Astute observers of Microsoft's progress on Internet Explorer 7 will note that the team has reached a significant milestone, and that means it's probably time to get serious about checking out the latest versions. Most of us who hack around on websites probably haven't invested too much time in trying it out so far, but there's a couple things that make the latest build worth installing.
First, this is the real Beta 2. Having installed some older versions, we could have sworn they used that name before, but those were apparently previews of this beta. If only there were a greek letter that somehow preceded "Beta"! Nitpicking aside, the IE Team's blog has a surprising but exciting announcement that with the release of Beta 2 there's now telephone support available for IE7 users. For free. That's a pretty cool thing to do for beta software, and great to see.
There's also a really great readiness toolkit, which has the essentials for installing the latest builds, but also has some real time-savers like a compatibility checklist, links to developer blogs that talk about IE, and tools for checking your site's compatibility with the new browser. It's a must-have if you're looking to save time in preparing for the new browser.
Just as important, the IE team has provided a system for feedback where you can submit bugs or issues that you find with the new browser. If you haven't been keeping track of Microsoft's progress in trying to be more open about these kinds of things, you might be pleasantly surprised how good the IE team is at incorporating this kind of feedback.
Last but not least, Microsoft partnered with the folks at CNET's Download.com to start up a new IE Add-Ons site. A lot of the items there so far look like general system add-ins or old-fashioned plugins more than the kind of browser enhancements in Firefox's extensions directory, but that'll probably get better over time. For now, it's a good sign that Microsoft is caring again about making their browser of use to power users and web developers just as much as to people who just use the browser that came with their computer.
That leads to the best example of that new commitment, as well as the one must-have download for people using IE7 today: The web developer toolbar for IE7. Those of you who are as addicted to the Firefox Web Developer extension as we are will definitely appreciate having this new resource available.
This weekend, a bunch of us from Six Apart are going to be at Maker Faire at the San Mateo Fairgrounds, and you should come out and join us! Maker Faire is shaping up to be an incredible event, hosted by the good people at Make Magazine and featuring thousands of creative Do-It-Yourself types showing off their work. As the Faire site says, you'll be joining "the creators of MAKE magazine, the MythBusters, and thousands of tech DIY enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, science clubs, students, and authors".
There is of course a full program of interesting events and displays, but we'll be showing off some of the stuff we make here at Six Apart as well, with a number of our team members participating in the Faire.
If you check out the Six Apart booth, you'll be able to use the LiveJournal makerphone, created by the makers on the LiveJournal team. Just pick up the receiver on the old fashioned payphone, say whatever you’re dying to share with the world, and when you hang up it will be posted instantly to the makerphone journal using LJ’s voice posting feature and a VOIP connection.
We'll have discounts for TypePad available at the booth as well, and lots of schwag. Or you can talk to the Movable Type team to find out about some of the cool tech behind the Make Blog. The San Mateo Fairgrounds are family-friendly, so grab the kids and the robot and come on out.
Forrester Research has a pretty great track record of "getting" blogging. In fact, Charlene Li was writing in-depth reports about business blogs well ahead of the pack. Now Forrester is set to share some of their knowledge by hosting a boot camp called "Blogging Fundamentals: Building A Business Strategy." The May 11th event is a full-day strategy session in which analysts Charlene Li and Peter Kim teach participants how to develop a first-class blog program for their companies. Attendees will:
- Understand the current state of the blogosphere from corporate and consumer perspectives.
- Build sound, consistent business cases for blogs within their organization.
- Learn how to set up and manage a blog.
- Identify the top blogging vendors.
- Craft the elements of a corporate blogging policy.
The boot camp will conclude with an outside panel that will offer best practices in corporate blogging. Our very own Marissa Levinson, Director of Business Development and Sales, will participate in that panel.
Potential attendees, here's all the relevant data (including a discount for Six Apart customers):
Date: Thursday, May 11, 2006, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. Forrester will host a networking wine and cheese reception following the Boot Camp.
Location: Forrester Headquarters, 400 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA 02139
Cost: $2,500 or 25 Service Units. $2,250 for Six Apart clients.
How to register: Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Blogging Fundamentals: Building A Business Strategy for more information.
As blogging starts to grow into a bigger industry with more money and resources pouring into it, we want to make sure that the people who benefit most are the community members who make all of this possible. For us, one of the best signs of the healthy ecosystem that's developed around blogging is that more people make a living working on Six Apart platforms outside our company than inside, even though we've been growing pretty rapidly over the past few years.
The latest example of how we're trying to invest in increasing the value of blogging skills is The Style Contest. Maybe it's because our co-founder is a designer herself, but it just seems to make sense that people who do smart, creative work should get rewarded for it. And it's not just the money (although $4000 in cash doesn't hurt!) but the recognition that helps show that all of us together have helped blogs succeed this far, and are going to be what takes blogging to the next level.
This goes for everyone else in the community, too. Plugin developers. folks who help build out templates for people, those who offer their expertise as consultants, everyone has got an opportunity. Frankly, those of us who build the tools shouldn't be the only ones who see the benefits of the booming popularity of blogs. If they say software development is supposed to be one of the best jobs in the country, then we'd like to help make it even better, by doing things like helping Professional Network members find jobs doing the work they love. For bloggers in general, we've got efforts from our affiliate program to TypePad's tip jar that let you get as much out of blogging as you put into it.
