Tag Archives: web stuff

Moved Domain Email to Google Apps

I’ve been getting a ton of spam in my random process domain inbox, so much so that it’s a pain to filter through it to retrieve the comments and contacts I’ve received legitimately through the contact form here. I’ve enabled the spam filter provided by the web host and I’ve been generally careful with where I’ve posted the email (only in comment forms) so I’m not certain why or how I’m getting crushed with spam. I’ve been gritting my teeth and dealing with it.

Spam email

I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it earlier, but I realized that there was a simple solution to the problem – outsource. That’s right, I’ve now outsourced my email system to Google Apps, using Gmail. The spam filter is actually good and I’m able to use the Gmail interface that I’m use to, and not the terrible, non-user friendly UI of the webmail service provided by default through my host.

It’s quite simple really, and very beneficial.

  1. Set up a Google Apps account. The personal, free one will do.
  2. Verify that the website is yours. This involves either uploading an HTML file to your web host or creating a new CNAME value. The verification may take up to 48 hours as per Google’s warning message, but is typically verified much, much quicker than that.
  3. Now it’s time to send a few back and forth emails using the temporary email address before we go messing with MX records. Google provides a temporary test email – send a few emails back and forth to an email you can check.
  4. Once you’ve determined that all is working fine, it’s time to modify the MX records. My host uses cPanel, where the option is listed as ‘Modify Mail Exchanger’. Specify that you want to change an MX record and change it to the Google suggestion, ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM. (Requires the dot after the address).
  5. You’ve completed the setup, so just perform another test to make certain the emails are flowing back and forth properly. There’s no need to use Google’s test email address; use whatever one you created.

This is a much nicer solution that using my web host’s webmail service. I only wish I thought of looking for a solution earlier as it would have saved me a lot of hassle.

And They All Complained About IE7

When Internet Explorer 7 was in beta, numerous people cried out about its lack of standards-compliance.

But seriously, compared to Internet Explorer 6, version 7 is an absolute dream to work with. I’ve been doing all my development work for the new design in Vista, which means I’ve been testing with Internet Explorer 7, and not 6. It was only by chance that I thought I’d try it out in IE6 on someone else’s computer and was shocked at how terrible it looked. The major issue is with how Internet Explorer 6 interprets the ‘Box-Model’. Instead of applying margins, borders and padding on top of the specified width/height, it includes it within it. That means if you specify width and padding properties for the same element, it’s not going to look the same as Firefox or IE7.

As a result, I’ve spent a good portion of a day’s work revamping the design to nest an additional div layer to separate width properties from margin and/or padding properties. It’s quite a pain, but I’m almost done and things are starting to look good in Internet Explorer 6 as well. If it wasn’t for the 30-40 some percent of people who still visit this site using IE6, I would’ve left it as it was, but I thought it wouldn’t be fair for those users to see a broken design, despite what Microsoft decided to do with the rendering engine in the past. There are still some issues in IE6 which I haven’t yet figured out, but hopefully will start to clear up as I work at it more.

Another week or two and you should see it adorning this site. Its early forms can be seen over at the sandbox already.

Joost Revisited

Okay, you’re probably wondering what’s with the revisited title since I never ‘visited’ this topic in the first place. I got in the beta of the program very early – when it was called The Venice Project. I thought it was going to be like streaming NBC or something, but that definitely wasn’t the case. I sort of forgot about the whole thing after a little while, but with Joost hitting the headlines recently, I thought I’d give it another whirl.

The UI is absolutely fantastic looking, but sometimes a little difficult to use. There are a lot of menus and I thought I was stuck with the initial stock of channels; I didn’t know that you could add more. The initial bunch of channels that come with Joost weren’t particularly inviting for me, but after a bit of searching, I managed to add some comedy and news. There’s a lot of content to look through. You’ll probably find something you’re interested in. Another factor will be how often new content is added. Joost has said they typically add content every week, which seems like an okay rate, but if they really want heavy use of the service, they’ll probably have to step that up.

The service in its current form is mostly supported by ads. Most of them are targeted at the main user group, young-ish males, so hopefully they won’t be too annoying. If it’s something you want to try, I have, well, unlimited invites to the thing so just leave a comment with your email address and I can get that going.

Ready, Set, Go!

Getting started is always the toughest part, so I’m glad to say I’ve now started the design phase. I’ve already gotten the CSS blockwork done. Now there’ll be a lot of detailing and nitpicking. One thing I can say already though; this won’t be designed with you 800×600’ers out there. Around 3.5% of you who view this site are still using that archaic resolution; I’d suggest upgrading your monitor or upping that resolution slider in display properties. πŸ™‚ As well, I finally got around to upgrading to the final version of IE7. As much as I want to, I can’t leave out support for that browser you love to hate. Plus, the percentage of IE viewers creeps up with each passing month to this site; that’s probably because the readers are diversifying from the core group of WordPress bloggers who’ve come in search of some templates. That crew knows where it’s at (*cough*Firefox*cough*).

