Archive for January, 2005

Why I Didn’t Leave the House Today

Although it is a Sunday, I’m reminded of a major downside to having a home office: no snow days. Figure 1, seen below, illustrates the reason I didn’t leave the house today. The photo is a bit deceiving, as some of the height is caused by the winds whipping the snow into drifts. But needless to say, a heck of a lot of snow was dropped on this part of the world last night and today.
So, no snow days. Work is still here — still accessible. Only when the power goes out, do we truly unplug from everything without a choice. This is both good and bad. Although the weather is annoying, it can give you a chance to just say, “ah, well.”, and just come to terms with staying indoors.

Wine as a Work Enhancer

While sitting on an endless stack of work over the past few months, I’ve slowly discovered ways in which to make myself more productive. Or, if not more productive, then at least making the time tick by as pleasurable as possible.

wine corksOne trick when working into the evening hours that’s been successful, is to work with a glass of red wine within arms reach. I’ve slowly been warming up to wine these days, and have found it to be somewhat of a work enhancer. Beer, on the other hand, seems to be more of a work detractor. Where beer fills me up, makes me sleepy and generally slow (sometimes the intended effect), wine does the opposite — waking me up in a sense. I can’t/don’t do this every night of course, and maybe that’s why I think it works so well, particularly in the design phase of a project.

Warning: drink too much wine, and your designs could end up looking like this.

I don’t mean to endorse the consumption of alcohol to improve workflow, yet I’m sharing this as a tip that’s works for me. I imagine everyone has a different work enhancer — or several to mix up throughout the week. Hopefully it’s a) something legal and b) not bad for your health. The wine could either be considered either bad or good (for lowering cholesterol!).

A scientific explanation for why wine helps, I don’t have. Most wine drinkers know that it has a tendency to make people a bit more chatty than usual. I suppose channeling this chatty energy is what assists the workflow, since there’s no one there to chat with. That, or it just tastes good.

If you’re not into wine, go see the excellent film Sideways. This will help. If you are into wine, what’s your favorite bottle? Mine of the moment: Trinitas Zinfindel (the red stuff, not the white, fake stuff).

Clarification Regarding IE5/Win

Last month, I had posed the question: When can we hide from IE5/Win?. In retrospect, I probably should’ve titled the entry: When can I hide from IE5/Win?. Because, as others have rightfully pointed out, what matters most are the statistics from your own site, not others.

But the reason for that entry hasn’t changed. I wanted to take the pulse of IE5/Win in a very non-scientific, general way. And there were some good numbers throughout the comments. Essentially, IE5/Win users make up an average of 4% in the stats that were collected. Some less, some more, of course. So, my curiosity has been cured. IE5/Win numbers are (not surprisingly) dwindling — what that means for you and your site can vary.

But catering to IE5/Win isn’t that hard

Sure, this is true is most cases. For someone who already knows the pitfalls to avoid when authoring CSS for IE5/Win, that is. On this site, for instance, I’ve pulled out the necessary hacks (the obvious ones, anyway) that make IE play nice into their own separate stylesheet. There’s really only a handful of them, so on the surface it appears that I’m not doing much to make IE5/Win look like everyone else. But what about CSS newbies, those that are trying to grasp the basics? What I was trying to get at in the initial entry was that it would make learning this stuff much easier without having to explain box model problems, etc.

It’s not impossible to bend IE5/Win into the same designs that more standards-compliant browsers render, but it can’t hurt to take a look at your site’s statistics, getting a handle on what your audience is. It could help in deciding how much bending you want to do.

Two Photos of a Cabbage Leaf

While Kerry and I were making stuffed cabbage for dinner, I suddenly had the urge to try a new camera that was purchased just before the holidays. Artistic attempts at capturing edible objects ensued.
Here are two of the results:
cabbage leaf closeup
cabbage leaf closeup
As you can see, a cabbage leaf makes quite a nice, natural bowl — a perfect receptacle for more food to be placed within. You could even serve soup out of one of these. Never underestimate the receptive qualities of a good cabbage leaf.

Done Fiddling (for now)

What started as an attempt to cure this site of its over-use of grey, turned into more of a site design update than planned. So after several weeks of refinements, I’m done fiddling. And having done several subtle updates over the last several months, perhaps I don’t know when to stop.

In addition to new colors (the blue sky and green grass lend further evidence that I’m trying to be the Ben & Jerry’s of web design) I’ve chopped the home page down by displaying just excerpts of the recent Notebook entries. Because of this, the recommended link list has been moved to the main Notebook page. It’s not that this list is now unimportant — it just doesn’t fit on the shortened page anymore.

It’s been just over a year since I turned SimpleBits into a full-time job, and throughout this time, I’ve often struggled with the personal weblog vs. company portfolio vs. everything else balance. There was a time when I debated creating a separate site for business only, but then realized that it may eventually go largely unvisited. So I’m committed to keeping everything right here. A mix of everything it’s always been, and it’s certianly convenient this way.

Here’s to bold, bright colors in 2005 — a year that’s already looking to be filled with fun projects and exciting work and (hopefully) less global tragedy.