We're definitely proud that our company's been growing in the same way that blogs themselves have been. But if you're a designer, or a developer, we just wanted to take a minute to let you know, especially if you're a Professional Network member, that we're even more excited about opening up opportunities for you to benefit from blogs as well.
The New York Times today has a story on older bloggers enriching their lives by starting blogs and engaging with people online.
Prominently featured is Ronni Bennett's Time Goes By, one of the very first sites we ever featured on our TypePad featured sites list. Ronni's lived an amazing life, which she talks about in detail on her site. But almost as interesting is the TypeList of Elderbloggers on her sidebar which lists dozens of blogs written by people in their 50s, 60s, 70s, or older. It's a great way to discover blogs by those who are experienced enough to really have a story to tell. This is perhaps best summed up in the Times story:
With a breadth of experience and perspective, older bloggers are staking out a place in the blogosphere — a medium overwhelmingly dominated by the young. Perhaps more attentive to grammar and less likely to use cutesy cyberspeak, older bloggers expound on topics as varied as poetry and politics, gardening and grandmothering. According to a recent report by the Perseus Development Corporation, a research company that studies online trends, the Internet is home to approximately 54.3 million blogs, nearly 60 percent written by people younger than 19. Just 0.3 percent of blogs are run by people 50 or older, yet that's still about 160,000 bloggers.
(Thanks to Doug Bowman for the link.)
The Webby Awards have been recognizing the best sites on the web for ten years, an eternity in Internet time. After weathering the ups and downs that have affected the web world as a whole, this year's crop of nominees seems like a nice return to form, with some well-deserved recognition for sites that are doing innovative work.
Of course, our attention goes first to the blogs on the list, and this year there are three blog-related categories, for the best blogs about business, culture, and politics. We're thrilled to help power 11 of the 13 nominees, and encourage you to take a look at all of them.
With our focus on business blogging, it's especially satisfying to see smart examples of the power of business blogs such as 5 Blogs Before Lunch on TypePad, and General Motors' Fastlane blog and Inc.com, which both use Movable Type.
In the Culture/Personal category, we're fortunate enough to get to help every one of the nominees create their influential and entertaining sites. Boing Boing, Treehugger, we make money not art and popular videoblog Rocketboom are all powered by Movable Type, and show the breadth of content that blogs can cover, from activism ot geekery to pure personal expression. Of course any blog category with "personal" in the title wouldn't be complete without some cute kitten pictures, so TypePad-powered Cute Overload has stepped up to become the internet's definitive reference on fuzzy little animals with big eyes.
On the other end of the spectrum, some of the most serious content in the blogosphere comes from political blogs. All the nominees use Movable Type, but the goal is always to have things like tools and technology get out of the way and let people share their ideas -- these political blogs exemplify this potential. BAGnewsNotes and The Huffington Post both offer progressive politics in daily doses with a healthy amount of the personal voice and passion the blogosphere is famous for. And CJR Daily lets the Columbia Journalism Review focus its attentions on the media itself, with an intelligent analysis of the trends and techniques that various media outlets use to get their message across.
More than just blogs
It's not just the blog-related categories that have a lot to show us, of course. Activism nominee Feed Me Better has a news blog powered by Movable Type. Navigation nominee Phylotaxis is part of Seed Magazine's relaunch. Our friends at multiple-nominee Flickr use TypePad for their excellent blog, as does Employment nominee Monster, Financial Services nominee PayPal, Food and Beverage and LifeStyle nominee Epicurious, Guides/Ratings/Reviews nominee HybridCenter and IT Hardware/Software nominee MailChimp. On the other side of things, Technology nominees Technorati, Magazine nominees Make, News nominees Guardian, Politics nominee Mother Jones, Telecommunications nominee Wifi Net News, Travel nominee Lonely Planet, and Newspaper nominees The Village Voice and The Washington Post use Movable Type.
Of course, all of these sites really show the breadth that blogs can have, from the trivial to the profound, from cat pictures to corporate announcements. We've been fortunate enough to be recognized in the past by the Webby Academy for both Movable Type and LiveJournal, and ultimately it shows that while blogs aren't about winning awards, any opportunity to recognize good work is worth the effort.
Sometimes when you're on crunch time in building a site, you just need a couple of simple pixel icons to really help a design sing. One of the coolest new resources we've seen is Mini Pixel Icons, which offers exactly what the name implies. There's a pile of icons you can use freely for up to 10 icons, and all you have to do is provide a link or get a license if you wan to use more than that. Worth bookmarking for future reference.
We've got a whole pile of Mac nerds in the office who spent all day busily installing Boot Camp, and now that they've realized that... hey, it's just Windows, they're looking for something new to play with. Maybe it's time to check out Affrus, a new IDE for Perl hackers on Mac OS X. Seems like a nice tool to try out for people who are doing advanced Movable Type plugins or who want to work on the LiveJournal code base, or even if you just like getting your hands dirty with Perl. All the basics are there, like solid text editing, Perltidy integration, and Finder integration, but there's also a robust set of debugging functions that you can access through the graphical interface or through the command line.