Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Facebook domination of web page screen real-estate

A simple Facebook page was created for Sledges.co.uk with some information about the Aviemore-based outdoor shop in the Scottish highlands, along with some product images from the different sections: wooden sledges, snowshoes, budget sledges, etc.

The latest step was to add and test the like button for each of the products on the e-commerce website so that visitors could share products with friends within their own facebook worlds. Also a link from website to facebook page seemed obligatory!

The emerging trend is that wee facebook icon links and like buttons (and associated html5, og meta-tags, etc) are getting peppered across more and more sites on the internet. Facebook can piggyback on the hard work people put in on driving relevant traffic to their websites by siphoning off "social" activity by visitors.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Rivendell B&B - Dumfries

This required some admin work - sorting out Facebook accounts and pages, TripAdvisor accounts and widgets, customising Wordpress themes, and inevitably the transfer of hosting to Callisti services from the legacy provider (see earlier posts.)

The B&B website features an online booking widget and calendar for visitors to book without having to speak to a human directly and in their own time. Not all the rooms are available online so if you're looking for a Bed and Breakfast break you can resort to telephone calls and emails. Or like they did in olden days, turn up at the door and ask.

The design was influenced mainly by the Rivendell team to match their existing offline marketing materials.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Chime.in (beta)

The third way in 'rich-media' posting - this can link with facebook and twitter accounts. Currently trying it out (chime.in beta) tentatively after an automated email from Mixx. Naturally there's a mobile app and you can edit your profile, etc.

Kind of like twitter UI but nicer looking. Not sure where it will fit alongside linkedin, google+, facebook and twitter but maybe it offers something more holistic.

Claim your usernames now before they get taken!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Don't Milk Dead Cows (Cashing In On Scottish Culture)

This project is NOT being part-financed by the Scottish government, the European Community, Dumfries and Galloway Leader programme, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, etc.

The last thing visitors should see in Dumfries and Galloway is a herd of dying white elephants roaming around the region. If these "cultural" projects were children, Dumfries and Galloway agencies would be guilty of neglect and for failing to give their offspring the tools and skills required for long-term survival and independence.

Knee-jerk reactionaries chasing the magical mystery funding train in order to stave off the inevitable end of a delusion should not be continually rewarded. Sometimes the harder path is to actually produce something through organised work, and to try and maintain those things for the benefit of the many. Even if it means taking a punch on the nose when it goes wrong. Scotland has a reputation for creative musicians, artists and wordsmiths (and people who punch people on the nose). It also has a recent history of manufacturing and production. What is being added to this today?

There seems to be a new Scottish culture set to stifle the progress of the Scottish person: talking shops, big boards, planning committees and partnership agencies, funding vehicles, quangos, and channels for laundering tax-payers' money to trickle it back down to the public after the Directors' cut.

But only for those who can convince the purse-string holders they can bring visitors to Scotland that will line private pockets. The amount of time, energy, talk and money spent on encouraging people who don't already live here to come here and spend money, or start businesses, is in direct contrast to the growing droves of young people who need to leave to find a life opportunity and whose paths are beset on all sides.

How does this serve the long-term future of the people of Scotland and tomorrow's legacy? Concentrate on building an ongoing legacy today. You don't get good milk from a dead cow.

O to live the lives of others
Hands that quickly seize the day
The greatest clearly move in circles
Oblivious they hurtle
Move out of their way

(M. Campbell, circa 1999)

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Hammocks youtube playlist on website

Handmade Hammocks is still an Actinic ecommerce site so presents its own environment of challenges for maintenance work. Most recently the feature has been updated to dynamically show Actinic content pages in the navigation menu.

This means the client can update content more easily using the Actinic UI without having to edit template files in dreamweaver.

Similarly the embedded video on the website homepage has now been updated to show the Hammocks Youtube playlist by adding the embed code to the Actinic home page template, removing the need to manually edit the template file in e.g. Dreamweaver (or your preferred code editor of choice)

Here's a quick how-to:

1. Create a youtube playlist

Log in to your youtube account
Click on 'my videos' and look for 'playlists' in the left-hand menu
Click on '+ new'
Give the playlist a title, description and some tags, then save.

2. Add videos to youtube playlist

Your list of uploaded videos should show with checkboxes beside them
Check the boxes of the videos you want to appear in your playlist and choose 'add videos'
At the top of your video list, click the 'add to' button and select the new playlist from the list.

