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Usability Question du Jour

Say I’m building a website that deals with data from other websites (social and professional networks, etc), and I want users to be able to enter in their existing profile info into of the application. I can’t just ask for their current username (e.g. `http://facebook.com/`), because some of these websites do not have very friendly URLs (e.g. `http://www.spoke.com/info//`) and these may confuse the user. Our mock-up implementation looks like this:

usability_q_1

In the example above, “Sign Up For” send the user to the specified site’s sign up page, and the form element is their ID. It changes based on the site in question, and I don’t think it quite works. What troubles me most (I’m not in love with it being overlaid on the text) is the language, but none of it is something I can’t live without. “Finish this URL” makes it sound like a game, or look like a CAPTCHA, neither of which is what we want. So, UI/UX/Usability gurus: How would you do it? [Comments are open][link].

[link]: http://extrafuture.com/2009/11/12/usability-question-du-jour/#comments “Let me know in the comments”

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Another World Ported to JavaScript

To go with the pure-JS [NES][nes] and [GameBoy][gb] emulators, [here’s a port of the 1991 classic Another World in plain ‘ol JavaScript][link]. Impressive. For now, it shares the same problem as the aforementioned emulators: No sound support.

[link]: http://www.megidish.net/awjs/ “Another World JS – Megidish.net”
[nes]: http://benfirshman.com/projects/jsnes/ “Nintendo emulator in Javascript”
[gb]: http://www.codebase.es/jsgb/ “GameBoy emulator in Javascript”

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Epic Games Releases Unreal Development Kit

The hyper-expensive and [sometimes-maligned][maligned] Unreal Engine [gets a free / indie version][link]. [The Unreal Development Kit][link] is free for non-commercial use, and $2500 per-seat for commercial games.

[With Unity making a similar offering][unity] last week, the independent games scene is only going to get better.

[link]: http://www.udk.com/index.html “UDK – Unreal Development Kit – Epic Games”
[unity]: http://extrafuture.com/2009/10/28/game-engine-unity-launches-free-option/ “Unity Launches Free Option”
[maligned]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Too_Human#Unreal_Engine_dispute “Epic Games .vs. Silicon Knights”

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Game Engine “Unity” Launches Free Option

[Interesting news from the world of creating video games][link]:

>The Unity engine is becoming even more affordable to independent and hobbyist developers, as Unity Technologies has retired the $200 “Unity Indie” offering and replaced it with a free license, simply called Unity.

Sounds like a great deal for the price.

[link]: http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=25840 “Gamasutra – News – In-Depth: Unity Launches Free Option, Announces Xbox 360 Support”

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Amazon Relational Database Service

[Amazon’s new MySQL cloud service][link].

[link]: http://aws.amazon.com/rds/ “Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS)”

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Using Helvetica Neue Light In Firefox + Safari

[Great tip from Guillermo Esteves][link]. Worked a charm on this very site.

[link]: http://blog.gesteves.com/post/36097597/helvetica-neue-light “Helvetica Neue Light – All-Encompassing Trip”

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Raphaël — JavaScript Library

[Looks great, supports every major browser including iPhone’s WebKit][link], and:

>Raphaël uses the SVG W3C Recommendation and VML as a base for creating graphics. This means every graphical object you create is also a DOM object, so you can attach JavaScript event handlers or modify them later. Raphaël’s goal is to provide an adapter that will make drawing vector art compatible cross-browser and easy.

[link]: http://raphaeljs.com/ “Raphaël—JavaScript Library”

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Dive Into HTML5: Video

[Mark Pilgrim dives in to HTML5 video, and swims around][link]. This is essential reading for web developers.

[link]: http://diveintohtml5.org/video.html “Video on the Web – Dive Into HTML5”

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Preview of WebKit’s WebGL

[3D gaming in-browser without plugins][link]. Playable TODAY with a [nightly build of Webkit][nightly] on your Mac. Wow.

