The single most annoying “feature” on webpages is autoplay. How many times have you landed on a page, reading and suddenly some ad or music blares away. Sometimes it’s impossible to find the offending ad , no matter how many times you scroll up and down looking. It’s worse if you have multiple browser tabs open, then you have to figure out which page is screaming at you.
There is a quick and oh so satisfying way of dealing with this. Edge, Firefox and Chrome all offer a quick mute feature that doesn’t even require you to know where the ad is. Whichever page is playing the sound will show a small speaker either in front of or behind the page name. Here’s an example:
Skim along the top of the browser and locate the speaker and tap to mute the sound. A small line will show the speaker has been turned off.
This doesn’t affect any other page you have open or music you may be listening to, just that webpage. It’s handy to remember, especially if you’re like me and you constantly have multiple pages open (often on all three browsers).
There are a couple of small differences between the browsers. Microsoft Edge is the easiest to see. The speakers is well placed at the front of the page name. Firefox is placed at the end, but still easy to hit. Chrome’s icon is much smaller and a bit fussier to try and hit. I’m not fond of it, but that is just a minor irritant.
Unfortunately, this isn’t very useful for people with severe visual impairments or issues with their hands, like tremors. I have a few customers with macular degeneration, Parkinson’s and MS who can’t hit that tiny a target consistently. The only solution I can think of is using the mute keyboard shortcut but, that mutes everything, which defeats the beauty of this little feature. If anyone has an extension that could help, drop me a line. I’d love to take a look at it.
I undertook the mammoth task of moving from Joomla to WordPress. I took this opportunity to change categories, links, descriptions and a host of legacy ideas that no longer relevant. Both the move and the rejigging of content meant I created a large number of broken links and missing images. We’re talking over 400 articles and numerous categories so the job was a little overwhelming. That sent me scurrying to the WP plugins directory to see if there were some good tools to speed the process up.
I found the perfect tool in Broken Link Checker by By Janis Elsts, Vladimir Prelovac. It runs quietly in the background snagging all outdated links and sending email notification when it finds one. Instead of combing through pages of content, I can pop over to the settings and see this:
Clicking on the “Found 61 broken links”, I quickly see what’s missing.
The type of broken links are identified, as well as where they are. I don’t have to go hunting around each article to find them. The plugin also identifies redirects and, alerts you to any potential problems.
Once all the links are corrected, I’m going to leave it running because it will monitor all the links, both internal and external, and email when it finds one. The bigger your site becomes, the harder it is to keep up with old links and this pretty much simplifies the task.
NOTE: I usually test any plugin off line to make sure it won’t crash the site. Doesn’t happen often, but once is enough. Broken Link plugin hasn’t been tested on this version of WordPress so I was cautious and threw it onto my test site first. No issues popped up, and, it installed and uninstalled smoothly so I put it up. I strongly recommend every website user, whether Joomla or WP, setup a system that allows you to test out plugins. Every once in awhile, I run into one that causes untold damage. If I did this live, I’d be faced either trying to removing the plugin or reinstalling the entire site. That’s both embarrassing and infuriating.
I use XAMPP and mirror my site offline for all testing. That includes everything from testing plugins and new design ideas. Installing XAMPP or WAMP is pretty straightforward, as is installing WP to play with. You can find dozens of good sites that will walk you through setting up either packages, it doesn’t take long to do and the peace of mind is worth it. I stress caution in installing any new plugin without testing.
If you do any design work, you know how frustrating matching colours can be. Unless you have what I call perfect colour pitch, it’s frustrating. Well, I found an app that takes the guess work out of the job. Check out the criminally easy to use app, Camera Color Picker from Thomas Barthélémy. I’ve been playing around with it and having fun standing on the balcony, picking out colours from around the neighbourhood. Yes, it’s that good.
snap to to use
Colours can be saved and turned into pallets
Shows RGB, Hex and HSV codes
Camera Color Picker (CCP) is one of the most practical apps I’ve used and have already found it invaluable when trying to match colours I see “in the wild”. It’s free, open source and Android only. It will need access to your camera, but other than that, it doesn’t seem to ask for the usual litany of “can we access your address book, location, life, mating habits” etc before it works.
To capture a colour, tap the colour picker icon (lower right of the screen) and run your phone over the item. The circle changes colour as you move the phone around. If it’s too dark, turn the flash light on to compensate (see the small lightening bolt top right corner). Once you have the colour, tap the circle to capture it. Want to save the colour? Hit the little save icon.
