesheets to see what your site looks like without any styles whatsoever.
  3. Display alt tags, image file sizes, image paths, and more.
  4. “Outline Block Elements” will automatically outline divs, paragraphs, spans, and other elements on your site. Very handy.
  5. “Outline Current Element” will display the element id and name for any element underneath your cursor. Unbelievably handy.

Sample Screenshots:

Outline elementsMisc functions

 

#2 – ColorZilla

I’m sure we’ve all seen a cool color on a page, whether it’s an image or cell background, and said “Oh man I love that color. I could eat it. I wonder what the hex value is so I can use it on my site. Or in case I get hungry.” Well, you could always take a screenshot, load up The Gimp, use the Color Picker tool to determine the hex color value, but who needs to do that when you’ve got ColorZilla installed?

ColorZilla will display the hex color and RGB value of any color under your cursor. Very, very handy.

 

#3 –SearchStatus

This handy little extension will show you the Google PageRank of whatever site you are on as well as the less-important-but-for-some-reason-still-used Alexa Ranking.

PageRank Plugin

 

#4 – Dust-Me Selectors

This handy little Firefox Extension will tell you which CSS styles are not found on your pages. It works per domain, so surf all of the pages of your site and a comprehensive collection of unused styles will be shown which you can then promptly delete from your stylesheet, thereby increasing the performance of your site.

Very very, cool.

 

#5 – Firebug

No Web Developer’s tool-belt would be complete without the illustrious Firebug. The list of features here is incredibly long, but so is the list of Web Developers who have saved hours of work using it. Their own website explains it better than I would but you’ve got to ask yourself one question: What kind of web developer are you if you aren’t already using this??

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list and found some of the links useful. If you’ve got something to say about these tools or even have a list of handy tools you use that might think others would find useful, please post a comment with a few links. Thanks!