Ask The Sherpas Q&A: Online Resources for Learning To Code

For personal reasons I’m a week late to promoting my own article, but my second answer in the Ask The Sherpas series is up:

Do you know any good or recommended sites to help designers catch up on today’s coding?

Q: Do you know any good or recommended sites to help designers catch up on today’s coding? There are a lot of sites I come across but many are short on either definition or providing the tutorial’s functional purpose. — Nathan Carrig

Read my answer on Facebook covering a variety of self guided and collaborative learning resources.

If you have a question about a web design, web development, content, UX, or accessibility topic that you’d like to be answered by an expert in the field please go to the Web Standards Sherpa contact form and ask away.

Feed ShirleyAnd if you’d like a more in depth site review focusing on one of these topics, Feed Shirley!

2012 In Review

2012 came and went without a post on this site. While not uneventful, other services like Twitter or Facebook seemed to be my go to venues for keeping in touch with people. Somewhere in the early Fall I started feeling pretty rotten for neglecting this blog, and even spent a little time restyling the WordPress theme it uses (adding a bit of RWD and other cleanup), I never did get around to posting anything. I can’t say this will change in the new year, but I thought a quick update on what I’ve been doing and why I’ve been busy was in order.

2012 in Freelance Web Development

Much of 2012 was spent working with my good friends over at HyperHyper, a small shop out of Brooklyn, NY. There I helped get the fashion image archive VFiles off the ground.

Shop Freshly

As usual, the year was also filled with smaller projects, such as helping friend Michael Farley with the launch of Shop Freshly — which helps you find which farmers markets are open near you (now in NYC and San Francisco).

2012 in Technical Editing

While I didn’t author anything new this year, I did work as technical editor on three great projects that were released or continued into this past year:

HTML5 & CSS3 Visual QuickStart Guide

HTML5 & CSS3 Visual QuickStart Guide by Bruce Hyslop

The perennial classic, HTML5 & CSS3 Visual QuickStart Guide, saw it’s 7th edition released, this time helmed by author and friend Bruce Hyslop updating the great work of Elizabeth Castro.

My other love, digital photography, continued to lead me to interesting new grounds where I helped Adobe’s Geoff Scott and Jeffrey Tranberry with their new release on automating Photoshop Power, Speed & Automation with Adobe Photoshop which was released mid-year by focal press. This book was based on the corse Jeffrey and I had both been teaching on automating and scripting Photoshop at SVA’s Masters in Digital Photography Program.

Power, Speed & Automation with Adobe Photoshop

Power, Speed & Automation with Adobe Photoshop by Geoff Scott and Jeffrey Tranberry

At the same time, I also gathered up some sample JavaScript code from that course and quietly released the shoppe library for doing some basic Photoshop API manipulation over on github.

Web Standards Sherpa, a project bringing the brightest minds on the web to help review web sites and answer your questions about standards based design and best practices, also saw some more activity in twenty-twelve. In addition to the long form articles, a new Q&A venture Ask The Sherpas was launched in the fall. Look to 2013 for a more great stuff from this great team.

Feed Shirley

Submit a site for review by the Sherpas

2012 in Photography and Events

The end of 2012 saw some renewed interest in Flickr, but I’ve never stopped updating my projects there. In particular, there were a bunch more web tech events I covered, some officially and some as an attendee.

Carl Smith Keynote #FOWD

Carl Smith Keynote #FOWD w/ the Dalai Lama

Again this year, I was the official photographer for The Future of Web Design’s New York event and had a blast shooting and meeting a pile of great speakers and attendees.

What’s Next

While I’m not promising regular activity on the blog here, 2013 will see a bit more public activity from me on a few projects I’ve got in the works — look for a bit more stuff going up on github as well as some new photography projects.

Follow @placenamehere on Twitter to keep up to date on what’s going on with me in the new year or keep watching my photo stream on my Flickr account.

Fallstagram, and a Status Update

Playing hide & seek with the sunlight

The trail ahead...

The above photos were taken yesterday in South Mountain Reservation & made 80% more autumnal with Instagram filters.

You wouldn’t know it from this blog, but I’ve been busy

I hadn’t realized it’s been more than a month since I’ve posted anything here, but there’s a few good reasonsgood reason for that. Besides some interesting work projects, and not having reliable internet connectivity for a bit, I’ve also been embracing “conference season” and been out and about whether at conferences or just one off events or meet ups, possibly meeting you! In no particular order there was Brooklyn Beta, an evening at Etsy, Creative Mornings, a few others I didn’t take photos of, and then just soaking up NYC via NY Comic Con or its Parks & Rec.

The good news (for me, and for any blog readers I might have left) is that the stretch is almost over & hearing about such great ideas from a wide variety of people has put some ideas in my head, many of which will be appearing here in some form or another in the not too distant future.

