Category: "Web Sites"

Screen Resolution - Web development

I have used the statcounter for several years to help me adjust page layouts for web development.

The mistake I have been making is that the browser does not usually have the entire screen resolution available.

Today I took some time checked the window dimensions on a Windows 7 laptop with a 1366x768 screen and several browsers.


  • Full screen with menu and bookmark bar 1366x608
  • Windowed, full height x600

Internet Explorer

  • Full screen with menu, bookmark, DebugBar 1301x548
  • Windowed, full height x540


  • Full screen 1366x667
  • Windowed, full height x639

These dimensions depend on the toolbars in use, etc, but they provided a very helpful reminder that 1366x768 screen resolution is not the same as a 1366x768 browser page.

In addition, the best way to test a page under Internet Explorer is to use Internet Explorer, and if you you need to test different versions (you do!), you can use IE or IETester ( Sometimes there is simply no substitute for target machine and browser testing.

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible;)

This user agent was in the middle of many page requests in my Apache logs, requesting content referenced by link tags in the head section.

After a bit of research on one of the link tag URLs, I ran this script:

IPS=`grep Author access_log | cut -f 1 -d ' '  | sort | uniq`
for IP in $IPS
        echo Testing "$IP"
        host "$IP"  

In almost every case, the requests came from large organizations - corporations, government agencies, and the military.

These institutions often use proxy servers, and Mozilla/4.0 (compatible;) must be a common user agent setting for the proxy server requests.

In the one case where it wasn’t a large organization, it was a blacklisted IP, and the user agent was Java.

The sample set was limited, but the pattern was clear.

Login Access Limits

After reviewing the log files for this blog, I noticed many attempts to log into it, and send bogus contact form data.

This is my blog, registration and comments are disabled. To all those who would post helpful comments and legitimate information, I’m sorry.

I access the blog administration from a very limited set of IP addresses, so, instead of wasting my time blocking access from IPs that shouldn’t be logging in, I decided to block all accesses to the administration interface, except my IP address.

This is done using server configuration directives. Refer to the appropriate documentation on blocking access.

After making the changes, be sure to test the effect. The link above is for a nice proxy service that will allow you to visit your pages with a different IP address. The pages should display fine for all navigation through the blog, except things like logging in, and perhaps the contact form. Check anything that’s important to you.

This works if you have a site, blog, or system where the authorized users are from a limited set of IP addresses. It can’t be used to protect against ‘bots and spammers on a forum or contact form. In those cases, I recommend BotScout.

For all those who have been trying to login, please go away.

Great New Web Resource launched recently.

It’s great new resource for web people, from ‘n00bs’ to ‘w00ts’. What makes it special:

  • A great team of moderators. These guys are experienced and know the web.
  • A library of code snippets, little bits of code that will save you a tremendous amount of time. You can contribute code, too.
  • XHTML/HTML & CSS sandboxes so you can test out ideas quickly.
  • An SQL sandbox for testing queries.
  • It’s free.
  • A very cool design.
  • No ads, the forum is there to help people, not distract you with ads you aren’t going to click on anyway.

Content Feeds - Facebook and Twitter - Source, Sink or Both?

Facebook and Twitter have become integral parts of web marketing and outreach. Many companies use them in innovative ways to reach people.

Twitter - Twitter is an extremely efficient distribution medium. Tweets are easy to issue from a phone, laptop or desktop. In seconds, you can share a message. The value of the message is directly related to the content. If the message is ‘the service is back up, we’re sorry for the outage’, your clients will be relieved and happy to receive it. An alert that you posted substantial content for review may not be as welcome, unless you are a news service. Take the time to determine where site visitors are coming from for whitepapers and videos to decide whether to post that type of information. This is vital, because diluting a twitter feed with content people aren’t interested in will reduce its effectiveness. Your tweets will be dismissed without even being read. If you aren’t a realtime, high energy organization, twitter may not be a good tool.

Facebook - Facebook is powerful because people can select to receive your posted content, and it allows more content to be posted. Thus, facebook content is distributed within a community that is choosing specifically to follow you. Examining the site stats and facebook participation can help you to decide whether to invest the time in creating and managing a facebook presence or to push content from your site into facebook.

Twitter and Facebook help you reach people, but they also dilute posted content by surrounding it with unrelated material, which may be more interesting than yours.

An excellent approach is to invest in high quality content on your site which engages visitors by assisting them. Do your products and services save people and organizations money? Show them how with a calculator that they can use. The output should be easy to understand, include plenty of explanation, and, if appropriate graph or plot the data for a quick visual assessment. If possible, include comparisons and adjustments to allow further analysis. Explain the services you offer, if you can’t explain them concisely, consider changing them until you can. Educate site visitors with whitepapers, but only if it is informative, not advertising. Posting videos on your site, or sourcing them from YouTube is good, but only if the videos are well done. Well done may mean funny, creative, or entertaining, as well as informative. Video is primarily an entertainment media, many people want to be amused as they receive your message.

The site content will draw visitors from search engines, they will stay on the site if it has value, answering their questions, or entertaining them.

The home page of the site should include a ‘new content’ feed, and the same feed should be filtered out to facebook and twitter if appropriate. Sourcing facebook and twitter content on your home page will filter out unrelated posts, but, once people are on your site - the facebook and twitter content may not justify the page space it consumes. A link so people can connect into those resources is often better.