[link]: http://blog.wolfire.com/2009/09/preview-of-webkits-webgl-canvas3d/ “Wolfire Blog – Preview of WebKit’s WebGL / Canvas 3D”
[nightly]: http://nightly.webkit.org/ “Nightly Webkit builds”

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Bulletproof @font-face syntax

[Paul Irish’s guide][link] to the best @font-face syntax for all compatible browsers.

[link]: http://paulirish.com/2009/bulletproof-font-face-implementation-syntax/ “Bulletproof @font-face syntax « Paul Irish”

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The 15 Largest ExpressionEngine sites

[A list of large EE-powered sites][link]. ExpressionEngine is the big brother of my PHP framework of choice, [CodeIgniter][ci].

via [Shawn Medero][shawn]

[link]: http://www.hopstudios.com/blog/the_10_largest_expressionengine_sites/ “The 15 Largest ExpressionEngine sites (updated) – Blog – Hop Studios”
[shawn]: http://twitter.com/soypunk/status/3740284594 “Original Twitter message”
[ci]: http://codeigniter.com/ “Code Igniter”

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Tile Drawer

[Crazy-simple and robust-looking solution][link] for hosting your own [OpenStreetMap][osm] instance on EC2, with custom overlays. via [Andy Baio][andy].

[link]: http://tiledrawer.com/ “Tile Drawer”
[andy]: http://waxy.org “Waxy.org”
[osm]: http://www.openstreetmap.org/ “OpenStreetMap”

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Dive Into HTML 5

[The preview site][link]. I love this so deeply.

[link]: http://diveintohtml5.org/ “Dive Into HTML 5”

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Infinite Mario AI

[Incredible demo video][link] from one of the entrants in the [Super Mario AI][comp] competition. [mentioned previously][prev] on Extra Future. See also: [The project page][project], which explains the process behind the AI.

The developer says he’ll release the source code once the contest is over.

[link]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlkMs4ZHHr8 “YouTube – Infinite Mario AI – Long Level”
[project]: http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~rb1006/projects:marioai “Project Page for Infinite Mario AI”
[comp]: http://julian.togelius.com/mariocompetition2009/index.php “Mario AI Competition homepage”
[prev]: http://extrafuture.com/2009/08/04/mario-ai-competition-2009/ “Previously on Extra Future”

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Mario AI Competition 2009

[Write a Mario Bros-playing AI in Java][link] and win some money and nerd fame. I can see myself spending a lot of time with this.

via [Jesper][jesper]

[link]: http://julian.togelius.com/mariocompetition2009/ “Mario AI Competition 2009”
[jesper]: http://waffle.wootest.net/ “Waffle”

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Modernizr

[A new Javascript-based kit that tests for browser features, lets you do conditionals in CSS, and other things][link]. Have a look at [the tutorial][tutorial].

[link]: http://www.modernizr.com/ “Modernizr”
[tutorial]: http://www.modernizr.com/tutorial/ “Modernizr Tutorial”

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Text Rotation with CSS

[Can I get a witness][link]? Not only does it work, it works NOW.

[link]: http://snook.ca/archives/html_and_css/css-text-rotation “Text Rotation with CSS”

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Web Fonts Now, for real

[Zeldman on a proposed webfont permissions table][link]. This seems sort of like attaching a file to a movie that says DO NOT STEAL and expecting it to work.

[link]: http://www.zeldman.com/2009/07/16/web-fonts-now-for-real/ “Web Fonts Now, for real – Jeffrey Zeldman Presents The Daily Report”

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INSERT INTO internet

[The Yahoo! Query Language is strange][link].

[link]: http://developer.yahoo.net/blog/archives/2009/07/yql_insert.html “YQL: INSERT INTO internet (Yahoo! Developer Network Blog)”

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Using WordPress Functions Outside of WordPress

I’m working on a project that requires the use of [Wordpress][word] functions (mainly creating users and such) outside of the WordPress installation. After some Google searches of varying specificity, I’ve found a method that appears to work for both WordPress and WordPress Mu. I’ve reproduced it here for my own purposes, as well as yours.

[word]: http://wordpress.org “WordPress”

WordPress.org member oranfry [posted the following helpful bit of code][wporg], to be inserted in the top of the `wp-load.php`, right after the `