Textpattern To WordPress Migration And Importer Updates

After many years on the Textpattern blogging platform, I’ve migrated Place Name Here over to WordPress. Though it only took a day or two to migrate blog posts and comments dating back to 2004 and create a theme to match, it was a move that needed some massaging.

Why Change?

I had been contemplating the change for some time now. I’ve used both systems, as well as others like Movable Type, for personal and client projects and have a good feel for each system’s strengths. I was seeing that where WP was headed is more aligned with where I think I want to take this site. It isn’t that there was anything wrong with Textpattern—in fact in many ways I still prefer it’s simplicity, template system and other core features. But that project seemed to have plateaud and contributions, updates and roadmaps are sometimes unclear. WordPress has continued to move forward and make easier some of the features I’ve been wanting to add (pingbacks, gravatars, other blogging and infrastructure fluff). But since these weren’t pressing needs, I just kept bumping the move until recently when I had the time to look at it again.

Data Importer Hiccups & Changes

Having a relatively simple markup structure to begin with for the old site’s templates made the theme transition relatively easy. By creating a child theme of Twenty Ten and editing just 9 of the files (along with a bit of experience) got me to what you see now. Given this is only a migration of a 2+ year old markup and CSS that’s been tweaked a few times too many there is certainly cleanup that needs to be done when I get a chance, but a redesign is another challenge for another day.

What I did have to wrestle with was the data migration. The current Textpattern importer plugin seemed a bit out of date and for my needs it needed a bit of customization. The requirements I laid out for a successful migration from Textpattern 4.2.0 to WordPress 3.0.1:

  1. Post author needed to remain my user account in both systems.
  2. Old permalinks needed to work, so /article/[ID]/[textstub] needed to be configured and IDs in the old system needed to be preserved.
  3. Tags needed to be migrated from the old system to the new.
  4. Post Body and Excerpt HTML fields needed to be imported so I didn’t have to configure Textile parsing for all old articles.

Items 1 and 2 required a little massaging before import.

  1. Create the WordPress admin user with the same username as the author in Textpattern.
  2. Delete all test posts, comments and pages from the MySQL database to free up any IDs.

Customization of the textpattern-importer plugin was required to make the rest happen. It wasn’t really a heavy job, but three changes needed to be made.

Swap the use of the Body and Excerpt containing Textile code with the “compiled” Body_html and Excerpt_html fields.

// Get Posts
return $txpdb->get_results('SELECT
  ID,
  Posted,
  AuthorID,
  LastMod,
  Title,
  <em>Body_html,</em>
  <em>Excerpt_html,</em>
  Category1,
  Category2,
  Status,
  Keywords,
  url_title,
  comments_count
  FROM '.$prefix.'textpattern
  ', ARRAY_A);

Include the Keywords field (was this just overlooked? I don’t understand why it wasn’t there already). Also, insert the existing ID for each inserted post (as import_id).

$ret_id = wp_insert_post(array(
  <em>'import_id'      => $OldID,</em>
  'post_date'      => $Posted,
  'post_date_gmt'    => $post_date_gmt,
  'post_author'    => $authorid,
  'post_modified'    => $LastMod,
  'post_modified_gmt' => $post_modified_gmt,
  'post_title'    => $Title,
  'post_content'    => $Body,
  'post_excerpt'    => $Excerpt,
  'post_status'    => $post_status,
  'post_name'      => $url_title,
  <em>'tags_input'    => $Keywords,</em>
  'comment_count'    => $comments_count)
  );

What To Do With The Code Now?

I feel the need to share, but is it worth submitting back to the project?

I’ve uploaded both my customized importer plugin and a diff incase anyone else should want to attempt to use it. Please read my requirements above before you do, but it will probably be a smoother transition than the current plugin. I’d love to discuss contributing the changes back into the project with someone, but wouldn’t lobby for it without some discussion of which of my requirements are universal enough to make it (keywords, yes, HTML posts, dunno). Please use the comments section to let me know your thoughts on contributing this code back to WordPress—or report back if you’ve used the code.

Download pnh-textpattern-importer.zip which contains:

  • textpattern-importer.php: (replace contents of /wp-content/plugins/textpattern-importer/textpattern-importer.php with this file after installing existing plugin)
  • textpattern-importer.php.diff

The CSS Pocket Guide

Alternate Title: What I did on my Summer Work-cation

This blog has been a bit quiet the last few months—a direct result of spending all of my non-work hours writing my first book. The CSS Pocket Guide, the results of all that effort, was just sent off to the printers earlier this week and hits the bookstores on October 25.

Buy The CSS Pocket Guide at Amazon.com

PNHTagTest Now On GitHub

Taking a moment away from a truly busy summer of client work and other fun projects to bring you this little announcement:

There’s now a permanent home on GitHub for PNHTagtest, a little piece code that I’ve had floating around for ages as an aid for building and reviewing CSS on a project.

