• Tag Archives Reviews
  • A review of Divi and my company Computer Support Services

    I have been very neglectful of this site lately. I wish I could say that will all change but. Na, it won’t.

    Here’s a short enough post. It’s not the kind of post where I say “Hey, go look at my new site over here” but that is a very small part of it. I want to tell you about a WordPress theme called Divi. This is currently the latest offering from the Elegant themes provider and its well worth considering.

    However, before you launch in there and spend money on it, let me make you aware of some of the problems I encountered.

    Let me start by saying a huge thanks to Emma because without her regular visual perspective I wouldn’t have had a clue what was going wrong.

    Sliders

    • The placement of text in the slider is very hard to get right. A specific image dimension is probably required however this doesn’t seem to be noted anywhere in the documentation. To get around this, I had to assign a class to the text and set the top margin to a minus value.
    • It isn’t possible to place the sections at specific points on the page and they aren’t always at the top or directly below another section. Therefore, again, I had no choice but to associate some sections with a class and then set a minus value for the top margin.
    • When I tried instead to use an image as the background of a slide it seemed absolutely impossible to control the size of that slide.
    • Be careful with other modules that you have installed. If you have a conflicting slider you may find some very strange behaviour.
    • I also recommend that when making changes to the text within a slider that you copy it to notepad or another editor because a few times I wrote a fantastic slide description only for it to be lost because the page didn’t save properly.
    • Adding a button a header to the slider spaces it out far too much. I wanted a compact and clean slider for the top of the page. Not a full length animation.
    • Saving the biggest problem until last, the slider displays properly on tablets however not IOS or Android on phones.

    Setting backgrounds.

    • I was told at one stage that the site looked a little bland. To solve this, I decided to use a background gradient. Thanks to CSS3, this is well supported and with a few checks for specific browsers in the CSS it’s very easy to implement consistently. However, some modules support setting a background colour but some don’t. There doesn’t seem to be any generic configuration items for these modules. Again, I had to get around this by using a class and styling this class using CSS.
    • There are no properties for setting the background in the Divi EPanel options so again, this had to be done using CSS.
    • Instead of just having the ability to set text and background colours in some modules to either dark or light, I would rather an additional or advanced option that would allow someone to type the hex values.

    The header.

    • I wanted to do a few things with the header. A number of people commented that the logo is very small but there is no way of changing the dimensions of this. I looked in the CSS file but I really can’t find where it is specified.
    • I would also like to add a role over but I don’t find the CSS very easy to read. The role over would define what menu item the mouse is hovering over.

    The pricing table

    • This is a fantastic idea but it’s not really a table. Its several tables. Each price you add is actually an additional table. I needed Emma’s help quite a bit to get this looking properly and even now I’m not entirely happy with it.
    • Feedback that I have received has also been quite negative about this. Divi seems to grey or dim features that are unavailable for certain price plans but it’s not obvious to people what this dim or grey colour represents. A more graphical representation would be a lot better.

    Divi is a great theme but what it claims to do isn’t quite delivered yet. I’m hoping it will vastly improve in the next year or two but if you are considering it today, be warned you will have no choice but to tweak a lot of CSS before you get it working properly.


  • The Lion King in Dublin

    Emma, Jenny, Nicky and I went to the performance of the Lion King in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre or as I rather call it, the Grand Canal Theatre last night. We chose that show because there was an audio description facility. This meant that we were each given a small headset with the exception of Emma of course so that we could hear descriptions of the activity on stage. Audio description of this type of show is brilliant as obviously, although the music is the primary focus, the plot is almost equally as important and without the audio description many of the subtleties such as movements, scene changes and gestures can be lost leading to a less than fulfilling understanding of what’s going on. This was probably the first time I’ve ever enjoyed a musical as much and it’s in no small part due to the fact that I was able to keep up with the plot so easily. Of course, one of the other reasons is that the music and the story line in the Lion king are so good! The music and the musicians that performed it just couldn’t be better.

