Why Google Isn’t Microsoft

Google has been in the news a lot lately, and that’s not necessarily a good thing (for them).

Basically, due to recent business moves — some that have positioned them, in some eyes, in a threating pose — Google has drawn shall-we-say “interest” from the media and, especially, blogSpace regarding the following three areas (in order of importance, I’d say):

  • The acquistion of Pyra, the owner of blogger.com and blogspot.com – There is more speculation than anything about this move, with the pessimists saying they will crush all blogging opponents like MS did to Netscape in the browser market, the optimists just saying “All is well, Sergey will keep it steady…”. Basically, the discussions right now are just speculation. Which, while fun to read, are just that: speculation. We don’t know if this purchase will be a good thing for the Web/blogging/technology in the short or long run. We don’t know. But that’s not preventing some from questioning the purity of Google’s motives. Whatever.
  • Google has announced some advertising opportunities for bloggers – This has been roundly criticized thus far, but — as far as I can tell — it’s not something that one has to have on one’s Blogger-based site. It’s a choice, from what I read, it just gives bloggers on Google-owned sites the ability to put them out there and make money if they want. And even if Bloogle does end up forcing users to host ads (even the subtle Google ads), people 1) Have the right to leave, 2) Have to remember that Blogger is free (as in beer). Doesn’t the company have a right to make some money?
  • Trademark wars – Yeah, some brilliant Google lawyer sent a letter to an Internet “word watch” site, telling them that the verb “to google” was an infringement on their trademark blabby-blah-blah. *sigh* Yes, I see Google’s point; I understand the frightened nature of the blogerti to this move. It is a very corporate move, which has not been Google modus operendi (sp?). But Google is getting bigger; get over it. There are pluses and minuses. This is a definite minus, but at least it was resolved (some additional text to show that Google is a trademark, ich glaube) in a low-key, out-of-court manner. Sony lost the right to the Walkman name by not doing this sort of follow-through, so I can’t really fault Google beyond my naive hope that, as Rodney King said, “can’t we all just get along??”. Yeah, I don’t like it; I see where it’s necessary to some degree.

OK, lots of speculation, quite a bit of business-type news (lawyers, ad revenue).

The undercurrent I’m sensing in reading a lot of articles and /. remarks is that things are progressing in a fairly typical manner for the old US of A:

Americans love the Underdog, especially when it appears to be on the side of “the common man” (i.e. those who are not part of the “establishment” [i.e. aren’t threatened by this Underdog…] ).

Google fit this to a T: Search engines have been around forever (relative to the Web’s age), but Google came in and in a very non-splashy, non-threatening way created a tool that quickly became the best of breed. And it didn’t try to do too much, at least until they had a really good handle on what was its bread-and-butter: Search.

And it did a lot of things correctly that made not only the common man like it, but those who were technically inclined: They had an “dot.com” flippancy (its Pigeon Rank April Fool’s release was/is a classic); they appeared to care about the geek – opening their API (for free…yes, and their interest as well…but who cared?); they expanded into areas that sorely needed the expansion, even if it was not apparent at the time (image search, the news section, now something with blogs).

They did a lot right, and little wrong. It was a fast, clean site that delivered accurate, targeted search results. It didn’t have obtrusive ads. It wasn’t a portal. You couldn’t get a “user@google.com” address. They were focused, and they became incredibly successful — and profitable, to boot. How about that?

But now the honeymoon ends.

Google is growing up; it is buying companies.

At the same time, it probably realizes more than the average geek that search algorithms have gotten better as time has gone by (both experience and faster hardware/software), and if it sits on its laurels, it will be left behind. Both Fast and Teoma are ready to eat Google’s lunch if it is lulled into complacency (use both via HotBot, my former favorite search site).

And yes, they are doing — they have to do — some corporate things to stay on top. Things are getting bigger, more complicated and so on.

At the same time, I’ve seen little in Google’s past – nor the very recent past – to indicate that they will be a “resistance is futile!” company.

