Posts Tagged ‘me’

Just Some Updates

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

I’m going to have to integrate Captchas into my sites, soon. I’ve lately been the target for ever-blooming waves of spammers. I came back from five days of vacation to inboxes (inboxi?) that each had twenty pieces of spam, where I’d usually get about three. One inbox was spam comments to this blog, while the other was an abused form at my Cozy Cabbage site.

In other news, mobile internet, from whichever carrier, seems to have periods where pages just won’t load. MTS is giving me a hard time and failed pages, while Rogers usually lets me get through if I only load one page at a time.
On the topic of mobile internet, I was able to check my routes with Google Maps from my cellphone while I was on the road between provinces. I love cacheable maps, too, because you can then check them anytime. What I hate about the app on my phone, though, is that if you’re looking through the cached maps and find a patch that needs to be downloaded, the application will quit if you don’t allow it to connect. Considering that I switch my phone’s SIM card with my mobile modem’s, I’d have to do some juggling to allow it to download (because otherwise I’ll be paying a few dollars to download a patch of map).
I also discovered that my phone is nearly useless at browsing webpages, and completely useless at signing in or logging on. I guess it was a little $60 thing, but still. I think I want an iPhone, sometime.

I only have 150 new feed items, which isn’t bad. I’ll get through that in a couple days.

Why am I throwing you all this relatively-uninteresting stuff about my weekend? Because I’ve been busy, and I’ll continue to be busy for the next few days, and so I’m just updating on anything that might be somewhat tech-related. I have no clue when I’ll start getting work done again, but at least I’ve been living cheaply on other peoples’ food!
I got a good deal of advice from some family members, as well as a connection from a Second Cousin (his cousin’s husband, or something like that, from the Netherlands).

So, within the next few hours/days, I plan on dramatically expanding on things like usability on my site. Also, while reading back entries at Burningbird’s RealTech, I saw it mentioned that I can include inline SVG on documents sent as xml (obviously). So I’m going to have to try that. Object, embed, and img don’t really cut it. I’m also going to have to try percentages again.
I’ve realized that I did use-cases in college. I was busy with other courses, so I didn’t pay attention in that one, and I didn’t even realize it until I read the word ‘actors’ on another site. Luckily, I still have my course files.

Look to your Future Success

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

@missrogue posed the question, “Now, if you were to look into the future and see your success, what would that look like?” and also, “Feel free to actually write blog posts about this topic, too. 😉 ”

I’ve read somewhere that humans are only truly capable of looking ahead about three years. If these last three years are any indication, I’d say that’s completely true. I’d never have guessed I’d be where I am now, doing what I’m doing now, except in the vaguest sense.
So what would my success look like? It depends on how long that would take!

Lately, time seems to go fast, and progress is slow. And yet, when I look back on each month, I see that I have made progress. It was only a month ago that I got my cozycabbage.com domain, created and printed my business card, and basically decided on my branding.
Even then, I only truly became a web designer/developer in mid-February when, on a whim, I looked at the CSS Zen Garden again, and actually read all that stuff around it. I found Doug Bowman’s article about his Garden entry, and found myself at his site. I can hardly remember what I felt, back then, but I was inspired. I don’t think I had ever made a PNG with an alpha layer, at that point, and stole that giant pencil on his site to do some experiments.
From there, I found his articles on A List Apart, tried the Sliding Doors of CSS on the site I was making, and the rest is history.

Events like that come on a whim, and change the entire course of your life. You can’t prepare for them, and you can’t predict them.

If I was to look at my future and see my success, then, I suppose it would be after another of these moments, or maybe two — because it’s not just me, and my success, that truly makes my success. Tara made a great point about her son: “Third part of my success is to see my son go on and want to make the world a better place, too.”
I’m only 22 (I swear, I have to do some math everytime I try to remember that), and I’ve got years and years to raise a family.

So, time for some bullet points:

  • Find true love(s)
  • Raise children who go on to make a difference
  • Learn the basics of each of the technologies of the web
  • Work with some of the brightest minds
  • Advance the web to new heights
  • Make that crazy house I’ve been planning since high-school
  • Finish writing my books
  • Make it somewhere on the best-seller list
  • Help technological progress by implementing new things (computer clothing: It’s about time, isn’t it?)

Of course, not all of that is completely important, but they’re all markers. We’ll see how far I’ll get.

