We pass bits down from generation to generation. Sometimes it’s intentional, other times it’s quite accidental. In either case, it’s unavoidable – especially in the case of parenthood. Meet, Balthazar. He’s my eldest son and new to the real social interactions of the web. It’s a scary place out here, but I’m cautiously optimistic that I can ease him into it. If we give them the right tools now, perhaps they’ll be better prepared for the challenges and opportunities that pioneering our future can offer.
Not being the first to get into this argument, I’ve picked a less offensive title than one that might otherwise get a lot of attention:
“I would rather spend my allotted time skiing or making love to my wife than worrying about whether or not I need to define a virtual destructor in my base class.”
That quote really sums up the argument pretty succinctly, but you may need additional persuasion depending on your circumstances. It also comes from his second post on the topic. A follow-up to the masses that commented on the original post with sundry opinions. Some simply stated that the author was an idiot while others took the time to tear him a new one proper-like. As the author states, many that would condemn have forgotten to add their own supporting cases; a common problem with these antagonistic debates.
For my part, I see the logic in the author’s comments. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I agree with him, but it at least gives me some ideas of how to defend his method. We all have to do things we don’t like to do, and sometimes we do things that compromise our abilities. Web development is no different – in fact, it’s probably one of the defining cases for compromise.
Being a casual web developer myself, I have the luxury to code for standards and play with some of the latest methods available in technology. Not everyone gets that luxury, and indeed at times, I don’t either. I have to analyze the amount I can make on a given job versus the time spent on it. As a hobby along side two children, a wife, and a few other hobbies, I’ve really got to make the most of my time. As such, if I’m not going to get paid the amount I want, then something else is going to suffer. At my day job, we’ve talked about Price, Quality, and Time as being the defining parts of a project. Together, they all make up a circle and have to adjust dynamically as the others get larger or smaller. If you sacrifice price, and there’s a time limit, then the only thing left that can slide is quality. It tears at my nonsensical work ethic, but it’s reality. On the otherhand, a lesser quality job doesn’t have to look like it. We web developers have the benefit over some other industries because we can hide most of architecture mess behind a beautiful presentation layer.
So back to the conversation at hand: CSS versus Tables. To bring this all together for you – and I trust you’ve either read the linked articles above or already know about the discussions surrounding the virtues of CSS and table design for XHTML layouts – let me settle the argument for myself.
I am an Arts and Crafts of Olde appreciatist. I love my work as a craftsman; that is to say, I love the process of reaching a goal through creative and oft eccentric means. I am learning to be a more pragmatic person in my work habits – at least when it’s necessary. It’s a slow process, but I’ve made headway in little ways throughout my life. It’s about compromise and keeping in mind the circle of Price, Time, and Quality.
It’s simple enough to imagine I could always remain vigilant on this circle of project specification goodness, but I wouldn’t. Sometimes you just want to do a project. So when either I have no boundaries per the specification, or I’m just personally driven to work at a project for my own reasons, I’m going to use CSS and standards-based coding practices. When time and/or money are the object with which I am to contend, then I might use tables, or worse yet, a WYSIWYG editor. The later approach ultimately saves me the most time and a customer’s money, but will ultimately take more time should the customer want some specific types of feature modifications to the code later. I tend to view cheap and/or quick projects as being throw-away because of this.
I hope this insight has helped you to shed some light on your own dilemna in whatever craft it is that you persue – ever-mindful of the art in your craft, while carefully weighing the cost to your lifestyle (whether monetary, socially, or time management).
This week’s “The Pain” comic tells the story – probably from my area of the world – of Obama’s election. When I first perused it, I had assumed Mr. Kreider was not a fan of Obama. For this one, you need to read the Artist’s statement which raises the comic wit.
…watching Obama’s luminous acceptance speech, hearing him say to all those who had bitterly fought his election what I could never have imagined Bush saying to me and my friends—“I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too”…Yes, I thought, magnanimous in victory: donuts for all. Seeing our first black president, that science-fiction trope for The Future, become a reality, I felt the way people must have felt the night men first walked on the moon.
