Laura's posts appearing on Planet Drupal
Laura Scott's posts that appear on Planet Drupal.
It looks like the session we proposed for the OSCMS Summit has been scheduled for March 22nd at
1:45 p.m. 11:30 a.m [?], first last session after before lunch, in "the big room." Even though I feel confident in the topic and the deep knowledge of my co-presenters, I do feel some stage fright. Eeep!
Update: My session on community building was also booked later the same day. That concept from the start is for more of a round table discussion, so I hope people attending this one will come chock full of ideas and experiences to share.
So Jeremiah Owyang has started a media consumption diet meme, and Marianne Richmond has tagged us BlogHers, so here goes....
- Web: I used to use NetNewsWire Lite for RSS, but I tried Shrook and found it to me easier to use, with some of the features NetNewsWire makes you pay for. Shrook is easy enough, so I'll stick with it for now. Do I need to mention Firefox? For search, I use Google pretty exclusively (I find myself wondering how Yahoo! gets by, what with all the barriers they put up for people to get listed in their index) and if I'm blog-hunting, I go to Technorati. I blog using Drupal for platform and either Performancing or ecto for blogging client (though neither is optimal -- Performancing repeatedly loses my drafts and ecto keeps embedding cruft into my html, even when I define the tags myself). For online video, I find YouTube too useful to ignore. It can be a bit hard to take, though, just browsing at random.
- Music: I've started trying out Pandora, but in some stations they keep trying to push the strangest things -- sorry but how do you get Foreigner or Journey from Led Zeppelin? -- and they limit how many songs I can reject in a given time. (Am I just too persnickety?) I have several of my old CDs burned to mp3 files, which I play on my desktop iTunes, but as I've moved from my nearly-dead PowerBook to two iMacs to my current MacBook Pro, it's been a challenge carrying those 20GB of files along for the migration ride. (It doesn't help that some of the discs were defective bulk coasters.) I haven't signed up for the iTunes Store, though, because the DRM restrictions and poor audio quality make downloads there less than appealing, no matter how appealing and easy-to-use the GUI is. Stop treating me like a criminal guilty until proven innocent, Apple and RIAA, and you'll have my business. Meanwhile, as CD music continues to fade away at the big box stores, I'm finding my music horizons diminishing, and that's a terrible place to be. My whole live is defined by soundtrack.
- TV: I don't have much time to watch television, especially the commercial variety -- I think I'm more and more intolerant of commercials. I will watch the NewsHour if I'm home early enough, the Daily Show if I'm up late enough (and thank goodness for the 9pm rerun of last night's show), Frontline if I stumble across it and (of course) Battlestar Galactica. I don't do cable news -- it strikes me as an entire industry getting excited about the lint in their own navels. However, since getting HDTV on Comcast, I've found that I'm more likely to just watch anything as long as it's high-def. Well, not anything at all, but it's amazing how much more interesting Nova or Discovery (or reruns of Battlestar Galactica and Firefly) are when you can see so much detail on the screen. (Ironic that local news is in high-def, but most network shows are not; the Rose Parade was in high def, but the Macy's parade was not; sports are in high def but arts typically are not; and all HBO seems to play on their single high-def channel is Rome [though it could be worse].)
- Communication: My cell is a Palm Treo 700p, but I hardly ever use it. It comes in handy when I need to keep up on email or check something on the web, but I'm realizing the touchscreen I so wanted (and thus the reason I rejected alternatives like Blackberry or Q) is pretty over-rated. Ah well, live and learn. The phone part is actually great for clarity and reception, but I don't use it as a PDA at all, as the 320x320 screen is just too damned small. Other phonage is Vonage. I haven't had a land-line phone in quite a few years now. --Not that any of this matters, because I really really hate talking on the phone unless it's necessary. For IM, I use Jabber (via Adium), which we have set up on one of our domains, and the sadly unavoidable Skype, which as a relay is an absolute bandwidth hog even when it's just sitting there.
I don't use Skype much for voice, since so many people seem to have so many problems configuring it to work well. We thought it'd be great for talking to clients overseas to save a few pennies a minute, but all too often it was too much like the Cone of Silence. I use Apple Mail for email, mainly because Thunderbird on Mac is too slooowwwwww (I wish it weren't).
- Movies: Once upon a time, I saw several movies a week, sometimes several in one day, but now that they blast commercials in your face before showing generally sucky movies -- not to mention the overpriced junk food, sticky floors and noisy patrons -- it's just not worth it. It's not fun any more. So I watch movies on DVD, where I'm not limited by the, excuse me, crap selection of the week, and which on an HDTV plasma is an entirely new experience. I tend to buy, not rent, because rented discs always seem to have scratches that make the flick skip or freeze.
- Magazines: I subscribe to Post, HOW, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Macworld and occasionally Wired. I rarely buy a magazine off the rack. It amazes me how many magazines are in print. Do people actually read all these things? Somebody must. I have to say, however, that the supermarket tabloids do keep me informed. I mean, I could've gone for weeks or even months without knowing that Brittney Spears shaved her head or that Brad sent a note to Jen! Eeep!
