Many question marks

Right now, I have more questions than answers.
I will build around the twentythirteen theme and it is going well but implementing other features and options can be daunting. So far I was able to change the post layout without breaking the theme. This allowed me to widen the theme even more and place the post thumbnail next to the post title instead above it. Which i like better. In my test environment I was also able to create and enable the post excerpt, showing only the first 55 words of a post followed by a “Read more” link below it. The long posts, if many are present require to much scrolling and i believe that an excerpt is plenty for a reader to know if they are interested and want to read on.
I am working now on implementing an image slider and I am kind of torn between the Nivo Slider and the Flex Slider. They both seem almost the same, with only slight differences. I would also like to implement tabs and accordions as well as Google integration. The most difficult part for me right now is making those things optional. Yes, the options framework. Not an easy thing for me to wrap my head around. I have yet to find a good place to see what options are even available, so you are left with only creating your hoping not to collide with any that already exist. I wish there was also more information available on the markup. If you know of a good place, let me know. What I found on WP is very general but I am working my way through it.
Alas, back to the books .. 🙂

Starting my WordPress experience

So here I am, starting my journey with WordPress. I have used WordPress before but not very intensive. I actually hand coded my previous website, literally from the ground up. It was mainly HTML practice and helped me out a lot on enjoying to learn HTML and CSS. With WordPress I hope to take my skills beyond the basics and beyond HTML and CSS. I am very interested in JavaScript and hope to make good use of PHP. I purchased a Synology DiskStation which allows me to create an easy worry-free test environment. I am currently coding with Microsoft Web Expression but am making the jump to Sublime 2. I wish i could use Coda but I am not willing to change platform to change my entire technology ecosystem here just to be able to use it, since it is only available for Apple. Yes you guessed it, i am a PC guy. To be honest, I would switch to Linux before I would switch to Apple. I am already not happy with the pricing and infrastructure of Microsoft.
Anyways .. moving on. I already started with WordPress and have a couple sites going including this one. I enjoy it so far and already started working on the theme and have plenty more ideas for more. In my next few posts I will go a little bit more into detail about what I am doing and what I am planning to accomplish.

BBC News – Ray Harryhausen, visual effects master, dies aged 92

Visual effects master Ray Harryhausen, whose stop-motion wizardry graced such films as Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, has died aged 92.

The American made his models by hand and painstakingly shot them frame by frame to create some of the best-known animated sequences in cinema.

His death in London was confirmed to the BBC by a family representative.

“Harryhausen’s genius was in being able to bring his models alive,” said an official statement from his foundation.

“Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray’s hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right.”

Born in Los Angeles in June 1920, Raymond Frederick Harryhausen had a passion for dinosaurs as a child that led him to make his own versions of prehistoric creatures.

Films like 1925’s The Lost World and the 1933 version of King Kong stoked that passion and prompted him to seek out a meeting with Willis O’Brien, a pioneer in the field of model animation.

During World War II Harryhausen joined director Frank Capra’s film unit, which made the Why We Fight series to back the US war effort.

After the war, he made stop-motion versions of fairy tales that prompted his idol, O’Brien, to hire him to help create the ape in Mighty Joe Young – an achievement that won an Academy Award.

Harryhausen went on to make some of the fantasy genre’s best-known movies, among them One Million Years B.C. and a series of films based on the adventures of Sinbad the sailor.

He is perhaps best remembered for animating the seven skeletons who come to life in Jason and the Argonauts, a sequence which took him three months to film, and for the Medusa who turned men to stone in Titans.

Harryhausen inspired a generation of film directors, from Steven Spielberg and James Cameron to Peter Jackson of the Lord of the Rings fame.

Spielberg said Harryhausen’s “inspiration goes with us forever” while Cameron said Hollywood science fiction film-makers had been “standing on the shoulders of a giant”.

Meanwhile, Star Wars creator George Lucas, paid tribute by saying: “The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much.”

Director John Landis described Harryhausen as a “true giant of the cinema” and said his creations were “not only the stars of those movies, but the main reason for those movies to exist at all”.

Peter Lord of Aardman Animations was quick to pay tribute, describing Harryhausen as “a one-man industry and a one-man genre” on Twitter.

Harryhausen inspired a generation of film directors

And Nick Park, Aardman’s Oscar-winning creator of Wallace and Gromit, told the BBC: “I’ve followed the work of Ray Harryhausen all my life.

