DevDocs

DevDocs:

DevDocs brings together the reference documentation of various programming languages and APIs in a single, organized, and consistent interface, with features such as instant search and keyboard navigation.

This is an extremely useful tool for web designers and developers that provides a quick search function for documentation regarding HTML, CSS and jQuery.

Via Web.AppStorm

Calendar Alarm

If there’s one feature that we love to use our iPad for, it’s the calendar. Whilst the calendar app might not be to everybody’s taste, what with all the fine Corinthian leather, there are hundreds of alternative calendar apps in the App Store, each with their own ideas and features. Having used many alternative calendar apps over the years on my iPad, I can’t help but feel that we’ve gotten to the point where there aren’t really any new or original features in some of these apps and are simply providing an alternative look and feel.

Calendar Alarm attempts to buck this trend, combining all the features of a traditional calendar app with a unique way of dealing with event alerts that makes it rather unique.

I review Calendar Alarm for iPad over at iPad.AppStorm, an app that has an interesting idea when it comes to more persistent notifications for events in your calendar.

Manage Macs Remotely Using Apple Remote Desktop

MacTuts+:

If you need to manage a number of Macs, say in an office or workplace environment, then you’ve probably heard of Apple Remote Desktop. It’s a powerful tool that lets you remotely manage and administer other Macs simultaneously. In this screencast, we’ll take an introductory look at Apple Remote Desktop and perform a few basic tasks to control and install to a remote Mac.

My latest screencast over at Mactuts+ is all about remote Mac management with Apple Remote Desktop.

How to set up your online business presence with Squarespace

FreelanceSwitch:

In today’s technology-driven world, having a website for your business is an absolute necessity and probably the most important part of marketing.

Almost a third of the entire world’s population uses the internet so whether you’re a freelance writer, a web developer, a professional speaker, an estate agent, or a micro business owner, it’s crucial to have an online presence that not only looks professional but can provide essential information to your customers.

As part of our series Setting Up Your Business Online Without Coding, I’ll show you how to create your own professional, not to mention gorgeous, website with Squarespace that won’t require you to enter a single line of code.

As part of a guest series over at FreelanceSwitch , I’ve written a getting started guide to setting up an online presence and using Squarespace.

Kirby CMS Migration

You may have noticed a lack of new posts on Sparsebundle over the last few days. I’ve been working on migrating the site over from Pelican, a Python-based CMS to Kirby, a PHP-based one.

Kirby, in addition to being PHP, is also a flat-file CMS. It reads text files written in Markdown similar to how Pelican does. Unlike Pelican, Kirby does this constantly instead of having to trigger the changes via a shell script or cron.

Whilst Pelican does feature an option to automatically update with any new changes, I’ve found it simply doesn’t work as I expect. If I want to remove something, it doesn’t do it. What I have had to use instead is a cron that runs every 15 minutes which deletes the output folder and rebuilds it. For those few seconds, my site is down – every 15 minutes. But once the site is generated, it’s 100% static HTML so there’s pretty much no overhead. Kirby, no matter how small, will have slightly more overhead due it being PHP1.

As much as I like Pelican, I find it a bit convoluted to maintain, in addition to the issue above. I like to tweak the style of my site from time to time and whenever I want to make and test a change I have to rebuild my local version, since Pelican generates static HTML and serves that to visitors.

Templates are stored separately and used only the HTML is built. This means that if I want to, say, change the text size, I have to edit the template outside of the site build, rebuild the site and only then can I see the change. With Kirby, I can edit the template files just like any other CMS and see the results instantly. When you’re making incremental changes, this gets quite tiresome, especially when it takes my Mac a good 10-12 seconds to rebuild my local Pelican site.

With Kirby, I can instantly see any changes and the code is just much more familiar, not to mention far less complicated. Perhaps the best part of it is that I can take the entire Kirby folder and move it to any server and within 30 seconds, have it up and running.

There were a couple of downsides to the migration, mainly due to Kirby’s requirement of each post requiring it’s own folder and each text file being of the same name. It adds maybe a second or two to how I post but I can’t really complain2.

I also had to edit the text files for my posts because Kirby insists on using Text: before the content as well as including dashes between each of the blog attributes, such as date and tag. I’m sure if I modified the core of the CMS I could change this behaviour but I’d prefer not to since it would cause upgrade nightmares and Kirby 2 is just around the corner. Instead, a bit of time with regular expression and some old fashioned find and replace sorted that out.

Reconfiguring my Dropbox syncing was simply a case of creating a new symbolic link to Kirby’s content folder on the server, meaning I don’t lose my favourite method of updating posts.

Overall, I’m much happier with Kirby. There’s very little to learn between and some of the issues I’ve run in to will likely be resolved by spending a little more time on the already excellent support forum.

  1. I’ve noticed a slight increase in CPU usage on my server since deploying Kirby, yet considering the only usage it was getting previously was when Pelican was regenerating the site every 15 minutes, that’s to be expected. 

  2. My one concern is that Byword on iOS can’t create new folders, meaning posting on the go might be a little more involved than I had previously set up with Pelican. 

