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Entries tagged with "internet"

Reading my book this morning, I came across a paragraph, written by David Jury, that stuck with me.

Challenging the status quo is, undoubtedly, part of the service provided by graphic design. But here, we need to distinguish between creativity and originality. It is possible for originality to be no more than the rearrangement or a recombination of existing elements into a different pattern. Originality alone is vacuous, since a "solution" need only be unconventional or different to be original. A creative solution will have varying degrees of originality, but it will always have purpose and be useful. With creativity, I see no reason to differentiate between fine art and applied art. In fine art, just as in typography, surely, originality alone is banal, no more than novelty. To be creative, originality must serve an intellectual and/or practical purpose

I read it twice more, then sat and thought about it. That last sentence pretty much sums up my attitude toward design.

To be creative, originality must serve an intellectual and/or practical purpose.

Most designers who work today strive to make "pretty" websites, thinking they are creating the high design that clients hired them for. I hate to say this but I'm going to anyways. Most of these "pretty" sites are Flash-oriented ones. There. I said it. Flash is an amazing technology that, when used properly, is groundbreaking. But more and more I'm seeing sites that just don't understand how their visitors will interact them. I've found myself on these sites having no idea where to click, what is supposed to happen, sometimes not even knowing what I'm looking at!

Roger Johansson posted a rant the other day on his site along similar lines.

This excuse is normally used by visually oriented Flash designers or ad agency art directors that create design profiles which simply do not work on the Web. Instead of adjusting their design when they are made aware of the problems, they stubbornly push ahead and make users think and work harder than they should have to in order to use the site. If your design - or you as a designer - cannot handle the fact that the Web is the Web, please do everybody a favour and stick to the safety of your printed brochures.

At this stage of the internet, user patterns have been well-defined. Being creative within those patterns is what makes good design great. There is a certain amount of "creative throttling" that we, as designers, need to understand and use.

I'm a typophile. I'm also a web designer/developer. A "slashie", if you will.

As a typophile, I love type; creating it, kerning it, shaping it, studying it. Subtle variations in typefaces entertain me. I can spend a whole night wrapped up in one type sample, studying it and seeing what I would've redrawn to "smoothen the S out" or have the "E match the F." It's a guilty please of mine.

As a slashie, type bores me. To be truely standards-compliant and fully accessible to everyone, everywhere on the internet, there are all of about six typefaces to use. It's a boring thought process. "I haven't used Georgia in a while, let's try it out." [ makes change ] "No, doesn't look correct. Verdana it is." That's about how it works as a developer. Our typeface choices are limited and dull.

But there's no reason as a developer to completely ignore type either. Too many times I've seen poor type treatment on a site. Even with limited choices, can we as developers, please stop haphazardly throwing type onto a page? Type is still an important part to any website - in fact, in most cases, type is what makes the site. There's no reason as a developer to completely ignore type. Too many times we overlook type treatment on a site. For instance, it's not a inch mark for quotations; it's supposed to be a “ and ” (smart quotations). It's not a hyphen; it's a — (endash) or an — (emdash).

Which brings me to the point of the article. This week at work, I was coding a page that was reading my punctuation as "?". I had just dumped the text from a Word doc into the HTML. An obvious encoding issue, I was informed to check out the <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" /> line in my header.

I consider myself fairly well-versed in accessibility issues but, for whatever reason, have never really put much thought into this line of code. So I researched and what I found was extremely interesting, to both my typophile and slashie side.

In June 2004, the ISO/IEC working group responsible for maintaining eight-bit coded character sets disbanded and ceased all maintenance of ISO 8859, including ISO 8859-1, in order to concentrate on the Universal Character Set and Unicode. In computing applications, encoding that provides full UCS support (such as UTF-8 and UTF-16) are finding increasing favor over encoding based on ISO 8859-1.

What?! So this ISO 8859-1 standard that I had been coding in was, now, almost two years out of date? How could this be? How did I let something this large slip? I've never paid attention to this line and, am figuring, the majority of the developers out there haven't either. I read more and found out that UTF-8 is becoming the most accessible of the charset choices for numerous reasons. It's backwards compatible with ASCII characters, it can easily represent any of the Universal characters with Unicode and, at four bytes, has the smallest loading time for each character. Basically, it's flexible and light.

Why, if I'm such a type guy, have I not researched this before? I've never needed to really. ISO 8859-1 worked perfectly in all browsers still; it was compatible and compliant. There are a few issues as to why. I'm a developer in the United States, speaking English and coding that way. That's the audience ISO 8859-1 was created to reach. Even in England, where the € is used, ISO 8859-1 will not translate. There is no € sign in the character set.

