Min-width: A Responsive Web Designer’s Best Friend

Mobile first development is a hard concept to grasp if you’ve been doing web development for a number of years and are used to developing websites for a desktop screen.

If you have started to design websites with more than one device size in mind, then chances are you have dabbled with media queries to some extent. Most likely using the max-width media query.

@media screen and (max-width: 840px) {
  p {
    font-size: 2em;
  }
}

This method is good for taking a desktop optimized site design and making it mobile or tablet friendly. However, this will result in rewriting entire style sets to make the desktop ‘version’ look great on mobile.

Min-width is your new best friend

There is a better way. Start your development and design with mobile first in mind. This probably isn’t the first time you heard this mantra (I also recommend reading Mobile First by Luke Wroblewski). Consider the mobile styles as your base style set, then add to those styles using min-width. This will save you time in the long run, even though it may take you awhile to get used to crafting your CSS with mobile styles as your base styles.

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Netflix on TiVo: Update

This is an update from my previous post regarding Netflix on TiVo. Since that post, the Netflix service on TiVo has gone downhill. Anytime I try to watch a title in my Instant Queue, the video constantly buffers.

When a title loads, the video starts downloading and picks a video quality (which is always low). Once this initial buffer is done, the title plays for no more than 5 seconds and then buffers again. This goes on repeatedly until I decide I’ve had enough and can’t stand 5 seconds of video and 10-30 seconds of buffering.

Initially, I thought it was my network, or my broadband connection with Comcast. I did multiple bandwidth tests and even powered down everything on my network (except the TiVo) so as to alleviate any other processes that could be taking up bandwidth. No improvement. I also have the latest TiVo firmware.

Since the Netflix software on my PS3 works flawlessly (and has more features), I finally realized it must be the Netflix software that is on the TiVo. Or perhaps it is the TiVo server I am connected to which provides all my subscription information. This is unfortunate. Netflix on TiVo, and being able to stream music and photos to my TV, was the main reason I purchased the TiVo box and the subscription.

Now I wonder why I pay for the monthly TiVo service if I can get the same and more features (which seem to work better in my case) on my PS3.

Has anyone else had similar performance issues with their TiVo and Netflix? I welcome any comments regarding this issue.

Google Public DNS released – a word of caution

Yesterday Google launched their Public DNS and many rejoiced in the future of a faster browsing experience. Not me. I have to admit, this worries me a great deal. Call me a cynic, but all I see here is the potential for Google to control the end user’s browsing experience. Those who use this service have no way to control what sites are blocked and which are allowed. Google takes care of it for you. And that is a scary thought. Let’s not forget that Google is the largest advertising and redirection site on the Internet. Why wouldn’t they use this to their advantage and control your Internet experience?

Don’t get me wrong, I think making the browsing experience faster and more safe is a fantastic idea. I love Google. I use Gmail, Google Docs, Google Reader, Google Code, Google Calendar, Google Wave, etc. But Google is not the company I want to control my DNS.

I prefer the OpenDNS approach to DNS rather than Google’s “Public” DNS option.

Why, you ask?

Because OpenDNS allows you to create your own controls to manage your browsing experience the way YOU want, based on your environment; not the way Google has decided for you.

OpenDNS also allows the community to help dictate what sites are malicious and which are not. They also give the community the opportunity to correct a domain tag if it is incorrect, or add a new domain to the list via Domain Tagging. You can also create your own custom set of filters to block sites for your particular environment. For example, if your environment is at home, then you may want to restrict certain sites from your kids. If you are in an IT department environment, you may want to block malware sites. OpenDNS does all this and more, largely driven by what the community wants. Google Public DNS won’t do any of this for you. You get what Google prescribes, no customization available.

In conclusion, there is no way I would consider using Google Public DNS until it becomes more open and allows me to create my own custom set of filters. But even then, I’m not sure they could provide a better free service with all the features that OpenDNS provides. I will stick with OpenDNS. I want to control my own Internet experience, not the other way around.

Acquiring a CableCARD from Comcast

UPDATE: The comcast trickery continues. What they don’t tell you on the website is that if you have additional services, the pricing for a second CableCARD rapidly increases. For example, the digital preferred package (which I have) brings the price of a second CableCARD to $7.95 as opposed to $2.95. Talk about getting nickled and dimed….

Comcast customers beware. If you are want to get a CableCARD to replace your current cable box, you might notice on comcast.com that your first CableCard from them is free. CableCARDs are a necessity if you want more advanced DVR services like TiVo.

Before you start jumping for joy, nothing is free… the CableCARD is free, yes… but in order to get the CableCARD, you must schedule an installation appointment, which will cost you $24 (in my area).

Despite all this, I scheduled an installation appointment. I eventually got the appointment free of charge because there are some major issues between what the 1-888 number folks tell you compared to what the actual local office offers. Evidently there are self-installation CableCARD kits you can pick up from your local Comcast office, but the local office in my area doesn’t offer that option. After going down to my local office and complaining about the inconsistencies of the information I got from the 1-888 number and the information I got from the office, they waived the installation fee.

Once the tech arrived he informed me that they don’t use multi-stream cards because they “don’t always work as expected” with TiVo boxes. So he had to install two single-stream cards. Conspiracy to get you to pay more for not using their Digital Service? I think so… link here.

The Comcast verbage regarding the cost of CableCARDs reads:

…additional regulated fee of up to $2.05 for the second CableCARD in addition to the digital service charge…

I get my cable bill this month and I am being charged for both single-stream cards… $7.95 extra per month.

Thanks Comcast… I have really enjoyed the web of contradicting information regarding your services. I wish Insight still existed.

So be fair-warned. You can research the price difference between CableCARDs and a standard cable box, but what you find out will most likely not be what Comcast decides to charge.