Category: Blog

Using Google Chrome’s Built in Developer Tools

When you press the right mouse button on a web page when using Chrome you are given the options menu, one of these options is “inspect element”. If anybody has ever looked at this they will find that they are instantly taken the HTML element the mouse pointer was over. Of course for most people who are just looking at the information on the page this means little. For others though they will notice that a wealth of information is suddenly provided about the page itself and the code behind it.

This information ranges from the actual HTML that is being used to create the page to various debugging options that look at not only the resources being used by the site but also how much bandwidth is being taken up, the speed of the page and also information such as the scripts being used and of course the CSS.

Debugging Web Pages
The main use for all of this information is to not only profile the performance of the web site itself but to also debug problems in the code. When you are creating HTML, especially dynamically it’s sometimes easy to leave the closing tag off a section, leading to open “divs” or incorrect tags meaning images won’t load, or any other numerous issues that can be a hassle to find. What Chrome does is to make this easier to track down by making the code my readable. Firefox can also do this by downloading add-ons such as Firebug.

By experimenting with the developer tools, for example on the “resources” tab you will see that you are able to extract all the elements of the page out and see exactly is used, this is very useful for example when it comes to images. Using the “Network” tab you can also look at the performance of the site and see if there are any bottle necks in the speed. Looking at the speed of images for example can be interesting, if for example the image load is taking over a second and is big, then it may be something that needs to be looked at.

As with any development process web sites must be planned, coded, and then tested and part of the testing process is to look at the performance of the site and how it can be improved. Google Chrome provides free tools that are actually quite useful, especially when looking at the HTML and the quality of the design. It can show you the errors, even audit the code and provide advice on how to improve it. Testing is sometimes something that web designers don’t spend enough time doing, in the end they can end up paying for this so it’s something we must all remember is an essential part of the development process.

Using Maps on Your Website to Help Visualise Information

Statistics can be a very confusing thing to translate to the average person who just wants facts and don’t want to be drowned in facts and figures and endless graphs and pie charts that are often used to represent them. This can be confusing and can lose people’s interest fast, so the biggest puzzle for people who want to get information to people in an understandable way is quite a puzzle and takes some imagination.

Recently a site has been created called bombsite.org which shows a very original way to reveal the scale of the London Blitz, when bombs rained down on London in an effort to weaken the nation during World War 2. Images have been used to show the sheer horror of the events but it’s arguable that they can’t show the true scale of the bombings, until now.

The Use of Mapping Tools to Show Data
The fact is there is quite a lot of information available to show just how many places were bombed and the impact of this bombing. The problem is of course this would just be pages and pages of addresses and the information about the destruction the bomb created. The puzzle of how to truly show the scale has to some extent been solved by using mapping tools to show just where each recorded bomb hit. Looking at the site it’s quite amazing how the city survived such an attack, and makes for interesting viewing. This mapping tool used for the Blitz site was www.leafletjs.com/ but this is not the only one available to the user, there are for example the more widely used Google Maps and Microsoft’s Bing Maps. Their use of both CSS, Javascript and HTML make them very adaptable tools especially Google Maps where the use of markers allow the developer to mark places of interest on the map for the users of the site. This for example could be on a Property site, showing where houses/apartments are available for rent or purchase.

Another advantage of the mapping tools such as this is very often they are free use, unless you have the need for greater scale than a few maps on the site. This would be in the number of thousands of maps though (to be sure just how many it’s best to always read the terms and conditions of use). Normally though it’s just a case of obtaining an API key for the site you are working on which will allow you to use the code provided by the map provider.

One of the most obvious uses for websites, especially business websites is on Contact Us pages. You will notice that these sites, especial retail and restaurant sites will want to advertise where they are so will provide the functionality to give you a better idea. Maps are useful, especially for the users of the sites because of the way they visually can represent the details you either want to understand or just to get the directions to the nearest store. Whether it’s bombsite.org showing historical information or a supermarket such as tesco.co.uk showing the locations of shops close to you maps can be a very useful tool, maybe even on your own site too.

