IE8 and the compatibility mode

Well, working on a GWT/GXT application right now, and the latest challenge was to ensure compatibility in Internet Explorer 8. If most GWT components behave quite well in all browsers, GXT introduces some problems through permitting things IE cannot understand.

But once the GXT source code is correct, layout and CSS problems remain. Internet Explorer, or the nightmare of any web developer…

Yet, playing with the development tools and available compatibility modes, I found out that IE7’s compatibility mode introduces problems which are ruled out through using IE8’s engine. So, the only thing left to do was to forbid IE8 to use the compatibility mode, so that users do not have to tinker with settings the way I did.

Specify the compatibility mode in IE8

Quite simple actually. IE does not use comments this time, but a real <meta /> tag. I still find it ugly, but it is better nonetheless.

So, for people who must force Internet Explorer to behave like an older version, you just have to insert this tag inside your <head>:

Forbidding compatibility mode in IE8

That is all fair and well, but for those who remember, I aimed exactly at the contrary: not forcing the compatibility mode but preventing it instead.

Well, this actually is just as easy:

Forcing the compatibility mode to the latest version

This tip can be used to make Internet Explorer use the latest known version, and thus anticipate future versions of the browser. It looks quite like the precedent:

And in IE9+?

I actually have no idea, as my own concerns were with IE8 (for now).

Logically, the forcing the compatibility mode should work as long as the browser include this compatibility. As for forbidding it, the second tip is quite clear.

If you have any tip about compatibility mode in IE, just share it with us!

(inspired from a French post:

Enhancing virtual keyboards

Since I already began posting on keyboards, I will today focus on touch screens and virtual keyboards.

Some weeks ago, I learned about the release of a new beta version of Swype and had a quick look into it. And other products.

Since yes, there are actually several similar products. In my humble opinion, this is evidence that current solutions for virtual keyboards on touchscreens may not be mature yet. They still need some adjustments. Or brand new features.

In this post, I’ll present a (very) quick tour of what I’ve found.

Continue reading Enhancing virtual keyboards

Keyboards everywhere!

It’s no secret: I do enjoy the keyboard pictures which are used as headers for this blog. On one of them, you can see Vince playing the organ, so of course I notified him I was using his picture against his will…

He took a look at the available headers, and merely told me that lots of keyboards are missing… Continue reading Keyboards everywhere!

Play Me, I’m Yours! [Street Pianos]

I was on the phone with a friend lately. She was in Paris and suddenly said: “You might hear a piano, there’s one in the middle of the train station.”

And then I remembered something I heard the day before: indeed, there are pianos in the streets of Paris so that anybody can play them. This concept is actually an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram.

So here you go, walking through Paris’ streets, and you find a piano, curiously decorated by an artist. Intriguing. And suddenly, someone does not resist any longer, just sits and plays. And people gather, listen. And conversations are born between people who might not even have noticed each other otherwise.

I thought it would be great to share it with you, since the concept seems wonderful to me.

The idea for ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ came from visiting my local launderette. I saw the same people there each weekend and yet no one talked to one another. I suddenly realised that within a city, there must be hundreds of these invisible communities, regularly spending time with one another in silence. Placing a piano into the space was my solution to this problem, acting as a catalyst for conversation and changing the dynamics of a space.

Luke Jerram, creator of ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’

Now, instead of copy-pasting another website or writing a digest from it, I guess it is more useful to send you see the information directly at their source:

Enhancing Tag Cloud Canvas

Tag Cloud Canvas shows a wonderful display of tags. It had one drawback, though: how do you distinguish important tags from irrelevant ones when they all look just the same?

Tag Canvas, no tag highlighting

Yet, TagCanvas (the library noknok used to create the plugin) offers a tag highlighting by size, colors or both.

So, I got my hands into it and modified the noknok’s code to include these possibilities. First, enabling it into the administration widget.

The admin widget for tag cloud canvas

And now, applying the configuration…

Size highlighting
Color highlighting
Combined highlighting

And we are good to go… Is that not what makes tags more interesting than categories?

For information, I submitted my changes to noknok. With some hope, they will be included into the plugin. Otherwise, I will provide my alternate version (if you are unable to do it yourself from my github…).

That’s it. Enjoy!

