OffBeatMammal

Searching for monkeys in Cyberspace

Been very quiet recently...

clock November 29, 2006 06:36 by author OffBeatMammal

I’ve been off-air for a little while. Not because I didn’t have anything interesting to say, but because I’ve been rather busy.

First up we had a couple of site launches. MyTalk is a very exciting new Australian Talk Radio portal consolidating all the Southern Cross stations. It was a very frantic build but good to see it up and running. It’s actually two sites in one – the core station site and a CommunityServer driven community/feedback site. As usual the design by Cat Savard was a real pleasure to work with (especially as we both had some pretty strong personal deadlines to work to).

AMDMeansBusiness is finished (but not yet fully live) is a new consolidated portal for AMDs Australian and New Zealand business clients. That was a huge amount of fun to work on (another great project with Zzarg Advertising)

Both sites where built using ASP.NET 2.0 and SQL Server 2005. Where would I be without them!

That wasn’t actually what kept us busiest though. No sooner had we finished coding, testing and uploading that it was a mad pack-down of the house (splitting stuff into five big piles – needed on voyage, air freight, sea freight, give to friends and turn into landfill), a mad round of goodbyes and then off at the crack of dawn to catch flights from Brisbane to Seattle (by way of LA)

It’s time to draw a line under a very interesting chapter in my life (though I won’t be losing touch with some very good friends, and I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on some interesting projects as they evolve without my beady eye on them – for the best some people might say!)

When I’ve finished gathering my breath I’ll post a little more about what we’ll be doing here in Redmond WA but for the moment I’m just enjoying the fact that it’s snowing here, broadband and cellphone data is really cheap (compared to Aus) and good PCs are not a drama to find and buy. We celebrated our first thanksgiving with some good friends both old and new which was a real treat. I’m still not sure I like driving on this side of the road (and the sooner I can swap my mini-van for a Jeep Liberty the happier I’ll be… got my first driving test in over 20 years to face first though!).

Only downside to the move so far has been that the dog got rather sick on the flight. Luckily he seems to be on the mend now. Aerowood Animal Hospital are awesome at 1am on a rainy night.

Someone once described Seattle as being like England but without the good beer. Right now I’d argue that point. The weather is the same but the people are much more welcoming, service isn’t a lost art and as for the beer…

Oh, and I found a new blogging tool. It's called BlogMailr and it's got a very goo heritage. Don’t know if it’s going to replace Windows Live Writer as my tool of choice but I’m going to give it a try



New ClubAV site live

clock September 6, 2006 02:46 by author offbeatmammal

After a few little hiccups the new ClubAV site went live this week. Cat had given me page templates and from there I built a simple CMS so they could edit and manage the content.

To keep things simple for the client used the TinyMCE editor for WYSIWYG editing (rather than force them to use HTML) and their MCImageManager component to allow simple edit and upload of images.

It was a bit of a challenge as I've not written any PHP code in anger for over a year - and we had no end of fun with the hoster who, unlike our usual preferred supplier HostingShop, won't be getting any business from me in a hurry! For some reason it scares me when a hoster provides a site that doesn't have a scripting language available by default, when it does get activated they give you old versions of PHP and some add-on components that they don't even know are installed (and can't be turned off - eAccelerator seems to cause a problem for the MCImageManager component) and promised upgrades to PHP5 take days rather than the promised 15 minutes (all this is when they do bother to respond to emails)!

I think it's quite a nice little site - hopefully it gives the client what they need for some time.



New ClubAV site live

clock September 6, 2006 02:46 by author OffBeatMammal

After a few little hiccups the new ClubAV site went live this week. Cat had given me page templates and from there I built a simple CMS so they could edit and manage the content.

To keep things simple for the client used the TinyMCE editor for WYSIWYG editing (rather than force them to use HTML) and their MCImageManager component to allow simple edit and upload of images.

