Category Archives: Tech

Theme Hybrid is a better WordPress theme framework

I recently had a chance to work on a number of WordPress related projects and I was pleasantly surprised as the platform had matured in every possible way since the early 2.x releases.

Today I just wanted to post a brief note to people who are still using random WordPress templates to base their derived templates on: please don’t do that to yourself. Most of the free themes are old, don’t have good customization options and are badly structured.

You’ll be much better off if you:

  • Read about Child themes - http://codex.wordpress.org/Child_Themes
  • Invest into a customizable theme – my preferred choice is Theme Hybrid but there are a number of other options. It costs 25USD/year to get access to support forums and tutorials that have saved me many hours of Googling.
  • Read their docs about how to override theme with custom style.css and functions.php

This means that you’ll often be able to make really great custom child theme with just a few lines of css and a few filters.

OmniGraffle 5 Diagramming Essentials book review

Guys at Packt Publishing were kind enough to send me a copy of their OmniGraffle 5 Diagramming Essentials book by Ruben Olsen to review, as I’ve written about OmniGraffle a couple of times and use it regularly.

While the book claims that it’s intended audience is everyone from novice to a pro. I’ve found it more suitable for novices that prefer to learn through user manual instead of exploring the real application and Googling for more complex solutions. The book covers all the parts of OmniGraffle, from creating basic diagrams, stencils, shapes and advanced editing tools. While I was familiar with most of the content in the book, the in-depth instructions with great screenshots still presented a few new tricks inside the application that I didn’t know that I miss – until now. Since OmniGraffle is available both in basic and Pro editions, they make sure to clearly mark if a feature is specific to Pro version.

If you have experience you’ll get through first two-thirds of  349 pages pretty quickly. The last third has best content, where author explains how to create great looking diagrams and organize your work as your files grow bigger. This is the point where I found a few aha moments as I didn’t even think to lookup advanced ruler and shape settings. There’s even a chapter on all the keyboard shortcuts that you can use, which while might sound geeky is something I’m definitely planning to learn in-depth to save time.

I’m not a big fan of books that basically cover all functions of user interface. That is why I appreciate example projects through which author shows how exactly are they useful for rapid prototyping of iPhone user interface or for creating boring workflow diagrams. I use OmniGraffle mostly for wire-framing, so creating a complex workflow diagram was something I always had problems with. The book explained all the possibilities and shortcuts nicely and even learned that it can create ideal distribution of objects on canvas for you.

If you care about your OmniGraffle skills check out their example chapter – Making your Diagram look good, which is one the best chapters in the book and very much suitable for pro users as well.

Overall, the book delivers on the promise – a bit for everyone and you can pick it up as a complete novice or if you’re a pro. I would recommend it to people who feel that they need to have a manual next to their application. If you’re a pro you’ll probably Google advanced topics as you need them as you already know most of the book.

Official page for OmniGraffle 5 Diagramming Essentials book.

I would also like to encourage Packt Publishing to figure out how to deliver their content to Kindle. I’ve read a few technical books on a Kindle while commuting and it was a real pain to get iPad just so I could read their digital PDF. Why not go with paper version? I’ve discovered that I can read Kindle version of a book in a week, that it took me a month for a paper version.

Slovenian government is trying to censor the Internet

August 27th 2008 - Fractured

Most forms of gambling is illegal in Slovenia with a few highly regulated exceptions that are given concession from the government. Most notable are Loterija Slovenije (Slovenian Lottery) and Športna Loterija Slovenije (Slovenian Sport Lottery) in addition to real-world casinos and gambling places.

With growing popularity of online gambling these organizations as well as government are facing a problem with how to deal with insanely popular betting sites like Bwin, Expekt.com, bet-at-home.com. Government already tried to order ISP’s to block access to these webpages in 2006, but it turned out that they didn’t have legal ground for it so it failed.

That is why they decided to fix the law that would, among other things, require ISP’s to prevent access to web pages that would offer gambling related services. Failing to comply would result in fines from 7.500 EUR to 52.500 EUR and 1.500 to 10.000 for the person in charge. Parliament already approved the law on 18th of December 2008, but it got vetoed at the next stage in the process so they will have to vote on it again.

There are many troubling aspects of these recent developments:

  • From legal aspect it introduces censorship at the price of freedom of speech because part of the government decided that they need it. Who will be next to demand blocking of unwanted content?
  • From technical aspect it’s really hard if not impossible to block web pages. The only real approach would be using Deep Packet Inspection technique, that requires ISP to analyze each internet package violating privacy of the communication in the process.

It’s now up to the citizens and experts in the field to carefully analyze answers and proposed government changes to the law to make sure that it does not pass in its current form.

If you can read Slovenian, there are three excellent articles on this topic that you have to read:

Original version of this article appeared on Netokracija

OS X tray icon overload

We used to make fun of Windows users and impossible number of tray icon in bottom right corner. Observing my OS X tray today I noticed that it’s almost 700 pixels wide and that it doesn’t look like the trend of expanding will stop.

Does this mean that next version of OS X will slowly start introducing “hide unused tray icons” like with Windows or there is nothing that we can do as we need all of them?

How is your tray? Wider or shorter? Am I missing anything?