Not delicious at all

Canoe 18So, I write a blog post for the first time for ages and one of the key components is about to go West. The news that delicious, Yahoo’s social bookmarking site is to go to the wall has ruined my Christmas, and I’m not the only one. I’m going home to eat humbugs and kick the cat (I haven’t got a cat – but I like cats – I do – really – if I had one I’d buy a cat tent!).

Still no official announcement from Yahoo, but any regular delicious user is already looking around for alternatives. I remember a couple of years ago that I was enjoying synchronising my delicious bookmarks with Ma.gnolia, but that project appears dead in the water. Maybe this would be a good time to resurrect it.

Mike has already given Pinboard a try. Maurice is giving Google Bookmarks a go. The beauty of delicious was that as a team if we all used the same product, we could use feeds to tie everything in together and share what we found interesting (if we felt like it).

It would be a sad day if delicious went to the wall. So in a journey of sentimentality, I’m going to review my first 10 bookmarks on delicious:

  1. Codestore Possibly the best site for Lotus Domino developers. These days very focused on Flex development, but still an excellent resource for all web development techniques
  2. Simplebits Dan Cederholm, a frontend developer from Canada and author of one of the best html books ever: Web Standards Solutions. The site has also had a very nice makeover recently.
  3. Zedzdead Its mine!…and posts are a little thin on the ground these days.
  4. Acerbia Currently inactive, but some posts available from Wayback machine. Fiction and humour from Dave Frew.
  5. A List Apart A web developer’s magazine, full of design and development best practices
  6. Adactio Jeremy Keith, a frontend developer specialising in HTML and javaScript.
  7. Antipixel An excellent blog/photo blog from Jeremy Hedley, a developer working in Japan, now rarely updated, but still some beautiful images.
  8. Bucket Fountain - Brunswick St., LiverpoolBucket Fountain A developer blog from New Zealand, who I followed because Liverpool too, has bucket fountains.
  9. B3TA Funny, irreverent and rude (some NSF)!
  10. 1976 Design Dunstan Orchard’s blog, closed to new entries in 2005, but with the most inspiring banner for many years, and documented in the Colophon.

Dear Santa, forget the Android phone, please can I have my delicious bookmarks forever.

Style Matters

Style Council - 13.03.1987

Yahoo! have just launched a new Style Guide online and in print. Now style guides are not new – newspapers have had them for decades – but these invariably have their roots in print and there are many differences online.

The Yahoo! guide is written with digital publishing as the focus, concentrating on things that make writing for the web different to print. While most of what Yahoo! have collected isn’t new, it is good to see things collated in one place.

The guide also contains prompts for things organisations can do to build their own style guide, for example forming a style committee (one might say a Style Council, ha!) to make decisions, and maintaining a word list.

With an increasing demand for everyone to be able to publish to the web, a formal style guide may be required to ensure our high standards are maintained and advanced.

R.I.P. GeoCities

under-constructionGeoCities, the site that hosted my first website – now thankfully lost in the depths of the ether – is no more.  Ten years after being bought by Yahoo! for a ridiculous amount of money the internet is a very different place and what people want from a personal webpage is very different.

On behalf of all the people who got their first taste of web “design” by uploading dodgy HTML and animated GIFs, thank you!

New even tastier

Some websites like Google become so ingrained in how you use the web that you almost forget they’re there. For me – the social bookmarking service – is one of those sites. Last week, after a very long wait, the brand new version was launched and it’s looking pretty good. The first change you’ll notice is the name – the dots are gone so (probably the most well known site to use the .us TLD) is now The visual changes can be seen in this video:

But that probably doesn’t help if you’ve never come across Delicious before, so what is it and how can it help you? Here’s how they describe themselves:

Delicious is a social bookmarking service that allows users to tag, save, manage and share web pages from a centralized source. With emphasis on the power of the community, Delicious greatly improves how people discover, remember and share on the Internet.

Let’s break that down a bit!

Centralised. Instead of storing bookmarks on your own computer, they are stored on Delicious’ servers so they are all available anywhere you have a connection to the internet.

Tag don’t file. Normally when you save a bookmark you put it in a folder to help you find it later. Actually, if you’re like me, you don’t put it in a folder so you have one big long list of favorites [sic] and can’t find the thing you’re looking for. Delicious is different – instead of putting it in one folder you give it one or more tags. When you come to find a bookmark later you can filter down by tags.

It’s social. This is the key part to a service like Delicious. Social bookmarking sites allow you to be part of a larger community. In a purely selfish way, this saves you time by suggesting tags that other people have used when adding a bookmark but there’s much more you can get out as well. You can build up a network of contacts and see what pages they save. You can browse by tag across your contacts or the whole community. You can recommend a page to other users by tagging it for:username.

For an overview of some of the features of Delicious, check out this video from Common Craft:

To make using Delicious even easier, check out the toolbars available for Firefox and Internet Explorer. They integrate Delicious right into the browser and mean you rarely have to visit the site – it tells you when people in your network have bookmarked pages or recommended you a link.

Another useful feature of Delicious is feeds of everything. Subscribe to what people in your network bookmark, a private feed of the pages people have tagged for:you, or if you’re feeling adventurous, how about a feed of all the bookmarks with a particular tag! This also allows you to pull information into other places such as your blog (we’ve got the latest bookmarks tagged for:ehu_webteam in the sidebar), or into the GO portal.

So sign up, start bookmarking and explorer the community! And if you really want to know what I’m interested in, my username is mikenolan.

Microformats ready for mainstream use?

Continuing my Google Groupie status, it’s interesting to see that Google is following Yahoo’s lead in adopting microformats. I’ve thought for a while that microformats would be really useful but without a good way of using them then adoption would be very low. It’s a chicken and egg situation where browsers won’t be motivated to support them without a critical mass of content providers using them. Now an increasing number of sites support them and Firefox 3 looks set to support them too. Now all we need it better tools to create them for our own sites – I suspect it’s not something that can be done easily in Contribute!

Straight from the horse’s mouth

Video has been one of the big success stories over the last couple of years – YouTube, Google Video and other services have exploded in popularity, fuelled by widespread access to broadband and social networking websites allowing video to spread virally. Most of the videos are good entertainment – most music videos and many TV clips can be found online pretty easily (much to Viacom’s annoyance) and YouTube has lead to instant stars like Bo Burnham and Lonelygirl15.

Gradually, without much attention or the glamour of celebrity, videos about all sorts of topics have started to appear on the internet. When I was looking for a new mobile phone recently, I did all the usual trooping around shops only to find they didn’t have the phones I was interested in and the staff less than helpful. But searching around the internet I found loads of hands-on demonstrations from impartial reviewers who weren’t interested in trying to sell me anything, just in showing off what the products can (and can’t) do. In the end I went for the Vodafone version of the phones shown in this unboxing video.

That’s all great, but it doesn’t help with my job – but there are videos online that do! From training courses to interviews and conference keynotes, you can find loads of technology news and information on the internet, usually for free. These aren’t just amateur productions, you’ll find leading experts doing the talking!

I could go on for pages and pages of interesting stuff I’ve watched, most of which I wouldn’t have had a chance of seeing five years ago, but I want to give you the chance to find it for yourselves! And if web development or software engineering or API design isn’t your thing, I’m sure there’s some thing out there that is! Happy viewing!