It was a bit of a challenge as I've not written any PHP code in anger for over a year - and we had no end of fun with the hoster who, unlike our usual preferred supplier HostingShop, won't be getting any business from me in a hurry! For some reason it scares me when a hoster provides a site that doesn't have a scripting language available by default, when it does get activated they give you old versions of PHP and some add-on components that they don't even know are installed (and can't be turned off - eAccelerator seems to cause a problem for the MCImageManager component) and promised upgrades to PHP5 take days rather than the promised 15 minutes (all this is when they do bother to respond to emails)!

I think it's quite a nice little site - hopefully it gives the client what they need for some time.



HTML still has some clever tricks

clock August 27, 2006 10:37 by author OffBeatMammal

Even after many years of hacking up HTML pages it surprises me when I discover some new tricks. Or even better old tricks than now work how you expect them to! One of the great things about the forthcoming IE7 release (currently at "Release Candidate 1") is how it's adding a lot more consistent and correct support for CSS. Things like the hover attribute now work everywhere, not just on address links. Now if only Safari would implement the <label for="{id}>label text</label> I'd be happy (oh and if the CSS folks could trouble themselves to come up with a decent 'float:bottom;' type solution for site footers/copyrights that doesn't involve too much fiddling around).

Anyway, I digress. The two old yet new goodies I found (while, as usual, hunting for something totally unrelated) are firstly the <optgroup> sub-element for a <select>... it allows you to group related items together while not itself being selectable

<select>
	<optgroup label="Sites">
		<option value="s01">BigBrother</option>
		<option value="s02">ClubAV</option>
		<option value="s03">AMD Means Business</option>
	</optgroup>
	<optgroup label="Clients">
		<option value="ess">Endemol Southern Star</option>
		<option value="csa">Cat Savard Advertising</option>
		<option value="zzarg">Zzarg Advertising</option>
	</optgroup>
</select>
appears in the browser as:

 

The next discovery is the <fieldset><legend> pairing. This allows you to create a block of related fields with a common boundary. And it's stylable with CSS. In fact, with the new IE7 style capabilities you can even change the look when it has focus

Log In:

So how did we create this? First of all the basic HTML
<fieldset>
	<legend>Log In:</legend>
	<label for="un">User Name:</label> <input id="un"> 
	<label for="pw">Password:</label> <input id="pw" size="10">
</fieldset>
and then some simple stylesheet magic
<style>
fieldset {
	width: 450px;
	border-top: 1px solid #efefef;
	border-left: 1px solid #efefef;
	border-bottom: 1px solid #cccccc;
	border-right: 1px solid #cccccc;
	padding: 1em 1em 1em 1.5em;
}
fieldset:hover {
      border: 1px solid #ABC2EC;
    }
</style>

 

It all goes to show... you can teach an old dog new tricks. And it's even better when the tricks are actually old ones, that now just happen to work fine!



HTML still has some clever tricks

clock August 27, 2006 10:37 by author offbeatmammal

Even after many years of hacking up HTML pages it surprises me when I discover some new tricks. Or even better old tricks than now work how you expect them to! One of the great things about the forthcoming IE7 release (currently at "Release Candidate 1") is how it's adding a lot more consistent and correct support for CSS. Things like the hover attribute now work everywhere, not just on address links. Now if only Safari would implement the <label for="{id}>label text</label> I'd be happy (oh and if the CSS folks could trouble themselves to come up with a decent 'float:bottom;' type solution for site footers/copyrights that doesn't involve too much fiddling around).

Anyway, I digress. The two old yet new goodies I found (while, as usual, hunting for something totally unrelated) are firstly the <optgroup> sub-element for a <select>... it allows you to group related items together while not itself being selectable

<select>
	<optgroup label="Sites">
		<option value="s01">BigBrother</option>
		<option value="s02">ClubAV</option>
		<option value="s03">AMD Means Business</option>
	</optgroup>
	<optgroup label="Clients">
		<option value="ess">Endemol Southern Star</option>
		<option value="csa">Cat Savard Advertising</option>
		<option value="zzarg">Zzarg Advertising</option>
	</optgroup>
</select>
appears in the browser as:

 

