Wednesday, 31 December 2014

iPhone IP Camera - feeling testy?

Would you open the door to this dodgy-looking character?


This is iPhoneIPCamera being used as a door viewer / security camera - it's close to being ready for release. 

I'm thinking of giving the App Store's 'Test Flight' a whirl. If you're interested in being a tester, please email or pm me your email address (Test Flight only caters for iOS8, although the final release will work on earlier systems.)

Saturday, 27 December 2014

New Year offer, Scrutiny 50%

Flagship application, Scrutiny, suite of webmaster tools, is used by larger organisations and individuals alike. (Read more about Scrutiny here) It seems fair to give the smaller businesses the opportunity to buy at a more affordable price.

This offer is now closed.



Why not download now and take advantage of the free and unrestricted trial? Any questions - ask Ash: ashley@peacockmedia.co.uk


Sunday, 7 December 2014

Scripting to create effects with your Hue / LIFX bulbs

This tutorial uses Hue-topia (for Philips Hue bulbs) or LIFXstyle (for LIFX bulbs)

It also uses Applescript. Code is provided below (which you'll be able to modify and develop) and you'll need Applescript Editor which you'll find on your Mac.

This previous article explained how to send a command to switch to a named preset. As from version 1.4 of LIFXstyle and v1.8.1 of Hue-topia it's also possible to read and set the state of individual bulbs or groups (on/off, hue, brightness, whiteness) from a script.

Accessing a bulb / group

To get started, type:

tell application "LIFXStyle"
# or tell application "Hue-topia"
get properties of first lamp
end tell

The result should be something like:

{class:lamp, hue:39, whiteness:225, brightness:225, title:"Living A", identity:"d073d500cc1c", state:true}


You can access a bulb / group by its name or ID. We're using name here (actually called  'title' when scripting). But of course you can easily change this, so to futureproof your script, you might like to use the ID instead (actually called 'identity' when scripting). You can find the identity of a bulb by using the example above.

To access a particular bulb, use something like:

properties of first lamp whose title is "Living A"

(Obviously one of my lamps is called 'Living A' - change that for the name of one of your lamps) 

lamp  is one of your lamps
group  is one of your groups
lamps  gets you a collection containing all of your lamps
groups gets you a collection containing all of your groups

Accessing individual bulbs within a group 

(since HT v1.8.2 and LS v1.4.1)  group contains lamps so:

        set collectionOfLamps to a reference to lamps of (first group whose title is "AllBarSecurity")
        set brightness of first item of collectionOfLamps to 80

Changing the colour of a bulb

This example switches the bulb on and sets the colour to red:

set state of first lamp whose title is "Living A" to 1
set hue of first lamp whose title is "Living A" to 0  # zero is red
set whiteness of first lamp whose title is "Living A" to 0


Note a lamp must be on when you send hue, whiteness or brightness, otherwise the instruction will have no effect. That's just the way the bulbs work. 

Note also that the state being off isn't the same thing as the brightness being 0 (LIFX bulbs fade right down to nothing with the state still set to on. Hue bulbs' minimum brightness is still quite a bit of light.)

whiteness, brightness and hue can be an integer between 0 and 255. state is a boolean so can be true/false or 0/1

Some approximate colour values:

Red: 0
Green: 85
Blue: 170
Yellow: 32
Orange: 20
Purple: 200

Loops and pauses 

All the usual Applescript program flow applies here. The script below will cycle all of your lamps randomly red, green and white. (Perfect for Christmas)

tell application "LIFXStyle"
#or tell application "Hue-topia"
repeat
set n to (number of items in lamps)
set i to (random number from 1 to n)
set whiteness of lamp i to 0
set hue of lamp i to 85 # green 
delay 0.5
set i to (random number from 1 to n)
set whiteness of lamp i to 0
set hue of lamp i to 0 # red 
delay 0.5
set i to (random number from 1 to n)
set whiteness of lamp i to 255 # white 
delay 0.5
#press cmd . to stop
end repeat
end tell


This script cycles a given lamp through the whole colour spectrum:

tell application "LIFXStyle"
# or tell application "Hue-topia"
repeat
repeat with hueValue from 0 to 255
set (hue of first lamp whose title is "Living A") to hueValue
delay 0.1
end repeat
end repeat
end tell

For more documentation see AppleScript Editor's File > Open Dictionary... (choose LIFXstyle or Hue-topia)

If you write a cool script, do share.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Website content audit using Scrutiny

Scrutiny can crawl very large sites and reports a lot of information about your pages and the internal and external links they contain.