If you get one thing out of this article, please be in order to code your sites in the most accessible way, use UTF-8. It's universal (it's in the name! Universal Transformation Format). Pay attention to the details. Just because we have limited type choices doesn't mean we get a free pass. We need to start paying attention to the little details.

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Reading the huge NY Times article about MySpace in today's edition, I started wondering about the site and the way to monetize it. (Lo and behold, I was beaten to the punch by Mike Davidson when he published his post this evening. Ugh!) I won't rehash what Mike said but I think he makes some valid points about the user experience on the site and the sobering effects of updating it's technologies.

I will talk to my personal experience, albeit limited, with the site and it's functionality. First things first, no, I do not have a MySpace account so you can't add me as a friend (you'll just have to come hang out with me instead). But I did have a page for all of a couple hours a few months back so I have been inside the realm of MySpace and played around with the clunky interface enough to write up this little post.

I can't disagree with Mike's conclusion that the site's pageviews would decrease by 66% if they updated to modern web design and application technologies. From the short time I have played around with the site, I've already been frustrated by the poor/broken functionality - to the point where I gave up and quit. But I also hung around and clicked maybe 60+ pages each time, trying to find the results I wanted. It makes me wonder if this was an intentionally built-in "feature" to MySpace in an attempt to raise pageviews and, in turn, profits.

As an example, Alexis just signed up for an account last week and I was trying to find her page to take at peek. She told me to go search and type her name. I did this but received results that, the majority of which, didn't have anything to do with either term "alexis" or "o'connor." In fact, the top result was for jonah d. who, to the best of my searching, has neither an "alexis" or "o'connor" anywhere on the page. What is the point of the search function if it gives me results that have nothing to do with my original query? My thought, up until today, was this is done to bump up pageview numbers, thus raising the amount of money MySpace can charge advertisers. Based on the Times' article, however, this doesn't seem to be the case... at all. In fact, the are charging a mere $0.10 CPM! So what is the advantage to this broken functionality? I'm not quite sure.

With over 70 million users I would imagine this has to be a complete drag on their servers and the cost of these inaccurate results, broken pages, etc has to be extremely expensive. By cutting down pageviews that are making little revenue for the site (a measly $200 million this year when Yahoo will be making 20 times that with a comperable pageview tally) and pageweight (I haven't mentioned the table-based layouts), I would imagine MySpace could not only make the site quicker but also save millions of dollars in bandwidth.

I understand part of the appeal of MySpace it the ease of customization but isn't this a poster child for moving to web-standards? The ease at which you can change a whole site just but using one file? Why would MySpace not have a user hidden style sheet and a user driven one? In fact, this would make the site even more personal but just creating a small template subsite where users who don't know CSS can change color, text, images, etc.

I've already seen some MySpace backlash in my demographic. Sure, most of the people I know have an account but there's only one (now two with Alexis) who actually use it. Most have given up on the idea. Granted I am on the crest of the MySpace wave, almost on the outside. Even so, in my younger sister's age range, she is more into Facebook, a site that does everything MySpace should be. Well designed, modern in it's technology and, for the most part, follows proper web standards. I would say Facebook will be bigger than MySpace but the site's one major drawback is having the [dot]edu email address. It's a great way to contain your user base to students but is a poor way to grow your business in a similar style to MySpace. But maybe that's not what Facebook wants and more power to them.

All this isn't to say that I'm against the social networking craze. I love my Flickr account, I use everyday, and, just recently, I found a old college friend on LinkedIn (James, I know I owe you a return email. It's coming dude... I swear). It's just the way MySpace, the largest of these types of sites, is going about it that irks me (does MySpace actually employ any designers?)

Either way, MySpace seems to be at a fork to me. It's vulnerable to competitors like Facebook but seems to oblivious to them.

"People are truly invested in the site," he (Chris DeWolfe, founder of MySpace) said. "All their friends are on it. They spent months building their profiles. And so the cost of switching is too high. If we keep building the features they want, they will stay on the site."

He is correct there. But if a site could come along where users could input their MySpace user name and password then transfer over the information on the account into a more usable interface, watch out. Until then, I guess I'll just have to keep rooting for the Facebooks of the world.

The year's slowly dragging it's feet across the finish line and, as such, bloggers are wrapping it up with a bow. Top lists are the order of business. I'll follow suit but with a bit of a twist. Here's a few arbitrary catagories followed by some nominees and the winner from 2006.

Best Album

Nominees: The Killers - Hot Fuss, Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene, Embrace - Out of Nothing, Imogen Heap - Speak for Yourself

Winner: Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene

Ask The Girl on this, I really didn't like them for a long while. I had a few of their songs but never could get into them. Then Alisa buys me a ticket to their show and I'm immediately blown away. These guys and gals can rock. This cd is BY FAR their best, in my opinion. Just so much fun to listen to all the way through... the way cds are meant to be listened to. As one 48-minute long opus. Trust me on this one. It's great.

