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Looking ahead in web design

On Tuesday, while I was waiting for some printing at work, I got the chance to read this article on The Future of WordPress Themes in 2011. It contained thoughts and musings from many top WordPress theme designers, programmers and general nice guys (eg Matt Mullenweg). It really sparked some thoughts as to how I can improve web design at work, but also look to create some themes to submit to the theme repository. One of the disadvantages of being hosted on is that you’re limited to the themes that they have available. There’s some really nice themes there, don’t get me wrong (I’m mostly happy with my current theme), but there are a number of incredible WordPress themes available, and I’d like to put my hand up and contribute.

It made me think – how often do we spend the time to think about the up coming year in our field? For example, in Music, do we spend the time to look ahead to see what sort of music we’ll be playing this year? When I look at this list of Theme trends, I can look there to see what sort of things I should be looking to carry out to be at the forefront of my field. What sort of music should you be learning, what sort of techniques, what type of gigs should you be doing to be at the forefront of your field this year?

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In Memoriam: Who I miss and who I’ll miss

Image of Alan Alda taken at the World Science ...
I think I will miss this actor the most. (Image via Wikipedia)

I’m dispensing with today’s two Daily Post Prompts because the first one is similar to one I’ve already written on in this Challenge, and I’m not particularly interested in the second. So I popped into Plinky to take a look at some of their prompts, and one caught my eye: Which pop culture icon’s unexpected death affected you the most? Now, not many stars deaths have affected me badly, however, I expect to have some more affect me in the next few years.

See, up until now, most star deaths have been people who I didn’t know. I hadn’t seen their movies, or haven’t listened to their music. However, stars such as Alan Alda, whom I love from Hawkeye in M*A*S*H, is getting older. Now I know that I cried when I watched episodes in M*A*S*H when Radar left, or when Henry left. How will I be when they leave for good?

Stars from Star Trek I’m sure will bring similar reactions. And more. So while in this past year we have lost many great actors, such as Leslie Nielsen, and pop culture icon Gary Coleman, I know that one day, we will lose the actors that mean so much to my generation, and on that day we shall remember them.

Postaday2011 links

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What’s the most important thing I’ve been putting off?

This post apparently… That was today’s Postaday2011 topic. What’s the most important thing I’ve been putting off? Why haven’t I done it, and what do I need to do to make it happen.

I struggled to think of what to write all day. It’s tough. There’s some things that I’ve been putting off that are quite personal, and shouldn’t be shared on here. There are other things that are so very mundane, such as mopping the floor (I might get to it tomorrow on my day off) that don’t really make good reading on a blog.

So what have I been putting off? There’s one task at my job that I was given in my first week. I was to go and talk to all the staff about how they used the database, and how it could be made better. I’ve been in my job over 6 months, and I still haven’t done it. At my three-month review (which really happened at the end of 6 months), I highlighted this as something I hadn’t done, as did my manager. During my reflection in preparation of the review, I thought about why I hadn’t done it.

At first, it was because I was shy. I didn’t know everyone. I didn’t know what everyone did. I didn’t know what sort of questions to be asking. So I put it off. A while later, we had a work experience person who came to our unit, and I was asked to show her around. I knew all bar one or two people who I hadn’t had much to do with. So when I came to doing my reflection, I realised that I did know everyone, I just hadn’t realised it.

So I said in my review that when I got back from holidays, I’d get around to doing it. I still haven’t done it yet, because I came back and I’ve been in full swing in getting the directory ready. So what’s holding me back now? Time. Soon I’ll have some, and I’ll get around and do it. Though it probably won’t be for a couple of weeks yet. But soon I’ll get back on track.

Postaday2011 links

Good thing about posting later in the day is that I get to see some blogs I don’t normally see posts of. So make sure you check them out, there’s some good posts there.

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Back to the beginning

My first post on this blog was way back in March, 2007, and it was entitled The Importance of Something Different, but I have a feeling that I had some posts created a bit earlier than that. Hmm…

My Website first appeared in June 2004, and was an HTML effort promoting me as a musician. It went through a few different redesigns, and it was the design in 2007 that introduced a blog. At that point, I was running WordPress on a spare computer at home, using it as a web server. I’ve since moved onto the servers where you view my site now.

I think part of the reason I started building my website was because I wanted a place where I could try out the HTML techniques that I was interested in learning. Plus I was able to share some feelings of what I was going through at the time, and share interesting videos.

