… I realised that I haven’t updated here in a while.. but today we have moved hosting….
Change of Weather
Finally! Summer is near! The temperatures are slowly going up and for the next few weeks it will be ‘comfortable’ – that is just before it becomes too hot and I need the airconditioner to feel comfy. I am still not used to the Australian weather. Funny thing is that ‘Sydney people’ try to deny that it is cold – many houses do not have heating systems and some of my friends seem to think it is quite normal to sit indoors with your coat on. I miss the comfort of a central heating system on cold days! I have had a serious cold / flu / sinus infection and been sniffing and coughing for weeks. So glad I can work from my own home!
Life here is not really so different as to my life in the Netherlands. Sure the weekends are awesome – bushwalks, beachlife and enjoying a laidback lifestyle – weekdays are business as usual. I really like the work and the complexity is slowly growing. As I wrote in my earlier post – I feel I am a full WordPress developer now. We deliver a few websites a month and are expanding our range of services. I am focussing a bit more on extending skills with particular frameworks such as JQuery. All in all very cool and a job perfectly suitable for a geek girl.
Joomla and Very Simple Designs
I finally found some time to do a major update on our Inkscape tutorial site verysimpledesigns.com. The site runs on Joomla! 1.5 and I was hoping that by now version 1.6 would have been released. Not so – and that might as well be ages away again – so I finally found the courage to update all components to the last available version.
I still need to fix a few things: use of an older version of JComments has resulting in commenter’s names and email adrresses disappearing. Of course I have back-ups so I can restore the table – but one has to do that aye?
I am not sure what is keeping the release of the new version, a new beta version is released every 2-3 weeks and they have carefully mentioned a possible RC1 with the next release. But c’mon – that has been a way too long development cycle! (and yes I am aware it is open source, depending on volunteers etc…). Anyways.. I am working on an overhaul of the template we use on verysimpledesigns.com – for use with Joomla! 1.6. We will migrate the site when the release of Joomla! is production ready. A specific point of focus is to number the steps in a tutorial better to improve readability.
Inkscape 0.48 has been released a few weeks back and an update is in the making. Whilst all the developers work hard on fixing issues – some regression has occurred and the release of 0.48.1 is pushed back a bit. There have been a few cool but not so noticable additions to the program – and I am way overdue in writing a tutorial about that. Gonna try to fit that in next week or so.
So is it all work and no play? Of course not! Like I said – the weekends are for relaxing and enjoying the Australian lifestyle (bushwalks, beachlife, meeting up with friends and of course steaks and such on the barbie).
I also picked up another skill – I did a course in textile printing. The very simple vector designs I create are very suitable for fabric printing and I figured I might as well add that skill to my set. The course ran at the Sydney Community Collegue and was led by a very enthousiastic instructor – Ro Cook. The course comprised of screen printing and relief printing.
In the screen printing part we created our direct stencils by cutting our designs from a a coated material. The results are pretty good – but I must confess that I am not crafty enough to spend 2 hours cutting an intrinsic design from a piece of (coated) paper. So back to automated techniques: we obtained an electronic cutter. At the moment that buy seems to be a failure as the software that drives the machine is not doing its work – it is unable to cut our own created SVGs. An update of the software has been promised a few times and is about to be released (this week). But counting the empty promises sofar I do not keep my hopes up too high.
Oh and tomorrow is the day of the Metallica concert 🙂
Big things to come…
Sometimes all things seem to happen at once. I have been working hard this week – creating a new WordPress template for one of our clients and slowly I feel more like a WP developer.
I had a discussion on such matter before – some years ago. This was with a former collegue and we talked about skills, skill levels and just knowing a bit more than anyone else, and particularly clients, and that is how we make a living but in the back of our heads we are scared that one day it may all come out and we will be tagged as fakes. Don’t get me wrong – I know quite a bit of everything, but I do not feel a specialist in any particular field – I like almost all work I do (which is fortunate as there are many people that hate whatever they do for a living). I have done quite some coding over the years – in several programming languages, I have done database development, I do graphics design and if you have ever visited Very Simple Designs you know I write tutorials for graphic design too. I have built and maintained quite a few websites, and I can read and breathe HTML and CSS. I worked with several CMSs, but that was more a matter of technical implementation and tweaking of existing templates. So when I got hired as web developer for a company that uses WP – I knew I had to build more skills. My motto is “yes I can” but I had to work hard to extend my skill set. Both the WP Codex as well as Google were my friends – and as I said in the first sentence – I slowly feel more like a WP developer.
It is interesting tho – I used WP for years as blogging software. This site uses it. I did not have a lot of requirements at the time and figured I could get away with the standard configuration. And I did not even bother to create or install a fancy theme – it is a very simple one – one that had a colour scheme that I liked already and I just uploaded a new header. How lazy can one be? But the company I work for actually (tries) to use WordPress as CMS. What can I say? It is NOT a CMS – it is blogging software – no matter what people claim. Its architecture is not suitable for complex site managment. For Very Simple Designs we used Joomla! which is a full fledged CMS with many more options – better configurable and certainly more suited for customizations, extensions and reusability than WP in its current state. But I am learning to overcome WP’s limitations and to cope with the restrictions that the business put upon development (as for an unsatisfactory explained reason the use of widgets is not allowed). So indeed – I am a WP developer now and there is a lot more to learn yet.
