Friday, December 22, 2006

Lightbox with iFrames Reloaded

I recently redesigned my picture gallery as part of moving my website to a WordPress powered site. As part of that redesign, I wanted to move my full size picture view to one that uses LightBox JS 2.0. That worked out smashingly until I decided that I wanted the home movies in my gallery to also display in a LightBox frame. Turns out that LightBox is coded to display image files and does not work out of the Box (har har har) for displaying movies.


After a quick google search I stumbled upon the MPOV blog and a post on Lightbox with iframes. I downloaded his script and plugged it in instead of my current lightbox.js file. It worked great to display the movies. To display my Flash movies in the new iFrame LightBox JS v2.0 I just edited the existing link to the Flash created simple HTML file to include the rel="lightbox" property. The HTML file is simply a file with an embedded Flash movie (.flv) playing file (.swf).


My issue with the new hacked LightBox was that although it now allowed me to define a height for the iFrame and Lightbox, it didn't support setting the width of the iFrame and the LightBox. So, when my Flash movie would load in LightBox it, depending on its size, would have a scroll bar. You can set the width at the top of the lightbox.js as the iFrameWidth variable but my videos are a variety of sizes so I needed to be able to dynamically set the width for the LightBox/iFrame.


No biggie, though, with the addition of a few lines of code the new Lightbox with iFrames now supports setting the height and width of the iFrame and therefore LightBox. To pass in the width and height use: rel="lightbox|WIDTH|HEIGHT". For instance if you want to display a 640px X 480px movie you would use rel="lightbox|660|500" The script automatically adds the defined LightBox border (var = borderSize) x 2 to the width and height.


Download the new LightBox with iFrames Reloaded

Install by changing the extension to .js from .txt and replace your existing lightbox.js file with the new one.

Note: You will need the full LightBox v2.0 installed already which you can download from here.


For an example of using LightBox to open embedded Flash movies and standard JPG images check out our Picture Gallery. Click on one of the movies links from the first page to see an iFrame + LightBox being used to display the Flash Video or one of the thousand pictures for the standard LightBox image usage.


Thanks to Lokesh Dhakar for the LightBox script and Tim Morgan cool iFrame hack.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Soap" Wireless Mouse : DIY

Soap is a hybrid mouse created by Microsoft Labs and UW researcher Patrick Baudisch. The Soap Mouse is an awesome idea that is amazingly easy to do yourself. In a super surprising move from Microsoft, Patrick's Soap website includes not only a very detailed pdf how-to but also a great movie how-to build your own soap mouse.

The mouse is made by removing the internals from a wireless mouse, performing a bit of modification, placing them into a reclaimed Rite Aid hand sanitizer bottle, and placing that assembly into a fuzzy sock. The soap mouse works by reading the inside of the sock by the normal mouse optical unit as the above created assembly is rotated inside of the sock in a very soap bar in your hand kind of motion.

The Soap DIY includes information for two versions, a gamers soap mouse and a 2D display mouse for more usualy mousing. The 2D is more difficult to make but (for most games) having a gamers soap mouse requires you to have a keypad to do your AWSD moving.

I love this creation for a bunch of reasons: It is a new take on the age old mouse input device, it is a pretty easy and inexpensive ($35) geek DIY project, and it just looks cool. I am seriously considering making it but am still trying to figure out when I would really use the little sock mouse.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Create a favicon.ico with Photoshop

Ever noticed that the little icon next to the URL in your address bar? For some websites the icon is customized and for others it is either blank or a default icon. That icon is actually pulled from a file on your webserver called favicon.ico. The favicon.ico file tells the browser what 16x16 pixel icon to display when people browse to your website. The icon will also appear to the left of your favorite entry for any website with a favicon.ico.

So how do you get your own icon for your website? You need to create a file named favicon.ico and upload it to the main directory of your websierver. Sounds easy enough, right? Well almost, the only thing that makes this tricky is this very tiny image file is in a format most image editors can not save as a default. This little devious file is a Windows Icon Format file (.ico) which should spread dread into the hearts of MAC users everywhere. No fear, though, with a little plugin you can use good old Adobe Photoshop to create your very own favicon.ico file.

First, go to: this website and download the ICO format plugin for your version of Photoshop (MAC and PC are different). Next, follow the included instructions to drop the ICO plugin into your Photoshop plugins folder. Now the fun part, get your self a 16x16 pixel canvas and design your favicon.ico. A little hint is to use a canvas of 32x32 and then change the image size right before you save so you can actually see what you are doing! Now, choose save as and select Windows Icon Format (ico) from the format dropdown box. Last upload your file to the home directory of your webserver.

The first thing I know you are going to do is go to your website to see your nifty new website icon! Sadly, though, there is a good chance you will not see it :( Browsers are iffy on when they check for the new versions of favicon.ico. Some check when you refresh, some you have to clear the cache, some you have to bookmark the page, others you have to jump on one foot while left clicking! Anyways, just give it some time and sometime your new image will pop up on your address bar.