Monthly Archives: March 2007

Random observations and notes to self

  • A Boddingtons before a paper isn’t a bad thing, at all. I had never had one until tonight, and it was quite fantastic — amazingly smooth, a perfect head on it. I’m very impressed. Blue Moon certainly has a competitor now.
  • I got the Boddingtons because I wrote my profile story about Chuck tonight. I figured it’d be a good way to channel him. LOL. Yeah, I know, freaky zen-writer stuff.
  • Speaking of Chuck, a happy blogoversary to him. I will be sure to consume a cupcake in his honor during the course of the day.
  • Spending six hours in the library, though, is not a high value time. It sure goes from extremely busy to extremely dead in no time flat.
  • I saw Sarah (of errant fastball receiving fame) at the library tonight. I managed to make an ass of myself in front of her again, though no projectiles were involved this time. I don’t know what it is about an abandonment of all common sense when she’s around.
  • The stress is on. I can see it in everyone’s faces — including my own. Just a few more weeks, and we’re home free…scary how fast this semester — and hell, this school year — has gone.
  • Tomorrow will most certainly feel like Friday, but it won’t be Friday. At all.
  • Are some of my professors getting spring fever? I don’t have my media writing class at all next week (plus the following Tuesday), and I’m out of Biology on the 9th. Crazy.
  • I think this is a good bullet point to put this post to rest…in a hardcore, badass, twin bed. Yes. For the win.

Pondering a revised jaredwsmith.com…

So I’ve been thinking off and on about what a revised jaredwsmith.com will look like. This is always a point of self-conversation, but the discussion has kind of erupted in recent days, to the point where I am actually prototyping a new look in code (if the design makes it out of Photoshop, that’s typically significant). I’ve been pleased; the new look cuts down a great deal (try over 750 lines less!) on layout code and thus does a better job of degrading the presentation when viewed by a non-CSS or text-only browser. I also think the new look is generally cleaner than what’s running now. The current design has gotten incredibly noisy, I think. I also don’t think it’s as easy to use as it should be. Granted, there’s nowhere to navigate to right now, but I plan on rectifying that.

That’s where the other dilemma comes into play. I’m likely going to go the WordPress-as-CMS route and create specific pages for the about page, etc. However, it wouldn’t make much sense for it all to live under blog.jaredwsmith.com — so I have a decision to make, which may be incredibly dumb. See, a year ago, I originally ran jaredwsmith.com at the root (i.e., www.jaredwsmith.com) and decided to migrate it when I wanted to separate the main site and the blog. However, as you all have undoubtedly noticed, this “main site” I speak of has yet to materialize. WordPress 2.1 enables some new features that make it sweatless to implement WordPress as a CMS (you can see a great example of this on the CofC SGA site), so the natural route is to create the pages within WordPress and go from there.

It’s not that simple, though, because having a full website sit under blog.jaredwsmith.com doesn’t make a damn bit of sense to me. It makes much more sense at the logical spot, under www.jaredwsmith.com. This poses a major, major problem, though — if I move WordPress to www.jaredwsmith.com, then all the PageRank I’ve built over the last year with blog.jaredwsmith.com vanishes into thin frickin’ air. Sure, I’ll have a URL rewrite rule set up on blog.jaredwsmith.com to redirect permalinks to the new address, much as I have implemented with www.jaredwsmith.com…but still. It worries me a bit, at least right now.

One idea is to set up a second WordPress installation at www.jaredwsmith.com and administer the pages there, but that sort of redundancy is about as elegant as an elephant tap dancing to Trammell Starks. Another idea — the original plan, in fact — is to write up my own set of PHP pages, database, etc. and stick those on www.jaredwsmith.com, and hook into the blog database to show recent posts, etc. It also is very much like the secondary WordPress installation, except harder. No thanks. So, the poison will be relocating the blog and its associated pages back to its www roots, and hopefully for good this time…unless, of course, someone (or myself) comes up with an ingenious method of making it all work with the multiple subdomains and whatnot. I’ve heard WordPress-MultiUser mentioned as a solution, but that seems like overkill for what I want to do.

