New Skin

by on May.19, 2009, under Personal

Just in case you are wondering what has happened to the site, I decided to give it a fresh of new life by altering the theme to this one.

If you have any comments regarding the change then feel free to post a comment.

As for what’s next, I will be writing a few more articles review the individual aspects of the HTC Magic along with a basic “Developing with Andriod” guide which will allow you to start building your own applications. I also have a few other PHP related guides and tutorials planned which will appear as soon as possible.

in the meantime feel free to check out the previous articles and make any comments you feel are relevant :)

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HTC Magic Phone Review

by on May.16, 2009, under technology

In today’s technology market there is surely one phone everyone thinks of when you consider Smartphone’s, which is of course the iPhone (or possibly the Blackberry Storm). However for the past week I have been using the latest Smartphone from HTC … the HTC Magic. Recent reviews all over the internet report that this phone will soon become iPhone’s biggest competitor and I can see why.
Looking at the specification for the phone, this weighs in at 116g with the dimensions 4.45 x 2.19 x 0.54 inches. To me this is a very nice size for a phone and while the screen may not be as large as some of the other Smartphone’s available at the moment the user interface makes up for this.
The first thing I noticed about the HTC Magic is that there is no physical keyboard interface of any kind, the phone actually utilises a software QWERTY keyboard which adapts to the orientation of the phone. At first it took a couple of minutes to get used to as does the predictive text because if words are not found within the dictionary the phone defaults to the nearest match. Whilst this was a little annoying at first now all my typical words have been added, I now find using this interface to be a lot quicker than it was on my old phone which used a slide out QWERTY keyboard.


Ok now down to the feature list, the basic features of this phone that come with this phone are simply what you would expect from a smart phone. By default it comes with the following:

  • Wi-Fi / Bluetooth / mini USB / GPS
  • Touch screen
  • Email clients (x2)
  • 3.2 megapixel camera with video capture support
  • Integrated web browser
  • Multiple Desktops (3)
  • Media centre
  • Calendar / multiple alarms
  • Google Application Integration including Maps, Email, Talk, Search
  • YouTube video player
  • Desktop widgets – default widgets include calendar, music, search, analogue clock and a picture frame

(continue reading…)

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Why so naked?

by on Apr.08, 2009, under Web Standards

Well, in support of improving web standards, every year there is a “CSS Naked Day” and today is that day. This has been going on for the past 3 years and the numbers are ever increasing. look for your self :)

  • 2006 saw 763 sites stripped off
  • 2007 saw 1689 sites stripped off
  • 2008 saw 2189 sites stripped off

Want to join in? Head over to the Annual CSS Naked Day website and show your support :)

Just out of interest too, removing stylesheets allows you to see how accesibly your website is too :)

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Web accessibilty and the current situation

by on Nov.20, 2008, under Web

A collegue approached me the other day to discuss accessibility with regards the sitebuilder software I develop at work. We carried out some tests on one of the sites that had been created usning the software and it turns out that it is a lot more accessible than I thought it was. With a couple of tweaks here and there I can get all the sites that the system produces to pass the WCAG 1.0 AA level of accessibility.

This got me thinking about the current state of standards on the internet. I even posted a question a on Linkedin which revealed some interesting answers. It seems that most professionals do actually abide by some form of standard beit accessibility related or validation related. The conclusion I have drawn from the answers on Linkedin and my own personal experience is that if you conform to one of the main standards out there (WGAC or one of the many HTML validators out there) then chances are you will meet the majority of criteria from one of the others and with a small amount of tweaking you can create a site which is both valid and accessible to around 95% of users who frequent the internet.

I was also reminded of the Disability and Discrimation Act (DDA) which in the UK states that websites need to be accessible by all who wish to view them. The problem with this law is that it is vague with regards how far you need to go in order to comply with it. The other problem with this law is that there is nobody policing it, if there was then maybe the standard on the internet would be a little higher.

A couple of questions to think about are:

  1. Are your current systems accessibly?
  2. If so, how far did you go (i.e. WCAG 1.0 AAA)?
  3. If not, why not?
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What makes a great design?

by on Oct.29, 2008, under Personal, Web

99% of the people who browse the internet will take one look at the design of a site and within a couple of seconds they have decided whether to stick around or find somewhere else. This post will attempt to cover some of the more important aspects of website design along with a few of the standards which I believe should be adhered to.
The reason for this is not to rant but come to some conclusion with regards website design. I have recently spent quite a bit of time with the designers where I work and have decided to look into the aspects which go into creating an awesome and usable website design.
My background has always been development but following these discussions I believe that there are a lot of factors to take into consideration before a design can be produced. A few of these are:

  • Type of website & Target audience
  • Consistency (i.e. look and feel)
  • Font types & Colour schemes
  • Graphics both quantity and impression
  • Browser compatibility and resolution

The above list shows a few considerations which I believe to be the most important when designing a website but as I am a developer if someone wants to correct me then feel free. However allow me to justify my decision before you do 😉
(continue reading…)

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Website Updates

by on Oct.07, 2008, under Personal, Web

Just in case anyone is wondering I have now moved the blog over to the main section of my site.