Using the Greenlight Process to Help Games Get Released on Steam

In the gaming industry, unless you have the backing of big companies it can be hard to get your game noticed. There are ways to get the funds for development and there are ways to get them published, but to get the most exposure it’s always best to release the game in as many places as possible, especially on the PC. Independent games and even some retro games are available from sites such as GOG.com but it’s arguable that to have the most success Steam is the way to go.

Steam is rising in popularity, part of this reason is that so many of the big releases force the use of the system but another reason is that it makes the process of installing and playing easier. It even adds the bonus of having achievements, of the game supports it of course. The question is how do smaller games get onto Steam? This is where Steam Greenlight comes in.

Steam Greenlight and the Steam Community
The idea behind Steam Greenlight is to submit your idea for your game to Steam, provide images and videos of what you are creating and then hoping for the best. Steam will then take your idea and present it to the “community” of Steam users. They provide feedback on the page set up for your game, give it a thumbs up and let Steam know that if the game was available they would buy it. The concept is to show Steam that there is an interest for it to be actually on the service and also provide feedback from real gamers as to if there is a potential audience for your idea.

One game that is currently in the Greenlight system and looking for votes is The 7th Guest. This is an “old school” PC game by Trilobyte Games which was one of the first FMV and CD games released. At its time it was quite revolutionary, but of course we’ve moved on from then. The fact is though it’s still got a lot of fans, many who have bought it from sites like GOG.com and on their iOS devices out of nostalgia. The 7th Guest is currently going through the Greenlight process not only to try to gain access to the Steam system but also to see if there is an audience for a possible third game. I know as a fan, I for one would love to see this happen so it needs all the votes it can get.

Games both from the independent developers and retro gaming need all the help they can get to be noticed in an industry that at times is dominated by big game releases. For fans looking for something a little different there is plenty of choice out there, especially from the independent developers who have yet to make that move to bigger and brighter things. I personally like the idea of Steam Greenlight as a way to help these people, as well as using other platforms such as Kickstarter to provide the funds for the continuation of development on these projects. Anything that can keep the industry strong on all levels has to be a good thing.

Using the HTML Editor to Add Embeddable Objects in WordPress

When using a blogging site like WordPress, or using it on your own site to manage content it’s possible to build up your own space on the internet with little to no knowledge of coding language used behind the pages. Sometimes though you’ll want to add or “embed” items onto your page that comes in a form that use actual code. There are add-ins that can offer this service, but to be fully in control how the object will be used on the page and in your post you need to know a little bit of HTML.

The good news though is you won’t actually have to know much, as the editor that is available on the WordPress system will actually let you use the visual editor for most things, you can even write the content in a word processor such as word, then just copy and paste the text into the editor (or using new functionality even add the post automatically through Word itself).

Adding Objects into WordPress Posts
The first thing to do is to actually create the content for the post and get the wording and formatting correct for that. Once you are happy with this then choose where you want the object to go, click on the “Text” tab at the top right of the editor, this is in fact the HTML editor. Examples of an “object” that can be placed into your post is a Youtube video. These are the simplest kind and can easily be added without little problems. One thing I like to do though is to center the video, this can be done by adding “<center>” around the video itself (and close it with “</center>”). You can move back into the visual editor and see that it’s placed fine.

Some objects work differently though and this is to do with how the editor itself handles the code. You’ll find for example if you add an iFrame embed into the editor then move from the html editor back to the visual the code is changed. The problem with this is that when you save the post then view the final result the iFrame itself won’t be showing. So the key here is that once you have placed the code using the HTML(text) editor save it then and don’t go back to the visual editor, you’ll find that the embedded object now shows fine. It’s safest to treat any embedded object in this way because of the restrictions with the editor.

The HTML(text) editor is a very useful tool for the blogger, and although you can create posts without ever having to use it, to make the most of what WordPress can do you should strive to at least know the basics of what HTML can do and even some CSS so that you can style images, paragraphs, headings etc. to fit what you want it to do.

