Tag Archives: SeanDFeeney

Site Launched! – AfternoonCrash.com

Over the past few months I have been slowly but, surely been chipping away at a new idea I had. I wanted to create a website that could motivate and energize people purely based on the content provided on the website. I thought that this could be a catchy concept which, was intuitive enough that anyone could pickup and understand easily, without much thought; yet, it was unique enough so it is not just a copy of everything else on the web.

What is it about?

In order to intuitively express this concept I decided to implement different degrees of energy based on familiar concepts. I broke the site out into 3 degrees of energy: Tea, Coffee, and Energy (drinks). The tea section, is the lower of the energy intakes. It will provide content that is more intellectually stimulating or laid back mental stimulation. The energy (drink) section, is the highest caffeine intake. This section will contain action sports, some MMA fighting, etc.; content, that will be “balls to the wall” crazy. Then, you have coffee. This is a middle of the road energy intake. Here, I will have content that isn’t exactly intellectually stimulating or high impact energetic content. Instead, you will find funny, shocking, and just randomly cool, stimulating content. Additionally, I intend to incorporate news about the various beverages; so, you can stay on top of the latest news and concepts surrounding your favorite caffeinated beverage.

The Design

My aim at the design of this site is to be welcoming, innovative, and stimulating on its own. The header is busy because I feel it really expresses all the aspects of the site in one illustration. As previously mentioned, there are three sections to this site. Energy, Coffee, and Tea. This way, a user can filter the content on the site by a particular energy level and get though their afternoon crash, while sipping on their favorite caffeinated beverage. The comments engine is built using the Disqus comment system (which, you can read about here). When developing, I thought for the future. I applied a lot of CSS3 design concepts. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you use a modern browser. The latest Firefox, Chrome, or Safari are preferred. IE6 will not be supported. Have a look at Redesign: My WordPress Journey for my reasoning behind dropping IE6 support and coding with CSS3 concepts.

What are you waiting for?

… Go on over to http://AfternoonCrash.com and check it out! All feedback is welcome, and you can use my Contact Form and let me know any questions, concerns or comment you have. All feedback is more than welcome. Finally, don’t be afraid to get involved. I would love to generate a community who helps steer this site. So, go on and comment, share stories and, even submit them to me and I might just use it! 😀

Redesign: My WordPress Journey

As noted before, when I created this site I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to take it. My decision is to make primarily a Design portfolio showcasing my work with a blog component. It is not that the blog isn’t important to me but, I wanted to show equal emphasis on my design work and capabilities.

When I set out to redesign this site it quickly became clear, I had a lot of work to do. I wanted something simple, clean, usable, creative and stylish. The landing page is the most important part of the site. I set out to welcome guests with the entire site experience in one place. After some thought, I found that I wanted to create a static page with dynamic content. Researching WordPress, I realized this was harder than previously thought. During my research, I kept reading about pages vs. posts and how there is a hierarchy of pages. Determined to understand this hierarchy, I consulted my previous theme’s template and Google. I only became more and more confused. People were talking about widgets and different pages that have specific semantic meanings. My template seemed to be missing something. The confusion lasted until I saw a forum post, where someone was trying to use these WordPress features and couldn’t figure it out. They posted their confusion on a forum and received the reply, “you probably have an old theme.” I then consulted the default WordPress theme and saw template php pages to take advantage of these new features. It was clear at this point, I had to abandon the old theme and plan for the future. I decided I was going to utilize the templates of the default theme to build my site.

Now that I had some ideas down I knew I had to act on them. When I was first putting this site up, I found a theme and just improved upon it. I did this with the built-in WordPress theme editor. This presents its own challenges, including, every change saved gets applied to the live site immediately. In a proper development environment this is less than ideal. After some more research, I came across xampp. Xampp is an application that turns your computer into an offline Apache web server. This was the perfect solution because I could export my current site and database information; then, built a new theme around this established content.

The design was created completely by me with Photoshop; then, sliced up for this website. I chose a dark theme because they are said to be among the most difficult to create. You are limited to the colors, lighting, and textures you can use. With lighting limitations, depth becomes difficult. This then became a challenge I had to complete. I feel I successfully embarked on the journey through the dark side to create a complex design that somehow has an elegant simplicity.

Looking good only works, if it’s functional. I paid particular attention to layout and the future; two concepts that are seemingly unrelated but, have more in common with each other than one may think. That commonality is functionality. In terms of layout we can look at coding. The coding is heavily reliant on CSS, PHP, HTML and JavaScript. This combination of coding delivers a fast, clean and flexible environment. This will lead to a platform that is ready to take on whatever the future has to offer. These do play a role in developing for the future but, not as much as out next topic, the browser. At this stage in the game the browser has become the most talked about part the web. The term “modern browser” has become a popular term; a term that refers to the ability to support web standards and enable the ability to understand HTML5 and CSS3. When deciding how I would code this site I chose not to fully utilize the features of CSS3 because support is still scarce and require hooks like -webkit (safari and chrome) and -moz (Firefox). The final version will drop those hook causing me to rewrite a bunch of code. Planning for the future has some serious decisions.

