Zeke Franco

Digital stalking made easy.

Here you can find most of my what I’m doing around the Web. All of my series of tubes point here—at least the tubes with feeds.

I posted to quasarkitten.net

Open Quickly: Coda Quick Tip

Panic has added a new feature in Coda version 1.6 called Open Quickly. It’s basically spotlight for the files within your site’s project. In the lower left-hand corner you can click on the gear if you want to adjust which folder Open Quickly is searching. By default the Open Quickly will search the local root folder you have set-up for the site your working on. To access Open Quickly use the shortcut command ctrl + Q. Then just start typing in a few characters of the file name or folder you want to access.quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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Pixie Content Management System Review

Note: Oct. 9, 2008: I updated the Criticisms section. Ease of Use I recently installed Pixie CMS. To start I have to say I’m really impressed. It is easy to use and set up. Pixie also seems pretty flexible and customizable as well as having some pretty nice code. But I make my living building websites so it should be pretty easy for me. So what about the average person or, an even scarier scenario, a client.

If the end user isn’t familiar and comfortable with HTML and using URLs then I fear they may find creating content frustrating.

History

According to the getpixie.co.uk—home of the project—the CMS was created because the creator Scott Evans needed a website for his band. This was in about 2000 – 2002. He states:

…I found that most of them left me confused and frustrated. … After a long time searching it became apparent that I would be better off trying to make my own software, that worked in a way that was logical to me (and hopefully to you too).

The site doesn’t say when the CMS was released as open source. But it is an open source project under the GNU General Public License v3.

Criticisms

Pixie CMS is only in version 1.0, but compared to other 1.0 software Pixie is rock solid and full of features. When compared to Expression Engine, WordPress, or Drupal it definitely isn’t as feature rich. The main area that needs improvement is the feature available to you when your using the WYSIWYG editor. Pixie CMS uses the popular TinyMCE editor, but a lot of its features aren’t enable.

Here are my main grips.

Placing images in a post or page requires multiple unintuitive steps. Lacks a paste from Word feature. Placing any media other than images require xHTML skills. Not many plugins or modules.

If your a skilled or even intermediate online content creator this problem probably won’t slow you down. But because of these issues I don’t feel I could use this CMS to power a client’s site. I’ll go into each of these point in start from the bottom of the list.

Sparse Amount of Plugins or Modules Pixie CMS is only in version 1.0 so this isn’t a fault of the CMS team. It does seem pretty easy to create modules. Pixie is built on PHP so once the size of user base increases I’m sure the plugins and modules will too.

Placing Media Placing media such as video may seem like an advanced feature, but WordPress seems to do a pretty good job with it. And a lot of are getting into making videos. I generally recommend them to stick with YouTube, Vimeo, Blip.tv, or Viddler, for their video needs. Then they don’t have to worry about bandwidth, and their content is more likely to be found. Pixie doesn’t have a paste code button so you’d have to teach them how to use the HTML portion of the WYSIWYG editor to paste the embed and/or object code.

Lacks Paste from Word Feature I never use Word, but most people use it or something similar. I’m sure most of you know that when you paste from word the em dashes, ellipses, ampersands, and apostrophes generally either don’t show up or mess up the code.

Images This section has been edited. View the original version. This is the biggest problem I have with Pixie. To upload and insert an image to a blog post or page requires the user to use two different screens. The WYSIWYG editor doesn’t allow the user to upload images. You need to use the file manager which means you have to save the post and change screens. Pixie does have a nice file manager that you can upload images and files into, but it’s not without problems. For example, if you upload an image that has a file name with a space within it the file manager will not except the image. It’ll tell you there is a bad character, but it doesn’t tell you how to fix it. For a beginner this would be confusing. If the user uploads the images first and then proceeds to write the post then it is pretty easy to insert an image. You just click the image icon in the editor then a dialog box will pop-up. In the dialog box you can select the image from a drop-down list. The selector doesn’t show you a preview of the image just the file name so the user will need to remember the name of the image. Lastly if the user tends to use two to three images per post after 25 posts they will have a long list of images—a list of 50 to 75 images with no previews will be pretty hard to navigate. Praises Overall I’m pretty excited about Pixie CMS. I will definitely keep an eye on each release of this software and test it as new versions are released. If Coda wasn’t so easy to manage sites with I’d consider using it for my site.

My favorite things about Pixie.

