Once again it’s been a long time since I released an update to the JavaScript Image Cropper UI, for reference v1.2.1 was released in 2009 and the previous version in 2006!

There was a comment recently basically saying that it “used to be great but is not supported as the last update was 2009”, which is quite far from the truth; as anyone who contacts me with a problem/question that I can replicate or help with can attest to. The long times between updates with the cropper are purely because the script is stable (thanks in no small part to building on top of stable & well maintained libraries) and continues to work for people who download it and I haven’t had reports of any issues that would require a new general release.

However I have received information from a few people noting that they were having some issues in IE9. Not having that at hand to test I could only go on the few 3rd party reports I had, but now I’ve managed to test in IE9 and have ensured all the examples work. This only required updating to the latest versions of prototype & script.aculo.us and no other changes.

So the 1.2.2 release contains no new code, only updated examples & the IE9 support notice (that you’ll probably need the latest versions of the libs for it to work). This post is more for the “I/its not dead” message.

Screenshots of an iPhone showing the broken background and the working background
Updated: 22nd Feb 2010
I experienced a slightly odd bug in the latest version of mobile Safari on iPhone where it was shrinking large background images applied via CSS to fit within the confines of the screen. Not finding anyone else who has written about this problem I thought I’d share my findings.

Firstly a bit of background, the company I am working for at the moment recently released a real-time CSS editor (of sorts) which I built that allows customers to style their sites using nothing more than uploaded images and some UI controls – for more details on that you can see a video of it in action on this blog post and some of the amazing results that customers have been able to achieve with it.

Yesterday one customer reported an issue where a large background image (1800×2520) was being shrunk on the iPhone. I did quite a lot of investigation and to cut a long-ish story short I discovered that there is a tipping point where the total pixel-area of an image causes mobile Safari to resize the image. This tipping point appears to be at 2,000,001 pixels.

Read on for a bit more of a breakdown of my experiment results.
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No IE for You!
The title of this post was going to be:

If Microsoft Insist On Making It Nigh-on Impossible For Us To Test IE Effectively Then Why Do They Think We Should Bother Supporting It?

But I decided that was a bit too long, so I took inspiration from the soup kitchen chef instead, it’s more to the point.

Anyway the reason I’m back writing about adventures in IE testing land is I have a week of some horrid IE browser testing of my current, JavaScript heavy, project coming up if the first quick check through all versions of IE is anything to go by. Yes I know I should have been testing as I went along, but having to refresh 9 browsers with every change really kills my buzz (especially when 3 of those are IE).

So I did some initial browser testing last week and got zero issues in 6 browsers, but each version of IE threw up massive amounts of JavaScript errors — absolutely all over the place — and we all know how annoying debugging JS is in IE. This combined with my aging (and decidedly creaky) Windows XP Virtual Machine (running in Parallels on a Mac Pro with more than enough grunt to run multiple VM’s all at once) meant that tonight I decided to look for new alternatives (as multiple versions of IE on a single VM have never been great anyway).
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It’s been a long time since I released an update to the JavaScript Image Cropper UI (for reference v1.2.0 was released on 30th Oct 2006!).

However it is still going strong and a couple of things prompted me to release this update to bring it to v1.2.1.

The first thing was Tom Hirashima (sorry Tom, wasn’t sure if you have a site you want me to link to) sent me an email last week with an update to the code to allow it to work with the latest versions of Prototype & script.aculo.us out of the box ( & 1.8.2 respectively). Although the last time I tried the cropper with the latest versions of them both it worked fine, you just had to change the bundles that script.aculo.us included, Tom has made some further changes. This is a good thing as for the past couple of years I’ve pretty much been out of the prototype & script.aculo.us loop having moved to MooTools and now jQuery (which I hated at first, but that’s another story).

The second thing was that the cropper was mentioned (and my how old does this site design look to me now) in the latest (and as usual excellent) Railscast, Cropping Images.

As a part of integrating Tom’s changes I decided to tackle a load of bugs from the bug list to try and reduce the list so I can keep on top of it better going forward (a long list of open bugs is never conducive to getting any of them fixed).
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Just a very quick post to let you all know that my community-driven music recommendation site Where to Start With has just left private beta. Not only that but we have launched what we think is a killer new feature, there is a lot more detail (and a screencast) in the blog post over at our Where to Start With blog.

Screenshot of my new F1-focused site F1heat.com
I have been thinking about writing articles on F1 on my here for quite a while, as I have found myself getting more and more interested by the sport (as of writing it is currently less 4 days, 1 hour and around 10 minutes before the start of the 2009 season and I can’t wait!) and getting more involved on F1 sites, with comments etc. I have also started to notice that in quite a lot of places that I would like to write more than short comments (I don’t like to read essays in comments, so I try not to leave them too) but also I feel that I have more to add with original articles of my own.

So I’m going to give it a whirl, it might be rubbish – but lets hope not.

However instead of posting on this site under an F1 category I decided to start a new site entirely dedicated to my F1 musings, to keep it separate from all the techy stuff I write here, so behold F1heat.com.

Screenshot of the Where To Start With homepage
I’d like to introduce to you my brand new site Where to Start With, which I have been working on in my spare time for a while (more on this in future posts).

The elevator pitch for Where to Start With goes like this:

Where to Start With helps you when you’re trying out new bands and artists by providing community-powered recommendations written by die hard fans.

If that new band you want to try has 10 CD’s out, then Where to Start With will give you… well, where to start with them!

The whole idea behind this site came from a need me and my friend found ourselves having; many times we would hear a song or read about a band that sounded interesting but then when we did go to try that band we would find they had a handful of releases out already. Where is the best place to start with them? Traditionally unless you got a specific recommendation for an album you would just try the lucky dip approach and hope you found a winner. If you got lucky you might have just found your new favourite band, however if you picked a rotten egg you may dismiss your potential new favourite band based on your opinion of one of their poorer releases.
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Just to get you up to speed if you don’t know what Hulu is and what situation is before I get to the rebuttal I found today:

Hulu is a (US only) website which allows you to stream TV shows (in pretty good quality) to your computer via Flash, it has deals with some of the major US TV companies and has shows added very shortly after they are originally aired and seem to stay available online for a long time (e.g. much more than the 7 days you get with the iPlayer). You get very few advert interruptions, roughly 4 or 5 for a program that would run an hour on TV, and the adverts generally only last around 15 seconds or so, aiming to take the amount of time that you would normally spend fast forwarding through 3+ minutes worth of adverts if you recorded a program on your PVR.

It really is a top-notch user experience and it is the kind of thing that could really take off big, and from what I’ve seen of other services is the closest thing in to my In an ideal world thoughts when I wrote about the BBC iPlayer over a year ago.
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I’ve just come across this post on dead simple task scheduling in Rails by the guys at intridea. It looks like a really nifty way to setup scheduled tasks in your Rails app, previously I had my tasks in rake files which I would then hit with cron.

While that is working perfectly adequately for my current setup it does have one downside, when I setup a new server I will have to setup the crontab file too. With this method when I deploy my app my scheduled tasks would get deployed and be running out of the box. Nice.

Yesterday I went for a root canal. I wasn’t entirely sure what the process involved and somewhere in the past I had gotten it into my head that a root canal could possibly be quite unpleasant. However I have never really had much of a problem with going to the dentist or having work done on my teeth so I wasn’t worried (much), but I can imagine that others might not be so lucky.

I had been referred to a dentist that specialises in doing root canals, so this was my first visit to this dentist and he did a few things that showed he really empathised with his customer.
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