Best Vacation

Nominees: Las Vegas - Family Trip, Las Vegas - Friends Trip, NYC - Super Bowl, Ann Arbor - Michigan/Ohio State Weekend

Winner:Tie Las Vegas - Both Trips

It's tough to decide between these two. The first was the family trip. Room was paid for, food was paid for, flight was paid for. I mean, it was probably the best Vegas trip you could imagine. It was the first with The Girl. I got to see my sister, her fiance and dad. Beautiful rooms. It was great. Yet, 2 weeks later I went with my closest friends in the world. Both college and high school. I saw Titus for the first time in a couple years. Kangas for the first time in a year. It was drunken debauchery where I lost nearly 30 times as much money as the family trip. Plus random cameo from a DC friend. (This catagory looks to be the most promising next year as there are already two trips planned in January, one to Chicago and one to NYC, and the two annual Vegas trips. Other possible VERY possible destinations include: San Fransisco, Seattle/Vancouver and London.)

Best Podcast

Nominees: Adam Curry's Daily Source Code, CBC Radio 3, Lynn Parsons, Sportweek

Winner: Sportsweek

I am always excited when I see the little blue ball in my iTunes telling me that I have a new episode waiting for me from each of these shows. I listen to each religiously. All four are so very different in their approach. But Sportsweek is the one show I really get excited about. It's the only one I listen to in the car. The only one I wait for. Gary Richardson does a wonderful job interviewing. This might be one of the best, most well informed sports radio shows on the air in the world. And luckily, I get to enjoy it because of podcasting. Thank you BBC!

Best Internet Application

Nominees: Flickr, BaseCamp, Blinksale, Bloglines

Winner: Flickr

No doubt. It's by far the most fun. Plus, it's turned in a verb. "I'll Flickr that." Just my fav... and I've turned my little sister onto it too. Sign up. Thank me later. No more needs to be said.

Best Book I Read

Nominees: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman, Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk

Winner: Freakonomics

I read a fair amount this year. Maybe more than I ever had. This is a tough one. I'm always a fan of Palahniuk. Klosterman just seemed to be on a book long rant. With Blink, I think my hopes were too high after The Tipping Point and, although very good, it didn't delvier up to those hopes. I think the book which made me think the most was Freakonomics. That's what I enjoy. Winner.

So ends my 2006. I know I'm forgetting A LOT from the beginning of the year. That's what this blog is for. Next year for me to look back and remember all those times so maybe, just maybe, this will be a more interesting post. Until then... Happy Holidays! I'm off to pack...

Last week, I got tired of Squirrelmail. I had been using it for email checking remotely and I just got tired of the interface. It's boring, clunky and well... just looked like a web application from the mid-90s. So I went searching...

I remembered I had come across another, newer, AJAX-using (web 2.0!) browser based email client. RoundCube. I figured I'd give it a shot. I mean, at this point it couldn't be any worse. I downloaded the files and within 20 minutes had the program up and running.

At first glance I was quite impressed. One of the nicest features of RoundCube is that fact it's fully skinable using only some CSS and XHTML. I haven't dug into the files yet but it looks very promising! There's also some nice AJAX-ing dragging and dropping of emails in folders. Makes file management MUCH easier.

As I played around with it some more, I realized it IS quite basic. For instance, the address book contains spots for DIsplay Name, First Name, Last Name and Email only. Which is a bit of a disappointment. However, there are plans in the works for fully intergrated vCard support. I'd love to see this sync with my Apple Address Book. I've also noticed it runs a bit slower than Squirrelmail. I would imagine this is one the itinerary of future upgrades

RoundCube is off to a very promising start. After looking at the roadmap for the application, I'm excited to see where it ends up. For now, it's a toss up between my two webmail clients but, in the very near future, I can see RoundCube being my client of choice.

There's a few random things hanging around I've been meaning to post but just haven't had time. It's been a bit hectic but (never fear!) I'm here.

