Bulletproof HTML: 37 Steps to Perfect Markup

Posted by Mikey McCorry | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 26-10-2006

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Bulletproof HTML: 37 Steps to Perfect Markup – Many people think that simply knowing your HTML tags is enough to call yourself a web designer, however I don’t think you can truly call yourself a web developer unless you at least fully understand these fundamental principles.

Firefox 2.0 Released

Posted by Mikey McCorry | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 24-10-2006

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Although right now you couldn’t tell by doing an update check, Firefox 2.0 is ready and waiting for download, Secret Squirrel style.

At the moment, I’m playing the “OMG! My extensions don’t work any more” game, but its not too bad. All my vital ones are working (Super DragAndGo, ColorZilla, FireBug, Greasemonkey, MeasureIt and Web Developer are all good to go. Tab Mix Plus has a dev build that works quite nicely); it’s just the non-essentials that will have to play catch-up (I’m looking at you, Aardvark and CSSViewer).

Overall, I’m very pleased with the new Firefox so far. Many people have said that this release was not worth a point-five upgrade, but honestly, what does the version number matter. I wouldn’t care if it was called Firefox 1.63333333. It’s still heads and shoulders over IE7, purely on the extension functionality alone.

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7 Habits of a Highly Successful Freelance Web Designer

Posted by Mikey McCorry | Posted in Elsewhere | Posted on 23-10-2006

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Andy Budd shares his experiences in 7 Habits of a Highly Successful Freelance Web Designer.

WD06 – Said and done?

Posted by Mikey McCorry | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 23-10-2006

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There are just a couple more things on my mind after writing about the events of Web Directions 2006.

During the afternoon on Friday there were some more prize draws (door-prizes and the such) during which I was the lucky winner of a free ticket to next year’s SXSW 2007 in Austin, Texas. This is the be-all and end-all of events and I was absolutely wrapped. My head soon filled with the possibilities of meeting my favourite web rock stars. My envious new-found peers congratulated me at the after-party. I felt that buzz for a good week or so after the event, desperate not to let go.
Unfortunately the prize did not cover flights or accommodation, and after adding up the associated costs (which is quite large compared to the actual value of the ticket), the buzz started to dampen. I’m pretty confident my employer will not foot the bill for this trip, nor can I afford it myself, after having just built a new home. I’m still thinking about my options, but at this stage I’m unlikely to be able to attend. Very sad.

The after-party was at the Pumphouse, Darling Harbour (thanks to the fantastic dudes at SitePoint) and was a rip-roaring hoot (that’s a good thing). I wasn’t sure how the drinks worked at first. Were they free? Cheap at least? Oh, you need to get these drink cards from SitePoint peeps. Is there a limited number? Do we get one each? I sucked up to initiated conversation with as many SitePoint-shirted folk as I could find, and soon found my self with a stack of cards which ended up doing me for the rest of the night. I even had two left over when they raised the lights at 11pm.

Slightly miffed at the early conclusion to official merriment, we began the march to whichever pub would take us, being lead down the Sydney streets by John “El Capitan” Allsopp. After a while walking I decided to head back to the hotel before the wife decides that I’d been stabbed or some other paranoid scenario that we love our wives for.

Thanks go to Travis Hensgen and Douglas Davey for being my makeshift posse during the conference. If you’re ever over my way, gimme a hoy and we’ll catch up for a frothy amber beverage or three (and that goes for anyone else I met at WD06).

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WD06 – Day 4 Musings

Posted by Mikey McCorry | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 23-10-2006

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Okay. I know. I’m a slacker. It’s now nearly a full month since WD06, and I still haven’t finished my write-up. Better late than never.

