Monday: June 26, 2006
- A slightly better search for your GLM enjoyment.
If you didn't know already there is a nifty search tool at the top of every page on this site that uses AJAX technology to give back result suggestions to you as you type them. These suggestions simply pick up your searched term and check the weekdaily links to see if there was a post regarding that subject or keyword. While I freely admit that the search is still a little buggy, I also admit that I think it's pretty cool. But it seemed to me that the overall search needed a little something.
To try out the 'suggest' feature just start typing a search term in the search box at the top of the screen and results should pop up (see screenshot for example) while you type.
It's not quite as perfect as I'd like it to be. Sometimes, if you type too fast the system gets confused and won't give you any results at all. I think that is due to the amount of power the server is currently packing. Sure, if I had a larger server farm with far more power behind it, I'm sure this wouldn't be a problem. Alas, that is not the case (and probably will never be the case) so until then I have a lovely homebrew fix for that: type slower.
Onto the next problem. The suggested results only return twenty or so links based on the search term. You're not getting an entirely clear view of the history of your particular search using that method. Additionally, if you are the astute web user and hit the enter key after filling out the form (basically the only way to submit said form due to the absence of a submit button - yea, I'll work on that) - you would get redirected back to GeekLikeMe with no results at all. Zip. Nada. Zero. This left some users confused, at least the ones who actually tried it.
To solve that problem, I decided to build an actual dedicated search page. To get to it just type your search in the above form field and hit enter on your keyboard. You will then be zipped away to a more robust result set than the twenty or so that were suggested previously via the AJAX popup.
This can be handy tool if you want to jump back to that one link I happened to post here without sifting through the deluge of other unrelated links. It also helps me primarily as a tool for checking if I have already posted a link. See? Everybody wins.
There are some other neat features of the new search as well. On the right of a result set you see a section labeled Recent searches. I also give you a link back to the post the link came from so you can what else was interesting that day. Basically it's yet another fun way for me to see what (if anything) people are trying to do with the site.
Enjoy the updated search. It was certainly a challenge to build (my internal database for weekdaily links is not pretty nor is it friendly). But sometimes the challenge is half the fun. Here is the sample search from the screenshots above: Search for Apple links on GeekLikeMe.
Wednesday: June 7, 2006
- Designs that were rightfully tossed.
While there are still several things to fix with this site (a long list in fact) I'd like to share with you the designs that didn't make it. These failed attempts were done over the course of the past year or so. Just so everybody knows, I have this fun habit of designing things and constantly being unhappy with everything and anything I can find to criticize about basically anything and everything. I'm sure this is not uncommon among designer-folk. Amplify that by ten and you have me.
On with the garbage:
Why it didn't make it: Too weird.
I had this idea of throwing a strange abstract 3D rendering that would rotate on every page either randomly or by a user's choice. Looking back that might have been potentially annoying. I'm not sure where I was going with that top middle section either (why am I here, why do I care). I think I was trying to be funny. But then again, looking back at it now I don't get my own joke. Genius. I was also toying with the notion of having users create accounts to be able to comment and do fun things with profiles but that fizzled out into oblivion. In the end I rationalize this attempted design with the following statement: It's one of those designs that you spend lots of time on - then go to sleep. Then when you wake up the following morning and look at again, you realize it's not as good as you thought it was.
Why it didn't make it: Too cute.
The aspiring cartoonist took over when I started mocking up this design. Still clutching to my little line drawings, I wanted to keep some kind of sketched element but also have a techie feel to the site. That little geek icon was to be all over the various sections of the site. Commenting on a post would have looked like the icon was speaking them (think comic book style balloons). Users could have potentially uploaded their own caricatures so their comments would look in the same fashionable way. The thought of that kind of customization scared me off. In the end, I got sick of looking at that stupid drawing and put this design in the 'never speak of again' file.
Why it didn't make it: Too trendy.
I think every trendy element in web design is well represented here. Glossy navigation, check. Reflective logo that simply has to reflect on something, check. Slight but not overly powerful gradient in the background: check. The rest of the design below the navigation was beginning to look like your average blog template. I'm sick of talking about this design already. Moving on.
Why it didn't make it: Too dark.
