tutorial

W3C Validation & Why You Should Use It

Whenever you're designing a website, one of your primary goals, besides communicating the mission of the organization for whom the website is being made, should be to make the website accessible to all visitors, no matter what kind of computer or browser they have, and no matter what kind of disabilities they have (whether it be blindness, deafness, or other problems).

Luckily for you, there's a free and easy-to-use tool on the web that lets you check how well your website conforms to coding standards:

W3C Markup Validation Service Banner

The W3C generously provides this service to further their mission of having an open, accessible and free web. The tool is dead simple to use: just type in your website's URL, and click Validate. Errors will then show up, and you can go back to your source code and fix the little mistakes you've made. But there's a lot more about Validation that needs to be said!

Taming Mac OS X Mail - Previous Recipients

Mac OS X's Mail program has a very handy feature called 'Previous Recipients' that does a very nice thing: It saves a list of every person and email address you've ever sent an email to. Then, it automatically fills in that person's email address when you type it or the person's name in the 'To' field in a new message. This is usually a good thing, because it saves you time (you don't have to look up the address again!).

However, there are times when you want to send an email to a specific email address for that person, and the email address that Mail automatically inserts is—gasp!—the wrong address. For example, I want to send an email to my friend John, so I type in "John" in the To field. Mail fills in the address I usually send emails to: john@example.com. But I want to send the mail to John's alternate address, johntheman@example.com... and I want to start sending emails to that address rather than to his first email address all the time. There are two easy solutions to this problem:

Using Virtual Machines to Test Websites on a Mac

Besides business applications, one of the main reasons to run a copy of Windows in a Virtual Machine (using either VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop) on your Mac is to test software and websites. I recently ran into a problem, though, when I wanted to test some PHP-based websites that were running on my Mac under MAMP (stands for Mac Apache, MySQL and PHP).

The problem is this: Even if you have the Windows set up with bridged networking, you will not be able to see the websites running on your Mac if you type in the Mac's IP address. This problem can be solved pretty easily, though, if you simply tell Windows exactly where Internet Explorer needs to look, by editing the 'hosts' file (which tells Windows where to look for specific IP addresses).

Take Better Photos of Inanimate Objects

Forks with Flash and Ambient Light

Ever wonder why your pictures of little items like statues, money, a speaker set, a glass of water, or pretty much anything else in the world that doesn't move often look so washed out and flat? I'm betting that the reason is that you are setting your camera to 'nuke' mode (i.e. blast everything with light from the flash).

Well, I have a quick, and most likely free (if you own a tripod) solution to this problem. And it's pretty darn easy to implement. Here's how you do it:

Master the Art of Screenshots - Mac OS X

Mac Screenshots

Having a screenshot of something you see on your Mac can sometimes be priceless, especially if something happens that you want to show someone else, or if you want to email someone a picture of how to do something on their Macs. Fortunately, Mac OS X has a ton of options for taking pictures of the screen, or even individual elements of the screen. We'll get into the basics, and we'll also show you some advanced techniques that many 'power-users' may not know of (yet).

Dealing with Locked Files on a Mac

Quite often, I am asked one of two related questions: 1) "Why can't I delete this pesky file? My Mac says the file is locked, and I can't delete it unless I do something special!" or 2) "Gaa! I can't copy <insert name here> to my flash drive or another hard drive because it's locked—help!"

Locked Trash File - Hold down Option to Delete

Well, I will answer those questions, and much more, after the break.

The Making of SLU for U and SLU for U 2

Note from Jeff Geerling: The following post was created by my brother, Joel, while he was a student at Saint Louis University (which is where I received my bachelor's degree in Philosophy!). I'm reposting his content on my blog since SLU no longer hosts student content on their website. See also: SLU for U (The Original), SLU for U 2 (The Sequel).

To make this little animation, I used an application called Flash (version 4) from a company named Macromedia [note: Macromedia has since been bought by Adobe, who now sells the Flash animation program]. The Flash multimedia technology had become very poplular and nearly standard (Netscape, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc. come with the Flash plug-in preinstalled) on the Internet over the past few years. Besides creating animations like mine, Flash can even be used to create crisp, interactive websites (when used tastefully).

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