One more thing:
When I turned twenty, I wrote a lengthy letter to myself, to be opened when I turn 40. The letter contains my hopes, dreams, and current ambitions, and asks some questions of my future self. I have no doubt I’ll read it with no small amount of embarrassment at how naive I was. I’ve already forgotten what I wrote in that letter.

Slump

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

I’m in a bit of a slump. I think I managed a fair bit last week, but this week I just don’t know what to do with myself.
There are a couple of things I need to do, here and there, but the most important thing for me to do is to put myself out there and find clients. The task seems so nebulous, though, that I have no clue where to start.

I’ve got things I could learn (I’ve been meaning to start on SVG and RDFa), or I could continue learning about PHP, but both of those leave me just sitting here in a self-contained environment.

So there it is: I’ve got to pay attention to the funding pipelines I’ve got access to (namely, logo work with my existing client for his clients), and get on the ball for other leads.
I’ve been meaning to talk to Modern Earth, a local web design business, but I haven’t yet been successful in reaching them.
I’ve already gotten someone working on a new Cozy Cabbage for my web site, instead of my horrible fuzz-filtered cabbage (which everyone complains looks pixelated).
I’ve got some documents about a business plan, and had just started reading them, but then I went through a massive desktop switcharound, which left me distracted for a few days. I’ve been getting back up to pace, now, so I can get back to work.

Mainly, I’ve got to limit my time spent on other things. I’ll check all my emails and visit my online things and even read through all my blogs quickly, but then I’ll somehow pitter around for another four hours.
As the day wears on, time goes faster. I’ll get a whole bunch done in the first four hours, and then suddenly eight more hours go by without me noticing. Suddenly, every time I look at the clock two hours have gone by.
I’ve got to recognize that point where everything starts to speed up, and focus on some sort of technique to slow it down again. Awareness?
Maybe I’ll make myself another tea.

Yeah, I think I feel a lot better. Many thanks to Sushi Monster for these lovely photos. She was right: they made me smile, and got me out of a negative mindset.

My Wishlist

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Christmas is coming up!
Sometimes, I feel like life is whizzing by — wasn’t it February just a few days ago? I’ve gotten a lot done, but it always feels like I’m losing a day here and there. Soon, it’ll be Christmas again.
The most annoying thing about my Christmases is that I never know what to ask for. I just don’t really want anything. This year, I’ve created a list of all the things I really, really want:

  • 1920×1200 OLED Monitor with portrait rotation
  • eSATA/USB external SSD, 128GB
  • 800-lumen LED pocket flashlight
  • Large Wacom Intuos tablet
  • compact binoculars

I’ll never be able to afford any of that (besides the binoculars, but I only threw that on as an afterthought).

What about everyone else? What kinds of flagrantly expensive toys do you want?

USB 3.0 and Flash Drives

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Today, I remembered some ill-fated folder-based scheme I had made when I was 14 or so. I made a bunch of folders, named through 0-9, and then copied those into themselves five levels deep. I also put a little “this is a dead end” word document at the end of each of those. In the end, it took up a couple hundred megabytes and slowed the system down, so my older brother deleted it. It’s kind of embarrassing, because I could have used .txt files to make them smaller, and the entire thing was a bit cumbersome and didn’t quite work the way I wanted it to.

Anyway, I thought about the final size of that, today, and and realized that we were working from an 8GB hard disk. When I’m managing my files on my 8GB flash drive, today, I’m actually working with the same amount of space — more, because I don’t have an operating system on there to worry about. It puts things into perspective.

Also, I want one of these. An external USB/e-SATA SSD. 32GB is only $156, and it would allow me transfer speeds of 90MB/50MB, which is on par with a hard-drive. I could literally put a copy of windows on there, along with all the things I need to work, and then carry it around with me. Just attach it to someone’s computer, boot into my hard-drive instead of theirs, and away I go!
My current USB flash drive works at about 16MB/s read and 8MB/s write. The maximum for USB is about 30MB/s. The theoretical maximum is a lot higher, but it’s unlikely we’ll anything more than low 30s.

USB 3.0 is coming out very soon (the technology should be seen later this year, with widespread support sometime in 2011). This would allow devices to reach at least four hundred megabytes per second, which would mean you could run a hard-drive straight from USB.
By that time, though, SSDs will be about $1/GB, and would run at least twice as fast as a hard-drive. You could replace your hard-drive for only a few hundred dollars (or maybe just a hundred, for something like 128GB).
We’ll see what the future has in store.

