Matt's Blog

Archive for April, 2008

Speed Up Your Blog Using ZLIB

Monday, April 7th, 2008

With the release of WordPress 2.5, there is no longer an option to enable GZIP compression. This option was axed for the reason that it’s better to enable compression on the server, rather than through WordPress. GZIP is basically a compression “tool” that compresses files before sending them to the browser, if the browser states that it can handle GZIP compression. All modern browsers support GZIP compression, and send the appropriate header to the server to tell it that it can handle compression.

However, there is another compression library that is generally preferred over GZIP, called ZLIB. It’s essentially the same as GZIP, and is initiated by the same gzip header that browsers send.

We’ll be using ZLIB to speed up your blog. We’re using ZLIB because using GZIP causing TinyMCE (in WordPress) to be double compressed, and to stop working properly, using ZLIB works around the issue. Also, since ZLIB is preferred, we might as well use it.

Before enabling ZLIB compression, you’ll want to check with your host to ensure that PHP has been compiled with ZLIB support. I can confirm that BlueFur has it enabled on most (if not all) of their servers.

Now that you’ve made sure that your host can support ZLIB compression, let’s actually enable it. First of all, open your blog’s root .htaccess file. Then, you’ll want to add the following line to the file, above the WordPress code (# BEGIN WordPress):

php_flag zlib.output_compression On

Save the file, and reupload it. You should now notice improved speed in the execution time of your blog. On my blog, page execution has, on average, been reduced by 50%. However, your results may vary.

It’s important to note that, if you’re currently using any other compression or caching systems, you cannot use this in conjunction with them; you’ll have to choose between them or ZLIB compression.

This compression method will also work on any fairly dynamic site, it’s not limited to blogs.

April Fools: Michael Kwan Gets Hired By The New York Times

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Michael Kwan announced today that he would cease to be a Freelance Writer, and would become a writer at The New York Times. He had this to say about his future work at the NYT:

As much as I enjoy the relative freedom of being a freelance writer, the opportunity was just too much to turn down. The New York Times has offered me a permanent full-time position as a technology columnist, focusing primarily on consumer electronics like the Apple iPhone, Asus Eee PC, and Nintendo Wii. I guess it helps when you leverage your reputation, because the NYT found me through my work on such sites as The TechZone, Mobile Magazine, and FutureLooks.

Sounds believable enough, but the NYT would never hire Michael I don’t think Michael would stop doing Freelance Writing for a newspaper job.

April Fools: Web Standards Project – Tagging People Who Hurt the Web

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Web Standards Warning LabelThe Web Standards Project has announced a new initiative to tag people who may be harming the web, through old knowledge, or just holding onto the old web.

Following on the heels of the highly successful Street Team bookmark initiative, The Web Standards Project is pleased to announce a new opportunity for you to spread the good word of Web standards to the people around you. It occurs to us that books don’t build crappy Web sites; people who read crappy books build crappy Web sites. While marking books was a great first step, we need to move beyond that to get at the root cause of the problems in our industry.

Now, leveraging the very latest in hyper-localized social tagging, you can help alert others to the people around you who are hurting the Web. Simply download the official WaSP Warning Labels, print them out, and you will be ready to tag the people around you who have yet to see the light. Whether it’s the stuffed shirt in your project meetings who keeps putting off talking about accessibility because, “No blind people use our site,” or that developer who still refers to a dog-eared copy of Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML 3.2 in 14 Days, you’ll be able to tag them all.

You can download the labels here and start tagging people that may be harmful to the web.

Nice April Fools joke. It’s actually original, too!

April Fools: Gmail Custom Time

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Google has now announced a new feature for Gmail called Custom Time, which allows you to change the received time for the recipient of your email. You can even choose if it’s read or unread.

How do I use it?
Just click “Set custom time” from the Compose view. Any email you send to the past appears in the proper chronological order in your recipient’s inbox. You can opt for it to show up read or unread by selecting the appropriate option.

Unfortunately, it comes with some restrictions:

Is there a limit to how far back I can send email?
Yes. You’ll only be able to send email back until April 1, 2004, the day we launched Gmail. If we were to let you send an email from Gmail before Gmail existed, well, that would be like hanging out with your parents before you were born — crazy talk.

How come I only get ten?
Our researchers have concluded that allowing each person more than ten pre-dated emails per year would cause people to lose faith in the accuracy of time, thus rendering the feature useless.

I think Gmail’s April Fools joke last year was better…

April Fools: Project Virgle

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

VirgleGoogle has just announced that they have partnered with the Virgin Group to create Project Virgle, an attempt to create “the first permanent human colony on Mars”.

For thousands of years, the human race has spread out across the Earth, scaling mountains and plying the oceans, planting crops and building highways, raising skyscrapers and atmospheric CO2 levels, and observing, with tremendous and unflagging enthusiasm, the Biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply across our world’s every last nook, cranny and subdivision.

An invitation. Earth has issues, and it’s time humanity got started on a Plan B. So, starting in 2014, Virgin founder Richard Branson and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will be leading hundreds of users on one of the grandest adventures in human history: Project Virgle, the first permanent human colony on Mars.

Actually, this is pretty funny. Especially the Application to Join Project Virgle and the error page. It’s a little too similar to a previous April Fools done by Google awhile ago, which was to put a Google headquarters on the Moon.