Category Archives: Tools

Track user copying activity with Tracer

Tracer is a new tracking tool to see what people are copying on your website.

Tracer is a new tracking tool to see what people are copying on your website.

Tracer by Tynt.com is a new analytic tool for websites. Like Google Analytics, you install a link to an external javascript on your site and then the service tracks what images and words your visitor’s copy.

Read a product intro and clear step-by-step setup instructions at SideKickBlog.com. Tracer is installed there, so I’m using the site to test the script as well. I pasted some copied text from his post into this blog post while in HTML direct edit mode and this is what I got:

Tracer is a script designed to let you track this copied content and also provide all kinds of usage statistics for it. Best of all it will add an automatic attribution link back to your post so that content you have created can result in traffic to you regardless of where it resides. And to top it all it promises to let you do all this for free. Definately a must have for all the content creators out there.

Read more: "Track what’s been copied from your blog | SidekickBlog" - http://sidekickblog.com/track-whats-been-copied-from-your-blog-83.htm#ixzz09JKa0aSw

After pasting into a blank email in Outlook, a Gmail message, and a Word document, it’s clear that the script is adding the credit link to the copied item when it’s copied. Tracer will certainly fix the problem of an inadvertent failure to credit (due to laziness, lack of savvy, etc) but it will in no way prevent anyone intent on stealing your content from doing so.

The link adding is nice, but I’m hoping Tracer will really shine as I get real insight into what my sites’ visitors are copying. What do you think? Is Tracer worth its weight in script?

Installing Netbeans PHP IDE on Ubuntu

Lizard Steals Green Bean

Nothing amazing going on, just a few tips that might save you some time:

  • You need java runtime installed and working, prolly apt-cache search to make
    sure you’re putting in the most recent version (6 as of this writing)

    • sudo apt-get update
    • sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin sun-java6-font
  • The netbeans in the repo is for the Java IDE, so don’t bother with apt-get
  • Download the install file here: http://www.netbeans.org/downloads/index.html
    • Be sure to pick the PHP bundle
  • If clicking on the netbeans-x.x-ml-php-linux.sh file gives you an error or tries to open in gedit or something, right-click > properties > permissions and check ‘allow executing file as a program’
  • Select Run (not ‘Run in Terminal’), running in terminal will throw some GTK errors

Next you might want to head over to the Netbeans website and watch the intro vid and orient yourself to the plethora of PHP-centric features.

As fair newb to programming in PHP I can’t say I’m qualified to suggest an IDE. So why Netbeans? It’s free. It porvides syntactic and semantic code highlighting for PHP and debugging through Xdebug. Folks in my Seattle PHP meetup group who know a lot more about programming than I do seem to really like it, every time I go to install Eclipse I am daunted by the website, instructions and innumerable options. Finally, it was recommended in the recent Smashing Magazine article The Big PHP IDE Test: Why Use One And Which To Choose (2009.02.11) so I stopped resisting.

Do you like it, recommend others over it?

Google Doctype Screams “Fork ME!”

The newly released Google Doctype is intended to be the Wikipedia of web design. There’s a video introduction on the landing page of Mark Pilgrim explaining what Google has been internally calling the the “Hitch Hikers Guide to the Web”. He’s been working on Google Doctype, said it is supposed to be the cross-platform alternative to MSDN. MSDN? I don’t know any web designers that rely on MSDN as the go-to spot for quality cross-platform client-side code! Maybe they’re targeting ASP.NET developers…and that could explain the very un-wiki linear treestyle navigation.

Google Doctype Screenshot

The Good

My own private wiki, largely comprised of web development documentation for my own projects, code snippits and links to online resources, is invaluable to me – so the potential benefits of an open wiki of this nature is obvious and I’ve often wondered why there isn’t one (with critical mass) out there already. Certainly this project, or at least the idea of it, could be an invaluable tool to professional web designers and client-side developers. Some take-aways:

  • “Written by web developers, for web developers” and by that they mean client-side developers…most of the current content is specific to JavaScript DOM stuff and cross-browser CSS considerations. I think this fills a knowledge gap as a lot of CSS and even Ajax resources are designer-oriented (lacking meaty technical details) and many developer resources gloss over or ignore web standards or a lot of the details professional programmers take for granted (like finding a viewport or using javascript to manipulate classes)
  • It’s built on the Google Project framework so you can download the whole thing via SVN.
  • The licensing is pretty unrestrictive, so you could SVN everything and put it up on an intranet statically or keep an off line copy, as was mentioned in the intro video.
  • Discrete code snippets. Rather than a long tutorial with examples that are specific to a given situation, many of the HOWTOs are broken down into more abstracted uses. This style of documentation will help a lot when your stuck on specific area of a bigger project. Personally, I learn more this way – I like the big step-by-step tutorials but when I cut and paste a lot I don’t retain very much.

