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. Integrity Pro has the spell-checking functionality but not grammar.

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

2. In the settings, check 'Spelling' and (if you like) 'Grammar'. If your language isn't selected in the drop-down list, select that. Click Next

3. Click 'Scan now' in Scrutiny or 'Go' in Integrity Pro. You'll see a progress bar as it 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/ 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.