So what’s the big news?
This week both Inkscape (my all time favorite vector editing software) as well as Joomla! (a favorite CMS of mine) both released statements about upcoming releases.
The Inkscape team completed the goal for the bug hunt and is now making the final decision on items that will be included in the upcoming 0.48 release. They also announced the winning design for the new Inkscape 0.48 splash screen. The alpha release for Inkscape 0.48 will follow soon, in the mean time check out the Inkscape download page for nightly builds and feel free to experiment with the development releases and participate in the testing to make this a kick-ass release.
The Joomla team finally released Joomla! 1.6 Beta. I am very excited about this as it will bring plenty new features, amongst which a new access control system, unlimited depth organisation model (no more struggles to put subcategories under categories – the category tree can be fully user defined), a simplified process for updating extensions, and also better XHTML semantics in layouts. I will be using the beta release and migrate the VSD website to it on a virtual machine – just to see how much these new features will mess with the current content. But there is no doubt in my mind that we will migrate to Joomla 1.6 soon after production release is available.
Other things that keep me busy
- I am customizing some WP plugins to make them more flexible (re-usable) in our projects. Some of that work may be released here in near future.
- We managed to get tickets for the Metallica concert in November – long way ahead but we are looking forward to it.
- The kitties are growing fast – naughty as ever. We are still a bit worried as Moogie is very particular about her food and still very skinny tho the vet says she’s developing alright. Dax is wild and eats like a beast – food disappears in seconds and then she tries to steal Moogie’s food. Sometimes she eats too much too fast and that makes her sick. She meows and announces that she does not feel well but before I finish clean up she is running around like nothing happened. The worms are gone – and nothing serious to worry about now.
Urban Design Tutorial in Inkscape
I am still sorting through my designs and repacking stuff to make things available at our new website. But I did find some time to explain how I created an Urban design, so a new tutorial for Inkscape is published too. Cool circles, fancy clouds and flourishing swirls in trendy colours. It is available, as usual, on verysimpledesigns.com. I also made the resulting illustration available in eps format, free for personal use.
My mate Dakka made a cool set of photoshop brushes, the set is called Affects. He uses them to add cool neon coloured flying objects to his art work, but I use them quite differently. I use them to create cool feathers, fluffy fur, flower petals. They are awesome, and I figured you may want to know about them too.
The rest of the week will be a bit quiet, as someone figured we should have a fancy dress party with the Wild Wild West as theme. Now we figured to go as cowboy and indian, but when we looked around for costumes I was a bit shocked. As it is a party amongst friends you dont want to spend heaps on it, and at the same time you don’t want to look like horrible. But the costumes around here are made from bad materials, and do not even come close to something a native american would ever have worn. Now, I am not an expert in subject matter, but I thought I should at least get some things right. So I did a bit of research and I came across this beautiful online exhibition Identity by Design which gave me all basic information I needed. How the dresses evolved over time, how they were constructed, what symbols were used, beautiful beadworks and so on. With great respect to the ladies that made these dresses a long time ago, I decided to create my costume based on a beautiful Cheyenne three-hide dress. And whilst I used a cheap suedine fabric for the work, and replaced the beautiful beading by just a simple bias band, at least it looks like something traditional. The dress reaches over the calves, the ladies were very modest, and they would wear high mocassins so no bare skin is visible. Of course my dress is no where near so beautiful as the real thing, but it looks like traditional wear.
What draws people to a site?
I have no idea, really… I know some factors that are of imporance, like:
- using good search words;
- having your page indexed by a search engine;
- optimize your page for search engines (SEO);
- getting your page linked on other sites;
- promote products that promise wealth withouth effort, make money sites and such
Maybe I can come up with some more, or if I google for relevant articles, I probably can make a longer list. The cause of my pondering is a simple one, I do get visitors for this blog (a limited amount tho, but hey I do not advertise this site anywhere, and I did not do any of the above). I also receive comments, where most are obviously fully automated, non-contributing ones. Even tho these may be seem as spam, as long as the comment does relate somewhat to the post I wrote and I do not get a comment a day from the same IP address, I let them get away with it. I received a bunch of spam too, clearly spam all from silly generated e-mail addresses, non-contributing remarks, and all from a few IP addresses. Of course those were deleted… I am not that forgiving.
So how do people end up on this page? Articles that received comments are ones with certain buzzwords (even tho they were probably not in the context that the commentator expected), and I assume that has a lot to do with it. I decided to repeat the words in this article and see what happens with the comments. Also note that in the above list a few buzzwords were introduced, so that may help too :D. The words I suspect of drawing a crowd are:
So now post and wait. Update will follow.