If you don't want to buy Scrutiny or can't run it (eg because you don't use Mac OSX) then why not let us do the work and provide the reports?



You can view some sample files here (in html and csv formats) (download them, don't preview, box.com's previews suck).

For more information, contact Shiela or Ashley at support@peacockmedia.co.uk

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

203 server response code

Here's a very interesting code that Scrutiny turned up on a website.


Scrutiny reports '203 non-authoritative information'. W3C elaborates on this a little bit:


Partial Information 203
When received in the response to a GET command, this indicates that the returned metainformation is not a definitive set of the object from a server with a copy of the object, but is from a private overlaid web. This may include annotation information about the object, for example.

So this means that a third-party is providing the information you see. Presumably this is no different from something many of us do - making some space available on the page and allowing Google or another third party to populate it with advertising. (And indeed the page you get at the domain in question here is the kind of thing you'd expect from clicking on an ad).

What's interesting here is that you can visit a domain and see a page not controlled by the owner of that domain. I guess a less responsible owner wouldn't have the server give this response code, but this seems to me like information I'd really like to know while I'm browsing. Should your browser alert you to this?

Friday, 14 November 2014

Link checking Wordpress websites using Scrutiny

This article is for you if you want to scan your Wordpress site for broken links, SEO issues, generate a sitemap, or perform spelling / grammar checks. It also applies to other CMS's which generate 'SEO-friendly' urls.

If you want to start your crawl at the root, www.my-wordpress-site.com then just go ahead, it should be fine and you can limit your crawl if you need to by including or excluding partial urls (blacklisting or whitelisting).

But if you wish to start deep within a site, Scrutiny will limit its crawl to pages within and below that directory. eg www.my-wordpress-site.com/publications/all-publications/

You may know that all-publications is a page. But to Scrutiny it looks like a directory (it's not the trailing slash, it's the lack of a file extension) and it will dutifully check all links on that page but only follow (crawl) links which are in the same 'directory' or below. Therefore your pages won't be fully crawled as you expect.

Since v5.5, Scrutiny has a new option on the Settings screen which allows you to tell Scrutiny that urls are in this form.


It means 'the last part of this url is a filename, not a directory' and so in our example, a crawl starting at www.my-wordpress-site.com/publications/all-publications/  would be limited to the /publications/  directory which is probably what you would expect.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Google recommends submitting a sitemap and outlines best practices

Google and other search engines can discover all of your pages as long as they're all linked. Google recommends submitting an XML sitemap to optimise this process and provide them with more information. In this recent post on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, Alkis Evlogimenos outlines best practices.

I'm happy to see that the sitemap produced by Scrutiny complies with the key points in this blog post, these being:


  • The format of the xml itself, complying with the standard protocol


  • inclusion of the the fields most important to Google; the url itself and  the last modified date
  • exclusion of urls disallowed by your robots.txt (remember to go to Scrutiny > Preferences > Sitemap > tick 'check for robots.txt')
  • exclusion of duplicate pages marked as such by the canonical tag

Scrutiny manages all of this for you, picking up the last modified date from the server, and assigning priority automatically according to your site structure. You can control the changefreq and priority fields yourself by setting up rules:


After scanning your site and generating the sitemap, you can export the xml sitemap and optionally ftp it to your server.

To automate this process, you can schedule your scan (weekly or monthly) with 'Save sitemap' and 'ftp sitemap' as options when the scan finishes.

Scrutiny has a 30 day free and unrestricted trial. Download the most recent version here, and see a full list of Scrutiny's features here

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Album cover art screensaver

Download Screensleeves now - pay what you like in November 



ScreenSleeves has a genuine 5-star rating on MacUpdate, one reviewer commenting that it's the feature missing from iTunes.

If you use other music players, the list of other players Screensleeves currently supports include Spotify, Snowtape, Ecoute and now Rdio.



I love album artwork. Back in the day album covers were 12" square and some really were works of art. Did you used to prop the album cover beside the record player?