The morning started with a breakfast with none-other than Ms Molly Holzschlag which was an open discussion about the new professionalism that we as web developers strive for in an ever-changing environment. It was mainly about bridging that knowledge gap, not only between clients and developers (where clients don’t fully require what’s involved with the construction of their websites), but also between savvy standardistas and your el cheapo, template-fodder hacks. It was a great discussion; however, as per the norm with this kind of forum, nothing was resolved.
Following breakfast, the conference resumed with prize give-aways, of which I won nothing. If I’d realised that prizes would be given to the most creative flickr/blog posters, I would have probably tried a bit harder. (Maybe I’ll give this live-blogging thang a go next time.) Oh well, too bad, so sad. On with the recap:

  • Andy Clarke gave an inspirational speech about looking beyond the header/sidebar/content/footer layouts we’ve all used a million times before, and to look for our muse everywhere. The print world continually strives for originality, and while it is less restricted than us webby folk, we should try not to limit ourselves to simply doing what we’ve always done. Take influence from magazines, not just for layout and colour schemes, but also the little things often overlooked, like sidebars, clip-out forms, photographs and product lists. There was one point that Andy made that I disagreed with. He said that he preferred Ma.gnolia.com to Del.icio.us for his social bookmarking needs, purely on the visual design. I don’t know if it was a statement about form over function, or maybe Ma.gnolia works better for the way he uses social bookmarking apps, or maybe it’s just a personal preference between two similarly functioning web apps. Maybe, and its entirely possible, but maybe I just missed the point.This speech also brought about the quote of the conference for me. Talking about the versatility of the web, Andy said “The web is not a power drill” to which John Allsopp heckled “… it’s a series of tubes!”. Talking to John at the after-party, he confessed he was just echoing the line from someone a few rows back, but I thanked him all the same for making my day.
  • Laurel Papworth was next with a surprisingly entertaining talk on online communities. She not only explained the value of building online communities, but also the basics on viral marketing, pointers on managing your community and also measuring your ROI. Being the owner and admin of what could possibly be Australia’s oldest online community (OzChat was established in 1996, although it’s been a bit quiet over the last year or two while I get my act together), this subject interests me a great deal, so I got a lot out of Laurel’s presentation.
  • Next, Cameron Adams (The Man in Blue) and Kevin Yank (the unfortunately-named Canadian) gave a very informative demonstration on web API’s and mashups, entitled “The Work You Don’t Have To Do“. Another eye-opening presentation, and although I already knew what could be made possible by mashing together a bunch of existing online services (Web Connections for starters), I didn’t realise how easy it could be. I’d always thought along the lines of “By the time I work out how to mash X and Y together to get Z, I could have just written Z myself”. But the value is not just in speed/ease of development, but it’s also in leveraging widely used platforms. Web Connections wouldn’t be anywhere near as good if it had its own custom-built maps and galleries instead of making use of Google Maps, Flickr and Technorati, and I had completely missed that concept up until now.
  • Jeremy Keith’s Progressive Enhancement with Hijax was next. I won’t go into this as it was pretty much everything he had already gone over in his work shop. Jeremy had pre-warned me about this the night before, but the alternative was another talk about IA, and as I said before, that’s not my bag, baby.
  • Derek Featherstone was next, with Designing for Accessibility. I didn’t take any notes for this talk, as I felt it was a little on the obvious side, however, there were a number of good points made which got me thinking about assistive technologies other than screen readers, like magnifiers, hotkeys and tab indexed.
  • Finally we had Mark Pesce with You-biquity. Again, I didn’t take notes for this session, but mainly because I was engrossed in everything he said. Mark is not a “web guy” so to speak, but he is a technology guru and an excellent speaker. Rather than focus on one solid subject, he threw out a million and one concepts, theories, what-ifs, predictions and pipe-dreams. Personally I think it was mostly pipe-dreaming, but so much of the tech we have today was born from wishful thinking. A perfect way to wrap up the conference. He filled our heads with whimsy and ambition and sent us on our way (to the pub where we killed our brain cells with alcohol and loud music — YEAH!).

So that’s how it went. A most valuable experience I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. Thanks to John Allsopp and Maxine Sherrin for putting on a great show. I look forward to next year!

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