“The Pain–When Will It End?” is a satirist web-column generally focused on political fodder and social follies. The artist, Tim Kreider, is well-known in his industry and a seasoned veteran of political cartoons. Seasoned with paprika and cumin, presumably; based upon his caustic wit. I’m a fan of the spices. I don’t always get the joke, but then I don’t put a lot of time into politics either.
I am imagining a better WordPress. For those of you who don’t know, it’s the engine behind Gradin.com, as well as countless other blogs on the Interweb. I have been using WordPress for several years now and I really enjoy it. Its many features have grown, and grown on me. Now that I am expectant of the plugins and updates provided by WordPress and its community, I find myself wanting even more.
Upgrading to Web 2.5
The Web 2.0 movement brought, among many other ideals, the concept of a truly “communal” Internet. We saw the entrance of communities such as MySpace, Orkut, Friendster, and of course, the blog, emerge. I maintain a regular blog and dabble in these other Internet communities, but ultimately find that they are not my thing.
What MySpace, for instance, did for me was to create a social community of friends and people with related interests. It’s a great concept, if only simple. I encountered two main problems with these solutions – set aside your particular opinion about the communities. The first, and most immediate, problem I had was that the site distracted me and my potential audience from my own blog. The other problem, something that took a little longer to become apparent, was that I was stuck into a much larger community than I was really interested in becoming “buddies” with.
My solution to these problems involves the maturation of Web 2.0 – perhaps to Web 2.5. I have heard of Web 3.0, but I don’t think the industry can make such a leap without some smaller steps in between. Web 2.5 allows the blog proprietor like myself to become part of these communities without stepping out of their home base.
The Case Study
My imagined solution looks simple at first glance. I maintain a blog. My friends maintain blogs and/or social networking profiles. I have other blogs/services out there to which I would like to drive attention. Now think of each of these things as containers to which I can subscribe, sometimes in a granular fashion. I build a collection of “friends,” “family,” and “interesting people” that I would like to have a reference to on my site. Today, you have blog rolls or even RSS feeds doing this. But what if you could access a container having someone’s profile and avatar, their blog articles, twitter feeds, and MySpace posts. From that container I can choose what I want to see, and how often I want to see it. Perhaps I just want digests. What’s more, the originator of that container can actually validate my request to subscribe to this data. They can also choose what they’ll allow me to see using templates (e.g. friends, family, co-workers), or define a custom rule just for me. The data continues to remain available through conventional means – say the RSS feed, a MySpace account, etc, but the personal container has controls.
I can extend it beyond the profile containers. Say you want to interact with your email or IM system through your blog. Think about having a single entry point to your personal web experience. The personal blog transforms into a personal dashboard with both public and private views. On the public side, you present your audience with your blog, some profile data, contact information, and perhaps a friend’s blog. Privately, you see your email, all your friends’ blogs, address book, and a calendar with your upcoming events.
There are ways to achieve most of this through conventional means, but there is no “solution” to it all. It takes a fundamental shift.
Back to WordPress
At the beginning of this post, I referred to my need for more in WordPress. WordPress utilizes a model of communal sharing already that leads me to believe that it is one of the strongest contenders to make my dream a reality. I’m jaded, of course, because I use WordPress a lot. However, I’ve also read about the WordPress.com Multi-User (MU) extension making its way to the public domain, BuddyPress. BuddyPress will make WordPress.com (and any other WP MU implementation) a community blog with integrated social networking a la MySpace. This is exactly what I’m talking about, if only on a very small scale. WordPress may have the framework to get where I want, but I still have to reach further for the over-arching API that allows WordPress to talk to social communities outside of itself. I believe WordPress has made the first move in my imagined Web 2.5.
In brief, I imagine the final solution as being a web service that handles a centralized API for the OpenSocial, or something similar should the industry choose a better standard. Blog systems such as WordPress would have to utilize plugins to communicate with the API, but MySpace, Orkut, LinkedIn, and others would fit into the picture by being a part of OpenSocial. The custom web service would handle the “mash-up” of these different systems into a personal container. And of course, the user would manage their own container; permissions and contents.
In the end, I’d have my blog, my friends, and my choice. Web 2.0 moves forward and brings together the biggest social community ever on the Internet. Our personal sites become personal dashboards and launch points to our other interests. I think the way to Web 2.5 is clear, and someone out there is surely already working on it. You heard it here, first!
