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Entries made in January 2005

This page contains all of my entries posted during the month of January 2005.

Beard be gone!

Posted by Dave on January 28, 2005 at 11:00 AM | Comments (4)
Two photos of me, one with beard and one without

The first picture, A, shows me with the beard. Though it may suit me when it is shorter, at this length (and presumably when longer) it just looks scruffy.

As you can see from the second picture, B, it was apparently all that was keeping me sober. Who needs alchohol when you can just shave?

Run

Posted by Dave on January 27, 2005 at 07:12 AM | Comments (5)

Today was the first day of my new hobby: running.

I need to be more fit, and my first outing today proved it. After a mere five minutes, I had to stop to for a while to sexily wheeze my lungs out. The run back to my house had to take place in two parts.

Now, I am obviously damn unfit, but the worst part had to be, as I showered, coughing up years worth of phlegm that seems to have made a home in my alveolae. Anyone know how to clear this gunk out? It's not pleasant.

The beard was shaved around Christmas time, but has since come back with a vengeance. I'll probably shave it off later on today, but I'll be sure to take some pictures beforehand. I don't think beards suit me, and this one looks pretty funny.

Is nasal hair facial hair, even if it doesn't stick out? Either way, I have very little nasal hair in my left nostril. The power cut again, and somehow I got it into my head to see if sniffing directly over a flame would make it rise.

That's right. I snorted a candle. All I can say is: it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Basic web analytics

Posted by Dave on January 20, 2005 at 02:21 AM | Comments (3)

Web analytics is one of the less exciting, yet sometimes damn interesting, fields of the web industry. Web analytics helps you understand how your website is being used.

I had a quick peek at my web stats and came across a bit of a shock... quite a few people were clicking on the my recent projects link, then leaving the site.

My stats showed that my projects pages were often the last page visitors viewed

The projects section had been long neglected. The “latest project” link in the sidebar lead to the only project I had bothered to post; worse still, it was little more than a couple of paragraphs from Lipsum.com. This was always something I intended to fix, but had simply forgotten.

Now, my laziness seemed to be having a negative effective on the visitors to my site.

Unfortunately, Webalizer doesn't allow me to filter out bots well, and my current host doesn't give me the level of access to stats that I'm used to. It's possible that a lot of these hits are from the Googlebot or similar agent. Yet, despite its flaws, it helped. It indicated that something was wrong with my site. Even the most basic of web statistics will give you some idea of what is going on with your site. If you do have access to them, take a look. You could be in for a shock.

The problem has now been given a quick patch, which will do until the redesign is completed. I also got rid of the ridiculous “Lorum ipsum sit ala mocktoo” text in the archives section. I'll be running some other patches on Thursday.

In other news, I am insanely busy right now.

This could have been worded better

Posted by Dave on January 20, 2005 at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
Who's late more often - men or women?

I've never heard a man complain about being late, at least not with the same level of concern.

Premium Linkage

Posted by Dave on January 16, 2005 at 04:52 AM | Comments (0)
  1. Rumours are flying about a G5 Powerbook coming in the second half of this year. This wouldn't surprise me, but check out the comments over at MacRumors for some bizarre theories about chip architecture and reality in general:

    Thankfully, they don't all seem to be sniffing fumes over there.

  2. The genius of Busted Tees: Tee #1, tee #2, and my favourites tee #3 and tee #4.

  3. Hanson == oombopping rock GODS!!! apparently.

  4. This has Paul Donnan written all over it.

Site launch: Zoomtard

Posted by Dave on January 16, 2005 at 03:38 AM | Comments (0)
A screenshot of the Zoomtard site

Zoomtard is the online alias of a friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous (but it isn't Anonymous... guys, this is getting confusing).

I designed the original site a long time ago, and decided it could do with some improvements. I spent Friday night working on an XHTML / CSS template, and Saturday evening upgrading to MovableType 3.14, making the templates work nice with MT and installing plugins.

There's still a few bugs here and there - most notably in Safari and IE5/Mac - but for Firefox and IE/Win users the site is pretty much as it should be. I'll be adding Flickr integration and making some tweaks during the week.

The colour scheme is a modified version of the original Zoomtard scheme, designed to enhance the appearance of colour photography when used in the main content area.

As an aside, this coming week looks to be very exciting, if I ever get my set of web services working. They're part of a little project I've been working on. More on this as the week unfolds.

This isn't all about you

Posted by Dave on January 08, 2005 at 06:08 PM | Comments (2)

So far I've talked about what I intend to get out of my new site. These goals are very important, and they will shape the development of the site substantially. But my needs are not the only needs to consider. I will not be the only one using this site. What about my visitors?

You can look at a website as an interaction between the owner or owners of the site, and its visitors. This interaction involves explicit communication - text for example - and this is the most obvious interaction. But it also involves a lot of implicit and often subtle communication. This is the “body language” of your site, and is important to consider as part of the overall user experience.

What worth is it to have your business site claim to value its customers, if their experience of it is frustrating? If your site makes it difficult for a visitor to complete a task of theirs, it's as if you've turned your back on them. You should aim to support these tasks, and avoid annoying your visitors.

Like it or not, your site will behave in a certain way depending on the decisions that you make during its development. It's your job to make sure it behaves in the way that you want.