If for no other reason than it understands that part of its appeal is its appearance — real or imagined, doesn’t matter: perception is reality — of the “cool tool”, of pro-user, of hanging onto the good lessons of the dot-com era (bring in bright people; give direction; get out of the way and let them work and have fun). This is vital to the appeal of Google.

Look at Microsoft. Like it or not, they offer some great tools (bought or built, doesn’t matter to the end user…). While it catches a lot of flack over security and other issues (licensing….), there are good tools there. Visual Studio is great. Visio (yes, recent purchase) is a very good tool that MS is actually making better (better DB integration – will it soon compete with ERWin?).

Yet MS gets slammed for everything. Because – in large part – they are top dog.

If MS offered the same products, same prices as today but trailed, say, Lotus/IBM (office apps) and Novell (networking), it would be a different story.

In America, we tend to kick our companies when they are up.

No, this does not mean that MS is great/innocent/whatever. It’s an example.

And if you believe a word — just a word — of that, compare MS to Google.

Google is not going down the same road as MS. Not going to happen.

For one thing, that road (monopoly, first mover) is closed. Second, Google doesn’t (yet?) have the war chest MS does. Third, things are different today. People have seen what a MS can do, what a Google can do. It’s partly market forces.

Will Google change? Hopefully.

Will Google become less user-centric? Probably. Name me a large, successful company that has not sacrificed some user/customer energy to support the growth of the company (can’t have everything at all times…).

Will Google become MS? Nope. Or — at least — hopefully not. It’s really not in the cards; it doesn’t fit. Apples and oranges.

But some general observations: Google vs. Microsoft (or why Google will not become Microsoft):

  • Google brought in grown-ups (such as Eric Schmidt) to run the company; MS has been run by Mr. Gates since inception. (NOTE: This is partly due to the shift in the way things are mentioned above). That’s a healthy sign. Bring in suits to do the suits’ work; let the visionaries keep actually working, not going to meetings. Actually, Bill Gates’ stepping aside and letting Steve Ballmer run the day-to-day was (to me) a healthy sign for that company.
  • Google has a history as a user-friendly company; MS has the opposite. Yes, MS delivers a lot (hold your flames; they do have end-to-end solutions and support; your call on if it’s worth squat or not), but not nicely. Google is currently in the position where it never really had to get hard-nosed with customers.
  • Google is in services; MS provides services but only to support software sales. Big difference. Can’t compare.
  • Google has (thus far) embraced change. MS tried to establish/define the changes. Different, again.

OK, I could go on for hours, and I just may in my mind.

But the bottom line is that Google is catching flack for growing up.

Right now, that’s unfair: Because we don’t really yet know what it has grown into.

I think not an MS-type corporation, but that it will be more corporate. Get over it.

And keep your eye on the Google and call them for every perceived misstep….

That, too, is the American Way.

CSS Learning Curve

I’ve noted before that CSS is frustrating at times, yet a great tool with great promise.

Of course, one usually notices the flaws, not the goodies. Here’s a message of both:

  • Frustration: Yes, I should have checked and all that, but apparently — for what I’m aiming for (HTML 4.01 STRICT and CSS2), underscores are not acceptable characters in class/ID names. This is new to me. Very non-Unix, which the W3C seems to follow (with my support/understanding, mind you). Turns out that a class I had in this blog still worked fine, but failed the W3C’s CSS validation. I don’t want that. Ouch. Yes, should have tested earlier, but it was not that bad. But why is underscore “_” bad? Interesting.
  • Great (promise): OK, I discovered that I screwed up, but thanks to style sheets — and good architecture (the classes affected on other sites limited only to the header and footer files. Trivial) — it was a quick fix. Would I have rather NOT had to fix it? Sure! But did the entire nature of style sheets vs. content make this a billion times easier? Yep.

End of rant…

Blogger Weirdness

OK, I think Blogger’s Sunday, 02/23/2003 update introduced some weirdness — my name no longer appears in the “posted by” byline.

Normally, I’d say this was my fault (as I recently introduced new template code), but it doesn’t even work if I used the exact code they supply in the example on the template page.