I was contacted a while back by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), originally through Flickr from a picture I posted on the severe drought conditions around Lake Lanier. I was invited to write a “Climate Witness” story to tell the world about how the climate has changed in northeast Georgia from my perspective. It has taken me a while working with a representative from the WWF to get the story completed, but we finally did it! As of the 28th of August, my Climate Witness story has been published on the panda.org website.
Go check it out and read some of the other Climate Witness stories there while you’re at it. They come from all over the world and offer some interesting perspectives.
The meme is apparently now a lost word; used only by uncool dads and hipless (as in the lack of being hip) half-wits. I’m getting on in years, relatively speaking, and am inclined to use such lingo as to embarrass those who would be so easily offended.
For lack of better alternatives, I bring to you the current meme on my plate. Young whipper-snappers may be unfamiliar with this word, but it is essentially an Internet chain-letter. Spazzmanda passed this on to me from her blog, where she refers to such activities as “tagging.” I always thought that was a cultural art of defacement by way of graffiti, but what does an old fart like me know.
The Rules: Rules are posted at the beginning. At the end of the post, the player tags 5 people and posts their names. Then the player goes to each of the “named” people’s blogs and leaves a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. If you’ve been tagged, you do the same, letting the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer. Your answer, of course, is the answer to the following questions. Here we go!
1. What was I doing 10 years ago? One decade ago I was two months from my 2nd wedding anniversary with my lovely wife, Amy. We had no children, though we had pets. We were in our first year at our first house together (and current house). Amy was still in school at North Georgia College and State University (though it may not have been a State University at the time), and I was working for…Whittman-Hart, perhaps. I was a consultant beginning to cut my teeth on information systems security. It would be my primary job and objective for the next several years. I registered gradin.com for the first time – it was a standard 2-year registration and cost me $70.00 (I think my last registration was $8.95 for a year). I was finally able to access my awesome Mindspring account web space using my rocking X2 US Robotics Sportster (externel) modem via www.gradin.com. I was working in Allaire’s Cold Fusion, though I couldn’t afford a license for the server to host my own site using their technology. I used Allaire’s Homesite as my primary editor with Photoshop and Fractal Painter as my graphics packages. I think I was trying to get onto Bellsouth’s xDSL beta program, but with no luck due to my distance from the carrier. I was, however, involved with Wachovia’s beta online account access. It was a glorified BBS – awesome!
2. What are 5 things on my to-do list today? I’ve got ESX hosts to convert to 3.5i, installable. SAN storage to attach, and VMs to migrate both through traditional migrations, as well as the new and improved Storage VMotion. I also have some process proposal documentation to get done for the collected efforts of the Norcross lab engineering team, as well as that of our Hillsboro office. I hope to get some ping-pong in at lunch, ride my bike 10 miles back to my car, and then facilitate a drum circle for 100 people in northeast Georgia with some friends.
3. Snacks I enjoy: Have you tried my nuts? They’re salty and dimensionally variant. I enjoy the texture especially, though others are just happy I am able to share – there’s more than enough for everyone to enjoy! I also like beef jerky and granola bars.
4. Places I’ve lived: I’ve had a good spread in my life, though as of late my homestead has been very static. I began in Ocean Springs, MI; moved to Plano, TX, and then jumped to San Diego, CA shortly thereafter. We moved a couple of times there, but finally moved out the state to Tuscon, AZ. From there, we departed for Waycross, GA, and then onto Gainesville, GA where I live now. I’ve moved several times throughout both of these places in Georgia, and I’ve been here the longest amount of time so far.
5. Things I would do if I were a billionaire: This is actually the title of a post I’ve been working on for a while now. It’s a recurring theme throughout our decade+ of marriage, and one that will most likely continue to develop and mature in time. The most boring thing I think of from our list is to pay-off debt and acquire some commercial real estate to lease. There’s money accumulation prospects in that, so we would do well to set ourselves for the inevitable loss of said billions through the frivolous purchases from our list. There are two more intriguing opportunities: 1) Develop a waterfront district on Lake Lanier – a boardwalk with shops and dining – that aids in the lake’s restoration efforts, as well as providing some awareness about the lake’s ecosystem. 2) Convert an old mill on the outskirts of town into a turn-of-the-century arts and crafts guild. History tells us that these guilds are mere congregations of passionate people in the arts and crafts and generally have no ability to sustain themselves financially.
