Webvisions 2005

This was drafted in an email for the boss, but it’s loaded with good links for those in the web community, or anyone wanting to see what’s hot right now. Enjoy!


Thursday July 14th

The day before the conference gave attendees the opportunity to get into a smaller setting with presenters for 3 hour workshops. While not technical in nature, a web background was presumed and discussions were meaningful.

Zen of CSS Design – Molly Holzschlag

This 3 hour workshop covered the advanced use of .css techniques to produce dramatic results by using strict HTML markup and current standards. The basis of the discussion was based on the CSS Zen Garden website, which features over 200 submissions that demonstrate how .css and associated graphics can dramatically transform the page display of strict HTML markup linked to .css

Websites to check out:

http://overcaffeinated.net/ – creative .css use example

http://www.excite.com – example of a brutal table based design

http://www.zeldman.com – Jeffrey Zeldman’s site

http://www.stuffandnonsense.co.uk/ – A great .css site that features a working 3 coloumn layout, and has a completely different look between IE and Firefox, try them both.

Zen Garden examples to check out:

http://www.csszengarden.com/?cssfile=/037/037.css&page=0 – Must be viewed in Firefox for full effect, but looks good in IE as well.

http://www.csszengarden.com/?cssfile=/062/062.css&page=0 – Notice the transparencies! Achieved using .png alpha transparency sections.

Access by Design – Sarah Horton

This 3 hour workshop was an abstract, thinking discussion about communicating via the web. With a room full of designers, information architects, and other web professionals, this workshop turned into a debate more than anything. However, Sarah is a recognized expert and provided a very detailed notes page for her Webvisions attendance and presentations. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~shorton/webvisions/

Friday July 15th

Friday’s presentations were an hour long, and rather high level summaries. But some very good notes came from these sessions as well.

Search Engine Optimization and Web Standards – Alan Knecht (aka ROI master)

  • Attempting to trick search engines will result in your site being banned entirely from search engine results.
  • 40-60% of web users utilize a search engine to find a page.
  • Being search engine compliant does not mean that a site cannot conform to web standards.
  • Alt tags are no longer being considered by search engines (MSN, Yahoo and Google)
  • Search engine also ignore
    • Pages that appear after form entry, bots don’t enter forms.
    • Deep tables confuse bots and they’ll give up.
    • Pages that require cookies will be ignored.
    • PHP pages with too many parameters.
  • SE’s do care about
    • Words in the title, in heading tags, and first paragraph.
    • Number of inbound links, words between anchor tags
    • Site architecture
    • Page names
    • Dashes and underscores are understood to separate words like spaces.
    • Words that are in bold, italic or strong
  • ratio of words to code should be 40-50% words.
  • Move all JavaScript and .css to external files
  • Important pages will feature many internal links as a rule
  • Avoid underlining
  • Spider emulator: http://www.knechtology.com/seo
  • Site maps ensure that spiders find all your pages.
  • 404’s are bad, especially if they happen when the bot happens to be at your site.

Beyond the Desktop – Molly Holzschlag

This presentation was an outline of the use of the web on mobile devices. Or more accurately, the major challenges in attempting to design with these users in mind. With many competing standards, and each device taking a different path, it’s a nightmare really.

While OSU’s EM office may not have a need for this kind of application, it does serve to keep us mindful of what the future may hold and keep us thinking about advancing our web presence rather than just meeting today’s needs.

– Nokia has a simulator for testing

– Opera, while lagging in the desktop browser arena, has pulled a back door maneuver to position their browser on mobile devices. Nokia phones will feature Opera in the future for example. They also have a built-in small screen viewer for use on their desktop browser for use in testing.

– XHTML-MP is the emerging standard for mobile devices.

Forward Thinking Design – Cameron Moll

Similar to Molly’s Beyond the Desktop presentation, Cameron talked about the challenges and options a web team faces in designing for mobile devices. His entire presentation is available on his website, and was compiled with the help of 50-60 test partners on various phones and pda’s. http://www.cameronmoll.com

– device of choice, Palm Treo 650

– 2-3 years before a majority of mobile users will utilize the web on those devices. Other experts say 5 years.

– The majority of web use on enabled devices is to obtain ring tones and wallpapers at this time.

