Techno Kitten Adventure is possibly one of the better reasons to buy an Xbox. If you have ever seen the Helicopter Game, the mechanics are nearly identical; the eventual flashing stars and hearts in perfect synchronization with the hardcore techno beat in the background introduce quite a few wrinkles. Watch the video; it’s worth it. (Via Michael Wuori.)
Something I’ve always struggled with is my blog’s focus. I tend to zero in on topics for a little while and then drift to something else. It quite fits my semi-neurotic personality — I’m definitely a “phase” kind of guy — but I realize that for the few folks who do read me from time to time that my lack of focus can throw you off. Some people come here for my weather updates; that’s cool and all, but what if I go on a binge of technology posts about FriendFeed and Facebook and leave the weather alone for a while? What if people showed up for me to talk about the Padres when I haven’t mentioned them on here since April? Writing such a blog can be tough on the readers because that noise makes what one might perceive as “the good stuff” that much harder to find.
I’m trying to mitigate some of this issue in the next design by reinforcing a topic-based scheme that should more easily direct folks to what they’re looking for. I’m doing a little of that with my weather section right now, but I’m planning on doing the entire blog in a topic-based navigational scheme come redesign time. The goal is for folks to be able to see on the homepage a quick overview of my posts by topic, versus one giant aggregation that could be all over the place. I’ll still retain the all-over-the-placeness on the blog homepage (equivalent to jaredwsmith.com/blog now), but the homepage should at least help people be directed to what they’re interested in that I might write about.
This will help me be able to produce more content in more topics and give each topic pretty close to equal time. If I go on a binge of personal posts — I’m in something resembling a quarter-life crisis at times, so this is entirely possible — the noise generated from those won’t drown out my weather posts, so those who don’t give two rips about me ;) can still find out what kind of damaging winds will inevitably not materialize because I blogged about them. I’m really hoping that this works out the way I intend. There are some avenues I want to explore via the blog that I haven’t really felt like exploring yet because the necessary organizational balance has not been in place. I’m looking forward to those controls coming into play, and I’ll be interested to see how it affects readership down the road.
It’ll be a short one on Serious Business tonight, but we’ll be talking about why “Designed For Browser X” needs to finally die, pay tribute to Bernie Mac and Issac Hayes, who both passed away this weekend, and the usual spate of audience digressions which make Serious Business what it is. Won’t you join us? We’re live at 8:30 ET/5:30 PT.
Lots of tangents on tonight’s Serious Business; just the way I like it. We talked more Apple Store, bashed Windows a little bit, and got into a decent baseball discussion with lots of little tangents to connect it all together, including my odd Saturday night!
In case you missed it, here’s the show:
Serious Business is tentatively on for next Sunday at 8:30. I’m headed to Atlanta for the weekend, but I should be back by Sunday evening. I’m still working up the agenda for next week’s show and expect to have it up sometime this week. Thanks to everyone who fought through the technical troubles and stopped in!
I torture Twitter so much with my rapid-fire randomness these days. It’s amazing that I have as many humans as I do actually following me because I get so random and off the wall there with things. So, I feel it’s only fair that I take some of this randomness to the blog for a change.
- I should’ve gone out singing last night. Wild Wing downtown does a pretty good karaoke night on Thursdays. Only problem? They don’t have any songs by Tantric. My range is right between Hugo Ferreira and Todd Whitener, so Tantric is pretty much perfect. On my birthday, I settled for Days of the New, which I do pretty well with, but Tantric has an energy you can’t deny.
- Had a pretty decent severe thunderstorm roll through West Ashley earlier, and of course I snapped a few photos of the onset. The cloud was wild as it approached (didn’t get my camera in time to get that shot) — it was very much like those spaceships in Independence Day.
- I’m slowly chipping away at a new look for this place. I’ve started over about three times now. That work won’t be wasted, though, as I usually find a way to take the best aspects of each design and meld them together. The goal in the next revision of the site is simplification: I’m cutting a lot of deadwood, recategorizing every post (that will take a while), and a lot of other stuff. It’ll be nice, though; I suspect it’ll be the biggest revamp we’ve seen here in a long time.
