How to put the Facebook ‘Like’ button on your WordPress blog

Facebook has announced its Facebook for Websites service the their f8 developers conference.  Along with a bunch of other services is a fairly simple little button you can add to any site called the Like Button.  It works in exactly the same way as liking something on your Facebook newsfeed, but it’s for any page on the internet. 

This is what the button looks like when it’s put onto a page:

Like button 

It shows the profile picture of the person who’s viewing the page (if they’re logged into Facebook) and how many other people have liked that page. You can see an example of this on my wife’s site Pea Pilly Bean *.

If you click the Like lutton on any page, it will add a like to that page & post a message on your newsfeed that you liked that page, it looks like this:

Likes on my newsfeed

On the Like button page on the Facebook developers site there’s a handy too that will allow you to generate the code for the button to put on your site. You can put any url in there & it will spit out code that looks like this:

<iframe src="http://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?href=http%3A%2F%2Fblog.slaven.net.au%2F&amp;layout=standard&amp;show_faces=true& amp;width=450&amp;action=like&amp;colorscheme=light" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" style="border:none; overflow:hidden; width:450px; height:px"></iframe>

You can stick this on your site & it will work.  The only problem is that it’s a fixed url.  So if you use your site’s homepage url when people click it, no matter what page or post they’re actually looking at, it will always post the link to your homepage.  This is fine, but it would be way more useful if it posted that they were liking the actual post they’re on.

Fortunately this is really easy to do.  You just need to change the code to this:

<iframe src="http://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?href=<?php echo urlencode('http://'.$_SERVER['SERVER_NAME'].$_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']) ?>&amp;layout=standard&amp;show_faces=true&amp;width=450&amp;action=like&amp;colorscheme=light" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" style="border:none; overflow:hidden; width:450px; height:px"></iframe>

This will then generate a link button for the page you’re looking at, rather than for a fixed URL.  To install this either paste this code into your WordPress template somewhere, or to make it even easier install the PHP Code Widget plugin which allows you to add a widget to your sidebar that you can put PHP code into.  Then just drag the ‘PHP Code’ widget onto your sidebar in the Widgets admin section & paste the above code into it

PHP Code Widget

Click ‘Save’ and you’re done.  The Like button will now show on every page, with the button referencing this page the person is looking at.

The only thing you may have to change is the ’450′ value for the width in the code.  If you want it to be narrower or wider you’ll need to change this value

I’m sure a more sophisticated solution to this will come out fairly soon, but for now this works just fine. Update: There’s now a bunch of plugins that will replicate this functionality, check the comments of this post for some examples

NSW Rural Fire Service current incidents map

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has provided an RSS feed with the latest updates on bush fires in NSW for a while now, and it’s a geoRSS feed with lat/long data included so you can see where each incident happens.  However it wasn’t until this week, when their incident and major updates feeds were included in the data.australia.gov.au repository that I noticed something else.  They don’t just have a location point for each fire, they have the actual boundary coordinates included.

This means that Google Maps can create a polygon overlay of each fire, showing its size and location.  I’ve included it in Google Maps, you can see it here.  Each place marker includes useful information like description of the location, what council area it’s in, what type of fire it is and the latest updates.

Fire Incident Info Box

But additionally, if you zoom into one of the incidents, you can see the outline of the location of the fire and really get a feel for its size and what property it’s near.

Fire Incident Area

After the devastation of last season’s bushfires, and the fact that this season is expected to be very bad, this service is one of many tools people can use to keep up to date.

It’s also worth giving props to the NSW Rural Fire service. They’re the only fire service in the country that is providing this level of detail in their public news feeds, and keeping it updated.  Additionally, as far as I can see, theirs is the only dataset on the data.australia.gov.au that is actually a live data service rather than a CSV or Excel file download.  If the government wants the data provided to be used they’re going to need to provide more live data. Or at least more up to date than last years crime data.

The map below has the RFS incident feed embedded, so it will update as the RSS feed from the RFS is updates. You can click on the link at the bottom to go to Google Maps, where you can add this map to your ‘My Maps’ section for later.

View Larger Map

Oh look, another wonderful music service that I won’t be able to access

No Entry News is that Google will be partnering with iLike and LaLa to provide a music service.  TechCrunch has been pimping the news the last couple of days, with the report being that an announcement is due next week. There is much discussion over what form it will take.  GigaOm’s Paul Bonanos is sceptical that the new feature will involve actually selling streaming/downloads, where as TechCrunch is more upbeat.