Using Your Phone and Tablet to Extend Gameplay

The first obvious thing is that game guides will probably move to tablets and smartphones in app form more and more now. They offer an interactive way to provide the gamer with hints and tips, even walkthroughs of how to complete the game and do it in a user friendly way that makes it easy to use. Further extensions of this will be to add in videos to the apps to give the users a better understanding of how to do certain tasks in the games and help them progress. The key here of course is to make use of the devices in a way as to keep the games enjoyable without spoiling them.

As devices get more powerful there will always be voices in the industry that make an argument that the tablets and phones should replace consoles and be the new gaming machines of the future. I’m a person who will argue against this happening, but I will offer the counter argument that these devices should be further integrated with consoles. Smartglass is a prime example of an idea that can be further extended into gaming to add more enjoyment. Users can use the devices as an extension to the interface they already have with their controller, which is of course something that has been investigated with the Wii U, although this is part of the console itself arguably and not a separate device. It still shows though examples of how a tablet like device can be used within the games to further the experience.

Although these examples have looked at ways to further the console experience there is also the idea that the game can be played on all of these devices and progress made within the game (the game is present on all the devices and gameplay continues independently of the device). This is possible now especially through online multiplayer games, but there is still a lot of progress that can be made in this field.

The future of gaming in this style, be it to provide hints and tips, gameplay enhancements or interaction with the game through a multiple number of devices and consoles comes down to one restriction and that is the different companies who control the devices. There will also of course be the compatibility with the software and the server resources to allow for such integration, but for the future of gaming it’s arguable that the games should not be dependent on the hardware itself but that they should just be the interface to it (for multi-player gaming at least) and for this to ever happen it’s arguable that the big companies in control would have to learn to work together more for the gamers, and not the profit.

Verizon rolling out LG Spectrum 4G

With a new year, there is a storm of some marvelous smartphones getting released in the market. We have caught up LG Spectrum today. LG Spectrum was introduced earlier this year at the CES show and now Verizon Wireless is offering this device on a $199 contract. Spectrum has got slightly more pixel density than iPhone 4S. Resulting in a sharper screen. LG Spectrum has got an excellent screen, 8 MP camera, true HD Graphic engine and a fast processor.

Design

LG Spectrum is a big sized android phone. Spectrum sports a 4.5-inch HD LCD touchscreen with a resolution of 720 X 1280 pixels. The screen has pixel density of 226 ppi. At the back is glossy plastic cover homing 8 MP camera with LED flash. Spectrum mostly looks similar to LG Nitro HD. There are three buttons – Home, Menu and Back below the screen. LG has adjusted all the traffic on the top of Spectrum. MicroUSB port, 3.5mm audio jack and Power/Lock button are on the top. Volume Rocker is at the left side. There is no dedicated shutter button in this phone.

Processor and Memory
LG Spectrum has pretty nice specs. Spectrum is mastered by a Dual core 1.5 GHz Scorpion processor fitted on Qualcomm MSM 8660 chipset. Phone Graphics are powered by Adreno 220 GPU. Spectrum has 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB internal storage. Internal storage memory is little lower – 8 or 16 GB was a better option. No worries! Spectrum supports up to 32 GB of microSD card. 16 GB is comes pre-inserted in the phone.

Connectivity
LG Spectrum is Verizon’s latest LTE enabled smartphone. Spectrum has Wi-Fi connectivity featuring DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct and hotspot functionality. It has Bluetooth v3.0 with A2DP and Assisted GPS. It is NFC ready. However, we miss FM Radio in Spectrum. Spectrum is a CDMA device and does not support any GSM network worldwide.

User Interface

As to our surprise Spectrum runs Andoird Gingerbread (2.3.5). Where is the latest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich? LG has confirmed that Spectrum will be update to ICS. The UI is same as found in LG Optimus lineup.

There are plenty of widgets and apps pre-loaded in this phone. Netflix, ESPN ScoreCenter, Amazon Kindle – there is a big list. Verizon apps also come on-board including V CAST Media Manager, Verizon Video etc. Moreover, there are pre-loaded games too. With a good GPU and dual core processor, this device is meant for serious gaming.

Spectrum gives a lightning fast browsing speed on LTE network. Browser is responsive to every action. Typing on the virtual keyboard is easier with minimal typing errors.