Sample of PNHTagTest contents

More Prints Added To Photography Shop

After another order of test prints arrived in the mail this afternoon [ordered Thursday, arrived today!] I’ve selected the images and papers I liked most and added a bunch of new prints to shop.placenamehere.com. With these additions the New Jersey landscapes and parks album is starting to fill out nicely, and hopefully has some familiar sights if you live in the norther half of the state.

photo of sample prints

Beginning A 'Project52' For 2009

Many photographers on Flickr and across the web have come across Project365 in the last few years. As described by early driving force Photojojo, along with other benefits:

Taking a photo a day will make you a better photographer. Using your camera every day will help you learn its limits. You will get better at composing your shots, you'll start to care about lighting, and you'll become more creative with your photography when you're forced to come up with something new every single day.

I’ve thought about joining in each of the last few years — hey, I already take photos a few times a week, what’s a few more? But that’s why I never have. I already shoot a few times a week, carry one of my cameras almost everywhere and spend more time then most looking around for a potential photo op. In the end I just didn’t think taking more photographs would advance my skills.

New Browsers Bring New Bugs And New Tools

Creating a site for yourself has always been a refreshing outlet for web builders. Without rooms of stakeholders, you alone have the control over which technologies to use, what features to include and what browsers to support. Part of that control is deciding how you are going to deal with browser bugs and often having the freedom to take the ‘high road’ and leave defects be so that they can be used for bug reporting, test cases, and to help prod browser vendors into maybe making those bugs a higher priority.

While I have no desire to work around them for my personal site, I think its worth it to point out and work to get these bugs fixed at the source, including the following 2 CSS bugs with visible on the new Place Name Here that I decided to let be — one in Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 and the other in Google Chrome.

New Duds For Its 10th Year

It begins now

Place Name Here has gotten a much needed facelift and a bit of reorganization. A bit grungy, it harkens back to the black and white color palette that has haunted the site for most of its nearly 10 years [domain registered in December of ’98]. As usual the design is fairly simple simple, and as always I have found some way to fit some obnoxiously big type. The refresh also marks an increased interest on my part to post more regularly and more substantial then the recent link here and photograph there.

Web2.0 Sucked The Blogging Out Of Me

Molly recently lamented that twitter has sucked the blogging out of her. I’ve been feeling the same way for some time, though I was never as prolific a writer has she is. Though for me I think it was Web 2.0 that has sucked the blogging out of me, and unfortunately the slow down isn’t all that recent.

Place Name Here Getting Old

Things are getting a little old and dusty around here as a result of me being quite busy with work as well as contributing more elsewhere on sites like flickr, ma.gnolia and newsvine.

To honor its crusty-ness I’ve aged the site’s color palette some, like a fine, aged, um, newspaper? Enjoy.

Turning On Comment Moderation

I’ve seen an increase in spam comments, or fishy comments with short semi-on-topic quips that I can only suspect are left as spam. [Yes, thank you, I’m glad you like my blog and think its interesting and informative]. As a result I’ve resorted to turning on comment moderation / manual approving of messages until I have more time to investigate solutions.

On Getting Naked

Tomorrow, April 5th, we will see the return of CSS Naked Day a novel idea where participating sites will remove all styling information in an effort to promote standards, get a little self promotion, and have a little fun. My take, reposted from the discussion at webstandards.org, is below. I said a bit more about it last year in I’m Not Naked, most of which still applies.

It's meant to illustrate the importance of CSS and graceful degradation.

My interpretation on it is that it is meant to illustrate the importance of good HTML and markup practices as much as anything else — that CSS is great, but it should overshadow it all. Or maybe that's just my own philosophy bleeding through. I surely would have called it “Naked HTML day” had I thought the idea up, and explicitly included scripting in the “stripped” category.

Released: Textpattern Microformat Plugin v1.2

I’ve just updated my microformat plugin for the textpattern CMS and blogging tool. This update is a maintenance fix to add support for Textpattern v1.0.4 and some changes made in the way tag helpers are built. Users of older versions of TXP should stick with the 1.0 version of the plugin.

New Faces In The Logs

Oops. Looks like I brushed aside the browser report updates around here last month. That’s OK, cause its all up to date now — both here and here. Like most months I’ve had to update the script I use just a bit to account for new user agents that come up this time with a few more bots trying to spoof Firefox, and a few new sightings in the “fun” category:

  • Opera/9.00 (Nintendo Wii; U; ; 1309-9; en)
  • Mozilla/5.0 (PLAYSTATION 3; 1.00)

[Wondering if that means I get to write off my Wii as a business expense?]

How Not To Launch A Redesign

46 days ago I launched a redesign of Place Name Here. New design, new tagging features, some content refreshes and a few promises.

44 days ago I last posted on anything at all.

