The main parts of the site design are now in place. There are a few more details here and there, but it should look a little better now. If you are experiencing any difficulties viewing the site, click on my name above and drop me a note.
Oh, and new PEZ --
Here's some PEZ that has come into the house since before Christmas. Take a look at the pics on the right. More detail inside.
So, I started off with 121 validation errors. Luckily, most were fixed with only a couple of changes. I just thought that I would share. Creating valid code is important.
I was able to spend a couple of hours working on the website this weekend. It's starting to look like a real site again. My favorite part? Oh, probably the sweet color fade on the links....
Of course, the chages are still only on the front page...
Let me catch you up. First I did some fine tweaking on the CSS, then Nanc and I specified fonts, colors, sizes and more. If you're interested, the CSS is still embedded in the front page, and you can see it by viewing the page source. Since we took time and tried to think about the colors, graphics, and layout, the development went pretty quick. It's much easier to complete tasks, when you have an idea of the end state.
Next, I made some better graphics to replace the placeholders. There are still a number of little 'icon' graphics that I need to create. I also think that I am going to tweak the logo graphic a little more, so that it works better with the layout of the page.
What's left? Well, I still have to clean up my code a bit, so that I can get it to validate. I also need to optimize the CSS, and drop it into an external file. Once the design is complete and clean, I can quickly copy it to the other templates, and make minor changes as needed. This includes templates for the article page (like this one), templates for the monthly archives, search results, and a few more. I should be able to do this quickly over the next couple of nights.
It's late, so I'm not really sure which day to count this as, but we are out of the design stage, and I've started developing the front page. It's still pretty rough, but it's starting to take shape.
It’s time to actually start roughing in the page design. Here is a list of my standard tools.
I started off the design by hitting the Internet to see if I could find any base templates, that were close to what I wanted to do. Namely, a three column layout with a fixed column on each side, and a center area that dynamically resizes that spans the height of the page. I google, and locate this site, which has some great info. There are a number of elements that aren’t quite right, but the main philosphy works for my design.
I highly recommend starting with a base whenever possible. Each web browser renders HTML a little differently. Right now, most of the folks that visit this site use Internet Explorer, which unfortunately is the most un-compliant browser, and often requires tricks and hacks to get it to display information similar to other browsers. By having a sample to start from, you can focus on getting your design started.
From here, I started to tweak the code and graphics. I still haven’t decided on the color scheme, so I am using temp graphics for now. At this point, I’m much more concerned with the structure of the page, and figuring out how everything lays out. I’ve tested in Internet Explorer and Firefox tonight, at 800 x 600 and 1024 x 768. There are still some issues, and my code isn’t validating yet, but I’m confident that we’ll get there.
I've also placed colored outlines around the different key components. Each of these outlines represent an important div or container that holds something. I usually keep these outlined until I am happy with the placement. It just makes them easier to keep track of.
Next on my list is to format the text, based on the sketches.
How much fun we have working on the site...
This is the last design stage. After this, the front page should start looking like something.
Tonight, I took all of the planning information -- stuff that I wanted to include in the site, or things that I didn't like about the existing design, and sat down with a pencil and paper. Sure, I coulda done the same work on the 'puter, but my eyeballs decided that they didn't really want to look at the monitor.
The important thing is... that I was able to put my ideas down, and they didn't scare me all that much. Some of them seem to even make sense. Take a look at the scans, then go back, and look at the swatches, and enjoy.
Now that I have a pretty good idea where I am going, I am going to start the implementing the design tomorrow. There are still a number of areas that I don't have a handle on. There are also a bunch of new ideas and changes that will be made along the way.
There are three different scans below. The first is the main 'index' page of the site. The second shows the individual article page (like this one that you're reading now). The third image is just some more detailed info on some of the details.
This is about the first stages of SockapalOOOza. Not to be confused with this site's stages of redesign and build. But there are some similarities between the two.
Like the components that need to be tackled when building a website, there are the planning, development, and the rollout phases to knitting these socks. While Matt is deciding the layout, fonts, and colors for the website, I am researching my pal's preferences for colors, styles, and fiber. I have a list of items that will help define how these socks will turn out.
