Tonight Tonight - Accessify Meetup

UPDATE Well. Five people seemed a good number on the notice and the size of the table we got at the Forth. The trick of leaving a copy of bulletproof web design casually on the side of the table worked a treat.

Lots of hello’s, some vague recognition and lots of shared experiences and good ideas floated around. All in all a positive thing I though and hopefully the first of similar meetups in Newcastle.

Hi to, in no particular order:

The accessify forum meetup is tonight was on Thursday at the Forth for anyone who doesn’t know about it and is around the area. Looking to be a small number turning up but should hopefully be good to meet new people. I’ll post more details on here, and any photos (no photos, sorry), post event.

What do I want out of it besides the beer? Hopefully some ideas and enthusiasm. I keep meaning to do more with newcastlenewmedia and a few people have expressed an interest in pulling some things off – the mailing list even kicked off yesterday with a flurry of posts. So some concrete ideas, a broader network and some beer will do nicely.

All change (again)

I’m actually going on holiday soon and seem to be getting all sorts done before I go away. The obvious one is the change of scenery around these parts. Let me know what you think. It’s not complete as yet and I have a few more bits to add and check (yes I mean you IE) but I’m all for release early and often.

I’d been meaning to move on a little recently, and the move to textpattern cemented that. I’m still impressed with it and wanted to delve further into setting up flexible forms and pages. I’ve set up a few areas of the site to hopefully make me organise things a little better – specifically an experiments section to play with code and an articles section if I every actually get round to writing something properly. Both appear in the sidebars.

Another reason for the sudden change was, after using ShortStat for quite a while and looking over the Mint information on the haveamint.com site I made the plunge. Some had moaned about the cost but really £17 is the price of a DVD and with a DVD you dont get the sense of supporting a really smart developer. Ok so I could have seemlessly moved from one to the other without a change in the design but I didn’t want to (confuse my database).

I’ll hopefully post a review of sorts (better late than never) as the dicussion doesn’t seem to have died down yet. I’d personally like to see more of this sort of small, clever, personal application development. I’ve been a bit Open Source advocate for a good while which has it’s merits but I’m still of the mind that something as focused and polished as Mint is more likely to come out of one mind. The question is, I guess, about the market? If you’re friends blog to a huge number of other web designers, bloggers and developers then you have an in on the promotional front but will that become the norm rather than a very clever marketing ploy?

Also on the paying part, lots of people thought $30 was quite steep, I disagreed but will we be back to Shareware and people not paying? Lots of questions. Not many answers yet. But should be interesting to see where things go – at least for people like me with an interest in the sociology of software.

Contact

If you want to talk to me about, well anything really, let me know. Your best bet is probably emailing me on [email protected] and hopefully I should get back to you. Unless you’re a spam bot in which case expect to be automatically deleted or ignored.

On the other hand I can be found wandering the corridors over at designersinhouse.com or appearing in person at anything I can get along to that sounds interesting.

about

morethanseven is the personal playground of Gareth Rushgrove, a 26 year old web designer and developer living and working in Newcastle, UK.

Before bored people ask, morethanseven is a reference to an interesting essay The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information, by George A. Miller, originally published in The Psychological Review, 1956, vol. 63, pp. 81-97. It’s about people’s ability to remember sets of data.

The Real World

All of a sudden it’s all about the real world. In fact that’s my prediction for 2006 – geeks moving out into real social activities (often involving beer) around blogs and mailing lists what not. Anyway…

After the Northern Geekender yesterday, which was a really good do for all those that couldn’t make it, I found out about another meet up even closer to home – in Newcastle no less.

So people over at the Accessify forum are organising a get together on the 27th of this month. Things are coming fast and furious at the moment. I’ll hopefully be going along, although it starts at 5:30 and I finish work at 6:00 so might be a bit late.

I’ll post more details about that as I get anything, and I’ll post any half decent photos (and link to the inevitable flickr group) as stuff happens.

Textpattern!

In something of a shock I’ve just ported the site (well some of it so far) to Textpattern. I’d alluded that I was looking to do something similar (I mentioned a crazy Ruby fueled idea, but strayed away after having a run in with fastcgi) a little time ago but have finally gotten around to it.

The reasons where many fold, but mainly came down to wanting to do other things that write content management applications. I know I can do it, and it’s certainly not a solved problem, but it’s not as much a part of my job any more – every few months I was wanting to go back and rewrite something fundamental (or everything) and it was getting in the way of me doing other, hopefully more interesting and useful things – like Newcastle New Media , Fluid Flash or playing with whatever buzz word is in this week (definately Web 2.0).

So after what was quite a brief look around I settled on Textpattern mainly for it’s positioning. It is a blogging ap, but has lots of other features that allow content management of other elements – hopefully useful for side projects and the like. It’s PHP and MySQL so I can rip it to pieces if I want. It’s mature, stable, feature rich and does, with plugins, everything I probably need – the big question will be if it does them in a way I like, so far it’s thumbs up. Oh and John Hick’s has written a number of really good articles on textpattern, including a migration piece which gave me some pointers.