Tonight I’m looking at the site realizing how far that I’ve let things slide around here and I really need to force myself to get back into the habit of posting. And this doesn’t count.

Redesign: The New Place Name Here

Hey look, I did it!

After roughly six months of sitting on a design I was happy with I’ve found both the time and ambition to finish building an update to Place Name Here. Not quite sure what version of the site this is, but 6 seemed like a good number when I started.

Like with all previous versions of the site the new layout is fairly simple, and doesn’t use a lot of images or tricks to play things up. This site always proves to be difficult to rebuild in a uniform way because of the patchwork of different side projects, and technical demos that have been posted since the site first launched in late 1998. The new design and slightly rearranged navigation will hopefully help give a better perspective of what is hiding on the site.

Feeling Social

Broke down and responded to my umpteenth invite for Twitter. You can find me at http://twitter.com/placenamehere

Also trying out one of many MySpace clones called Virb which offers the ability to customize CSS and some HTML markup inside the profile pages and is generally much nicer then other offerings. Its still in beta though and I’m out of invites, but if you happen to hang out there already you can catch me at, you guessed it, http://www.virb.com/placenamehere.

Bitten By A String Change

Just getting around to some much needed maintenance on some of the projects around here and had to chase down something that was plaguing Place Name Where? for a few weeks now. Though I looked at it when it first came up I just didn’t see the cause of the “Node no longer exists in…” messages that PHP5’s SimpleXML was throwing.

Textpattern Updates And Other Housekeeping

I’ve just upgraded the code behind both Place Name Here and ChunkySoup.net to the latest version of Textpattern. The upgrade was smooth though there were some gotchas with minor tag changes as some updates needed to my custom patches. Ultimately the changes look like they’re all for the better. Plugin updates are next, but they may take a little time [week or two i guess] so if you’re relying on any of my plugins let me know and I’ll try and move them up in the queue.

Embrace the JPG Magazine

JPG Magazine, started by Derek Powazek and Heather Powazek Champ a few years ago, went through some big changes a few issues ago and have turned themselves into a very creative take on using a ‘community’ to submit to and create content for their print magazine (yes, I said print).

Be[-ing] Very, Very Quiet

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Been much to silent around these parts for a number of different reasons, including…

  • Juggling a heavy work load on a few different projects, hopefully some of which will see the light of day soon.
  • Been spending my free time outside trying to catch the tail end of the nice weather and the beginning of the fall color change and shooting with my new Nikon D80.
  • Dealing with intermittent hardware issues with my main machine (which is now sitting in the Apple Store for repairs).

Hopefully I can get past the next week or two and then get back to the regular posting schedule. In the mean time you can still keep up with my pictures, bookmarks, and other goodies at Place Name Where?.

Small Site Updates – ClaimID And Stats

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Some small updates around here. First this site is now marked with and registered as mine via ClaimID and microid. I’m not sold on the idea of microid just yet (particularly in its in content / as class form) but aside from hanging out a welcome mat for all my stalkers I don’t see any harm in using it to link up some sites.

I’ve also posted July stat reports for Place Name Here as well as the update for ChunkySoup.net. Bigger changes to PNH are still being planned… but more on that when I get some “me” time.

Feeds For All With hAtom

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I previously had tackled the issue of subscribing to documents with embedded hAtom content by writing a script for NetNewsWire that used its ability to run special script subscriptions on the “client” side.

While the script works great, and I’ve got a number of feeds I watch from other sites this way as a publisher I still longed for a more “feed”-like and more universal, and less technical solution.

This afternoon I got one big leap closer to a solution I’m happy with.

Announcing: Extract Microformats Script For NNW

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I’m pleased to announce the release of my latest little hack for adding microformats support to NetNewsWire (not lite)—Extract Microformats v0.5.

This little script is actually a combination of theme files (css) and applescript to bring a bookmarklet like option that uses Technorati’s microformat services to save hCard or hCalendar data found in the content of feed items. After installation (just copying some files) saving events or contact data is as easy as 1, 2, 3… er… 4.

Introducing: Place Name Where?

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A week or two ago I posted some comments about working with CakePHP for an upcoming project. Well, I’m happy to announce that that project—Place Name Where?—is up.

Place Name Where? is a personal information aggregator that tries to reverse the trend of decentralized content contributions that seems to be one of the core features of “Web 2.0” sites.

Web 2.0 is great, but at a certain point one can feel too distributed. You’ve got news stories here, pictures of your pet dust bunnies over there, and in the cellar you keep your favorite wines. Each service is kind enough to provide ways to include the content you added to their site back into your own site, but typically this is limited to a presentation that doesn’t go further then “hey, look at the last 10 things I did on this other site”.

Basic Tagging Support Added

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I’ve added some basic tagging support to posts here in anticipation of a few bigger changes I’ve got planned. The upgrade came via installation of the tru_tags plugin for textpattern and a few other feed hacks. If something looks off somewhere, or if feeds aren’t working properly please post a comment.

