Dec 21, 2009

How to Test Web Sites with IE6 on Windows 7

We’re doing a bit of work testing web sites with IE6 (still! I know!!) since it’s in our browser compatibility list, yet we do all our development using Windows 7.

One little trick we’ve done to make this somewhat easier is to install Windows XP Mode on our machines.  So we can launch the Windows XP VM now and run IE6 inside it, but what we really want to do is just have it appear as an XP Mode application in our Windows 7 start menu like this:

image

This is pretty easy, but it’s not there by default when you install XP Mode.

To get it working just start the XP Mode VM and create a shortcut in the “All Users” start menu to IE6.  Once you do that, it should appear in the normal Windows 7 start menu almost straight away as shown above and you should be all set to go.

I hope that makes testing IE6 just that little bit easier…

Of course the better solution is to drop IE6 support completely and tell people to upgrade to a real browser using a little JavaScript from http://ie6nomore.com

Dec 16, 2009

Learning To Podcast

For a bit of fun I decided to try and record a podcast just to see how it’s done.  As it turns out, it’s not too hard at all.

For my little experiment I wanted to try and do one of those interview style podcasts, not just one where it’s me talking by myself but one with another real live human being at the other end of the line.  Here’s what I did.

  1. Watched a “how to use Skype for Interviews” presentation on slideshare.  Thank you Doug Kaye and Paul Figgiani!
  2. Found a human guinea pig for my little experiment.  Thank you “Subject A”.
  3. Grabbed a utility for recording Skype conversations.  Thank you Call Graph!
  4. Grabbed another utility for post-editing audio files.  Thank you Audacity!
  5. Made a Skype call with Subject A, did the interview and recorded it.  Kind of important.
  6. Did some post editing with Audacity to remove as much microphone bumping and kids screaming in the background as I could.
  7. Exported the edited audio as an MP3 file and done!

I think the end result was reasonably good, though listening to it a few times I realise I need to improve my vocal skills, but hey, it’s a first time go at interviewing and playing with the technology as well so I’ll give myself some latitude for improvement.  I also had a play around with making Subject A sound like they were on a telephone using a VST plugin for Audacity which helped create a nice “calling in to the show” feel.

All up I found it pretty easy to put together, the hard part was finding some useful tips on how to do it.  If you’re thinking of creating a podcast of your own then hopefully this will give you a starting point.