World Wide Web Design Journal.

by Max Ford / 068148

journal entries: 10 to 20
back 10
date: 15/08/08
this is the second website i'll discuss for its noteworthyness:

WHY: because its chock full of amazing amounts of knowledge.
this site's content is all written by richard a nakka, mad rocket sceintist extraordinaire.
this site is special because unlike most sites, the information is well-researched, its worth
for example he doesnt just quote wikipedia or aerospaceweb, he builds his own rockets and tests
them, applies scientific method and in-depth experimentation, develops his own software, and
documents it all and gives it away for FREE! and its serious, time-invested content and information
that is indespensible for a lot of people.

DESIGN: well, ti went up in 1997, and it might have been quite well designed in a design-
unconscious / aesthetics-unconcerned sort of a way, but since then its probably not changed. its a
traditional website - hyperlinks, html, fonts, images here and there, a homepage, and a few
subdirectories. the colourscheme reminds me of a science textbook, but its quite nice to look at
really. it has a non-white background, it uses serif fonts and script, theres no animation,
disciplined layout and lots of explanatory text. you never get lost, ever, and you get an impression
of honest, wholesome enthusiasm. it wouldn't benefit from a side menu, or an intro page, or
swappable themes. its a reference like a big book or weighty quarterly, not like an information

-bad: not beautiful
-bad: homepage rambles a bit
-bad: avocado
-bad: html editor code, layout based not hand-done, style is integral which is probably why it hasnt
been improved.
-bad: there are three or more versions: .net, aol old pages, and a few from rogers.
-much of it is unappologietically and unrelentingly technical. requires application.

+good: amazing content
+good: uniform layout
+good: not fancy or selfconscious
+good: unlikely to change without notice, links stay put
+good: always up, no php errors or databse crashes
+good: no ads, supported at a loss / by CD edition sales maybe.
+good: proves oldschool works.

date: 12/08/08
i've discovered something incredible!

PHP Junkyard has gone ABSOLUTELY CRAZY!


i have my eye on the basic php guestbook, i'd quite like to add a guestbook to this blog really, and if not this blog then any webpage i put up, including my current homepage.

the message boards could maybe be re-purposed as a journaling system too, databases all set up i expect. i wonder how configurable it is. i mean, infinitely i suppose, but how much is easily configurable and how much requires a re-write?

date: 08/08/08
this is my first website-of-note, i'll update this with more considerations gradually.

an excellent example of a powerful web application. searches the australian telephone
directory for numbers, instead of addresses. so it provides a reverse lookup service for identifying
missed or suspect calls. it scans both residential and business directories so you have a fair chance
of discovering who the number is registered to. how they got the directories is a mystery, its not
authorised by telstra and it has links to australian hacking and counterculture sites, so its probably
not really legal. i think its an example that more websites should follow - maximise utility and
minimise self-promotion.


awesome. its minimal, its easy to use, and it doesnt have a white background. i'm a supporter of
darker backgrounds, because white is default and boring, shows up all the fingerprints on your
screen, probably requires more energy from a CRT monitor, and makes you squint. and black is the
colour of the underground, of punks, and most pseudo-anarchistic counter-culture organisations.

the lighter text on the darker background can be somewhat hard to read, but its mainly due to the
use of illegibly small and angular fonts, which programmers and elitists tend to use a lot. the page
loads pretty quickly, there isnt any superflous navigation, and most suprisingly there are no horrible
ads anywhere, no pop-up suprises and so far as i can tell, no ill-effects from using the service.


-too small text
-perhaps a reversal of the text-background colour relationship would be better
-one worries about lengthy jail terms.

+does something unique
+does something useful!
+minimal design, NO ADS
+apparently benign
+apparently unconcerned by Telstra
+dont need to register your idenity

date: 06/08/08
google maps 'street view' is the future

here you can see why, it will revolutionise the way individuals re-connect and network through sharing their sense of place and community etc etc etc.

also it'll cause a lot of kerfuffle what with all the pictures of peoples houses and serve as a reminder that someone might, at this very moment, be looking for the stairs in your house.

more when i wake up...

date: 05/08/08
i am going to talk to the class about websites, but i have till like wek 8 to do so, so i should probably make a half-decent atempt at having something to say.

from this shortlist:

nakka rocketry





i will pick 3 and talk about why i think they're good or bad. i think they should all have something in common so i can demonstrate how they approach the whole internets differntly. comparing to isnt really going to be very informative.

so looking at what i have there, one common thread might be the different ways of presenting content, information. vast amounts of information on these sites, very specialised.

date: 02/08/08
added an email link, if i get any spam i'll be flattered

date: 31/07/08
today i played with the css, its a bit tangled between the two files now but it works. there are two because the original one [mainstyle] just did the html pages, and then the second one [styles] configured the PHP journal in development. im considering merging them, that might be simpler.