I tried the nickname, as well, and that did not work either. (Yes, I have a nickname registered…)

NOTE: The archived pages — all of which I also regenerated with the new code — are fine. Except for the set I just regenerated now as a test; they have the same byline issue.

No note of this on the blogger status page, as of yet. Oh well…

[Update about a half hour later: Of course, after I have submitted an issue to Blogger and then gave it one more try, all was well. Without touching the template, as well. So it was on their end. I don’t know if there was a setting they had to flip on my blog that they did when they received my message (doubtful) or a site-wide thing. Either way, all better now. Republished the block of archive that I had tested, and all is well again.]

Content vs. Code

One of the drawbacks to blogging that I’ve discovered is that it takes away precious coding time.

Beyond the normal use of the HTTP and SMTP protocols, there are only a couple of things that I do regularly on the computer: Code and, over the last couple of years (in a very sporadic nature, mind you), blog.

So it comes down — in any given keystroke — what is one to do? Crank code or create content?

While not a big concern for many bloggers – who are writers only – it is a big issue, I would think, for many others. Face it, a lot of the popular bloggers out there were already known for code work (for example, Dan Bricklin, creator of VisiCalc about a million [Internet] years ago. And, of course, there is Dave Winer, a developer and Blogerati).

So there is a choice that needs to be made.

On the other hand, there is always the interest in keeping a rounded personality (as if coding AND blogging will turn one into a Renaissance man/woman…)

Oh well..

Website Updates

From the Department of Who Gives a Rat’s Ass Department:

  • As mentioned in last entry, the Blog This! (my blog) portion of this site has been updated, style only. Basically, template modification. Good. Still a ways to go, but now it looks like it belongs to the site (littleghost.com)
  • I rewrote many parts of the quotation section on Geistlinger.com’s quote section. On of the issues was to highlight text that had been searched on — this is relatively trivial in CF (Cold Fusion), if you ignore case. However, if you want to maintain case found in the searched text — and ignore the case of the keyword/keyphrase entered, it gets more difficult. Example: Search for “site” in all fields. It may be found as “Site,” “site,” “SITE” or whatever — and the CF replace function will replace all three with keyword: “site”. I want to preserve case in the search fields, while at the same time highlighting them. In PHP and Perl this is trivial (note: finding this trivial solution is not-so-trivial). In CF, it does not appear possible. So I had to write a custom tag that does it — good exercise, it works and works well, but it shows CF’s relatively lack of robustness. Essentially, the custom tag has to loop through the text, find the (case-insensitive) test, keep the left, apply a style to the mid (keyword/phrase) and then keep going. NOT as efficient or clean as a regular expression that does it.

Blog templating

Well, I’ve finally gotten around to changing the base template for this blog to more closely match the rest of the site post-redesign.

Tweaks to come; it is vastly improved, I think…

[Couple of hours later]

Yeah, of course I hosed some settings during the republishing process, and had to redo a style sheet.

I don’t know, I really like CSS but it is limiting in some ways.

For example:

