Apple iPhone OS 3.0 – function follows form

I was reading a post over at ALA today called In Defense of Eye Candy, in which Stephen Anderson talks about how actually putting some effort into the way a site looks can have positive effects on the way the site is used.

The more we learn about people, and how our brains process information, the more we learn the truth of that phrase: form and function aren’t separate items. If we believe that style somehow exists independent of functionality, that we can treat aesthetics and function as two separate pieces, then we ignore the evidence that beauty is much more than decoration. Our brains can’t help but agree.

Just 5 minutes after I read the article I opened up Safari to test one of our sites in, and saw a great big shiny blue button advertising the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0 software on the apple startpage.

Ok, yes, the graphics are quite cool, but what drew my attention was the list of new features Apple will be adding to the iPhone/iPod Touch, including:

* Search your iPhone
* Cut, copy, and paste
* Send photos, contacts, audio files, and location via MMS*
* Read and compose email and text messages in landscape

Apparently, “For iPhone owners, it just keeps getting better” – that’s right – it’s getting so much better that after a year and a half, iPhone users will finally be able to do things other phones/PDAs have been already been doing for years! πŸ˜€

kthnxbai_thumb

I’m thinking someone at Apple should read Anderson’s articles and get them to spend a little less time faffing around with flashy graphics, and a little more time on functionality…

Come on Apple, sort it aaaaht.

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Album artwork doesn’t show on iPod Touch Cover Flow

If you find that your iPhone/iPod Touch isn’t displaying the album artwork in coverflow, but your computer that you sync it to shows it fine in iTunes, you’re probably wondering what’s going on!

This happened to me a few days ago, so I did some searching – most people seem to think it’s only just started happening in the latest versions of iTunes and on iPhones/iPod Touches with the 2.2 firmware on – I didn’t notice it happening before I upgraded my firmware, but then I only noticed it happening now by chance, so I can’t really say if what these people are saying is true.

Anyway, it’s a solution you came here for, so here goes.

I tried resetting my iPod, incase it was just something dodgy going on on the file system, or another process interfering. No Joy. πŸ™

I’ve tried clearing all my album artwork in iTunes and then finding the images again using a combination of the “Get Album Artwork” feature in the iTunes store and some Amazon.co.uk searches, then syncing the device again. Again, no joy.

Finally, I decided to just delete the offending albums from my iPod and upload them to it again. To do that without losing the albums from your iTunes library, just plug your iPhone/iPod in, start iTunes, click on the device name in the list on the left and tick the box that says “Manually manage music and videos”. That will allow you to browse the library on your device, select the albums in question and delete them. When you’ve done that, untick the box you just ticked, hit OK in whatever dialogue box iTunes pops up and let it sync your device again.

This should copy the songs/albums from your computer’s library back to the device, and hopefully send the album artwork along with them!

Well, that’s what worked for me – if anyone has any better method of restoring artwork on an iPhone/iPod Touch, please leave a comment and let me know what you did!

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Mod rewrite URL with 2 question marks?

A colleague asked me for some help with a few RewriteRules in his .htaccess today. One of the links he was trying to rewrite was unusual in the fact that is had 2 question marks “?” in it.

Let’s say the url looked like:

www.site.com/2009/1/is-this-a-legit-url?-i-don't-know?

and you wanted to rewrite that to:

www.site.com/2009/1/is-this-a-legit-url-i-dont-know/

You might think the rewrite would be simple, like so:

RewriteRule ^2009/1/is-this-a-legit-url\?-don%27t-know\?/?$ /2009/1/is-this-a-legit-url-i-dont-know/? [R=301,NC,L]

If you run that though, apache will throw a wobbly and tell you that “The requested URL /2009/1/is-this-a-legit-url was not found on this server.”

The reason for this is the server thinks everything after the first “?” is the querystring, so in this case, the apache is looking for a file/folder called “/2009/1/is-this-a-legit-url” and it will pass the querystring through as “-i-don’t-know?”

Of course, the simple solution would be to just match up to the first question mark in the rule, but that might not always be appropriate – e.g. if the string began with a question mark for whatever reason!

We came up with a cunning workaround for this by matching both the request url and the querystring like so:

RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} ^-i-don%27t-know\?/?$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^2009/1/is-this-a-legit-url$ /2009/1/is-this-a-legit-url-i-dont-know/? [R=301,NC,L]

Now, if a request like the original one above comes in, the query string will match the rewrite condition, and the requested URL will match the rewrite rule! πŸ™‚

Note the extra question mark at the end of the rewritten rule “/is-this-a-legit-url-i-dont-know/? [R=301,NC,L]” – you need that in there to stop the server trying to push the original query string through.

Without it, your URL will be redirected to:

www.site.com/2009/1/is-this-a-legit-url-i-dont-know/?-i-don%2527t-know%3f

Unfortunately, using this method does mean that if you have any variable in the query string that you want to push through, you won’t be able to… Chances are though, that if you have 2 question marks, something’s gone wrong anyway, so this fix is better than nothing! πŸ˜‰

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Creating Transparent favicon in Photoshop

I’ve found a handy little plugin for Photoshop that lets you save files out in the .ICO format – handy for making favicons for your website!

http://www.telegraphics.com.au/sw/

Download the “ICO (Windows Icon) Format” in Mac or Windows format, unzip and copy the “ICOFormat.8bi” file into your “File Formats” plugin folder located in “C:Program FilesAdobeAdobe Photoshop CS3Plug-InsFile Formats”. If you have Photoshop open, save your work, close it and start it again.

You should now see “ICO (Windows icon) (*.ICO)” in the “Format” menu when you try to save a file.

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Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Website

I’ve been watching/listening to October 07’s FOWA presentations and the latest one I’ve heard – by Yahoo’s Steve Souders – struck me as worth a quick look. Who wouldn’t want to speed up their websites?

Steve describes 14 rules that make up a ‘best practices for speeding up your website’: http://developer.yahoo.com/performance/rules.html

And there’s also a way to use the Firefox add-in, Firebug in combination with YSlow to analyse your sites based on the 14 rules: http://www.getfirebug.com/ and http://developer.yahoo.com/yslow/

We’ve been planning a css/js cache for a while now, but never got it off the ground, still seems that a few of the other rules could provide a good return on little investment.

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