Unlike the site development that we see going on here, these socks will take a bit longer than Matt's estimated 10 days. In fact, they have already mostly because I haven't been working consistantly on the socks.
I conducted my research and planning phases in February and purchased the yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Life's a Beach colorway. Next, I decided on the pattern: Pomatomus. (Or this is the current plan, anyhoo.) I've heard good things about this pattern and I like how they turn out, especially for varigated yarns with short color segments.
The next step? Development, or knitting the actual socks as it were. I haven't cast on for the socks yet (in fact, I just wound the hank into a cake), and I have four other socks currently on my needles or waiting for its mate. [Eep.]
Note: It's officially Spring and the sun is shining, but our weather has gotten cooler instead of warmer. AnnaBeth is flirty in her brown cords and white jacket, but is staying warm under her knit cap and matching scarf. The scarf "pattern" (for lack of a better term) is based on Crazy Aunt Purl's One Very Orange Scarf. (Laurie, if you're reading this - you crack my knit up! hee Thanks, and a big Texas 'Howdy' to ya'.)
The following may or may not be an inspirational story to you. This is my story from this past weekend. All events are factual, or at least true from my point of view and exaggeration was kept to a minimum. No hand knits were harmed in these events, or in the retelling of this story.
This weekend I took the basic motorcycle course (and passed - wo0t!). This is something that I've wanted to do for a long time and had put off for no good reasons. I finally said "Enough" and went for it. No regrets.
The weather here in Dallas was horrible this weekend. Oh, sure - we're spoiled most of the time with sun and warm temperatures, but this weekend was cold (high of 50 Fahrenheit), rainy (constantly), and windy. Just miserable and any attempts to keep warm or dry were short-lived and futile.
The weather combined with the task of learning new skills, techniques, and good habits made me nearly miserable. It was a serious struggle for me on the first day of class. I couldn't seem to "get it" ("it" being turning right and gently rolling on the throttle, aka the power). I became more and more frustrated and angry, which makes it nigh impossible to learn. I went home after that first day miserable, desolate, and so cold that it wasn't until late in the night that I finally warmed up.
I was more resolute the next day that I would conquer and master these skills, and hopefully have a better attitude at the end of the day. The weather was still rainy, cold, and ugly, and the training was still intimidating and trying. But what changed was my attitude! And a big factor in that was my knitting.
Every few hours we would get a 10 minute break. There really wasn't any where to go for shelter and rest besides one's car. So for each break, I would return to my car sopping wet (my front seat is still soaked!) and the windows would quickly fog up. I would drink a little water and eat a light snack too keep up my energy, but then would turn to my knitting for respite. I am working on my second sock of a pair of Gryffindor socks - my own pattern. I had passed the heel (I'm working them toe-up) and this was simple K3, P2 ribbing. (You can see a picture of the first one here.)
These breaks allowed my mind to focus on what I want to accomplish and I could envision myself riding through the turns and the course properly. It gave me a way to relax and reflect on what was enjoyable about riding a motorcycle, instead of thinking about how miserable the weather was. Even though I would only knit between one and four rounds (cold, wet hands = slow progress), it was enough to give me strength and comfort to continue on. And I totally nailed it!
I still have a bit more of the sock to work on (I'm up to the stripes), and I plan on taking the written-portion of the motorcycle licensing test this week. Next step is to buy a bike, then show MattyBonez how much fun this is so he'll get his license, too.
But one thought that kept me smiling during my breaks was imaging the faces of my classmates and trainers if they could see me knitting. (Which they couldn't because of the near-instant window fog and steady rain.) Not the stereotypical idea of "motorcycle momma" or "knitter!" Not that those carry much weight anymore.
May your joy (whatever that may be: knitting, being a "biker", or heck - even scrapbooking) provide you with the inspiration and reflection needed to get you were you want to be, and may life inspire your joy. Rock on!
What will the new design look like?