Source: BBC News.

Lerer Ventures’ Ken Lerer: “We Are Going To Launch StopTheNRA.com” | TechCrunch

Today at Disrupt NYKen Lerer and Ben Lerer took the stage to talk about Lerer Ventures and their respective entrepreneur stories. One thing that caught the attention of the audience is when Ken Lerer talked about gun control and a new StopTheNRA.com website.

“We are going to launch StopTheNRA.com,” Ken Lerer said. The site should be up in about two weeks. They already own the domain name and it’s now just a matter of time. It will be a partnership with Mayor Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Gabrielle Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions initiatives.

The motivation behind this new site is to be more vocal about gun control. “We are doing something viral,” Ken Lerer said.

A significant gun control bill that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers was brought to a vote in the senate a few weeks ago, but the effort failed, and the government is now back to square one.

When asked about New York politics, Ken Lerer only had good things to say about Mayor Bloomberg. “Spectacular” was the word he used to describe him. “His or her successor may not be as knowledgeable as him,” he continued. That’s why he chose not to express a preference for the front-runners of the upcoming election.

Read more @ TechCrunch.

Spyware used by governments poses as Firefox, and Mozilla is angry | Ars Technica

Mozilla has sent a cease-and-desist letter to a company that sells spyware allegedly disguised as the Firefox browser to governments. The action follows a report by Citizen Lab, which identifies 36 countries (including the US) hosting command and control servers for FinFisher, a type of surveillance software. Also known as FinSpy, the software is sold by UK-based Gamma International to governments, which use it in criminal investigations and allegedly for spying on dissidents.

Mozilla revealed yesterday in its blog that it has sent the cease and desist letter to Gamma “demanding that these illegal practices stop immediately.” Gamma’s software is “designed to trick people into thinking it’s Mozilla Firefox,” Mozilla noted. (Mozilla declined to provide a copy of the cease and desist letter to Ars.)

The spyware doesn’t infect Firefox itself, so a victim’s browser isn’t at risk. But the spyware “uses our brand and trademarks to lie and mislead as one of its methods for avoiding detection and deletion” and is “used by Gamma’s customers to violate citizens’ human rights and online privacy,” Mozilla said. Mozilla continues:

Through the work of the Citizen Lab research team, we believe Gamma’s spyware tries to give users the false impression that, as a program installed on their computer or mobile device, it’s related to Mozilla and Firefox, and is thus trustworthy both technically and in its content. This is accomplished in two ways:

1. When a user examines the installed spyware on his/her machine by viewing its properties, Gamma misrepresents its program as “Firefox.exe” and includes the properties associated with Firefox along with a version number and copyright and trademark claims attributed to “Firefox and Mozilla Developers.”

2. For an expert user who examines the underlying code of the installed spyware, Gamma includes verbatim the assembly manifest from Firefox software.

The Citizen Lab research team has provided us with samples from the following three instances that demonstrate how this misuse of our brand, trademarks and public trust is a designed feature of Gamma’s spyware products and not unique to a single customer’s deployment:

  • A spyware attack in Bahrain aimed at pro-democracy activists;
  • The recent discovery of Gamma’s spyware apparently in use amidst Malaysia’s upcoming General Elections; and
  • A promotional demo produced by Gamma.

Each sample demonstrates the exact same pattern of falsely designating the installed spyware as originating from Mozilla. Gamma’s own brochures and promotional videos tout one of the essential features of its surveillance software is that it can be covertly deployed on the person’s system and remain undetected.

The Citizen Lab report provides pictorial evidence of the impersonation:

FinFisher doesn’t just masquerade as Firefox. The Citizen Lab report says it has also been used to target Malay language speakers by “masquerading as a document discussing Malaysia’s upcoming 2013 General Elections.”

Read more @ Ars Technica.

Gigabit internet finds a new home in Omaha, Nebraska

When it comes to gigabit internet, the headline buzz usually involves Google and some mid or south western American locale. But not today. No, today, the ridiculously high-speed internet spotlight falls on Omaha, Nebraska where local provider CenturyLink is poised to launch a pilot service. Starting Monday, the telco’s Lightspeed Broadband package ($150 a month for standalone service or $80 a month as a bundle) will go live for nearly 10,000 subscribers and continue to rollout to a footprint just shy of 50,000 residential and enterprise subs by October. Further expansion plans for the greater metro area all hinge upon whether CenturyLink can turn a profit on the service, but the company will continue to sign-up enterprise subs outside of this pilot zone for the next two years. The path forward — at least, to us — is pretty clear, Omahans: vote with your wallet if you want to preserve the gigabit bragging rights.

