Archive for November, 2005

Using quotes in vSlider

Mon 28, November 2005 23:28:54

One very interesting debate among web design purists is how to best use CSS to represent quotes. In HTML, it is very simple to markup a block of text as a quote. Simply use the blockquote tag, like this:

<blockquote>The first step to getting the things you
want out of life is this: Decide what
you want.</blockquote>

Using CSS, we can assign a distinct look and feel to make the quote stand out from the text, like making it italic and maybe even indent it a little. A very common technique is to use an image as the quote symbol, and by setting it as the background of the block, we can have a rather nice effect, without any messy “img” tags.
I’ve created a custom quote image for the vSlider theme, and the CSS to use it, so the previous example would be rendered like this:

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.

Now, the problem is that although this looks quite ok, it would be a lot nicer if we could also have the closing quote as well. And this is where the problems begin, since in CSS there is no way we can use two different images as backgrounds for the same block. If we could, it would be rather simple: the opening quote would be defined in the top left, and the closing quote on the bottom right. Since this is not possible, again we have one of those (unfortunately common) situations where we have to mix semantics and presentation. By adding a “div” tag, we can create a nested block with its own style and that can be used as a placeholder for the closing quote.
In the case of vSlider, I have defined this as a class named blockquote-inner. So, we can slightly change our previous example to:

<div class="blockquote-inner">The first step to getting
the things you want out
of life is this: Decide what you want.</div>

And the result would be:

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.

Which looks a lot better, if I may say so. Uglier code, true… but nicer result :)
If you are using the vSlider theme, you can give it a try.

vSlider slides across the world

Sat 26, November 2005 20:07:16

It makes me extremely happy that a lot of people have downloaded my vSlider theme and are using it on their blogs. I’ve seen it being used from South America to Japan :)
It’s a good feeling to give something back to the community from which I got so much.

Some people have asked me how to change the header image, or how to get the effect they see on of getting a different image on each page refresh. It’s really, really simple. If you look to the folder structure of the theme, you will notice that the default image is located in \vSlider\images\headers\vSlider.jpg, but there is no direct link to this image on the HTML code. That is because I’ve added a little bit of PHP code that selects randomly any image located on that same folder. That is, just dump all your header images there, and they will be immediately picked up – you don’t have to change any code. They should all be the same size as the default one, of course.

I would also like to ask for some feedback on how well the theme works in other browsers and operating systems. As I mentioned in the download page of the theme, I only know how it looks and behaves in IE, FireFox and Opera. If you can leave some comments about this, I would appreciate it.
Also, if you have suggestions for improvements, feel free to shout them out!

China, Skype, Verso and other sins

Fri 25, November 2005 12:16:43

Everybody loves Skype, right? Well, everybody, except large Telcos whose already dimming profits face a whole new threat with the birth of free VoIP calls. Maybe even worse than the free computer-to-computer, is the *extremely* cheap calls from computer to real phone numbers.
Now, what would happen if you mix a company that sees a way of profiting from this fear with a giant telecom company operating in a pseudo-free market, with a pseudo-democratic system? You get a Verso-China wedding.
Verso’s working bees have been busy trying to find a way to filter out all Skype network traffic from the rest, in a move to create products that can allow carriers to block this little program from working. An “unnamed” major market player in China is grabbing the idea, and bought a trial-version of Verso’s software.
This is not really new - in fact, China Telecom already prevents Skype from being used to call normal phones, claiming this is illegal.
The general excuse is that these services are a threat to the viability of their business, and their usage is putting a huge load on their network, therefore they have to right to prevent them – and of course, the Chinese law is on their side.
This sounds as ridiculous to me as if you couldn’t use your Toyota car on a highway, because the highway management company had a deal with Ford. But it might be that I’m simply not as an enlightened as the Chinese ;)

As an end note, a curious fact: Verso claims that there is a lot of “hate” for Skype, because of its business model and usage of the network, but curious enough, they “love” Vonage, and even plan to make profit from selling some of their products.
What was that word again? … ah! yes… hypocrisy.

When subdomains are trouble

Mon 21, November 2005 22:45:36

This is a good techie tip if you are hosting your site in a “multi-domain” account (you know, when you have a single hosting account, but you can have many domains on the same IP address).
A common problem with these accounts is that they have wildcard DNS enabled, which means that any request for a sub domain that doesn’t exist gets redirected to your main page. The problem is that this will always be the main page of the main account!

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vSlider 1.0 released!

Sun 13, November 2005 23:56:59

Finally! After a lot of tweakin’ and fixin’, I officially made vSlider 1.0, my very own custom made WordPress theme, available for download. And, as an additional bonus, the vSlider companion theme for Gallery2 is also available. You can get 2 by the price of 1, which is actually 0, since all this stuff is for free, anyway :)

Check out my cool stuff page for details, and have fun!