The 2000s called

and they want their software back!

I got an alert from a friend the other day with a link to a website. I hopped over there for a peek and … holy cow! There were animations and questionable colour choices all over the place.

It took me back to the 2000s and my work on the OSAPAC Committee. Once of the products that we were able to license was Adobe Photoshop Elements. This was really big at the time. It was THE photo editing software. Of course, you could do much more that with the software. For successful implementation, it required a considerable amount of professional development sessions and that was a great deal of fun. I still have one of the tutorials for those who couldn’t attend in person.

We did things like putting your head on someone else’s body, touch up images, cropping out other things, and so much more. Also big at the time was creating animations and, of course, Adobe Flash was the standard. We were just starting to develop school and personal web preferences at the time. So Flash and animated GIFs and background music were mandatory. It didn’t take a PhD to pull it off. But it did raise the ire of the web browsing public who wanted content and not annoying distractions. Today’s browsers either don’t or won’t shortly support Flash and you now have the ability to mute tabs that want to distract you. Who needs a blaring tab when you hit a web page in the middle of the night while the family sleeps? The animated GIF, however, lives on for some reason. .gif isn’t the only format for animation; you can also do the same with .png files

Today, there are all kinds of tutorials awaiting you at YouTube.

I can remember doing one workshop and got a call later from a teacher who wanted to share her class work with me and dictated me the link. Yeah, it was a long time ago.

When I went there, there was a classful of animation just spinning or flashing or whatever. So, the students had learned part of this powerful program and undoubtedly a bit of storyboarding and layering. And they presented it like only kids can.

It was a good opportunity to have a discussion about the need for content to go with the animations. By themselves, they were just annoying.

Fortunately, most of the web has matured from that time. If you look at your favourite newspaper, the trend is toward large titles, maybe an appropriate photograph and then content. Your newspaper doesn’t waste your attention span on animated things. That’s relegated to the advertising world that is forced to compete with the actual content on the page!

These days, I haven’t created one of these things. I just don’t feel the need. I also now use GIMP as my editing package and it does the job nicely.

If you’re not interested in installing software, there are online utilities for you to use.

Now, there is a time and a place for these things. I know that some people like to use it for their logo and I don’t find that all that intrusive since I’m typically after content and have long gone past the name at the top!

I think the advice is still good – don’t confuse this stuff as content. It’s fluff, filler, and distracting. Many of your readers may not even see it as they’re using RSS or their browser’s reader mode to read your site content. The 2000s were a great time for learning how to make your computer and browser sit up and spin. I’d like to think we’ve gotten past that.


Canada and Ontario have done a lot of things right during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve now moved to another level – there’s an app for that.

COVID Alert is an Android/iOS application that exchanges codes between your phone and others nearby using Bluetooth so no data or wifi is required.

Applications like this are actually kind of common if you search for them. As always, I’m a bit leery about letting an application have privileges to access my location and other personal information.

After all, I’ve watched enough episodes of Law and Order to see how they triangulate the bad people via cell phone towers. We live in a world where so many downloaded applications want to know your location, your friends, etc. I think most of us have just become resigned to the fact that it’s a necessity if you, say, want to open up a mapping application and have it plot a route from where you are to where you want to go.

But when it also comes to your health information, that raises the ante a bit.

Of course, there’s the standard denial that the application doesn’t track you. From the Government of Canada website:

Reading the complete information makes you feel good about this. And, it’s confirmed independently.

Canadian privacy watchdogs support COVID-19 exposure app

The only glitch, and it’s a biggy, is that the application requires a relatively new version of your smartphone’s operating system. In the same article, it indicates that 1.18 million Canadians have downloaded the application.

I’m one of them.

In the beginning, it was just from curiosity to see what it looked like and how it worked. The more I read about it, the more I think it’s a good idea. I wear a mask when out and can’t distance but that’s to protect others. I stay at home and that’s to protect everyone. On those rare occasions that I’m out and about, it would be nice to know that I didn’t come in close proximity with someone with the virus.

From my perspective, some things have to fall into place to make this effective. These are not trivial things.

  • we need more people using the application. 1.18 million people is a start but just a drop in the bucket, even if it’s only available in Ontario at the present time
  • people need to be honest and enter the code if they unfortunately are diagnosed so that the application can warn others

There really is a nice feeling to see this…

At this point, it’s voluntary to use it. I hope that it’s only necessary for a short time until we come to grips with the virus. We’re still not there; news this morning indicate that our area will remain in Stage 2.

We’re on the verge of the back to school activity for students. Particularly at the secondary school level, that includes going out for lunch, meeting friends before and after school, etc. Of course, we’ll advise them not to do this but they will. You know they will. If I had a son or daughter that would be going back to that environment, I think I’d be getting them to put the application on their phone and celebrate the no contact screen every night.

We’ve come a long with with all this and back to school comes around the time that we’re being told to expect a second surge. This makes a sensible addition to your toolbox.

I’ve talked to a few people whose opinions and insights I value and they seem to be on the same page as me. A couple have drawn a harder line indicating that they think it should be mandatory.

What about you? Have you installed the application or do you intend to?

What’s in a name?

If your name is “Douglas”, the answer is quite a bit this week.

As of Sunday afternoon as I write this, there are three very active weather systems that you can see from space.

  • Douglas
  • Hanna
  • D2L

You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for D2L as it’s not strong enough at this point to be named.

Of course, the one that I’m following and the one I’m sure everyone in Hawaii is as well is Hurricane Douglas. It’s even got its own hashtag if you want to follow it on Twitter. #HurricaneDouglas

At the current time, here’s what it looks like.

There is a bit of advice about hurricane tracking I noticed while checking out Douglas

If you’re a storm tracker or would like to be one, you can track storms like I did at this site in what they’re calling “near real time”.

A developer browser

I was doing some reading the other day and one of the articles was about browsers that were based on the Chromium project. I was kind of pleased that I knew about most of them and have, in fact, many installed on this computer. I rotate through them to test out new features, etc. I’m always impressed with how each browser adds value to time spent online and how they push each other to add new features. Those of us who were online a long time ago know that our choices were very limited.

I ran into this new-to-me browser – Blisk.

Blisk is the first developer-oriented browser. It provides businesses with a development workspace for the teams and freelancers to develop and test modern web applications twice faster.

I was intrigued with the overview. It’s designed to assist those who are website developers. I don’t do a lot independently these days from scratch but spend time in Google Sites or WordPress. And yet…

From the description, it reminded me of the golden age of development with Adobe Dreamweaver. You could work with and inspect code and then see it immediately all in a single program. But, times have changed and working for the desktop browser isn’t the only game in town.

Imagine working on a project and seeing what it looks like immediately in another completely different device.

Once you get past the initial screen with every iPhone model I could think of, I found the Samsung collection and my S7.

With Blisk, I was able to see my desktop version and a mobile version at the same time. I could rotate it to landscape mode to check out the looks there. Staying in the main window, I could scroll there and the phone would show it’s equivalent at the same time. It just followed me along.

The inspector lets me observe the elements that go into producing the content. If you apply for a Blisk account, you’re able to take and save screen captures with a number of options.

Since I do spend most of my time in a CMS, this isn’t a tool that I would use regularly but I found it really interesting to explore and learn about the “how” the content gets to the screen. For people that do a lot of big graphics or those annoying widgets, I suspect that seeing how they monopolize screen space on a smaller device would be helpful.

Since Blisk is based on Chromium, there’s very little learning that needs to be done to get up and browsing. The other tools unique to Blisk and developing content are fascinating and having them all on the same screen is very engaging.