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Monday, September 12, 2011

The New BostonGlobe.com

I'm beyond impressed with the new Boston Globe web site. It's the best I've ever seen. Congrats to @beep and the rest of the designer/developer team. As +Craig Hockenberry said on Twitter, other newspapers are going to look at it and either realize they need to imitate it, or they'll keep dying.

If you have a big monitor, resize your browser window from very narrow through to full screen. Go very slowly, and watch as the layout adapts to the new size, every step of the way. The images resize, the number of columns will change from 1 to 2 to 3, each column's width changes... it's brilliant.

(What I've mentioned here is just the first-glance stuff. Look around, the attention to usability and detail is intense.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Web Development Class with Ethan Pride

For a few months now I've been teaching Ethan how to develop a web site, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript (soon), and content management systems.

We meet once a week.

(This post was a demonstration for him on the benefits of a CMS.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

PMC Software Auction 8: Web Developer's Paradise

The eighth auction is running, and is called “Mac Software Bundle: Web Developer's Paradise.”

This is the most ‘focused’ auction to date. These are tools for web (site or app) developers, and include high-end apps like BBEdit for source editing, Coda and Sandvox for designing, SQLGrinder for databases, Interarchy for FTP, and Screen Mimic for screencasts. (I do this work for a living, and seriously wish I had all of these apps!) Also included Daylite and Billings, to help on the business side of being a web developer.

Yeah, ok, that last sentence sounded like a lame attempt at marketing, but it wasn't. I'm serious. I don't have Coda, Sandvox, SQLGrinder, or Screen Mimic, and could certainly use them. (So maybe it's not a good idea for me to sell a sweet bundle like this to my competition!)

Two last details: there's no reserve this time, and it's a seven day auction instead of five.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Why Won't You Be My Neighbor?

In Declining Your Friend Request, Apollo writes:

I’m on a large number of social networks. On some of them, people see my profile and add me out of the blue.

After receiving numerous such friend requests, particularly on new social networks, like Twitter and Pownce, I thought I’d put together a list [so you'll know why I declined your invitation].

I totally agree with Apollo. I'm only on a few social networks, but I receive a few too many requests "to be friends" from total strangers.

In fact, a few weeks ago one such request got me into some trouble. See if you can follow this: The potential "friend's" nickname sounded slightly familiar, so I followed the link to see who it was. The page was loading very slowly, and then Rich started talking to me in IM so I brought Adium to the front. One of his messages included a link, which (when clicked) opened in a new tab in Firefox. Time passed, and I forgot all about the page I'd been waiting for. Corinne sat down next to me, I showed her something, and then started shutting down the Mac for the night. As I closed my tabs in Firefox one-by-one (so I could be sure I wasn't leaving any unfinished work anywhere, as I've done many times), there was the link I'd followed from the "friend request": a page on Flickr with a model in all of her, uh... "natural beauty." NOT COOL.

Anyway, I don't care enough about the social networks to bother acknowledging most of the friend requests. I do feel the pressure to reciprocate with people I actually know, but mostly I just wish the networks would go away. How anti-social of me.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Replying to Email

Daring Fireball (John Gruber) has been talking about email reply styles, lately, and now lots of other people are, too. (Including me!)

What I haven't yet seen mentioned is that "top posters" are notorious for only replying to one part — possibly even just one line or sentence — in a longer email. Many times over the years I have written a long-ish message to a client, explaining how I would do something (and for how much), only to receive back a copy of my entire message with a question at the top like, "How would that part work, exactly?" or "Could you send me a sketch of how you think that part would look?"

See, I've sent a message with twelve paragraphs explaining the overall flow of an application, and the question I get back could refer to almost any of it.

Even better (worse) is that my original message probably included a few questions which have gone completely unanswered.

That, to me, is the biggest benefit of the inline-reply style. You have to pay attention to what you're doing! You start your reply by quoting the entire message. As you go through the original message, you delete the stuff which needs no reply and which isn't needed for context, and then insert your own comments immediately after the relevant parts that remain. Since most email programs show different levels of quoting in different colors, it's very easy to follow the conversation.

Recently someone sent me a "breath of fresh air." It was another software developer, and we've been talking about me helping him out with the next version of his (only) application. Our conversation has stretched out over three months, but we're both sticklers for the inline-reply style so reading back through these email messages is just wonderful. Trying to have a conversation like this with a "top-poster" (someone who always quotes everything that came before, and only puts replies at the top) would be awkward, if not impossible.

Unfortunately, some email clients make inline-replying a little difficult. Gmail, MobileMail (Apple's Mail on the iPhone), and Outlook/Entourage are all good (bad) examples. They can all make very "pretty" email with bolds, colors, fonts, links and pictures, but those things are secondary (or tertiary) to good communication. At the opposite end of the spectrum are apps like Mailsmith, which *can't* create fancy-schmancy bold/colored/linked/imaged messages, but which provide tools to make inline-replying even easier than it is already. (There are other apps like that, but Mailsmith is the one I use. Claris Emailer was another great example of this type of app, back in its day.)


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