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Homepage News

New Milestone Reached

I’m happy to report that we’ve [finally] reached 400+ feed subscribers (via Feedreader, does not include individual category subsciptions)! Thank you to everyone who have us on their favorite rss reader and considers our content to be that important. We thank you for your support! Speaking of support, we’re just a few days shy of reaching 100,000 unique visitors. We’ve been averaging around 1,000+ uniques a day of late, and at this time we’re at roughly 97,000, so in 3-4 we should reach our biggest milestone yet! The day of our 100,000+ unique visitor mark I hope to give away some cool stuff as well as publish a new article im planning on calling “The Road to 100K”. It will be a strategy based piece on maintaining a site through that first “rollercoaster” of reaching 100,000 unique visitors. Thanks to all our readers, frequent and first timers! Have a good night.

The Devlounge Crew

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General

Mint 2 Released

Our favorite stat tracking app has been updated to version 2.0. It’s a little ironic, because just a few days ago I was looking at mint and asking myself what ever happened to a promising project, because it hadn’t be updated in so long. Well turns out that Mint was in the process of being updated, and version two sports a host of new features. If you’ve recently purchased Mint (from January 2007-today), you’re entitled to a free upgrade to the new release. If you’re a long time Mint user, the upgrade is $19 and requires a new activation key. Freshen your breath and have a mint.

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Homepage News

So Long TLA

So today made it official, we have finally left Text-link-ads. I got into somewhat of a dispute with the inventory manager after receiving another email (second one in the last 3 months) about ad’s not displaying right. I let them know straight up that ad’s have been displaying fine in the sidebar of each post/page since day one, and there’s never been any problems. The response I received was that clients expect the links to be found on the homepage. I would hope that most of our link advertisers had the knowledge to think about visiting the site themselves before purchasing ads, and we have never hid the fact that text ads appear on every page except the homepage. I’ve been looking for a way to get away from TLA lately anyways, and this was finally the “straw that broke the camels back” and will allow us to offer our own link ads at most more reasonable rates. I’ll be updating the advertising page shortly.

In other news, Ronalfy’s Feed-Styler plugin looks like it’s working great. I’ll be installing it shortly here on DL and he plans on releasing it towards the end of the week! Stay tuned.

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Strategy

Essentials: Naming that makes sense!

Essentials - Branding that makes sense

Picking up in our essentials series, this week I’m here to cover a topic that is more about pure annoyance than importance, but when you think about it, it makes perfectly clear sense. Enter in the dispute between real domain names and over-initialized domains, and you got yourself another case of Devlounge essentials.

Welcome to Devlng

Ever since Flickr, the need for shorter company names has multiplied faster than a few bunnies locked in a room. I never expected to see domains for sale that are nothing more than a random combination of letters selling, and worse, being used to brand an entire site or startup.

What’s the value of shorter domain names? There’s always been that low-character issue, that the least amount of letters a name can be, the easier it can be to remember and the more valuable the name is. Is it true? Maybe to all the domain appraisal companies, but not to most of us.

It’s disappointing to see some many sites falling into the “web 2.0 BS Express”, and simply following the crowd. Sites that are creating their image by dropping a few letters off of their name and replacing it with an “r”, or spelling words entirely different for dramatic effect.

Are we that creative(less), or did we all just miss the spelling bee?

The question here becomes why would anyone bother to build a brand around a name that, in English, or even any language, has absolutely no meaning? What happen to the days when people would join meaningful words together to form strong names that had some backbone to them? Sadly, they are coming to an end.

Brand(less) Naming has consequences

Why would someone sacrifice a true meaning name for a jumble of letters? One reason could be creativity. Is the web in general lacking so much originality that we find ourselves forced to used alternative spellings to use names already taken by other companies? Why not try something different?

Than there’s the issue of spelling. Never should dropping a few letters be considered acceptable in helping clients remember your brand name. If you’re forcing your visitors to check their intelligence at the door before entering your site, you’re really not making any progress.