– OMA: Open Mobile Alliance

Blogging Your Portfolio – DL Byron

Byron (as he refers to himself) took this opportunity to explore what blogging is and to give specific examples of the runaway success of this emerging web trend. About half of his audience were skeptics, so he spent a lot his time speaking to what makes this different from a 10 year old’s Geocities website about his cat. A very well versed discussion, I will be looking to follow his work more closely.

– Google loves blogs! Blogs are all about linking and fresh content. Plus, they feature one of the more popular blogging services.

– He made a simple blog about his dog called pugblog.com. Within just 7 days of being published, it was #1 on Google.

– Byron recently set up the blog for Randy Baseler, a big wig at Boeing. The blog was launched the same day that Airbus Industries announced the launch of their new super sized commercial jet liner. But news about the blog spread quicker than the Airbus press release and effectively stole their thunder in the commercial airline industry. http://www.boeing.com/randy/ He used this blog to demonstrate how many large companies are using blogs to put a human face on a corporate giant.

– Another Boeing blog, flight test journal: http://www.boeing.com/commercial/777family/200LR/flight_test/

– Another such example is the blogging being done by Microsoft on their Microsoft Developer Network. These blogs are frequently straight from the designers and programmers who are working on the latest offerings. Byron said that the MSDN now features over 1000 blogs! Molly mentioned in an earlier seminar that this kind of contact was helping to shape the future IE 8 releases to be more standards compliant and less divergent with proprietary offerings. (sidebar: However, IE 7 is just about set in stone and features little of this collaborative effort.)

– Another colleague of Byron’s started http://www.tdfblog.com/, a Tour de France blog featuring an .rss feed. Because no one else was offering a blog or .rss about the TDF, he utilized Google AdSense and a few sponsor banners, and now has so many visitors coming to his site, he pays his mortgage and car payment with revenues generated by this site alone!

– Trackbacks ARE NOT good for blogging and add clutter to the internet. http://www.movabletype.org/trackback

– Blog Summit coming to San Francisco in August: http://www.blogbusinesssummit.com/

– GM’s blog: http://fastlane.gmblogs.com/

– For our cat lovers, and yes, he cited this in his presentation! http://mycathatesyou.com/

– A notable web design shop’s blog, http://www.simplebits.com/notebook/

– Another, http://www.weightshift.com/memo/

– And another, this one has some great .css techniques: http://www.coudal.com/index.php

– Last one, http://daringfireball.net/


Overall, I’m very pleased to have this opportunity in our own backyard. In the future, I think it will be of benefit to have more EM employees attend as our web presence continues to increase. While this year’s presentations focused on mobile devices, the mindset, forward thinking, and expert speakers really helped to reinforce the importance and scale of our web presence and what the future will bring.


The best blog I’ve read yet

Wil Wheaton’s Blog. Yep, the guy who used to be on Star Trek, the Next Generation. Read his July 12th blog, and you’ll be a believer too. I had read that he played at PokerStars and is an active blogger, but with my stereotypes in place, I didn’t check it out. Until today, and like he says in his ‘read this if it’s your first time here’ post, it’s not what you think. But it’s definitely GREAT reading.


Computer Tips in 2005

1. Why aren’t you using Firefox yet? Firefox is an internet browser that is being independently developed and is far superior to Internet Explorer in many aspects. But most importantly, it isn’t a target for hackers and spyware, and most of those nasty security exploits can be circumvented by simply not using Internet Explorer. Get Firefox and surf safe!

2. Keep up on Windows Updates. This is critical as another patch usually comes out every week, sometimes several in a single week. And most of these patches are necessary to plug holes and exploits within Windows that makes it easier for hackers to infect your system with viruses and spyware. Keep up to date by turning on automatic updates.

3. Keep your virus definitions up to date! What’s the good of having a virus detection software if it can’t scan for the latest threats? It differs from software to software, but if you’ve kept up on your Window’s updates, you’ll notice that service pack 2 now has a virus protection monitor that keeps tabs on your virus software to make sure it’s up to date.

4. Invest in spyware protection software. It’s no longer a matter of just staying off those websites with questionable content, spyware comes from the most unsuspecting of sites these days to help the host recover costs. And unfortunately, redundant spyware software is the recommended way to catch it all. But if you’re going to buy just one, I recommend Webroot’s SpySweeper (~$30) and Microsoft’s Antispyware software (recently acquired from Giant, one of the best).