The CD cover was smaller, and for downloads the cover is no longer physical. But bands still put much effort into good album artwork and how better to display it while you're not working than with a screensaver?

Screensleeves has several themes including a new full-screen theme with Ken Burns effect.

Why not download and try it right now? The only limitation is a small 'please support' message. Between 1 and 7 of November you can register and lose that message by paying whatever you like. Your key will be emailed to you after you've donated.

This offer has now finished. ScreenSleeves has reverted to its original and very reasonable donation amount of 4.95 sterling.

Friday, 17 October 2014

How to spell check a website

This article uses Scrutiny for Mac which has a 30-day free trial.

1. select the site from the site list, or click New to add the site. Click Next.



2. Check 'Spelling' and (if you like) 'Grammar'. If your language isn't selected in the drop-down list, choose your language too. Click Next



3. Click Go for Spelling and Grammar check. You'll see a progress bar as Scrutiny scans your site.



4. When the results appear, you can sort the table by any of the columns including number of spelling and number of grammar issues. Double-click a page to open a dialogue to step through the issues with the usual stuff; suggestions and 'Learn'.


Thursday, 16 October 2014

How to measure the area of an irregular shape

This article uses Meander for Mac OSX, which has a free trial period

1. View your shape on your screen using any app. This can be a map, satellite view, drawing or anything else.

2. Start Meander. The acetate window should cover the screen. You can resize this if you want to but the acetate should at least cover your shape.

3. Set the scale by dragging the cross-hairs to two points on your map or drawing which are a known distance apart. Type the known distance, not forgetting to select the appropriate units.





4. Trace your shape by pointing and clicking. You can change the style of the line you're drawing by going to Meander > Preferences (cmd-comma). Double-click to finish the line.



5. If you need to , you can adjust your line. Go to Line > Modify points (cmd-R) and drag individual points around.

6. Read off the area and line distance (perimeter). Note that you can choose your units for distance and area.



7. If you need to adjust the distance or area to take account of gradient / hilliness (for example, if you're measuring land for sowing seed), go to Meander > Preferences (cmd-comma) and adjust the slider. (The slider starts off at 'flat' for each new line you draw).



The slider's full setting is equivalent to a gradient (up or down) of 66% / 32 degrees over the entire length of the route or over the entire enclosed area. The slider is liner (eg half-way is equivalent to a constant 33% / 16 degrees) but note that the results aren't linear, and this is as it should be.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Hue-topia is now scriptable

Hue-topia now offers limited scripting support (Hue-topia version 1.7.1 + ). It makes your presets available from other apps or triggered by certain actions.

Below is a brief explanation and then an example of how to control your bulbs remotely by sending yourself an email.

Your presets are available using the command preset:


The name of your preset is case-sensitive. The result will be 1 if the preset was found and triggered, or 0 if there was a problem.

In addition to your named presets, you can use "All on", "All off", "All blink" (the latter could be used to alert you to something like new email coming in).

Control your lights remotely

This example allows you to send an instruction to your lights from anywhere and any device. It sets up Mail to trigger a script when an email is received with a specific subject line.

1. Create a script that says:

tell application "Hue-topia"
preset "All on"

end tell

2. Save the script somewhere.

3. Create a rule in Mail (Preferences > Rules. You will need to add the new script to Mail ( to ~/Library/Application Scripts/com.apple.mail. Or choose “Open in Finder” from the rules window to open the folder so you can copy a script into it.)


4. Create a new script and rule for each preset you want to control by mail.

5. To test, send yourself an email with the subject you've specified in the rule.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

New Year offer, Scrutiny 50%

Flagship application, Scrutiny, suite of webmaster tools, is used by larger organisations and individuals alike. (Read more about Scrutiny here) It seems fair to give the smaller businesses the opportunity to buy at a more affordable price.

This offer is now closed



Why not download now and take advantage of the free and unrestricted trial? Any questions - ask Ash: ashley@peacockmedia.co.uk

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Hue-topia and the Apple colour picker

Since version 1.6, the Philips Hue home lighting controller for OSX, Hue-topia, has had a colour picker built in rather than previously a circular slider. (improved in 1.6.1 and 1.6.2)



Hue-topia now displays the colour in a way which is more akin to the bulb itself, but the colour picker itself is the standard OSX colour picker. The tips below apply to Hue-topia and any other app which uses the standard colour picker.

