28 February 2007

London, because it's the least inconvenient . . . ?

Ten people trying to decide where to meet. Everyone has a good reason for not wanting to go somewhere as well as their own preferences. How do you decide? The boss says "London, because it's the least inconvenient" and he may well be right but it would be nice to see it in writing. Rather foolishly, I thought it would be easy to knock up a spreadsheet that would add up people's votes and work out what was actually the most popular, least inconvenient or whatever. Partly because I decided to include all sorts of checking things, validation and partly because I'd never used =AND before, it took ages!

No doubt the meeting's been arranged in London by now and it really needs to work on the web to do what I wanted but maybe all the effort will be of use to someone teaching Excel or trying to figure out some formulae. The sheet's protected but there's no password. Let me know if you use it, have a better idea or spot errors.

It's a small file that you can get here. There's an on-line version that actually seems to work using Google spreadsheets. Amazing! As I might really use this I'll just give the team the address for now but will release the link genrally soon.

27 February 2007

What colour's face07?

Something for web designers. Often you'll need to specify a colour for something in a string of 6 characters. ffffff is white, for example. Ypou know the colour you want but what on earth is the code? Download a great little free tool from ColourSchemer and it does the job for you. Brilliant!

24 February 2007

Internet Explorer 7 update

Finally got round to adding some images to the notes. Blogger need to add a few tools to make image handling a bit easier, though, and it seems impossible to place them as in-line images that sit where I want them. Big pictures seem OK but not little ones so I may still finish up doing these notes as a Studyzone page and linking to it! Still, hope they're useful to someone.

12 February 2007

putting an image in a web log header

The new version of Blogger provides lots of fairly user-friendly ways to change the way a template looks (more about that in my Q4 notes) but getting an image, or replacing one, in the header area is a bit trickier. Because it involves putting one of your own images on a web site this may prevent many people attempting it but for those who think they can manage that bit, here's what to do:

1 Find out the size of the existing image. Firefox browser users with the Web Developer toolbar will find this easy. IE users could try right clicking on the image and looking at its properties. These notes are based on the Rounders3 template used for Q2 News and others and the image size is 740x150.
2 Choose an image that contains a section of this size that you'd like to use. You might get away with re-sizing a smaller image but it's better to start with something larger.
3 In an image editing program crop a section 740x150 out of the image. In many applications you can set the size of the area to be cropped and then drag the rectangle around to see what the extracted part will look like - useful as it's an unusual size that you're working with an large images may offer all sorts of unexpected possibilities.
4 Save the extracted bit as a separate file in any of gif, jpg or png formats, whichever is the most suitable combination of quality and file size. Avoid exceeding 30 or 40KB if you don't wish to annoy visitors on slower connections. Most image editors will have an 'Export' facility to help here.
5 Upload that image to the web somewhere. It doesn't need to be on a web page but if that's the only way you can do it that's OK. Although I haven't tried it, I guess putting it on a Flickr or Google-Picasa album page might work too.
6 Note the url of the image on-line. I put mine on my andrewx.com site so the address is something like http://andrewx.com/leaves5.jpg which is quite simple but you may have to go to the web site and right click on the image to get its url, then copy that to the clipboard.
7 From your Blogger Dashboard, go to settings and in the Template tab click Edit HTML.
8 Even I find some of the code pretty impenetrable but somewhere in there will be the instructions for where the page is to get its header. In one of my web logs it looks like this:
#header {
background:url("http://andrewx.com/butterfly5.jpg") no-repeat left bottom;
padding:0 15px 8px;
9 Well, it looked a bit different becuase it had a different url in the brackets! You'll get the idea, though - that url is what you should paste or type in (don't put any extra spaces or pubctuation).
10 Save the changes and see if it's worked.

I hope it did. I haven't got round to changing the header on this blog, which uses a different screen wide layout. It may be that some extra instructions will be necessary which I'll publish if I ever get time to try this one.

10 February 2007

Radios, clocks and counters

OK so this is not one of those essential features but while I was trying to find the illustrations for the IE7 article I came across some excellent little things. First there's the radio. This comes from labpixies and can easily be added to your web log, Pageflakes site or almost any other site for that matter.

Just copy the few lines of code from the labpixies site, go to your Blogger dashboard and click on settings. Add an element and choose a HTML/Javascript panel. Paste the code into the box. That's it. The radio should appear. Click on the little curly arrow for settings which takes you to the list of radio stations and set your own choice for each of the five knobs.

Have to say I feel quite good about being the one who added Radio London to their list tonight! My No. 1 station, of course, but if you want Cricket reports from India you can probably get them too.

The clock's been around for a while on several of my sites and web logs. That's from clocklink.com where there's a range to choose from. Again, choose your clock, set the time zone and copy the code. Use another HTML/Javascript panel and paste it in.

Last one's a hit counter. These are more than just the vanity meters and can be a useful guide to things like what browsers or screen resolution visitors have which can influence the way you display site pages. And if you find that all your visitors are coming from Chnia then they might appreciate a welcome message in their language. I'll explain how to do that in another post! There are lots of hit counters out there but I find sitemeter one of the simplest and the free version comes with plenty of stats for my purposes. You need to register on the site but that's pretty harmless if you can avoid ticking any newsletter boxes. Then choose a style, background, font colour etc. You don't need to wait for the activation e-mail - that is just to enable you to manage the counter later for which you'll need the user ID and password they send - you may as well get the code while you're there and paste it into another box like the ones above. Do remember to select the option that doesn't count repeat visits from your own computer.

For those of you who can do 'proper' sites then the code just goes into an appropriate section of your page where you want the display to appear. Most editors will enable you to get at the code to do this and you'll probably know all about this so I won't go on any more. This was mainly for those who would like to personalise their web logs. Google have really opened their templates up but some bits are still not as obvious as they could be.