I’ve also found a few nice effects that I want to include. I’m looking at you Justin; I found that Lightbox thing. It looks pretty darn awesome.

But enough coding, I need my rest. My throat’s still bugging me and this cough won’t go away.

Get Those Creative Juices Flowing

Blogging for me has really been a very unstable little hobby. There are times when I absolutely despise the thought of posting anything; I sometimes just write something only because I feel guilty about neglecting it. It’s like an unwanted pet that you try to ignore but still have to feed, otherwise that’d just be mean. On the other hand, there are times when I’m so pumped to do something big for the blog. I want to make it much more than it is. Truth is, I’ve been hard pressed to find the time for it over the past while. Between school and work, it seems like I can’t catch a break where I can just sit down and get some stuff done on this site. Last work semester was pretty slack; this one is definitely not.

Nevertheless, this past couple days of me sitting around getting better from this awful sickness has given me some time to think and plan. Just like when I designed the site you’re currently looking at, I’ve drawn up, by hand, a design for the next version. I’m looking at something a little more static for the homepage and a little darker. The brightness of the current design doesn’t reflect on my thoughts and feelings. (not saying I think about deep, dark thoughts; it just looks a little… toyish) Of course the two biggest obstacles standing in my way are graphics and coding. Well, that sounds like just about everything that goes into creating a design now doesn’t it? πŸ˜› Well, I’ll shirk the graphics by sticking to the simple stuff and coding I’m going to learn. It’s about time I did some of that; this semester has definitely not been kind to any coding abilities I may have had left from the first semester.

I think I’m really going to like it if I can transform this design I’m envisioning into digital form. With that, I’ll going to go prepare to head back to Mississauga. I’m going to endure these sniffles and head back to work tomorrow.

Some Web Entertainment

I’ve been playing more and more Unreal Tournament 2003 recently, really harking back to the days when we’d have serious competitions (nerdy much?). Well, in my attempt to hone my mad shooting skillz, in the game of course, I’ve been playing this little flash game.

Shoot the Dementors

It’s extraordinarily addictive and my highest score so far has been 151.

Nvidia also had a big announcement today with their new G80 video cards and nForce 600 series motherboards. It’s also stuff like this that really make me wish I no longer cared about computers. Every couple months, some new piece of hardware comes out that I feel I need to buy. It’s too addictive and costly. But just look at those performance improvements. Can you imagine what Oblivion could look like?!

NVIDIA’s GeForce 8800 (G80)
Alright, I’m going to go mope in a corner now. I need to save money for those damned cell phone bills coming up… Oh and maybe I’ll set some money aside for university. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea too…

Okay, with that, I think it’s sleep time. I’m really not getting an adequate amount of sleep this week.

More Speed Scotty!

Well, I spent some time today drooling over the evolution of the internet connections in the future (or if you’re in Asia, of 5 years ago :P). Reading about all the deployments of ADSL2+ (cold), VDSL2 (warmer), and FTTX (hawt) around the world got my heart all aflutter. (not really, but the numbers for bandwidth that flashed up nearly made me drool on the keyboard) I’ll admit it; I was pretty happy with the cable connection I’ve got back home with Cogeco. The standard package gives up to 10mbps downlink speed. That’s pretty damn good for a standard package. (The super-duper one gives something like 16mbps, but for a significantly higher sum of moola.) But since moving here to the great GTA (Greater Toronto Area for the uninitiated as I was such a short time ago) and hooking up with Rogers, I’ve become significantly more pessimistic about the state of the broadband industry. What the telcos in the States are starting offer (Verizon with its FiOS and AT&T with U-Verse) is good progression towards what I want to see down the road. They’re pushing the triple-play: internet, IPTV (Internet Protocol TV), and VOIP. I could care less about VOIP (we need some good high speed wireless networks while we’re at it) but super-fast internet and the ability to actually have TV through IP really opens up a lot of potential. I mean watching TV could become much more than just watching. There could be much more interaction and customizations. PVR? What PVR? Just stream it from the server in real time when you feel like watching that show.

But let’s focus on the main issue at hand here; internet speeds. Granted a lot more than just a faster connection to your home needs for an overall speed up of internet traffic. With a large number of users with high speed connections, servers would get crushed under the bandwidth they’d be asked to provide. Nevertheless, it is one step in evolution. Basically I’d like to see 50-100mbps downlink and 5-10mbps uplink speeds without having to sell my first born, second born, give away my RRSP (yeah, I am going to start investing in my retirement soon….) and submit myself to slavery. Reasonble pricing on high bandwidth connections is not unheard of. Hong Kong has it in City Telecom (100mbps line for $25/month) and Iliad under its Free brand is offering 50mbps symmetrical connections for 30 Euros a month in Paris and various other French cities. Give me my fast internet connection for a low cost now! πŸ˜‰ In all honesty, if this rolls around Canada before the end of the decade I’ll be happy.