The moral of the story

Forget that hype that is the web world we live in. Stop stooping to ridiculous levels for the sake of joining in with the crowd in todays “web 2.0″ world. Instead, start branding your site with logical names formed with actual words that have meaning behind them. In the long run it will only benefit your brand, because language can never go out of style, but little initials can. Remember, you’re out to create a positive and reputable brand, not the next code name for “l33t” gamer discussion.

devlng out

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General

Testers Needed for Feed Styler (WordPress Plugin)

I’m at the point where I’m ready to release a WordPress plugin into the wild, but would like a few people to test it out before the plugin goes public. If you’d like to help test the plugin, please leave a comment saying you’re interested.

The plugin is going to be called Feed Styler. It takes your existing markup and changes it in the feed according to styles you specify. The plugin does not permanently modify any content.

Here’s an example of what happens from a coding perspective. The regular content code might be:

<p class="alert">Paragraph text</p>

But the feed code would be:

<p style="border: 2px solid red;">Paragraph text</p>

The purpose of this plugin is to eliminate the need for inline styles to ensure that certain HTML elements appear appropriately in feeds. Below are example screenshots of what the plugin is capable of.

Feed with no styles.A web feed - No styles applied

Feed with styles.A web feed - Styles applied

If you are good with CSS, have at least a little understanding of PHP, have a WordPress blog, and are willing to be a guinea pig, please leave a comment saying that you’re interested and I’ll e-mail you the test version with instructions.

Thanks.

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General

Using Firebug to download songs from Myspace

Ah yes, one of our favorite things (Firebug) can be used to workaround song downloads on one of our most least favorite sites in the web world – Myspace.

There have been previous solutions all over the place for downloading any song off of Myspace, but just about every solution has been blocked with time. Up until now. Thanks to the power of the Firebug extension for Firefox, grabbing your favorite tunes from Myspace is just a few steps away.

Important! Please respect your band’s music! As a supporter of music because of how essential it is to many designers including myself, use this method sparingly. (Myspace isn’t exactly “Top Quality” anyways.)

Step One: Get the Plugin

The first step is to make sure you have the firebug plugin installed and updated for your version of Firefox. Once that’s set, you’re ready to begin.

Step Two: Visit bands Myspace

Head over to your intended artist’s Myspace page and bring up Firebug by going to tools, firebug in the menu, or simply clicking the check mark in the right corner of Firefox (or, because this is Myspace, it could be a red X listed a huge amount of code errors.)

Firebug - Myspace Code View (Sloppy!)

Use the built in Firebug search to find “mp3″. It will bring you up to some object tags, which you’ll need to expand. You’ll than see a big jumble of code, with the most important line being the last one.

<object id="mp3player" width="450" height="345" border="0" viewastext="" classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab##version=8,0,0,0">
<param value="11906" name="_cx"/>
<param value="9128" name="_cy"/>
<param value="" name="FlashVars"/>
<param value="http://lads.myspace.com/music/musicplayer.swf?n=aHR0cDovL211c2ljLm15c3BhY2UuY29t&t=X5Zw5I1tk54a71P8fMKJnQpbddbteD70Bam4bAWgd138M7RoPCuAfR7wzr/fsgpfKGkaeSgeDo0YPqml+4bScg==&u=LTE=&a=0&d=ODcyODg0M14xMTY5OTI1ODIz" name="Movie"/>
<param value="http://lads.myspace.com/music/musicplayer.swf?n=aHR0cDovL211c2ljLm15c3BhY2UuY29t&t=b1pN2eEzKrfYSxiB3wpe7+tiOJu6RzW2wb6jQlg9FgUxR3uOdV3DAmdr70WCbHHgGcWYd8QGfT9uCuk7nGie1A==&u=LTE=&a=0&d=ODcyODg0M14xMTY5OTI1ODIz" name="Src"/>
<param value="Window" name="WMode"/>
....
<param value="1" name="SeamlessTabbing"/>
<embed width="450" height="345" align="" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" name="mp3player" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" quality="high" src="http://lads.myspace.com/music/musicplayer.swf?n=aHR0cDovL211c2ljLm15c3BhY2UuY29t&t=CiRg+LmSa1H6QjcC+e/TykKN4oRCt5Wyh9/7FNXMWo10RIGfM43EsgYN1sQsI2PnwmL8Ibq3JeypyvLUDqe6CA==&u=LTE=&a=0&d=ODcyODg0M14xMTY5OTI1ODIz"/>
</object>

We’re concerned with the embed code. Copy the “src” and paste it into the address bar.