I had written about Silver Stars shortly after they had opened, and today I report on another momentous event for Gainesville and its small business community. Silver Stars has been shut down indefinitely for failure to obtain a proper business permit. Funny thing is, they were given a permit to do business originally. After these several months, the City Council’s office has finally over-ruled the original permit granted.
I had originally applauded the city’s apparent progressive attitude towards new business ventures in the likes of adult novelties, though now I see this was a mistake. Silver Stars seemed to be doing well in their inauguration into the Gainesville business community. I know they had many customers, friends, and partners throughout the city. Their website reports that they are still able (and encouraging people) to process online orders. There is some glimmer of hope, I suppose, that they may be able to work out a business license through some loophole. Should that happen, they’ll be back in business until the Council finds some other way to shut them down.
Incidentally, I’m looking through the City Ordinances trying to find the specific violation, but have been unable to do so. If anyone can point me to the specific code, I’d appreciate it.
You may recall that I had written up the Zune Wish List a couple of months after I received mine in December of 2006. I took the time to assess my needs and what the Zune hardware and software could do to meet those needs. It has now been nearly a year since that list and it’s time to update it.Microsoft released their 2.0 Zune Marketplace software with the newer Zune hardware made available for Christmas of 2007. The new software addressed some issues with the older software, but more than anything I think the new version was an aesthetic shift for the product team. Maybe they’ve completely replaced the creative group in favor of a sexier image. At any rate, with a good number of users and a year or more on their belt as Zune users, there were clearly going to be some polarized debates about the change.Refresher: Here is the old and new iteration of the Zune (Marketplace) Software, respectively…
I recently commented on Lorelle’s post about Help pages on blogs. My answer got me thinking about an excellent Internet analogy.
I maintained a “Help” page on my personal blog for a long while. It was a practice in earnest to fight the good fight. I tested browser compatibility and noted errors with specific browsers. It helped me…never my audience. I think I gave up after reading “Don’t Make Me Think.” Ultimately, that is really the mindset and the answer. If I have to provide a help page, perhaps I’m doing something wrong. Perhaps I’m not making that personal connection with people because I’m ostracizing them through some personal elitism. I remember when DHTML was really cool and working with the DOM in unique, arcane methods was more a resemblance to the occult than anything Web 2.0 represents today. We’ve all grown up on this stuff. Internet adolescence is over and it’s time to get a real job; move out of your parent’s basement (no offense to you 30-somethings living in your parent’s basement). So I don’t have a “Help” page anymore. I try to offer help in more constructive ways – ways that a “Help” page can only make excuses for. Besides – who actually takes the time to read a manual, let alone my blog manual?
Lorelle on WordPress challenges the blogosphere weekly with new ways to keep us bloggers on task. While I’m running behind on the weekly challenges, I thought this one was something I could speak on. “Blog Your Passion” is the theme for the week of August 7th (I know it’s October, shut up).
I originally got into blogging because it was a spreading phenomenon that involved technologies I knew and loved. As secondary incentives; I have always enjoyed writing, it’s a great creative outlet for web development and design, and blogging may very well give my descendants a familial history that will not otherwise be recorded in any books. A personal Wikipedia, if you will.
So here I am, more than three years later, assessing my blogging passions.
Of particular importance is my interest in a legacy. I am passionate about telling my story. Above all else, I trust that my musings will pass along a message that I cannot reach into my own ancestry for. That message will be a referential perspective to those in need of familial comfort. If we are to know the answer to life, the universe, and everything, we are to know our history.
It won’t be elegant nor abundantly enlightening, but the importance of having these recorded scraps of memory will one day prove to be some of the most cherished objects of a future generation. My own son will grow up in a revolutionary time when his every move is captured in startling fidelity – he will undoubtedly take for granted the provisions I aim to establish. But in his times of personal discovery, he will be able to look back on his own thoughts in perfect clarity; as well as those of his father. Perhaps he will see it. Perhaps it will be his children, or his children’s children…the estate of the future is a collection of intellectual capital, and there can be no greater treasure than knowledge.