LowComDom Performances Presents
The Crapolla According to Fek'Lar
You Know You're a Real Geek When...
You notice the value of Pi has changed on your calculator, and have to re-check your orbital mechanics homework.
You've stumbled onto another issue of The Crapolla, a journal written for software professionals. No not the managers; I mean the people who do the work.
This Crapolla is sponsored by...
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In This Issue...
This nightmare is now over. I got my bar back! TGIFriday's in Cupertino has re-opened. No more searching through The Valley looking for a bar that meets my exacting requirements (noise, good lighting, Diet Coke, and bartenders who don't mind me camping for a good long time).
It was packed opening night. I almost didn't get a seat. The staff is new, as were most of the patrons. There's HD sports, and less old junk on the walls. (They even took down my old laptop battery.) But it's good to be back at my bar.
Ok, back to solving the problems of the world.
When last I wrote, I had just laid out my goals for the redesign of LowComDom's web site. Since then I've been playing with layouts.
One thing the Twinkee taught me about product design was to approach it without thinking of technology. This strategy doesn't seem to be universally used. I've been in meetings where the Product Manager has told me what technology was going to be used before goals were defined. The reason for this was the PM wanted to show off toys. The Twinkee said that the goals should drive the technology unless you are a technology company. Then you'd better get your goodies out there front and center.
I'm going with the Twinkee's approach. I'm designing without thinking about underlying technology. After I have an accepted prototype, I'll worry about the technical architecture. I'm sure whatever I come up with will be doable.
I started with the navigation. This might seem odd to you, but I'm unhappy with a lot of sites' navigation (including LowComDom's). Navigation should be simple. The user shouldn't have to rummage through your whole sight to find what they are looking for. I want you to be able to find any one of 17,000 web pages in no more than 3 clicks (The Film section is challenging this goal).
This implies primary, secondary, and tertiary navigation. But some areas will have less need for tertiary or even secondary navigation, so I want something that starts with a base, and expands as needed. The primary navigation should be an anchor that doesn't move from page to page. A simple highlight will tell you where you are at all times. This last bit tosses out drop down menus which never tell you where you are after you've arrived.
Maybe I'm starting with navigation because in real life, I'm a good navigator. I've always had a penchant for maps and can easily get you from here to there in an efficient manner. Why can't web sites be as simple to traverse as a map? Some of the mega-sights are impossible unless a search engine refers you.
The first element I drew on the page was a box with a simple list of broad top-level topics. Since it's a list, it's defined as a list in HTML. Then I drew a div box around it with CSS, and gave it an absolute position. That's good for now, as I add the masthead I'll have to move it. But here is primary navigation that every page can use.
As for that masthead, I'm going to need to get that placed next before I can go on. I'm doing three prototype pages that use primary, secondary, and tertiary navigation. Since all of these pages will have the same masthead and the primary navigation, I can't start the page that ads secondary without finishing this one.
After the masthead, I move the primary navigation into a better place and add a second div box for page content, and a footer than will appear on all pages. This page takes a few days. I'm not too worried about colors at this point. They are controlled in the style sheet and can be easily changed at any time.
After I have three pages, it's time to sweat the idea. If you don't, you'll have to do a lot more work later when refactoring the code. Remember, a couple Crapolla's ago I mentioned that IE SUCKS? Now it's time to try the prototype pages on other browsers and platforms. I've been building and previewing in Safari. I also fired up Firefox and find the pages almost identical in their rendering. How is IE going to fair?
You probably know that you can open a page that sitting on your disk in almost all browsers. This is an old feature that I'm not using. First, I do all my work on a USB thumb drive, and digging through it to get the where I'm working is a chore. But I also envision the final product to be database driven, when I get there, I have to have a web server to handle this. I've configured Apache on both my laptop and desktop to use my USB thumb drive as the document root directory. That way if I just plug the drive in, I can load my browser and ask for localhost and I'm seeing the page as Apache serves it. This also allows me to look at the same files from another computer.
I drag my T60 ThinkPad home from WTHAIS to preview on IE. Wow, does that suck! There are major problems with the unordered lists. Remember I said in my previous writing about CSS reset, that your style sheet will build on the style sheet native to your browser? (Of course you do!) I opened the reset.css file and found lists missing. Once added, I had the page rendering much better.
At the end of this round of the prototype, I have three pages. There are no working hyperlinks, and no content. Just three layouts to start with. The next job will be to start building pages which demonstrate how the content will fill these pages.
You've heard of the Peter Principle? People tend to get promoted up to their level of incompetency. As soon as you become an idiot at what you're doing, you don't move up the ladder any more. One wonders if there are exceptions to this natural limitation.
I'm thinking about this because I keep seeing the completely stupefied, whose products don't work, don't sell, have no reason for being, continue to move up the corporate ladder. One wonders who they have pictures of with a sheep.
The only logical conclusion I can come up with is, once your incredibly improbable product/career/bullshit gets going, people become afraid to question your effectiveness. People think the idiot has always been there, and acts like he knows what he's doing, and so they don't question him. Next, a new upper management shows up and the incompetent dazzles them with his bullshit, and they buy it! Promotions all around!
I'm worried about Lucky. He thought he had a toothache. Turned out to be his brain. So he's having it removed. Perhaps he'll become a VP. I hope they give him some re-training. Once you're down to just the reptile brain you have to re-learn how not to drool and shit yourself during meetings.
MPAA Says Piracy is Killing Hollywood
Summer Box Office Takes in Record Sales!
Heard in the halls of various software companies.
"When your choices are a Retard and a Moron, you vote for the Moron."
"I don't know, I'm not a Product Manager. If you would like to give me a giant pay raise, and lack of anything to do, I would gladly take on the role."
"Apartments are having a hard time getting tenants. They even advertise they allow pets. So I sure they'll let you in.
"If you're going to test toilets, why don't you take a couple Product Managers?"
"You're not supposed to test them head first. Cause they're a bunch of shitheads."
"I'd like to be hanging by my nuts in a closet right about now."
Here's where the fun begins!
They pay me to think. These are my thoughts. Do you think they are getting their money's worth?
Remember: The Crapolla contains my personal opinions. That's right they're mine, so get your own! And you kids get off my lawn!
Although written with the software professional in mind, my mind tends to wander all over the place, and I sometimes write about politics, mass stoopidity, dumb things I saw, and whatever else comes to mind.
From time to time, I use salty language, thus The Crapolla is not intended for children, or certain people from the Christian Right.
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