I’ve ported recent posts and comments, I’ll move the rest on an as time permits basis but, after some mod\_rewriting mad skills I’ve kept the old site fully functional (no link rot – yeah).

All in all it probably took me 4 hours, in a couple of sessions, to get all the styles into textpattern, set up a few plug-ins (del.icio.us links, live previews – whoo), port the latest content and move from my development box to here. A pretty good testament to the ease of use of textpattern. If I had not had the original design or content I would have been up and running in minutes – the installation process is smooth as a new cuddly toy.

Their are a couple of changes that hopefully only the anal will even see. I’ll try and resurect some of them, probably in a more satisfying manner that before.

For the moment I’ll keep the existing rss feed up to date but only for a little while, the new textpattern feeds can be accessed from the navigation menu, and now include an atom feed as well (basically because I can).

In conclusion, anyone looking to move, or start, a blog style site with other ambitions then textpattern could be what your looking for – although some PHP skills wouldn’t go a miss.

Anyway, here’s to a more organised life. Anything fundamentally wrong let me know!

Northern Geekender

Peter J Lambert of Pixelicious fame has had a great idea. At least the best idea I heard today. Pretty short notice but if anyone fancies a trip down (or up?) to York for something of a geek get together let me know.

I can’t say I’m definately going as I just found out but decided to spread the word anyway – and with any luck will definately try and make the trip. I had been feeling (and I think I even complained once) about the lack of a sense of Northerness (not that southerners, or Scots for that matter, aren’t nice people or anything but…) amongst web design. Real Ale, Grit, Coal, that sort of thing – you just dont see that much web design that looks like it was inspired by that.

Anyway, the 15th (Saturday) looks to be the date of choice. Head over to pixelicious.co.uk to express an interest or complain or find out more information.

If anyone from around Newcastle does fancy it let me know as well – I’d probably be even more inclined to go and meet strangers if other strangers (or Chris) who live and work near me where going.

Another great looking magazine

After complains of the lack of a decent magazine, and after the passing and resurection of Design in Flight another one raised it’s head. Yeh. Have a look at treehouse.

Another great, low cost ($15), well designed publication that you can print out and read in the moments away from the computer.

OK, so I haven’t read that much yet but what I have was both interesting, informative and hey, pretty well edited.

Thumbs up to any and all involved.

Are kids being taught web standards? II

Disclaimer: I went to uni but not to study anything even remotely to do with the web. I basically make everything up as I go along. Bear that in mind when reading my commentry.

Phil (xlab.co.uk) just made an observation regarding webstandards and education that I thought particularly interesting. Are kids being taught web standards?

Based on my experience, limited as it may be, I’d have to vote no. I’d maybe even go further – are kids (sorry to any young readers, I’m just going with the flow) being taught web design?

Web design, at least to my mind, involves a wide range of disciplines – Human Computer Interaction, Information design and theory, Graphic design, Application design and development and so on and so forth. Without a general appreciation of all of these you are not, again to my thinking, a web designer. That isn’t to say you aren’t a fantastic Graphic Designer or what not, but a web designer is simply a broader disciple.

Back to education. And teaching. Now to teach such a rapidly changing medium? A course, I would imagine, needs planning over three years. The problem their is that in web design and development three years is an awful long time in terms of best practice and up to date thinking. I want to work with people who know AJAX, real world CSS, semantic thinking XHTML and unobtrusive Javascript. That sort of course simply could not have been written 4 years ago. And writing it now will leave it dramatically out of date in 4 years time – when all we’ll be wanting is more Python Programmers (or something)

In a sort of unlikely to get picked up on sticking neck out statement, I’d say I’d love to help out. I see the only option is getting the local web industry involved in education. Seminars, chats, meet-ups, anything that get’s those in education nearer to the reality (yes – you do have to consider users other than your mates, tutors and design magazines) the better.

Anyone else out their think the same? Willing to get involved? Maybe the time is now?

Leave a comment here or on phil’s post or post something on your site and lets discuss the issue. Does anyone else feel strongly about this? Even as someone not involved in the recruitment side of things directly at the moment I still want to work with the best – and in my mind so should everyone else.

Mailing lists and Me

Ok. I just came to a realisation. I think somewhere along the line I got addicted. First I tried one. It seemed pretty good. Not really having any effect on my and generally just being good to feel part of something.

But I couldn’t stop at one. I thought I could handle more and more. So I went in for some of the hard stuff. And lots of it.

And look at me now. Typing this while waiting for more email that is reasonable for a small company in a week to download because I didn’t check my email for a day or so. Time for rehab I think.

I dont want to chuck the habit completely, just pair back my addiction, get some control. So who stays and who goes?

DiH (designersinhouse.com) is certainly leading at the moment as a keeper. It’s proved useful, interesting and informative so far – plus I met Matt at @media.

I think maybe their’s room for one more. CSS-d, WSG, thelist, webdesign-L your time is coming.