The Patrick O'Brien Foundation

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If you were given 2-5 years to live, what would you do?

I found out today that motion graphics freak and all around good guy Patrick O’Brien (aka Transfatty) has come down with ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease). News comes by way of mutual friends and an announcement of the launch of The Patrick O’Brien Foundation.

The Patrick O’Brien Foundation is dedicated to promoting awareness of a currently incurable illness, Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (known also as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease). It is established in honor of Patrick Sean O’Brien — an artist diagnosed with ALS at the uncommonly early age of 30. Support is provided to those diagnosed with neuro-muscular illness for life’s work projects that provide a unique insight into the experience, mind, and heart of living with their disease.

While it may have slowed him down some the disease hasn’t stopped him yet… he’s hard at work on a full length documentary of his struggles and this summer will take part in a 100 mile trek across the state of New Jersey by wheelchair.

Good luck and much love man. Maybe I’ll chase you down this summer.

Donate to the Patrick O'Brien Foundation

PNH Comments Feed

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Mostly for my own benefit I’ve added a new site wide comments feed thanks to the ajw_comments_feed textpattern plugin. There aren’t many comments (particularly since I’ve enabled a few anti-spam plugins) but the ones that were around were just too easy to miss.

Also on the to-do list is bringing a recent comments list into the main template, but I haven’t decided how I want to do that yet.

Another Trip Through The Cosmos

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A while ago I had mic_technorati_cosmos—the Technorati Cosmos plugin for Textpattern—installed and while it offered a great alternative to Trackbacks I found that to the way it was coded and poor response times of the Technorati API caused some serious page load problems. I didn’t have the time or immediate need to chase ways of working around the issues so I simply turned it off and let it be.

Subscribing To hAtom Feeds With NetNewsWire

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As I see it, the big “wins” for microformats are the ability to take a convention for tag and class usage and layer it over markup that you’re already using in a document to add additional functionality or more specific meaning to the content without adding bloat or working with embedding content that isn’t (X)HTML.

I’ve mentioned hAtom a few times, and I’ve mentioned implementing it on ChunkySoup.net—but in doing that I was left with the feeling that it was quite geeky, but needed some way to leverage that information ow that it was there. Tails is a great plugin for Firefox for picking up data contained in hCards, hCalendar events and a few other data items, but consuming hAtom documents still isn’t easy for the average person. So those wins by following the conventions laid out weren’t yet realized.

Relaunch: ChunkySoup.net Version 3.0

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After going nearly 5 years with only a minor visual refresh it was time to give ChunkySoup.net a new look. So after sacrificing a bit of spare time here and lost sleep there I’m happy to announce the launch of ChunkySoup.net version 3.0.

The design is intended to be simple. The site is about words and like the last design I didn’t want technical theatrics to get in their way. I did, however, mix things up just a bit with a right aligned layout that uses some built in flexibility along with background images to hit a balance between filling a screen and line length related readability.

Under the hood there are a few feature tweaks, including hCard and hAtom usage, along with a few server side tweaks that only I’ll ever know about. Additionally, I’m using this update as an opportunity to try Dean Edward’s IE7 library in a live environment to compensate for IE6’s lack of support for min-width, max-width and some selectors.

CSS Development Shortcut From Me To You

I’ve just uploaded pnh_tag_test.html (UPDATE: see note at end of post)

Its just a simple document that I thought I’d share… but for all its simplicity it does a lot of work.

So what is it?

Over time as part of my development process I’ve evolved a large file of HTML tags and content that gets included into the templates I build and used as a base for CSS coding and testing. Just use your favorite include method or copy & paste the content into your HTML document and start working.

Early in the development process, somewhere between evaluating a static PSD file and having functional templates there comes a time to code the styles for the display and typography on a page. Since a few paragraphs of lorem ipsum typically isn’t enough to work with, this expanded sample makes a great time saver.

But what continues to impress me is not the time saved in having a document with a bunch of tags already dummied up. It’s not the number of times I’ve dropped the file into a template and caught some sizing problems somewhere or that margins on adjacent elements aren’t playing well together. No, the real value has proven to be in the use of this document for review and reference further along in the process. Designers love seeing everything there in one place for them to comment on and it makes for an easy deliverable to keep clients involved with the build while you’re working out details with more complex content areas.

Surely its not the only tool in the development and review process, but for just a silly chunk of markup it has proven as an invaluable tool so I thought it time to share.

UPDATE 2010.08.15 An updated version of this file, which I still use often on projects, can now be found on GitHub in the PNHTagTest Project.

New WaSP Site Launched

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A project I’ve hand my hands more on then off during my spare time in the last few months has been the redesign and relaunching of the web site of the Web Standards Project which made its debut at SxSW and is now live for the world to see.