Hypercritical T-Shirts 2.0

Marco Arment explains a little more about why John Siracusa’s Hypercritical t-shirt was originally pulled from sale:

The previous shirt design included this 25 × 32 icon from the original 1984 Macintosh. On the final day of his previous T-shirt sale, after more than 900 shirts had been ordered, the original icon’s artist emailed John and me — I was copied because the artist mistakenly thought I had something to do with the shirt — with a passive-aggressive, thinly veiled copyright threat.

The artist had no right to make such a threat. Only Apple could, and if their legal department saw the shirt and objected, they could have filed a simple DMCA claim with Teespring. But they didn’t, because who cares if a guy with a podcast makes a one-off run of a thousand T-shirts for a bunch of geeks like us with a 29-year-old icon consisting of three rectangles, two lines, and 17 loose pixels?

Nobody. I believe that it’s even fair use. But the artist made John feel so guilty that he voluntarily asked Teespring to cancel the sale and forfeit a sizable chunk of money because he’s a nice guy and didn’t want any trouble.

Good on John for coming up with a second t-shirt (which I’ve purchased, and recommend you do as well) and I’m glad Marco was able to clear up what the problem was. I previously thought it was a call from Apple legal but if you read his article in its entirety (and pay attention to the footnotes), you’ll see what the real reason was.

40 Terminal tips and tricks you never thought you needed

MacTuts+:

There’s a great deal that Terminal can do, from moving large numbers of files to changing preferences that we didn’t even know exist. To demonstrate just how versatile the Terminal is, I’ve rounded up 40 truly excellent Terminal tips and tricks that can come in very handy.

On Mactuts+, I round up and explain 40 useful Terminal tips and tricks for OS X – from simple commands to getting your Mac to talk.

War never changes

GamesRadar plays devil’s advocate regarding Microsoft’s reversal of its DRM decisions for the Xbox One.

But, today, Microsoft pulled a 180. Don Mattrick, bless his soul, wrote a heartfelt letter apologizing for misreading the bones Microsoft’s Voodoo Priestesses tossed onto the table of their board room. He told us that our feedback mattered, and that the Xbox One would have an ironic day-one patch to remove all of the features gamers hated. But, in that, gamers struck a deal with the devil. Sure, you’re getting all the stuff you wanted, but you’re also going to be losing things you didn’t even know you could’ve had. Things that could have made the concept of “used games” a thing of the past, and things that may have truly moved the industry forward.

There’s a lot that Microsoft has canned in order to address the negative criticism and it has resulted in a number of features getting cut in order to remove the two biggest concerns: the ability to play and trade used games as well as not requiring an always-on internet connection. Whilst it could be seen as spiteful, it’s more likely that the cutting of the internet connection requirement means the DRM as it has been development can’t function. Because of this, features such as the family sharing and accessing games in the cloud can’t function without a serious rewrite of code.

I’m still on the fence about my next-gen console decision but I’ve been heavily leaning towards the PS4 for some time. Regardless of anyone’s console decision, there’s now very little to differentiate these two competing games systems. Microsoft’s idea for the future of entertainment may have proved unpopular but it had some interesting ideas. Unfortunately, we’ll now never know how these ideas might have developed. It could have lead to the death of the used games market without see a reduction in new game prices, but it could just as easily had the opposite effect. Because of everyone’s (rather understandable) hatred of DRM, this was never given a fair chance.

Watch Dogs, Ubisoft’s open-world game based upon the premise of a protagonist being able to hack into electronic devices, costs £54.99 to pre-order for either next-gen console in the UK. Currently, you’d expect to pay as much as £44.99 for an Xbox 360 game, so publishers are already jacking up the prices. But on the PC? It’s available for £29.99 on PC DVD, almost £30 less since most places don’t deal with used PC games due to piracy and certain DRM restrictions. If trashing the used games market brought the console game price down to the same price point as the PC then that’s a win for everyone involved.

Even though both the Xbox One and PS4 will offer games available for download at the same time as their physical release in stores, chances are the pricing will be the same and there’ll be nothing, apart from the convenience, to tempt people to use downloads. Since used games will then be available, prices will remain high since more people feel getting these expensive games on physical media is more beneficial because they can recoup some of the costs back during trade-in, because the original game’s price was so high in the first place. See the pattern?

Something needs to change regardless of Microsoft’s decision yet, no matter how unpopular, they at least suggested something. I admired Microsoft for what they had planned and, in fact, some of these features that had previously been announced were very appealing to me, but I can’t say I’m not disappointed in their decision to buckle under the criticisms it’s had. Unfortunately, these plans are now on hold, likely for the next-next-generation of gaming consoles next decade.

We might describe the competition between Microsoft and Sony as a war, but with Microsoft backing down on their original plan and offering what is essentially the same console as Sony, it can only mean one thing…

War, war never changes.

Fully leveled-up video game character marvels at how far he’s come

The Onion:

WINDHELM, SKYRIM—Having completely filled out his skill tree, obtained every unique item, and successfully completed each quest and subquest within the expansive virtual world of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, fully leveled-up video game character Dagmar Brightbane this week fondly reflected on his substantial accomplishments within the fantasy realm, marveling at just how far he’s come.

Speaking with reporters at his lavish and well-stocked manor in the eastern city of Windhelm, the level 252 mage-archer told reporters that he was amazed at all he had seen and accomplished since his humble beginnings as an inexperienced dark elf fresh out of character creation.

The Onion at its finest.