I am now a professional photographer

Recently I stumbled on this site photopreneur that offers all sorts of advice about professional photography. A day later I got another request for one of my photos on flickr and I asked for some money (normally I just give them away).

Well I have just sold this photo for ?30 a copy of the book my picture will appear in and a credit for the photograph.

Blenheim Palace

I think that officially makes me a professional photographer, although I will not be giving up the day job just yet.

May Day is now “RSS Awareness Day”

As they say on the rssday.org site:

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a format used to deliver information from websites and pages that get updated regularly. An RSS document (which is called feed) contains either a summary or the full content from a website.

The main benefit of RSS is that it enables people to stay connected with their favorite websites without having to visit them. Once you subscribe to a particular RSS feed, you will automatically receive updates from the website that publishes the feed, whenever they release new content. The video below illustrates the process.

RSS Awareness Day

The previous owners of “May Day” the communists and other hard core lefties had a march outside my offices in Holborn London in protest.

May Day march in Holborn, London

I am officially part of the paparazzi!

My office in London is right next to the Holborn police station. Last Friday we had a fire drill and while outside we noticed that there were around 100 media types with expensive digital cameras crowding around the entrance to the “cop shop”? behind temporary barriers. A small amount of questioning later revealed that Amy Winehouse was due to make an appearance at 3pm for allegedly assaulting a person in a nightclub.

Well after 5pm she finally turned up and I was able to snap this picture of her entering the police station from an office on the 7th floor.

Amy Winehouse at Holborn Station

Considering how much interests there is in her tormented and drug addled life at the moment I am offering this photo to the highest bidder. I suggest a good starting price would be around ?10,000.

Wireless router upgrade

I have a shitty old Linksys router that acts as a wireless connection for our whole flat. It often crashes when it gets too busy.

A while ago I saw this article on lifehacker about upgrading the rubbish firmware on my router with opensource software from Tomato.

I umed an ahed about it for months because if something went wrong then we would be disconnected from the internet. Which would not only be a personal tragedy but also would mean I had to have actual real life conversations with my flatmates. More than likely conversations about why I broke the internet. And how I work in IT so I should be able to fix it.

Today I build up the courage to make the firmware upgrade and it took about 2 minutes.

If you have a Linksys router that is causing you problems then I fully recommend upgrading to Tomato.

Converting px into percentage and em for relative CSS font sizes

Recently I have started to get a lot of requests to make certain fonts on my websites this pixel (px) size or that pixel size.

For accessibility reasons I do not use pixels as a measurement of font size. Pixels are what is known in the trades as a fixed font size so they do not resize on some browsers when the user manually changes their browsers font size. The main problem is IE6 which despite all logical sense is an insanely widely used web browser.

So if a visitor to a poorly coded website had difficulty reading small text and they tried to increase the font size in IE6 and a lesser web developer had set the font sizes in pixels, then that user would not be able to read the web page. You could say that page would be inaccessible to them.

Thankfully there are some font size declarations that do resize in all the different web browsers. These are percentage (%) and em (em). I prefer percentages because that is what I started using way back in the day and they still haven’t let me down. But both effectively do the same thing.

To make my life easy I made the following table to convert fixed pixel sizes into % and em. The maths is quite simple. The basic font size on most browsers is 16px which is 100% or 1em. To work out the percentage of 17px I divided 17 by 16 and multiplied by 100. The result is 106%. For em I just divided 17 by 16.

The other thing to note is that web browsers do not display non integer font sizes. So a percent of 105 might display at 17px or 16px depending on the browser.

One final point I should add is that every time you decrease the font size by 1px a certain number of users will no longer read the text. For that reason I do not like to use font sizes under 12px/75%/.75em.

