How to Measure Website Performance with Three Free Tools

Everyone prefers websites that download quickly. As a result, we're likely to move on to other, competing websites if a website downloads slowly. For example, Nielsen's rule of thumb is that websites should download in ten seconds or less. To reflect our desire for faster websites, and to improve our overall web user experience, Google now includes download speed in its calculation of a website's placement in its search results; Google rewards faster websites with a higher placement. This post describes three free tools for measuring the performance of your website. Read more...

How to Automatically Reveal Mac OS X Screenshot File Extensions

By default, Max OS X hides the .png file extension of screenshots it saves to the desktop. However, I prefer to see the extensions of the files I’m working with. So after continually revealing the extension of every screenshot file manually, I decided to find a permanent solution.

To manually reveal the extension of a file, first select the file in the Finder and display the file’s Info window by typing command-I or by selecting Get Info from the File menu. Next, uncheck the Hide extension setting in the Name & Extension section. That’s it. If you apply this technique to a screenshot file on the desktop, Mac OS X reveals the file’s .png extension. The following image shows the Info window for a screenshot file. The unchecked Hide extension setting is highlighted.

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QR Codes Make Grabbing Information Easy

Quick Response (QR) codes have been around since 1994, the explosion of camera-enabled mobile devices makes QR codes a quick and easy way to grab all sorts of information, including URLs, phone numbers, email addresses and text. For example, the image on the left is the QR code for the Usability, etc. website. Reading this code with a mobile device opens Usability, etc. in the device's web browser. Read more...

How to Remove Deleted WordPress Posts From FeedBurner

When I recently published and deleted a test post on this WordPress website, the post remained in the RSS feed. FeedBurner manages the RSS feed and their recommended solution for updating post changes is to ping FeedBurner. However, this wasn’t enough because although pinging FeedBurner updates changes to posts currently on a website, it doesn’t delete posts no longer on the website.

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Where Do Good Ideas Come From?

Improving software, websites and physical products with good design requires new ideas. In this great video, Steven Johnson explains that the swapping and intermingling of ideas forms the pattern underlying creative environments. Read more...

What Do You Get When You Cross a DVD Player With a Computer?

In The Inmates Are Running The Asylum, Alan Cooper argues that embedding a computer into existing technology does not produce enhanced alarm clocks, cameras or cars, it produces a computer. Cooper's point is that embedded computers often make their presence felt too strongly in the user interfaces required to operate the new functions brought by those computers. I would add blu-ray players to Cooper's list. Why? Because blu-ray players act more like computers than DVD players. Read more...

Mac OS X Finally Implements Autosave in 10.7 Lion

Apple recently released this video to highlight some of the many improvements coming in Mac OS 10.7, Lion. The feature I’m most pleased to see is autosave. Saving files is an example of interface excise; that is, a procedure or task that software requires us to perform even though it doesn’t contribute to our goals. Autosave will be a very welcome addition, but it’s been a very long time coming. (Autosave is explained 2 minutes 35 seconds into the video.)

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Simple Legs Improve Laptop Ventilation

After attaching an external monitor to my MacBook, I started using the MacBook in closed-clamshell mode; that is, the MacBook's lid is closed and the external monitor is the main (and only) display. However, running a laptop with the lid closed reduces the ventilation provided by the keyboard which, in turn, causes the laptop to turn on the fan more often and run it for longer. Raising laptops off the desk is a good way to increase ventilation because it exposes a large surface area to the air. I didn't want to buy a laptop cooling station and I think commercially available laptop legs are too big. As a result, I decided to make my own. Read more...

Adding Recipient's Load Feedback Might Improve Email Usability

Good feedback is an essential ingredient in all well-designed systems. The courteous.ly system provides feedback on how busy the recipient of your email is, which can help manage your expectation of when you can expect a reply. Read more...

How to Make Curved Line Joints in OmniGraffle

OmniGraffle is a superb piece of vector-diagram drawing software. It’s easy to create complex, multi-layered diagrams very quickly in OmniGraffle. However, it did take me a while to work out how to produce curved line joints that connect objects. I'll show you how to do it in this post. Read more...