The random ramblings of a teenage web designer trying to make it big. Design, gaming, music, and life in Florida. Because everything else just isn't as good.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Made the Switch

Well, I finally migrated to a new publishing system, and the blog is now being hosted on my own webhost. In case you're wondering, I went with Textpattern after trying the new version of it.

It has some amazing features ad runs great. You can now find the Textonic blog at I hope you all continue to read the blog and attract new users. I have a lot of things coming up int he near future.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Google the new Microsoft?

It seems weekly Google is coming out with some new, revolutionary product, or making the news in some way. First of all, there's the seemingly endless dispute over the contract of Kai-Fu Lee, the former Microsoft Executive, whom Google hired only days after Lee left Microsoft. Now, I know that by writing this post I'm pretty much biting the hand that feeds me, but I don't really care. It needs to be said, even though eveyrbody already knows it. Google seems to be stuck in the same pattern of business relations Microsoft has been in for the past two decades. Now, this is in no way a bashing article. I love Google, and they do seem to be making the best products out right now. Heck, if they were to make their own OS, I'd be honored to use it. But they're slowly cornering the market and shutting out the small time companies.

It seems like the only place to get a job now in Silicon Valley as a programmer is with Google. Sure, they pay a lot for high quality work, but they're destroying all of these other companies. Just look at Pyra Labs, who sold Blogger just because a company with a good reputation made them a good deal. Now it seems Google has quite the list of enemies. Just about every single application developer is trying to knock them down a notch. MSN still thinks they have a chance of cornering the search engine industry, while other companies seem to be duplicating everything Google does. Google Earth is launched, and so MSN launches thier own, as have countless other corporations.

Now that I've finished my small rant, it's time for some good news from our friends at Google (sorry guys, you have to be knocked on every now and then). Google finally launched their long awaited Blog Search tool, which can be found at Within minutes of its launch it had all of the Blogspot blogs indexed, along with millions of other blogs. From what I understand, over the past few months, the GoogleBot has been collecitng blog post data from various web servers and hosting utilities like LiveJournal and Blogger. It really is a great feature. The only problem is, it indexes individual posts, but not the blog itself. For instance, if you do a search for Textonic, you'll only get blog posts that mention the word Texotnic, instead of the blog itself. Of course, the search tool is still in Beta mode, so expect some updates soon.

I can't wait for the latest news from the Google labs. Oh yeah, and good luck to Lee, who is now alowed to lead Google's China division, but cannot work on any developmental project. So basically he can do nothing but sit around and supervise. Contract modifications are still being worked out.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Cut down on the Code

Over the past few weeks I've been doing a lot more coding then I usually do. As a web designer I often find myself taking peeks at the coding of other popular websites. Though they may look good on the outside, half of these popular sites have horrible coding. And no, I'm not talking about tables for formatting (I'll save that for another post). I'm talking about the unecessary amount of whitespace used. Now, usually this wouldn't bother me, but I find the pages I'm making have had some unusually large load times.

After a little research, a peculiar message caught my attention and sparked this post. Stu Nichols recently redesigned his website, and moved it to a new host. Somewhere down the page it mentions that the website is served as 'application/xhtml+xml', even though some browsers, like Opera, can't quite comprehend this. Basically, it means that the website is a mixture of XHTML and some PHP and/or XML coding. In Opera's case, what used to work as 'text/html' no longer functions correctly as 'application/xhtml+xml'.

Now, if you're using a basic browser like IE, FF, or Safari, you shouldn't even need to include any directions for serving content in your coding. Most browsers will automatically set that up for you based on what they see, and what is displayed on the site in question. Okay, so I've gone on my little rant. Now it's time to move on to the main point of the article. After going through many different sites looking for a fix to Stu's problem, I realized that an unusually large number of sites have increased loading times due to extra whitespace. My point; cut down on the extras. You're the one who's designed the site, so there's absolutely no need for all of the hidden comments and whitespace. All it does is increase the load time, kilobyte by kilobyte.

As a designer it's your job to know where everything is and what it all does, without having to use hidden comments to find your way. A few months ago Douglas Bowman pointed out a simple method for marking off important areas in his CSS. Simply include a large, noticable, special character in front of all your selector names. It barely harms the load time, and offers an easy solution to the problem. On a separate note, for all of those websites that try to hide your coding by hitting enter 50 times in Notepad, it isn't doing anything but making your page load slower.

And with that, I bid you all a good night. I have a few more things planned over the next few weeks, and look forward to some increased traffic and hopefully some people subscribing to my feed.