Px Size % Size Em Size
36px 225% 2.25em
35px 219% 2.19em
34px 213% 2.13em
33px 206% 2.06em
32px 200% 2em
31px 194% 1.94em
30px 188% 1.88em
29px 1.81% 1.81em
28px 175% 1.75em
27px 169% 1.69em
26px 163% 1.63em
25px 156% 1.5em
24px 150% 1.5em
23px 144% 1.44em
22px 138% 1.38em
21px 131% 1.31em
20px 125% 1.25em
19px 119% 1.19em
18px 113% 1.13em
17px 106% 1.06em
16px 100% 1em
15px 94% .94em
14px 88% .88em
13px 81% .81em
12px 75% .75em
11px 69% .69em
10px 63% .63em
9px 56% .56em
8px 50% .50em

Note: there might be some subtle differences on less popular browsers.

SHOCKED – IE8 passes the Acid2 test

If you aren’t an internet geek this will mean nothing to you. But to those of us who spend our days coding sites so that they work on all the different browsers and platforms on the wild wild web this is huge news.

The Acid2 test is a complicated web page that will only display correctly on a browser that conforms to a set internationally accepted standards outlined by the W3C. If the web browser that you are using supports web standards then the Acid2 test pages will display a nice smiley face. If it doesn’t then the results will be not such a nice smiley face.

You can click here to see how your current web browser performs on the Acid2 test. It probably doesn’t do too well.

The point is though there are lots of internet browsers out there like Firefox, Safari, Opera etc and most of them are moving towards being fully standards compliant. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer on the other hand is a pile of poorly coded junk and doesn’t even come close to passing the Acid2 test. I guess they always figured that if they pre-packaged their internet browser with the Windows operating system then they would not have to comply to international standards. This is a real bugger for web developers like me because we have to code our sites to work on most of the worlds internet browsers and then we have to code them to work on IE6.

Recently Microsoft has been losing a share fo the browser market to a far superior standards compliant browser called Firefox. To stop the rot Microsoft released IE7 but that was largely based on the original code from IE6 and wasn’t really much better. So it looks like Microsoft have finally gotten the message and built their next internet browser IE8 from scratch so that it complies with the correct international standards. The follow picture from the IEBlog shows that IE8 will comply with pass the Acid2 test.

IE8 will pass the Acid2 test

If this can be believed then it is the most significant development for internet browsers in a long time.

Digg has changed its algorithm

According to soshable Digg have changed their algorithm. I have a feeling that they have changed the algorithm because there has been a growing chorus of people who think the Digg results are decreasing in quality and that a lot of complete rubbish is being Dugg to the top for no real reason. Perhaps Digg have finally realised that to retain their credibility they have to ensure the quality of their results is high.

Or perhaps they want to take the control of the site away from a small number of very well connected super-diggers who are pushing loads of decidedly average links to the front page.

I have a simple idea that might help. What if the more you digg the less each digg was worth? That way well networked diggers who pushed each other stories to the top all the time would have less control over the results.

How to rate well on Digg

Techcrunch have blogged a list of NINE things to do if you want your story to rate well on Digg.

Yawn. This is a much more accurate list of things to try if you want to get loads of Diggs.

  1. Praises something to do with Apple
  2. Mock Microsoft
  3. Mock a big organisation or corporation
  4. Promote file sharing or theft of copyrighted content
  5. Have a list of other sites that are billed as the complete list of resources for [insert generic topic] on the web
  6. Write a poorly thought out TOP TEN or NINE REASONS about some random topic

This is what you really need to do if you want to rate well on Digg.

Help the hungry Japanese

This came in on email:

The Japanese government must believe their people are very hungry, otherwise they would not be hunting whales in the Southern Oceans.

To assist our Japanese friends, we propose to send packets of instant noodles to Japan to save the whales from being eaten. To show the intent of these noodles, please attach a letter to the Prime Minister of Japan, Yasuo Fukuda, about the continued Japanese whaling in the south seas, and the world’s opposition to the wasteful and unneeded slaughter of whales.

Individual noodle packets can be sent to:
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
1-6-1 Nagata-cho
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968