Lots of different goals came together to form what I think became a great site—major kudos for that should go to Andy for the design and Kimberly for the WordPress implementation.

Molly kicked off the new site with The Buzz is Back, and on his own site Andy Clarke gives us a brain dump in Designing for The Web Standards Project.

Though the new site is up, that isn’t the end of the work. One of the things that the redesign effort seems to have done was spark energy that should turn into some more great efforts from the group in the next year.

And now I shall officially put the whip away.

The WaSP And SXSW

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The beans have been spilt.

In a post far too early this morning Molly outlines the activities of the Web Standards Project during the SXSW festival that is getting ready to start up in a few days including the following sessions:

But the juicy info she let go is that during the events the ribbon will be cut on the newly redesigned and rebuilt WaSP web site. I don’t want to give away any details just yet, but I think the facelift was well worth it and I think most will agree.

I won’t be attending the events myself (unless virtually) but I’m hoping all the WaSP Members and non-members alike have a great time while I sit back at my desk monitoring things from afar.

FeedIcons.com – Good Enough For An Icon But Not A Feed

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The site has been around for a few months now, but tonight it registered that FeedIcons.com, a site dedicated to spreading a “standard” icon, based on the Firefox feed icon for identifying feeds in a web page doesn’t actually use a feed for news, but instead asks for your email. In fact the only feed on the page is the release notes update and that isn’t setup to autodetect in browsers that do such a thing. When you go there in Firefox you get the extra special UI treat of having a “feed” icon, that is normally clickable, show up on the wrong side of the location bar!

So in honor of Feed Icons not having a feed that gets autodetected Place Name Here has a new favicon!

Hope I don’t confuse to many or cause too many INVALID bugzilla entries.

Introducing The SKY Theme For Textpattern

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EEK! Who let the code monkey design again?

Screenshot of SKY Theme

Prompted by the Textplate theme design competition I started looking at what it would really take to make a clean and pluggable theme for Textpattern which at the moment doesn’t have a formal theme engine. Having come up with something that is both an interesting (or at least different) design and something that is pretty clean on the back side of things I’m officially releasing the SKY Theme into the wild.

While I think it looks good in addition to it being sound technically, but I’m not trying to kid anyone here. I’d be delighted to see people using it on their blogs, but it does have a heavily HTML geek driven aesthetic and I’m don’t think that translates well to the universal appeal that a great theme would have.

Ma.gnolia Day One

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I’m still poking around and seeing what is what, but I figured I’d mention that the latest social link finding and bookmarking site Ma.gnolia has left beta and is now open to all.

I can’t say its really something I’m was looking for—while I do use deli.cio.us I can’t say I couldn’t live without it. But the new site by Zeldman and others looks to have some nifty features that try and make it more of just a place to store your remote bookmarks.

Give it a try and poke around. And if you’re looking to fill your ‘friends’ list go ahead and add placenamehere as a contact1 .

1 placenamehere can also be found @deli.cio.us, @flickr, @digg, @newsvine & @o’reilly connection with varying degrees of activity.

NN4 Dead and Britney Spears uses Firefox/1.5

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The monthly update to the ChunkySoup.net Zeitgeist as well as the report for PNH have been posted. No huge changes to report over the last few months, but I think one can officially call NN4 dead. Making up 0.15% of hits on ChunkySoup.net and 0.02% – just 27 hits total, same as the previous month – on PNH. Even Sony’s PSP has been recording a larger share.

So what’s going to change around here with the death of an old browser? Nada. Outside of possibly the end of breaking it out into a separate line item it won’t change anything.

And with that I’ll leave you with this interesting celebrity fact—brought to you in the form of the UA String of the month:

Britney Spears uses Firefox/1.5

Microformats Plugin For Textpattern v0.8 Released

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Spent some more time on hacking away at Textpattern and pnh_mf this weekend and have a new release to show for it. Aside from a few minor bug fixes I have included new admin side dialogs for building proper TXP tags. These dialogs work just like any other TXP tag helpers already in Pages and Forms editors, but are also available for the article editor.

I still have a few more items on my to do list to knock out, but the tag helper popups should make this a ton more useful—both for people who know what microformats are and those that don’t—so I wanted to make a release now.

Download the latest version.

Introducing The Textpattern Microformat Plugin

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I’m happy to announce the release of my first plugin for the Textpattern blogging system—pnh_mf—that allows for simple inclusion of common microformats including hCard, hCalendar and XFN.

The new tags can be used in page templates or page and post content or reused via forms. Here’s an example event entry for SXSW:

which was generated by the following tag:

<txp:pnh_mf_hcalendar summary="SXSW" location="Austin" href="http://2006.sxsw.com/" dtstart="20060310" start="March 10" dtend="20060320" end="19, 2006" />

Documentation and download of version 0.5 can be found at pnh_mf’s permanent home.

