DerekAllard.com

Change to the RSS feed

I’ve decided to go with FeedBurner to distribute my RSS feed.  If you’re subscribed to the DerekAllard.com feed (thanks if you are!) could you please update your RSS feed to point to http://feeds.feedburner.com/derekallardcom.

I’m going to make efforts to keep the old feed alive for a little while, but please make the update now.

Thanks for reading!

What happened to the design?

To know more about why styles are disabled on this website visit the Annual CSS Naked Day website for more information.

my business site, darkhorse.to got a facelift

Waaaaaay back in 1999 I started a small consulting business.  I mostly did teaching of web related courses, html, dreamweaver and some javascript.  Ah… good times.  Man… back in 1999 I remember teaching the <font> tag and using tables for layout!

This posting is about the rebuild of the humble site, into its new version.
new darkhorse.to

The paint isn’t dry yet, and there are still many more things to do, but its still much better then the bastardized site that was up there.  I’d love to hear your thoughts, criticisms or insights into the new look.

Writing personal content, and other assorted thoughts

This is one of those “a little bit of everything posts”.  I’m re-writing my business site, building an ExpressionEngine tutorial and impressed by beautiful javascript, and I’m too sexy for my shirt (so sexy it hurts).  Let’s tackle these in order shall we?

So I’m rebuilding my business website (no links right now, but its not exactly a secret URL).  Through a series of unfortunate events (that would seem much funnier if they had happened to someone else) I lost every non-textual asset from my site 3 months ago.  Every image, pdf, a few flash files… gone.  Backups you say?  Of course I had backups... and I can prove it.  I’ll just get them out… I know they’re around here somewhere… maybe in this directory… no, well I know they must be… hmmm… Found them!  And you doubted me?  Oh wait, it seems this backup (and all my backups) have images from my site from 2 generations ago!  Sigh… so now, only html pages, which means text and styles intact only. 

So I took it as an excuse to rebuild, but then I got sidetracked when I was hired by Ellislab, and other work picked up, and I started getting really active bug squashing in CodeIgniter and well, you know how these things go.  So I finally finished off the design, rebuilt the site using CI on my test server, and now all I have to do is drop in the content.  The problem is of course, that the only content I have right now is probably 4 years old, and I’m not happy with what I wrote.  So I’m off to re-write it now.

Let me just say that writing content for a website is hard work.  No wonder getting clients to hand it over is always such a struggle.  And writing for your own website is twice as hard.  On top of all the normal “extra things to think about” when writing for the web (be brief, summarize, use headings and bullets) when you’re writing your own content you have to walk that fine line between “promote yourself” and “I’m a self aggrandizing attention whore”.  Its a finer line then you’d think at first.

EllisLab rebuild interview on Digital Web Magazine

Digital Web Magazine has posted a great interview entitled Redesigning the ExpressionEngine Site with Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain about his resdesigns of EllisLab, ExpressionEngine, CodeIgniter and EngineHosting (I mentioned these earlier).  Sure, the title of the article isn’t very creative, but the designs sure were!

In it, Jesse walk through the full process discussing workspace, wire-framing, concepts, mockups, typography, icons and more.

Switched to Mac

I’ve re-started this post three times now trying to think of something witty to say.  Bottom line, I’m typing this post on my sexy new Macbook.  Yup, I’ve succumbed to the allure of the Mac.  I’m not sure if its those clever but over-played “Hi I’m a PC and I’m a Mac” commercials that I always skip through for some other cosmic factor, but here I am. 
Mac desktop

I figured it would be a pretty easy transition.  I frequently flip operating systems (Windows and LInux).  Pretty much every app I rely on is either open source (Firefox, Tunderbird, Open Office, Apache, etc), or is available on the Mac (the Adobe suite).  The ones that aren’t have nice Mac equivalents (I liked HeidiSQL on Windows.  The Mac has CocoaSQL).

South by Southwest Story

“... and its the start of March break, the airports are flooded with hundreds of kids out to enjoy the sun and fun.  If you’re travelling today, get to the airport extra early….” I hear as I flip through the radio on my way to the airport Friday morning.  I’ve only got 1 coffee into me, and I’m not off to a good start.