The Ugly

Google suffers from chronic ugliness (IMHO) and this project is no exception. Don’t get me wrong, I’m GOOG fangirl all the way, but there always seems to be some basic user interface and user experience problems with their apps/portals/projects/whatever. And here’s where I think Google Doctype has need of improvement:

  • No indication of off-site links. Not only does a link to MSDN look just like the internal links, there are links to other Google Code project without any indications that you’re leaving Google Doctype, in fact, the logo is still Google Code. Navigation is a little confusing in general.
  • Lack of Style Guidelines. There is something to “just putting it out there” and I’m glad they did, but if a lot of people do start adding to this resource it could turn into quite a mess. It would have been ideal to have a written style established that would make sense for an open wiki. For example, statements like “generally, we recommend the following…” and “I’m not sure if this works on IE”. This type of thing would never fly on Wikipedia – now that the docs are open to the whole internets, such statements are ambiguous, lack authority and create a bad example that others are sure to follow.
  • Not really a wiki. First there’s the linear tree/node navigation pane (which seems to collapse by itself and disappear or reappear for no apparent reason) . There is no discussion page (although there are comments, sort of like PHP.net), no page history (but you can manually add a free-form line to a log file, if you notice the option), there’s no obvious way to check to see what links to a page, the list goes on.
  • Screaming “Fork Me”. A fork may be inevitable, and if a fork emerges using MediaWiki or any of a myriad of much more robust wiki platforms, I would be more likely to invest my time in that in spite of the Google mind share.

A Web Reference To Rule Them All

When I first read that Google published a web design wiki I was thrilled. I tried to think of other, similar resources. There are some great blogs, lists and forums out there but I’ve yet to find the one web reference to rule them all. If you know of one, please let me know! In the meantime I’m looking for domains…webwiki.com is just a db error, webwiki.net is a half-baked attempt at a wiki version of the Million Dollar Homepage. Hrm. If I come up with a load of extra time and a brilliant idea I will let you know. In the mean time, here are a few of my favorite web coder sites:

  • W3C.org – start at the top, right?
  • HTML Dog – very well organized reference and tutorials for CSS and (x)HTML
  • A List Apart – high quality articles published by those web standards freaks at Happy Cog.

Keyboard Lust

Okay, I still want dasKeyboard. Now I want one even more, in fact, because they’ve come out with a new and improved version. But there are a couple other keyboards that look pretty sweet – the Combimouse and the TypeMatrix EZ-Reach 2030.

The EZ-Reach 2030 moves the important shift, enter and backspace keys to the center, where your strong fingers are. Not only can you order it with DVORAK layout, but there’s a button to switch back and forth to QWERTY. (Great if you share the computer or are not sure about switching.) It is totally flat, which can be good or bad – I personally find skinny flat keyboards a little uncomfortable, but the good news is you can put it right on top of your laptop keyboard.

Combimouse keyboardThe Combimouse is, like it sounds, a combination keyboard and mouse, basically splitting the keyboard in two and allowing the right side to function as a mouse as well. I love the concept, however, it’s not in production yet, I probably would want to wait for a second generation product and the keyboard inflexible for other mods, like layout changes not to mention the inability to switch mouse hands, which I do periodically to spread the click-impact load.

Yep, dasKeyboard is still the front-runner…I have some hesitations though. For one, I’ve been on a spending spree and just purchased Clocky, an alarm clock that runs away from you after one snooze, this morning. Also, it hasn’t been featured on Cool Tools yet (how great can it be?!?). I also want to read more reviews…but I’m willing to gamble at such a potential productivity boost. Maybe I can do a quick side-job to fund my gadget wish list…anyone need a WordPress install customized for their business? Or maybe you want to get me one (it’s on my ThinkGeek wishlist).

Das Keyboard by Flickr User polyG0o

Related posts: Blank Keyboard on mahalie.com, The Combimouse on Engadget, Top 5 Creative Keyboards on Tech E Blog.