February 2004 Archives

My article on accessibility was picked up by the APCUG, which means it could potentially appear in PC Users Groups all over the country.

The mere act of saying I would never change Nuke2MT again pretty much insured that I would be changing it, and soon. Turns out I did need the links and reviews. So, version 2.0 allows you to select what type of posts you want to download, and displays the chosen set.

Another recently completed project: The Chocolate Lizard’s Build-A-Bedding program. This Flash application allows their visitors to see how different fabric samples look together as a bedding combination. It also allows users to add their selections to their shopping cart.

Angela created this app, and she did a great job. There were many challenges on this project—creating samples that would tile correctly was a big one in particular. But, it’s finally done, and it looks really good.

We just launched our newest creation: Barnwood Decor, which specializes in weathered wood picture frames, bird houses, and more. I’ll be adding products all weekend long, so be sure to check back from time to time to see what’s new.

Our client on this project, Thee Olde Barnyard, has given us the go ahead to do whatever we think is best to promote the site. To that end, we are going to explore many options, including some we’ve done for Crafty Goat. eBay sales, Froogle listings, monthly giveaways, and My Gift List affiliation are just some of our plans for this site.

E-commerce sites are a challenge, because I’m determined to create standards-based, CSS-powered web sites, but none of the available e-commerce tools, that I have found, fit that description. So, you end up with a hybrid—a CSS design with just enough tables here and there to screw things up.

So far, the site looks as expected in IE 5.x+ on Windows, Safari on OS X, and in Gecko-based browsers. I’m going to hide most, if not all, of the CSS from 4.x and below browsers. IE 5.2 on Mac has some real issues, and I’ve seen some problems in AOL that need to be fixed. It’s not perfect, but, as with everything else on the Web, it’s a work in progress.

We are in the process of redesigning the Mensa web site. One of the main purposes of this go ‘round is to rid ourselves, once and for all, of PHP-Nuke. I’m replacing it with Movable Type, which will come as no surprise to anyone who has every read this blog before.

I’ve wanted to do this for some time, but the job of porting all those old posts—460+ at last count—was daunting. I searched the web several times, and never found any information from anyone who had done it before. With a deadline looming (I really need to get this done by March), I decided to just sit down and do it.

It took about 10 minutes of analyzing the Nuke database structure, another 10 studying the MT import format, and another 10 writing the actual script. Probably the reason no one has written about it is because it is so easy to do. On the off-chance, however, that someone will need this again sometime, here is the code.

Unzip it, open the php file in a text editor, and read the instructions at the beginning. When it runs, it creates a plain text page with all your Nuke posts and their comments in the MT import format. Save as a text file, then follow the MT import instructions.

A few things you should know about this:

  • It was built to solve a very specific problem. As such, there is probably a lot more it could do, such as moving over reviews, links, or any of that other PHP-Nuke stuff you thought you would use, but you didn’t. It has served my purposes, so I will not be adding any new functionality to it. If you need it to do more, you will have to modify it yourself.
  • This has only been tested with PHP-Nuke 5.2 and Movable Type 2.661. It will work with any version of MT that supports the current import format. I have no idea, nor do I think my stomach could handle, what other versions of Nuke look like, so I can’t say if it will work with them.
  • The sid of the post is placed in the “Keywords” field in MT. That way, you can set up something to redirect visitors following old links.

If you’re reading this, the move to the new server is complete.


MT tells me this is our 300th post on News Goat, which works out to a post about every 2.5 days. Not bad for a site I tend to neglect for months at a time.

So that the 300th post is not just about the 300th post, a little news: I’m moving this site to a more reliable web host. Everything is set up at the new site, so there should not be any hiccups. Once the nameserver change has propagated in your neck of the woods, you should see an announcement posted here.

Boxes and Arrows has an article on planning your future. Seems like a useful exercise, particularly for those of us trying to make a living working for ourselves.

Also from Web Graphics: Using more fonts on your web pages. The survey results are very useful.

I’ve been reading The Non-Designer’s Type Book. The things it suggests apply mostly to print work, but some of it can be done on the web, and I hope to incorporate those things into future projects.

Today’s CSS fun is mostly courtesy of my getting caught up on reading Web Graphics:

  • CSS Vault—Some great CSS designs, “in the wild.”
  • Version 2—An XHTML/CSS redesign competition. This would be a lot of fun if I wasn’t already working on half a dozen different projects.
  • SSCrabble—A solitaire Scrabble® game done entirely in XHTML/CSS/JavaScript.
  • Bonus from the CSS-discuss mailing list: The Web Standards Awards—Should be another good site for CSS inspiration.

Thee Olde Barnyard has been making weathered wood frames for ten years, selling exclusively to a few major retailers. They have now decided to start selling directly to the public, and they have hired Smart Goat to build and maintain their website.

This is an exciting project. We are going to be in charge of all online marketing, which means we can explore various avenues of advertising and selling the products. Structurally, the site will be very similar to Crafty Goat, but with a completely different look.

I’m not linking to the site yet, because I don’t want Google to come snooping just yet. We hope to do a “soft launch” in February, with a real marketing push in March. Stay tuned.

I wrote an article for the local PC User’s Group about accessibility. Nothing particularly earth-shattering in the article — just some things about accessibility that do not seem to be common knowledge. There are people who avoid using the Web because, for them, it’s physically painful to use. At least some of those people can have their pain alleviated by a few simple browser settings they don’t know about. Hopefully, this article will help spread the word.

I’m ashamed to admit, I didn’t notice the mistake the first time I saw this.

Beautiful, huh? :-)