20 November 2008

Anti-virus: Morro to replace Live OneCare

Microsoft's Live OneCare has been around for a while and I have taken advantage of what seems to be a very long free trial period on some equipment. It was the only product that managed to remove a nasty trojan on my daughter's laptop some time ago but other equipment has survived reasonably well with Avast and a selection of other excellent freeware tools such as CCleaner, WinPatrol and Threatfire.

What was a bit of a pain was the nannying that came with it - until I eventually told the software that I didn't want it checking this and that or backing up things. So hearing that Microsoft will cease offering Live OneCare on a subscription basis is fine by me. The replacement, called Morro, will be essential an anti-virus product and will be available free but not installed by default with Windows or IE.

All seems well with that world, then.

17 November 2008

W3C standards resources

This may sound a bit grey and I have to admit that for a long time I couldn't get excited about these. I mean the idea of over 450 organisations and experts ever being able to agree on anything, let alone publish anything in a way that could be helpful for those of us who don't start creating web pages by writing code or can manage only some pretty basic code and only when we have to, seemed highly unlikely.

I am pleasantly surprised, therefore, that, having finally got around to finding what The World Wide Web Consortium was all about, they talk a great deal of sense. Anyone who has had to struggle with making pages look good in umpteen different browsers or had to explain to a client why that beautifully crafted png file looks dreadful on the ancient IE6 browser his office is still using will appreciate the excellent work being done and will be in favour of their desire to make the web a better place - and a more consistent one - where we make one page and that's it, it works.

By way of introduction and to gather a bundle of links together for students and colleagues, I have made some resources available at this link which, whilst pretty basic, may help someone.

I do love CSS stylesheets and the ease with which I can switch the appearance of content but they're still a bit of a pain in that I have to write out all the code and I just wish I could find some nice software that recognises what I'm doing and translate my efforts into acceptable code for a sheet. I have to say that the ease with which very attractive pages can be put together by complete amateurs utilising software like Serif Web Plus and Coffee Cup is going to have an impact sooner or later and someone simply will have to come up with an application at a reasonable price that does the same job and meets the standards. 

To make a small site using tables I need a quiet evening a a couple of cups of coffee. To recreate the same thing using CSS takes me ages unless I borrow someone else's template. And several glasses of alcohol to calm my frustration at getting layouts to behave as I'd like and easily been able to do in the old way. So, for the sake of my health, driving licence and possibly future career, software suggestions welcome!

14 November 2008

Will w3c validation help your Google ranking?

There has been lots of debate about this. w3c validation may mean that you have clean code on your web pages which will ensure they appear consistently in most people's browsers and that they can be better interpreted by small screens on PDAs and phones and, in particular, will have many of the features that make them more accessible to those with some disabilities. This, in itself, though, whilst commendable, does not mean they'll get higher ranking in search engines.

I have just come across this quote from an interview with Adam Lasnik (SEO Strategist at Google) in which he says:

[T]here are many great reasons to have your site validate, and to do validation checking. It can help your site, and could be more accessible to a lot of different people and browsers. But, here is the core problem why we cannot use this in our scoring algorithms currently: There are a ton of very high quality sites, pages and sites from universities, from research institutions, from very well respected ecommerce stores, of which I won't name any, that have really crufty sites, and sites that won't validate. On some of these you can view the source and cry. And, because this is quality content, we really can't use that as an effective signal in search quality. So, you can quote me a saying, I would be thrilled, it would make my day if people would decruft their sites, but it's not going to directly affect their Google ranking.

I thought it was worth adding it here. Not the sort of thing that all readers will be interested in but those working with CSS will. What I particularly liked, though, was his comment that there are many crufty sites from respectable and often-consulted organisations and insitutions that do not qualify for w3c validation yet have considerable merit and deliver what people want (albeit not in the best way, perhaps).

I have never encountered the word crufty before. A combination of crap, rough and grotty perhaps.