My Geek Box

Geek Box of Comp. Sci. textbooks

Yes, I’m a geek. As I was finally unpacking some boxes of books and papers that haven’t seen daylight in about 3 years, I found my fun box of computer science textbooks. Data structures, SPARC architecture, C++ — it doesn’t get much better than this!

And thank god they’re now within referencing distance as one never knows when one might need a handy heapsort algorithm.

(X)HTML/CSS Geek Open Source

When Did Standards Compliance Become Only About Validation?

How has the message of the web standards community somehow been boiled down into a concentrate of your website must only validate to be standards compliant? Is this the result of a horrible game of web telephone? Sadly, this reduced definition of web standards makes it quite easy for someone to dismiss the positives of standards compliance. Why should making my site pass the muster of the W3C’s validators take precedence over creating new features for my audience/client/web application?

I’m currently in the process of evaluating open source ASP.NET content management systems. Important to me, of course, are adherence to web standards (coding and accessibility standards), cross-browser compatibility, simplicity/ease of use, etc. While, I was trying DotNetNuke (DNN) I became increasingly concerned about adherence to standards and cross-browser compatibility (among other things). I went searching on the forums for more information. I came upon a thread devoted to the topic of standards compliance in which a user inquires as to the timeline for web standards compliance in DNN. The replies were mixed. Some from users linking to tutorials on jumping through the hoops (sadly) necessary to make DNN produce valid XHTML code. Others, even more concerning, came from DNN team members. A few examples.

I will tell you that in all the work I get asked about, no one asks about CSS and XHTML compliancy, unless it’s a designer who went to do a multimedia course and was forced to some XHTML compliant site.

I’ve posted in forums before about my view on all this – and while I am no means an expert in every field, I’m looking at DNN right down the line from installing, hosting, advising, assisting, learning, you name it, and I think you need to also get this into perspective as well.

A final note, I am not saying it is not important to be XHTML compliant. I believe people should be able to use tabless or tabled designs, I personally have no preference for one or the other and have worked with both. I do think in terms of priorities, this is something I would consider to be lower on my list of must haves for the DotNetNuke framework.

However, IMHO the issue of accessibility compliance is much more important than xhtml compliance.

The above quotes, to me, show a serious misconception of web standards and the point of web standards — not to mention near contempt for standards compliance. To be fair, the users in the forum thread had themselves boiled standards down to code validation or css-based design versus table design. To me, web standards is about the entire approach to the architecture and design of a webpage/website. It’s not simply about creating XHTML that validates. It’s a way of thinking. Well-structured semantic code thoughtfully organized and designed leaves a smaller bandwidth fingerprint, loads faster for people on slower connections, and goes most of the way in making a website more accessible. A website that follows web standards is easier to maintain, and we all know maintenance is the real kicker in website development. I also think DNN missing the boat on web standards will cause them to lose the standards community (which isn’t small). As a standards-minded web developer, will I run the DNN obstacle course necessary to make a DNN website standards compliant (and for each upgrade after that)? Or would I turn to a product like Cuyahoga where the team is concerned with standards compliance and making it easy for developers to maintain website sanity?

Ultimately, this must be our own failure. How can the web standards message be improved? How can we fix the misconceptions that have propagated as a result of our own zealousness?


2006 CSS Reboot All-Stars

CSS Reboot - Jeff Croft

Impatient as I am, I’m not going to wait for the other coaches to weigh in; I’m just going to leap ahead and name Jeff Croft the MVP of the All-Star team. I love this design. He’s not a flashy Kobe Bryant, but more of a solid, dependable, thinking-person’s Tony Parker or Mike Miller design equivalent. From the backend architecture to the beautiful, usable design, each piece of the site is well thought out and purposeful. I dare you — try to find a piece of this site that wasn’t well redesigned.

CSS Reboot - Rob Goodlatte

I very much like this design as well. Rob Goodlatte’s site is a strong design departure from my MVP choice, but also awesomely complete. My favorite part of his site, though, is his full entry format page. It’s wide. It’s super readable. It has newspaper-style columns! Love it. Yes, I would marry it.

CSS Reboot - Matt Brett

Pink is not for everyone, but Matt Brett’s new design is hot. I love the strong choice of color, the grittiness, and the overall feel of the site. It’s an artistic design.

CSS Reboot - Critical Design

Another CSS Reboot site rocking the super large footer look, Critical Web Design’s new blog design is tickling my color senses. The blue is different and bold. The small graphical details are crisp, well-placed, and unique.

Now if people would stop voting up the crappy sites and vote for these guys instead.