- Books: I live for novels, but it's hard for me to find writers I like, so I'm stuck with the five or six authors who could write just about anything and I'd read it. Maybe if my life weren't so fast-paced, I'd be able to relax enough to get into a new writer's style, but usually I can't get past the first paragraph, so I do without. Meanwhile I'm reading more non-fiction than any time since I was in college. How She Does It, Blink and Designing Interactions are three of the most recent delights.
- Newspapers: I love reading off paper, but unlike magazines I don't hold the same love of newspapers. I like the print design of the New York Times, but I hate getting newsprint all over my fingers, and at a buck a pop for something I may not even have time to read that day, it becomes a dead-tree guilt and a recycling burden more than a source of news. 15 years ago that wasn't the case -- I loved getting the paper! How life changes in these times! I still read the "newspapers" online, including the NY Times, the Mercury News and the odd site that happens to have the AP wire story I want to read.
So there's my consumption in a nutshell. Now in the tradition of tagging, and because they are such an eclectic group of geeks and artists, I'd like to tag everyone on Planet Drupal.
Technorati Tags: media consumption diet
The design of the pingVision site was driving me crazy.
It really wasn't supposed to be the actual site design, but rather a temp theme to be cleaned up and spiffed up a bit. 18 or 20 months later (I actually don't know exactly how much later) I finally got around to replacing it.
It's certainly different. Cleaner. Simpler. Too simple?
I'd started on this new design several months ago, but left the theme half-done in order to focus on client work. Finally I just had to spend a weekend tinkering with it to get it live on the site.
This really was more of a starting over from scratch on the whole template, rather than just a CSS reboot. There might be some bugs in it -- I have yet to see it in IE7, and IE6 worked yesterday, but I made some changes since -- but there it is, in an unofficial live beta. Still to do (aside from debugging): update it and the site to Drupal 5, and update some of our main pages.
So what do you think?
It doesn't really seem right to add our own website design to our own portfolio so this is probably the only place I'll post this.
One of the challenges in project development is dealing with "scope creep" -- the often incremental changes to a project's goals, features and other specifications that can end up increasing the cost and timetable for completion of the project. Boris Mann points to Susan Mernit's excellent thoughts on the subject:
As someone who spent a lot of her career being the cutting-edge, push the mass market troublemaker, having a job being the one who says No, is an interesting experience--but it is also incredibly cool.
Working with a team of smart people who are passionate about the customer experience, the product AND the business objectives is tremendously fun--and sometimes, completely harrowing.
I've learned that No can cover a myriad of things:
* We're not going to do this right now.
* We won't do this ever, not on my watch.
* This isn't ready to be executed.
* You need to think this through more.
* What are you, nuts?
* Oh geeze, I wish we could do this..but we're not going to, not now.
While what Susan says is aimed more at internal R&D projects, Boris notes the same can be true for client work:
Many web projects, the "launch" of a site is just the beginning. *Maybe* the functionality and content are done, on simpler sites, but now it's time to start marketing and promoting the site. In most other cases, there a bunch of items that fall into a staged launch schedule (say "no" for launch and plan it for a later rollout) or in a big "future features" bucket (say "no" to it at first, and dump it in the future features bucket) which can be revisited over time. And of course, feedback from the users of any website should be taken into account when looking at these lists.
Boris says that in general he's "too nice." I can relate. After 15 years of professional work replete with enough of those hard lessons that I really should know better, I still try maybe a bit too hard to be agreeable to client requests for changes.
In comments on Boris' post, Khalid writes:
It starts with "can you add X?" and you say yes. Then "oh, and it would be nice to have Y too!", and you again say yes. Then "we cannot launch without Z! It is a must!", ad nauseum ...
Not only does this burden you, the site builder, but it takes valuable time and effort from basic features, and can delay the launch.
So, saying "No" is a way to prevent this scope creep.
There is always phase 2 ...
Part of this tension arises from the fact that, in the end, we want the project to conform to the client 's desires. After all, it's not our website (or DVD or video), it's the client's, and when the client wants something, the first instinct is to say "okay." And yet, and yet ... when budgets are bumped up and timetables pushed back, quite often nobody is happy. (And it can be especially problematic when you're the developer and you have other projects scheduled and limited resources to apply to them all.)
It goes back to the post to which Susan refers, by Fred Wilson:
There's always the desire to please the customers. But knowing what you are going to do and focusing on it is so critical. Saying yes might seem like no big deal. It's only a few lines of code, right? Wrong. It's never just a few lines of code. So say no as often as you can. It's counter intuitive to the entrepreneur mindset, but it's critical.
I can't say I agree with any categorical rules like this, but I can understand the root of such sentiments. I often find myself stuck between wanting to accommodate the client now vs. wanting to keep the often-complex project on track.
Yep, I say No a lot more than I used to--but it makes it feel so good when I get to say yes.
I wish I could relish saying "no" as much as Susan does.
[Apologies to Kenny Rogers for the title]