  1. The new Firefox was realeased a couple weeks ago and, although, only a point release, it was pumped up by some publicty. Key improvements include automatic updates (which means users no longer need to download a complete new version of the browser to upgrade... thank god!), faster navigation, drag and drop reordering for browser tabs (previously only done using a third-party plug-in), improvements to pop-up blocking and better support for Mac OS X. There's also a number of bug fixes and security enhancements as explained in greater detail here. But it still doesn't pass the Acid2 test.
  2. I've forgotten how easy Uncle Ben's Bowls are for dinner. I was big on them the summer after my senior year in college and never went back. A few weeks ago I was walking through my local Safeway and decided to pick up a couple bowls. Delicious! And it only takes 7 minutes for the whole process.
  3. Dear Flash designers, PLEASE STOP HIJACKING MY BROWER! I'm at your site already. There is no need to take over all 23" of my monitor to show off your 300x500 site. I'm looking already. Please... just stop. It will make my life so much easier.
  4. John set up a nice little plog for us designers. Check it out. We'll get better at posting as time goes on.
  5. Looks like Yahoo has aquired another social networking service in Very interesting. Yahoo now has Flickr, Upcoming and which points to where the company is thinking the future is headed. Tags. Hopefully somehow all of this will be intergrated with their MyWeb service. Is Yahoo becoming cool again?
  6. There's been a leak of a 3 CD Sufjan Stevens Christam album. I've been listening to it nearly nonstop lately. It's a complete joy to listen to. A twist on old songs but not enough to sound completely unique.

I was big on Odeo when it first came out. It was the first comprehensive (well, as comprehensive as it can be) catalog of podcasts that I have seen. Then iTunes implemented podcasting and I said buh-bye to Odeo. Well, I might be going back. On Friday, I saw they had finally gone live with the one thing that made it stand apart from the other websites and podcast applications - a call in service and web program to create your own podcast!

Odeo's Make Your Own Podcast interface

The interface is simple. The program will automatically detect your mic. Three large buttons - press record and go! When you're finished, click save recording to publish the show to your own personal RSS feed, click yes and it's done. That simple.

But that's not the real genius to this. Let's say you're out with your friends and think, "Man, I really want to do a soundseeing tour right now." What about then? Your computer isn't always with you. Well, Odeo has that covered as well. You get a phone number to call, enter your information and "BEEEP!" you record directly to your feed. I tried this out. Works wonderfully!

This is something I haven't seen out of the podcasting community and could really change the way we send information. Maybe instead of voicemails we now subscribe to our friends RSS feeds and get updates automatically? No longer are the 40 minute shows the norm. Maybe 2 minutes quick casts are the way we tell our friends we're on a plane and will call them back? I'm not quite sure. It's something I'm extremely intrested to see how it plays out.

I'm not really an icon guy. Never have been. They're fun and all but I've never gotten into designing them. Lately there's been a small buzz going around the internet about Firewheel's redesign of their Icon Buffet site. Alright! A website redesign! I'm into those. Big time! So when I read Greg's post this morning about their Free Delivery program I swung by to a. check out the program and b. see this redesign.

I read up on this Free Delivery thing, sounds pretty fun (plus the icons on the site are looking pretty good) so I sign up. It took literally 30 seconds to do so and voila! a fresh set of icons sitting in my account! How great!

"That was so simple. I need to share it's simplicity with someone. But who?" Of course, the only designer I know personally who is OBSESSED with icons, Alisa. Jump on iChat. Tell her about how easy it was and how I have a free set of icons now and send her the Free Delivery link. 5 minutes later, she get back to me and has signed up as well. We share our sets. I now have two! I'm a Free Delivery nut! I need more!

Luickly Alisa has her friend sign up and then sends me their set! Now I have three... and I'm hooked. I'm the proud owner of the Oslo Finance, Oslo Atmosphere and Shanghai Tech sets - and looking for more. So I guess now I'm an icon guy.

Funny how that happens. My congrats to the Firewheel guys. You've figured out a wonderful way to get people engaged with your product.

Shopping on "Black Friday," at a electronics chain megastore with my dad, we were approached by two different salesmen, both asking us if we'd like to try their "free offers." Both telling us in order to get said free offer, we'd need to go to their website, provide our credit card information and then cancel after 30 days. Both with no obvious connections to the megastore as their outfits were completely different.

Are you kidding? "Free" has turned into "Give us your information and if you don't cancel, we're going to charge you. And if you do cancel, we're going to sell your name and information to an outside spamming operation for money. Either way, we profit!"? Unreal. Companies should know this isn't the way to get your product out with GOOD reviews.

These little interruptions reminded me of popup windows when shopping on the internet. Both adertisments thrown into my shopping experience. Both souring it. Both screaming "Give me money!" It's little things like this that annoy the customers.

So, to huge chain megastore, please stop. I'd like you much better if you didn't bother me when I'm willing to spend my money at your store anyways.

Last weekend, I was sitting around working on the new and catching up on some podcasts. One being Accident Hash #77. Now when I say, catch up it means tune in and out depending on the work load. So I was tuned out for most of the show. After a song had ended I went back and rethought "Wait, I kinda liked that." I quickly opened my iTunes and backtracked about three and a half minutes. This song was worth a relisten. This time I focused on the song, heard it, comprehended it and loved it immeadiately!

