Designing On-The-Fly

After languishing in weblog purgatory over the holiday season, this website is getting a much-needed realignment, as Cameron Moll puts it. And, as usual, the updates will be taking place before your very eyes; indeed, they have already begun.

When Talkabout first launched in 2001, it was merely an experiment to see what Blogger and the whole online journalism movement was all about. Since then it has gone through a number of iterations and has taken on the much larger role of design portfolio, a goal that was never fully realized. Thankfully, the recent relaunch Captiva Creative has freed me to ditch the portfolio effort and use Talkabout as a more personal forum for discussions about design, photography, filmmaking, and life in general. As such, I feel the need for a revised look and feel.

Already some of the common site elements have been updated: Verdana is quickly being replaced with a combination of Lucida Grande and Arial, the diagonal pattern has gotten a sizeable visual boost, and the frontpage now shows the 4 most recent posts. More importantly, the ability to browse posts has been fixed so that all posts show up on their category pages, rather than the last 10.

In the coming weeks you’ll see a noticeable difference in the navigation, as well as a bold move to large-format photography, as I had originally planned over 2 years ago. Along with a number of other surprises, I hope that the overall experience will be twice as engaging, useful, and conscise as before. As the site changes, please let me know what you think!

Navigating with Style (Sheets)

I’ve made some more progress with the new design, this time with the actual navigation of archived posts. Being that this site has been around for 4 years, I decided not to do a typical Monthly archive option simply because the list would be too long. Instead, you have the ability to switch between the Most Recent Posts and a Category listing (complete with the number of posts made in each).

The lists are generated by Wordpress, but the presentation is a simple mix of CSS and Javascript that swaps the display style from none to block. Right now it always resets once you visit another page, but I’m hoping to fix that soon. The Javascript functions are coded in the actual page HTML, so feel free to view source and copy the script for your own work.

Working with WordPress

As you can see, Talkabout is finally getting updated, with an actual design instead of the default bare-bones template. Since planning on a website is overrated, I’m designing some of the smaller bits and pieces of this site (read: anything other than the frontpage) as I go — in other words, a lot of things are probably going to look funky for a while. I’ll do my best to get done as quickly as possible.

P.S. - If this site looks horrible on your Windows PC, it’s because I haven’t tested it on Internet Explorer yet. In the meantime, go out and buy yourself a Mac Mini. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.

Update (05/02/05): After taking a break yesterday and looking at the design, I was very content–that is, until I realized that there’s essentially no easy way to nagivate to archived posts. Seeing as I’m fresh out of ideas on how to display the categories/archives, I’d ask for your opinions, except that comments look really funky right now.

Change Is In The Air

I am overhauling the entire process of weblogging here at Talkabout. The biggest change is the switch from Typepad to a locally-hosted installation of Wordpress, but there’s a lot running under the hood. You can read the full story below for a detailed rundown on what’s been changed and why. I should have done this a long time ago, honestly, and saved myself the cash, but to be honest I was just being lazy and letting Six Apart do all the dirty work.

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Finding Discipline in the Sims 2

This fall EA Games developer Maxis released The Sims 2, as most simulation fans are no doubt aware.  At the time of its launch, I was stuck with the computing equivalent of a Ford Pinto: a Pentium III 450 mhz with a disrespectable 8mb Voodoo 3 gfx card (all the rage back in 1999). As of Christmas, the tides have turned.

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My Apple Switch Story

About 3 weeks ago I became the proud owner of a 15" Apple G4 Powerbook, the first Mac computer I’ve used in almost a decade.  Our family has almost always been connected, and I grew up with an Apple PowerPC, but along with puberty came a zealous switch to a little-known computer distributor known as Dell and my first real experience with the world of Windows.

Eight years later, I have repented of my ways and asked forgiveness of Steve Jobs for not believing in the Macintosh platform.

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Rat Brain Flies Airplane

Chalk this up as really freaky weird:

A rat brain in a petri dish successfully pilots a flight simulator (Hat Tip: Megatokyo)

Uh… did I miss some giant quantum leap in biotechnology?

Perini Productions Official Launch

In the (modern) tradition of standards-based design and XHTML coding, I am proud to introduce Perini Productions, a new web development firm based in South Jersey.

We specialize in standards-based website design and development with lower prices and higher quality results than our local-area competition.

If you’re looking for a new design group for your website, contact us today!

Taxpayers Fund RIAA’s War

I am a clear supporter of President Bush and his appointments, including Attorney General Ashcroft. However, I strongly disagree with the recent plan of action laid out by Ashcroft regarding intellectual property, copyright laws, and piracy.

What little information Congress has regarding the issues come directly from the RIAA and MPAA, organizations that benefit not the artists, not the consumers, but the middlemen who are trying desperately to hold onto their increasingly needless jobs.

As Jason Schultz of the EFF stated, “This is a clear example of getting taxpayers to fund the RIAA’s private war.”

Renewal of the Blog, Part II

After 8 hours of implementation, the new look and feel is almost complete. Oh, there’s lots of detail work still to do, but the layout and coding are in place. The hunt for bugs is on, and I’ve already found some doozies. Comments and Trackbacks will soon be re-enabled!

Among some of the resources that have strongly contributed to the project are:

Inman Flash Replacement
The headers for every section are actually dynamic Flash clips generated via Shaun Inman’s brilliant script. This allows the use of rare fonts, such as the current Helvetica 45 Light. However, I’m having trouble getting them to display on the individual archives.

Box Model Tweaking
Using CSS to organize elements on a page quickly becomes a hassle with different browsers. Peter-Paul Koch explains the important differences and notes a couple of ways to define the box model in the newest browsers, such as Mozilla’s “-moz-box-sizing: border-box” property used on this site. Unfortunately, that same box model definition isn’t valid CSS, breaking the site’s validation.