- Not sure who to vote for in November now after the FISA Obamination. My tirades against telecom immunity are well-documented here, and it just blows my mind that Obama voted for that bill. It’s a complete breakdown in principle that I wasn’t expecting from him at all, and this is really teetering on the edge of deal-breaker for me. Barack Obama’s just another politician now, and you know, I’m looking for more than pandering and broken promises for a change. He’s going to have to work very hard to win my vote back. (No, I’m not going McCain, either.)
- A lot of people have brought up how Clinton voted no on the FISA bill. While that’s admirable, Obama was still the better pick for the party based solely on Clinton’s baggage. However, I can’t help but wonder what John Edwards would have been able to do had the media given him 30 seconds of attention.
- Regardless, part of me feels a little had. This episode is a good reminder that with very few exceptions, there is very little separating the Democratic and Republican agendas. How much more do we have to take before third parties become viable in this country?
Enjoy your Friday, folks!
It seems that odd days are not good days to expect updates to The Blog. I’ve done updates on the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and now the 8th, not giving love to an odd-numbered day since the
29th of February 3rd of March. (I forgot to count asides as blog posts. Whoops.)
My buddy list is almost empty — it is quite clear that Fall Break has arrived at the College. I wonder how decimated my class’s attendance will be tomorrow. I’ll be working through Fall Break doing some training on a new content management system we’ll be bringing online, but I’ll still enjoy a couple days away from class. I’ll probably use the break time, during which nobody will likely be home, to get a few things done that I’ve desperately needed to do. I’ll try to get a few things implemented on this here site as well. Oh, and I need to figure out what I’m bringing to the LCB blognic Sunday.
Last night at about midnight, I officially joined the Cult of AT&T, as my cell phone no longer reflects “Cingular” as my service provider. The last gasp of Cingular is the branding that was screenprinted on the bottom of the phone. That was a good brand…a lot more hip than “AT&T,” which just screams “giant corporate behemoth.”
And now, a random note that has nothing to do with AT&T or Death Stars: I don’t talk about my professional life much on here outside of the limited freelancing I do, but for the last month I have been the interim webmaster at CofC. It’s been quite exciting — definitely one of those “never a dull moment” kind of jobs. This has had a lot to do with the slowing of my blogging pace, because quite frankly, it’s just tough to get on a computer when I get home after I’ve been on one for close to eight hours a day.
I’m wondering if it’s going to rain on Charleston in a couple hours. There’s a cell that appears to be holding together as it traverses its way down the coast. It’s been quite the rainmaker, dropping a radar-estimated three inches of rain on portions of upper Charleston County. It’ll probably rain itself out before it gets here, but then again, you just don’t know. The clouds were fairly ominous this morning.
Back to the grind…
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.
Yesterday I emerged from my midafternoon nap a little later than I wanted and panicked because I didn’t have a majority of my books yet (I didn’t get paid until Friday). I pulled on some decent clothing, fired up the iPod (which I need to charge), and hotfooted it — no, more like hobbled, as my right foot has been bothering me — to the variety of campus bookstores…and found they were all closed. Such is life, but I can survive a couple more days.
The nice part about living in a lively place like Charleston is that there is no shortage of interesting things going on at any one time. King Street, even at 6, was already a buzz of activity; guys with their ladies dressed up all prim and proper to hit a club or grab an extremely expensive dinner; Citadel cadets with CofC women in tow, out and about; a Philadelphia Eagles fan yakking on his phone outside La Hacienda, and everything in between. Rather than just immediately turn around, I decided to keep walking for a bit, and turned on George Street. If King Street is remarkable for its amazing level of buzz, then I think it’s worth noting that you can walk a block to the west and descend into relative silence (except for the construction projects, of course). That’s another great thing about Charleston; the buzz is there when you need it, and then you can take five steps and it’ll be quiet again. I popped down George Street, weaved about the CofC campus for a bit, and then got back onto Calhoun for the walk home. My mission may have not been accomplished, but it was a great walk on a comfortable day. With apologies to NASA and Apollo 13, I call this my “free return trajectory” — where I take an excessively roundabout way home after walking for a bit. It’s much more gratifying than the “direct abort,” in which I would just turn around and head straight back. That’s no fun. Plus, the free return gives me the opportunity to hear at least three or four more songs, not to mention see different people — that makes it most definitely worth it.