One of the biggest decisions you have to make now is whether to support Internet Explorer 6. I decided to take the same stance as big companies like youtube.com have taken and not support this site on Internet Explorer 6. Aside from the coding horror of trying to make IE6 render properly, Microsoft even seems to indicate that they support the browser for the lifetime of the operating System it was shipped with, by saying:

The engineering point of view on IE6 starts as an operating systems supplier. Dropping support for IE6 is not an option because we committed to supporting the IE included with Windows for the lifespan of the product. We keep our commitments. Many people expect what they originally got with their operating system to keep working whatever release cadence particular subsystems have.

Since Microsoft has decided to drop mainstream support for Windows XP, they will therefore drop support for Internet Explorer 6. Microsoft will only continue to offer support for XP over extended contracts. This is not something the general consumer will buy into and is mostly for corporations who need an extension to upgrade hundreds, if not thousands of computers. My site’s users are generally consumers without extended XP contracts. Therefore, I have dropped my support for IE6. IE6 is not one of the aforementioned “modern browsers.” There is little reason for any consumer to continue to use IE6 because you can get far more features, security, and usability enhancements from any of the later released web browsers. Internet explorer 8 was the first Microsoft web browser that didn’t seem to break any of my websites when using stylesheets from Firefox, chrome and opera.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by my site. I hope you enjoy your stay. Feel free to comment on posts and send me feedback. I am always looking for work. If you want consulting or for me to build you a site, don’t hesitate to use the contact form and send me a message.

Changes Coming…

Hi everyone,

I would like to take this time to tell you that from now on I will be taking this blog a little more seriously. In the past, I wasn't very organized (which I discussed here). And, I didn't, and still don't, have much time to spend writing blog posts. Due to my lack of time, I would result to reposting videos, games, pictures, etc. that I came across surfing the web. Reposts of funny and interesting items will not go away completely but, you will see more original content from now on. I have been finding that when you post more original content, the more people take your site seriously which results in people visiting more often. The original content that I plan to post will focus more heavily on technology because I just am more passionate about it. I will, however, venture out into other topics.

When I started this site, I really didn't know what I wanted to do with it. I had just been approached by Brian Hursey, an individual I went to boot camp at EMC Corp. He told me he had webhosing and he didn't use half of the storage space. He then asked me if I wanted to host a site off of it. Since this was an offer that I couldn't refuse, I accepted the offer. I then had a site that I didn't know what to do with. I originally just started playing around with it, seeing how it worked, after all this was my first wordpress site. If you know anything about wordpress, it is a very different form of web design from traditional HTML with CSS websites. I had to familiarize myself with PHP. Eventually this resulted in what you see right now.

I realize that the site design is "OK" but, it does not reflect my talents and I am not that pleased with the overall look and design of this site. With that said you will see more design changes in the near future. I have a few ideas in mind but, I don't want to change it completely. One change is that I am thinking of moving the navigation menu for this site back to the top. Please feel free to post your suggetions of what you like or dislike about this site in the comments. Keep in mind, you don't have to be a registered user to post a comment.

Thanks for sticking with me,

Sean D. Feeney

Digg’s Read Later Bookmarking Problem

When you have been using digg since 2005 (see my profile seandfeeney), you pick up a few things along the way that, in a way, ruin the experience. It is known that some content that reaches digg popular is, well, less than adequate. In order to really understand the point I will be trying to make, you must first understand why someone Digg’s a story on the popular social news site digg.com.  Some people digg to express their liking for the article, others try to drive traffic to their friends or their own website.  The overall goal of digg.com is to let the users decide what stories, articles, videos, pictures etc. should be seen by the masses.  The problem, is those who use the site as a social bookmarking tool to read an article or follow up with it later.
Back to the original point, unfortunately there are an over whelming number of articles that lack substance on digg popular.  Part of this is due to armies of users who push their friends articles for potential fame and fortune or for quid pro quo reasons.  This is an issue in itself but, it becomes a bigger problem when other digg users discover the post that appears to be getting a ton of diggs but, the server is down on that small website because of the digg effect. The result, digg users start digging the article to read it later, causing a broken submission that reaches digg popular with no real substance or value. Don’t believe me?  Next time you encounter an article that links to a crashed server with no mirror in the comments, refresh the page a few times and watch the diggs keep climbing.
For years now, digg users have been begging for an article caching service that is embedded into digg to help users keep on reading and digging even when the main server is down.  Lets face it, duggmirror.com had a lot of promise but, missed more articles than it caught. If the Google to acquire digg.com rumors are true we may just see Google’s website caching tool integrated with digg article submissions. This alone would be a win-win for everyone because Google be able to cache more of the internet without relying strictly on crawling the net and digg users will be much happier to be able to read the articles before digging them.
Since no one outside of Digg or Google really knows if the Google to aquire digg.com rumors are real, there may be an easier solution to help to keep the content on digg.com more substantial.  For this, I recommend that the guys/gals at digg.com add a “read later” option to every post.  This way people don’t have to digg an article in order to bookmark it for a read, later when the server comes back up or the user has more time to read the article.  This will significantly reduce the number of broken / lame articles that reach digg popular.