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ts0

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Disabling Greasemonkey

Someone at barCamp asked me if there was anyway for a site developer to block greasemonkey scripts, and I said no. But after doing a little digging I came across this post from Dean Edwards, basically he is making it so the document.createElement method requires a password as an extra parameter. This will stop any greasemonkey scripts from being able to create dom elements to insert into pages, but it won't stop them from making changes to the existing dom. It will also mean updating any of your own code that uses createElement. Is there a war coming? Between people who want to hack about with the websites they're looking at and the site developers determined to control what you can see and do. If it comes to that I know what side I'll be on :)
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Flickr Comment Tools 1.2

Flickr Comment Tools is a greasemonkey script that adds a number of editing and image inserting features to the standard comments box on flickr photo pages, discussion pages and flickr mail. Along with removing YUI I've updated a few other things since the first release.
  • Streamlined popup code for image chooser
  • Added indent and outdent buttons for blockquotes
  • Is now compatible with other greasemonkey scripts that add or remove text from comments
Get the new version here, feedback welcome.

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Light Weight Light Box for Greasemonkey

On the train back up from barCamp, I was still feeling really in the mood for coding, so I decided to do something about my little flickr comment tools script that's actually pushing 300k. I ripped out all the YUI code and wrote my own simple dialog type popup/popover/lightbox type thing. It's really easy to use and is as accessible as I could make it, you can size your box in em's or what ever you like, it'll keep itself centered if the user scales their font. One thing I need to add is escape key to close it. It's not IE friendly at the moment. I wrote a work around for the lack of position:fixed using the scroll event but I've not put it in for now, I'll also need to set the opacity the IE way and do something about select boxes poking through (I don't want to use an iframe). Anyway, you can get the script here, this is what it looks like, and this is how you use it. You can get the new flickr comment tools script here.
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The Customisable Web

My barCamp presentation was on greasemonkey scripts, of course. I was hoping to give a good demo of the many things that can be done with them, as well as convincing a few developers to have a go with them, and hopefuly doing something on their own applications to make it easier for others to write userscripts for them. Niqui Merret made a very good point about the security risks of installing a script and the fact that there is no warning, I'd like to see greasemonkey moving away from the just-for-geeks thing and going mainstream, it could be so useful to so many people. Anyway, if anyones interested, this is my presentation, (all 4 slides of it!) if you have any questions just leave a comment or email me!
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The Future of Web Applications

I'm in a presentation with Matt Webb who's just been talking about his ideas of web applications in the next five years or so. He's made some very good observations about the way things are going, I'm going to list each of his points and try and expand on them a bit. 1. The next Mac OSX is going to ship with RoR, you will be able to run your web app locally and host it in a heavily customised browser interface, you can allow script in the app to get access to things that are usually protected, such as the file system. Well it's not just OSX with that stuff, IE has had HTA since IE4, .net has the casini web server, which is lightweight and won't conflict with other instances or iis. You also have XAML for building very powerful app interfaces in IE, or XUL for firefox and flex for flash if you want cross platform. (More of flex after Arals presentation coming up next) 2. Massive, Scalable, Affordable Need lots of storage, lots of processor power? Amazon have it all, and your users can just pay per use. Say you want to build a photo management site, if you ask your users for their S3 details you can back all the image storage onto their account and they pay for it. If they want to run face recognition across their entire photo library you can farm that out to EC2. There are many other similar services such as Alexa for indexing and searching. Personally I see these technologies as a way for quickly growing an application, once you have the ad revenue you'd want to host all this stuff yourself, latency will always be a problem, as will the bandwidth bills. 3. Location and context intelligent applications Matts point was that if your laptop knows pretty much where it is, based on wifi network etc, it should be able to change its interface to what you need, depending whether you're at work or home. I think this is something we could start using now, based on a users IP, imagine being able to mark photos or groups in your flickr to never show up when you're at work. You could do this with cookies so people choose per computer, or based on IP so they choose per network connection. 4. Ambient applications not interrupting Matt worked on some really interesting continous partial attention prototypes, someone else mentioned Growl, which looks a lot like the little popups office and other windows applications are starting adopt instead of that bloody blinking taskbar button, a popup, or a noise. 5. Web Pipes I'm sure most of us are familiar with pipes in unix, I'm a windows user but I love my windows ports of all those great unix utils like grep and less. Matt mentioned apps like filtr and scanr, that process images and allow you to send them on. There is also preloadr that gives you loads of image processing online before passing on to flickr. And of course you can pipe your feeds through the likes of feedburner. Daisy chaining these things together allows a none techy user to build some very powerful customisable applications. One point Matt made is that it can be quite difficult to monetise these things when its just one step in a long pipe, they can't all insert an ad! 6. Interactive RSS We're seeing more of those little links down at the bottom of items on feeds, like digg me (look down). Matt thinks we're going to see more of this, such as embedded forms, so when you get a new bug added to your bug tracker, you see it in your reader, choose the developer to assign to, click and its done. Some of the things he talked about have been around for quite a while, and we're going to see a lot more of it in a lot sooner than 5 years.
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Still here

I think my session went very well! Lots of good feedback and I was shocked I managed to fill the hour. Most of the other sessions I've seen have been pretty high calibre, and the ones where anyone is struggling everyone chips in and we all still get a lot out of it. It's all trailed off now and I'm just sat in the main room with a handful of other people, I think everyone else has gone home. I'll be camping on my own tonight :-/
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BarCamp

I'm sat at barcamp right now, everyones got their heads buried in their laptops, I said hi to a few people, just got grunts. I'm sure it'll lighten up soon (I need to get off my laptop!)
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ts0
Thom Shannon's background in making chips gives him a unique insight into the web development industry. As the Technical Director of Glow New Media he works with clients across the UK to deliver high quality web marketing solutions using the latest techniques, accessibility practices, and web standards in both straight and crinkle cut.


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