CSS links

I’ve been doing some pretty hectic slicing and dicing of xhtml and css of late and in the process have learnt a few more tricks with CSS. For example, how to properly use definition lists (<dl>, <dd>, <dt>), proper font sizing and absolute and relative positioning of parent and child elements just to name a few.

Here are a few CSS links that might be of interest:

A simple guide to using OpenID

Open ID logoI am sure most of you have heard of OpenID some time or another. Simply put, OpenID is replacing the need for you to remember thousands of usernames and passwords we all have scattered across the web. So in essence, all you need to do is be signed up with an OpenID provider such as myOpenID.com, and whenever you log into your favourite web site/app/service that uses OpenID, you provide your OpenID credentials (which is a URL), and you are able to login.

What this actually means is that, you will log into your OpenID account with a password, but never have to remember usernames or passwords on any OpenID enabled sites. You only have to remember your OpenID URL!

A Simple OpenID example

I signed up for an OpenID account months ago, but never investigated how to actually use it to log into some of my favourite web services that use OpenID. Last week, I actually decided to start using OpenID and it really is incredible how easy it is to use.

In this example, I am going to show you the steps I took to getting my Blinksale account to use OpenID.

Step 1: Sign up for an OpenID account.

This is pretty straight forward. There are a number of OpenID providers, and some services such as WordPress.com, Technorati and Blogspot.com logins are actually OpenID accounts already! But for simplicity’s sake, rather use a dedicated OpenID provider, as the features of a dedicated provider such as MyOpenID.com are more streamlined and easer to use.

View the list of recommended OpenID Providers over at http://openid.net/get/ I signed up at myOpenID.com and you can actually view my OpenID webpage here: http://jbagley.myopenid.com.

Step 2: Logging into an OpenID enabled site.

So now that I have an OpenID, I headed over to my Blinksale account and selected login with OpenID. On most sites that have OpenID support, there will be a link very close to your normal login form. Just have a look out for the OpenID textbox that looks something like this:

Blinksale OpenID logon

What happens the first time I try to login with my OpenID, Blinksale redirects to jbagley.myopenid.com. I then provide my password to login to myOpenID.com, or if I am already logged in (either via a browser session, or a cookie that keeps me logged in), myOpenID.com then asks me to verify if Blinksale can make use of my OpenID account. I have options of either selecting Allow forever, Allow once or Deny. After I clicked Allow Forever, I was redirected to my Blinksale account.

The next time I tried to login to Blinksale, all I did was provide my OpenID url and I was automatically authenticated (all behind the scenes as I was already logged into my OpenID provider and Blinksale was set to “always allow”) and taken to my Blinksale account. No having to remember my Blinksale username or password anymore. So from now on, all I have to remember is http://jbagley.myopenid.com!

Why should I start using OpenId?

There is an interesting article over at ReadWriteWeb about password fatigue. Eventually people start using the exact same username and password combinations over a array of websites because it becomes ever increasingly difficult to remember so many different passwords! By using OpenID (and getting more and more sites to use OpenID), you are only required to remember your OpenID url and password. Changing your OpenID password effectively means you are changing your password for all your web logins too!

With the announcement of Yahoo jumping on the OpenID bandwagon, services like Flickr, Delicious, Yahoo Answers, MyBlogLog etc, are all going to start using OpenID logins in the coming months. For me, that means these accounts of mine will become so much more secure and easier to login to.

Google’s Blogger service also now supports OpenID for submitting comments, and the beta version of Blogger blogs also now supports OpenID. So I am sure you will start to see more Google OpenID logins in the future.

For Developers

There are a number of open source code libraries that one can use to get OpenID setup within your web application. OpenID can be used in many different languages, like PHP, Ruby, Java, C++, .Net (OpenID can intergrate with Windows CardSpace) etc. Visit http://wiki.openid.net/Libraries for more information on these libraries.

OpenID for dummies

So there you have it. A simple, yet detailed explanation on how to get OpenID setup and why you should be using OpenID. For my South African readers, are there any SA web sites that are employing OpenID?

If you liked this post, please Muti, Stumble, or Bookmark it at del.icio.us. Thanks. ;-)

Saving digital photographs

I read a very interesting article in a book I had bought for my dad, regarding file formats and how to save digital photographs. Most web-savvy folks think they know what file formats you should save your images in, but you’ll be pretty surprised that just by using a different file format, you’ll be saving your photos in an even higher quality than you were previously.

So here is the lowdown on the different file formats and where you should be using them:

JPEG Or .JPG Format

JPEG is a file format that uses a compression technology that looks for similar colour pixels and removes those that are not needed. Then when you open the file, it make a ”best guess” in order to put the file back together. The loss in quality is normally a result of the compression algorithm getting those “guesses” wrong or it creates unwanted blocks of pixels that are out of place. JPEG is usually the standard image format that most people use as it retains most of the picture quality and saves on disk space.
When to use JPEG: Use it when you want to send photos via email, when the image quality will be retained but the file size is kept to a minimum.

TIFF Format

TIFF is a “lossless” format in that it retains the best quality of the image but also uses up the most disk space. TIFF stands for Tagged Image File Format, which means it stores a tag with the image that contains information about the colour and dimensions.
When to use TIFF: Use it for printing digital photos as it contains the highest image quality of all image formats.

GIF Format

GIF is another compressed format that was originally designed for the internet. It uses a very limited set of colours (256), and is perfect for graphics that have large even amounts of colour. When gradients and shading is introduced, the GIF format handles these situations very poorly. It makes gradients look “stepped”.
When to use GIF: Not recommended for digital photos, but perfect for graphics used on the internet that have large expanses of the same colours.

RAW Format

This is the file format that your digital camera uses before any camera processing is involved. It stores information about the camera used, the colours, size and dimensions. Usually the software the ships with your camera is able to edit these type of files. Not for the amateur!

PNG Format

PNG is another lossless file format that was created mostly to replace the GIF format. These days most designers use this format for graphics used in web design, as the quality is a lot better than the GIF format as well as it also supports transparency. There are also different types of PNG file format, which also increases or decreases the file size.
When to Use PNG: Ideal for internet use and has a better image quality than GIF.

What formats do I use?

I have mostly been saving my digital photos as high quality JPEG’s which I find works pretty well. Graphics on the other hand, I tend to jump between GIF and PNG, depending on what graphics I have created. Nonetheless, I’m sure this information will help you make a better choice when it comes to saving your digital photos or when creating graphics.

How to upgrade Access to MSSQL 2005

We all love to hate Microsoft don’t we? :-) If there is something that [tag]Microsoft[/tag] have got spot on is [tag]Microsoft SQL Server 2005[/tag]. In my opinion there is no better Database engine. So you can take Oracle and its ridiculous price tag and click uninstall, because MSSQL 2005 is here to stay.

Anyway, back to the topic of this post – [tag]Upgrading[/tag] [tag]Microsoft Access[/tag] to Microsoft SQL 2005. I had this challenge while on my adventure recently. We had to convert 4 Access DB’s to MSSQL 2005 because we needed the data in order to compare with other 2005 DBs. We tried using linked servers across network domains, but that can really be a pain because of user rights, and really, no commercial application should be written in Access. Continue reading How to upgrade Access to MSSQL 2005