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Chris Dempsey
Website designer + developer for 15 years.
Website designer + developer for 15 years.


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The double life of Captcha anti-spam tests

Those cryptic letter identification tests to prove you are human do something in the background you might not know about.

They are actually real objects that computers need help to understand.

Solving them helps computers learn skills that help preserve books and improve maps:

Every time our CAPTCHAs are solved, that human effort helps digitize text, annotate images, and build machine learning datasets. This in turn helps preserve books, improve maps, and solve hard AI problems. [1]

That's all kinds of clever, devious and helpful all at the same time.

Read more about reCaptca at:

And the new and improved noCaptcha at:


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Blueprint for the perfect blog post in 7 remarkably easy steps

This is the first in a series of articles for small business owners that explore the the blueprint professional bloggers use to create awesome posts their audience can't wait to read and share.

7 steps that will take you from capturing ideas to promoting your posts:

1 Idea capture
2 Drafts
3 Research
4 Blog post structure
5 Build the post
6 Images
7 Publish and promote

See the full article which includes additional insights and resources at
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24ways, the advent calendar for web geeks is back!

The annual assault of quality web design and development articles is well under way. Actually we're 8 days in and I only just remembered it's that time of year again.

So grab a coffee while you take some time to hear from the experts and see what techniques and experiences you can add to your own workflow.

Performance is an area of web development I don't think gets enough attention so I'm starting with Helping VIPs Care About Performance:

Learn something new over on

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On 21 April Google will change the way your website is ranked.  In response to the explosive growth in search from mobile phones and tablets the significance of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal will increase.

Google have said this will have a significant impact in our search results and is a clear indication that mobile-friendly websites will have an advantage over others.

Find out more about the mobile-friendly change and what 3 actions small business owners need to take now in this short 4 minute read:
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Bug + Issue Tracking

How do you keep track of bugs and issues?

Unfortunately I wasn't blessed with a killer memory (unlike a certain graphic designer I know who can name every font used on every project since leaving High School 20 years ago).

I'm looking for a light weight, fairly generic system that will allow me to record issues and resolutions, mainly so I can quickly look back to how an issue was solved previously.  Issues would relate to any part of what I do, not just website development ie. hosting, email etc.


Not all required but most would be nice to have.

- searchable
- ability to organise by client each with option for multiple projects per client
- tags to list issues by type without knowing client/project name
- low cost or free


The types of items I would like to track include:

- Changes made to web, mail or database server configuration
- Mailbox migration failed, record config settings that allowed it to work
- Outlook for Mac fails to sync calendar with Exchange - record OSX and Outlook versions plus fix implemented

The type of solutions I've found so far have been orientated towards teams, code or client helpdesks.  Other than writing something myself can anyone suggest a tool that might do the job?

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How do you deliver CMS training?

Picture the scenario.  You've sweated over creating a killer website, probably spending  longer than you should have honing honing and polishing it to perfection.  Your client is happy, pre-flight checks are complete and it's ready to launch.

But how do you deliver training so your client can use the CMS effectively?

The approach I use is to create a Website Manual, typically 8-12 pages accompanied by by a generic Content Editor's Guide covering terminology and the layout of the Control Panel.

On most jobs these are presented at a 1 hour training session shortly before website launch to give those who are charged with using the CMS a chance to see the system in action and ask questions.

One executive's response to a 14 page Manual was simply I'm not reading that.  Apart from being a kick in the teeth for half a day's work being shot down, shouldn't an executive of an international business be delegating this type of thing anyway?

Back on point, these Manuals broken down by task so the most anyone needs to read to be able to perform any task is 400-500 words, with pictures - can it be any more simple?

I'm starting to think there must be a better approach. 

Recently I tried a remote screen share session to save making a 3 hour round trip to deliver training.  Even with the screen share session, Website Manual and Content Editor's Guide my client has struggled to create new pages.  Fair play though, they are trying which is more than some.

To help out with the specific queries raised by this particular client I created some short screencasts with audio to talk the client through the process along with live visuals showing mouse movement etc.  I've not requested feedback yet but I'm starting to think this is the way forward.

Does anyone have any experience using screencasts to deliver initial training or to answer specific queries?

I used Jing, a free tool from TechSmith to create the screencasts.  The only limitations I've found so far are the 5 minute recording limit (can't complain, when it's free) and it only saves files in .swf format.

Can anyone suggest an online service to convert .swf to .mp4 or .mpg?

Related Links

Jing screencast and screenshot software:
TL;DR Rubber Stamp:

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A colaborative library about programming and development.

I love curated content and Devcharm, announced today, is going straight on my weekly reading list alongside the likes of the Web Development Reading List by Anselm Hannemann.

At first glance Devcharm looks like it could even replace the list of resources I maintain for my own reference.  With articles being tagged into categories and Must Reads and Hot Lists being picked out for easy access I'm looking forward to spending an hour checking it out .

Collaboration is encouraged and you can login with your Github account so it'll be interesting to see how this project matures.

Check it out at


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Responsive Image Maps (jQuery Plugin)

Recently I've had to use image maps in several responsive websites.  Obviously when the RWD kicks in and changes the image dimensions the image map coordinates no longer match the areas required.

Matt Stow ( provides a neat solution, if you happen to be using jQuery, with his jQuery RWD Image Maps script:

Allows image maps to be used in a responsive design by recalculating the area coordinates to match the actual image size on load and window.resize

Tried, tested and very effective.

Post has attachment just hit me with a flashback to 1996 with their flashing NEW news!

Anyone seen any other old school elements in production recently?  Maybe an image following the mouse cursor all over the screen
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I recently acquired a Linea DH-1100 laminator.  It is set up with cold laminate fed in from the top and cheap paper from the bottom to allow items to be laminated on the top side only with the paper preventing the laminate sticking to the rollers.

I am having difficulty getting it to run more than 1 metre before the paper and laminate start to crease causing darts in the laminate and wrecking the job.

Can anyone advise what should be checked and fixed to get the kit running straight?  The laminate roller is fixed and the paper floats to be pulled through as necessary.

I copied the way the media was loaded when I took the machine assuming it was correct.

Photos can be made available if that would help any.
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