I’ve also put together a short Textpattern Resources page.

New Year Brings Old Work

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Just some minor updates around here…

First off is an upgrade to Textpattern 4.0.3 which doesn’t mean too much to those of you visiting this site, but adds some security patches as well as some enhancments to the comments backend and admin area (to combat comment spam).

Also, with the end of the month comes time to post new usage reports for both PNH and ChunkySoup.net.

User Agent String of the month:

W3C standards are important. Stop fucking obsessing over user-agent already.

Um, thanks for the tip!

And as always take those numbers with a pile of salt, not only are they specific to the audience(s) that visit my sites, but as hard as one can try theres only so much that can be done to combat referrer spammers or other cases of spoofing otherwise valid UAs.

Dead Tree Christmas

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Among this year’s Christmas and birthday related booty there are a few new books on my shelves:

If I can ever finish the Baroque Cycle I’ve now got plenty of other reading waiting for me.

Tuesday Night Quickies

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A few things worth noting tonight as I get ready to shut down for the night…

You’ve probably seen mention of it in most of the geek news sites (and even the more mainstream press already, but if you haven’t… The Mozilla Foundation, or Corporation, or whatever the internal structure over there is this months has released Firefox 1.5 along with an updated website to match.

Over at ALA there’s an interesting new article by Bert Bos & Håkon Wium Lie on their use of HTML and CSS to write and publish a recent book. Printing a Book with CSS: Boom! goes into detail about the project, covers some gotchas, some roadblocks and ultimately a new microformat. Its a good read for CSS junkies and others looking for an idea of what is to come when dealing with a system that supports HTML + CSS2.1 + CSS3 but not sure how applicable it is… yet.

For you entrepreneurial types take a look over The Startup Kit, a list by Nick Denton of worthwhile links to equipment, programs and services for a small business startup.

And closer to home I’ve fussed with some of the styles , leaned up commenting a bit and installed mic_technorati_cosmos the Technorati Cosmos plugin for Textpattern which you’ll see show up when individual posts are talked about elsewhere on the web.

'Nother Month, 'Nother Report

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Time again to run my batch of scripts over my server logs and post up some of the resulting reports here and here

Interesting things seen last month include early sightings of Opera 9 and IE7, and a fairly big post September drop in traffic for PNH following the annual activity around my 9/11 photos.

Besides traffic, this past month was lacking in fun UA strings… most interesting one I ran across while skimming the reports was:

Mozilla/1.10 [en] (Compatible; RISC OS 3.70; Oregano 1.10)

Flickr Photo Finishing

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To all my Flickr Friends & Family members check out my photos and order all the prints you’d like. (you know ‘prints’? those old papery things?)

Staff member Stewart Butterfield announced that starting today Flickr is offering photo printing services. I’m happy to finally see this, and while I haven’t had the need for any prints made its always one of the first things I’m asked about when I try and set up a friend or family member with an account.

Photos look to start around $0.20 each and can be delivered or ordered for pick up at your local Target store. And like other organizing tasks, you can set the restrictions on who can order prints of your own photos between yourself, contacts or anyone. Check out the Printing FAQ for more.

Ramblings On A Multi-Site Textpattern Install

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A while back, after running Textpattern on Place Name Here I got the bright idea to duplicate or syndicate (or whatever you want to call it) the web tech related postings over at the more focused ChunkySoup.net as a way to freshen that place up a bit. Sure, I could have just parsed the Atom feed from the originating site and then drop the results on the homepage of the other one, but what fun would that be… and it wouldn’t be particularly friendly either.

And thus began the Textpattern hacking.

More Downtime… L.A. Related

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Seems Dreamhost’s server farm, where my web and mail servers are housed, went down today for a few hours due to the electric problems out on the other coast. Funny how the internet works sometimes.

But all seems well now.

And kudos to DH for keeping their offsite status page updated almost immediately with a few updates as details came out. Really helps me help keep my clients informed and calm.

Updating The Plumbing

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Sorry for the brief interruption (if anyone noticed), but I needed to update the code and database behind ChunkySoup.net and PNH to the latest and greatest build of Textpattern and since I have done some modifications it takes a little bit more then just unpack and run the updaters. But really, it isn’t too rough of a process and I’ve gotten my hacks to a point where they’re pretty clean after doing it two or three times now.

Anyway, both sites are up now (was only about a half hour of downtime) and seem to be running just fine. If you notice anything odd please drop a comment. Oh, and look for a rundown of what it takes to get Texpattern running on the two sites simultaneously sometime later this week.

August Browser Reports

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Just finished running reports on August’s server logs and have uploaded the new PNH Zietgeist and ChunkySoup.net Zeitgeist. Not too much movement to speak of from the previous month, well nothing out of the normal flux that small sites have. A few new UAs spotted this month including IE7 Beta, and I’ve cleaned up the scripts behind it all a little more and have included robot data used in the vBulletin project.

