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Handing out 20 Free Google Wave Invites

Google Wave free invites
I’ve been lucky enough to receive 20 Google Wave invites a couple of days ago. If you haven’t heard, Google Wave is Google’s new fresh way of sending emails. It has the potential of revolutionizing the way we use emails – it’s actually really interesting. I will be using it a lot during the coming days and if I have the time, I will post a review of it here.

Google’s invitation system works like this – I nominate people for invites and after an unspecified amount of time they will get their invite sent from Google. Thus, you will not receive your invite immediately – I’m sorry about this but there is nothing I can do!

As I mentioned, I am handing out the 20 invites I have in stock. All you need to do to get an invite is to leave a comment in the post, which you can do below. Include a valid email address and I will nominate it – provided there haven’t been 20 people commenting before you!

Good luck, this is a first come first served situation!

I’m Using Woopra!

Real-time analytics. Just to hear that word got me thinking a lot. What if I could, in real-time, track all my visitors and see what pages they went to and where they ended up. What paths they took to reach certain areas, what links they clicked, how long they read my articles. What if there was something that could do this for me in such an easy, fast and manageable way. This “something” was Woopra.

The first thing you see is a list of the sites you’ve added – in this case the only one is my blog, douglasstridsberg.com. Next to the site is a small box showing pageviews and visits in a neat little graph. After clicking on my site, I am taken to a sort of dashboard where I can watch all the latest statistics rolling in. I see a map, some graphs and a side-bar menu along with a lot of little information about referrers, keywords, searches and other things. Everything is neatly arranged in neat colors and in an overall very friendly user-interface.
image
I am pleased with Woopra. As the screenshot shows, I’ve only just begun using it – and it will perhaps take a while before it truly shows its beauty. Apparent they are closing their beta sign-ups – so you’ll have to wait before getting one!

The New Wikipedia Beta

Wikipedia launched, a couple of days ago, a Beta version of the highly popular online encyclopedia. The update focuses around enhancing usability and thus stimulate more to edit and create new content.
Wikipedia Beta usability navigation
Wikipedia Beta usability toolbar
Images taken from Wikipedia itself, showing off some bits of the new design.

The Coffee Desk has an article about the Wikipedia Beta, highlighting the design, the search function, the use of AJAX and the new text-editor. As I have been unable to test this Beta myself, I leave you to read that article!

My First Google Error Ever

On the 1st of June 2009 at around 6PM GMT I received the following Google Server Error:
Google Server Error
I was rather tempted to mail error@google.com

Have you ever encountered such an error on Google?

The European Union – History and Today

Introduction

The European Union (EU) was founded in 1958 as the European Economic Community (ECC). In 1968 it changed name to the European Community (EC) and later to the European Union in 1993.

Background

After the Second World War Western Europe faced two political and one economic threat;

  • the fear of a German retaliation and uprising (mostly a French concern),
  • the fear of the Communists and Russia (mostly an Anglosaxian concern),
  • and the fear of poverty and starvation mostly in Germany and France.

The political answer to these threats was two organizations;

  • NATO (North Atlantic Trade Organization) was formed to keep Russia out of Europe, to keep Germany’s economy down and to keep America inside European affairs,
  • and the EEC (European Economic Community), to somewhat co-operate with Germany but also to hinder her from an all too great economy.

Objective

The overall objective was peace through proper handling of Germany and Russia, disabling Germany from rebuilding an army and keeping Russia out of Europe. Also, a key part of success was prosperity through economic co-operation and cultural exchange within member countries.

Controversy

Generally speaking, there are two camps in the EU – the federalists and the confederalists, being somewhat opposites

Federalists

  • More power to Brussels through EMU (European Monetary Union with its currency – the €uro), foreign policies and other co-operation.
  • The EU should be a supranational organization, i.e. an organization which stands above national governments.

Examples of federalist countries are the Benelux, Germany, France and others.

Confederalists

  • Less power to Brussels, as economic co-operation suffices.
  • The EU should be an international organization, thus more power will remain on a national level.

Examples of confederalist countries are Sweden, the United Kingdom and Denmark.

Steps of Integration

In 1947, the Council of Europe was founded. Due to controversy, the unity became powerless. In 1948 the OEEC (the Organizations of European Economic Co-operation) was formed, mainly as a result of the Marshal Plan in the USA. Both these unions failed due to controversy between federalists and confederalists (see above).

In 1949, NATO (the North American Trade Organization) was formed. It brought European politicians together for the first time.

In 1951 the Paris Treaty (the European Coal & Steel Community, ECSC) was signed to solve issues with the struggle of federalists versus confederalists. The ECSC was a common market in coal and steel, designed to aid member countries to control production, prevent wars and increase efficiency in trade and production.

In 1958 the Treaty of Rome (and essentially the EEC) was signed and put into action. The treaty is a consitution – it describes the objectives of the EEC and regulates how it is to be governed. The Treaty of Rome merged three organizations into one – the ECSC, EEC and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom).

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was founded in 1959 as a confederalist response to the EEC. In 1962, the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) was signed. It granted subsidies to farmers and is still in place today. In the year 1968, the Customs Union was completed, abolishing tariffs within Europe.

Between 1973 and 1985 the integration project did not evolve in a satisfactory way due to a recession and an oil crisis. This resulted in unemployment problems and lead to increased protectionism, which eventually lead to non-tariff barriers to trade. During these years however, there was a territorial expansion. Six new members entered the union – Denmark, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain.