  • Having worked with tables for years, I know all the ins and out there. DIVs just don’t work as well, in many cases. Example: Say you have a two-column display, and you want (short) column 1 to have a red background, and (longer) column 2 to have a white background. With a table that’s easy — the longer column pulls the short one down with it, and one set’s the background color (in whatever fashion you want: bgcolor= or CSS) in the TD tag. With a DIV, it behaves much like an image: The color ends in the short column when column 1’s contents are done, and then column 2 begins to wrap around the bottom of column 1. Yes, but messing with position you can fix the wrapping, but the color can only be handled by nesting the two divs in a parent div or setting a background color for page that will be column 1’s — the short column’s — color. Just very awkward.
  • It’s probably [yeah…] my ignorance, but is there a way to extend IDs like classes for pseudo-ID’s. For example, the class “smallText” can have link properties by appending the class name to a new pseudo-class: A.smallText:hover blah blah… I can’t seem to get the same to work for IDs, and I don’t see anything about it.
  • Style sheets are a lot like HTML: Very easy to learn, cool that it works, but very hard to master. There are very subtle things going on that, when one first begins, one invariable hoses. It’s a neat tool, however, don’t get me wrong.
  • There is no
    . That hurts. Sure, one can do a DIV ALIGN=center, but that really doesn’t do the same thing in many cases. I think part of it is that I’m still in the old HTML mode (tables etc), so it’s not intuitive and all. But it seems like more work to, for example, to center a search box over a page, one has to used two DIVs: One to center the box, the other to create the box. With a table, you do an “align=center” in the table (which did not affect the table contents). That’s not the end of the world, but that means that — for every style sheet you write — you have to “build” a fake center tag (ID with width auto) so one can use it. Maybe I’m just missing something, but the CENTER tag is a good one that should be build in.
  • And – needless to say – the differences in browsers makes CSS a pain in the ass. And I’m not even counting browsers like Netscape 4.x, which barfs on all this stuff. I’m talking about so-called “standards compliant” browsers. Fortunately, things are SO MUCH better than they used to be in this respect. Now it’s more of stabilizing the code instead of writing two/three sets of it.

All that said, I love CSS. It’s great to quickly update the look and feel of site with one file in most cases (sometimes have to add class/id info to links or whatever).

For example, I hosed my update up because I had link color issues (that’s another rant, but whatever….). But once I identified the problem, it was easy to just extend a couple of classes and I was in business. Very simple.

That’s powerful.

Blog comments (done)

I fininshed up my comments (begun on Feb. 20, 2003) on blogging in that entry, rather than ending it up here and having a disjointed narrative.

Not that it’s going to be smooth reading either way…..

Actually, that’s a limitation to the format of blogs — since they are chronological (in reverse), reading them top-to-bottom is an often dizzying, Memento-like experience.

And it forces blogger to (hopefully) insert notes in:

  1. Current blog, indicating change below
  2. Blog edited (if it makes sense — if you change a quotation you can indicate in the current blog; if a section is continued — as I did — it’s professional to mark the demarcation point

On Blogs

OK, let’s expand on the brilliant teaser I left in the last entry:

Understand that I hold the following two fundamental beliefs (yeah, and others…) about blogs, which I need to blog about:

  • Blogs are highly overrated by blog authors/readers
  • Blogs are highly underrated (not on radar for most) by non-blog authors/readers

OK, here’s the “blog about” way to explain it all:

  • Blogs are highly overrated by blog authors/readers – I totally believe this is true in the majority of cases. Look at blogging – or any activity/construct – from the inside vs. outside: You have tunnel vision. If writing in ASP, yes, .NET will dominate the universe. If from the Java side, the Liberty Alliance will solve all our problems. Neither is true, both are limited in correctness, both have some degree of veracity. But what the hell does that mean? It means what you’re espousing is, basically, flawed. Uninformed. SUBJECTIVE, not OBJECTIVE. Blogs are no exception to this “self serving” rule: Who gives a rat’s ass (that’s in the dictionary, by the way…) if I know about/comment on “blah”? Damn near no one. I’m just spouting, and does anyone really care that I found this great little sushi place in [pick small city/suburb]? Maybe some, but this is not a great, earth-shattering discovery. Get over your importance bloggers!
  • Blogs are highly underrated (not on radar for most) by non-blog authors/readers – At the same time, blogs serve a cause, even if it’s only cognitive dissonance (reaffirm what you already believe, valid or not…..). What if I were the resident expert – or one that has some veracity on the subject – on suburban [pick city] restaurants or sushi places? Hey, suddenly, my opinions matter. As a niche market (with exceptions), blogs rock. Somewhere — probably — there is a group of “battery collector” blogs. People that collect new and old batteries (9v, car batteries, I don’t know I’m making this up….). If I were looking for a pre-19xx 9v battery [one with the pentagonal plugs, not the current quadragenal ones…] I would check the blog [blah] to get info. Like a Web site — which the blog can entirely be (important; see Dave Winer’s site) — then that’s a good thing.