Camera and Battery

LG Spectrum equips 8 MP camera with LED flash. Camera UI is simple. There are many on-screen controls and functions. The quality is though not very good and lacks picture details. Spectrum captures 1080p full-HD videos at 30 fps. A secondary front-facing camera is also there.

Spectrum is powered by a standard 1830 mAh Li-ion battery that can hold charge up to 14 days in standby. Alike other LTE enable smartphones, Spectrum also has a poor battery life. On moderate usage, the fully charged battery lasts only a day long. Charge it in the morning and recharge it back at night.

Conclusion
A true HD LCD screen means a lot in itself. LG Spectrum is a high end device with a fast processor, large & sharp screen and 4G connectivity. It is available at $199 contract from Verizon. The price is surely decent. By we miss few things in the package, basically the latest Android v4.0. LG has said that Spectrum will be getting ICS. But, when? Nobody knows! Camera quality is also just satisfactory. A serious high end competitor to Spectrum is Motorola Droid Razr Maxx that consists of a never ending battery. On the other hand are HTC Rezound with same resolution and almost same specs; and Galaxy Nexus having Android ICS.

Why Shared Working Spaces Make Sense For Startups

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I’ve recently become a member of a new shared working space called Hub Westminster. It has been hugely beneficial for me, both from a contracting point of view and for running my new business.

Shared working spaces are fantastic for new startups. Here’s why:

1) Financial savings. Startups are invariably cash-poor in the beginning. After the usual seed-funding round one of the first expenses that a pre-revenue startup incurs is office space. However, upon reflection I do not see an immediate rationale for this decision. An office for a typical startup requires a number of recurring payments such rent, heating, lighting, water, internet connectivity, council tax and a myriad of other one off costs such as furniture, a printer/scanner (and toner!), fridge, cutlery etc. This is a large initial set of outflows to make for a fledgling firm, especially when there is little to no cashflow. A shared working space has already spent these costs and can gain better rates at volume than you could individually. These savings are invariably passed on to you keeping your outgoings leaner in the early stages.

2) Time savings. Another commodity that should be spent wisely is time. At the outset there are likely to be no employees and a handful of founders. At this stage, everybody does everything. Renting an office requires sorting out accounts for the costs outlined above. Landlords, energy suppliers, ISPs, local councils and water firms all require time to communicate with. Not only that but furniture must be constructed, drivers installed, walls painted and computers set up. Why waste all this time when you have so little in the early stages? A shared working space provides all of this, ready to go, on day #1.

3) Meeting users/testers/customers/clients. Being a member of a collaborative hub gives you immediate access to a large group of willing users who will be happy to test your site. You are getting out of the building while being in the building. I’ve not yet met anybody working in a hub environment who isn’t willing to take a look at a web service or hobby site I’ve just built, usually offering incredibly helpful feedback. Some of these people will convert to early customers or key influencers – who will be available most of the time very nearby. This saves a huge amount of time at the customer development stage.

4) Meeting co-founders/employees/freelancers Another benefit of being part of a community is the availability of people who are skilled in specific areas. At the Hub Westminster I’ve already met (and am working with) great coders, designers, testers and communicators. These people are the sort of folks who end up becoming co-founders. Not only will you get to know them over a reasonable time period, but you don’t have to suffer through ‘founder dating’ or other contrived forms of pre-funding collaboration while you get your startup off the ground.

5) Events. One attractive feature of a strong community are the frequent events. I myself have started the Hub Hack Night with James Arthur, which aims to bring together coders, designers and entrepreneurs to build technology in the social enterprise space. It is already proving beneficial to both of us, as we are now able to speak from a position of thought leadership, in essence, providing a means of indirect marketing for our projects.

The mechanics of most shared working spaces are simple. Monthly pay-as-you-go membership, volume discounts for multiple stakeholders of the same firm, fantastic internet connectivity, clean environments, centralised and shared resources as well as great people. There are few disadvantages.