A pretty customs officer says “And where you heading to today?”.
“Austin by way of Houston”
“No you’re not.”
“... um… sorry?”
“Why would you fly all the way down to Houston to go to Boston?”
“No, Austin by way of Houston” I chuckle nervously.
“Oh” she said unimpressed, “why?”
“Business”
“What do you do?”
“I’m a web designer, there’s a big conference I’m attending.”
<awkward_silence />
I volunteer, “It’s called South by Southw…”
“I didn’t ask you that!”

And thus starts my otherwise incredible trip to Austin.  I lurch (literally, the plane was really small) into my seat, and the pilot squawks out “we’re a few minutes late, but don’t worry, we’re going to cut a few corners and get you there on time”. 

“Did he just say ‘cut a few corners’?” I ask myself and start to wish I was on a flight to Boston.

pMachine becomes EllisLab with a sexy new look

That’s right, the repositioning has happened, take a look for yourself!
The new CodeIgniter WebsiteThe new ExpressionEngine WebsiteThe new EngineHosting Website

It’s finally happened!  Whew!  The amount of work that’s gone into this by the whole team has been tremendous, but it was so worth it.  The artist formerly known as pMachine, is now formally EllisLab.  There is also now a more clear-cut distinction and cross branding between ExpressionEngine, CodeIgniter and EngineHosting.  And each of the sites has a sexy new look.  The stunning design cross-brands us, and is a sign of things to come!

Although all of areas (EE, CI and hosting) have seen tremendous growth, the update is especially welcome for CodeIgniter in my mind, who has grown from “new kid on the block”, into one of the “must-see” PHP frameworks that automatically gets consideration for most new PHP projects.  Yeah there’s still some growing to do, but heck, its not like [http://www.zend.com]Zend[/url] has released anything except beta-versions of their framework (which is excellent by the way, but has different goals then CI).

One of my favourite new features of the website is the small area near the bottom labeled “Built on CodeIgniter”.  Over the last little while I’ve been accruing a list of sites that are (um) built with CodeIgniter.  There is some really great work going on out there.  Now we show them off a little and feature the great work of the community.

Browser Stats for DerekAllard.com for March 2007

Are you reading this page in Internet Explorer 6?  For shame…

I’ve never thought that my site attracted an “average” interweb visitor.  I mean, we talk about boring things like accessibility, frameworks, scripting… the kind of things that makes Joanne roll her eyes if I even think about getting started*.  In short, my readers tend to be web-savvy, standards-aware and generally pretty technically “hip”, so it doesn’t surprise me in the least that most of you would choose to surf in something besides Internet Explorer.

DerekAllard.com has been rebuilt… Again!

Wasn’t it just 4 months ago that I rebuilt this site in a custom built Code Igniter platform?  Wow time flies, but I’m proud to announce yet another change.  Actually, not a change - an upgrade.  What you see in front of you now is DerekAllard.com completely rebuilt using ExpressionEngine.  It was actually a really painless migration, although moving the data sucked… Anyhow, there are still a series of “under the hood” improvements to be made, and some refining here and there.  If you find anything on teh site broken, please let me know!

I’ll start writing a few entries about using EE as a blogging platform, but I’ve been using it for some time as a content management system in other capacities. Actually, this move brings to mind one of its foremost strengths… flexibility.  I was able to re-create my (old) custom url structure, so no Google penalty.  I was able to implement all the features I had custom built, and easily at that.  And finally, I was able to build it entirely on a local system, and move it live in the time it took to FTP the files up.

If you’re reading this and run a blog, and still use Wordpress but are looking to ditch that horse and buggy, then take a look at the free ExpressionEngine core.  There are easy migration paths into EE, and I promise you that you won’t regret it.  The honest truth, is that there is a learning curve, but its pretty short, and once you are up to speed, you fly!

Incidentally you Wordpress users… make sure you aren’t affected by the latest in a long line of security concerns.