1. Favourites


When you've found a colour you like, save it as a favourite. Just drag and drop from the large swatch near the top (or from another colour well) to the little palette at the bottom. From now on you can just click on the little palette square to select the colour. Bonus tip - grab and drag that little handle just below the palette when it gets full.

2. drag and drop between colour wells



You don't even need to open the colour picker to copy a colour from one well to another. This works in any app that uses standard colour wells.

3. Other ways to choose colour

You're not limited to that colour wheel. The picker has several options built in - sliders, palettes, image (you can even drag your own image in there) and the very old favourite, crayons.

See the magnifying glass just below the toolbar? Click that to pick a colour from anywhere else on your screen.

If all of this isn't enough, you can add third-party plugins to the picker.

I bet there are some tricks that I've missed. Write them in the comments below.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Screensleeves' new Full-Screen mode

Did you used to prop the album cover up beside the record player when you listened to an LP? Or even sit and hold it while you listened?

The Screensleeves Screensaver is a great way to see the album cover art when you're listening to music (iTunes, Spotify and Snowtape supported). Now it has a full-screen theme which really shows off good artwork or works well if you're a distance from your screen.


It respects the 'Keep centred and static' option. In that case it fits the whole album cover in the screen, with or without the 3D tilting effect. Otherwise it'll use a Ken Burns effect and enlarge the artwork according to your 'Artwork size' setting.




This new theme is in Screensleeves 3.5 which is available for download now. Use it for free (the only limitation is a small 'please support' message).

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Getting started with the EyeSpy247 F+ (and similar) cameras

I've been working with this particular camera for a while now and I'm writing this article to share some information that I've discovered along the way.

Scope of this article: The EyeSpy247 F+ is an older (superseded) camera manufactured by Sercomm. The same camera has been sold under other brands and there are other contemporary models such as the EyeSpy PTZ which share features and interface.

Getting started

If the camera is new or you have done a factory reset (the little hole that you push a straightened paperclip into) then it won't have your wireless details and therefore can't connect wirelessly. You will need to connect it to your network with a cable in order to set up those details. Use an ethernet cable to connect it to your router and power it up. All LEDs should come on briefly and then some flashing lights for a while. Give it a minute before trying to find it on your network.

I have found this stage to be problematic if the camera has wireless details which are out of date. So if you've bought the camera secondhand or if your network has changed, it might be worth doing a factory reset before trying the above.

Unless you've already given it a fixed IP, then the camera will now have joined your network with an IP assigned by your router. To find this IP you can check your router's admin screen or use a utility like Network Device Finder which is a general device finder, or my own IP Camera Utility which will search for these particular camera models. To use these utilities you'll need to know the general scheme of local IP addresses on your network. This is often 192.168.1.XX but if not, you can check using your router's admin interface (Under 'IP Addresses', 'DHCP', something like that). (Or get a clue by checking the IP addresses of your computer / other devices)


Once you've found the IP of your camera, type that into your browser to see the administrator screen. You should be able to view the video from the camera and access its settings. You'll need to give the admin username and password - by default this is 'administrator' and leave password blank. You might like to change this at some point.

Go to Setup > Wireless. If you don't know your router's security method, you can check this within its admin screen. It seems that newer routers use WPA / WPA2 but I've had routers that have used WEP.


You may also be able to copy and paste your router's SSID from the same screen; this is the name that your network is known as under your computer's Airport menu. By default something like BTHub4-3XYZ. (You can leave this on 'Any' but I think things will work better if you give it the name).

If you're using WPA/WPA2, there's just a single box for your key - easy.

If WEP (this confused me for a while)  - Authentication type: Open system, WEP Encryption: 64-bit keys, clear 'Passphrase' and the WEP key fields. Enter your 10-digit key in the 'Key 1' box and save.

I like to give my cameras fixed IP addresses. This saves having to search for them again if anything is switched off and on. Go to Setup > Network, click 'Use the following IP address', pick an IP address (maybe the one that the router has already given it), enter it and save.

With all of this set up correctly, you should be able to disconnect your camera from the power and from the network, wait a few seconds, plug the power back in without the network cable and wait another minute or two.