While I am interested in seeing what Google’s play will be with this (assuming that the rumours aren’t all hot air) it really underwhelms me, as I know pretty much for sure that I won’t be able to access it here in Australia. Or if it is just a music search engine, the vast majority of its results will be unavailable to me. Pandora is unavailable, last.fm has us on the ‘lite’ version, LaLa is locked down. Even iTunes, which we do have access to, is limited in what they can sell to us dirty non-Americans. 

This is not the fault of any of these sites.  This is the fault of the rights holders, the record labels.  Their inability to see the value in ‘foreign’ markets and their lack of imagination when it comes to monetisation has led to this ridiculous geotarding that we see not just in the music industry but also in the movie, tv and book publishing industries. As I’ve mentioned before, my money is as good as anyone’s (better than, if this trend continues) why won’t you let me pay you for your products?

Update for TweetDeck desktop, good but still not perfect yet

TweetDeck have updated their desktop version to version 0.31. There are a fair few improvements. The main one is updated alerts interface which looks much nicer (shiny glass-like semi transparent look) and is more customisable,  including the ability to only show alerts for certain columns.  You can also cycle through the new tweets in the alert box, similar the way Digsby’s alert box works.  You can also pick which quarter of the screen the notification box shows on and whether to see the full alert box or just the new items summary (see below).

 Full alert box

Summary alert box

It would be nice if you could muck with the opacity on the alerts, but no biggie.

Steven Hodson over on The Inquisitr has done a good rundown of TweeDeck’s features and what he does & doesn’t like.  He still isn’t going to use it for a few reasons, especially because of its lack of spam & keyword filtering and the inability to change the font sizes and a few other UI irritations.  I agree with his points, but these aren’t deal breakers for me.  For the way I use twitter, it’s still the best client.

However there is still one issue that really frustrates me, and I don’t know if it’s just a limitation of Adobe Air (the software TweetDeck runs on) or whether it’s just an oversight but it is really annoying that it doesn’t cache the user profile images.  Every time I scroll up & down the page it has to reload everyone’s profile picks from Twitter as they scroll into view.

Continue reading

Command & Conquer Red Alert coming to the iPhone & iPod touch

It seems like every week or so an new major gaming title is coming out on the iPhone platform.  This one has me very excited.  I loved C&C I had pretty much all the titles and Red Alert was one of the best, remember the Attack Dogs & the Tesla Coils?

Red Alert iPhone

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The iPhone version will be out on October 23rd late October. No word on whether that is for the rest of the world or just the US, but here’s hoping. There’s in-game video here.

It’s going to be an RTS, with resource management and unit command and 12 levels. With this & World of Goo on the iPhone, I’m never going to be bored on the train again!

Update: Looks like Apple’s efficient app review process has delayed the game’s release.  Colour me surprised.

World of Goo available at any price

2DBoy, the makers of World of Goo, have announced that for the game’s 1 year birthday they are making it available at any price.

World of Goo

This is a great idea.  This game is brilliant, it’s entertaining, funny and at times really hard. For an independent software company who have refused to poison their software with useless DRM, this is a masterpiece. You want to get this game, and at any price, it’s a bargain!

If you haven’t seen this game before, you can download a demo. For a description of the game, I defer to Games Radar

The premise, like any good puzzle game, is simple – you need to guide a certain number of blobs across increasingly treacherous terrain. The catch (something else every good puzzler needs) is that the blobs have to stay connected like a giant matrix, so you have to literally build them across the stage. Grab one blob with the remote, move him outside the lattice yet still close enough to latch on the rest of his buddies and so on. Eventually you’ll find a pipe that sucks up the goo and moves it to the next stage. Later you learn that the pipe connects to the World of Goo Corporation, a benign-yet-ominous overseer that uses the goo for drinks, cosmetics and, ahem, personal lubricants. Basically, a mix of Mom’s Friendly Robot Company and Slurm of Futurama fame.

If it were just a matter of linking blobs together, there wouldn’t be much of a challenge, would there? That’s where the physics porn comes in – your various goo creations will behave as a real-world object, bending, falling and teetering depending on their height and length. One early level had us balancing a goo-bridge out a frog’s gaping mouth, with spikes lining the ceiling and floor. If we made the bridge too long, it started to droop and touch the spikes, killing all our precious goo. That’s where pink blobs (balloons, more or less) come into play, and with proper placement, we used them to levitate key areas of the bridge until the end-of-level pipe appeared.

