Jun 2010
11:01 AM

Twitter Proof Your Site

Twitter's Fail Whale

As we all know, Twitter goes down very frequently. Twitter has released a useful tool to inform users about outages, planned or otherwise, but this is no help to the many websites that syndicate their Twitter feeds.

Too often the script that is pulling the Twitter feed triggers an error that can take down the entire page. One of the common culprits is the XML parser, such as DOMDocument. When Twitter goes down, all status feeds return the infamous “Fail Whale” HTML. This, of course, does not validate as XML and causes the parser to throw an error.

The best method to deal with this is to wrap all XML parsing in try/catch blocks and cache the Twitter feed. If Twitter goes down, you can display the cached copy of the feed.

This is good advice for anytime you find yourself syndicating a feed.

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May 2010
04:11 PM

HTML5, One step closer to a standards-based web

The web is messy.

I am not talking about the mash-up of blogs, social networks, and sites dedicated to your kitten (and yes, she is adorable). What gives the web character is the ability to self publish: to be your own editor, your own designer, or your own reporter. I, for one, promote diversity and creativity.

What I am referring to is what the user does not see, an antiquated markup language that has not evolved with the web. Developers are forced to work around traditional HTML (intended for static web pages) in order to deliver rich media such as video, audio, and 3D renderings. This requires the use of proprietary technologies such as Flash, Silverlight, or Java. Nothing works for everyone. Nothing works consistently.

Because developers are using these proprietary solutions, rich media has yet to be a legitimate member of the semantic web. Using a source such as Flash is like bringing a sack lunch to a restaurant. No matter how common and recognizable the technology, it is still not on the menu. This creates three substantial problems: What if the user does not have the technology? How can we semantically understand the technology (is it a video, audio, perhaps a chat client)? What happens if this proprietary technology is not interoperable with other technologies?

Developers have been concerned with these questions as rich media technologies have grown in popularity along with the web standards movement, specially in the last seven years. It was when WHATWG decided to finally address it, and the W3C took notice, that we finally made progress. Enter HTML5.

Read More »

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Apr 2010
01:01 PM


In the summer of 2009, BRINKMEDIA hopped over to Holland to shoot several promotional spots for The Netherlands Board Of Tourism & Conventions.

In one action-packed week, our crew went to over 100 locations throughout Amsterdam and Rotterdam, all in a tiny Euro Van with a built RED ONE Camera, Magliner and a full set of Primes.

Back home, the team went into post-production and edited two spots – one for the recreational tourist, and the other focusing on the international business travel.

The results, included below, speak for themselves.

Directed by: Danny Vinik
DIT: Jeff Flohr

Holland – Just Be from Brink Media on Vimeo.

Holland – Meetings and Conventions from Brink Media on Vimeo.

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Apr 2010
10:51 AM

Cross Domain Scripting via Proxy

While working on the recently launched Desert Living Today, a constantly-refreshed tip sheet covering everything cool and newsworthy from around the Phoenix Valley, I ran into a problem.

The client wanted to include a widget that allowed users to sign up for their sister-site, Scoop Factory. Unfortunately the script that handles sign ups at Scoop Factory required POST requests. Using a post request from within DLT would have resulted in an awkward redirect and we didn’t want to send users from the page. Another option could have been using an iframe with the signup form inside, but the POST result would still be uncontrollable.

The perfect solution would be to use AJAX to send the POST request, but unfortunately sending ajax to another domain is forbidden because of the security vulnerability. Once HTML5 is here we will be allowed do this but I needed a solution today.

I found my solution in Ben Alman’s aptly named Simple PHP Proxy. All that is needed is an AJAX POST request to the proxy script passed the url of the external form via a GET variable. Simple.

Checkout the results at Desert Living Today 2/3 the way down the page. Put your email in the box and click “Sign Up” and your email is sent across the internet to Scoop Factory via the magic of Cross Domain Scripting.

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