Blogs – in the same way as Web sites (except, with current tools, blogs are easier to maintain than other Web stuff) – do – or CAN change things.

It’s another environment/method to give the word out.

Remember: The Web was supposed to democrisize information. Remember that? Because anyone could do it (publish) for very little cost? (Yes, in the heady days, publication for NO cost. And today NetZero charges $9.95/mo for accesses….where is the ZERO???).

OK, that’s the short explanation. Long one? Hmmm.. value of a blogger! (?)

(NOTE: Continued on Friday, 02/21/20003)

While it’s hard to really hard to catagorize a group as broad as bloggers, I see the groups coming down to – for the most part – four catagories:

  1. Naval gazers: I read somewhere – can’t recall where – that bloggers are, as a whole, a group of self-indulgent, self-important naval gazers. I think that this characterization – however harsh – is pretty accurate. I fall in the category. Hell, does anyone really need to read this blog? Will anything be lost in the world if it suddenly became a desktop blog instead of a Web-enabled one? Nope to both. What I say here really doesn’t matter to anyone but me for the most part, so there in lies the navel gazing. Which is fine – early Web “home pages” (does anyone call it that anymore?) – were much of the same. And now the “home page” nature of the Web is way minimalized, and – at the same time (I think it is a coincidence, but whatever) – blogs are filling this gap.
  2. Niche publishers: This is one of the most compelling reasons for blogging: Much like Usenet groups (does anyone use those anymore?), they are a source for solid information for a very narrow interest. Like my example above about restaurant recommondations. I’m sure that, were I interested, I could find more than one blog that I could read occasionally for info on restaurants in my area. I’d probably find I could trust Blog A most of the time, unless it was Chinese cuisine, Blog B seldom but they find interesting places and so on. Dissemination of information that really doesn’t have a place anywhere else. I would put a lot of the blogs I read about technology (including blogs about blogs…how recursive!) in this catagory, although they are more prevalent, or at least easier to find, than other types of specialty blogs, due to the nature of the material and where it is published.
  3. Notables: By this, I mean people like Moby (no, I’ve never read), who have a following and this another way to reach the masses. It also includes people like Dan Gillmor, who are in publication for a living (in this case, about technology). Blogs give individuals like Gillmor – or Tom Brokaw or whatever – an outlet to give more information back to reader, more than will fit below the fold in a newspaper or in a 30-second spot on the nightly news. This is powerful. For example, there is a trend for reporters to publish online the complete interviews they do, so one can see 1) how it differs from the published/broadcast version (and try to figure out they differ), 2) Gather info that just couldn’t fit in the original slot. Sure, for most people, who cares, right? But for people who are (for whatever reason) interested in the interview subject (person or topic), this is a gold mine. What’s the harm in publishing it? Before blogs, this just didn’t happen. Actually, I foresee newspapers and the like starting to pull this out of reporter’s blogs and into the online versions of the paper, for many reasons. (Ad revenue leaps to mind….). While I don’t know when the “cool” factor will burn off blogs for people like Moby and others, I can see it as a tool of continuing interest for reporters, such as Gillmor, and others. Especially as the technology gets better and publishing is easier. (Boy, here is an application for which voice recognition software would be ideally fitted: A blog is essentially a journal, not journalism, let’s say — it’s personal and less formal than traditional publishing. It’s like the author talking to you…interesting…)
  4. Blog Notables (blogerati?): By this I mean the people who are essentially known for blogging only. Dave Winer leaps to mind, as does Clay Shirky. Sure, they have other jobs and so on, but they are primarily know — at least in BlogSpace — as Bloggers. One curious cross-over person here — to me — is Lawrence Lessig: While very well known as a blogger, he was one of the non-blogerati who embraced this tool and used it as a communication device, not just for the cool factor (as most Naval Gazers do). Obviously, Lessig has lots on his mind, but the blog is somehow a natural extension of his work it seems. Considering his work (copyright issues, Internet architecture and how it supports/suppresses information flow etc), the blog is a natural, but he’s a lawyer who has far greater issues than if his blog is up to date. But it somehow fits.

