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The nuts and bolts for
Creative web development

Re-write all your multimedia web pages?

Since Eolas won $521million in a lawsuit against Microsoft last month, Microsoft, Macromedia and the W3C have been in conclave on how to work around the patent dispute. Eolas seem to own the patent on a browser's ability to automatically launch and display multimedia programs with plug-ins - eg, click and see a Flash movie/ hear an MP3 / watch a quick-time video.

One way round the monumentally moronic ruling is for broswer manufacturers to insert dialogue boxes ("Are you sure you want to see the movie you clicked to watch, yes or no?") between broswer and plug-in. Another way is to move the data to the Web page itself, rather than pulling it from an external source - requiring a huge amount of work on the part of the developer. That's you.

This issue potentially affects every modern browser, although only Microsoft has been sued. Microsoft is appealing. (More on ZDNet.) It's pretty obvious that Eolas are very petty: their website points out "A final note: Eolas also 'invented' (designed, actually) the now-ubiquitous stylized "e" logo. IBM purchased rights to use it from us in 1997." Well, aren't they clever?

This is an example of a stupid lawsuit and a ridiculous patent, although U.S. patent officers have a history of approving idiotic things like this - for example, Amazon patenting "one-click"  e-commerce.

Maybe if enough people write to Eolas and ask them to stop pursuing this claim, they'll listen. Here's a mail that I sent them today; I'll post any response I get from them.

September 12, 2003 Author: Ian Blackham

Studio MX 2004 released

Available for download from Macromedia. As we expected, reception has been mixed. The jump from Dreamweaver 4 to MX was massive - it became almost a different product, with decent CSS support, Accessibility, and all the server-side options. This version is definitely an upgrade. The new FTP functionality should please many (including myself) who would be hurling things at the computer while Dreamweaver attempted to upload a site with all the ability and grace of a hippopotomas on a skateboard. The CSS support is excellent if you're doing most of your work in CSS now. Not everyone is pleased, though.

My friend Dierdre is a full-time DW and flash developer in Birmingham, UK. This morning she told me:

"Flash and Dreamweaver are still extremely buggy! Cowboys...whenever I close dreamweaver, it crashes everything else saying "DW exe has generated errors and will shut down". I know it will, that's what i'm trying to do! As for Flash, some really cool "unique features" that completely screw you up if you do a certain permutation of tasks using certain parts of the extensibility architecture, like the XML to UI API, some of it is just clinically buggy."

September 10, 2003 Author: Ian Blackham

Web Page Analyser

Enter a URL in the Analyser to calculate page size, composition, and download time. The script calculates the size of individual elements and finds the total for each type of web page component. Based on these page characteristics the script then offers advice on how to improve page display time.

This is part of the site for the book Speed Up your Site:Web Site Optimisation, which we will be reviewing in the near future.

 

September 9, 2003 Author: Ian Blackham

A Design Challenge

ReUSEIT is, to borrow a quote from the W3Remix contest, "a design challenge for coders, and a coding challenge for designers." Here’s the idea: create a redesign of Jakob Nielsen's useit.com. Design a usable, intuitive layout and navigation, organize the content with usability in mind, and create a work of art which still reflects the importance and influence of Nielsen's work.

September 8, 2003 Author: George Petrov

Where do I find the support forums?

Many of you who have purchased an extension from DMXzone have a hard time finding the support forums for each extension.

We get this question asked frequently and we as a support team found it necessary to give you an overview where to go. Here is a list with all the support forums. We hope you find it helpful.

Tip from Martha: Look through the support forum and faq's first to see if your problem or issue has been answered before.

September 8, 2003 Author: George Petrov

Microsoft to make changes to Internet Explorer?

After losing a ludicrous law suit, Microsoft have told the W3C that they're going to make some changes to Internet Explorer.

 

"In the near term, Microsoft has indicated to W3C that they will very soon be making changes to its Internet Explorer browser software in response to this ruling," a statement issued by Steven R Bratt, W3C's chief operating officer, said.

"These changes may affect a large number of existing Web pages," the statement continued. "W3C does not yet have any indication of what action, if any, other vendors of Web tools might take."

The Register reports, "According to W3C, members of the consortium met in California on 19 August to discuss the consequences of the ruling, which effectively said that Microsoft had used Eolas-patented technology such as plug-ins, applets and scriptlets in Internet Explorer.

Were the offending portions of the software to be removed, it would significantly alter the way IE works and countless Web sites would be forced to change their own to accommodate changes in IE."

(Regular readers will know that we are never slow to point the finger of blame at Microsoft for the latest virus attacks, for example - but in this case, MS are completely the innocent party. A judge upheld a ridiculous patent claim - almost as stupid as when British Telecom tried to claim ownership of Hyperlinks.)

 

September 8, 2003 Author: Ian Blackham

Brad Halstead joins DMXzone

We’re delighted to welcome Brad Halstead as a Premium Tutorial author today. Brad is considered by New Riders publishing to be their stellar technical editor on matters Dreamweaver, and has also co-written “Inside Dreamweaver MX”, “Dreamweaver MX Magic”, and “Dreamweaver MX Templates” (with Murray Summers, with whom he maintains the web site http://www.dreamweavermx-templates.com/)

Brad will be writing on Dreamweaver Templates every second Tuesday. The tutorial plan (which is subject to change after feedback) is:

September 2, 2003 Author: George Petrov

New MSBlaster worms released

In cheerful Friday news, it's been announced that new versions of the MSBlast virus have been released. Kaspersky labs said "Kaspersky Labs' experts anticipate that in the short run a repeated outbreak of the global scale may occur. This is because the two versions of "Lovesan" exploit the same vulnerability in Windows and may co-exist on the same computer. "In other words, all computers infected by the original "Lovesan" will soon be attacked by its revamped versio," commented Eugene Kaspersky, Head of Anti-Virus Research for Kaspersky Labs, "Taking into consideration that the amount of infected systems is now reaching 300,000 the return of the worm will imply a doubling of this number and lead to unpredictable results." In the worst case scenario the world community might face a global Internet slow-down and regional disruption of access to the World Wide Web: just as it happened in January 2003 due to the "Slammer" worm."
August 15, 2003 Author: Ian Blackham