This Site & Me
I'm a technologist, mobile specialist, experienced software developer, author, public speaker & an SAP employee. My thoughts, ideas, rants, comments & most of the code you'll find here are my own. Feel free to use any of this, but be sure to identify the source.
Topics You'll Find Here
This site contains content on a bunch of different topics including Mobile, Mobile Development, IBM Lotus Domino and other topics that strike my fancy. I've written a couple of mobile development books, so mobile and mobile development tend to dominate.
- Category: Mobile
- Published on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 18:06
I’m not quite feeling the benefits of a Wi-Fi only device. Having worked for a device manufacturer then a carrier, I guess I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to connectivity. Over the years I’ve had several tablets, some with cellular connections and some with only Wi-Fi connections.
I have to admit that I find that the Wi-Fi only devices never seem to have connectivity when I need it the most. At home (of course), at most airports and at many national chains (hotels, restaurants, stores), there’s usually access, but like I said – often when I really need it it’s just not available.
I attended the AT&T Dev Summit in January at a hotel in Las Vegas. Being a networking company (although they really don’t want to be, they want to be so much more) I expected them to provide Wi-Fi access at the event, and they did, but in the movie theater area where most of the ‘sessions’ were held, I could get no coverage. I had some research to do between sessions and a desire to catch-up on some emails, but simply couldn’t get coverage.
Now, I was in several movie theaters, away from the conference ‘center’ but none the less, they’d provided coverage, they should have made sure it was available everywhere. If not, why even bother setting it up and promoting it if it’s not most everywhere the conference is being held.
My employer provided me with a Wi-Fi only iPad 3 (I refuse to call it the ‘New iPad’) and I was able to order a Mi-Fi hotspot, but I really don’t like carrying (and maintaining charge in) two devices simply to have ubiquitous network coverage. I use the device when I’m at home and at the office, but when I’m out and about I rarely have the Mi-Fi hotspot with me.
I recently upgraded my Nexus 7 to a cellular version (AT&T) and I’m going to give the old one to my kids. I dropped my Android smartphone coverage and added a tablet data plan and now for $10US a month I can use my tablet anywhere I can use my cell phone. This makes for a much better experience for me.
The big issue for me is that I’m a BlackBerry user and I don’t have a cellular version of the BlackBerry Playbook. The BlackBerry is awesome for productivity stuff, but when it comes to things like Flipboard, book reading and more – a tablet is still the best option. As long as that’s the case, I’m going to have to keep a cellular enabled tablet around.
- Category: Mobile
- Published on Monday, 04 March 2013 13:12
A few weeks ago I posted an article complaining about how major brands don’t consider mobile email clients when they craft their blast email content. I even showed some examples of poor email content design from American Express and RIM. A reader of the site missed the point of my article and suggested I learn how to use my BlackBerry and enable automatic download of images in the email. Apparently he (or she, not quite sure) skipped reading the article and instead simply saw the screen shots and thought I didn’t know what I was doing.
My point in the article is that everyone does fancy email blasts with lots of graphics and centered content. That simply doesn’t work for mobile devices and I wrote that post in an effort to get people to start thinking about the target audience and adjust their content accordingly. I noticed the other day that the smart folks at Evernote have it figured out, take a look at the email content in the following screen shot:
Notice that it used color and some font treatments, but that doesn’t detract from the email message’s readability on a small screen (like the BlackBerry used to take the screen shot). That’s the way it should be done!
- Category: Miscellaneous
- Published on Friday, 22 February 2013 16:21
I don’t remember how I first learned about this service, but it’s pretty cool. Followupthen (http://www.followupthen.com/) is a free service you can use to remind yourself of stuff. What’s cool about it is that you configure reminder settings using the email address you send your message to.
The service supports a wide range of options including minute, hour, day of the week reminders, you can setup recurring reminders and you can setup reminders for a specific date. You can even upload a logo to include in your reminder messages (useful for company use). Premium users can even add attachments to emails to have them sent back to them at the appropriate time.
You'll get an email confirmation that the system has recorded your request as shown in the figure below:
And, at the appointed time you'll receive another email with the actual reminder message:
Notice that it even allows you to 'snooze' your reminders.
Check it out when you get a chance.