Afterthought: I just told my dad about this post, and he mentioned that the entire purpose of hidden comments is to instruct people who are viewing the coding. The whole reason I noticed the extra whitespace was because I was trying to learn some new coding tricks. This article contradicts itself, but I hope it helps some of you anyway.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Bloggin System comparison

I've been stressing over which blogging system to use over the past few weeks. I've tried the best of the best, and still can't make up my mind. So I decided it's time for me to voice my opinion and get your feedback. From what I can tell, the top systems out there seem to be Movable Type, WordPress, TextPattern, and Blogger. Let me start off with my personal favorite, and then move on down the list from there.

WordPress - WordPress has powered the best of the best, and for good reasons. With a solid interface, thousands of plugins, and great support, WordPress is definitely my first choice. Unfortunately, the administration design can be confusing, and very blocky, in my opinion. While WP may offer the features every blogger wants and needs, it lacks in other necessary departments. It does, on the other hand, have a simple templating system, and is very easy to manage. With the installation of the WordPress UI: Tiger theme, everything falls into place perfectly. I would suggest WordPress to anybody, and in my opinion, nothing can beat it.

Movable Type - created by the great folks at Six Apart, MT is by far one of the leaders in the blogging industry. With a solid setup, great support, and tons of plugins, I find it very easy to work with and find that it runs extremely smoothly. Unfortunately, you have to shell out $60 or more just to get a supported version. While I love to pay for quality items, this just doesn't seem worth it. There is, however, a free, unsupported version you can download, which only support 1 blog and 1 author.

Textpattern - While it is second to last, Textpatern can still hold its own against the big boys. With a great publishing system and easy to use administration panel, TXP is the perfect blogging system for some. But in my opinion, everything seems hard to find and out of place. But maybe I'm just wrongfully judging. I haven't really tested it since Version 3.0. Maybe I should give 4.0 a try. After all, Mr. Oxton and Mr. Hicks, both use it, so it must have something good to offer.

Blogger - Brought to you by Google, Blogger is perfect for those of you without a host, like me. I turned to Blogger in need of something stable and easy to follow. And that's exactly what I got. Everything is easy to find, you can have multiple blogs, and the templating system is a snap. The only reason it's at the bottom of my list is because there are no plugins, hacks, or anything cool to add on for that matter. Hopefully some developers will step in and they'll release the API. Who knows what's coming next for Blogger?

In the end it comes down to a close race between WordPress and Movable Type. I still haven't made my decision, which I'm sure can wait. In the mean time, tell me what you think, and let me know of any previous experience with any other blogging tools as well. If you're interested in something extremely simple you all may want to look into Cute News, a small 'content management system' that combines simplicity with ease of use. You can even use Gravatar with it!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What's in the works?

Well, it seems I've been named student of the month in my Web Design II class. First of all, I'd like to thank my parents, my sister, and my pets. Without them none of this would have been possible. I'd also like to thank Google, for absolutely no reason, and would love to give a shoutout to WebFuzion Media, my employer. Okay, that was all a joke, but seriously, I'm honored to be Student of the Month. Now that my pseudo-VMA speech is over, let's move on to the business at hand. Ms. 4 generously took the time to link to my blog, so it looks like I'll have to start posting again. Truthfully, I've had this planned for quite a while, but lack of inspiration and a massive work schedule has had me tied down.

First off, I have a ton of posts lined up for the future. Most of them deal with web design, but a few are going to be personal, just to keep my sanity level in check, for a lack of better words. So far I have about three articles in the works. The first, focusing on client communications, will teach you everything you need to know about handling your clients, as a designer, in the most professional and efficient way possible. The second is a medium length tutorial covering typeface implementation in real world situations. Whether you're looking for the perfect font to kick off your new advertisement poster, or something elegant for a web page, it'll be covered. Finally, I'll be posting about the role offsite web applications play in the blogosphere.

So, has your fancy been tickled yet? As if that's not enough, I want to try and get some interviews with a few designers. On my list right now: John Oxton, Bryan Veloso, and Stu Nichols. If any of you stumble across this post, and don't already have an email from me, feel free to leave a comment. I may also be migrating to WordPress or the Movable Type blogging system some time soon, with a custom design following. If any students from the WD2 course enjoy any of my posts, you might want to check out my web design community website, Abstracted.View. The link can be found to the right. Oh, and before I forget, I'll probably be podcasting a little bit in the future, so if you see any strange MP3 files floating around, don't be afraid to listen.