I know it's easy to make assumptions about the user experience your site provides, but such assumptions are dangerous. Perhaps it will help to think of it this way: when you visit a site that frustrates you, one that genuinely annoys you, do you think the designer of the site set out to piss you off?

It's unlikely. They probably just made bad assumptions about their visitors.

The first step you should take to avoid making such assumptions is to make an effort to understand them. Who will your site be aimed at? Who is your audience?

In the case of my own site, I already have a good idea of the audience I'm trying to aim at.

  1. Web designers and developers, who may be interested in hiring me to work with them on a project or interested in using one of the products I plan to offer in one of their own projects.
  2. Business owners who are looking for someone to hire for some design or development work.
  3. Current clients.

If you do not know who the audience for your site is, you should find out. How can you design something for someone if you don't know who they are?

One tool used by designers to help keep their users needs in mind during development of a product (which is what a site is) is the persona. I was going to describe what a persona is and how it is useful, but Don Norman has done a better job than I ever could. I recommend you take a look at his essay “Ad-Hoc Personas & Empathetic Focus”. Read it. In the next installment I'll provide personas for each group I'm designing for, and expand upon the strategy of the site.

Again with the cutting of the power

Posted by Dave on January 08, 2005 at 04:46 AM | Comments (0)

This entry was written during one of the power cuts tonight, then posted here afterwards.

I'm writing this now so that I don't forget it later.

It's half two in the morning, on what insists on being called Saturday. The wind is blowing hard outside. Phil and I were having a discussion about this right before the power cut again. My guess is that, in the high wind outside, whatever repairs were done a couple of days ago have been damaged.

For the first time I can remember, I heard the wind roar. I don't mean leaves and branches being waved around, and I don't mean the constant shush. I'm talking about something that hums, and then moves from a hum to something deeper, something harsh that sounds full of malevolent intent.

Intent on ruining my chances of getting a cup of coffee to help me concentrate. Mother bitch.

I better get back to writing part two of the design series, before I fall asleep. Candles are lit, laptop is still working; hopefully my brain is too.

Well, that was a bit of excitement

Posted by Dave on January 06, 2005 at 12:53 AM | Comments (0)

Working on my computer earlier this evening, I saw a bright flash and heard a loud explosion. The power cut. My first thought: When did you last run a backup, Dave?

We lit candles around the house. There was a second, softer explosion. I grabbed a lantern and small torch, and headed out to investigate.

Some kids told me a green box (a relay box) had exploded. I asked them where, and they sent me in the right direction, warning me that bad people were up there.

It turned out they were right. Some teenagers were hanging about on the way, who made a disparaging comment about my lantern. That comment was lantern. Nice one lads. They were bad alright, a pack of bad comedians. I am disappointed with the youth of today; these people make clowns seem funny. The didn't even use a funny voice, or say haha, he has a lantern. Just lantern.

Zero points for effort.

I continued on. I got near the scene. From what I can tell, a transformer blew on an electrical pole. I'm guessing the second explosion was the remains of the transformer popping. Wires had snapped and fallen to the ground.

Power was restored in roughly two hours, which isn't bad at all. Good work.

Things to do

Posted by Dave on January 05, 2005 at 12:24 AM | Comments (13)

I'm not going to plan out my entire year, but here's part of my plans.

Get more work

I have some leads, and I have some contacts that I've yet to contact. I must follow through on these.

Continue the redesign and the redesign series

I think this is going to be really interesting.

Work on the pseudo-secret project

I was going to call this the “top secret” project, but as I'm mentioning it on a public site, that seemed a bit rich. I'm working on a little project that should be of interest to any web designer. More on this in March.

Go to SXSW 2005

Hit the SXSW 2005 Interactive festival in March, find out what all the fuss is about. This will cost a lot. Must also get a new passport.

Get a 17-inch Powerbook

I need one. I really do. Once I've registered for VAT (the form is filled in and on my desk), it should only cost around two and a half grand.

I remember when these things costs upwards of three ex VAT. I have no idea how much the new revisions will cost or even when they are coming out.

Visit New York

I've been told I'd like it there. Plus, I have up to four VIP tickets to the Daily Show for when I go... how sweet is that?

Write more songs

...or, more accurately, finish the ones you've been writing and get a demo together.

Work towards winning a Bloggie in 2006 / 2007

Stiff competition, but I'm hopeful. Work done over this year may be enough to win a coveted Bloggie, if not... well, setting extremely difficult goals for oneself is useful for getting work done.

Get this plane

Quite likely to be a UFO-nut fantasy, but they seem so freaking sweet. The TR-3B is a craft that is alleged to have anti-gravity technology and be capable of speeds of roughly Mach 9. I dunno about you, but if this thing has a decent interface to it and is nice and nimble too it would be sweet to fly.

Maximum pose value

Posted by Dave on January 04, 2005 at 03:20 AM | Comments (6)
Phil:
For maximum pose value, post up on your blog about your purchase of the notebook. Go on, you know you want to.
Me:
I do now.

I got a Moleskine ruled notebook on Sunday, and paid seventeen-euro-sixty. Phil is disgusted.

Weird GMail bork

Posted by Dave on January 01, 2005 at 02:37 AM | Comments (2)

There was some weirdness over at GMail last night; thankfully a refresh got rid of the problem.

Problem with GMAIL last night, involving iframes and white space

Has anyone any else seen any interesting program borks?

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