CSS Off Returns

In a little over 12 hours the latest CSS Off contest will be underway! For those of you unfamiliar with the CSS Off, it is a contest that puts a .psd in your hands and asks that you turn it into a semantic, standards-based site in 24 hours. I participated in the last one and had a great time. I highly recommend that everyone reading this take part.

This time around the comp has been designed by the amazing Brad Colbow who did a fantastic job. I can’t wait to see how people approach the design. Additionally, I have been asked to be a part of the contest as a judge for which I am truly honored. I will be judging the entries along side some incredibly talented people including former Clevelander and fellow CWSA member Dan Ott who left our fair city for the bright lights of Bloomington, Indiana last year.

As I said before, download the files and throw your hat into the ring. Not only is it a lot of fun, but its a great learning experience. I found all of the comments by the judges incredibly informative and I feel they have helped me become better at my profession by forcing me to rethink some of my practices and methods.

CWSA March Meeting: Making the Case for Standards

The first Tuesday of March is fast approaching and that can only mean one thing. It is time for another meeting of Cleveland Web Standards Association. Oh, yeah. There is some talk about an important primary in Ohio taking place on the same day or something, but I’m sure it isn’t a big deal.

The meetup in March will focus on making the case for web standards which will be split into two separate presentations. Joseph Frantz will be covering the benefits of using web standards from a developer’s perspective. Alexis Li will discuss making the case to the business community.

As always there will be a question and answer session after the presentations are finished. One thing I would like to request from attendees is that you stay after the Q & A for an “impromptu” social hour. It is always great to meet new people and share thoughts and ideas about what is going on in the web industry. So if your schedule permits, please stay and get to know your fellow geeks.

You can RSVP for the meeting on either Meetup.com or Upcoming.org.

The New Home of Cleveland Web Standards

I am very proud to announce the launch of the new Cleveland Web Standards Association site. I had the pleasure of working with Brendan Cullen on getting this first iteration of our little corner of the web online. I say first iteration because from the beginning this site is meant to be a collaborative effort by members of the CWSA. However, being an association whose stated goal is to spread the word of web standards to the Cleveland area, we thought that is was crucial to get something up quickly.

Keeping in mind that the finished design will be a CWSA Core team collaboration, I wanted to make sure that version 1.0 was very simple and clean. I kept it to one font, minimal color and practically no embellishment. Save for the great photo in the header of the Hope Memorial Bridge. Thanks to Allyson Newell for letting us use the image.

Along with Brendan’s help, fellow member Bridget Stewart took the time to work on the content for the about page. She summarized perfectly the goals of our group and outlined what steps we will be taking for the next version.

With all of that said, I am very happy with what we have accomplished in less than a year’s time. We began a year ago with two web nerds comparing sites in a bar and have grown into something that I believe will change the web community in Cleveland for the better.

Now head on over to our site to see what’s coming up on the calendar and sign up!

What’s Going On

This has to be the fourth blog post in as many weeks that I have started to write. The others have been banished to the back of my mind with a little help from the delete key. Half-hearted attempts to be witty, insightful, or (heaven forbid) instructional have been relegated to the nether regions of my brain where, as is the fate of most of my thoughts, will be summarily forgotten never to be spoken of again. Which in all three cases is probably a good thing.

So instead of writing about some CSS tip that has been posted by others with more skill than myself, I will briefly mention a few things that I’ve been excited about recently.

My New MacBook Pro

Of course I was going to write about this. I have been wanting a Mac for quite some time and I can finally say that I am now a proud owner of one. It really is a wonderful machine and the software available is truly amazing. Two apps that I have been dying to use, TextMate and Coda, are simply incredible and I’ve been putting them to the test this past week. It makes developing websites so much easier and a hell of a lot of fun. I highly recommend both.

I have been bugging my Mac owning friends lately on which apps I need to install. I have received some great recommendations so far, although I haven’t had time to install or try out all of them yet. I plan to and will post a list of my favorites here at a later time.

CWSA and BarCamp

There’s probably enough I could write here to be a post on its own, but I will just touch briefly on the subject. I and many fellow members of the Cleveland Web Standards Association have been discussing the idea of organizing a conference on Web Standards in the Northeast Ohio region. Taking into consideration that our group is still relatively small with little in the way of resources (and following the sage advice of Eric Meyer), I have been reading up on how to organize a BarCamp for Cleveland.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with BarCamp, here is a short description from Wikipedia:

BarCamp is an international network of user generated conferences, open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants, often focusing on early-stage web applications, and related open source technologies, social protocols, and open data formats.

It will take some time to get this organized but I am excited about the possibilities. A night of great talks, great people and ideas. I’m really looking forward to getting this underway. Cleveland needs events like this.

Coworking Space in Cleveland

Listening to the frustrations of a fellow web developer in the area has me thinking a lot about setting up a coworking space in Cleveland. Something along the lines of Citizen Space and Independents Hall. There are a lot of freelancers in the area, working in their home offices, basements and kitchens. While working at home does have some advantages there are always the inevitable distractions: television, children, spouses, chores, and so on. In addition to those distractions you lose the opportunity to collaborate and network face to face with your industry peers.

That being said I have begun to look into what is involved in setting something like this up in the Cleveland area. Mind you, I have absolutely no experience as to what it takes to get something like this established, but I believe it is something that could really benefit a lot of people in the region.

Well, there you have it. Just a few things that have my attention lately. BarCamp is definitely something that I can see happening in the next several months. The coworking idea, well, for now its a pipe-dream, but with a little effort and some help it could be a possibility. Who knows?

Time for a Change

Finally. I’ve been boring my friends and family with talk of this redesign since September. Well, I can now proudly say that it’s finished.

I had the site mocked up back at the end of September, and the basic coding finished by early October. A few projects, birthdays, colds and one holiday later and I’m able to say, “Here it is.”

As with anything I do, I’m never satisfied with the finished product. I’ll be scrutinizing every detail again and again over the next few months. Be prepared to see some minor changes from time to time. Ultimately though, I’m pretty happy with the overall look and feel of it, so I won’t be doing a major update for a while.

Now that this is finally (mostly) finished I can put my focus back on client work, a little reading and enjoying the holidays.