The Single Market (1985-1992)

Definition

The general “single market” term refers to a customs union combined with the four freedoms – free movement of goods, services, labor and capital. To achieve free trade you must not only remove tariffs but also remove non-tariff barriers to trade. Decisions in the Council of Ministers (see below) at the time required unanimity to pass, thus hindering the removal of the said barriers.

Background

In 1985 however a movement to introduce a Single Market began. The background to this was the high unemployment rates, remaining at 10-15%, and the threat from the Pacific economy (USA and its trade partners).
A single market would lead to free trade which would lead to more competition – therefore lowering prices. The economic objective was that the lowered prices would lead to welfare and a more competitive Europe – the political objective was to increase integration inside Europe (again, a part of the Steps of Integration). This all made the introduction of a Single Market very important.
Thanks to the Single European Act in 1987 and its ammendation of the treaties, decisions concerning trade and the economy now only required 2/3 percentual majority. An action-plan – the White Paper – was in 1985 established to remove all non-tariff barriers to trade. The “Cassis de Dijon”-principle set and example of how future cases were to be handled; if a good or service is allowed to be sold in one country, it cannot be prohibited in another EU country.

Institutions of the EU

The Council of Ministers

The Council of Ministers is the lawmaking (legislative) body of the European Union. The decision about new laws are made in conjunction with the EU parliament. The laws (also called directives or regulations) passed in the Council are “above” the national laws passed by national parliaments. National ministers are sent from the capitols to discuss and come to agreements. Thus, this institution is the voice of the member countries.
Since the said ministers are not elected by the people, there is a democratic deficit. The said deficit is also present due to the lack of openness (transparency) in the Council, hindering the media from getting instant access to protocols and other documents.

The European Commission

The European Commission is the executive body, the government if you will, of the European Union. As it initiates proposals in the law-making process, the Commission gains a lot of power when laws are to be made. It also ensures that member countries implement the EU regulations into their own, national legislations. Loyalty costs a lot – European Commissioners are generally very well paid.

The European Parliament

The European Parliament makes new laws (regulations) together with the Council of Ministers, although it’s not as powerful as the Council itself due to the limited areas in which the Parliament makes laws.

The Court of Justice

The Court of Justice settles economic disputes between not only companies but also countries. The Court also interprets the common European Union legislation.

The European Council

The European Council hosts summit meetings with presidents and prime ministers. During these meetings main policies of the European Union are discussed as well as main issues for the future.

New Design, Finally

After weeks and weeks of editing localhost copies, troubleshooting CSS and other rendering problems, accidently removing a database (which I had a backup of, but anyway), pure coding, browser testing (and not so much frustration over IE-rendering) and a lot of researching and inspiration… I finally present to you a design which I for once am happy with – my new blog design.

Features

What does this new release bring to you?

  • A brand new and refurbished front-end design with focus on usability and simplicity – new fonts add to the Web2.0 impression.
  • A print- and handheld stylesheet designed for simplicity and readability – clear fonts, less graphics and a more fluid design.
  • Nintendo Wii-inspired buttons put in place for usability and simplicity.
  • A little more intelligent backend with less load-times and better compression.
  • jQuery integration for simple effects and the main content-slider at the front-page.
  • Google-powered search.
  • Clean code, clean CSS and clean RSS-feeds – one feed for every category adds simplicity and readability.

Conclusion

This has all been a lot of work for me, but I feel this is the first time I have actually had an idea all the way through. One idea being applied all through the process of the design. I’ve read e-books and gathered inspiration from interesting sources. And all this has resulted in something which I am very proud of showing you today.

I hope you like it almost as much as I do!

Dalai Lama is on Twitter!

Just stumbled upon His Holiness Dalai Lama’s Twitter account. Apparently he has joined the ranks of worldwide leaders, such as Barack Obama, posting their daily happenings on the Web.
Looking forward to reading about his daily life, not that I care much but HEY it’s Dalai Lama!

GMail in Google Apps – ReSkinned!

Suddenly noticed the old GMail interface on my Google Apps setup had changed, from the old pale and square colors and boxes to a modern set of rounded corners and vivid colors. Just like the regular GMail service Google provides!

Perhaps this is a step in the direction where GMail in Google Apps finally will receive the ability to change and edit themes? That would be wonderful, currently the only thing Google mentions on this is that themes are coming soon!

ExpressionEngine 2.0 – When?

I just can not wait anymore. The long-awaited release of version 2 of the popular content-management-system software, ExpressionEngine, has been delayed, re-delayed and delayed again.
The first few notices said we were to expect a release during the summer of 2008. It is soon 2009 and nothing has been seen yet. Yes of course there have been rumors, previews and pictures of the sought-after release, but nothing concrete to satisfy the community.
I am not putting any blame, or any form of anger, on the EllisLabs team. They must do what they must do to get this out, and of course it can take longer time than expected… Very much longer time than expected.

I hate Power-Outages

Power-outages… Don’t we hate them all. My server computer goes offline, killing the ten-twenty concurrent connections currently on the servers I own.
Why is there an outage? Because our electricity provider’s power stations suddenly decided to kill themselves in an attempt to annoy the whole town. Wonderful.

http://sydsvenskan.se/malmo/limhamn/article399614/Stromavbrott-i-Hyllie-och-Limhamn.html