Today is all about trying to figure out what the new website design will look like, and how people will interact with it. Taking a couple of extra hours to plan this stuff in the beginning saves me an awful lot of time later.
Since there is an existing design, what are some of the things that Nanc and I want to change? Here’s the list of issues:
Do you have an issue not listed in the beefs above? Add it to the comments.
Currently, the website uses a two-column layout. Since the average user’s screen size has increased, I want to use a three column design to provide a more order to the pages.
Also, I needed to figure out how I was going to order the different portions of content that are on the page. This is something that I will continuously futz with, so using CSS for positioning is going to help out a lot. I will be able to quickly change the appearance of the content.
I still like the font that we use for the article text. The font, Georgia, is easy to read and looks pretty good. I do want to change the font of the sub heading and the menu items to a sans serif font, to make it stand out a little more, like a Helvetica font.
So, I entered the colors that I have been looking at into an online color generator, and it provided me with a grid of complementary colors. From this, I have a number of colors to play with as I tweak the design.
That’s it for the planning. While inspiration can still strike and changes can be made, I have a pretty good idea of what I want the site to look like. Next, we start to develop the site’s design!
So here we go — I ' ve stripped all of the styles and graphics from the site, and we ' re gonna start redesigning the website. I ' ve scoped it out, and instead of just posting up a new design, I'm gonna do it over several days, and post daily progress.
If you haven ' t ever really considered how to create a site design from the ground up, hop on in,--it might be interesting. Today — The plan
Just to catch everybody up to speed…
Today, I’m going to be planning the site design. In order to do this in the most organized way possible, I’m going to use a project framework.
There are five major components that I am going to be tackling:
In this plan, it will take me one week to finish the project. However, reality being what it is, I expect it to take about ten days.
Scope: I am going to be redesigning the templates for this site. The way that most websites work is like this:
Instead of simply coding every page of the website, a software called a content management software (or CMS) is installed on the web server, and acts as a layer between the website developers (Nanc and Matty) and the HTML layer. All of the content that we write is stored in a database, then inserted into templates that define what the website will look like.
There are a number of templates to consider, such as templates for the front page, for individual article pages, and so on.
Goals: The site should be attractive, easy on the eyes, and easy to use. The ‘easy to use’ part is tricky and consists of a number of items.
So, that’s about it for the first day of planning. Come back tomorrow for the see the rest of the plan
I've decided to "come clean" with you - the internets. I feel that it is time for me to shed this coat of deceit and bask in the glory of honesty, at least for one moment in time. I don't know if you will praise me for my bravery or despise me for my weakness. But this step is for me, not you. (So get over yourselves.)
I. I am not a one-baby kind of woman.
Shocking, isn't it? But true. I've got a fair share of babies that I love on as much as possible. I am not committed to one infant or toddler. And I won't give up these loves - not for no one!
Recently it has come out about my love for baby Benny. And I'm not ashamed. I will stand on the rooftops (or in my backyard) and shout to the world my love for my nephew! Ah, but he is only one. (As in 'singular', not his age - 'cause he's older than that.. but still in month-counting range.)
I've also got sweet, sweet feelings for The Squid. And last night, I got a little of that love in return. [Awwww]
But that's not all! I've got a bit of baby love tucked away in San Antonio with my sweet cousin Jackson! (Ain't he a cutie-pie?!!!)
And there are more. Some have grown into children and young adults, but I still love on them. (Maybe I just don't talk so Googoo Gahgah as much anymore.) And there will be others to love. You can't restrict my baby-love! You can't concentrate this power to one child! My love will go on!
All this for one single picture of The Squid? Yep. I'm crazy like that!
So, I haven ' t written anything lately. This isn ' t because I lost both my hands in a freak thresher accident, or because I refuse to believe that the Internet exists. The reasons are far more pedestrian. The kind folks that give me money in exchange for my services (a.k.a. work) have been keeping me pretty busy for the past several months. Now, I've got some breathing room and am going to tackle a project that I've been putting off for months (or years).
Change is in the air and you are all down wind. Starting tomorrow, I am going to be redesigning this website. Over the course of the next week to ten days, I am going to be working on the design every night for a few hours and your thoughts count.