- Category: Content Management Systems
- Published on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 21:13
If you’ve been poking around within this site, you may have noticed that I used to post a bunch of source code to the site. I don’t write as much code as I used to and much less than I’m accustomed to, but when I setup this site, I found myself posting a bunch of code and wanting to make it render properly on the site’s pages.
Being new to Joomla!, I poked around a bit and noticed that there was a code highlighting plug-in called GeSHi installed as one of the core plug-ins in any Joomla! implementation. I thought all of my problems were solved, so I started trying to figure out how to make this code highlighter work. A search of the Joomla! documentation proved to me that nobody on the Joomla! project though it was important to document how this plug-in worked. I continued my search and found the GeSHi plug-in’s home page at http://qbnz.com/highlighter. As I poked around on the site, I found a bunch of information about how to implement GeSHi within a php-based web site, but nothing that told me how to use the plug-in in my Joomla! site. I quickly gave up on GeSHi and started looking elsewhere.
In the Joomla! extension directory, I found another plug-in called Code Citation which seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. It was a standard Joomla! plug-in, so it was installed in no time, and there was actually documentation on how to use it in your Joomla! web sites. I quickly installed it and over the years used it everywhere in this site.
When I upgraded to Joomla! 2.5, I encountered problems with Code Citation but eventually worked through them and got the site up and running. The developer’s stopped work on the project and it isn’t compatible with anything newer than Joomla! 1.6; I wrote about that experience here #######. Last week I noticed that my BlackBerry Development Fundamentals web site (www.bbdevfundamentals.com) was running on a discontinued version of Joomla! and I needed to upgrade it. As I upgraded it, I noticed that I had some source code on the site, so I had to install Code Citation on this upgraded site.
Even though I was able to get it working on this site, something was different about the BlackBerry Development Fundamentals site, and the plug-in wouldn’t work there. Every time I got close to a page that used Code Citation, the server would deliver a blank page. I’d pestered the developer of the plug-in so much when I was trying to get Code Citation working on this site, that I didn’t feel right bugging him again. Besides, I really wanted to figure out the GeSHi plug-in anyway, so I set about finally buckling down and figuring it out.
First, I found this site: http://www.bitsensei.com/web/joomla/9-using-geshi-in-joomla/ which explained how the default Joomla! implementation of GeSHi didn’t include all of the supported language plug-ins (Joomla! only includes a few of the many included with the default GeSHi installation) and how to update the site to include all languages. Additionally, it mentioned how to invoke the plug-in within your web site, but not how to actually implement that on your site’s pages. Ugh! So close.
Next, I found the following site: http://dotcomxl.com/index.php/tutorials/web-design/115-joomla-syntax-highlighter which finally had the information I needed to make this work. The article first provided all sorts of information about how to enhance the output of GeSHI then finally at the end of the article I saw this:
Now that the plugin is enabled, if you want to show code in your articles you should switch to HTML view in your WYSIWYG editor and use this format:
Inert your Java Code here
That’s exactly what I’d been searching for – the other sites mentioned the pre tag, but not how you inserted the code into your article. When using Code Citation, the Code Citation processing tags go at the beginning and end of your code – you don’t need to switch to the HTML editor to enable it. GeSHi apparently requires that, but it wasn’t described that way in all of the sites I looked to for help.
So, now I finally knew how to enable GeSHi in a Joomla! web site. Simply bracket the code you want highlighted with the pre and /pre tags, but do it within the HTML editor as shown in the following figure:
Of course, going back to the GeSHi web site, I see now that the documentation describe the pre tags but doesn’t mention that you have to insert them from the HTML editor. Another perfect example of how many developers write documentation from the standpoint that you already know how to do something instead of writing it from the standpoint of someone who DOESN’T know how to do something.
It…works – the BlackBerry Development Fundamentals site’s code samples render like they should, but I like Code Citation much better. I wish the developer of the plug-in would continue to work on it and update it for Joomla! 2.5 or even 3.0. It’s a much simpler solution and doesn’t require you to go into the HTML editor to format some source code. Right now this site is still working, so I won’t have to revisit this topic until a Joomla! upgrade breaks Code Citation here or until the Code Citation developer releases an update. I hope the latter happens first.