Technical matters aside, the new look will be nice. It’ll use popdown menus — automatically generated by WordPress, to boot — in the top bar for navigation. This is in contrast the current tree hanging out on the right (which I personally find to be tough to locate visually and a source of page noise). The right sidebar will continue to exist as an ad haven and blogroll location, and content will sit on the left. I toyed with the idea of a fluid design this time around, but I scrapped that idea because I believe reading is easier when there’s minimal need for eye travel (and a fluid-width design on a widescreen monitor can cause a lot of eye travel). Thus, this design will — just as past revisions of WordPress-based jaredwsmith.com have — fit in about 800 pixels wide. I haven’t determined whether to keep the serif Cambria/Georgia font for body text yet. I like the idea of differing the content font from the interface font (currently Segoe UI and Tahoma), but I may decide to relent and use a sans-serif face for body text this next time around. The only requirements for using the new site will be a standards-compliant browser. I’ll be doing most testing in Firefox and Internet Explorer, with some limited Safari and Opera testing as well. It’ll be perfectly usable in a browser that’s got no idea about CSS (Lynx, etc.) and will be tested for Section 508 Web accessibility, like all of my projects for the last two years have been.

One thing that will probably not make it into the next iteration of jaredwsmith.com is a full-blown discussion forum. I’m not sure I can dedicate the time and energy to the upkeep of a forum in addition to classes, work, and other Web stuff. I’m not 100% killing the idea of a forum, but I would not expect one at this juncture. Forums are beasts to run properly. I do believe, though, I may start the practice of having an occasional “open thread,” as seen at so many other blogs, which basically permits the reader to just go off on pretty much anything. Done right, I think open threads can be successful. I still have time to weigh this, though.

Now you know what a self-conversation about design is like. Hehe.

Post-catchup randomness

Now that I’ve caught up with the events of the last few days, here’s a final little rundown of what’s up…

  • I can’t even begin to fathom how scary it must be right now to be [tag]Tony Snow[/tag], facing some really stiff odds in his latest cancer fight. All the best to Mr. Snow and his family.
  • Same to [tag]Elizabeth Edwards[/tag]. Her positive approach (and Tony Snow’s, for that matter) definitely makes a big difference. I know that same approach prolonged my aunt Sobeida’s life for at least a few more months while she was battling a very rare and aggressive form of leukemia (she passed in October 2005).
  • April 20 is the American Cancer Society [tag]Relay for Life[/tag] in Summerville. I’ll be joining Tom and friends that night. I encourage you to show your support and get out there — they’re a great organization.
  • In other news: Anybody want to take bets on how long [tag]Alberto Gonzales[/tag] (Gone-zales?) will keep his job? Sounds like the only person in Washington who still has confidence in him these days is Bush himself. I don’t think he lasts past Friday, but who knows.
  • Remind me to pay closer attention to [tag]college basketball[/tag] next year so my bracket won’t be so embarrassing. I also should refrain from drinking immediately prior to filling out said bracket. Yikes.
  • Baseball’s Opening Day is Sunday. This is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year. I’m in a fantasy [tag]baseball[/tag] league this year — we’ll see how THAT goes. That’s going to be pretty intense, I think. I’m sure I’ll burn a lot of bandwidth at baseball-reference.com keeping track of statistics. Good news for me: The auto-drafter nabbed Johan Santana. Sweeeeeet. ;)

I think that’s it for now. I’ve got a lot more to say, but I probably should sleep for yet another long one tomorrow. :)

Erratic Fastballs and Flight at Folly

Saturday, I awoke to a text message from my friend Sarah — a summons to the beach at 1:30. Given the temperatures that day were expected to be in the mid-to-upper 80s with sunny skies throughout, it was a no-brainer. This is the earliest in a calendar year I have ever been to the beach on this coast — this weather is really unseasonably warm. It seems like we get damn close to records on a daily basis these days.

Naturally, everyone else in the City of Charleston and surrounding suburbs and towns had the exact same idea. Thus, we sat in traffic for at least an hour as the road bottlenecked. Even better, the opposing lane had just about zero traffic. The jam evoked memories of Hurricane Floyd (of course, nothing was as bad as the clusterf*** that was the Floyd evacuation).