Photo Gallery

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

I just finished more work on the old Atomicat Photo Gallery.
I was working for him last year, basically, at the same time as I was take what was essentially my first every-twenty-years-vacation. I figured I’ve been going to school since I was four or five, and I’ll probably be working until retirement, so I might as well take a year off to do some other stuff.

The site was the first website I’ve ever designed, and went through a couple drastic redesigns. I created the modern logo, which I’d say is fairly decent, and experimented with things like floats and whatever else.
The CSS on that site is disgusting. I didn’t really ‘get’ the id attribute, and so I had classes in every little thing. Extensibility was fairly unneeded, so I would end up creating a little class to do one thing, and then paste that on whichever element needed to do that. The result was something like HTML with half the semantics of HTML. Is <div class=”floatl”> any better than <div style=”float:left”>? It seems I’d completely ruined the core idea behind CSS.

The gallery was something else: Hours upon hours of hand-crafted goodness, as from a seamstress who turns away the sewing machine to make each careful stitch with her own sure hand.
In short, it was a mess. There were eight pages to be taken care of, each with images that had to be named specifically for that page. Any images you wanted to add had to be specially named for yet another page. Each item had to have the name/description engraved in the html, to be passed in an ugly GET variable.
Tonight, I went through the motions of creating the database and putting everything in it. I took every bit of repetition in the gallery and put it in loops. The gallery went from seven pages to one; the page went from eight individual items to two (I could probably turn that to one); and that item or two is loaded in from SQL.

I guess I’ve still got to do tags, but I’m finished for tonight. I’ll have to eventually upgrade the entire site up to my current standards, and then upgrade it again to the standards I’ll have by the time I’m finished.

This is shaping up to be quite a year.

Cozy Cabbage Web Design&Development

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

It’s a bit of a mouthful, but I’ve finally got my business site up and running! I’ve got to professionalize the language a bit more and add an information form that a customer would fill out, but it’s it’s basically done. I’ll have to check it in IE, again, and maybe end up tweaking a couple styles.

As it is, it took me these past six hours to get it up. The writing actually took a great deal of time — much longer than I thought it would take.
I’m going tomorrow to pick up my business cards, and then I’m going to my old highschool, where I hope a certain teacher there — who taught classes on how to be an entrepreneur — keeps in touch with students starting their small businesses. It would be the perfect opportunity to grow my skills while contributing to the community of small businesses.

I’m starting at the insanely low value of $50/week, with the expectation that I’ll only actually do an hour or two of hard work a day (plus about six hours of random fiddling, plus about eight hours of blogging and socializing, plus about eight hours of sleeping).
From there, once I’ve got a couple clients — enough to keep my fed, — I’ll increase it to $100/week. That should last me for the next couple months, until I’ve learned a good deal more. I can slowly find people who need the bigger jobs, and work with them for a larger sum. I’ll probably need more than a year before I can feel comfortable designing for larger companies.

I spent the last few days reading backlogs of some other blogs. I’m learning more and more, and retaining new ideas. I’ve also realized that a social network is incredibly important. I was reading about whuffie and the soup metric and what companies do and what they should do. I’ve read about marketing, ROI, and just plain love.

So there it all is, layed out:
Mid February, I became a web developer. Tomorrow, that path leads out of the forest and into the wide, wide countryside, and I become a working professional throwing himself into the world.
I had better get to sleep. I’ll need it.

(Crap, do I need a business license? Do I have to charge GST? I do have a lot to research, suddenly.)

Looking to the Future

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

I think CSS values should be able to follow mathematical formulae. Forget sheer percentages — at the very least, allow squares and logs. I believe CSS3 is coming out with expressions, but I’m not sure if you can plug those into the height/width sorts of values. If so, that would be pretty amazing. I’ve got a lot to read, on the W3C documentation.

I did some looking at jQuery, but I’ve otherwise done very little this past week. That will change, as of this night. I’m going to get some PHP done. I’ve also really got to look into SSL and other security technologies. HTTPS? I can only guess.

My website still looks like I used some sort of template, which isn’t a good thing (except that it looks clean). I wonder if some frilly borders and a soft minty background will help; I think, at the moment, that the problem is all the pure, blank white under the menu. A touch of red might help.
I still have… lots to learn about design.