3. Embed youtube playlist on website

Click on 'playlist' on the left-hand menu, this will list your playlist(s)
Click on your playlist title
Above your playlist, click on the 'share' button
Copy and paste the code for a straight link to playlist
Click on 'embed' to customise the size, privacy and HD/https options a bit (seems to be a minimum player width of 200px)

4. Paste generated code into the right place.

5. Look at what you've done just to check it's worked ok before doing the next thing on your list

Friday, 23 September 2011

Galloway Velvet - Actinic exercise

Actinic is an ecommerce platform that Callisti has mixed feelings about. On one side it promises so much in terms of administrative control of the shop, with marketing features and template control but on the other it is full of antiquated code and table cells that need manually edited in a behemoth design and layout management system.

That being said it is conceivable to customise the theme and make it look as un-Actinic-like as possible.

Variables, Layouts and Fragments.

Also there is the site snapshot feature which lets the designer send an export of the site files to the client so that they can import to their own installation of (the correct version of) Actinic. It's quite unique in the world on online shopping carts and doesn't use a mysql database which is fresh.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Comlongon Rocks 2011

Support Comlongon Rocks 2011 on Facebook. The first of many (it is hoped) annual events for charity fundraising is scheduled for 25th September in the private grounds of Comlongon Castle.

The event is ticket only.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Cubecart gridview for Anderson Kilts

Experimenting with a grid view for products under the selected category so that visitors to the site don't have to scroll down a list of huge images.

Should speed up page loading time as only thumb images are loaded unless the visitor elects to view the full product description.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Registering .ru or Russian domains

A client recently wished to pick up an expiring Russian domain name that was relevant to the business. We found this .ru domain registration, auction and back-ordering resource...

There also http://www.netim.com/ for domain registrations across the European territories.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Sledges in summer?

Order way in advance for winter 2011-2012. The sledges.co.uk prestashop version is now online and trading.

Lots of 301 redirects!

Callisti in wonderland

Curiouser and Curiouser is now online. Another prestashop (1.4) online shop customisation for the Edinburgh curiosity shop that also provide bespoke picture framing services.

Lots of text and odd angles and some interesting photographs. The bulk of the work was in converting the design to CSS and trying to find all the relevant .tpl and block css files in the prestashop structure.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Property development in NW11 London

Callisti has been helping Glentree new homes with their new Aylmer Place apartment development in north west London. The luxury apartments are at the Hampstead Garden Suburb area near Hampstead Heath so there is access to urban parkland.

The website is a customised wordpress child theme based on the twentyten theme so takes advantage of the custom menu feature and widget sidebars. CSS3 was used to create background gradients in the main content container area and the featured thumbnails were used to give each page a unique header image (required a minor functions.php tweak)

2 of the 5 apartments (prices starting at around a cool £1.15m!) have already been reserved ...

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Rotate text in Internet Explorer using CSS and Matrix transform...

Not sure about Internet Explorer 9 yet but there is an excellent online tool for calculating the correct values for Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 css filters:

Enter the degrees of rotation and click 'Set'

This will generate CSS for the equivalent values for Firefox, Safari/Chrome and Opera but these can now be more simply stated using, e.g.


The basic filter for IE only allows 90 degree rotations (0, 90, 180, 270) so if you want text or images at a jaunty angle it's not enough. It's worth the extra effort to keep text as text and not resort to imagery.

However, don't expect the text to be as smooth as in other, more capable browsers...

The maths

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Vertical text

CSS3 is providing a selection of memes. The old age problem of browser rendering and cross-browser testing heads up again though.

ScottGale.com gives a working solution.

The axis of rotation can vary between browsers and pre Internet Explorer 8 offerings are jippy.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Waste of public money?

Callisti has been using the BuddyPress plug-in for WordPress to set up community frameworks (notably Dumfries and Galloway For Sale Free and Wanted) and recently revised the phpBB forum experiment on Wasting Public Money with a similar WordPress and BuddyPress installation for a more pleasant user interface.

There is also the added feature of being able to use the WP-FB connect tool (recently updated after Facebook's change to acceptable authentication methods) which allows greater accessibility to those already familiar or at home in a Facebook environment.

Visitors are welcome to contribute to the website with relevant content...

Thursday, 19 May 2011

White noise resignation

This is the sort of pish that gives SEO a bad name. Clutters up inboxes as well.

Also have been getting variations of attempted blog posts on client site. Tedious.

Google is meant to be penalising content farms that produce low quality crap, maybe this will change the course of spam river. For a while.