I’m a bit sad that I’ve lost many of the posts from my old blog. I don’t know what happened to them, or remember what I didn’t do in transitioning over to this blog. But Thanks to the WayBack Machine, I’ve found my first post. Here it is, titled “Out into the wide blue yonder”:

Well… not quite yet. Though I’m half way there. I’m on my way but I haven’t started yet.

I’ve completed one course… and Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts, and am now just commencing a Bachelor of Music. I’m still a fair way off a career… but it’s kinda scary that I’m only 18 months from being outside of the University arena.

Current Goal: Become an orchestral violinist.

Other possibilities: Instrumental teacher, Musicologist, Music Critic

Pathways: Practice like hell, see what my new teacher can do for me. Get in as much experience in orchestras as possible, and learn as many orchestral parts as possible. Pick up new students to supplement income and pay for flights for auditions.

It’s nice to have something to aim for. For the past few weeks, my interest has been waning a little, but I’ve got my first lesson with my new teacher on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to it – I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do with me, and what I can do with her.

Well, that’s a rather odd Intro for where this blog is going. It’s basically going to be my forum for ideas about my career progress, interesting tidbits I pick up. I’ll also be adding in some Concert Reviews, and Classical Music news.

Maybe I’ll go through and post some interesting posts that didn’t make it through…

Postaday2011 links

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A-ha! So that’s the problem, now what’s the solution?

Lightbulb Sun
Image via Wikipedia

Ever since the Uniting Church had their website re-done back in 2008, they have had an Activity search in the top right hand corner. And it works great… mostly. There was one big problem – sometimes it wouldn’t return results that should be there. For example, if you type in “greenwood” it would return that there were no Churches within 15km of Greenwood. Despite having a Greenwood Uniting Church in Greenwood. However, if you were to search “Kingsley” – the suburb directly north of Greenwood, it would return Greenwood Uniting Church as the closest church.

When I started at the Uniting Church, this was one of the problems I had noticed with the website. But I didn’t know what was causing the problem. Until one day, when talking about it with my manager, she said that if you typed the state as well, you got the correct result. A-ha! my mind went, so that’s what the problem was.

See, our activity search uses the Google maps API, and there’s more than one Greenwood in Australia. Likewise, there’s more than one Mount Pleasant. So what was happening was that the search would find the first Greenwood, which was invariably not in WA. But our users, coming to the website of the Uniting Church in Western Australia would assume that the activity search would search WA first. Having it search other states is completely useless to us, but there seemed to be no setting in the plugin that we were using to set it to only search WA.

Knowing that if you added “WA” to the end of the search it worked correctly, the simplest way I could think of to solve the issue was to append “, WA” to every search that didn’t end in “WA”. Now, while I work on the website, I’ve had no formal training. I taught myself HTML and CSS, and working with WordPress has taught me a bit of PHP, but in terms of coding something like this I needed to know JavaScript. I had a search around the internet to see if someone had a similar problem, or a solution that would work. I think my first effort ended up breaking the search completely. I talked to a friend who actually codes websites for a living, and he came up with some code that he thought would work, but wasn’t certain. It didn’t quite work, so I posted it in a forum and asked for help. They helped me out by pointing out the errors (needed a capital letter instead of a lowercase letter, and a ‘ instead of a “).

So now, if you search for “Greenwood” you will receive results for “Greenwood, WA” and find the details of the Greenwood Uniting Church. All I needed was for someone to discover why it was doing what it was doing, and my A-Ha moment came as to how to fix it.

Postaday2011 links

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New design

Regulars will notice that I have another new blog design for my site. This is due to my previous hosting arrangements coming to an end and me being required to find new hosting. In the end I decided to go with, as I’ve always used wordpress blogs, and it is far cheaper and more reliable than anything else on the market.

I haven’t decided to go with the custom css package atm, so am stuck with the themes available – but they seem really good, and a lot less work for me. So it’s all good 🙂

Design might change over the next little while as I figure out what’s best for this site, and what direction I’m going to take it in. But for the mean time, enjoy.

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Oops…a new site

Wow, I’ve finally updated this site. A brand new design, and a new format. Figured it was time for a change. I used to host this site off my own server, but it got to be too much of a hassel, so I decided to move it onto a different server – this means that it will be available more often. Just don’t suddenly make it incredibly popular, as I’ve got limited bandwidth.

Unfortunately, in the process of moving, I’ve lost all of my posts that had been made. I’ve still got them on my home server, but it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting them moved across easily. I’ll go through them and find any posts that are worth saving and put them back up, but more than likely a lot will get lost (probably for the better).