Friday, October 30, 2009

How to resize text in embedded IE browser for IBM Lotus Notes and Lotus Symphony

Not all web pages are easy to read, and small text is one of the main culprits.

I have a bee in my bonnet about website usability. Indeed, that bee has been buzzing around in my noggin since attending a usability workshop as an IBM Systems Engineer way back in the mid-1970s.

Yes indeed folks, IBM has focused on good design for usability in both its hardware and software products for quite a few decades, way before some famous IT industry names were hardly a twinkle in their founders’ eyes.  (I’m thinking of the Apple Computers of this world and the way that people rave over the design of its iPhone and the like.)

For example, I recall back in 1983 or thereabouts attending an engineering design meeting at the IBM Rochester Lab in Minnesota, when I was going to give my feedback on IBM System/38 database journaling, an exceedingly important software feature that was about to be announced. But nearly all of that meeting finished up being consumed by a vigorous debate about the precise repositioning and relabelling of knobs on the system’s console. Now that’s what I call being picky!

Anyway, often when I visit a website I test to see if its text can be resized, and amazingly find that, being generous, not more than maybe fifty percent of sites provide for text resizing. A big FAIL for all those sites that overlook this basic capability.

TIP: review the tons of resource links here or backup site here that I’ve assembled about a wide range of usability and interface design topics.

Regarding web page text siding, one person in particular who seems to have hornets (rather than mere bees) buzzing around in his noggin: see Minimum font sizes for Thomas Baekdal’s firm views on this matter. His site has lots of other interesting articles, too.

The current crop of web browsers provide functions for zooming web pages, but the problem with this is that everything on the page gets resized, not just the hard-to-read text. Some of the browsers have a menu item, albeit often hidden away where a user may not find it, for text resizing.

When it comes to browsers that are embedded inside another product, such as IE inside IBM Lotus Notes or Lotus Symphony to name just two (and there are many more), sadly we find that there are rarely if ever any options that allow you to resize fonts or zoom pages.

With such embedded browsers you’re stuck with what font size the product designers built in. If your vision is poor, or if the built-in font is tiny, such embedded browsers can deliver a very poor reading experience.

Here’s my “how to” tip for today, which should assist you for all those cases where the embedded browser happens to be Internet Explorer, and this is the majority of cases.

Download and install the FREE EasyRead tool from Iconico. This provides two browser toolbar buttons labelled '+' and '-' (for Zoom In and Zoom Out respectively).

But these two buttons are not available for the embedded browsers, so instead you can make use of the similar EasyRead context menu options ‘EasyRead +’ and ‘EasyRead –‘ which, of course, are displayed when you right-click on a page. These context menu should work for you in most embedded browsers.

For example, below is what you might see from the embedded IE browser of IBM Lotus Symphony (similarly for Lotus Notes, and quite a few other situations). The two context menu items are circled:

image(Click for a larger image)

Issue resolved -- in most cases, at least.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Manipulating images resources directly in IBM Lotus Notes and Domino

See my suggestion for two new Lotus Notes formula language functions for programmatically manipulating images in Notes Client and Web browser environments, and please visit IdeaJam to place your vote on my idea.

New formula language functions: @SetImageResource and @GetImageResource

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Internet filtering by ISPs? The ACS looks at technical pros and cons

Internet filtering is a contentious issue here way Down Under in Australia, as it is in other countries.

If compulsory ISP filtering is introduced in Australia -- as is possible, or maybe likely, in the not-too-distant future -- the ACS (Australian Computer Society) has just released a report recommending the creation of an independent oversighting system and an annual auditing process for blackIists.

It makes interesting reading. Take a look at the news release and the full report is downloadable in PDF format.

Much of what it says of course will apply in other countries.

How Aussies succumb to e-mail fraud (and other online evils)

Yesterday I penned an article about a favourite e-mail tracking tool of mine, eMailTrackerPro, see here.

Following that up, I’d like to point out that the Australian Institute of Criminology has just published a report related to that:

Consumer fraud in Australia: costs, rates and awareness of the risks in 2008 (by Russell Smith and Carolyn Budd).


