Recently in Web Dev Category

WordPress and such


I just put the finishing touches on my first WordPress site yesterday (a web site for my high school’s fifteenth reunion), and I do have to say that I am really digging WordPress. My design was rather derivative of the default Kubrick theme, but I wanted to keep it uncomplicated my first time out.

WordPress has got a number of features that make it even better suited as a simple CMS than Movable Type (“pages,” lots of conditional tags, ten levels of user permissions). I appreciate simple. The Roxen CMS that is slowly becoming a large part of my professional life is decidedly not simple. God, I hate Roxen CMS. Grumble.

I have to reiterate how much I loved all of the conditional hooks in WP; I just wish it wouldn’t have taken me days to find them in the confusingly organized documentation.

I doubt that I will be switching over to WordPress anytime soon, especially with version 3.2 of MT right around the corner (I think I will sit out the beta period, though). The promised new anti-spam features can’t come soon enough; MT-Blacklist just isn’t cutting it anymore. Granted only 287 comment and trackback spams out of 7723 attempts have gotten through in the past year, but that is still too many.

PHP is such a fun language to work in. I really need to convert this MT-based site over to PHP. I tried once already, but quickly switched back. I use too many MT plug-ins that break under PHP. Unlike the WordPress community, the MT world is straddling the fence between PHP and Perl, and it’s more than a bit confusing.

I suppose it will be good for me to know both WP and MT (our university semi-officially supports MT) but any new blog-based sites I create, though, will probably be in WordPress.

Adobe to acquire Macromedia?!?

If you’re a graphic designer and/or web developer, the huge buzz today will be Adobe’s purchase of Macromedia. Yikes. It’s almost like these two companies need to get a calender—April Fools was more than two weeks ago.

I suppose this means that all of us Dreamweaver users will be eventually upgrading to Adobe GoLive (or some Frankenstein-like hybrid of the two). Looks like, from the press release, Adobe is mostly interested in Flash. Hmmmm, Adobe Flash…it doesn’t quite sound right.

Wow, sixteen long years ago, I was using another product on a daily basis that eventually got swallowed up by Adobe—good old Aldus PageMaker.

Last class

My two-semester foray into the world of teaching adult classes has finally come to an end. I will not be doing this again (at least not teaching hand-coding of HTML). Much like last semester, I ended with a class on web accessibility, the use of tools like Dreamweaver to complement hand coding, and blogging, of course.

One of my students, who was somewhat discouraged by her inability to keep up all semester, seemed quite excited by the idea of starting a site on Blogger so that she could ease into the world of site creation and practice what she has learned.

I also recommended the video tutorials at The CD-ROMs and online learning library that Lynda Weinman’s company produces are brilliant, and, quite frankly, they would be a better investment for my former students than these classes. (Many of the tutorials have as much as a half hour of free video content online.)

With the accessibility thing, it often seems like I’m fighting a losing battle. It is so easy to make a web site compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), yet the level of apathy I encounter when it comes to this important human rights issue is appalling. At Princeton, it seems like for every webmaster I educate, or for every site that I help make accessible, another irresponsible hack comes along and creates yet another web site that is hostile to the disabled and flagrantly violates federal law. The ironic shame is that from a purely aesthetic perspective, these are some of the most attractively designed sites on the Princeton web. My attempt to give the “heads up” to one of his more recent clients fell on deaf ears, so now it looks like I will have to contact this designer directly.

BTW, if you are unaware of how to create an accessible web site, check out the Web Accessibility Initiative’s site, scroll to the bottom, watch the video, download the checklist, and then read some of the tutorials linked off of the main page.

Google frustrations

The following rant is really boring, but trying to work around it cost me over an hour of work time today. Grrrrr.

Between Friday and Monday, a feature of Google’s Advanced Search that I relied upon broke. Last week, you could enter a subdirectory of a site into the “Domain” text field and get search results from just that subdirectory. I had a few search boxes on sites that depended on this by passing along the as_sitesearch variable from the form. (as_sitesearch tended to work more reliably than the hq variable.) Now, however, if there is even a single virgule* in the URL (e.g., rather than, Google does not return any results. Not sure whether this is just a temporary setback or a permanent change. Time to fire off an e-mail to Google.

*Virgule is my favorite synonym for the forward slash (/). Others include solidus, diagonal, and separatrix. However, I love that virgule is from the Latin virgula, meaning “little rod” or “little penis.” Etymology is fun!

Powered by Movable Type 4.3-en