If all's well, you should then be able to type the camera's IP into your browser and see video.

Note that the button above the camera's lens which lights up when pressed is the privacy button. If this button is lit then you won't get video or sound. You can disable this button if you like, or disable the other LEDs from the camera's admin interface.

To hear sound as well, add sound triggering and saving of video to your computer, you can use my free utility (beta)

Monday, 7 July 2014

Scrutiny v5.2, includes customisable summary report and spell checking

You know when you put something off because something about it just doesn't float your boat, but when you do it you discover it's actually great and works well?

What people have wanted is for Scrutiny to scan a site and produce a report, listing some stats about the site and problems found, also listing the urls of pages needing attention. With a company header so that it can be mailed straight out to a client or manager.

Now that I've done the work and been running it for a while I think it looks great and very useful.


Here's where you switch the feature on, among the list of things that Scrutiny can do on completion.

There are some new boxes in Preferences where you can add your header (as html and css). I've lifted some code from my own website to give my reports this header. The page itself, headings and text are customisable too via the same css.


The summary report contains information about problems found in the following areas: bad links, basic SEO problems, html validation and spelling.

Here's a sneaky peeky at the spelling check too. It allows you to choose language on a per-site basis, it counts spelling / grammar problems as it scans and then allows you to step through the issues on each page and 'learn' any specialist words.


5.2 will be available very shortly as a release candidate. email me if you're keen to try it!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Don Morris on Link Checkers

With many thanks to Don for including Integrity and Scrutiny into his round-up and test of link checkers.

Scrutiny comes out well, especially as this was written before Scrutiny v5 which has a much-improved interface; one of his niggles with the earlier version that he tested.

http://donmorris.com/on/link-checkers

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Google able to index content relying on javascript

When you've worked as a webmaster with accessibility an important part of the job, it's difficult to accept that javascript is now becoming a more legitimate part of the page's rendering process.

Early on, any important content needed to be visible as text with javascript disabled. If it couldn't be seen in a text-only browser without js then it wasn't going to get past me and onto a local government website.

Justifications include Googlebot's blindness to such content and the anecdotal user with assistive technology. (Not really hypothetical, I met some.) But even then I couldn't help feeling that perhaps their software ought to be capable of a bit more, rather than the web being limited by the most basic or old user agents.

I guess the tipping point is the point at which Google is able to index content that relies on javascript to render it. That shoots a big fox of old stalwarts like me and that point has arrived.

This is the reason for Scrutiny now being able to execute javascript before scanning a page (it's early days and if it doesn't work as expected for you, we need to know, let support know.)

This article from Google's Webmaster Central Blog gives their view of the matter. As well as useful tips like making sure the necessary js and css files are accessible by the search engine bots, I'm happy to say that they do still recommend that your pages 'degrade gracefully', ie that users without the latest whizzy browser can still get at your important content.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

HTML sitemap export from Scrutiny

Scrutiny 5.0.9 has just been released. It improves the html sitemap export by adding the option to export the list as a flat list (as before) or a heirarchical list (now the default).

The html export is designed to be pasted into a website's sitemap page. Such a page is usually there to make sure that search engines can find all of the pages on your website.

The heirarchical-style view has been requested because it has other uses.

After scanning the site and displaying the Sitemap in Scrutiny, go to Export > HTML. To switch between flat and heirarchical styles, go to Scrutiny > Preferences > Sitemap.

Here's an extract. It's plain HTML which will obviously pick up the styles from your website stylesheet when added to your site.





You may also be interested in:

How to generate an XML sitemap using Scrutiny

Using canonical href to exclude duplicates from your xml sitemap

Update your XML sitemap by FTP on your server using Scrutiny

Friday, 9 May 2014

Scrutiny (webmaster tools suite) major new release

Scrutiny version 5 is the biggest step forward in its history. It's been well-received during beta testing and is now available as a full release.

The first of the new features is a redesigned user interface. We hope that it looks more welcoming, is more user-friendly and useful. Managing your sites will be easier now with bigger icons, sortable columns (sortable by name, url or last checked date) and a search box.
The next of the new features is website monitoring. It's very easy to add a url for monitoring, and with the 'enabled' checkbox checked and while Scrutiny is running, it'll check that url at the interval you set.
Options include sending GET or POST requests, and setting the code you expect back. You can choose what happens if the expected code isn't received - an on-screen alert, email, and/or writing to a log file.


