UX and the Death of Web Design

I was looking at an info graphic online explaining the rules of UX and one of the rules was to do with picking familiar designs for websites so people were familiar with your site. So top navigation, hero section, and sidebars. Sound familiar? I love bootstrap, the way it’s so easy to implement, it’s like hey presto for websites. Now we have material design, word press themes etc and to be honest they all look the same. When I started learning HTML and CSS back in the dark ages the cool site was zen garden . You could really see the talent some web designers had. Now everything looks very samey plainey. You sort of start to resent the crazy websites that make you work to figure them out. I was in the Alessi website earlier and while it is beautiful, I was like “where do I click?” I was resenting that I had to work to figure it out. That’s kind of sad. It looks like only certain types of websites like high end car manufacturers and designer sites are using artistic freedoms, and more… dare I say “functional” websites are boring but easy to use. Is that good UX? Probably.

book cover

Current Read

I tend to switch between books a lot, and am having difficulty committing, so I have started all these in the last week:

  1. The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
  2. Strange Dogs by James S. A. Corey
  3. The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo
  4. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

I think I just didn’t have the brain power for the techie/political language in the first book, although it’s prob just the intro thats like that, and it has a good story so I’ll go back to it, as for the last 2, jeez, I started watching sharp objects on tv, (had to then skim read to book to frantically get to the end) so it just all got a bit depressing so I reckon sharp objects is enough for now. (also a bit worried something bad is going to happen in strange dogs)

Sharp objects is amazeballs by the way. Amy Adams is now my hero, and as for Patricia Clarkson…shudder. Saw an interview with Gillian Flynn, and was very impressed. (love husky voice… imagine her labouring over her laptop in dimly lit room with a fag in the corner of her mouth and the ash falling on keyboard.) Also, I LOVE the fact that flawed women who struggle with life can be heroes….and also that you know what it’s ok to have a shady past or enjoy random stranger kissing, you being kind to others is what really matters.

Creepy or What!!!!??

Continue reading “Current Read”

Google Music or Deezer or Spotify?

Good morning my 2 readers!! (I’m under no illusions regarding my bloggy popularity)

I have been switching from Google music to spotify for a few years. I was one of the first in Ireland to try spotify because I won a 6 month premium membership with coca cola. (addicted to diet coke) Then my bank account was empty and my subscription lapsed. Enuf said. With Google music I can pay for my sub using my phone credit, so I am never in danger of having my account lapse, and I uploaded my entire music library from a hard drive so I have access to all my old music. (and everyone else’s hard drives that I borrowed in the early noughties – pure shite stuff all copied as a poor student because it was .. ahem free.) That turned out to be a bit of a mistake though, and I need to delete quite a bit of content and probably start again, because I have loads of content I don’t listen to in my library.)

Deezer

Anyway, then da da da. drum roll please.. I found Deezer. I love Deezer, I love the desktop app and the phone app, and the best part are the lyrics. (why oh why Google do you not do lyrics) I don’t want to use a second app for lyrics, and although musicmatch is good, it’s confusing and it costs money. ( hate advertisements)

Youtube Premium

However, even though I love Deezer, I cancelled it because Youtube premium arrived in Ireland and well, my kids watch it a lot, and it gets rid of adds, gives me google music AND youtube originals programs. I’m really looking forward to watching Cobra Kai. I had a HUGE crush on Ralph Macchio back in the day, so I can’t wait. (those eyes, that voice!!)

Google play does not do what I want it to

Anyway, firmly back in Google land, I am very disappointed with a lot of their products. Content is great, but interfaces are poor. For example:

  • Why can’t I create custom folders in Google Play Books? I have a lot of books from them and it’s unwieldy.
  • The Google play music interface is not great and slows my browser down. I like desktop apps. It’s annoying having to figure out what tab is using google music and which user. I have several chrome accounts and I do a lot of work in the browser . (yes—- real work, like work work, not just gawking at  Megan Markle’s latest outfit)

Google Play Music to be Discontinued!!?