    I really liked that although the story line was rigidly followed, as it should have been, the cast related to the audience and broke away from the story line in two obvious parts. The first was when the character Zazu made a joke that the stage curtains were like a bad ikea shower curtain. The second time that they really diverted from the story line was during one of the last scenes where Simba is beginning to fight back for his kingdom. He tells Timon and Pumba to create a diversion. They offer to wear drag and dance to river dance. At that, they come back on stage dressed up in Irish dancing costumes dancing to the main river dance theme. Both diversions were absolutely hilarious and they really helped to encourage the audience.

    The singers and performers were absolutely astonishingly good. African songs seem incredibly difficult to sing but they did it flawlessly. The character of Rafeeky completely blew me away. Her range and skill was nothing less than an ultimate pleasure to listen to.

    You know that music is good when you feel cold all over while sitting in a really hot room. For many of the performances last night I was freezing. I would definitely go to another rmusical again. Especially if they are as well described as the Lion King was last night.


  • Dell XPS13

    I gave the Mac book air a fair shot. I lasted two months but when with every update, problems weren’t fixed and bugs seemed to get worse, I decided enough was enough. So, two weeks ago I started looking around for alternatives. I’ve decided, I’m sticking with Windows for the foreseeable future but the size of the Mac book air was still really appealing because of its keyboard and its size. Comparable systems on the Windows platform are called Ultra books. There are a few good names in this area. Acer, Toshiba, Sony, Samson and Dell. In fairness to these companies, they are pretty much neck and neck with their offering. They are governed by the limitations of the hardware in the form factor of ultra-books so there aren’t major differences in the specifications. Weight, size, processor, RAM and storage is all very equal among these systems. It wasn’t easy to make a choice based on website specs.

    Fortunately, I was very lucky to know several people who could let me spend some time trying out some of the ultra-books from the main providers. HP, Toshiba and Dell were definitely the winners of the bunch for what I wanted. Unfortunately, almost all of the ultra-books I tested felt very flimsy and cheap. Maybe it seems silly, but I want a laptop that’s going to feel and look great. It doesn’t matter that I can’t see it, when I walk into a meeting with this, I want people to know that I take computing seriously and I take care in what I choose. The feel of it is hugely important. A laptop with a spongy keyboard is uncomfortable and sloppy. If it has a big boxy body then it’s just not sexy. Let’s face it; I spend more time on a computer than most. It’s important that I’m happy with everything when I finally settle on buying a laptop.

    I finally decided on the Dell XPS. The keyboard is incredibly comfortable, it is very light, the front has a lovely shape, my wrists don’t hit off the touch pad when I’m typing, it has just enough USB ports, the battery life is just about adequate, it’s very quiet and it performs well. Of course, it goes without saying that it has a solid state disk and four GB of RAM.

    I put Dell through hell while buying this laptop. The machine I tried out was six months old and it had a number of annoying problems. The wireless adapter frequently dropped the connection and the fan would spin up for absolutely no reason and remain on at full throttle for ages. These were recognised defects in the first model of the XPS13 however from only a day of using this one; it would appear that they have been rectified. I certainly ensured that I got confirmation in writing that the issues had been resolved in the unit I was about to purchase before I made any decision. I was torn between the XPS13 and the XPS14. The extra inch allows Dell to cram a lot more power into the laptop but in the end I decided that portability was a little more important than power at the moment. Plus, although the XPS13 isn’t as powerful as the XPS14, it’s by no means weak. It easily handles Windows 7 and Windows 8, Office 2010, Visual studio, the VSphere client and a plethora of other applications. Also, for the past few years, I find that I spend most of my time on system administration so I don’t need a huge amount of power to get my job done.

    So, there you have it, I’ve given up on the Mac. I don’t mind telling you, I’m relieved. If you like, I can go into all the reasons at another stage but for now, all I’ll say is, it’s nice to be more efficient while out and about again.