Step Three: Using Firebug to pull the Url

Once you’ve pasted the url of the media player into your address bar, hopefully you’ve advanced to the page. You should now be seeing a blown up version of the mp3 player for your intended band. With Firebug open, select the “Net” sub-tab and then click a song from the player.

Because the Net inspector watches sites load in real-time, the inspector will refresh with a few different things. They will include album artwork, a hit counter, some random token, and the url to the mp3 file itself.

Firebug - Myspace MP3 Location

By rolling over each area, you’ll be able to see the expanded url. The url to the media file will most likely start with “http://cache…”. Copy this url and you’re all set.

Step Four: Getting the Mp3

You will most likely need to paste your newly copied url into an html page so you can right click to “Save Target As..”. If all went well, you should be able to download an Mp3 which will have a random string name, but it should be the file you were looking for.

Update: I think I’ve found the problem with many of your downloads. Even with the player still open, the random tokens have a time bomb I believe which causes them to expire quickly. Therefor, if you haven’t downloaded the file fast, you’ll end up with a small and useless download instead of the real thing. I think the timebomb may be 30 seconds, so try to get your downloads started fast. If it fails, just try again.

The lesson here

Firebug is a powerful script that every developer should be using, and Myspace is a horribly coded site. :)

Note: One of our readers pointed out that the Myspace player page must remain open when you attempt to download the song, otherwise the token will expire and the download may not work.

This Article has been Updated

We’ve updated this article for those of you who have been having trouble. Please refer to the new post if you’re still stuck with downloads.

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Design Focus

Friday Focus #15

Another edition of Friday Focus. It’s hard to believe we’re already at Week 15. We’ve covered a lot in 14 weeks, and well, enough talking and down to business for number 1-5!

Sites of the Week

First up this week is Spicypage. Spicypage is a digg like resource for judging submitted sites, with up and down ratings and the ability to leave comments. As an extra bonus, you can search Devlounge and give us a thumbs up…but that’s just an idea.

Spicypage

Next up is creative bits. Cool pastel colors give way to a nice and simple looking site. The fact that they have Devlounge listed at the bottom as a favorite resource doesn’t mean anything, it was just extra nice to see :)

Creativebits

Finally up this week is Magic Marker. A darker design gives way to a one page display of work. I’m all for one page portfolios, so this one gets a nod.

MagicMarker

Digg Weekly

Design: How to become a web designer
A completely excellent guide (ok, not really) to becoming a web designer. The point of this article is to poke fun at common beliefs about various design related issues.

Programming: The Story Behind Digg
Digg was created for $200, and it turned Kevin Rose into a million dollar man. If Devlounge ever sells for millions, I’d be happy, but this definitely provides some insight on how the silliest and sometimes simplest projects can turn out to be the “big one” everyone hopes they create.

Question

One thing we wanted to know this week was your thoughts on feeds. Our main feed is by far the most popular, but someone recently brought up a question that I’d like to ask for the community opinion. The problem? Some sites may want to aggregate our feed, but don’t want site announcements, jobs, etc. They are only looking for articles and interviews. What are your thoughts on this? I’m unsure how to combine the two, but if enough people are interested in a condensed feed like this, we’d get it done.

Prebuilt 3 first mocks

That’s right, first mocks. Earlier this week I introduced the first Prebuilt 3 concepts, and today I began work on some early design mocks of the next edition of our most successful theme. You can have a look here, feedback is appreciated!

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Homepage News

1/25 Update

I’m sorry for the slow week this week. It was exam week in school for myself, so I’ve had other things to focus on than writing new content. Expect a new Friday Focus tomorrow, and possibly a new edition of the “Essentials” series, although if I don’t get around to it will go live on Monday. In some other site related news, our first podcast that was supposed to go live this week didn’t, but it’s on its way as we fine tune it (since it is our first one). It should be out during the early part of next week. Hope everyone’s had an exciting week in the world of design and development.

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General

Interviews – My Turn

A little odd to be on this side of the ball, but our buddies at Fadtastic recently conducted and interview with me. We discuss a lot of different things, including the reason behind the creation of Devlounge, tips for young designers, the issue of age vs surving on the web, a few other topics. It was fun getting a chance to answer questions rather than type out my own this time around. The only downside was Andrew Faulkner (Fadtastic Admin) was recently interview for FT as well, so we couldn’t get a 1 for 1 admin interview switch. Anyways, enough talk, feel free to head over to Fadtastic to give the interview a read.