Workflow is important to many, and I can tell you that setting a site to run on schedule is the best way to ensure that your site stays free of problems. With this in mind, this screen allows you to set a scheduled scan with a number of actions to take when finished.

Different options can be set for each of your sites and Scrutiny doesn't need to be running for a scheduled scan to start.

The new interface is task-based. New users should find it very easy to do what they need to do without reading the manual.
The list of new features is very long. Scrutiny can now handle urls with non-ascii characters (such as Cyrillic script eg Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian Cyrillic). Scrutiny can now execute javascript before scanning a page and drill into pdf documents to find links. It has an option to crawl your site and list pages containing specific text.... Here is a full list of all features, new and old.

Download / buy Scrutiny

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Connected bulbs - a comparison of Philips Hue and LIFX

I'm making this comparison because I'm responsible for OSX apps that control Philips Hue bulbs and I hope to shortly have available two apps which will control the new LIFX bulbs.[edit]LIFXstyle for Mac is now available. I'm now using both types of bulbs in my home and don't favour one brand or the other, although there are pros and cons on both sides which I hope to list below.


The first thing to notice is that the LIFX bulb is physically larger than the Philips bulb. This means trouble fitting certain shades and lamps, but then the Philips bulb is also larger than a regular household bulb (if there is such a thing any more) and I've had trouble fitting those into certain lamps, especially with a screw/bayonet adaptor (more of that later).

Once fitted and switched on, the next noticeable thing is the brightness. The Hue bulbs go to around 600 lumens, and run up to 9W. The LIFX ones go to 17W and 1000 lumens (these are maximums, the actual power and brightness will of course depend on your colour and brightness settings).

Also worth a mention is that the Philips bulbs only come with an edison screw cap (ES). For UK users, this means either buying a fitting which takes screw-in bulbs, or buying an adaptor separately. I found these in a local electrical shop so no problem there but the adaptor does add to the overall height of the bulb. The LIFX bulb is available in bayonet (BC), so more convenient for UK users, as well as screw (ES) and 'downlight'.

LIFX bulbs are 'standalone', ie you just buy a bulb, plug it in and your app connects to it. This is interesting after using the Hue bulbs that require a 'bridge' which helps apps talk to the bulbs. The bridge comes as part of a starter kit with three bulbs, after that you buy individual bulbs. It would be wrong to list the Philips bridge as a con though because it does contain some functionality, for example any schedules that you set up sit on the bridge, so even with your computer off or your iPad away from the house, your lights will continue to operate on schedule.

In both cases there are a few steps to go through to get the lamps set up and your app controlling them. For me this was trouble-free in both cases and I can't say that one was much easier to get running than the other. If anything, the Philips bridge may make things a little more straightforward - you're only required to press the button on the bridge the first time that you run any app that wants to connect to it. and that's it. But in return for this user-friendliness you have got the extra hardware, extra leads to plug in and another power socket taken. The LIFX bulb may have taken a few more clicks to get running, It involves switching wireless networks and entering your regular wifi key to get everything talking. This was straightforward and just a case of following on-screen instructions.

With the bulbs up and running the next big noticeable difference is the colour range. I've seen criticism of the Hue bulbs for the gaps in their colour range. I've developed the app Ambisleeves which changes the colour of bulbs to reflect the album cover of the music currently playing and being displayed by Screensleeves. It's unfortunate that for apps like this, when a primary blue is required, hue bulbs are lacking and a violet-blue is the best they can do. Greens are almost non-existent. I'm not using any kind of measuring equipment, just my eyes, but the difference is obvious. I was very pleased to see the LIFX bulb show a good strong colour all the way around the spectrum. To be fair to Philips, lighting your room with a green light is generally not very conducive to any kind of mood.

Price-wise they're in the same ballpark, although with LIFX you can just buy as many or as few bulbs as you like, with Hue you need the bridge, so your first purchase will be the starter kit and you're paying for the bridge as part of that.