A couple days later, Mr. Curry played the same song, having heard it on the same Accident Hash podcast. He agreed. It was brilliant! The song: What to Do with Michael (iTunes link) by the Candy Butchers. Today, I'm a proud backer of the band with the purchase of their cd. It's the first time I've ever purchased a cd because of a podcast... and probably won't be the last.

This is a typical way I find new artists now-a-days. I tune out and when I hear a good song it'll immeadiately grab my face and shout. It's happened with a few bands and only on a select podcasts. CBC's Radio 3 being the main culprit. Lake Holiday, Hilotrons, and The High Dials are just a couple to grab me. Grant Lawerence does an amazing job hosting. Almost too good. For instance, during the CBC strike about a month back, I nearly made a post saying siding with the brodcasters to bring them back... and for the selfish reason that I missed Grant hosting the show. I had no idea what the strike was about. I missed Grant. I can't stress it enough... CBC Radio 3 is THE podcast for new music. But again, this is the kid that saw Broken Social Scene, Metric, Feist - and almost Stars as well - within a week span. I'm a bit baised when it comes to the Canadian music scene right now.

As you may - or may not - have noticed, things around here have been a little slow lately... and as you may - or may not - have noticed my "Work" section to the site has been coming soon since I launched my redesign. I had this grand scheme to launch this site and, within a couple weeks, learn Ruby on Rails and launch my Work section. Well, as you can tell, that hasn't happened.

Over the past couple weeks I finally had a break to sit down and learn. So I... well... sat down and learned. It took me an hour (no joking) to get my first ROR mini-application up and running. It's an amazing how quickly a newbie like me can install and create a framework basically blindly.

From what I understand, Rails takes all the tedious things you should be doing and wraps it in an elegant framework... with a nice little bow on top. Even still, after poking around and picking my jaw off my desk after seeing how easy it was to install, I feel lost when editing. I have no background with Ruby or Object Oriented Programing and have a book on the way for my real introduction to the wonderful world of OOP.

In the meantime, John has hooked me up the definitive book in the world of Ruby on Rails. I'm learning, slowly. If it kills me I will pick this up.

So yeah, work coming soon...

MIT Media Lab recently announced plans to create $100 laptop to be distrubited to school children in developing nations. The idea is quite revolutionary.

The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, full-color, full-screen laptop that will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data. These rugged laptops will be WiFi- and cell phone-enabled, and have USB ports galore. Its current specifications are: 500MHz, 1GB, 1 Megapixel.

What I find most intersting is the "...will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data" statement. 5 years ago, would anyone want a computer that doesn't store huge amounts of data? No. But with the advent of - buzzword! - Web 2.0 a statement like that does scare me at all. In fact, I find it to be quite... almost... well... liberating. Web applications are the wave of the future in my opinion. Being able to access any program over the internet without the need to install a program is the way the internet moving. With BaseCamp, Flickr and even GMail, web applications have become all the rage. The future will be in the user's ablity to connect to their personal infromation from any computer, anytime and anywhere.

These new computers have a chance for work in that same fashion. Why would school children need 20gb of hard disk space if they could write, edit, research and hand in their assignments by GMail? Disk space isn't what it used to be. The children don't need to fire up Word anymore to write the paper... they don't even need it installed on their system!

The main reason these computers can be made so cheaply now is their lack of necessary disk space. It's quite an amazing idea and I'm very excited to see what the developers can come up with. So far, it looks very promising!

Microsoft has released it's version of a Developer's Toolbar for Internet Explorer. I downloaded this little, long overdue gem the other day on my testing PC at work. Let me tell you, it makes all the difference in the world. I used to switch over to Firefox, use the original Developer's Toolbar, then quickly change back to IE and eyeball things to see where it's breaking and/or - hopefully - working. A tired and very flawed way to test. But now with this baby...

It's nice to see Microsoft finally showing SOME concern for the development community. Although their toolbar is a bit lackluster compared to Chris Pederick's, it's definitely does what I need it to do when testing in Internet Explorer. Better late than never, as they say, so overall, I'd say this is a win for Microsoft.

Over the long weekend, a debate started that completely flew under my radar! I might be slipping in my older age... Anyways, it's seems approriate to me, at this time, as the launch of our 5.0 storefront is coming this week (fingers-crossed). And we've battled mightily with IT the whole way.

Our IT department was stuck in 1996's table based design up front with 2010's XSLT on the back. There was no transitioning between. Luckily, John showed up. He was our pied piper of sorts, leading the charge for CSS integration into the new site.

I would complete agree that it is up to the designer to create accessible content. But there have been times, in the redesign of our site, where our IT department just can't - or won't - do something that was coded in CSS. They constantly revert back to their table-based designs. It's then up to us to figure out a way to fix that.