And – again – who cares what I say here? But that’s what I think, and I’m sticking to it.

Google purchases Pyra (blogger.com)

OK, everyone in BlogSpace (hey, I think I just coined a new term!) will be discussing today’s revelation: Google has bought Pyra. (For the clueless — the publishers of blogger.com [from whence this entry comes] and blogspot.com.)

Disclaimer: Before I begin, understand that I hold the following two fundamental beliefs (yeah, and others…) about blogs, which I need to blog about:

  • Blogs are highly overrated by blog authors/readers
  • Blogs are highly underrated (not on radar for most) by non-blog authors/readers

Blogs today have the same hype as, say, Linux: No, Linux will not prevent your lettuce from wilting, but it is a stable platform. It will not (at least short-term) replace Windows/Mac (your desktop), but it may replace your Sun/Win2000/AIX/HPUX server….

In the same vein, Blogs are “the” answer to everything; they will change everything…..


The Web was supposed to change EVERYTHING.

It didn’t.

But it — slowly (in Internet years, not geological years) — changed a lot.

Blogs are similar.

They will NOT democrotize information (for the AVERAGE user); they will not re-invent journalism (will impact it, however); they will not make your lettuce crisper etc…

But weblogs are — in the correct environment — good and Web-shattering.

‘Nuf said.

My two cents:

I don’t know what the financial benefit to Google will be — frankly, I don’t know (or care, really) if Pyra is profitable — either short- or long-term, but I do think that the acquistion is both interesting and a good fit. Here’s why:

  • Good Fit: Google is, at base level of operation, in the business of collecting/indexing/pointing toward content. Pyra, while not the only publishers of blogs (MoveableType and Radio/Manilla are the other big players), is easily the biggest. According to Ev at Pyra, the company has approximately 1 million blogs, of which about 20 percent are active. While Google does a good job of crawling blogs, it takes time. How much easier would it be to just trawl the actual database that hosts the blogs? Way faster, get an idea of who is currently updating and so on. I see a separate section of Google News with recent headlines from blogs, as well as a search tool that will enable users to search blogs virtually as they are published. No wait for the nightly crawler. It becomes a “live” search. This is HUGE. I can’t underestimate how intriguing this is.
  • Interesting: Yes, the sites on blogger.com and blogspot.com can be trawled via database access, not a spider. Yes, faster results. But what does this mean for the MoveableType | Radio/Manilla | homegrown-blog sites? WILL Google crawl via database — and index/post more quickly — the Pyra sites or will it continue to do the traditional spider crawl of these sites (even though they will be hosting the sites). Two views:
    • Google is Evil: Sure, they can directly hit the database for the Pyra sites, so it can more quickly be posted. But Google is a search engine, and this gives an unfair advantage (time) to the sites that Google stands to make money off of. As blogging becomes even bigger (I think it will) and Google maintains its role as search engine of choice (I think it will), then there is a real incentive for people to host at the former Pyra properties instead of, say, using MoveableType. Somewhat akin to M$ leveraging their installed OS (Windoze) base to, uh, “promote” Internet Explorer.
    • Google is Good: Sure, it does give an advantage to the Pyra sites. But Google’s goal is to get the stuff out there and as fast and cleanly as possible. This helps, and it does not affect the crawling (it had better not!) of those non-Pyra sites. Status Quo there.

  • Interesting: If Google does go ahead and indexes off the database for Pyra sites, as opposed to spiders (except for fear of catching some flack, I can’t understand why it wouldn’t) this is a new paradigm: Much like a single site with search, Google will be searching off the database — but it’s not a single site, it’s many thousands of them. A little scary, but a new concept. Will other sites/users grant Google access to their databases (on a strictly limited basis, obviously) so there can be a faster dissemination of blog information? If so, will this database access go beyond Web sites? I see an optional XML feed (maybe just the RSS file) that is either fed to site of your choice (doubtful?) or sits out there and is available to all spiders — which then report it back and it becomes an hourly (for example) hit instead of every day/week.