There are naturally some small differences in the way that they function. One that might be of interest is that if you ever use the wall switch, Hue bulbs will forget their previous setting and come on with a default bright white. LIFX bulbs do remember their colour and brightness settings which is a feature I like. In an emergency, you can override to that by using the wall switch to switch on rapidly after switching off which then gives you a bright white light.

If there's anything I've missed, anything you'd like to add or anything you'd like to ask, please use the comments below.



[Edit 27 Oct 2014] I've used both types of bulb in my own home for quite a while now and there's one more thing I'd like to note which will be of interest if you'd like to use the false dawn / false dusk feature. The step between 'off' and minimum brightness is quite a step with Hue bulbs, whereas the LIFX bulbs move much more smoothly from minimum brightness to off.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Scrutiny v5 (webmaster tools) - new features

The first of the new 'killer' features is website monitoring. It's very easy to add a url for monitoring, and with the 'enabled' checkbox checked and while Scrutiny is running, it'll check that url at the interval you set.
Options include sending GET or POST requests, and the code you expect back. You can choose what happens if the expected code isn't received - an on-screen alert, email, and/or writing to a log file.

Next, a couple of new options to make the crawl more flexible.
The support desk has received a few questions over the years about Scrutiny failing to find links on pages where the page requires javascript. If a page has 'nosscript' text then this is what Scrutiny has received, and if the page uses javascript to write content into the page Scrutiny hasn't seen it. We can debate whether this is the best way for a site to behave but Google now seems able to exectute js before parsing it and Scrutiny can now do the same.

Sites sometimes contain documents in pdf format which contain hyperlinks. Scrutiny can now scan those documents and check the links. It's an option turned off by default because pdfs can be huge and loading them in will obviously have an impact on the amount of memory Scrutiny is using.

The first thing you'll notice on starting Scrutiny 5 is the new interface. As Scrutiny has become bigger, the interface has become cluttered and bewildering to some. We hope that the new interface looks more welcoming. The list of sites shows more information than before with bigger icons.
It takes a step-by-step approach with Previous and Next buttons. When you click past the settings screen, you'll see a new list of tasks with a simple checkbox allowing you to run a new scan or use data already gathered.
Workflow is important to many, and I can tell you that setting a site to run on schedule is the best way to ensure that your site stays free of problems. With this in mind, this screen allows you to set a scheduled scan. Press 'Schedule', choose some options including the day and time, and then 'OK'.
From the task list mentioned earlier, it's possible to start a scan manually and then leave Scrutiny to take these actions when it's finished.

I hope that's sparked your interest. Scrutiny 5.0 is ready for beta testing and if you'd like to be involved in return for a free upgrade from v4 then contact shiela@peacockmedia.co.uk

[update added 28 April 2014]
Scrutiny 5 is still in beta but is now on v5.0.3 and the following enhancements have been added:

  • Page character encoding detection is improved, and character encodings now supported include CP1251 (Cyrillic script eg Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian Cyrillic)
  • Now supports urls which include non-ascii characters. Some may argue that this is against web standards, but it's becoming more common and accepted by Google and browsers
  • New option to include <lastmod> in xml sitemap. If this is checked, the last modified date for internal pages is logged (if the server gives it) and shown in the sitemap table

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Using Helen's Website Editor - setting up

Before you can open a page in the editor, you'll need to fill in a few details about your site. If you don't know the server details you'll need to ask your hosts or the person who set up your website. They should be able to tell you:

  • the name of the server for ftp (or IP address for ftp) 
  • a username 
  • a password


To open this box, press the Settings toolbar button or cmd-dot

website: the public address of your website, eg www.mysite.co.uk

server: the address of the server for ftp purposes or the IP address of the ftp server. This may be the same as your website domain name, or a variation on it such as ftp.mysite.co.uk

username / password: given to you by your host or website provider

initial dir: This is not essential, it may not even be necessary. If you don't give it you'll still be able to browse the server for the page you need. If your pages are in a directory called 'docs' or 'htdocs' or similar, then you can enter it here.

stylesheet: Not essential but if you'd like to be able to edit or view your stylesheet, or make use of classes within it when you insert certain elements, then you'll need to enter its filename here. (relative to the ftp server root - add a directory too if necessary). It'll end '.css'.

If not all of the necessary details are filled in correctly, then the editor should tell you which to check.