My changes will be updated on this front page every night, and I will try write of the specific details as I get the design and the code together. Throughout the redesign, the site will continue to be usable, and the individual articles will still look the same. Only the front page will be "under construction".
I will keep the comments open, and would like to hear what you like or hate. You read the site. Is there anything that you would like to see? Anything that bugs you? For me, the existing site is pretty rough. It was pretty cool in 2003, but we are ready for some changes 'round these parts.
General geekery on the inside
I'll be brutally honest, the current design of our site hurts my eyes. At the time, I liked it, but now, I would like for it to be a fond memory that is only accessible from the wayback machine.
We've lived in this site for three years now, and I know more about how we use the site, and how some of our readers interact with it. I also know a bit more about site design in general.
Designing the site "live" appeals to many of my geek sensibilities. I like the idea that someone could add a comment, and help to refine the design, or suggest a feature that I never would've thought about. If you want something pretty to look at, make your voice heard!
So, here are some of the things that I am hoping to do:
There is much more to this list, but I need to have something to write about through the week.
Before Benny and family arrived for the great-fun-yet-too-short visit, I decided that Benny needed a robot. I mean, what if he took fancy to Matt's robot Bruce and wanted, no... NEEDED to take him home? In order to plan for such an event (and 'cause they're fun to knit), I quickly (relatively) knitted a new 'bot.
Bruce helped introduce the new robot to us hu-mans and around the house. Here they are both investigating the small hu-man's toy box. Bruce may be slightly jealous as there are many interactive "toys" that contain some hardware and computers. Robots love techie stuff.
I followed the same pattern, but went down a needle size to give it a firmer fabric. This made the baby 'bot smaller than Bruce, which seems right.
I also gave baby 'bot a full mouth (smile? line?). No need for Benny to always wonder what that robot is up to with a smirk on its face.
Another little change I made to this robot special for Benny was a small, embroidered heart on the tush. (I like to think of it more like a pocket or a trademark symbol, and less of a butt tattoo.)
The baby 'bot must be checking out his ride home. I am sure glad that he didn't decide to override the van's computer system and head to the sky! Although, think of the adventures!
Honestly, Benny didn't pay much attention to the robots. I mean, how could he when there are cats to chase! And if you still haven't check out all the great fotos from their trip, go see the adorable Benny and family at WeLikeDogs. Tell 'em Aunt Nancy sent you.
This past weekend we had a wonderful visit from Matt's sister Rachel and her awesome family (Jason and baby Benny). Obviously, Benny stole the show and it was really all about him. (Hopefully this won't cause too many issues for him in the future.)
I cannot do justice to all the great pictures that were taken... of Benny. If you get a chance, run -don't walk - over to their blog, We Like Dogs. I will, however, post a few that I especially enjoyed.
In this first pic, you see most of the family kickin' back and chillin'. Benny just handed Jason's cell phone over to Matt for an important call. Must've been urgent to interrupt Matt's play on the Magna Doodle. You can also get a glimpse of our Wall Of Clock. Some day we should show this off on the interwebs. (Please ignore the wrinkled slip cover. They are a necessary evil at this time.)
The cats all had different reactions to Benny's presence, but Benny's reactions to them were all the same: excited and happy. He would reach his chubby lil' hand out and just barely touch his finger to the tip of their nose. Again and again, and every time it was as sweet as could be.
Benny had learned to 'pet nice' from his puppies at home and lesson was duly applied here. He would touch their nose, then laugh. Pet them, then clap. And if they were out of reach, he'd sign for "want." Want kitty. Want to pet. Want their love.
Dil hated this little intruder at first, but as soon as the threat eased Dil warmed up to Benny. Even to let Benny gently pet her and, of course, touch her nose. Marie kept her distance from the front of Benny, but loved getting a good whiff of him on the sly. Mrs. Slocomb pretty much hid in our closet the whole weekend, only to give tantalizing glimpses running here or there. (Good thing that a cat is a cat to Benny. He didn't need to hunt down the missing gato.)