Sorry, but this is interesting stuff. It’s not a simple buyout.

It may change things.

Actually, what I expect to happen is the following:

  • Goolge will begin with keeping a spider crawl of Pyra sites, but this will change in short order as people get comfortable with it “controlling” all this content (they don’t control it; they just index it folks…)
  • Either a “Web Log” tab on the search will appear, or it will be part of — but separate from — the News section (much like Sports is separate from Health).
  • Google will do some interesting things with XML to make all bloggers more accessible via Google and other search engines that care to do the crawl/feed processing. They will keep the protocol/process open, but — since they will invent it — they will have the first-mover advantage.
  • Google will 1) Make the Pyra sites more stable and scalable (after this purchase, people will begin to understand blogs because it’s now associated with Google, which they know). Move from Win2000 to *nix? (Actually, Win2000 is a nice, stable platform. No, not as good with memory management as *nix, but a good platform. Go ahead; flame me — this is not a troll) and 2) Introduce new tools to make the process easier, much along the lines of MoveableType. I think XML will play a big role, but what the hell do I know?

What I don’t expect to happen with Google buying out Pyra:

  • Google will not — at least for a year — begin any sort of additional charges. Example: Blogger.com is free (Pro is a charge); this will be unaffected.
  • Any other disturbance in The Force

Geistlinger.com updated

Well, I haven’t been updating my blog recently, but I have managed to put some effort into a “redesign” of my geistlinger.com site.

I say “redesign” in quotation marks because the site really had no design before. It was mainly used as — and still is — a testing ground, a repostitory for different versions of my resume (both old versions, and different flavors of my current resume) and other non-Web functions. It was like a big file server with little apps here and there.

The index page had a rotating quotation, and there were a couple of links, and that’s about it. Not much. I have directories up the ying-yang that I’ve put out there for people to view at one time or another — freelance projects, demos, freebies and so on — but there was never a coherent design/theme to the site.

I’ve changed that. The new version went up sometime last week; I think about Feb. 3 or so, but I’m not certain, to be honest.

The new version contains the following:

  • Coherent navigation: I should actually call this “any navigation” because — as mentioned — there really was never a coherent site before, with any real navigation scheme.
  • Four distinct, color-coded areas: I have used the same motif in each of the four sections, but set a different palette for each. Was a good exercise. The four areas:

    1. Home
    2. Postcard Zone (with lots of additional code for error trapping; why I never had that?……)
    3. Resume — repackaged to match the site design; links to existing, alternate versions of my resume, including a newly coded “print version,” which should be more browser complient
    4. Word Me! — Quotation engine that I ported from SQL Server to Access for this site. I’ll keep the local SQL server as the master, and publish updates periodically.

The Word Me! section was tricky in that I had to — in the codebase — support two database types (MS SQL Server and Access) and the corresponding datasources. It’s dynamic, so the same codebase on my local server hits my local SQL Server; on geistlinger.com, it hits the Access datasource there (I don’t have a SQL Server on geistlinger.com; too expensive and not terribly necessary for now).

The downside of supporting the two databases is that the stored procedures I had written for this module can’t be used anymore (Access does not support stored procs). Well, I could use them still, but I’d have to conditionalize all the queries based on what server the codebase was on…no thanks. Was messy enough keeping the two datasources clear.

Is the new site perfect? Hell no. But it’s a lot better, and it’s build out using standards as much as I can. Very few tables — only for tabular material, not for layout. DIV and SPAN instead. And — of course — a healthy use of CSS.

I think it’s a decent-looking site now, at least for a non-designer.

And — whether or not it is a decent-looking site — it’s a hell of a lot better than what it replaced.

And I added the Quotes to it, so that’s a nice addition. Good demo of dynamic areas and so on — search, results, link to additional info and so on. Along with the Postcard gallery (needs more pictures! — and a data redesign….), some good examples of searching and other types of dynamic tools. Good to have out there, and if outsiders want to use them, hey, all the better.