May 2004 Archives

Keith is doing an example design project for a fictional band. He writes some great stuff on usability, accessibility, and design theory, so there should be a lot to learn from this series.

Malarkey shows us the client sign-off form he uses. At each stage of a project, he gets in writing what changes, if any, need to be made.

Great idea, and something I will probably do with future clients. Another thing I recommend, and have started putting in our contracts, is a limit on the number of revisions. Getting in an endless cycle of tweaking is no fun, and will cost you money.

The Guild of Accessible Web Designers officially launches today. The aim is to promote accessibility as a standard operating procedure for web designers. I’ve joined, and I hope I can live up to the standards set by the other members.

Besides the launch of the website, GAWDS is also starting a competition today to redesign their web site. Some pretty good prizes have been lined up, so if you’re interested in accessible web design, I encourage you to give it a go.

Here’s another good color palette creator, this one inspired by Malarkey’s technique.

Google Experiments With Local Filesystem Search

I can’t wait to try this out. What I would really love to see is Google release a SDK for this thing. Let third-party developers integrate local Google searching into their programs. Then, you would have the potential for Google search technology to be built into everything: e-mail, P2P, IM, etc.

Blog Software Breakdown

This is a pretty comprehensive chart of CMSs and their features. (via ScriptyGoddess)

Well, I did it—the ads are up. My suspician is most people won’t even notice. News aggregator users will never see them. Most visitors won’t scroll down far enough to ever see them. And, they blend in well enough that even if you look right at them, you might not notice them. On the off chance someone does notice the ads, they probably won’t click because it will probably be for goat whey. Am I a marketing genius, or what?

It’s more an experiment than anything else—something I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time now. MT 3.0 wasn’t the reason, it was just the catalyst. This site costs me almost nothing to run. I spend less than $10 a year to renew the domain name, and I host it on whatever extra space I have on my web host du jour. The possibility that I might want to buy an MT license seemed like a good excuse to give this thing a try.

So, we’ll see what happens. I’m really interested to see if a small blog like this can make anything from advertising. I also want to see if it affects my writing—will I write more and better stuff if there is a possible financial incentive? Knowing me, I’m far more likely to write about strange things, just to see what ads come up.

Like, for example, African Plated Lizards.

Much has been written about MT 3.0 in the last few days:

Since I first wrote about this, Six Apart has made some changes to their licensing. They have clarified that a “weblog” refers to a single site, regardless of how many MT weblogs you use to generate that site. Also, authors that are inactive for 90 days do not count toward licensing.

I hope that it’s clear that I’m pretty agnostic about the whole thing. Movable Type is great software — if they want to charge for it, they should. It’s worth it: MT is one of the best content management systems I’ve ever seen. The pricing is not unreasonable. I do think, though, that they made two mistakes: Trying to apply a rigid licensing system to a flexible software system and not getting more input from users before rolling out this plan.

I’m still not entirely sure what I’ll do if I can’t use the free version of MT 3.0. For me, it’s not a matter of principal, it’s economics. OKMensa is non-profit. The group can not afford this software, whatever it costs, and I’m not willing to pay for them to have a license out of my own pocket. And, it’s just not worth it for News Goat, either. I do this because I enjoy it, and it’s a pretty cheap hobby. It’s just not something I see any reason to invest money in. I guess that’s what it comes down to: Movable Type 3.0 is worth the money, but the things I would use it for are not.

There’s no need to decide right away — Six Apart is still making changes to their licensing. For the short term, I’ll stick with MT 2.6x for all my MT sites. I’m still considering ads for News Goat. It’s something I’ve thought about doing before, and now there’s something specific I could be raising the money for. Or, if the time comes when MT 2.6x no longer fills my needs, I might try TextPattern or WordPress.

For OKMensa, moving to a different CMS is simply not an option, at least not for a couple of years. I just got everything the way I like it a couple of months ago, and the amount of custom code in that thing would make migration painful. Really painful. A hot poker stabbed in the ear kind of painful. No, we won’t be doing that. If I buy a personal license, OKMensa can be one of my blogs. Update: Scratch that, I just reread the personal license. Non-profits do not qualify for a personal license. Whatever the future is for OKMensa, it doesn’t include any future versions of MT.

Six Apart wants to know how people use MT. I’ve talked about this before, and I’ve got more to write on the whole licensing thing later today, but I wanted to get this down so it can be TrackedBack to the folks at Six Apart.

News Goat is pretty straightforward: One blog and two authors. I do most of the writing, but Angela has done some in the past and might decide to do more in the future. Whenever I get around to redesigning this site, I may add another blog or two to the site to support additional features.

Central Oklahoma Mensa is a much more complicated monster. It uses six blogs and 23 authors. The blogs are used for news, calendar, photo gallery, links, newsletter, and static pages. Literally, the entire site is generated by MT. Although there are 23 authors, there are only actually two people who log in and manage the site: Angela and myself. The rest I created for the newsletter. Mensokie is the group’s print newsletter, and I convert it to XHTML for people to read online. To keep track of original authorship, I create author accounts and assign the articles to the appropriate authors. That way, it is easy to find all articles by a particular author.

Central Oklahoma Mensa is a not-for-profit group. What money comes in gets spent to print the newsletter — anything left over from that is handed out as scholarships every year.

If anybody wants more details just send an e-mail to any name you like at It’ll get to me.

Oh, and kudos to Six Apart for listening to their users and trying to find a licensing arrangement people can live with.

Six Apart has released Movable Type 3.0 Developer’s Edition. I’ve played with the beta, and it looks pretty slick. The real story, though, is the new pricing system.

MT 3.0 is only free if it’s for personal use and you only have one author and up to three weblogs. News Goat has two authors, but there is no license for two authors, so I would have to pay $69 for three authors and, I don’t know, give one to my dog, I guess.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. We use MT to completely run the Central Oklahoma Mensa web site. We have six weblogs and 23 authors, even though it’s only one site with Angela and I running it. We use all those authors to assign newsletter articles to their original authors. Six Apart doesn’t give a price for that many weblogs and authors. It’s one of those, “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it,” things.

Movable Type is a phenomenal content management system. Is it worth the prices they are asking? Probably so. Unfortunately, a non-profit organization like Central Oklahoma Mensa cannot afford $700+ for blog software. And I can’t really see myself spending $69 to publish News Goat. (Although, it might be interesting to toss some Google Ads up here and see how long it takes me to raise enough for a license. Something to think about.) Most likely, I just won’t upgrade.

The responses I have seen to the new licensing have not been positive. Hopefully, Six Apart will reconsider their pricing for personal use.

Heal Your Church Web Site has MS-DOS and bash shell scripts for automating backups from web sites administered through cPanel. Perfect! Yes, of course, you should work from a local copy then upload so that your web site is the actual backup. But, what about your databases? Or your dynamically generated files? Trust me, you can never have too many copies of your data. Plus, cPanel makes it really easy to restore from cPanel-generated backups.

Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do) — I’ve been guilty of a few of these myself. Heck, I’ll probably break three of them just writing this post. Tips like this are useful as I try to do more writing. (via EyeBeam)

My latest article, Creative Commons: Artists Giving Back, has been published by the OKCPCUG. My last article, Getting to Know Google, was picked up by the APCUG. The last time that happened, my article was published in several different newsletters.

In the spirit of my latest article, I’m going to republish all my articles here and/or on Smart Goat so I can place a Creative Commons license on them.