Must be practising - trying out a typo pattern generator using stock phrase, search engine URL (email addresses suppressed for this blog post)

Maybe these are some of the stumbling steps that will lead to true AI :)

Web Site (if any entered):
http://www.google.com/ [Valid URL: True]
Cool! That's a clever way of loonkig at it!

Web Site (if any entered):
http://www.bing.com/ [Valid URL: True]
Home run! Great slugging with that aswner!

Web Site (if any entered):
http://www.yahoo.com/ [Valid URL: True]
AFAIC that's the best aneswr so far!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Facebook frustration

Gah. Nothing is free with Facebook. Money doesn't always change hands but information does.

Dependencies also are affected so anyone using WP-FB AutoConnect will be getting an email something like this: (Justin Klein developer of WP-FB AutoConnect is aware of this recent Facebook issue as of 15th May 2011!)

Dear Developer of Dumfries And Galloway - For Sale Free And Wanted,

Our automated systems have detected that you may be inadvertently allowing authentication data to be passed to 3rd parties. Allowing user ids and access tokens to be passed to 3rd parties, even inadvertently, could allow these 3rd parties to access the data the user made available to your site. This violates our policies and undermines user trust in your site and Facebook Platform.

In every case that we have examined, this information is passed via the HTTP Referer Header by the user's browser. This can happen when using our legacy authentication system and including < iframe >, < img > or < script > content from 3rd parties in the page that receives authentication data from Facebook. Our legacy mechanism passes authentication information in the URL query string which, if handled incorrectly, can be passed to 3rd parties by the browser. Our current OAuth 2.0 authentication system, released over a year ago, passes this information in the URL fragment, which is not passed to 3rd parties by the browser.

Please ensure that you are not allowing this data to be passed immediately. Accessing your site as a test user while running a HTTP proxy/monitor like Charles or Fiddler is the best way to determine if you are allowing this information to be passed. If you discover the issue, you can do one of two things:

1. Migrate your site to use our OAuth 2.0 authentication system. We are requiring all apps and sites to update to this mechanism by Sept. 1, 2011. Migrating now will address this issue and ensure that you are one of the first to meet the deadline. For more details, please see our Authentication Guide.

2. Create and use an interstitial page to remove the authentication data before redirecting to your page with 3rd party content. This approach is used by many of our largest developers today (although they are all migrating to OAuth 2.0 shortly). This is a simple and straightforward change that should have minimal impact on your site. For more details on this approach, see our Legacy Connect Auth doc.

Because of the importance of ensuring user trust and privacy, we are asking you to complete one of the above steps in the next 48 hours. If you fail to do so, your site may be subject to one of the enforcement actions outlined in our policies.

If you have any questions or believe you have received this message in error, please contact us.
Facebook Developer Relations

Monday, 2 May 2011

Print CSS for Internet Explorer 7

Well. What better way to spend time on a bank holiday weekend after the recent "Royal Wedding".

An Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) feature was preventing the page content beyond the first page from printing properly for Albany UK property projects. In the browser's print preview option, the first page was displaying but with content truncated at the foot of the page. The second page onwards showed only the css background color/image but no page content.

Interestingly, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer 8 printed out the pages correctly, although some of the property listings were getting cut in half at the end of the page. Not pretty.

The fix was to invoke the less well known CSS feature "display:inline-block;" for the outer box (div) containing the property listing divs, the property listing divs themselves, and (because of the WordPress structure) the .article class (each property listing is technically a post.)

Sounds straightforward? Well, no. The other part of the fix was to use a CSS hack, or IE7 selector, so that the styles would only be applied in IE7 browsers.

#main {position:relative; *position:static; *display:inline-block;}
.article {*display:inline-block;}

Applying the changes to affect all browsers broke the print layout in IE8 and Firefox.

There are some general guides for avoiding CSS print issues:

Beware floats
Stay mindful of absolute or relative positioning
Watch the use of height and width defined in px
Keep an eye on overflow

Ideally the print layout should display all content inline and with auto properties (width, height, position, overflow, etc.) and the browser rendering engine should never be confused by boxes within boxes (nesting of block level elements) but when does that happen, eh?

Some google results that helped...
The Blog of Ben Nadel

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Eventful Galloway

Right, that's the DG Arts Festival events now live for booking using the patronbase system on dgArts events system. The festival starts on the 20th May, the day before the 'Streets of Dumfries' event which is a big bag of fun...

A lot of the visual arts exhibitions and children's events are free which is a bonus.