This paper examines the current evidence of the cost, extent of and awareness of consumer fraud in Australia. In 2008, the ABS found that approximately five percent of the Australian population reported being victimised by consumer scams, with personal losses reaching almost $1b. This paper compares the findings of the ABS survey with those gathered by the AIC during the annual fraud awareness-raising activities conducted by the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce. In 2008, a self-selected sample of 919 respondents to the AIC’s online survey reported being victimised by a wide variety of scams, including those relating to fictitious lotteries, phishing scams, financial advice and other attempts to elicit personal information from respondents. Individuals from all age groups were targeted in these scams, with older Australians being victimised to a similar extent to those in their middle years. Armed with an understanding of the nature and scope of the risks, consumer protection and other regulatory agencies can tailor their fraud prevention activities to maximise their impact—therefore reducing the extent to which consumers take up offers which are too good to be true.

Remember that, it applies globally (and in outer space too, I suppose):

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tools I like – eMailTrackerPro

A nice tool that I use every now and then to delve into the origin of a particular message is eMailTrackerPro from Visualware.

I’ve received many spam and suspicious e-mails over the years (nearly two decades as an active Web user). I’ve archived them all, an interesting collection they do indeed make!

By the way, this is the first in an occasional series about PC tools that I use and which I like enough to recommend to you – otherwise, I wouldn’t waste your time. And lest you doubt my motives, the products that I describe will in nearly every case be either freeware or paid for by myself.

For example, today I got this “Nigerian 419 scam” message:

From Miss Sarah Jones
Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire.

                        (CONFIDENTIAL MESSAGE)

Good thing to write you. I have a proposal for you.This however is not mandatory nor will I in any manner compel you to honour against your will.

I am Miss Sarah Jones, the only daughter of my late parents Mr.and Mrs Jones. My father was a highly reputable busnness magnet-(a Cocoa Merchant, Diamond and Gold Dealer)who operated in the capital of Ivory coast during his days. It is sad to say that he passed away mysteriously in France during one of his business trips abroad on 2nd March 2008.Though his sudden death was linked or rather suspected to have been masterminded by an uncle of his who travelled with him at that time. But God knows the truth! My mother died when I was just 4 years old,and since then my father took me so special.

Before his death on 2nd March 2008 he called the secretary who accompanied him to the hospital and told him that he has the sum of Seventeen  Million,Seven  Hundred Thousand United State Dollars.(USD$17.700) deposited in  SECURITY COMPANY in Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire.

He further told him that he deposited the Consignment in my name as the next of kin,and he registered the Consignment as Family Valuables and finally issued a written instruction to his lawyer whom he said is in possession to handle all the necessary legal documents of the Consignment which he deposited in the SECURITY COMPANY and he instructed the lawyer to handover the documents to me whenever I need it.

I am  a university undergraduate and really don't know what to do.

Now I want a foreign partner who assist me to retrieve this consignment from the SECURITY  COMPANY in Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire .

This is because I have suffered a lot of set backs as a result of incessant political crisis here in Ivory coast.The death of my father actually brought sorrow to my life.I am in a sincere desire of your humble assistance in this regards.

Your suggestions and ideas will be highly regarded.

Now permit me to ask these few questions:-

1.Can you kindly tell me what the type of a profitable venture this fund will uesd to invest avoid waste of it.

2). Can you honestly help me as your daughter?

3). Can I completely trust you?

4). What percentage of the total amount in question will be good for you after you have collected this consigment on my behalf?

Thank you so much.

Yours Sincerely,
Miss Sarah Jones

Please reply me in my private email address for more details

Where did it come from (precisely, or as near as can possibly be determined)?

Well, I fired up eMailTrackerPro, copied the e-mail’s header info into the Windows clipboard, from where it automatically got pasted into eMailTrackerPro, thus:


Clicking on the Advanced Trace option yielded, after a few seconds hopping around the globe, the following earth map view and trace route table:


And selecting the View Report option (circled) gave a browser page like this:


Starting in central Africa and ending in south-eastern Australia. Easy, eh?