Here’s a sampling of how it works:
It’s remarkably accurate, even from a distance. The #5d739a blue was captured from an awning blocks away from where I was standing. The app did a pretty good job isolating the correct shade. Once you have the colours saved, you can create colour pallets or just save individual colours. To see the RGB, hex and HSV codes tap the colour and up comes the info.
As a bonus, you can share the colour values with someone via email. The program clips a small colour chip to the attachment and sends the three colour codes. This is great for collaborative projects.
A friend spotted this and posted it on his FB feed:
Email signatures – the next phase in pissing off customers
After my initial knee jerk reaction passed, I settled down into a deep loathing of the idea, as did pretty much everyone I polled. It’s a disasterous digital marketing concept that should have the plug pulled before it even gets off the ground. The concept is straight out of a scammer’s wet dream. Create a little video of yourself promoting your product/self/company and use it as your email signature. First, the pitch should be in the email itself, not a superflous link that takes me to an external site so I have to listen to more blather. It’s bad enough the internet is littered with autostarting video ads, now this?
Second issue comes from my perspective as a computer consultant. I teach my customers to be wary of links in emails. If you don’t know the person, don’t click. You never know where that link will take you. There’s a lot of scams out there so better to be safe than sorry. I know others who do the same.
“If you’re on a customer-facing team like sales or customer success, a video email signature can help you connect with your customers on a more human level”
Well, if you have your video professionally done, maybe it might work. But emaills littered with thumbnails of Joe Blow standing against a weird patterned background with bad edit cuts isn’t going to cut it. I’ve watched a lot of promotional videos and ones done without the benefit of editing skills come off looking unprofessional or creepy.
Look, if you’re a sales team, you don’t want to irritate people. It isn’t a “pattern breaker”, it’s a one trick pony that will cause audience fatigue rather quickly. Unless you are 100% sure that customer will enjoy your video, DON’T. Signatures should be to the point – give me the info I want – name, phone #, email, website. Leave off all the fancy doodles, artwork and videos. There is already a serious sense of email overload out there and this is adding to the problem. If I start seeing this show up in my inbox, I’ll assume it’s more spam and toss it without ever giving the person a chance.
How about using this as your pattern breaker – be concise. Don’t add to the fatigue.
I was poking the Microsoft store with a stick again to see what would fall out and look what tumbled out: Enhancer makes a number of changes in the way YouTube behaves, including volume control with a quick flick of the mouse wheel. It does other stuff too, but the ability to scroll the volume is exciting. Yea, yea, I really need to get out more, but seriously, it’s great. Enhancer, by MRFDEV Web Development, offers a number of options, including blocking ads, disable auto play, set automatic screen size, and much more. It’s worth a trip to the store to check out, especially if you watch a lot of YouTube. I personally like the option to preset the video to start on a specific screen size and quality and disable auto play.
The only teeny thing I have to complain about is accessing the controls. They are placed at the very bottom of the page (very unobtrusive) and occasionally a bit tricky to click. I have a couple customers who have control issues and wouldn’t be able to tap that tiny control panel without a major hassle. It would be nice if the pop up was a little larger.
To download it for Edge browser, fire up the Store app and search for Enhancer. It also comes in Chrome, Firefox and Opera flavours so you get to choose which browser you prefer.
Last time I looked at Microsoft Store’s extension offerings, it was a forlorn and desolate place. Not a lot available, much to my ever loving annoyance. I like playing around with extensions, even silly useless ones. Today I decided to see if there’s been an increase and what do you know, the offerings have grown to 42! Still not a lot of choice, but a marked improvement since Christmas.
I decided to test drive an extension called Web Developer Checklist by Mads Kristensen. It turned out to be anything but silly and a potential boon to web designers.
It’s the only offering in the Microsoft Store by the developer, and is available also for Chrome and Firefox. It’s a kickass little extension designed to help web developers check that they are using best practices on their site. Everything is compact and easy to use with a lot of helpful information, quickly accessible with a mouse click.
Handy little extension to have. It tipped me off to a couple improvements I should be exploring.
My sole complaint is a minor, quirky one. The screen on the left is from Firefox and the one on the right is from Edge:
It took me a few minutes to figure out the ace was a misinterpreted check mark. Like I said, very minor issue. Other than that, there are no real issues. I was interested in seeing it snagged a few different issues with each browser. That’ll be a project to look at tomorrow.