Thursday, October 27, 2005

A time to sing

Two days ago we Aussies were finally able to use a version of the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) customised for us. But this was not without some hiccups. Apart from the [well reported] absence of Sony BMG there were some other minor problems with the launch; like this conundrum I reported to Apple. 'She Will Have Her Way: The Songs of Tim & Neil Finn' which was been advertised on the iTMS home-page in the "feature fader" (the promotional graphics at the top of the page) had 2 songs on it's track listing that were not available for single purchase - they said 'Album Only'. Yet you could not buy the album as a whole as it said 'By Song Only'. Now, not that I wanted to buy the album (or any songs on it), I thought I would ask Apple how you were meant to get the 2 'Album Only' songs. Screen shot showing the Album page before the fix So I filled out their feedback forms (none of the predefined form options allowed for such a problem). 2 days later I received a rather generic reply (obviously Support is been done in the US - not only was this email received at 2 am our-time but 'apologize' is spelt with a 'z'):

Thank you for contacting the iTunes Music Store.

The iTunes Music Store is currently updating certain files. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope you enjoy our available selections. Thank you.

This morning I went and checked if the dilemma had been fixed - it was. You can now buy the album as a whole with the 'BUY ALBUM' button. It's good to see when you can make a difference. Screen shot showing the Album page before the fix

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dreamweaver 8 - not a good start

I decided to see if their was any substance befind the hype about the updated Apps in Macromedia's Studio suite.

I used to be a devoltant user of HomeSite and migrated across to Dreamweaver MX when Macromedia tookover Allaire. I really only used Dreamweaver for it's code editor and would have switched to another product if it had tag colouring and auto-completion. When I switched to Mac I tried most editors (AlphaX, CreaText, BBEdit, GoodPage, Taco HTML Edit) for a while, often till their trial period wore out. But none had the features that appealed to me like Dreamweaver did (things like 'search and replace on all the files in a folder' and built in FTP). Then I found skEdit.

skEdit did everything I needed it to. It was quick, small, rarely crashed and cheap ($26.13 AUD for a lifetime!) - quite the opposite to the Mac vesrion of Dreamweaver at the time. I have been using skEdit for most of the year now and do not see me changing in the near future (I hear the next version is going to be even better).

I've also used Flash for a long-time and have always been peeved at the slugginess of the Mac version, and recently the worse interface, with comparison the the equivilant Windows versions. So after hearing all the hype - particularly about the improvements on the Mac side of the fence - I thought I'd give it a go. So off I went to the Macromedia website, downloaded the evaluation version and installed.

I have skEdit set by default to open most text based files (including HTML), obviously the Dreamweaver installer was expecting a browser and rudely opened a 'Readme.htm' file without prompting first. Because of this I was shown that Dreamweaver's claims of "standards-based sites" and "support for both CSS and accessibility" may just be hype. The source code of this first file was full of code that goes against both web standards and accessibility best practises. Apart from using tables for the layout of a pretty average looking page there was:

  • empty paragraphs with non-breaking-spaces
  • inline styling
  • no 'title' attributes on any of the twenty links
  • redundent code (like, left align on an empty paragraph - which would be aligned that way by default anyway)
  • a mix of upper and lower case tags and attributes
  • a mix of unquoted and quoted attribute values
  • and much more (if I wanted to get really picky)

All this before I even get to see the notorious 'MM_' JavaScript soup menus. Not a good start...