On my plate:
-jQuery
-SSL
-PHP
-CSS3
-Mastercard/Visa/etc (E-commerce stuff)
-Design (Both element layout and colour swatches)

Ha! It seems today’s Wondermark captures the spirit of my job hunt: http://wondermark.com/494/
Not that I actually go for interviews, or apply for jobs. The thing is, I read through what they want of me, and I think, “Well, I couldn’t do that in a professional setting!” MTS had a position open where it seemed I’d need several years work experience where I’d have been working with servers and stuff. That’s… not me.
Really, I’ve spent this past month building up my web designing skills, and got a couple jobs of it. I feel like I’m finally at the point, besides quibbles about design and some of the higher-end stuff like PHP pages, where I can actually go into work with my skill.
If I spent a couple weeks with any of my other old courses, I could work myself up in that respect, too, but I’ve still got long to go in web design, so I’ll stick with it. I’m usually a jack-of-all-trades, but you really do need to specialize right in the beginning.

Emergence into Web Design

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

I got to bed late last night, because I was reading about how list elements can be turned into horizontal tabs or vertical link bars.
As it happened, I saw that used today. It was a much simpler design than what I’ve been learning, but the layout was the same.

It always seems that I’ll find some bit of information, and then I’ll need it in the next day or two. I sometimes keep track of whether I’m ‘late’ or ‘early’, by paying attention to these things and noting when I needed it. At this point in time, I was right at the edge. I learned about them by staying up far later than I should have, and I probably wouldn’t have noticed this other example if I hadn’t at least seen a cursory text covering it. I just wouldn’t have been looking for it.

OpenOffice is SLOW. No, I mean it’s SLOOOOOOOOOW.
It takes forever to load into memory, even though the main launcher or whatever loads into memory every time I start up. It takes at least five seconds or more to open a single file, and takes twice that long just to save. It’s pretty graphics-heavy, too; when I was using my graphics card without the drivers installed (read: emergency autopilot; maximum 1600×1200 16-bit), scrolling was a [hard thing to do]. I’d get to the bottom, and it would jump a row a second, and all those button clicks would go into a buffer, so I’d have to wait for a minute as it scrolled one line at a time.
Since taking out my card, and going back to onboard settings, the speed has been fine, but it’s still just generally slow. It can’t do things I could otherwise do with Office (resizing columns to exact pixels is extremely hard), and it looks like they tried to give it a fancy UI and failed. If I don’t use it, it unloads from memory, at takes half a minute to reload from paging files.
I SUPPOSE what’s taking so long in the save/load is that it goes through every single cell everywhere and changes all the ‘,’ in formulae to ‘;’, among other things.

I’m lazy. I could re-install Windows again and install Office (actually, I could install Office right now anyway), but I should only have this for another two months, when I get my new laptop.
Although, if I can’t get a job I won’t be able to afford spending half my money.
Lately, I got some job ads for jobs that ask for things I just can’t provide, as well as experience in the field, for something like $40,000 a year. That would be nice.
Someone else was looking for a website, so I really should have taken it. At that moment, though, I wasn’t nearly as confident in my webmaking abilities as I am right now.
As it is, my design skills are horribly entry-level. I haven’t taken any sort of schooling in design, but I’ve got a natural flair and I’m sure I can learn from looking at what professional designers, such as Douglas Bowman, have done.

There’s still so much to learn.

Addition:
Wow, I was really going at this in entirely the wrong manner.
I took Bowman’s page and stripped it of its CSS, after I noticed the manner in which the HTML was stacked. With all the styling stripped away, you get a very readable page with an image, lists of links, bolding and emphases and quotes where needed, and all in all a very flowing layout. The only problem, of course, is that you’ll end up with such un-styles as tall stacks of thumbnails where they’d otherwise be arranged in a grid.

My site, meanwhile, uses… well, I guess I use styles for headers. I never really had much use, because p and h1, h2, h3, h4, h5 etc always added extra whitespace, which I didn’t want.
Comparing the two pages now, though, my page is less readable and wouldn’t be viewable on a small screen, because the layout persists even without CSS.
As it is, I’ve already completely removed those part-specific classes and replaced them with ID tags. My reference seems to use a bunch of internested tags, so I’ll see what those do. I think the main thing is to name the largest, and then use child selectors to burrow downwards.
I’m excited, of course. It’s 4:00am.
I think, in light of my new ability to get things done, that I’ll stay up all night every night and wake up a good deal after noon. I seem to work best that way.