The dgArts website provides a central hub for events in the region so that the geographically widespread arts related groups can have a central marketing point (Bureaucratic Centralism anyone?)

Also listed there is the Thornhill Blues festival (see below), taking place further up the A76 from Dumfries at the end of April. No, it's not sold out yet but the accommodation in the town is pretty booked up so unless you get in quick you may have to use the campsite or stay nearer Dumfries on the Friday night.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Inaugural blues festival in Thornhill

The end of April heralds the first Blues Festival in Thornhill, Dumfries and Galloway. Organised by local enthusiasts from its inception last year, the blues band itinerary is now online and you can get tickets using paypal.

If you live in the Thornhill area there are a few outlets selling tickets for the main event in Thornhill Community Centre on the night of Saturday 30th April.

The initial website was a simple wordpress install, slightly customised, to get the Thornhill Blues online. It uses google documents as the source of the embedded spreadsheets. After the festival Callisti would like to improve the website usability and functionality.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Event Decor Hire - Redecorated

More customised Wordpress theming using child themes here: background static image for the body with CSS3 box shadow and IE8 fallback - CSS3 gradient works in firefox but not safari or ie8 just now but maybe one day...

The revision concentrates on the silver and blue colours of the logo, dispensing with the heavier burgundy so there's an altogether lighter feel to the website. Use was made of the custom menu feature in wordpress 3 to rationalise the content (and make it more user-friendly for the client to update content and images.)

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Excalibur Wedding Cars - Mk2

This was fun! A complete revamp of the wedding limousine website using some CSS3 stuff, background image shenanigans, a touch of wordpress plugin-ery and some more experience of using custom themes and menus the way wordpress 3 suggests.

Playing with the custom header images using the set thumbnail function is rewarding but unless you re-define the dimensions of the header image in the wordpress settings, you need to think letterbox or panoramic landscape when selecting images that are going to look right.

Naturally :) there were some editions to functions.php as it still uses the parent theme for this file. The nod to social networking includes facebook like buttons and a recent activity widget.

To ease migration from the previous website, 301 redirects were employed - the xml sitemaps were updated with Yahoo and Google once the SEO-friendly URLs were set.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Online PDF reader

Handy tool for displaying pdf's in readable format on your website. A bit like the animated pageflip idea which is built using images, this service allows pdf documents to be read in a similar fashion.

So, as a working experiment, the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival brochure for 2011 is now readable on the home page.

The script was generated by Calameo, where you can register to use the service.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Wedding Lounge

The Wedding Lounge (Dumfries) is a new wordpress-based website built using child themes, custom menus and CSS3 - more in line with the way a wordpress framework ought to be customised. There is still a concession to the functions.php file as the parent theme version takes precedence over the child theme in this respect but this may change in future.

The Weddding Lounge website is to promote the services of an upcoming wedding photographer and wedding planner. The site is ready for the start of the wedding shows and fairs being held in Dumfries and Galloway in 2011 so provides an online source of information, as well as linking with the existing facebook profile and image galleries.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Arts festival in Dumfries - May 2011

It's that time of year again, the arts and events brochure for May 2011 has been finalised and made available to patrons of the Arts Festival and the general public via the website. The events are being added to the website and the event calendar is being updated - as with all performance related ventures, there are always details and amendments up until the last minute so everyone involved is kept busy.

The itinerary this year features the Community day in Dumfries (Dock Park) where there will be a range of events over the weekend. As usual there are events throughout the region in the more rural areas, and some more traditional art events for the connoisseurs of drama, music, literature and theatre.

The children's events are also strong this year with poetry, puppetry and dance workshops. It's incredible how many agencies are involved in bringing the festival to life - let's hope it exceeds expectations this year.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Dumfries wedding photographer

Callisti is pleased to be hosting and maintaining the Martin McNae Photography website and gallery after a recent transfer. There are gigabytess of image files being manipulated by Drupal and Imagecache as you would expect from a wedding photographer near the wedding capital of the UK, Gretna.

The .com now redirects to the .co.uk website which was a simple courtesy tidy-up, and Google Analytics has been properly installed now so that it is possible to monitor website visitor trends. Some content pages have been updated and set to display under the gallery section.

A further step into Drupal and cron jobs.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Under the radar stuff

January has been a time of investing in new equipment and software as well as working on some yet-to-be-made-public projects so nothing much to post to the world. Pleased to get VMware up and running at last and upgrading workstations to dual monitor setups - amazing to have gone so long without this!

Some new ecommerce developments in the post as well as some interesting logo design and wordpress experiments.