After driving what seemed to be the length of the Atlantic shore to find a parking space, we finally came to rest just short of the Folly Beach County Park, grabbed our stuff, and found a spot. Despite the traffic, there was a pleasant amount of room along the beach to do our thing.

A while ago, Sarah, being an athletic type, told me she’d throw a baseball with me. After Saturday and several trips up and down the beach (and me almost killing two innocent bystanders with an errant throw), I don’t think she’ll do that again. :P I seem to have Mark Wohlers-esque control problems (though my curveball isn’t bad and I found my knuckleball again).

She and her friend Matt then decided to lay out and take in some sun. I’m not much of a laying-out type of person, so I grabbed my kite and got that going. My kite is a standard 3D kite that’s shaped like a F-16 Fighting Falcon with a popup cockpit, the intake, and everything. The canopy is even labeled with “Col. Smith,” making it all the more fitting. I bought it at Fry’s Electronics a few years back in San Diego, CA. So I pulled the kite out, and within three minutes, I was out of string and this guy was flying. I didn’t have to do a damn thing to get that bad boy in the air — in fact, I had to walk south with it in order to keep stress off the airframe (it was bending back and forth almost violently at times), as the winds were pretty potent. I became somewhat uncomfortable with this after a while and decided to bring the kite in for fear something might have snapped. (The kite is, after all, about four years old and has been through a lot.) The flight lasted 45 minutes and ended without incident, which I always strive for. I don’t like the idea of a kite going down in a crowd of bikini-clad women with large, burly boyfriends who have spent about five more years in a gym than I have — the aftermath just doesn’t sound pretty.

True to form, the BlackJack was on the scene, and I snapped a few in-flight shots. That kite was up there.

After the flight, we decided to take off — the water was pretty damn cold (what can I say, it is March) and the temperatures began to drop a bit below the comfortable swimsuit threshold. I do know that I need to spend a ton of time in the gym before I attempt to take my shirt off in public again. That, and I think I blinded people with my epic pastiness.

If you’re reading this, my apologies to those I blinded and to those whose lives I nearly ended with my lousy directional throwing.

A recap of the CofC media forum on Thursday

Last Thursday, I attended the Communication Advisory Council program put on by the College of Charleston’s Department of Communication entitled Traditional vs. New Media: The Times They Are A-Changin’. I have blogged about the Advisory Council before — they are a group of prominent professionals in the communication field who take time out to assist students in honing their skills. They are an absolute blast to work with, too, and Thursday was no exception. Continue reading

The light at the end of the tunnel

I get this question a whole hell of a lot:

So, when exactly do you graduate?!?

Tonight, for the first time since I transferred from Lander, I have a solid estimate of this for an answer.

If all things remain on track and sail smoothly, I should finally have completed the degree in December 2008. This would clock in at about 5 1/2 years, removing that one year I took off. Considering I got fairly deep in the computer science degree before The Great Exclamation of Eff-It of April 2005 and started an entirely new degree (media studies), I’m pretty pleased. It seems like an eternity, to be sure (and it has been — I’ll be 24 when I get out), but it’ll be damn worth it. Knowing for sure that I have a light at the end of the tunnel makes things a lot easier, too.

Assistance needed again from the Facebook-using crowd…

Hi folks,

I hate to come on here and only blog when I need something. (I’m going to rectify this soon, promise, I am just hella busy at the moment.)

What I need is the following: College students who use Facebook and are willing to give up about three and a half minutes of their time for a survey, whose goal is to attempt to measure whether Facebook usage impacts the academic performance of students. I’m doing a paper on this for my Comm Research Methods class, and it should be interesting (seems no other work even remotely like this has been published yet).

I appreciate it folks! More coming soon, including:

  • Old v. New Media recap, including running into Jason Zwiker and hearing Bill Hawkins make an exciting Charleston.Net announcement
  • A word about exciting changes upcoming here at The Blog and the rest of the jaredwsmith web…
  • Flying a KITE!
  • The usual musings about daily life that you’ve come to know and love.

Stay tuned…we’ll be back with our regularly scheduled blogging soon. Thanks a bunch for those who participate in the survey!

Update: It would have helped if I had turned the survey ON. Also, I’ve extended it to April 2.

J