Having an office with expensive chairs, beanbags and pool tables may make you feel warm, fuzzy and ‘startup-y’ inside, but in reality you’ve just wasted a month’s payroll or marketing budget on items you really don’t need at this stage. Next time you plan to start a business, give serious consideration to a shared working space – it will save you a lot in the early stages, right when you need it the most.

Viewsonic VSD220 a 22-inch PC Touchscreen Monitor with Built in Android Goodness

When looking at desktop PCs, especially those that could run Windows 8 I’ve pointed out many times that most screens are not touch screen. This of course is probably something that Microsoft would love to change. As people who want to stick to the desktop variant of the PC look to touch screens it’s interesting to see what is available. One that is available is the Viewsonic VSD220, which comes with a surprising little extra.

The VSD220 is a 22 inch touch-enabled screen that looks to fully update the PC user to windows 8. Along with this advantage though comes a surprising extra, but something that obviously is a welcome thing, if it works well enough of course. The surprise is that the VSD220 comes with Android built into the screen, making this not just a Windows 8 PC but also an Android tablet, though at 22-inch it’s not likely that you’ll walk around with it.

Build The screen itself at 22-inches looks quite nice, it’s stylish in design and makes full use of the space provided. The only connections coming from the screen itself is a micro HDMI input port, Micro SD card slot, Ethernet post and some USB connectors. The mini HDMI can be used as a DVI port with a converter if needed. This gives the screen a clean design without any unsightly connections and wires, other than the power cord of course. With only one connection this does give it limited connectability in practice though and as many modern computer screens can also be used with consoles a lack of extra HDMI ports could be an issue for some users.

Functionality
As noted as well as being a touch screen monitor that can be used with Windows 8 it has Android built in. What this gives you is a 22-inch tablet which is a fairly huge resolution for the Android Operating System to use (1,920 x 1,080 full HD). This means of course that the android apps will be stretched to fit the screen, which is something that you’ll obviously get used to. The OS is Ice Cream Sandwich which is not the most up to date version Android but still one of the best. It’s interesting to see what peoples reaction would be to Android used in this way, now that the OS is being pushed onto all kinds of appliances and tech such as screens like this and cameras, what is next? The oven? I guess it’s the future.

Performance and Image Quality
The bad news on the Android side is that the VSD220 uses the TI OMPA4 dual-core processor, and with the big screen this can be sluggish at times, to the point of being noticeably slow. This may be improved if the OS itself is updated in the future but the choice of processor is something that will probably have to improve in future versions, if they come. This may be a “proof of concept” approach to see if there is a market out there for the use of Android like this, but if that is so then the OS needs a chance to shine, not struggle with a weaker processor. You won’t be doing things such as looking at the Android browser when you have a PC to give you a higher resolution, and Android games will have little use when you can just load up games through Windows 8 that work at a higher resolution and are designed to work on a screen like this. It’s a case of a nice gimmick but needs more thought in it really.

On the PC screen side of things the image quality is good and performs as expected from a 22-inch monitor. The colours are rich and image is sharp, everything is ok here. PC games and overall use, especially with HD content fit your needs and everything is fine here. With windows 8 it should be noted though that the raised bezel of the screen can cause problems with using the gestures that are a part of Windows 8.

Verdict
At £330/$419.99 this is not a bad price for a hybrid screen like this but if you are just looking for a normal LCD PC screen you can get bigger with the same price. With the slow Android performance and the touch screen being let down on Windows 8 though it does seem a case of nice try, but one that is wasted. It’s definitely a concept that is interesting and if the OS is upgraded and a faster processor is provided this could be something special, for people who want an Android enabled screen. If the VSD220 does anything though it proves that the concept does work, and it can be done. Now just to see it done better.

Why Use Using Xanax For Anxiety Disorders

The levels of stress, anxiety and depression, for individuals living in the world today, are considerably higher than levels experienced by members of previous generations. Anxiety, a completely normal human emotion, is regularly experienced by everyone on some scale. However, some people experience much higher levels of anxiety than others—which can have dramatic, negative effects on their quality of life. High levels of anxiety can lead to individuals experiencing anxiety and panic attacks, in some cases. Chemically treating individuals with unusually high levels of anxiety has become quite common.