I’m Feeling Antisocial

Enough with the social bookmarking. Really. I don’t digg it. I don’t reddit. I won’t seed it. I don’t think it’s I’m a jerk.

Anti-social bookmarking



Gone Skiing

Gone Skiing
It’s been indicated that I haven’t posted in a while. Yes, it’s true. Projects are stagnating. Bloglines has long ago quit showing any indication of updates here or at I (heart) baking. Why? It’s ski season. Weekends that once served as primary “catch up” time for my websites and projects are now spent skiing the lovely slopes of Colorado.* I also have yet to reconnect my internet. Honestly, I’m enjoying being not so connected. Plus, if I hold out for another 25 days, I can get better Internet deals.

On to a somewhat related topic, perhaps on Tuesday or Wednesday you happened upon my site and found a really ugly “Account Suspended” message or tried to venture past my front page and were confronted with an ugly 404 error. Were you surprised? Yeah, me too. Unknown to me, PayPal had decided to cancel payment subscriptions I had set up to pay my hosting bills. Since I didn’t know they were cancelled, I wasn’t aware that the bills weren’t paid until TextDrive [hosts I (heart) baking] contacted me requesting alternate payment. I received no such notice from ASmallOrange (which hosts this site). My one and only notice that I had an overdue balance was a big fat website BSOD from them announcing that my account was suspended. I love looking like a delinquent. From what I understand, they are supposed to have a notification system built into their billing, but apparently my account somehow slipped through the cracks. As a consequence of the account suspension, my .htaccess file was deleted in its entirety. Thus, from the time my account was reinstated until the middle of yesterday when I noticed this, most of my site was throwing 404 errors. It’s been a fun couple days. PayPal has yet to provide me with a great explanation of what happened.

Here’s to some champagne powder for this weekend!

* It snowed 10 inches last night at my favorite resort, so don’t expect this weekend to be any different than the others.

Website Meta News

My recent jump into the world of Bloglines-ing has had at least one good effect — I now actually check out my own feeds. I’ve never paid much attention to them other than obediently listing feed links. Well, did you know that previously I wasn’t publishing the full article entries in my feeds? How annoying is that? If Bloglines has taught me anything, it’s that full article feeds are king.

So, yes, I’m now publishing full article feeds. Carry on.



Okay, I didn’t so much switch as I bought an iBook to keep my PC company. And now I’m trying to figure out this whole Mac OS thing. So far, I’ve managed to change the system preferences and pick up 8 nearby wireless networks I didn’t even know existed. I’m excited about the development opportunities that exist for me now, but I’m now facing a learning curve. Although, on the bright side, I figured out how to right click. Baby steps, people.

I’ve started the learning process by checking out Paul Stamatiou’s list of 10 things every new Mac owner should know. However, I need more info. If perhaps my readership includes a few Mac users, please assist if you feel so inclined.

  • Know of any cool iBook appropriate bags? (Yes, I am that person now.)
  • What’s the best FTP application? Anything for Mac that’s similar to SSH? (Also, free/cheap is good.)
  • What about code editors? bbEdit? SubEthaEdit? Open source apps out there?
  • Are there any good Subversion clients for Mac yet? (In my past experience, there were no complete ones available.)
  • Any other essential apps?
  • What else should I know?

Temporary Hiatus

As I am suffering through a short term lapse of internet connection at home, posting will be sparse for an undetermined amount of time. I think I will pull through, but I’m feeling quite disconnected. Obviously, I am working on correcting this problem sooner rather than later.


New Gadget: The iHome Clock Radio

iHome clock radioThough I am not happy to be 25 — besides the cheaper insurance and ability to rent a car without penalty — the birthday monies from said occasion have provided for a new gadget. Now, I can, if I so choose, wake up to tunes from my iPod or just listen to my iPod via the the system. I haven’t used it much yet, but the sound seems to be very good. There aren’t, however, many iPod controls on the radio. Of course, the manufacturers have so thoughtfully included in the box an offer where I can get a remote for only $19.99. Grrr.


I’m a Bloglines-er

I’ve finally done it. I’ve broken down and leapt into the world of RSS readers, feeds, and whatnot. While I have dutifully provided all flavors of feeds for my site for years, I must admit I’ve never really bothered with them myself. Why read design-less content when I can surf over to the site myself to get the content?

Bloglines Screenshot

Great logic, right? Until I own up to the fact that I keep forgetting about sites I like to read. Unfortunately, I’m horrible about bookmarking site/blogs I want to continue to read, I then forget about them only to return months later thinking “Why haven’t I been reading this? This is actually pretty good.”

So, now I’m a reluctant Bloglines-er.

And I like it. *sigh*