But Walter... [sigh] I couldn't have asked for a sweeter pairing of species from a Disney flick. Benny and Walter loved each other from the first moment. They enjoyed the same things: cat food, playing with cat food, playing with ice cubes in the water dish, and playing. Walter loved for Benny to pet all over him, and Walter rubbed all over Benny in return.
I know now, that if Walter had a brain bigger than a walnut, that he would be missing his buddy Benny. The bond there was strong, like at summer camp - Best Friends 4ever!
I don't know how or why none of these pics show Benny from the front, but I promise you - he is a cute and has all of his facial features... in the correct places.
It's been a bit quiet around these parts, but know that this is only an illusion. A lot's been going on, just nothing all that blog-worthy. My knitting time (and knitting abilities) have been sporadic lately, which leaves a kind of funny taste in ones mouth. Like something is amiss.
So as not to bore y'all to death, there are fotos in the 'Read More' section, but only of single, unfinished-pairs of socks. Sad, no?
Other than some robots and a hat & scarf for Miss AnnaBeth (my Blythe. yeah, that's her name), I've been solely (ha!) concentrating on socks. I don't mean to be a heel (hee!) and ignore my other projects, but...
And actually, these have been ignored lately, too. I finish one sock and for a while I'm pleased as punch. But instead of starting the mate, I've been starting a different socks and I get all excited about that... for a while. It's a very sad and trying time. To top it off, I apparently screwed up one sock that I was ever so proud of. (That'll teach me, eh?) More on that one later, but for now enjoy my current singles club for socks.
Pink Lemonade sock:
And finally a little something for my SockapalOOOza pal: I've found the yarn (Cherry Tree Hill) and the pattern (Pomatomus socks). Now I just need to free up some needles and get ta' knittin! Pictures to come soon.
A big thank you to Skittermagoo's new flower beds for the purty shots. Yay-flowers!
Curiosity and cats are funny things. Why do cats have such a queer (as in "odd") sense of interest in how things work and hidden crevices? What makes them so interested in the unknown, and what gives them the courage/stupidity (tom·A·to/tomäto) to investigate?
With the added benefit of being cute, kittens being curious really gets me every time. And Walter IS cute.
Note Walter lurves the laundry. He's always "helping" me with domestic chores like folding laundry, loading the dishwasher, and rinsing dishes. In the pictures above, I believe that he is checking that the pockets on the jeans are inside-(um)inside. (What do you call it when pockets are not inside-out?) But his enjoyment of the laundry isn't limited to the warm, fresh-outta-the-dryer stuff.
I have another picture for you. Here he is piled under a load of wet whites; cozy as could be. Silly kitten. And you know that I had to pull him outta there. (Ignore Walter's laser eyes in this pic. You do not have the security clearance.)
No felines were harmed in the washing or drying of our laundry.
Okay, admittedly "torture" is way too strong of a word here. And "masochism" would bring on too many Google-searching freaks. Besides, it's not really THAT bad. And it's for the best, right? Right?!
Caution. If you are sensitive about religion, do not continue to read this. I do not mean to offend, but I'm not completely PC either.
What am I talking about? Well, Lent, of course.
No, I'm not Catholic, nor am I a 'religious' person. And I'm not doing it for any of the religious reasons (or for that masochistic stuff either). But since I was raised Lutheran and am aware of the season of Lent, this has always seemed like the perfect time frame for some self-improvement.
From what I understand by the more guilt-obsessed of the Christians, Lent is a time to give up something that you enjoy. For me, I'm going to use this time (40 days) to learn new habits. Good ones.
So... for the next 40 days, I will:
In addition, Matt and I are creating a list of things to get done. Stuff we have put off, procrastinated on, or completely ignored. And in the next 40 days, we will work towards their completion.
In the end, on Easter morning, my hope is that I will have acquired some better habits and have completed a lot of menial tasks. And as I sink my teeth into the sweet, sacrificial chocolate bunny, I will reflect on this time fondly while I, cozy in my PJs, select crap TV with the remote. Thank goodness that STiVo can save the best crap for last.