This is me trying to be radically different with design. I'm usually big on white backgrounds in web design so I attempted to try something different. It did however lead to what eventually would become the current design of this site (basically inverted with some clean up work), which I guess isn't all that bad. The speaking bubbles for taglines and calls to action began to get on my nerves, borderlined being too cutesy again. But I figured that it was just my overly critical side acting up - so I went ahead and starting coding it. I showed it off to some people who's opinion I respect in terms of design. This quote that made me throw the design away instantly: 'People don't want to read a black website for their morning links.'
And so here we are. A redesign that looks strikingly similar to the previous one (minus the icons - see post below this one for snapshot). Whatever, I'm content. If it ain't broke don't fix it. Yea, thats the ticket.
Monday: June 5, 2006
- Goodbye icons, we harldy knew ye.
Welcome to the latest version of GeekLikeMe. Let me run down some of the new areas, features, timewasters, etc.
I should note something before you read any further. I am by no means a professional writer. You are likely to find many grammatical and numerous spelling errors. Rest assured, I do have a college degree (of course not in any type of writing, English, or even computer science for that matter - but that's an entirely different story) but I am however notoriously bad at editing. If something seems out of place, just know my intentions were good.
I have been working to upgrade this site on a massive scale for a long time. Naturally, some things may be broken while other things may work better than they previously did. If you're looking for any kind of clarification on what that means; I really don't know either.
On with the list of new stuff here at GeekLikeMe...
- Overall - this new version of GLM is entirely done in XHTML and CSS. I tried to keep it all W3.org valid, but an error here or there may have slipped through the cracks. I will be fixing them as time goes on. If you don't understand the above buzzwords it simply means that I am a far bigger dork than you know.
- Design - despite losing those hand drawn icons that previously adorned the left navigation not all that much is different (see above snapshot). I went through several failed attempts to completely redesign this site (I will showcase these attempts in another post for your amusement / my dismay at some point) and nothing felt right until I came back to an upgraded version of it's predecessor. The search bar at the top of every page is a handy AJAXian-Googlish suggest bar that will scurry up links posted to Weekdaily. Start to type Apple for example and you will see links pop up in a suggestable fashion regarding Apple that have been posted over the past 2 years or so.
- Weekdaily - now sports a most viewed feature. Basically, I keep a log of where people are clicking and I give you the link that was most clicked that day. Hence, most viewed. Why did I do this? Because up until now I have had no idea of what people come here for. Do you come here to see my rampant Apple fandom or do you come for the offbeat links regarding swearing parrots? Well, hopefully this curious mystery will be solved. Commenting is also on its way for Weekdaily posts (except at time of this posting I haven't actually finished coding it yet).
- Desktops - formerly known as downloads. Nothing really new there, just an updated look. I am however proud of the new coffee cup rating system. Also, there is now a (very) brief description of how a download offering was created. For example, if the image was photo manipulated or rendered in a 3D modeling program - I will let you know. I have some newer offerings that should be coming online in the near future.
- Photoblog - ah my beloved photoblog. The place where I realize that I am not and will never be a professional photographer. Updated the look and feel of this section as I always thought it was a tad confusing before. On the right is a failed attempt to be Flickr-esque by showing icons of additional photos posted. This probably makes the navigation even more confusing, but I felt like being different. Notice the coffee cup rating system is here too. Word.
- Polls - absolutely nothing new here. In fact I haven't finished coding this yet.
- Topic in 3 - this is an idea I had one night that I felt like introducing to the redesign. I give you a topic, you add your two cents. The catch is that your two cents are actually more like three cents. Your three cents are actually more like three words. You are only allowed three words only to get your idea across. I don't know how this section will fare but I felt like giving the idea a chance. By the way as of the writing of this post I haven't finished coding that either.
- Verbose - YOU ARE HERE. Just as the name implies, this is where you go if you want to read more than 5-6 words from me. Read above for my apologies on writing skills in advance. Expect stuff that doesn't really fit anywhere else to go here.
- Daily Grind - formerly just labeled 'About' on the old site. This is basically where you can find out how I am feeling/doing/procrastinating on a weekdaily basis. It should be noted that this section proves that while I am slightly skizophrenic; I am also quite good at remedial data entry.
So welcome to my my newly designed website. Hope you enjoy, still loads yet to come (well, I hope anyway).