Fun with Google

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Pardon me while I steal a move from a friend and post some random google searches that PNH ranks high for.

Random phrases where I am the top result…

Phrases where I’m at least on the first page…

And the list cannot be complete without acknowledging that a search for september 11 photos still drives more traffic this way then any other search phrase.

Reports And More Reports

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Another month and another update to both the ChunkySoup.net Zeitgeist and the PNH Zeitgeist based on hits from July… Not a ton of movement on the usage from month to month, although the general trend of IE slowly slipping continues.

Award for best UA String for the month of July:

dffvncfxxfddxzdbabadbAbadbadgdgfggggffgffryrttrj,j,jsdsDSH

HFHTTHHHGGGJJTJJGFTSDTHDTTJJYJYJYTYRREQQERYTK,,J,JFJ,HJ

J,J,JJJJJKJHGHGHGGHKHJHJHGFGFXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXsdgdgdgasbdsdgdsgfdnbmgfhg56

Award for worst UA String for the month:

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; AOL 5.0; Mac_PPC)

Feel so sorry for whoever is on the other end of that connection.

Connection Lost

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Been kind of quiet this week as I’ve been fighting a bad internet connection for a few days. Things I’ve missed, but wanted to mention include the transfer of ownership of BrowseHappy to the WordPress team, iCab and Konqueror both passing the Acid2 test, new infrastructure for Apple’s WebKit, PHP’s 10th Anniversary and possible progress in the NHL labor talks.

—- placenamehere.com ping statistics —-

21 packets transmitted, 2 packets received, 90% packet loss

round-trip min/avg/max = 596.414/825.062/1053.71 ms

—- placenamehere.com ping statistics —-

288 packets transmitted, 207 packets received, 28% packet loss

round-trip min/avg/max = 78.105/101.944/1151.47 ms

Yikes!

More Stats And Other Disturbances

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I’ve just gotten around to updating both the PNH Zeitgeist and ChunkySoup.net Zeitgeist with data based on April’s usage logs. The update on the CS side is a long time coming. Which brings me around to something I’ve been meaning to mention about these sites I run.

A few weeks ago, while mulling over what to do about the content on ChunkySoup.net and when and what more I should write about, I decided that instead of waiting to get around to a full blown article I would infuse it with some new web development content immediately. What I have done is to mirror all of the ‘web’ postings and links on PNH over there as well. Since I’m using Textpattern and both sites have access to the same database this was a fairly easy hack to do. Aside from a few gotchas there wasn’t much to do besides point the second install towards the few shared content tables and make up some new templates.

So, if you aren’t interested in my slant on media or crying about the current situation in the NHL you may want to instead follow the new feed CS instead of “here”.

(I guess “here” isn’t really “here” anymore is it. That will be the hardest part of the change for me, writing to appear on two domains.)

My Bridge To The City

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Last evening was filled with news reports of traffic nightmares, landslides and fires. One of which, the fire on the Amtrak rail bridge directly effects my travel in and out of New York City.


(photo jacked from nbc news)

Luckily there is PATH, and I do remember a time before the so called Midtown Direct service where there was no line right into NYC, and also to the fact that I no longer do that commute daily. But man, it was nice to ride straight into Manhattan. Hope there’s not too much damage.

UPDATE (already): It appears trains are slowly being allowed over the bridge, so long term damage doesn’t appear to have been too bad.

Spring At PNH

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The wintery mix of snow banks and grey tones was feeling a bit old so I thought I’d liven the site up a little by bringing in a little more color and cycling in some new photos.

I still want to adjust the contrast on a few of the photos, but otherwise it was a nice quick change…

Enjoy.

New Stats Up

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It seems I missed a month there, but fear not, the PNH Zeitgeist – a clash of unobtrusive DHTML and otherwise boring usage reporting – has been updated with new data from February and March.

No new trends in the numbers, but did see a few new spiders coming online. Which begs the question, with dozens of “search engines” out there sending hundreds of spiders to index this site why do I only see referrals from half a dozen of them each month? Why do they all exist? Who supports them?

Minor Adjustments

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Some minor adjustments around here today including an updated zeitgest with some browser stats from December where unlike many other sources I haven’t seen much of a change in my [abnormally I’m sure] high Firefox usage.

Zeitgeist Remastered

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The PNH Zeitgeist – a clash of unobtrusive DHTML and otherwise boring usage reporting – has been updated. The listing now includes information from the last 3 months, has an updated style sheet to fit the new site style, and the reporting script has been updated to include, among other things, listings for RSS readers that may stray into other areas of the site.

Minor Plumbing Concluding

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I figure I’m just about done with the minor back end tweaks around here. The more I work on the Textpattern code the more I like the setup, but there are a fair amount of small flaws here and there that I felt needed polishing.