The main reason for this is that the old site was very dated and the new site is now under development and will be here shortly (well once it’s finished).

All the old guides, tutorials etc are still available upon request and they will all be included when the new site arrives. In the meantime you want to add to the guides etc then let me know.

In the meantime, feel free to take a look around and post any comments you feel fit and check back for more updates.

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BT Buys Customer Street

by on Jul.09, 2008, under Personal, Web

It was announced today that BT, one of the largest media groups in the world, has bought the Customer Street and UFindUs sections of the Iomart Group for the tidy sum of £20mil. This now means I work for BT :)

One of the contributing reasons to this is the presence that UFindUs has built up on the internet, this purchase by BT now means that both companies have a very good chance of rapidly becoming the biggest and best online directory systems on the internet.

David Benjamin, chief executive of BT Directories said

Ufindus will play an important role in the continued development of BT Directories’ online portfolio.

Through Ufindus’ considerable expertise and experience in online classified advertising, we access further local classified product offerings, significant search traffic and new customers for this fast-growing part of our business

For more information visit The growth of Customer Street

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by on Apr.04, 2008, under Gaming

Into your golf?

Not finding enough time to get out on the course?

Then check out  shot Its a free online golf simulator where you can level up and play your favourite game with other like minded people from all over the world.

Theres loads of resources on the net from guides and tutorials to different guilds that you can join and compete against other guilds for a Guild House.

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Time to get naked again

by on Apr.04, 2008, under Web

Well its that time of the year again … time to strip of the styles and show the world how well your site performs when it comes to meeting web standards. The stripping will take place on the 9th April 2008.

Dont worry if you don’t think your site does meet the majority of the web standards, its more about joining in and seeing what your site looks like naked .

So head over to signup and show your support for Web Standards on the internet :)


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Open Source E-Commerce Systems

by on Mar.01, 2008, under PHP Code

Its been a while my last post so I thouhgt I would review an e-commerce system I have recently been playing with.

A couple of weeks back a friend of mine asked me if I could create him an on-line store for his company, Racebits. At the moment there is very little happening with Racebits because the person who was developing it decided they only wanted to have a forum and not bother with the functionality of the online store.

The current system comprises of the open source cart system osCommerce, a bolt on forum called MyBB and thats it. The objective is to utilise one system which can combine both systems and utilise one member-base for both systems, along with a consistant look and feel.

Due to the company being a sales company I looked around for a system which would be suitable but there appears to be none which fit the criteria and are any good or maybe I didn’t look hard enough lol.

I decided to play around with Zen Cart too which is supposed to be the best there is for an Open Source E-commerce site. So I set about installing it and it all went fine so I proceeded to install the example dataset and visited the home page and my first impressions were not that good to be honest. I found the layout and content cluttered and it seemed disorganised to me. I know I can change all the layout and the content for the system but when a default install looks as gash as this I feel like its going to take a huge amount of time and work. The other thing I found with Zen Cart is that the documentation isn’t that well developed, although there is a lot of it, and it looks like its made up from a load of forum posts and guides that the community has created. My final thought about Zen Cart is that it seems somewhat antiquated from what you would expect from a modern day system.

I mentioned this to a collegue of mine at work and he suggested taking a look at a relatively new system called Magento. So I did, and from first impressions this looks like an awesome system, albeit a little under developed. It has a very clean and intuitive interface and the final system looks like its going to be full of all those little features you wish you got with the others lol.

So I decided to install it on my dev server, after looking at the requirements it appears to need the latest version of everything, which isn’t a bad thing. The install process was pretty straight forward and it included an auto update process to ensure that it was installing the latest version … nice touch. They also provide a way of using the system with php4 which uses the cgi-bin version of php5 so I tried to use this on my live server to see if it could be easily done and ran into a few problems. I am looking into a solution and if I find one then I will update this post to reflect the changes. There are also reports about the ability to merge Magento with Joolma and JFusion. Not sure whether this will work or not but I will have a play this evening and report back. If it does integrate with joomla then the possibilites are endless lol.

After looking through the files and directory structure for the system it loooks like the system is developed using a ‘Model-View-Controller’ architecture. There is a very good article on MVC architecures over at 

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