Kindle For iPhone and iPod Touch

Tip o’ the tam-o’-shanter to the folks over at Blog Kindle for letting us know that there’s a Kindle app for the iPhone.  Take a look at the Kindle For iPhone and iPod Touch post.  If you read my recent post about my new Kindle 2, you know that I mentioned that I wouldn’t be using my Kindle for Web browsing because I have an iPhone.  Well, now that I have the Kindle app on my iPhone, do I need a Kindle?

Yes, certainly.  If I was hitting the ‘Next Page’ button a lot on my kindle, I’ll be swiping through pages on my iPhone at an alarming rate, even though the smallest font size is very clear on the iPhone (as almost everything is).  Since the iPhone has a real (albeit small) color browser, it’s a better place to read something which has a lot of links to Web sites (like, paradoxically, the very useful The Complete User’s Guide To the Amazing Amazon Kindle 2: A Kindle Owners Toolkit Of Over 500 Tips, Tricks, & Links (For Amazons Revolutionary e-Book Reader & Free Wireless Web Browser).

What won’t work well is reading for a long time.  The iPhone battery will be sucked up pretty quickly while the Kindle lasted through an entire book and quite a lot of fiddling around over the course of 4 or 5 days.

So the iPhone and the Kindle both have their advantages, but I think I do need both.

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Another Neat CSS Trick from Heather Solomon

Every time I think I understand everything there is to know about CSS (I’m being very facetious), Heather Solomon blogs about something I had no idea about.  Her latest trick is to use attribute selectors to change the formatting of specific types of Web Parts.  This is another trick that is great for SharePoint but can certainly be used anywhere you are using CSS.

I’ll just send you straight to Heather’s post entitled Controlling Single Web Parts with CSS for the details.  Heather’s explanation is, as always, clear and immediately usable.

However, it’s worth scrolling up and down the whole page about selectors at W3C to see some more things you can do to make your CSS apply in more and more specific places using selectors.

To Kindle or Not to Kindle: Perhaps the Proof is in the Pudding

Yeah, I like mixing metaphors in my blender.  Anyway, I received my Amazon Kindle 2 last week and I’ve been trying to use it as much as possible to decide how I feel about it.  I’ve already read an entire book on it (Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell – pretty funny and I breezed through it.  If the Venn diagram of your interests has an overlap between the Mafia and medicine, it’s the book for you.), so I’m technically an expert.  ;+)

Here are some first impressions:

  • The books that are available at Amazon don’t wow me.  Sure, there are some 240,000+ of them, but it seems heavy on what I call “airport books”.  These are those books that are up front in the airport gift shop and usually involve a tall dark detective and/or a winsome lass.  Sure, there are good books there, but some things I would have loved to read aren’t there.
  • The screen is smaller that I would have thought.  I read pretty fast, and even with the text at the second to lowest size (I find the lowest a little *too* small), I’m hitting ‘Next Page’ pretty frequently.
  • I miss the verso.  I didn’t realize how much I must scan back to the verso when I’m reading because I’m using the ‘Prev Page’ button a lot, too.  It may be that the screen flash for the refresh when I go from page to page is addling my brain or something.

Now it may seem like I’m being negative.  On some level, I want to not like it and send it back.  On another level it’s just way cool.  For traveling, the Kindle is certainly the way to go.  Don’t like what you’re reading?  Just flip to one of the other 1500 books you have.  (That’s the approximate capacity; I can’t see anyone buying that many books!)

All in all, it’s an excellent device on which to read.  I have an iPhone, so I’m unlikely to use it to surf the Web, etc.  Some of the features that get others excited are better on my iPhone, so I won’t use them.  I *will* use it to read.  But I’m not giving up paper just yet.

Nice CSS Menu Item Trick

I ran across an interesting post from Petr Stanicek at wellstyled.com called Fast Rollovers Without Preload.  The site itself is interesting, as it is a blog that is written and displayed in both English and Czech.  Nice trick in itself.

The CSS trick allows you to use a single image to contain all of the behaviors for menu items.  You then use CSS to “move” the image to display the “right” part of it based on the behavior (hover, active, etc.).  Be sure to read the Update to see how to avoid some flickering behavior in IE.  This looks like it might work well in SharePoint, as the trick works with background images, which SharePoint is already using.  I’m going to try it the next time it makes sense to do so.

Building a Non-SharePoint Site for a Change – Part Deux

I’ve had a few more thoughts from working on my wife’s Web site (now publicly available at http://koochiku.com).  Being a Webmaster should not be dismissed as a pedestrian task!

Accessibility

Not all sites have to be fully accessible as defined by the various regulations and guidelines that exist out there.  (Section 508 and WCAG 1.0 Priority 2 and 3 in the US, etc.).  That doesn’t mean that you should totally ignore the rules.  It’s worth doing a quick scan to see where your site might have issues.  One good scanner is freely available from Hi Software at http://www.cynthiasays.com/.  You can decide which rules you want to pay attention to.  Keep in mind that things like alt tags for images aren’t just useful for screen readers, but also for regular users who want to get some sort of descriptive text for the image to understand what you’re showing them.  Some of these rules have a lot of common sense behind them as well as the accessibility goals.

Search Engine Optimization

I had a “what a bonehead” moment when I went to create a Sitemap for Google for the site.  I had written this neato little JavaScript menu generator for the site (mainly because I thought it would be fun – there are umpteen of these things out there for free).  When I used one of the free Sitemap generator sites (http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/), I realized that, by putting all of the logic into JavaScript, the search engines weren’t going to “see” most of the pages.  Oops.  I backed off on my neato menu generator and instead embedded the HTML in the pages.  Whiz, bang, the next scan went just the way I wanted it to, “seeing” all of the pages that I wanted the search engines to index.

And speaking of SEO, I’ve posted before about some steps that you can take to get your blog noticed.  The same steps work for pretty much any site.  Here are a few of the links you’ll definitely want to visit:

Once you have your Sitemap in place, you can also submit your URL to Ask.com by going to this URL:

http://submissions.ask.com/ping?sitemap=http%3A//[site name]/

And by no means should you fall for the “We’ll get your site indexed by Google and others in 7 days for $29.99/month” trap.  The search engines are going to do their thing regardless – it’s what they are out there for.  If you submit your site to the links above, you’ll give yourself a leg up, maybe accelerating the process a tad, and it won’t cost you a dime.