Long Time Coming

It’s been a while since this site has seen some action. The last post was November of 2008, and while that’s pretty horrible, I’m sure this isn’t the first site to fall victim to neglect. Now, many months, a fresh coat of paint and a new CMS later I have to say it’s good to be back.

The itch to redesign started last fall, and after many iterations (you’re looking at version six) it was time to build out the templates. That was the easy part. In the midst of the redesign I got it in my head that I needed to graduate from WordPress to a more robust and flexible platform. I’d been working with ExpressionEngine for a while and found it easy to implement and a breeze to adapt to whatever configuration I wanted to throw at it. With that thrown into the equation, I shelved the idea of a quick launch as I didn’t have the time to work on the back-end with a full time job and freelance gigs (not to mention being the father of a three year old).

So the clock ticked on, but eventually I found myself with enough time to start a local build out of EE and began the process of setting up my site, piece by piece. Slowly but surely the site began to take form and after a couple of months tweaking here and there it was ready for prime time. Again I have to give props to the ExpressionEngine team for making a CMS that is not only simple to get up and running, but is also rather easy to move from a local environment to remote server. Just a few configuration changes later and it was good to go. I’d also like to add that the excellent ExpressionEngine screencasts by Ryan Irelan and the wonderful support of the EE community made the process of building and migrating a painless endeavor.

As for the design itself, I tried my best to adhere to a simple grid layout (fluid that is) while adding some nice, progressively enhanced touches: rounded corners via border-radius, subtle use of text-shadow and box-shadow, use of nth child to style the appearance of the posts on the home page, as well as a little jQuery thrown in here and there for good measure.

As is the case for any redesign, this is and will always be a work in progress. I’m not finished with it by any means, but to finally have it live is a great feeling.

URL ABC

A simple game: Go to the address bar in your favorite browser, and type one letter. Start with “a”, end with “z”.

Fun game via Tim Van Damme. Good way to spend a few minutes on a Friday morning.

Thankful

Even though it is something most everybody does this time of year, I usually skip the tradition of giving thanks. Not that I’m ungrateful for the blessings in my life, just that it’s not something I think to do as I’m always caught up in the other traditions of the day: making fun of the lip-synching during the Macy’s parade, catching up with family that I haven’t seen since the previous year, anticipating gorging on turkey and assorted side dishes, gorging on turkey and assorted side dishes, regretting gorging on turkey and assorted side dishes and so on.

This year, however, I would like to take a bit of time to give thanks to all of the great things that have happened over this past year. Why this year? Why do I take the time now when I didn’t bother in the past? The last 365 days have been very good to me. Probably one of the best years I can remember to be honest and I would regret having it pass by without some acknowledgement.

So without further adieu, here is my list of things that have made this past year wonderful and for which I am truly grateful (in no particular order):

  • My daughter saying “I love you” for the first time.
  • My wife and I celebrating a decade of marriage.
  • With great and brilliant friends, taking a simple meetup and turning it into something much bigger.
  • Collaborating on some amazing projects and building up my freelance business.
  • Finally getting a chance to go to An Event Apart at which I spent time with good friends and made a few new ones along the way.
  • Finally changing jobs after nearly ten years.
  • For all of the support from my family with all of my endeavors over the year.
  • Feeling hopeful about the direction of my country for the first time in ages.
  • Finally getting back to world of Macs with my first purchase of one since the mid 90’s.

Obviously this list isn’t exhaustive, and I’m positive I’ve left out some items that should have been mentioned, but with a belly full of turkey that is best I could come up with at the moment.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

A List Apart 2008 Survey

It’s that time of the year again. The staff at A List Apart have released their second annual Survey for People Who Make Websites.

I highly recommend that anyone in the industry from designers to developers take a few minutes and head over to ALA and participate. It took me five minutes to complete and the information gained from the survey will benefit everyone.

So stop what you’re doing, click on the link and take the survey already. You’ll get a nice badge to display on your site when you finish. Who wouldn’t want that?

Recap

It’s been a busy few weeks so instead of trying to think of some new clever article I’m going to recap the events of the last fourteen days.

Work has been very steady. New client work coming as well as collaborative efforts with local freelancers and agencies are keeping me busy. In spite of all the new projects coming my way I have found the time to get out, do a little socializing and learn a few new things.

The May meeting of Cleveland Web Standards Association was held in our usual location at Tri-C West Campus. For this meeting we were honored to have our own Joe Fiorini give an overview of Ruby programming with an emphasis on the Rails framework. The talk was wonderful and Joe really explained everything in terms even a layperson would understand. Excellent job, Joe!

This past Wednesday I was honored to be part of a panel of CWSA members presenting for the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Usability Professionals’ Association. Beth Dean, Bridget Stewart, Brad Colbow, Brendan Cullen, Julie Cousins and yours truly gave a talk on Web Standards. I was very happy with how well the talk was received. Beth and Bridget covered the basics of web standards with an excellent opening presentation. The question and answer session was great and my fellow panelists were brilliant. I do hope I didn’t bore people to tears when spoke at length on microformats. Once I get started on that subject I can’t seem to stop talking.

On Thursday, a few other CWSA peeps and I made a trip to Ohio City for Cleveland’s first Startup Drinks event held at the Bier Markt. Beth, Bridget, Brad and I met the organizer, Andrew Kavanaugh, for a delicious dinner at Phnom Penh across the street. The Pad Thai was amazing.

Once we got to the Bier Markt, we met some others in the local Cleveland tech scene. People discussed their new projects, their passions and of course beer. During all of the hand shaking and glass tipping I found time to embarrass myself by playing a game of pool with Andrew. Had he not scratched the eight ball it would have been a humiliating defeat. In addition to seeing all of the new faces we also ran into some old friends. Chris Miller, lead developer of Mahalo, stopped by as well as fellow CWSA member, Joe Fiorini who revealed some details about his super secret project FS15. It will be quite exciting, but I won’t say any more about it. Keep checking the site for updates.

That sums up the more major events of the past two weeks. Some exciting things are in store for the near future, but I’ll save those for other posts.