Now, admittedly, I haven't had much of a hand in the actual redesign. In fact, it's been very minimal, but that doesn't mean I haven't heard the horror stories of our IT department. (One of which being that, because they are using Microsoft’s .net technology coding ID's in the XHTML isn't doable. Apparently, .net’s architecture automatically enters an ID on it's own or overwrites any existing ID's, making the new storefront consist of only classes.) IT have even told us that CSS layouts were unacceptable and that we needed to go back to coding with tables.

I think it's up to us, being the standards geeks we are, to show the outside would the advantages of CSS-based designs. Less markup means less load on the server which equates to saving the company money, ease of updating the site - be it for a redesign or a minor color tweak, and probably the best reason is that using standards, there is a better base to jump off for accessible sites that will come down the road.

I still believe it is my job, be it in freelance or in the office to push for standards based design. Developers will (hopefully) appreciate the clean code I send their way and future designers will appreciate the ease of editing my sites. It's the designer's job to be informed about these topics. And hopefully, they won’t have a battle with the IT department to implement them.

A List Apart. Redone.

It's all the rage today in blogsphere. It's pretty, no doubt. What it reminds me of is a cleaner, better designed version of any generic newspaper out there. And by that I don't mean anything negative. ALA is THE place for design resources, just as the Post is THE place for news here in DC.

ALA also started the bloggy, centered, navigation-across-the-top rage when it unveiled version 3.0 years ago. Basically, as Jeffery Zeldman points out in his article:

If the value of a design can be measured by how often it gets swiped, then ALA 3.0 was genius, for it has been copied, with and without attribution, hundreds of times. But of course it was copied all those times, not because it was lovely, but because it was generic: an adequate template for nearly any content-oriented site. Most of all, it was copied because it was easy to copy.

This redesign stops that. It gives ALA an identity as the "periodical" website for designers. We want cutting edge design news we look to ALA.

What I think here is the most impressive aspect of the redesign is the back end conversion to Ruby on Rails. Forward thinking by the boys (and lady) at ALA.

My favorite little quark about the redesign? The color coded archives. It's like navigating a parking garage. You look to the color and know exactly what level you're on. You look at the color scheme and know which issue you are in.

(Coming in a close second is the new "readibility" of the website. It no longer makes the articles seem so long and confined. Point proven by the fact that within 12 hours of this new redesign going live, I had read two full articles word-for-word. On the old site I would have to skim them because I felt that I could never finish them quick enough. Bravo!)

Overall, well done. It gets my approval. But what does that matter?

As I dropped Adit off tonight, I was driving home listening to the DSC - Daily Source Code for those not familiar - and it hit me how tonight happened all because of podcasting.

After work today Juliana, Adit and I went to see The Aristocrats, which I heard about on the Studio 360 podcast when they interview Penn a couple weeks ago. I immediately opened up Safari and watched the trailer. Literally minutes later I heard the exact same trailer coming from behind the screen. It was Juliana watching it. We decided right then that both of us wanted to see it.

And as so, went tonight. And we laughed. And laughed. It was funny, as long as you don’t mind being offended and toilet humor. I will say Bob Saget’s retelling of the joke torn the house down for me. He was just hilarious. Would I pay again to see it? Probably not. But I would for sure rent it to watch with someone that hasn’t seen it.

Anyways, as I was driving home, listening to the DSC, then mashups, it hit me. I’m a podcast follower and supporter BIG TIME. I do have numerous songs that were brought to my attention through podcasts. I think it’s a pretty amazing thing that, in about a year’s time, this new technology has affected my life as much as it has. Congrats and thanks Adam Curry!

My little sister called me up just now. She's trying to figure out which computer to buy for school — or, rather, my parents should buy — and has to decide between an iBook and a Dell 6000. Just great... call your COMPLETELY unbiased brother who has both a Dell and a Powerbook. Smart thinking right? That's why she's going to college my friends.

So she calls me up and asks "What's better?" and it got me thinking. The usual things first came to mind: processor speed, memory, price. All are even she says. Now it boils down to her years and years on a Windows box verses her complete naivety to a Mac. Can she deal with it?

Now my little sister isn't super computer savvy. She can work her way around a Windows machine quite easily. She's been using since almost the time she could walk. Knowing all this, I took the time to think, "Could she easily make the transition to OSX easily?" I may have over analyzed this a bit but here's what I came up with as the biggest factors in her transition (Let preface this by saying this is mainly for her ONLY. I thought about it from a soon-to-be college freshman and very light user that is going into pre-law):

Using the dock - A simple enough thing to use and probably the most intuitive aspect of the OSX. Makes life easier all around. So she'd have no problem there.

Safari v IE - Let's face it, anyone who has ever designed and coded a site knows the advantages here. Much cleaner interface, better rendering, quicker. The list could go on but I won't. I will say when I was back for her graduation party, she was installing Firefox on her Dell so I think she may've already realized the pitfall of IE on her own (2 brownie points).