Also, while you can’t read their blog at the moment due to the huge amount of traffic they’re getting, they announced there that an iPhone version is coming too. Awesome!

We have it running well on the iPhone 3GS, and with a little luck we hope to get it running smoothly on the 3G as well. Hopefully more news on this soon.

World of Goo iPhone 

Kyle Gabler the co-founder of 2D Boy a while ago posted the soundtrack for World of Goo on his site. You can download the whole thing for free.

Video of the Australian Left 4 Dead modder who flew Valve's Gabe Newell out to Australia

This is just all kinds of awesome:

Joe W-A was miffed when the L4D campaign mod he’d been working on wasn’t deemed awesome enough to warrant him being flown to Valve HQ to preview L4D2. Other modders were, mostly to get them onside as peer-leaders to counter the odd anti-L4D2 community uprising happening at the time. Anyway, Joe managed to get Gabe Newell to agree to fly to Brisbane, Australia to check out the mod-in-progress – provided Joe paid the airfare. “I was just joking”, said Gabe today. With pure internet inventiveness, Joe got the community rallied and raised the fare in a couple of days. Today in Sydney, the great meeting took place, and we were privileged to witness it.

The site he created to raise the funds is here, which has screenshots of the email conversations between Joe and Gabe. Three days to raise AU$3000, now that’s impressive crowd-sourcing!

Joe & Gabe

What is a browser?

While this post makes me worry a bit, it in no way suprises me.  The lack of knowledge that the general public has around the technological tools they use every day is still incredible.

Official Google Blog: What is a browser?.

The little video that Jason has done up for this post is well worth pointing people to when they get confused, it’s a very susinct explaination of the difference between an operating system, a search engine and a browser.

It reminds me of this video where they randomly asked people “What is a browser

It’s the end of the world as we know it

So as everyone knows, the east coast of Australia was covered with a massive dust-storm.

The fiery haze was the result of the sun hitting the blanket of dust, Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Jane Golding said.

"The reason for the dust is we had some really strong winds in the inland areas of NSW and in South Australia for a sustained period yesterday," she said.

"That’s lifted a whole lot of dust off the ground because it’s quite dry out there. Many of those areas are still drought affected."

The lifted dust had been carried by the winds into Sydney.

"I’ve not seen anything like this before," Ms Golding said.

Sydney Harbour Bridge in dust storm

My wife has some photos from our house this morning showing what it looked like when we woke up:

View from my house

Weatherzone has some satellite imagery showing the dust, but it’s mixed up with cloud cover too. The Japanese MTSAT satellite has a good wide shot of Australia showing the dust cloud stretching all the way up to Queensland.

MTSAT

But by far the best footage is this video from Broken Hill in western NSW. (For those who don’t know this is where Broken Hill is)

Bing has 10% search market share. Maybe.

So the latest news is that Microsoft’s Bing search engine has nabbed 10% of the US search engine market and is now the fastest growing search engine. If Jason Calacanis is right, and every 1% of the search market is worth US$1billion then this is a nice chunk of change for Microsoft. 

However I contest that these results should not be encouraging for Microsoft, for a couple of reasons.

  1. They’re still in a bit of a honeymoon phase with Bing.  They’re still releasing new functionality (You need to switch to United States to see that) and people are experimenting with it.
  2. But more importantly I think, a lot of IE6 users had their default search set to Bing (and for a while there, couldn’t change back).  But none the less a significant proportion of the browsing public still use IE6. Around 25% at last count, and a significant proportion of these will have the default search engine set.  Defaults matter.  Also, a fairly large chunk of these IE6 users will be corporate users who cannot change what browser they use due to (often misguided) corporate IT rules. 

    Browser Market Share

 

What this means in practice is that a lot of those using Bing aren’t choosing to do so (or are just giving it a shot), and if & when they are able to choose, they’re likely to go for Google.  As corporate environments ever so slowly upgrade, they’ll allow users to at least move to better versions of IE, and possibly other browsers.  When you install IE8 it asks you what search engine you want to use, and browsers like Firefox just set it to Google.

So while the month-on-month growth that they’ve seen over the last few months may be real, I’m not convinced the base numbers are really representative of persistent usage.  If overnight people dumped IE6 for something better (oh please, Dear Lord, make it so) I think you’d see Bing’s usage numbers go through the floor.