Installing it is a breeze It’s really easy to Admin the site, create pages, and multiple blogs Admin interface is nicely designed Creating themes seems pretty easy to do Lack of complicated features makes it streamlined and easier to use Open Source

Summary To wrap up, if they solved the usability problems regarding adding images to posts and pages Pixie would be strong consideration as a CMS for simple client sites that need to manage pages. If the site is mostly going to be about blogging then WordPress would still be my choice. If the site owner needs a lot of flexible, special features, or need a database of products that’s when Drupal, Expression Engine, or Zen-Cart come into the picture. It was fun playing around with Pixie. You can test the admin screen yourself on getpixie.co.uk via their demo. But to have the most fun take five minutes and install it yourself.quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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Disable CSS Styles: Quick Tip

If you have been using the Web Developer Toolbar since at least Firefox version 2 then you probably have learned some of the keyboard shortcuts to activate some of it’s features. My favorite keyboard shortcut was Command + Shift + S. This shortcut disables the CSS on a page so you can take a look at how the HTML is render by the browser.

Web Developer Toolbar and Delicious Add-on

The problem I had is when I upgraded to Firefox 3. More accurately the problem lies with the del.icio.us add-on that was updated for Firefox 3. This add-on has the same keyboard shortcut assigned to opening the delicious bookmarks sidebar. It was really bugging me so here is how you change the keyboard shortcut in the delicious add-on.

Go to Tools → Delicious Options. Select the Keyboard shortcuts tab. Near the bottom of this window You see an option called Bookmarks Sidebar with options to change the shortcut. Change the shortcut to whatever you’d like. I changed mine to Command + Shift + D. On my system it didn’t have any thing already assigned to that keyboard shortcut. Then just press the Restart Now button and your done. quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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SXSW ‘08: Friday Plus the Last 24hrs

This trip has been pretty crazy… Twenty-four hours ago I was in an emergency hospital. I was at work and suddenly became intensely dizzy and nauseous. After running back and forth from my cube to the restroom, HR called an ambulance. I stayed in the hospital for about five hours—they did some blood tests, blood pressure testing, and a CAT scan. Finally around 10pm last night I was released from the hospital with a diagnosis of vertigo possibly due to a viral ear infection. So I go home and pass-out due the be given large amounts of dramamine and valium. I luckily woke up at 5:40am and realized shit I have a flight to catch by 7:47am, and I haven’t even pack. So I through my laptop in my bag, through a bunch of clothes in my luggage, and scram out the door. As a side note that night my laptop and been dropped and know looks all ghetto. Before I left for the hospital I incorrectly packed my laptop away in my backpack, when my roommate went to put my backpack upstairs it flopped right out. I guess it will be a good excuse to buy a Macbook pro, when they come out with the new chipsets. Luckily Ontario airport is a very quick airport to get through so I easily made the flight to Salt Lake City. My flight to Austin was delayed an hour on top of my two hour overlay. So that was fun.

Once I got to Austin it has been smooth sailing. I got to my hotel at 7:30pm ran to the Convention center claimed my SXSWi badge and goodies bag. The goodies bag didn’t have anything great in it. The coolest thing was a Linux magazine and Create Magazine. I’m going to try to go to sleep early so I can enjoy all the great talks. I’ll be posting another entry tomorrow night about any activities that happen during the day, and which talks I attended.quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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Background colors not printing?

Today I was working on a little report for work. So I designed a neat xHTML page that has some stats listed in a pretty little table, and then I realize people at work tend to print things out, so I better make a nice print style sheet. So I add my link tag: <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/css/print.css" media="print" /> then started working on my print style sheet. Since I use CSS for all the layout all I really need to do is a few of things.Remove the non-relevant section such as the page headerAdjust the browser defaults:Remove coloring and underlines from linksRemove dotted border from abbreviationsSet my logo image to display as blockRestyle the table so that alternate rows are different colorsAdd some Javascript to make the link’s url visibleSo after doing all these I’m try to do some test prints. In Firefox and Opera everything is fine. Then in Internet Explorer 6 the background color for the alternate table rows isn’t printing. So I’m thinking it’s some sort of IE bug. After spending some time fiddling with the CSS I noticed that which ever element I applied a background color to it wouldn’t print.Then it hits me… The browser preferences. If you go to the file menu and choose Tools << Internet Options A window will open. Choose the tab called Advanced. Then scroll down to the printing section and check the option “Print background colors and images”. See Figure 1.Figure 1Once you’ve done this your background colors will print.I also noticed this happens in Safari for Mac. The preference to change this lives in the print dialog. Once your in the print dialog box, expand the dialog by pressing the upside down triangle thing next to the printer you’ve selected. Then check the box that says “Print Backgrounds”. See Figure 3.Figure 3As a web designer it reminds me that you can’t depend on anything so make sure that your print style sheets do not depend on background colors. For example what if you wanted to have some light grey text or white text on a background color, well if the user has their background colors unchecked, which by default it is, the white text will be printing on white paper. Not good. I guess the lesson here is to test, test, and then do some more testing to make sure everything is working.quasarkitten.net | twitter.com/quasarkitten

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