NC State ACM/AITP Website Update

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I just finished (or reached the publishing or pushing live step) the update to the NC State ACM/AITP website.

The improvements over the previous design are pretty drastic when it comes to user interface and ease of use.

I ended up going with a K2 theme for Drupal since I’m such a big fan, but it just didn’t seem right for the site at first. I ended up going through and modifying a great deal of a barely and poorly done version that I came across online so I had to finish up most of it myself, but that just allowed for making it suit my (read ‘our’…for the club) needs.

acm-aitp-site-upgrade-2009

After working with the html and tweaking it hardcore until I got it clean so it passes HTML Validation inspection it was time to tweak the CSS.

This became a breeze with Opera’s Dragonfly developer tools. I was able to select an element and tweak the style sheet live so I could see real-time results. After making an adjustment it’s as simple as updating the actual stylesheet.

After tweaking the style almost obsessively for hours the first day I decided it was time for a break. It wasn’t long before I got back into the groove the next day and finished it up (for the time being).

I really have to say that I am in love with Dragonfly now. I’ve used Firebug in the past and to be honest I’ve never been a Firefox fanboy…it’s a good browser, but it’s not pushing standards support at the rate that I want and Opera is just better at a lot of the things that I use and need from a browser… anyways, I got used to Firebug a while back and Dragonfly vs. Firebug isn’t a fair competition because the both are still very different, but I find Dragonfly being easier to use ever second compared to Firebug.

After getting the code working it was time to push the update. As a result, the NC State ACM/AITP club now has a much friendlier outlet on the web!

Now I have the pleasure of tackling any smaller issues such as stylesheet problems. :D Updating the content will now be much less of a pain now that it can be updated directly from the browser for most everything.

Major Server Side Organization

I got to do a little reorganizing today since my downloads folder was getting extremely disorganized and crazy.

I cleaned up the hierarchy levels a great deal and simplified several levels, so overall it was a successful clean up.

Most links that were updated were various download links to Opera skins, widgets and other Opera related downloads.

However, please let me know if you come across a broken link. I did my best to update all links to files that were changed, however, as I am human I am prone to error. :P

YouTube Ads

As you may have noticed already, YouTube has started rolling a few ads in some of the videos.

My first experience with these new ads came with a music video by Akon:

They aren’t really that obtrusive, but they are a little annoying after a little while. I mean, you’re there to watch the video right? Not to have it partially cut off by an advertisement that you couldn’t care less about. :P

Unfortunately it seems as though the Internet is turning to ads more and more for videos and radio. Recently Pandora began streaming advertisements on their radio channels which were once pure music.

Obviously they must find a profitable strategy, but it’s sad to see that the Internet’s advertising is now worse than television advertising.

Personally, I’ve made an effort to keep all of my websites advertising free. I believe in clean and clear designs and that leaves no room for advertisements. They not only seem to hurt visitor counts and hits, but also destroy the overall appearance of your site.

Hopefully a cleaner alternative will find it’s way into our Internet in the near future. If not then we can always rely on our browser ad blockers. :P

Blue Kazoo

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I got a new sleeping bag as a late Christmas present. It’s pretty awesome and keeps you warm down to 15 degree weather!

It’s by The North Face and it’s the Blue Kazoo.

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I’ve used it already for the UNC Ticket campout on January 16, 2009 and it even kept me warm when the temperature got down to 4 degrees.

I’ve been using my sleeping bag instead of my comforter with my window cracked open and the 20 degree air rushing in just for fun. Well, now it’s time to try to find a good tent. Anyone have any suggestions?

My Marvel Super Hero

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I came across an item in my RSS feed reader that was labeled a time-waster from the Download Squad. Naturally I had to check it out.

It’s a flash program on the Marvel website that lets you create your own Super Hero from parts of other super heroes and various parts.

Here is what I came up with, haha. He kind of reminds me of a Mad Max futuristic hero with the mix between primitive weapons and gear along with the high-tech head gear.

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Now show me yours.

A Brand New Google Favicon

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I’m not sure how long this has been online, but tonight I noticed an updated Google favicon. –> google-icon

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If you’re unsure of what I’m talking about, the favicon is the little icon that you see in your browser’s address bar or in the tab.

I’m assuming that the change is an effort to reinforce the branding of the Google Chrome browser which has a very similar looking application icon.

From a design perspective I have to say, well done Google!

Apple to Sell DRM-Free iTunes Music

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itunes_iconAfter being rumored for over a year and highly anticipated by both Windows and Mac users, Apple is to finally drop DRM protection from the entire iTunes music catalogue. The entire music library is now available in the 256kbps AAC format which was previously known as iTunes Plus…until now.

In April, iTunes will introduce variable pricing among the entire music catalogue with song prices ranging from 69¢ to 99¢ and $1.29 depending on pricing arrangements made with record labels.

If you’re already sunk a fair amount of money in the iTunes store, Apple will allow you to upgrade your entire library to the DRM-free format – for 30¢ per song or 25% of the album price.

While that’s not quite the deal I was looking for, it is a nice alternative for keeping your expensive music collection portable! Those of you looking for a cheaper alternative might find this to be beneficial. Or this. ;)

Free Windows Vista to Windows 7 Upgrades

windows 7 startup boot screen

windows 7 startup boot screenAccording to Tech ARP, Microsoft has been drafting a plan that will allow some Windows Vista users to upgrade to the next version of Windows, Windows 7, for free.

This upgrade plan, which is temporarily named “The Windows 7 Upgrade Program,” is being developed in order to “assist Microsoft’s OEM partners in minimizing the number of end users who may postpone acquiring a new computer because of the impending release of the Windows 7 operating system. This program allows OEMs to offer an upgrade to Windows 7 to end users who qualify.”

While plans and drafts have been developing since December 10, 2008, there is still no official word on the exact eligibility rules. However, according to a draft, eligibility will apply as follows and a requirement must be met before you are eligible.

End users must purchase a new PC that is pre-installed with an eligible Windows Vista Operating System (OS), during the program eligibility window.

The PC must have a valid Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached.

The only Windows Vista® versions eligible for the program are :

  1. Windows Vista® Home Premium
  2. Windows Vista® Business
  3. Windows Vista® Ultimate

* Microsoft Windows Vista® Home Basic, Windows Vista® Starter Edition, and Windows® XP (all editions) are not qualifying products under the program.

The Program does not support multiple upgrades for medium, large, or enterprise customers. Customers that want to upgrade multiple PCs should use the appropriate Microsoft Volume Licensing program. See www.microsoft.com/licensing for more details.

The following are the only valid upgrade paths under the program :

  1. Windows Vista® Home Premium -> Windows® 7 Home Premium
  2. Windows Vista® Business -> Windows® 7 Professional
  3. Windows Vista® Ultimate -> Windows® 7 Ultimate

For those of us who forked out the cash to buy Windows Vista Ultimate, it looks like we are getting the shaft end of the deal to the extreme. If the program is revised and Vista Ultimate users are allowed an upgrade then I will continue to support Microsoft with future releases. However, if I am forced to purchase Windows 7 after having purchased Vista Ultimate with absolutely no benefits then I plan to simply boycott Microsoft. (Period).