Keyboard - As basic as this sounds, iBook keypads just feel different when you're using them. They seem much less sensitive to me at least. It's not a bad thing at all as I have had to press my PC's keys twice for them to register.

Tech Support - This could be a MAJOR problem but she is going to Michigan State so I would imagine they have an IT help desk of some sort for help with her computer. Of course, it'll take them just a bit longer than the school she decided against (every chance I get to poke fun at MSU I take... sorry. Comes with my degree I guess.)

iChat - Let's face it. I made it through a whole summer without a cell phone in college but could've never done it without instant messaging. In college, it's your voicemail, notepad, telephone all wrapped up into one. It's important.

All the Free Time - I mean, let's face it productivity increases on OSX. It's prettier, more intuitive, and just works quicker. More study time means better grades. Better grades means happier parents. Happier parents means more things for Addam. So Steve Jobs, I thank you.

I've done my part. One convert to Apple with the rest of the family to come. Then more beyond that. I'm doing my part...

It's been awhile since the last post. I've been busy with work, traveling, and pretty much everything else. A few things happened this week that I believe require mentioning and voicing my opinion.

1. The Beta Release of IE7 which seems to solve a couple problems of IE 6- yet still basically sucks for CSS support. BUT it does look like IE7 now supports PNG's! Way to go Microsoft! (Am I the only one that feels like buying Microsoft a bus pass so they can catch up with the rest of the Internet world? Would everyone else chip in to buy one?) And it also has tabs... along with a funny little box that basically looks a lot clunky. Does Microsoft employ usability experts? Interface designers? Ugh...

2. This week marked the return of Laguna Beach on MTV. There's nothing like watching spoiled, immature high schoolers run around and create drama for themselves. When I'm watching the show, I start questioning myself. "Am I too old for this?" But I reason it out as no, I just like trash tv. Which is so true based on my obsession with the O.C. on Fox.

3. My new internet crack is Adam Curry's Daily Source Code. Ugh... this IS an addiction. I've actually gone back and downloaded earlier version of podcasts just to listen to. I'm obsessed. He puts on a good show.

4. Adit, Mike, and Corrine's (and some 4th guy who it conveniently "out of town" whenever I go out there) housewarming party was last night down in Old Town. I was surprised at the turnout. By which I really mean how much Yuengling was consumed. 1 keg, 6 cases and then some (plus shots and 2 other cases of Miller Lite). Granted there was probably 100-150 people who showed. A great night that was highlighted by the great box spring debate being finally settled, a beer pong peanut gallery of about 50 people, the tag team since The Road Warriors and 2am drunken bbqing.

5. Thursday was the "Clash of the Champions" at FedEx Field. Chelsea beat my beloved United 2-1 in a tough game (well, tough first half at least). I would've been there BUT Adit had to run off to Boston... loser. Plus it was overcast and crappy out. So I staying in the confines of 4455 and enjoyed the game at home.

6. Personalized Google Homepage, or iGoogle as I like to refer to it as, is out with RSS feeds now. A competitor to MyYahoo. Will it work? I'm not sure. Google's frontpage is simple and easy to use. People go to Google to search. That's it. Not to get news — even though Google News, has been up and running a while now — blog subscriptions, weather, stock quotes, etc. Granted it's nice to have and I have set up my iGoogle the night it was released. But it seems cluttered to me now. Too busy. Will I continue to use it instead of MyYahoo? I'm not sure. Time will tell but I'm guessing no.

So that's my week in review. Two weeks removed from Vegas, two weeks until Vegas. The halfway point. Oh by the way, the hotel situation is figured out, we are staying at the Monte Carlo which provides us with numerous advantages over the Rio, most of which I will outline in either a pre-Vegas entry or my post-Vegas wrap-up.

Last night, I was going though my Bloglines, when Search Engine Watch alerted me to Yahoo's new My Web 2.0. Intrigued, I clicked and whoa... the wonders that awaited me.

To my knowledge, this is the first community based web search, a social search engine, and it's pretty damn cool. It lets you tag and share your searches. It also encourages you invite and introduce friends. The more you invite, the better your search results.

By automatically setting my degrees of seperation at two, Yahoo has basically given me a broad enough range of interests (from my contacts) to find useful information while still filtering out all the spam and junk that usual personal searches yield.

It's fairly similar to in it's bookmarking and tagging, although I believe there one major difference of note. My Web seems to be more about catagorizing and saving searches. delicious seems to be very transient, as links move in and out, being forgotten easily. My Web seems to file searches away in storage. It creates a stockpile of saved pages from my community. It's more permanent this way, as when I search, my communities saved pages show first.