Yip, it’s all going to be moved over to youtube music. Good news really, the one app that binds them all.

Enter Sandman

So I googled google play music desktop app. I don’t know why I never did it before, and I found out that there is one on github at googleplaymusicdesktopplayer.com . This dude called Samuel Attard created one. Thanks Sam.

A quick internet search discovers for me that there are several in fact Google music players made by random people and available on github. Sam’s version installed for me and works though so I’ll try it first. There is a radiant player for Macs also by  Sajid Anwar that looks very impressive.

Google Play Music Desktop Player by Samuel Attard.

As you can see it is customizable. You know what though, I think it is a shortcoming in Google not to listen to it’s users, If they had had a proper app I would never have left them for Spotify or Deezer, then again, the sly foxes, they just left it alone and the community on github and Sam created one, and it’s very good, he even has a switch built in so you can try youtube music in beta. So it’s FutureProof…coollogo_com-25331302

Now if I could only figure out how to see other peoples playlists and copy them I would be happy. (any recommendations from you guys?) I reckon reddit?

Google Play Music Desktop App
sweet1

Pinning a Folder to the taskbar in windows 10

Why can’t I pin a folder to my taskbar in Windows 10? It’s really odd and annoying. I want to be to access my onedrive desktop folder quickly from the taskbar without having to click on the blue cloud of confusion.(although to be fair the new version of onedrive is cleaner looking)

Dropbox, skydrive, onedrive, Google Drive- I have fecking data everywhere.

I decided to do a digital clean, especially after the Cambridge analytica scandal. I have a load of photos in Google photos, so I went to Google Takeout and it’s archiving them now, and will send me an email when they are ready. I like the fact that people are taking a step back from social media and looking at their data. It’s a lot of work to clean it all up though. I suspect I’ll be a year at it, doing a little bit at a time.

When your browser at work keeps on showing images of period pants

Yes, well this is a problem isn’t it, your at home browsing on your phone. You find an interesting ad about … period pants, then you think, nah, not for me, and go to sleep… but for the next month you are bombarded with period pants adds in youtube, in google, everywhere!!!! And your at work hiding a square of your screen with a post it till it goes away. Good job I wasn’t looking at willies!! If anyone wants to know how to unlink any embarrassing searches from ads- here you go. Think about it before you turn off cookies though. They are needed to make your browsing faster and are required for most sites. You should delete them every now and again though. The thing is though, once you have Google sorted, then you also have amazon and facebook. These are instructions to stop your search for the zit popper on Amazon from being seen by your significant other.

Google Photos

A few things annoy me about Google Photos-

  • You can’t select more than 500 items and move them to an album. (I’ve a lot of photos)
  • You can’t automatically select a date range. I would have liked to create albums by year.

So it’s going to be set back to Vanilla, (im  thinking i have the context wrong here) and i’m going to start again.

If anyone is reading this you are probably tearing your hair out by now, so i’m sorry dear reader- my mind flips from one thing to another in a stream of consciousness way. Maybe I should call this blog “Bloom”. Then again, I’m still kinda writing this blog for me as a kind of therapy. I am hoping I will eventually get better at writing for others. I wouldn’t mind but I have a degree in English. I’m just not used to writing.

Anyway, I need to figure out how to pin the tail on the donkey… i mean the folder to the taskbar. Shawn explains how to do it here.  They go to a jump list by default. What the feck is a jump list? Oh, if you right click on the folder icon the “jump list” appears. Oh, it works for word too. cool. If you don’t want it to go there you stick it on the desktop first as a shortcut, then you change the target by typing in the word “explorer” before the rest of the target. Ah lovely, that worked. It’s the little building icon. I’m guessing I could use a poop emoji if I wanted though.

