WCBO - Geeks Meet The Streets

April 21st, 2006

WCBO I heart you”

Being of that order of geeks who has spent some time sparring in boxing rings as a youth and trying to break people’s noses for many years on - well its too late for me…

BUT…

The World Chess Boxing Organisation (WCBO) combines chess and boxing into a hybrid sport I think would be way cool. Way cooler than just chess or just boxing (you see I enjoyed both of those passtimes in particular - and especially). The idea is you have round 1 of chess and round 2 of boxing and on it goes… you can see the pattern. The rules are simple - its about winning the war not the particular battle. And lets face it when you want to stop punch drunk boxers from continuing their careers what better way to identify their brain damage than a good chess challenge.

So I raise a fictitious beer and several imaginary whiskeys to the “sport of the common man who might read the occasional novel on weekends”.

Because to be honest several times when someone has taken my Queen or pulled an en passant (in passing) or castled out of danger I’ve felt like smacking them up a bit. And why not? I mean its all legitimised now as a sport. Geeks meet the streets - awesome. The computer artificial intelligence factor would be a bit scarey too. Check out the first world championship video as well. Decision by checkmate or knockout!

WCBO I heart you.

[of course one could say I don’t mind settling differences with the occasional game of chess but there’s nothing like the real thing]

Linden Langdon - Art Melbourne 06

April 20th, 2006

“She’s represented in Victoria nowdays by Melissa Loughnan”

My partner Linden, artist and blogger, has some work up at the moment in Art Melbourne 06. So congratulations to Linden for making it to an interstate exhibition with her work. She’s represented in Victoria nowdays by Melissa Loughnan who also has some of Linden’s work on her arts management web site.

Art Melbourne 06 runs from April 20 - 23, 2006 so if you’re in the city at the moment you might be able to pick up some good original art works at reasonable prices.

Vitamin - A Week For Collaborative Blogs

April 19th, 2006

“We need good sources of reliable and varifiable information”

Collaborative blogs are great if you can get them to work. Gaining support, content, agreement and editorial balance all must be extremely hard. Last week Bite Size Standards came out with an initial flurry of activity and now we have Vitamin which is a resource for web designers, developers and entrepreneurs. And it has some major big gun backing from the likes of Molly Holzschlag, Dan Cederholm, Dave Shea, Shaun Inman and Eric Meyer to name but a few.

This is a beautiful site which naturally validates as XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS. Leading by example is a good thing in my book. And already there is some great content up there.

I think collaborative portals for web developers to feed at have a strong place in the blogging community too. We need good sources of reliable and varifiable information. We need to have common levels of agreement on what is or isn’t best practise. We need sites exactly like these to make our lives easier. OK that’s my rave for the day about Vitamin - its one you should be subscribing to. And I’d expect it to be up there with A List Apart as a universal authority before too long.

Vitamin is a new web site for designers, developers and entrepreneurs

Printing Authority Of Tasmania Redesign

April 18th, 2006

“Hands up if you’re the business or person who did this work?”

The redesign for the Printing Authority of Tasmania is of interest. Before reading further you may want to read the previous articles here relating to my opinions of the previous incarnation. I won’t reopen old wounds here but thought I’d have a quick under the hood look at the new redesign. I confess before beginning to not be particularly fond of 1998 round images but that’s just personal.

Hands up if you’re the business or person who did this work? Just wondering… and don’t take anything I say too critically because it should be water off a ducks back.

Graphically this site is a great improvement on the mustard yellow predecessor. I like the absence of Java this time and its reasonably light. As a user I’d have liked some more information on exactly what I can get for what price, some portfolio pages would be nice, but over-all the external aspect is obviously built to the specifications the client put forward.

I do however have to ask whether the desire for spinning balls done in Flash led to the hiring of someone who didn’t know XHTML from breakfast cereal. I say that specifically because of the following line of code which implies some connection to XHTML while the rest of the document seems to show no understanding of web standards at all -

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">

There is no DOCTYPE and the validator chews out 18 interesting errors on the home page treating it as HTML 4.01 Transitional (these are not ends in themselves but meant to give the reader insight into the underlying code). The layout is table based - yuk I have to vomit on that one because its NOT april fool’s day. Finally, and my look here was only cursory - has anyone noticed the Flash balls aren’t visible in Firefox? A small bug fix no doubt will get that one into line. And personally I’d have skipped the antiquated JavaScript rollovers on the menu in favour of using CSS.

So overall I’m not majorly impressed but its a massive improvement on the old site. I’m sorry to see they have still missed the appreciation for Web Standards developers and have hired another tag souper. I thought the forms looked nice so that’s something (I’m trying to be positive here).

Basically my only real criticism of the new Printing Authority of Tasmania web site is the coder needs to read a few books on XHTML and web standards in general. Anyone looking in View Source will be able to see why I’m saying so.

A screenshot of the Printing Authority of Tasmania web design

Don’t Make Your B&B Clients Wait

April 18th, 2006

“I think the client deserves to be poached in this instance”

This one is common sense but not necessarily well practised. Your bread and butter clients are the ones that will sustain you through the lean times so don’t take their money and make them wait a month to get that small update. While larger projects will lead to more income right now there’s going to be little long term benefit from ignoring established relationships.

The part that I find fascinating is when I see a situation where a well recognised firm has a small one hour update job come in from a regular client and then simply doesn’t do anything for a month (so far). Does that make sense? As a small web developer I could quite easily use this opportunity to develop a relationship and poach the client. And I think the client deserves to be poached in this instance.

There could also be a good indication here that they don’t look after their other bread and butter work so their own portfolio could work against them. And if I’m thinking of it then you can bet someone smarter and faster is noticing it as well.