5. Tired of spam? Be careful when you sign up for anything online. Are you sure they need your email? Make one up if they don’t 😉 Also, if your email is published on a website, plan on it being harvested by bots for use in spam. If you’re getting hit with hundreds of spams a week, you need a new email address and/or some strong spam software.

6. Does your computer feel slow even though you’ve scanned it for spyware and viruses? Windows XP is a huge application and I now recommend at least 384mb of RAM and 512mb is recommended. Also, is your hard drive full? Make sure you have at least 500mb available on the hard drive at all times.

That’s all for now, but as I think of more, I’ll add to the list.


Summit in Honolulu

Oops, stale content! Blogger Procrastination! Where to start…?

Honolulu Report, short story: Honolulu has too many people in a small area to be enjoyed. The density is unbelievable, and the first trip to our hotel highlighted that point. You can barely see the mountains in the background due to the numerous high rise hotels that stretch the entire beach of Waikiki. Then you look down and the place is dirty, which is ironic considering all the exclusive shops along this stretch like Burberry, Cartier, Louis Vitton, etc…

But there’s more to Oahu than Honolulu, and when we drove the entire island on one of my days off, we got to see a lot great beaches and amazing waves. Even a couple turtles out of the water to rest.

And the B&B we stayed at (http://home.hawaii.rr.com/jnbshaven/) was a pleasant break from Waikiki. At $85 a night, it’s a bargain considering that includes tax and a wonderful fresh fruit oriented breakfast each morning. Situated in Hawaii Kai outside of Honolulu, this was a nice place to stay and there’s lots of restaurants nearby so there’s no need to go back to the craziness of Waikiki once there.

I was glad we got the chance to go someplace nice on business, but it’s not on my list of places to return to. I’ll get a web gallery together soon.


What a week!

Just finishing up my fourth week in the new job, and I’m really enjoying how things are coming along. Lots of new projects in the works that should really improve business on EM’s website(s).

Today, the folks from Gene’s Antennae Service are hooking us up with Dish Network satellite service. We’ve been Directv customers since my Junior year at OSU, and I have no complaints — EXCEPT we’re ready to upgrade to Tivo and Directv requires a home phone line (which we don’t have anymore) to be connected at all times and were unwilling to admit that there’s no need for it (a little web research reveals that the phone line is advertised as required for the Tivo guide updates, but in reality, the updates can come via the satellite or even internet.) And guess what, Dish Network doesn’t require that for their DVR service, plus they’re bringing in all new equipment for three rooms (we’ve had the same one room only equipment since the beginning), installing the dish and wiring, and it only requires us to keep a 12 month contract. You lose Directv!

Yesterday, Gran Turismo 4 arrived at our doorstep, WOO HOO! And without a doubt, it’s a dramatic improvement in every aspect. Better detail in backgrounds, the spectators are interactive and 3 dimensional now, 750 cars! and the cars sound amazing (especially at idle), and the new tracks — The Nürburgring and Sears Point??? Come on, this is too cool to be true! But the best part of the new game is the re-tooled physics engine. These cars actually feel like they have mass now, which really makes the stable platform theory a must use technique! Wings, suspensions and tires no longer make up for poor driving technique. I tried out the 86 Ruf BTR on the ‘ring last night… Good thing I don’t have one in real life, she’s a handful after two Heineken’s!

And speaking of racing, the Rabbit is making her 2005 debut this weekend in a two day Audi Club Track Day at Portland International Raceway. I went last year in the 337 and had an amazing time. Great folks, a well run event without being too stuffy, and the most track time I’ve had in one day — And this year, the event is two days long! SWEET! Thanks again Paul for building one of the most reliable cars we could’ve dreamed of!

Well that’s enough filler for one day, have a good weekend all!


Decided on Blogger

Seems like the thing to do these days, have a blog. Lets try this one out for a little while. I’ve installed a blogger from WordPress as well, but this is a much easier configuration. In time, I’ll try to integrate the feed into my main site, but for now, the blog and my website will be seperate.

So… I’ve started a new job at OSU as the Web Services Manager for Enrollment Management, and my old crappy website is no longer appropriate. In addition to this blog, look for a total redesign of my personal site as well. I’m initially thinking the categories for the site will be Blog, Professional, Family, Motorsports, Poker and Galleries.

Feel free to make comments if you like, and lets see where this goes.