 proof

Black Lives Matter

Just wanted to share my random discovery while browsing facebook earlier. Firstly, I am not American, secondly I live somewhere where people are mostly white, and probably the first time I saw a black person was when I was 18 years old. So I guess I’m probably not very good at being race sensitive, due to a lack of cop on. Some might say I have no right to publically voice an opinion on this, and that might be true, but I’m so angry after reading a mothers post  I had to share my opinions. She is a white mother of 3 white kids, and 2 black kids. She has seen first hand how her children are treated differently, and she is angry about it, and I am spitting rocks here as I am angry about it also. How dare people treat her black kids differently. Then I went to her facebook page, and saw she had a link to an article that I think is a very important one for white people to read, American or not. “The Real Reason White People Say ‘All Lives Matter” is an uncomfortable read, because it states what we all deep down know to be true, that we have an “implicit bias” against different races.There is a Harvard  Implicit bias test, and I’m going to take it later when I’m a bit braver. My usual response to any discussion in the pub on racism is that, no i’m not racist, none of my friends are, we don’t see colour but actually, that’s not true, and it’s a cop out. Another thing thats not true is that all lives matter. (of course all lives matter in a literal sense, but using the all lives matter phrase detracts from the black lives matter movement.) It’s a jumping on the bandwagon isn’t it? It’s rude, and horrible. It’s like saying, my problem is bigger than yours and we all matter, not just you. It would be like saying to someone “you have cancer, but make a fuss of me, because I need just as much sympathy and understanding even though i’m healthy.” But the ugly truth is that white lives always had the protection, the privilege etc, and it’s about bloody time people copped on.  So yes, Black Lives Matter. Go sing it from the rooftops.

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Stardew Valley

I love Stardew Valley, I think since Zelda on the 2DS it’s my all time favorite and my current obsession.

I got it on steam originally, and then on PS4, but it annoyed me that I had different progress on each. When the multiplayer was announced I was delighted, thinking that I could have steam installed on a pc and a laptop in the house, and the kids and I could play each other. I was disappointed, the family sharing on steam does not work like that. Instead you “release” your game to the family member for a period of time. Poop !

So I bought it on GOG. (I’m new to gog) I like the Gog interface a bit better than steam, as the steam interface is a bit dated… but as usual I digress. .. rant..go off the point etc. We played on a pc and a laptop, I had just bought a second hand xbox one controller and all worked ok, and was great fun (the girls were screaming with excitement and visiting each others houses) until … one of the controllers went glitchy. Then there was a big fight, and the 2 stomped off crying. Needless to say, we haven’t gone back to it yet. They are just so used to playing with each other in minecraft and there being no issues. I think the problem was that I didn’t cop the controller needed batteries, also.. did you know you can update the firmware in those things? Neither did I, but it’s done now.

Then came the Vita

Then I got the vita and playing Stardew on it is such a satisfying experience. Here are some screenshots from the Vita. My Vita is second hand with an OLED screen, so the clarity is amazeballs. (crapola – my vocab is very poor- another post on that later)

If you are going to play SV might I suggest you just play and enjoy for a while and then look at the excellent WIKI

Fishing

I can’t fish, I find it really difficult, so please please comment if you have any tips for the vita. I’ve only caught about 3!!!!

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Alt Tags

Hellooooo fellow nerdliners. Just realised this half done thing has bad alt tags. I have read several different pieces of advice over the years re alt tags. So my question is…

If an image is just decoration (like most of mine) do I add an alt tag like “image of ps vita” or do I  just do empty quotation marks? I really don’t want someone using a screenreader to be jumped to images when they are meaningless , and if I use the empty ones do I do a space? Is WebAims website up to date? I like the empty alt thing, so I’m not wasting screen reader users time. (as if anyone even reads this blog!!)

