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Showing posts from August, 2006

facebook, time to grow up

Originally published on August 28, 2006 I appreciate how Facebook has enabled me to connect with colleagues, and (younger) family members in a manner that is both informative and expressly cordial. It attracts students like Nutella attracts chocolate lovers, and because of that, I see interesting potential here. In fact, one of our faculty members at Penn State plans to try running his human-computer interaction course through Facebook this fall . Definitely worth pursuing.

2057 pages of polysyllabic fun!

I am currently rereading The Riverside Shakespeare . This weighty tome ( 7.33 pounds) is the complete and heavily illustrated, annotated, commented collection of Shakespeare's plays and poems. Gorgeous reading. Shown here is the ~1979 edition. This is my old textbook from the days when I was a literature major. This edition is minus Edward III and "A Funeral Elegy," which scholars have identified as Shakespeare's works since its printing.

customizing wordpress

I've been experimenting with creating custom themes in WordPress, one of which is the interface of this blog. WordPress is remarkably easy to customize.

python for beginners

I've written a considerable amount of dynamic code, but until a couple of weeks ago, I was new to Python . The APress book Dive into Python , by Mark Pilgrim, is a very good resource and will come in useful later. For now it brightens up my bookshelf with nice Halloween colors. However, it assumes a background in Perl, which I lack. So I went on the hunt for a book that begins with the basics of Python and that speaks to my learning style.

Web Standards, Part I: Conversion to Web Standards

This article was originally posted at Blogs@SI on April 22, 2005. Just having served on a panel that presented to Penn State Web developers about converting to Web Standards, I'm reminded once again that the biggest challenge with talking (or writing) about this subject is figuring out what on earth can be said that already hasn't been discussed six ways to Sunday. And not only by the Web Dev community in general, but by individuals such as Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer. Well... The fact is, Web developers interested in going this route but who aren't quite ready are looking for a solid starting point and a process that minimizes reworks. That's the approach I took with this audience, and it is the approach I take with my own development: 1. Build incrementally and validate early and often. This comes second nature to applications programmers: By building an application a little at a time and testing after each increment, debugging is confined to small blocks of code.

the case for incremental redesign: part i

Consider the dashboard of your automobile. Aside from a number of extras that have crept in over the decades, it's essentially configured the same as the dash of the car you drove as a kid. In fact, the design of the automobile's critical controls hasn't significantly altered since the Model T Ford. It's worked for more than 100 years, and we love it.

the case for incremental redesign: part ii

If you are in any way responsible for a Web site, you should have some understanding of the principles of Extreme Programming . Cultivated as a discipline of software development, it is a combination of ensuring that designs remain uncomplicated, centering changes around user requirements, and employing the concept of the "Whole Team." The result is that small changes are released as they are needed - and endorsed - by the client. Not surprisingly, Extreme Programming speaks well to Web management. Consider its core values: simplicity, communication, feedback, and courage. These are the bedrock incremental redesign. Simplicity - Integrate all site changes in small doses. Avoid tectonic disruption of the entire Web presence. Document faithfully, but do not get bogged down in over-documenting. Or overplanning. Leverage reusable objects. Better yet, get the site into a content management system - one that is scaled to its requirements. Eliminate unmanageable code morass by fol

the web professional test - part ii

I'm of the mind that those of us who are Web professionals should be tested as part of qualifying for our jobs. Just as writers and others are. The days are over (in truth, they never really started) when it worked to equip the inexperienced with WYSIWYG editors and turn them loose on the Web. Web professionals need to perpetually cultivate a broad and in-depth skill set. If you are not motivated to do this, you quickly become a technological coprolite. And while the specifics depend to some extent on the size and composition of the Web team, the more you can offer, the better. So in addition to the usual interview questions, here is how I would test: 1. Build a relatively simple database and accompanying Web interface. (Skills: database/dynamic programming skills and good programming hygiene.) This is critical. I need to know these things: Do you understand different types of databases? Do you know how to build one? Do you write well constructed, nonmessy code? Comment in a way t

podcasting at penn state

I'm encouraging faculty in Dairy and Animal Science to experiment with educational podcasting. It is an effective way to share all kinds of information with students - lectures, lessons, readings, demonstrations, practice questions for tests and quizzes, and so on. It is also extremely easy.