Source.

This Amazing Lego Instant Camera Even Pops Out Lego Polaroids

This Amazing Lego Instant Camera Even Pops Out Lego Polaroids


We couldn’t be happier that Lego master Chris McVeigh—aka Power Pig—is continuing to use his formidable skills to create brick versions of iconic cameras. Following up on his Leica M9-P he brings us this gorgeous Lego version of the Polaroid Land Camera 1000.

And going above and beyond the call of duty, McVeigh even made this Polaroid semi-functional with a small Lego photo that can be ejected from the front-loading slot. If real Polaroids were this adorable, they might still be around. [Chris McVeigh via The Brothers Brick]

Source: Gizmodo.

Vermont Telephone Company’s gigabit internet service is live, half the price of Google Fiber

Remember how Google Fiber‘s recent announcement for planned service in Austin by 2014 spurred immediate competition from AT&T? It’s safe to say telcos in other areas have taken note about the gigabit speeds and roughly $70 montly pricing, too. According to a Wall Street Journal Digits blog post, Vermont Telephone Company is now offering gigabit-speed service to some of its customers for the crazy low stand-alone price of $35 bucks a month. To keep things in perspective, WSJ notes that roughly 600 folks are subscribed (out of VTel’s total base of about 17.5K) and that the company is essentially going to be analyzing whether the current pricing will remain for the long-term. With Google Fiber to continuing to expand, it’s certainly promising to see how superspeed internet is trickling across the US — and how easy it’s been looking on the wallet.

Source: engadget.

Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : Save bandwidth with webP – soon with fallback!

A long time ago, “responsive” didn’t mean “resize your browser window repeatedly while fellow designers orgasm until they resemble a moleskin atop a puddle”. It simply meant “Reacting quickly and positively”, meaning that the page loaded fast and you could interact with it immediately.

One way to do this is to reduce the weight of the page by serving images that have a smaller file-size, thereby consuming less bandwidth and taking less time to download a page. In the last year, web pages download approximately the same number of images, but their total size has increased from about 600K to 812K, making images about 60% of the total page size.

One way to reduce this amount is to encode images in a new(ish) format called webP. It’s developed by Google and is basically a still version of their webM video codec. Google says

WebP is a new image format that provides lossless and lossy compression for images on the web. WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs. WebP lossy images are 25-34% smaller in size compared to JPEG images at equivalent SSIM index. WebP supports lossless transparency (also known as alpha channel) with just 22% additional bytes. Transparency is also supported with lossy compression and typically provides 3x smaller file sizes compared to PNG when lossy compression is acceptable for the red/green/blue color channels.

Opera uses it precisely for this compression; it’s used in Opera Turbo, which can be enabled in Opera desktop, Opera Mobile and the Chromium-based Yandex browser. This transcodes images on-the-fly to webP before squirting them down the wire and, on slower connections, it’s still faster.

In tests, Yoav Weiss reported that “Using WebP would increase the savings to 61% of image data”.

WebP is currently supported only in Opera (Presto), Google Chrome, Yandex and Android Browser on Ice Cream Sandwich, which makes it difficult to deploy on the Web. new confidence about technologies in the VP8 video codec on which it’s based might make them feel better about it?)

However, there’s some handy new CSS coming to the rescue soon (when browser vendors implement it). We’ve long been able to specify CSS background images using background-image: url(foo.png);, but now say hello to CSS Image Values and Replaced Content Module Level 4′s Image Fallbacks, which uses this syntax:

background-image: image("wavy.webp", "wavy.png", "wavy.gif");

(Note image rather than url before the list of images.)

The spec says “Multiple ‘image -srcs’ can be given separated by commas, in which case the function represents the first image that’s not an invalid image.”

Simply: go through the list of images and grab the first you can use. If it 404s, continue going through the list until you find one you can use. Note that this isn’t supported anywhere yet, but I hope to see it soon.

Read more @ Bruce Lawson’s personal site.