They say…

Every image must have an alt attribute. This is a requirement of HTML standard (with perhaps a few exceptions in HTML5). Images without an alt attribute are likely inaccessible. In some cases, images may be given an empty or null alt attribute (e.g., alt="").” (Webaim 2018)

So is it:

  1. “Image of PS Vita”
  2. “”
  3. ” “

Please let me know, especially someone who might use a screen reader. I’ll put some images in below as examples. (I’ve prob done it wrong so let me know)

Also, in wordpress do you use the quotation marks?

Image of PS Vita

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Image of PS Vita

I bought a PS Vita … and I love it!!

Hum title to the tune of Katy Perry’s “I kissed a girl”

Ok… full disclosure… I like gadgets but my budget does not always stretch to them. We have a Nintendo 3DS a PS4, an old ipad, re-purposed phones etc for what-sapping  for the kids, etc. I like playing cutie games. I get very stressed playing violent games, and ended up shouting at the TV when the kids and I tried Fortnite. So… Dragonquest Builders, and especially Stardew valley are my current favorites. My 6 year old loves dragon-quest on the PS4, and I am totally addicted to Stardew which is a lovely pixel based farming and mining game along the lines of harvest moon. [But IMHO 1000 times better ]Anyway, I was broke, and somehow came across a youtube video about the ps vita, how to buy it second hand and get the better OLED screen that was on the original ones. (thanks for that advice btw) so off I went with the kids into CEX with some old games, and old phone, some blu rays, games and an old wii. Half an hour later, after coffee and oreo and brunch icy things in insomnia (and my last few squid gone) I was the excited owner of a psvita and 1 lego game. (the Hobbit)
Yes, I still get very excited by new gadgets, and love spending ages setting them up. Last week I was on leave and spent 2 full days fixing and upgrading an old Studio XPS and it was blissful. I know I’m a bit ranty, I digress a lot. It’s annoying I  know.

Anyway, set it up, the screen is all scratched but it doesn’t matter, the OLED screen is fab. I didn’t know anything about the vita before so…

Things I was surprised about

  • lovely screen
  • touch screen
  • bluetooth- yeah- I can connect my Manhattan wireless earphones
  • I can hear people speaking on party mode ( a bit creepy, and they can hear me too!!!)
  • the online store is great- I bought some games on it
  • sound quality is great
  • the games- I found a thread on reddit, and took some suggestions
  • Remote Play- yeah, so you can kinds “cast” for ps4 on to the vita and play. I haven’t tried it much yet.

The best thing about it though, is definitely stardew and dragonquest etc. Any game that takes a long time to play is fab on the vita, play on the couch, in bed or on your lunch break. ( I might have brought it into work today)

Anyway, best purchase in a long time. laters..

Font Awesome 5 Pro

I love font awesome. I love the way it uniforms things, and has nice easy to use icons that can be used in many different web projects. So I signed up for font awesome 5 pro, and paid the $20 as an early backer. So now I have access to it. However I have no clue how to add it to my wordpress.org site. I do not have ftp access to my wordpress.org site and don’t even ask!! I found this post from sitepoint and so I’m going to try it out. I do fortunately have access to a staging  wordpress site, but again with no ftp access. I read somewhere that there is a plugin called file manager that might let me use wordpress as if I have full access, so I am going to try it out. I will probably crash something at some point along the way. This post explains how to add font awesome using the CDN. (i think this is the easiest way for me, but the CDN for font awesome pro hasn’t been released yet, so I think I have to add the js to my wordpress site and then do something in the functions.php file… oh what fun. )

Filemanager

I have file manager installed, which was really easy. I just searched for it in the plugins directory. There was another file manager that was more popular so that has me nervous, but i’m going to stick with it anyway. I’m going to enqueue font awesome, and I think it’s easier to use the CDN for now. 5 minutes later….

omg i think this worked. I realise this is probably not the ideal way to do anything in wordpress.. but needs must. my icons are all over the place. must fix them now. also, file manager is not working now, I wonder did I update wordpress and maybe it dosent work with the latest version. I will fill you in when I get more time with this

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