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Prebuilt 3 Concepts Released

That’s right, everyones favorite WordPress theme has gone back under the knife (:shock:). The new release will be a complete overhaul to the theme nearly 10,000 people have come to enjoy and love.

Prebuilt 3 In Progress

So what exactly is in store for this new version? We have a rough outline and timeline below, so have a look. Want more? Of course you do! Watch our flickr account for concept ideas which will eventually spawn into screenshots of PB3 itself before anyone else gets to see it. If you have a look right now you can see our homepage concept of what we have planned.

Prebuilt 3 – Things to come

  • More Devlounge Feel – Many times I’ve received requests for “can I have this theme”, “will you release it” and things like that. Of course part of being who we are is continuing to provide an original design, so the Devlounge design will never be publicly released. Instead, we’ll be giving PB3 an entirely different approach to blogging, giving the theme a more “regular site” appearance than a blog appearance.
  • Loops and more loops – The homepage of PB3 will be the roller coaster of WordPress themes. We’ll be running multiple custom loops that will allow the homepage to be dynamic and fun, with only a few changes here and there required to get things going.
  • Don’t call us wide! – PB3 will integrate the ability to expand and decrease the page width quickly and unobtrusively thanks to the Custom Reading Containers script.
  • Show / Hide Comments – Don’t want comments clogging your page? By default, comments will be hidden, allowing the div to be expanded and collapsed to keep comments hidden except when someone wants to comment or read them. This means quicker load times and a more direct effect on the importance of the article itself, while still giving visitors all the power in the world to leave their responses. And of course, this will be optional and you’ll easily be able to show the comment form no matter what by removing one line of code.

Timeline
Right now things are looking like this. Of course, dates are subject to change and can be pushed up or pushed back (but most likely up).

  • End January, Early Feb – Pre planning process.
  • Feb – Mid/Late Feb – Rough coding (imageless)
  • Late Feb – Early March – Graphic work
  • Early March – Mid March – Final coding work
  • Late March – PB3 Final release for WP

Thoughts, concerns, suggestions? Leave them in the comments.

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WordPress 2.1 Shipped

Just a few short hours ago the first release of WordPress 2.1 (final) was announced. The new version, also known as “Ella” features numerous improvements. We’ll be upgrading from the RC1 to the 2.1 final shortly, but heres the official WordPress improvement list for this new release. As always, you can grab it from WordPress.org.

  • Autosave makes sure you never lose a post again.
  • Our new tabbed editor allows you to switch between WYSIWYG and code editing instantly while writing a post.
  • The lossless XML import and export makes it easy for you to move your content between WordPress blogs.
  • Our completely redone visual editor also now includes spell checking.
  • New search engine privacy option allows you take you to indicate your blog shouldn’t ping or be indexed by search engines like Google.
  • You can set any “page” to be the front page of your site, and put the latest posts somewhere else, making it much easier to use WordPress as a content management system.
  • Much more efficient database code, faster than previous versions. Domas Mituzas from MySQL went over all our queries with a fine-toothed comb.
  • Links in your blogroll now support sub-categories and you can add categories on the fly.
  • Redesigned login screen from the Shuttle project.
  • More AJAX to make custom fields, moderation, deletions, and more all faster. My favorite is the comments page, which new lets you approve or unapprove things instantly.
  • Pages can now be drafts, or private.
  • Our admin has been refreshed to load faster and be more visually consistent.
  • The dashboard now instantly and brings RSS feeds asynchronously in the background.
  • Comment feeds now include all the comments, not just the last 10.
  • Better internationalization and support for right-to-left languages.
  • The upload manager lets you easily manage all your uploads pictures, video, and audio.
  • A new version of the Akismet plugin is bundled.

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Homepage News

No cocomment

A recent bug has cropped up in IE 6 which refreshes post pages and end up showing blank pages when Co-comment loads. We’ve been using CC for a while, and never had any problems, so we’re unsure whether or not this is WP 2.1 related or if CC changed something on the backend causing things to loop. I’m not sure how many of you might use CC here to track your comments, but we hope it will return soon. For any of you who have been annoyed with seeing nothing but blank pages, sorry for the inconvenience.