So enough of that, but still on the subject of the internet, Microsoft and Mozilla both chose the past couple days to launch some web browser updates. Microsoft’s update is the real deal; Internet Explorer 7, not a beta, or RC, the final release. Mozilla released Firefox 2.0 RC3 as well.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 7
Mozilla Firefox 2.0 RC3

Some Computer Stuff

A week or two ago, with the parts for the new computer coming, I realized I lacked a good mouse for gaming. And of course, one of the main objectives for the new computer was to allow me to play games. So as Futureshop once in a while does, they put a nice Logitech mouse on a deep sale. My old Logitech MX500 is really starting to show its age; the bottom is all scruffy and the buttons feel almost broken (sometimes they click, sometimes they don’t). Clearly this is unacceptable for gaming (:P) and the Logitech LX7 that I’ve been using in its place is hardly a gaming mouse. None of the three wireless mice I’ve ever used made me happy for their gaming performance. (Logitech MX900, some Microsoft one and the LX7) So I gladly took the chance and picked up the Logitech MX518 for $20. I would’ve preferred a laser mouse just for the sake of it (I’m not sure how much it actually does) but a good mouse of $20 is not something to go to waste. πŸ™‚

Ever since I started downloading stuff from Bittorrent, I’ve noticed that regular internet browsing has become awfully slow. It’s not because BT is sucking up a lot of bandwidth; the problem exists even if I’m only uploading/downloading at very slow speeds. After some searching, I found out that Windows XP SP2 implemented a change to limit the number of half-open TCP/IP connections to 10. With something like Bittorrent that relies on a large number of amalgamated connections, this is clearly hurtful to speeds. So if you’ve run into the same situation, I’ll direct you over here where you can grab the patch to increase the number of connections to 50.

Now it’s time to brag a little bit. As you probably know by now, I purchased parts and built a new computer over the past weekend. It’s now time to show you in picture form what I’ve put my hard earned moola into. This picture includes:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
  • ASUS P5W DH Deluxe
  • Scythe Infinity HSF
  • 2x1GB OCZ PC2-6400 Platinum XTC
  • EVGA GeForce 7900GTO 512MB
  • Seagate 7200.10 320GB STATA2
  • BenQ DW1655 DVD+-RW DL Lightscribe
  • OCZ GameXStream 600W
Conroe System Parts

There’s also an Antec P180B case that’s not shown in this picture. So far I’ve tested the CPU up to 3.5GHz from 2.4GHz. All that silky dual core smoothness. Mmmmmm…

Now it’s time to do PDEng…. πŸ™

New CBC Site Layout

The good ol’ CBC website that I visit regularly for news has undergone a total revamp. I first noticed something was afoot when the oft-visited weather section of the site got a new design. Now the design has spilled over to the rest of the site and I have to say it looks quite nice. One of the biggest challenges faced by any of these information heavy news sites is the presentation of the content. There’s a lot of information to be displayed and many times, it becomes info-overload. I think the new design does a pretty good job of displaying (graphically as well) the most important pieces of news towards the top of the page and the rest is nicely sectionalized further down at the bottom. It’s a big improvement over the previous site design and shoots it above sites like CNN.com in terms of usability, in my opinion.

Just thought I’d share. Go check it out. πŸ™‚

So Quiet It’s Creepy

Well, we’re deep in the middle of reading week and I think I’m the only person left in the basement here. On the plus side, it’s awfully quiet for once. I can finally get to sleep at a decent hour! πŸ™‚ On the other hand, it’s kind of weird to be honest…

I consciously noticed today how much influence the sun has on my mood. A great big one. I’m definitely way more upbeat when the sun’s out and just the feel of it on my face is really nice. It’s been such a dull, drab winter here, I think I’m forgetting what the sunshine is like.

I finally got a Ta-da List over at 37Signals. I’m currently just using it for ideas I have for the blog and stuff. It’s nice to be able to jot down something that comes to mind before it slips away. Today, I thought of something to write about on the bus ride up to work and by the time I got to the office, I had already forgotten. Yeah, sometimes my attention span is just that short. Then again, I spent like a solid three hours trying to get the Livesearch working over in the workshop blog. Well, I failed miserably and I’m totally dead after that, so I’m off to bed. I haven’t gotten to bed this early in quite a long while.

[tags]37signals, livesearch[/tags]