Loose Ends

So, before I head off to Sydney two nights from now, I figured I’d post about a few loose ends I haven’t posted much detail about.

I’m working part time at 3months.com now, and tomorrow is my last day at the DRC. I love working at 3months: the attitude of the workplace is relaxed but focused; everyone is enjoying their work. I start full time this Monday (3rd Oct). They’ve already got me working on a fun but rushed PHP project. I was working three days a week at DRC, and Wednesday and Thursday at 3months.

I’m so glad I’m not working two part time daytime jobs any more — three Mondays a week is lethal to your mind. I personally believe in sticking your focus to one a project a week at work, using the natural downtime on the fringes of the weekend: use Friday to ‘swap to disk’ for the weekend, and Monday to load the week’s project back into memory. The brain isn’t too good at swapping.

3months also issued me a laptop as my main work computer. This is awesome because I’ll be able to blog from the conference, and maybe even tap into the subconciousness of the lecture attendees, AKA the conference IRC room. Oh, and maybe do some work… ๐Ÿ™‚

My mum is off to Brisbane to live with her new squeeze. She’s flying out of Palmerston North on the 15th, so I’ll be up there to see her off. She is saving up for my brother Stuart and I to visit her for Christmas. Sydney will my first overseas experience, so I’m looking forward to following it up quickly with a visit to Brisbane.

Speaking of holidays, I’m off to see the Guru, the wonderful Guru of Bob, erm, GuruBob down in Mosgiel (near Dunedin) for New Years: Bob has offered for me to crash at his place for a few days. I’ve never been more south than Christchurch, so seeing some of Otago with a born-and-bred Dunedinite’s point of view sounds like fun ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe even see Bob fly his new RC Plane…

So yeah, my next post will probably be in Sydney! I’m taking my camera, and will be trying to find buildings from The Matrix on Saturday… w00ta! (is that Australian for “w00t”…? ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

I got a Golden Ticket!

No, not one of those banal “go see how chocolate is made” tickets, rather one that grants me access to the new beta WordPress.com! WordPress.com is to WordPress what TypePad.com is to MovableType — a hosted blogging service. But wordpress.com is invite-only, and I guess, free.

So I got my invite, signed up and ended up with glutnix.wordpress.com — yay! The app is totally based on WordPress, but it looks slightly different, and has some improvements, like a not-so-rich-text editor (over editing HTML), collapsible sections in the edit page, including an AJAX categories selector which lets you add new categories to your blog without leaving the page, even suggesting existing categories that other bloggers on wordpress.com are using, forming a type of folksonomy.

No plugins though.

Will I use it? Nah. But it’s good to see what progress is being made on the newest version of WordPress ๐Ÿ™‚

And incidently, I have a golden ticket to give away to someone who wants it real bad. First person to ask me for it will receive it…

Web Designers and Typography

This is a rant.

Design is a mis-used word today, and leads to much confusion in the Web industry today. I consider myself a “Web Developer”, because I’m a developer. But people categorise me as a Web Designer. Yes, I design things, but I don’t do asthetics as well as I do functionality.

According to Web Design From Scratch, Design is a spectrum. Something that is well designed will be an appropriate balance between Asthetic design and Functional design. Designing the Asthetics is the art of creating something visually conveys an emotion or brand. Designing the Function is the art of making something useful.

Even though I’m a programmer and focus on the functional end of the spectrum of design, I rely on the so-called “Web Designer” (who is in charge of asthetics) to make the application look good, and every time in my life I have been sorely disappointed.

Why is this? Web Asthetic Designers too often focus on the “wrapping of the content”; That is to say all they do is the graphics that surround a body of text. They might stipulate a font, colour and point size for the text, but that’ll be it.

What about Bullet points? Blockquotes? Sub-headings? The asthetic design of web forms? Text-boxes? Buttons? Photo positioning and balance? Captions? Source Attribution? Even simple things like link colours are sometimes forgotten.

Too many times I have recieved a “letterhead” — a webpage design that is essentially a blank piece of paper save for an asthetically pleasing header and navigation. Don’t get me wrong, I need someone to do that part, but I also need someone to tell me how to fill that blank space in a manner that doesn’t clash with the template.

As a programmer who appreciates asthetically-pleasing, yet gloriously-functional-design, but as someone who is less capable to create the asthetics (but doing his best), I would appreciate a web designer who can provide a great site presentation and provide a style guideline for laying out content within the template they provide. Is that too much to ask?

People say you can tell when a programmer has designed a webpage because it doesn’t look pretty. One web agency I worked for it would call it “Programmer Art”. But I can tell when a designer has half-designed a webpage, because the programmer’s user interface is clashing with the design of the site.

Oh, and don’t think I’ve forgotten that Programmers also have a responsibility to make their applications user friendly. But that’s a whole different rant.

Web Essentials ’05 or BUST!

When my friend CJ got back from Web Essentials 04 she just RAVED about it. So now CJ has convinced me to save up and attend Web Essentials ’05 in Sydney! 29-30 of September… It should be really good; the workshops look like tons of fun, international speakers like Dave Shea, Tantek, and my aquaintence Doug Bowman, and it’s only across the ditch! (for non-NZers, the ditch being the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia)

It’s gonna cost me some serious coinage… admission is AU$700, and hopefully work will pay for some of that, but I still gotta get airfares, departure tax, accomodation, spending money. All up I’m probably gonna have to get about NZD$1500 from somewhere, which probably means saving it.

I’ve never attempted to save this much money before, so it should be a good lesson for me. It’s also my first time overseas — I don’t even have a passport! I kinda want a laptop to take too… cybercafes suck.

Who knows, maybe I’ll get some sponsorship. Maybe some of my fellow attendee out there want to help me out? So I’ve put a Paypal button on the main page. But if you want to donate another way, let me know!

I intend to stay at the Sydney Railway Square YHA Wake Up!, which is only 5 minutes away from the WE05 venue. It’s cheaper if you bunk in a same-sex-room with 4 or 8 other buddies, but I don’t have any same-sex buddies who will be attending yet… If you’re going to WE05 on the cheap, contact me and we’ll hook up ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course, if someone wants to billet me, that’d be even better ๐Ÿ™‚

Update: As with any good donation drive, you need to give something in return. So if you donate more than NZD$5 (read: more than USD$4.00) then I’ll post you a CD-R with loads of legal Creative Commons MP3s on it, just to say thanks! I might even throw some mashups on there too ๐Ÿ™‚ Be sure to include your mailing address so I can send you your CD ๐Ÿ˜€

Update: Thanks to my good pal Andrew Morrison and my good friend CJ, combined they’ve donated NZD$150 ๐Ÿ˜€

Update: Cheers GuruBob for another NZD$25! Someone get that man a pie!

Update: HUGE THANKS to my new employer, 3months.com for pledging NZD$800!

Update: A big TY to Jenny Crumiller for the donation of USD$40! (~NZD$58.36)

Update: A big w00ta to Scott Buffington who donated USD$20 (~NZD$29.20)! Big Ups!

Update: Two updates today: USD$20 (~NZD$29.20) from Smikwily and USD$5 (~NZD$7.25) from David Pickett: Cheers you guys!

Update: Michael DiStefano donated a sweet USD$4 (~NZD$5.80) — Cheers Michael!