Bite Size Standards

April 16th, 2006

“A resource where you can incrementally become a whole lot smarter over time”

The must subscribe site of the day of course is the launch of Bite Size Standards which aims to have many highly skilled authors submitting small bites of information which are highly digestible. Long tutorials won’t be found but even better is a resource where you can incrementally become a whole lot smarter over time by being exposed to ideas and techniques.

Anyway I hope it goes well and maintains its momentum. Good luck with it. And any developer worth their salt should be subscribing to their RSS feed.

Companies Blocking RSS - WTF

April 16th, 2006

“I’m dumb-struck how short sighted some companies are”

There’s a good article up at the moment called Companies Blocking Employees from Reading RSS Feeds which I’d suggest is a must read. I came across it on Steve Rubel’s Micropersuasion this morning.

Honestly I’m dumb-struck how short sighted some companies are in their desire towards control and security in the workplace. Wake up guys and girls and have a look around outside your own corporate environment. What large companies and organisations are now using the Web for more than just a billboard?

When are some companies going to see the value in maintaining a relationship with customers and being open to feedback. Close the door to the outside and the outside can’t come in to criticise you…

If I were the manager of such a firm with such a policy I’d want an outside consultant to have a report on my desk about the whole issue by the end of the week. Just because some network administrator says something doesn’t necessarily make it the right path to take. Hey those guys will lock you out of everything given the chance. Here’s an example.

I spent 2 months working for a government department recently doing quality assurance on their soon to be unveiled site. I only had Internet Explorer, I couldn’t download any software or do a whole bunch of stuff. After 2 months I still wasn’t connected to the printer either - go figure.

That, my friends, is the network administration. Sometimes they don’t know best and they never know everything. Banning RSS is shooting the company in the foot - doofus! Ring the marketing department or the web department for some advice on this one.

[rant ended to pursue a decent coffee]

HAF205 Buffy To Big Brother

April 15th, 2006

“When your future employer IS BOUND to ask WTF!”

OK I was over at Richies Right Wing Rant - that’s Richard Dowling’s site - a minute ago and saw a great article pointing to a University of Tasmania unit called HAF205 Buffy to Big Brother.

As a computing student with a spare second year elective up my sleeve I don’t think I’m ready to discuss the absurdity of whether Buffy kicks left or right footed or whatever that one is about. And how is that going to look on the resume when your future employer IS BOUND to ask WTF!

I don’t particularly want to bag the university curriculum on Pig Work but this one is honestly up there with big question marks. How many episodes do I need to watch for a pass? If I wear sexy girlie clothes do I get a distinction?

NO this article is kind of tongue in cheek I guess and I haven’t seriously taken much time to absorb the real meaning of the unit outline but it was well worth mentioning here. Xena courses haven’t been run yet?

Also as a sidenote Richie is thinking of quitting the blogging scene and has a poll up. Unfortunately I clicked the first option before seeing the next choice was marked the Norty Pig choice. Anyway jokes aside Richie should keep blogging unless its just because he’s bored. It can happen that way. I’d suggest a three month hiatus and reassess when he’s fresh.

Pig Work on Designers Who Blog

April 15th, 2006

“A tradition of taking photos where I’ll pull a strange face”

Cat over at Designers Who Blog put Pig Work up under the No Spec category this week. Which I think is pretty cool as I read her blog a lot.

But what do you think about the sulky bottom lip photo I sent her for the header? That was fun.

Basically one morning my partner came into the office at around 7am with the camera and I was in a cheap bathrobe - as you’d expect - having a coffee and answering email. We have a bit of a tradition of taking photos where I’ll pull a strange face. So there you have it - sulky Steve aka nortypig…

The other photo I sent was of me impersonating a kangaroo in the Perth business district while not being shot at by pasturalists or police. To me that was kind of interesting.

Cobblers Cobble And Experts Were Once Perts

April 14th, 2006

“Away from a hostile standardista attack platform for tantrum wielding spoilsports”

So now you know my expert joke - someone who used to be a pert. Go figure. Anyway the rain has set in here and the day has whittled away while I chased some minor form element discrepencies on my new Pig Work layout. Yes I’m keeping the name I think and the address. Its a matter of identity and wondering how the flying Kahoolie Brothers anyone would ever find me again - or why they’d look.

So the plot moves forward. Matt Robin was right I’ve got no time to make a CSS Reboot entry. I have an Artificial Intelligence assignment on my desk to create a small expert system due in four weeks - and to be honest I like to put in good work rather than just score a pass. Its just the personality type I am. If 100% is achievable I’ll put in an extra 60 or so hours and see if I can get it.

Meanwhile back to the cobbling. The layout is coming together slowly and I’ve decided not to wholly include Pig Pen for a number of reasons. The main one is that after spending a lot of time on doing it the dawning realisation that it would overly complicate the interface was a major dampener on the idea. I can’t explain without showing you but things could get icky down that road. Its doable but not something I’d like to use myself necessarily.

So I have some ideas flowing and want to redirect the purpose of Pig Work somewhat away from a hostile standardista attack platform for tantrum wielding spoilsports (that’s sometimes me) towards a design focus. Mainly the bridge between form and function where good design is pleasing and usable and built with web standards. I’d like to bring in art and architecture as well as discussing code.

OK so that’s what is happening in the back room while the sun’s out. The white site Pig Work is hitting the skids with an expected time of arrival of around a month I’d expect. This time I don’t care if you stumble across it - there’s no password - but I won’t be putting it here until its running exactly how I’d like as a release product. Enjoy your Easter break and I hope you enjoy the new more positive Pig Work when it comes to fruition.

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