Darwin’s rules also apply to the music. Do they, though?

DarwinTunes offers a great experiment, trying to prove that music evolves through selection, just as Darwin described about organics. Here is the presentation from their front page:

The organic world – animals, plants, viruses – is the product of Darwinian evolution by natural selection. Natural selection expresses the idea that organisms (more accurately their genes) vary and that variability has consequences. Some variants are bad and go extinct; others are good and do exceptionally well. This process, repeated for two billion years, has given us the splendours of life on earth.

It has also given us the splendours of human culture. This may seem like a bold claim, but it is self-evidently true. People copy cultural artifacts – words, songs, images, ideas – all the time from other people. Copying is imperfect: there is “mutation”. Some cultural mutants do better than others: most die but some are immensely successful; they catch on; they become hits. This process, repeated for fifty thousand years, has given us all that we make, say and do; it is the process of “cultural evolution”.

However, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. For example, how important is human creative input compared to audience selection? Is progress smooth and continuous or step-like? We set up DarwinTunes as a test-bed for the evolution of music, the oldest and most widespread form of culture; and, thanks to your participation, we’re starting to get answers.

However, I am doubtful as for the validity of the conclusions drawn from this study, or at least from what I heard on radio this morning. Continue reading Darwin’s rules also apply to the music. Do they, though?

GWT and Maven: create a project and run it in hosted mode

Title is explicit: how to create a GWT project with Maven? Nothing fancy here, just taking the sample project the Eclipse GWT plugin generates and turning it into a Maven project.

All sources presented in this post can be obtained from my Github.

As for the steps to follow,  Continue reading GWT and Maven: create a project and run it in hosted mode

Syntax highlighting: LaTeX

When I prepared this blog, the first plugin I looked for was a syntax highlighter. I finally chose the Crayon Syntax Highlighter.

Looked right, efficient, got good comments, … Only problem is: $\TeX$ is not supported, and I might post about $\LaTeX$ (actually, I already have).

But luckily enough, you can define your own languages, via some well-chosen regular expressions. And I did! Continue reading Syntax highlighting: LaTeX

The ultimate keyboard

Ironically enough, since I began thinking of this blog (and I set for the name and main concept months ago), I never thought I would post something on keyboards. Well on computer keyboards, I mean.

And yet, here I am. A single link I was sent today lead to this great – well, you will actually be judge on that part – long post.

Ah, keyboards! Dozens of them! QWERTYs, AZERTYs, QWERTZs are those I am most used to. Sometimes, you’d wish you had only one peripheral, but this seems hardly possible able to adapt to all situations. “One to rule them all.” But this hardly seems possible.

Or is it? Continue reading The ultimate keyboard

Maybe I’ll play… or maybe not.

It’s been long since I developed that craving for an artistic ability. Drawing? Two left hands. Writing? No inspiration. Singing? A real disaster. Now, listening to music, I do a lot. Why not playing? But my hands won’t be any use outside of a keyboard. Hey wait! Maybe that’s it?

No way I take lessons. Because I know how I am and how I can let something go if it does not go the way I want. And no way I buy an expensive instrument for the same reason.

But then I remembered my father had what I thought to be a synth, but which actually was a combo organ. Not that I ever saw him play, but he sometimes let my brother or I try it. It must be at my mother’s, so I searched for it, and she finally found it.

So I figured, what’s in there to lose? I know the basics about reading a score, and internet can teach me what I lack. Same thing with a keyboard layout. Why not try out?

So I took the thing home, plugged it in and turned it on. The speaker crackled. Good, it still works. I let my hands lie on the keys and tried randomly one. No sound. Tried left, right. Nothing. Let my hand run the whole length of the keyboard. Dead.

The speaker seems to be all right from the sound it makes when turning on, but somehow the keyboard does not produce any sound anymore. Well, lost for lost, let’s open it and see if there is a wire disconnected in an obvious way (can I not believe in luck?).

That is when I saw this that I remembered one thing: this organ is older than I am. Nothing as obvious as I hoped, and I am more of a software than hardware guy.

Without the knowledge, skills and equipment, I just let despair win. The organ is still at home, laying in a corner. Putting it to repair may be more expensive than buying a new one. Yet, I feel it would be a loss just to throw it away. Maybe one day…