Chemical treatment for patients dealing with an uncomfortable amount of anxiety is done through the use of prescription medications. One of the most common types of these medications, used for the treatment of anxiety related disorders, is called “Xanax.” The pharmaceutical name of Xanax is “Alprazolam.” Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine, and is closely related to diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan). Alprazolam was first approved by the FDA in 1981. Xanax was originally approved for the effective treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

There have been uncountable advancements in science and psychiatric knowledge since 1981. So, consequently, Xanax has been identified as a very effective treatment method for many anxiety related disorders, including: GAD, agoraphobia, anxiety associated with depression, panic attacks and anxiety related insomnia. Xanax is an effective treatment for all of these disorders because it fundamentally acts as a central nervous system depressant. However, the exact mechanism affected by Xanax, in the brain, is still unknown. It is generally accepted by the scientific community that Xanax works by effectively enhancing the effects of the human body’s nervous system’s primary neurotransmitter GABA.

Xanax is an extremely effective treatment for anxiety related disorders. The onsets of alprazolam’s effects, when taken orally, are relatively fast—usually taking somewhere between twenty and forty minutes. This is what has made Xanax one of the most popular and frequently prescribed drugs in the United States. However, it is also a drug with very powerful addictive qualities. Regularly taking Xanax is very likely to cause some form of physical and psychological addiction.

Xanax is so widely prescribed because it is the best medication available to treat patients experiencing moderate to mild anxiety related symptoms, such as anxiety attacks and panic attacks. Xanax is extremely addictive, even for people who have been legally prescribed the drug from a doctor. Xanax is most commonly habit-forming when it is being used on a daily basis. If patients develop a physical addiction to Xanax, then suddenly stopping their daily use of the drug can be very dangerous. Patients, who suddenly stop taking Xanax— instead of gradually stopping by reducing their doses slowly—have been known to experience seizures, tremors, coma and sometimes even death.

Why you should louer iPad instead of buying it

It’s not uncommon these days to hear about new devices and equipment being introduced to the market and non more so than new versions of the iPad. This is one device that has turned out to be extremely popular not only because of its novel concept of a large touch screen but also in view of its portability being light of weight and slim in appearance, its so easy to carry around unlike the bulkier laptop or notebook.

As attractive it is, the iPad is also expensive and this has made it one of the most wanted yet unaffordable gadgets that have been designed in the recent years. Those who can afford it will buy the new version every time one is introduced, but for others even the old version is not approachable because of the price. But you must not feel frustrated since there are many stores that are now in the practice of louer ipad to customers who cannot afford to pay the big price asked for it.

Instead of having to throw away hundreds of dollar buying the iPad and having it upgraded every time new features and apps are added to it, louer iPad is the best way to have it and also not spend loads of cash on it. The best way to do this is by finding a store that can offer you the best deal to hire an iPad for them. In this connection, let me give you a bit of advice. Try not to approach the large electronic stores found in the streets because their prices are always high in view of the overheads they have to pay as rent, utility bills and staff etc.

Your best option is to louer iPad from a reputed online store that will offer you the best deal possible and since there are very many web stores on the internet, all you have to do is some research and compare the renting prices before coming into some agreement. There’s so much competition going online that each and every store tries to offer their best price for any device you buy or rent and also some nifty discounts that can help you to get a cool deal when you least expect it.

Always take the time to compare various stores that louer iPad and don’t’ just take the first deal you come across. You must also ensure that the site in concern is a reputed web store that has been in existence for sometime because there are many scams going on in the internet and you would not want to get landed with a iPad that doesn’t work properly or is scratched and damaged so much that you would feel embarrassed to use it in public.

Once you come into an agreement with the relevant store, make sure you know what the deal is for. Be quite clear about the time period you wish to louer iPad; whether its one week or one year, the amount you have to pay, whether they are agreeable to carry out any repairs in case something goes wrong and also be ready to upload additional features and programs in case you need that done while the agreement is in place. When you have sorted all these issues, you can have your louer iPad delivered to your door step by whatever delivery methods they use.