Be Aware Of What Analytics Don't Tell You

The web community lives in a world of numbers. Tools like Google Analytics, Mint, Campaign Monitor and others do a wonderful job of helping put concrete numbers in the hands of site owners allowing them to make informed decisions about their business.

Last week ReadWriteWeb had an article The Death of the Pageview which provided an overview of some ways the industry has moved from simple “clicks” or “views” into more meaningful metrics. While it is great that we can now measure campaign conversion rates or watch the cow paths form through the sites we build we must always ask ourselves if the analytics are measuring the correct things, or if numbers or trends can even help answer a particular question.

Things That 'Just Work': Nikon D90 Sensor Cleaning

Often the goal of a new technology or new feature for an exiting technology is to lead a silent existence while making the owner’s life easier. Rather then being in your face forcing you to notice it, or worse, not working as intended and doubly frustrating the device’s owner it hums merrily along unnoticed.

I’ve been shooting steadily with the Nikon D90 dSLR since November of 2008. It struck me only last week in part because I was shooting some sky photos — which are notorious for making dust apparent — that in all that time I hadn’t had to do a manual sensor cleaning like I had often with my previous camera. The built in sensor shake/cleaning that Nikon has added to some of its recent camera bodies, and that triggers automatically each time the camera turns off or on, just works.

Nikon D90 Cleaning Menu

CSS Generation With JavaScript – An Underutilized Content Management Tool

There are some interesting new things going on the world of web site layouts with CSS and JavaScript all the time. Tricks and tools to add to a client side developer’s arsenal for making flexible, content accommodating navigation, layouts and presentations. Though I wouldn’t give away any of our progress, I can’t help but wonder if sometimes the amount of work we ask a visitor’s browser to do is overkill. One way to shift this workload off the browser — without placing undo burden onto the site management staff or its budget by requiring a high level of technical expertise with each site update — is to move the it to an offline or backend CMS tool creating static code for publication. This is particularly useful when doing multiple site deployments with a similar theme or building different localized site versions where the need for flexibility in type doesn’t change from user to user, but from content update to content update or deployment to deployment.

Through the use of fairly simple to create build tools we can create ‘static’ CSS for deployment and consumption and trim the amount and complexity of layout code sent with each page.

Geotagging Photos With The Apple iPhone 3GS

Meadowlands Flickr Map

A while back I posted instructions on geotagging photos with any GPS capable cell phone or device. Prompted by a question from one of my students (oh hey, I should talk about my new gig sometime!) and the fact the post is one of the more popular around here I thought the post deserved revisiting.

Since 2008 I’ve updated my camera body, gotten an iPhone, and streamlined both the number of devices I carry and the workflow for getting geographic data into my photos. Still, the premise of the old post hasn’t changed — you can encode any photo you take from any digital camera you have by syncing the photos timestamp with your saved GPS information.

Here’s how I’m currently tagging photos from my Nikon D90 with information saved on my iPhone using the RunKeeper Pro app.

A Best Camera: The Casio WQV-1 Wrist Camera

Commercial photographer and serial iPhone camera user Chase Jarvis has recently popularized the idea that “the best camera is the one that is with you” in a big way. Armed with a camera small enough that you’re willing to carry it everywhere you become free to capture moments, record mental notes, and other save images that would have otherwise passed you by. Though his weapon of choice is a cell phone camera my weapon has recently been an artifact of a decade ago picked up off of eBay — the Casio WQV-1 wrist watch camera. Though it only takes postage sized [120×120 pixels] black and white images it does so in a way that satisfies my bestcam needs.

Chase Jarvis

Easy Video Metadata Transfer Via Reference Photos

Digital video and digital photograph formats are so close, and yet so far away.

On many cameras like the Nikon D90 I use, the difference between capturing one or the other is a switch or a button away, and destinations for the content like Flickr do little to distinguish the two formats. However, when you get the memory card back to the computer what you do with them and how you process the captured files is worlds apart. I don’t have a handy solution to process images and video in the same way, but here’s one way to help the management of the files by using a still reference photograph as a hook for the metadata though our workflow from acquisition right through publishing onto web sites.

CSS3 Box Shadow in Internet Explorer [Blur-Shadow]

For a recent project I was given the task of creating a lightbox style help dialog. The dialog was intended to highlight content of an odd or unknown size in addition to the more controlled information box. Essentially a figure in the shape of 2 adjacent rectangles of variable sizes that needed to be highlighted. The backbreaker — the 8 sided popup needed a large, opaque & diffuse drop shadow to make it stand out off the content.

This was the perfect use case for CSS box-shadow, but its also a public facing promotional site that for good reasons couldn’t just thumb its nose atMicrosoft Internet Explorer. The value proposition for any new CSS property – to make things like shadows and gradients easy to develop and manage with one rule replacing old complex solutions – is lost if you still have to code for that old complex solution juggling multiple PNG images and layering in added markup. Still, that work sounded painful to write for IE6, IE7 & IE8 as well as Firefox, Safari and Chrome so I started looking for an alternative in the proprietary MS filters which are supported in Internet Explorer 5.5 and up.