The next discovery is the <fieldset><legend> pairing. This allows you to create a block of related fields with a common boundary. And it's stylable with CSS. In fact, with the new IE7 style capabilities you can even change the look when it has focus

Log In:

So how did we create this? First of all the basic HTML
<fieldset>
	<legend>Log In:</legend>
	<label for="un">User Name:</label> <input id="un"> 
	<label for="pw">Password:</label> <input id="pw" size="10">
</fieldset>
and then some simple stylesheet magic
<style>
fieldset {
	width: 450px;
	border-top: 1px solid #efefef;
	border-left: 1px solid #efefef;
	border-bottom: 1px solid #cccccc;
	border-right: 1px solid #cccccc;
	padding: 1em 1em 1em 1.5em;
}
fieldset:hover {
      border: 1px solid #ABC2EC;
    }
</style>

 

It all goes to show... you can teach an old dog new tricks. And it's even better when the tricks are actually old ones, that now just happen to work fine!



YGMShop.com.au is live

clock August 2, 2006 10:43 by author OffBeatMammal

The official store for the new TEN / Screentime reality TV show "Yasmin's Getting Married" launched yesterday. It was a bit difficult for me as I was at the Big Brother 06 wrap party having worked on both the main website and the BB Store - I hate not being on-hand for the last minute. As always though Cat was an absolute blessing and made sure it all came together without me having to panic.

It was quite an interesting job as it was the first time we had tried taking an entire codebase and rolling out a new site with nothing more than CSS and web.config changes. The original version of the site was designed with this in mind and it was quite comforting that it actually worked out really easily with only some very minor changes to the underlying HTML (darn, a couple of hardcoded backgrounds and non generic image names had slipped through!). Most of the bulk changes where handled through the copy editor updating the local site database, and the web.config for some content that didn't deserve databasing.

We also added some new functionality thanks to client feedback on the first itteration... the real interesting thing was seeing just how easy the new codebase was able to roll back into the original site (again, with just one tweak on a CSS file to fix some changed naming conventions)

It's going to be interesting watching YGM. I think the concept is great... but a little scary. Good luck Yasmin (and good luck to the guys running the store)



YGMShop.com.au is live

clock August 2, 2006 10:43 by author offbeatmammal

The official store for the new TEN / Screentime reality TV show "Yasmin's Getting Married" launched yesterday. It was a bit difficult for me as I was at the Big Brother 06 wrap party having worked on both the main website and the BB Store - I hate not being on-hand for the last minute. As always though Cat was an absolute blessing and made sure it all came together without me having to panic.

It was quite an interesting job as it was the first time we had tried taking an entire codebase and rolling out a new site with nothing more than CSS and web.config changes. The original version of the site was designed with this in mind and it was quite comforting that it actually worked out really easily with only some very minor changes to the underlying HTML (darn, a couple of hardcoded backgrounds and non generic image names had slipped through!). Most of the bulk changes where handled through the copy editor updating the local site database, and the web.config for some content that didn't deserve databasing.

We also added some new functionality thanks to client feedback on the first itteration... the real interesting thing was seeing just how easy the new codebase was able to roll back into the original site (again, with just one tweak on a CSS file to fix some changed naming conventions)

It's going to be interesting watching YGM. I think the concept is great... but a little scary. Good luck Yasmin (and good luck to the guys running the store)



Yasmin isn't selling out

clock July 25, 2006 06:46 by author offbeatmammal

Yasmins Getting MarriedCat and I are working on a new little project - the online store for Yasmins Getting Married - a new reality show produced by Screentime that will be airing in August 2006 on TEN. As usual design is a real treat to work with, and because we're basing the code on the proven Big Brother store it's a fairly quick development - it has to be given the launch date!



Yasmin isn't selling out

clock July 25, 2006 06:46 by author OffBeatMammal

Yasmins Getting MarriedCat and I are working on a new little project - the online store for Yasmins Getting Married - a new reality show produced by Screentime that will be airing in August 2006 on TEN. As usual design is a real treat to work with, and because we're basing the code on the proven Big Brother store it's a fairly quick development - it has to be given the launch date!



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