the new colour scheme is blue-green in the de-restricted civilian zone, and in the admin area where you can enter codes and press buttons, its HAZARD ORANGE!
im tempted to add klaxons and red rotary strobe .gifs, restraint be damned.

im trying to keep images out of the layout but i cant resist a nice [awful?] tiled .gif background. i thought it might be a bit hard on the eyes, but i really dont mind it now, its not like you are forced to read over it. if anyone finds it a strain on the eyes, they can always turn thier monitor brightness down to sane levels and enjoy that fuzzy 'i-earned-my-stars' feeling.

plus webpage wallpaper is a 1.0 tradition and i miss it.

date: 30/07/08
i can write html in here

i thought it was pretty exciting, though since there's nothing in the php that specifically prohibits it, i shouldn't be that surprised...


but not blink tags if you look at it in safari. which you just might.

why not safari? whats wrong with blink tags? blink is good enough for firefox =/

suppose i wanted to make a sweet animation with blinking ascii elements? or some sort of scientific illustration, maybe a flowchart. maybe a diagram of a flowchart, with blinking elements?

what a glaring oversight. i wonder what other fun tags have been omitted...

date: 29/07/08
THIS post explains my approach to this blog, hereafter called "journal"
the first post [below it] isn't really an entry. more of a placeholder - read at your own risk.

Selection Criteria:

basic and simple

hands-on / D.I.Y setup

access to underlying structure

fast, efficient, low-overhead

complete configurability


one option was to choose a site or system specifically pre-configured for journal-writing. i had a quick look at blog applications - blogger seems like the more standardised, user-friendly and community-oriented one compared to wordpress [both user and dev hosted] which demands more setup, has more options and probably more scope for re-engineering / customisation. from what i've seen done with both, blogger feels more like an appliance, whereas wordpress tends to be a chassis.



i have also used livejournal, facebook, deviantart, myspace, youtube and various forums before, all of which operate on the 'social media' and 'user-generated content' models too.
each has a different primary focus, but i found that they generally offered a confusing array of options and capabilities which for the purpose of brief, regular logging of thoughts and experiments, would gather dust.

i made a short list of what i knew i wanted:

- to display to visitors the latest journal entry so they could read current, coherent writing straight away.

- to be able to update this quickly and without special programs, similar to a notebook.

- the ability to create a backdated entry, or edit the content of an existing one.

- basic password security on writing operations.

- visitors to be able to scan the backlog of old news if they wanted.

i didn't want redundant buttons and fields for comments, galleries, friends and associates crowding and cluttering and distracting from the journal entries i had actually made, so instead of living with the unforeseen behaviors of someone else's blogging package, i thought it might be more educational to negotiate my own.

so i convinced my brother [dennis] to code this functionality as simply as he could in PHP. this way i knew exactly what functionality i had, and [more or less] how it worked. when i decided i wanted more functionality, it could [attempt to] add it.


=> networking capabilities / social visibility:

dev-hosted systems are best for this, my blog is more likely to be read by others if its part of the blogger, myspace or livejournal constellation.

user-hosted setups are basically like any other personal webpage, but you can often link them into networks / communities using indexer plugins [ie digg]. this way people can still search you out by keywords or categories, though the integration is nowhere near that of the centralised dev-hosted ones.

having an easily visible page isn't that important for this journal though, and this way i get to keep my subdomain, which i like, is free, and already hosts my personal website.


=> control / ownership / freedom:

the self-hosted option gives me complete control over my journal. theres no EULA and no moderators to 'disappear' my entries, or steal my pictures.
of course this means i am responsible for file management and maintenance. if something goes wrong, its my problem and i have to fix it. which is sometimes frustrating but always interesting.


in conclusion, i essentially wanted an online notepad, with full design / function customisibility. web 2.0 wasn't necessary here - i'd be the only user, everyone else would be a reader.

taking a D.I.Y approach forces me to think about the basics, which makes for less unforeseen consequences [usually] and provides a basis and perspective for developing future projects. also its way more fun.

date: 28/07/08
i've added a new section to this site for the World Wide Web Design unit im studying. it will be similar to this current site, only about something in particular.

what will it be about? it will be about the unit itself, the assignments, research, development, setbacks, brainwaves, natural disasters and physiological complications associated with contemporary sitting-in-front-of-a-computer-getting-a-sore-spine life.

it will function as the journal for the unit, but i'll also have a paper journal as a sub-journal / notebook. maybe probably.

therefore this simple php journal system will be duplicated and will operate from a separate .txt file [database i mean]. i plan to expand its functionality slightly, with a tag-reading or keyword searching system, and different colours, and cool gradients, and things that take forever to load and look a bit odd.

beyond that journal functionality there really isnt much else required. maybe some hyperlinx. maybe comments functionality if i really want to wreck everything.

finally because this entry is all about this new site, i'll plonk it in the text file as the first entry, and it'll stop me from forgetting what to do and it will make everything very clear to everyone else. once the journal is working that is.

[go to ../index.php] [set phasers to blog]