It's here. Ever since watching Steve Jobs annouce this at WWDC, I've been patiently waiting the... ohhh, two weeks or so until I could get podcasts! In iTunes!

So let's see, thus far I have 11 subscriptions set up... or 5.5 hours of podcasting to catch up on. My favorite, Acts of Volition. It's not a new podcast but it is wonderful. I highly suggest it. Steven Garrity does it right!

Phew... Second leg of the blogging marathon coming to you! This time, I got a fever. And the only cure is more blogging! Baton number two for the night (as brought to you by the lovely folks at John and Alisa's blogs)...

Name three books on your book shelf. One from each end and one from the middle. Top shelf: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, Middle Shelf: The Life of Reilly by Rick Rielly, Third shelf: The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher

What reading material is in your bathroom? Maxim. When it was a book, it was Blink by Malcolm Gladwell a little while ago. When I drag one into the bathroom now, it's usually Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst.

Favorite authors and why. Hummm... There only three I read religiously... two of which are sportswriters. Bill Simmons and Rick Reilly are my sportswriters, Chuck Palahniuk being the other. I've read all of his books and still have yet to see the movie Fight Club.

Least favorite authors and why. Can't pick. I feel everyone is an author. If I had to choose someone, it'd probably be myself. I always go back and look at things and say "Oh Addam, what are you thinking there?! Reword it..."

What author is over rated? Wow... That's too mean.

Would you (have you) picked up a woman in a bookstore? Nope I can't say I have... and I can also say I've never tried.

Do you eat while you read? If so what’s your food of choice? No, I've tried once and ended up spilling it all over my bed. It was ice cream. Also would suggest, if the power goes out and your reading by candlelight, make sure you at least 5 feet away from the candle. I think you know what I'm getting at...

Name one book you'd recommend for someone searching for meaning or insight or inspiration. Ask Howell. Whatever book he read that made him all Buddihist, I'd recommend that.

Name one book you'd recommend for a day on the beach or a rainy day in the house. Goodness... umm... I'm not sure here. I don't read fiction really.

Do you judge a book by its cover? Everyday. I can admit it. It's just a matter of being open enough to delve futher in and see what it's ACTUALLY about. As a designer, I know that not all book covers are a true representation of what the story's about. Everyone takes something different from a book.

In the bookstore, what section do you head to first? Whatever is the closest. Seeing as the Barnes and Noble here in Georgetown has magazines up front, I'd say that. But afterwards, I ususally head up a level to the Art and Web Technology books.

Five people to whom I'm passing the book baton: Again, I'm so late... If you want it, come and get it...

So I've been sitting on this for weeks now. Due to either my work schedule, my life scedule, my sleep schedule or my overall laziness schedule, I haven't gotten around to it. I have hopes of not becoming the Marion Jones of the internet world my first month on the job. Without further, or any, ado... my musical baton, as brought to you by John.

Total volume of music on my computer: 20.89 GB, my Powerbook's iTunes says. Of course, this is minus the new Motion City Soundtrack cd which sits at home on my PC.

The last CD I bought was: Bought? Verve Remixed 3 from iTMS. The last CD I got was Coldplay's X&Y, courtsey of The Girl.

Song playing right now: Infromation Travels Faster by Death Cab. I have a headache...

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me: According to my iTunes, my five most played songs are

  • Goodnight and Go by Imogen Heap
  • California by Phantom Planet (yes, THE O.C. song)
  • Wouldn't It Be Nice by The Beach Boys
  • A Lack of Color by Death Cab
  • The View by Modest Mouse

I'd have to concur with all. Or you could just click on the "Currently Playing" up there to the left and see what Audioscrobbler says.

Five people to whom I'm passing the baton: Everyone has already done this so I'm passing on the passing. It's too old now and I'd feel like the one guy at the house party that arrives at 4.30AM, when everyone is drunk and tired, with a 24-pack and decides now's the time to continue the party... even though there are only 6 people left at the party... 4 of which are sleeping.

That said, if you want it, I've got 5 spots. Leave a comment and I'll gladly amend this part of the entry...

Today, I start a new epoch of my life (and yes, I did wrech my neck some jumping on the bandwagon but, luckily, I've arrived unscaved. Thanks for asking.) Why am I doing this? I forget things... a lot. Ask my mom, she'll tell you. I need a space to write these down. Why not just use Post-Its™ like I have in the past? I also lose Post-Its™ about as much as I forget. I need a space to write down thoughts, work through ideas and just basically annoy others with my ramblings. Plus, I'm fairly new to this web technology game. It may be fun to watch my progression over the years... considering I last that long. But this isn't going to be just all business, hopefully. You know what? Let's just both buckle our seat belts, grab a helmet if you need to, and let's see where this takes us. Deal?


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