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It’s Time We Nerds Help

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Just through the course of a day I end up on some photographers website. Invaribly it’s something hosted by photobiz.com or wix, all done in flash with copy-righted background music playing and a crappy looking WordPress blog hanging off the side like dirty dish rag hanging out of the kitchen window. I keep asking why, but never get answers that I find acceptable.

Until I asked Stella the same question. Being the photographer of the house, I thought she would have good insight into the reasoning behind photographers having such horrible websites. Our conversation went a little something like this.

  • dbwilldo: why do photographers have such yucky websites?
  • Stella:because they are not nerds

Could it really be that easy? A person that has the ability to charge thousands of dollars for their services that they perform with (possibly) tens of thousands of dollars worth of **very** complicated electronic components just aren’t nerdy enough?

That must be it. I think the problem that we as nerds run into is in our thought patterns. Photographers _aren’t nerds_. Photographers are _creatives_, that just so happen to do their creating with digital equipement. A fact, I think, fools the rest of us into thinking that photographers know the same things that we do.

Which they don’t.

They just want a website that displays their portfolio and other information in a pleasing manner, just like everyone else. Sites like photobiz and wix have capitalized on this, targeted photography professionals with words like ‘easy to use’, ‘background music’, ‘elegant’ and ‘comic sans’ to lure them in. So they get stuck.

Makes me wonder. Do they not try to open their websites on their iPhone/Android/Blackberry? Have they not tried to open their site using an iPad or Android tablet? If they have, do they just shrug their shoulders and say “Oh well. I’m not a nerd enough to make something better”?

Or do they see Flash as their security blanket? Thinking that if their photos are wrapped up in flash, they can’t be stolen and used in nefarious ways. Nerds know otherwise, don’t we?

Instead, I prefer to think that we, as nerds, have failed the professional photographers. Failed in that we haven’t shown them the way to nicely display their photos on any device, on any platform and with any browser. We have failed to guide them in best web practices. Failed to help them save money by avoiding services such as these.

As nerds, we owe it to our photography brethren to show them the right way. The way to display their photos in a pleasing way that is easy to use and keep their photos as safe. The way to share their work with iPhone/iPad/Android/Blackberry users. The way to save money by not having to pay the rediculous rates that the other guys charge. We owe them.

Details and Consistency

Maybe it’s just me, but lately I’m noticing a lot of laziness around me. Laziness and, if I’m honest, half-assed work. Details going unnoticed, pieces missing and work not complete.

This might not be making any sense to you, so here are some pretty pictures that might help. Taken from the roof of a very swank hotel in a very swank city in Arizona. Look at the first pic closely and I’ll continue to tell you what I’m on about.

Blue, Green and Fire

Nice right? Colors match, the fire gives that feeling of warmth and comfort and the flowers help to soften the hard edges. At first glance it looks amazing. Until you notice the details.

The yellow circles show off some very not-blending-in chrome table legs that look like they came from a desk chair about the same time this particular hotel was built. Top left is a cable that is coming from the fire pit, presumably to light it, running someplace. We’ll ignore that one for now since it’s not as glaring as shiny chrome.

I’ve been told not to sweat the details in the past, but I always ignored it. I’m going to tell you why.

The details make a difference.

You see in our example above, if the table cloths were bright red, or if the fireplace wasn’t lit, then seeing the table legs would probably be perfectly a-ok. It would appear, however, that a great deal of work went into the planning and decoration of this particular space for this event. Allowing the table legs, at least to me, while a minor detail, is one that takes this otherwise great looking scene down a notch or 5.

It’s just half-assed.

If you are going to do something half-assed, don’t be half-assed about it. Be consistent. Rip a table cloth, break some glass, forget to sweep. Consistency is key.

If you are going to spend the time, effort and money on making something truly kick ass, then make sure it is, in fact, truly kick ass. **Mind the details**. Cover those crappy looking table legs. Give the glass a final polish to make sure there aren’t any spots. Sweep the floor.

When the details are missed is usually when it is the most noticeable. Go for perfection or go for half-assed, just don’t do them both at the same time. It makes you look bad.

We need to talk

If you have been following along Twitter, you might have noticed that a good portion of my days have been filled with removing virus’ and spyware from nice folks computers. I said days, but should include nights.

I don’t mind. I really don’t. It’s easy work (unless the system is completely hosed, then it’s good money) and it gives me the chance to educate the user on better practices so it doesn’t happen again.

Number 1 on the list is **keeping your antivirus software up-to-date**! If you don’t have antivirus software, then now is the time! I can tell you, 100% for sure that anything that comes with Windows will do nothing more than keep low-level hackers out of your computer. Nothing, and I repeat, **nothing** installed by or from Microsoft will keep your computer safe from virus’, spyware or other potentially bad software that your click happy fingers will bring into your machine.

If you have anything resembling security software by any manufacturer and it has the numbers 07, 06, 05, 04 or lower in it, it’s no longer working. I know what it tells you, but it’s not. In fact, your computer is probably already infected with something and you don’t even know it.

I’m going to putting up a series of posts this week that you can use to help yourself be a better internet citizen and help to keep your Windows PC safe from internet meenies that are using your computer to send boner spam or collect credit card numbers from your neighbors.

Continue reading “We need to talk”

Time to Un

Much like the iPhone epidemic of aught seven drove me beyond distraction, Twitter is doing the same.

I use Twitter. I like Twitter. I think it’s handy to have around. But lately it seems that it is the only thing anyone can talk about.

For example, the word Twitter appears over 20 times on the front page of Mashable. I have unsubscribed.

In the last 2 episodes of TWiT, more than 50% of the stories were about Twitter. I have unsubscribed for the time being. Hopefully normal tech talk will resume soon.

Even on Twitter there is getting to be too much talk about Twitter. I just finished unfollowing about 5 of the worst offenders there.

It’s time to realize that there are more important things to discuss than how many people follow you on Twitter or what’s the best Twitter app to use or, or, or.

You people are like Pitbulls. You find something you like, get it stuck in your jaws and wave it around until it’s a bloody, limp mess that nobody wants anything to do with anymore. Time to find something else to talk about.

HTML Form Navigation

I’ve been having issues with HTML forms ever since I switched to the Mac.

On Windows browsers (pretty much all of them), when you press the tab key (insert ridiculous apple symbol here), you go from field to field. This includes stops at drop downs, radio buttons and check boxes. Without doing anything, it just works.

But not so on the Mac. When I tab through a form invariably it skips drop downs and radio buttons and check boxes. This is terribly annoying. I would guess it is because browsers on the Mac more closely follow HTML standards, but I’m not sure.

I have some experience designing forms. Forms in Word, in Excel, in MS Access, even in HTML. I am of the belief that when it comes time to use a form, the user **should not** have to take their hands off of the keyboard to navigate. Only to check a box or click a button. Everything should be handled with the tab key (or shift-tab for backward navigation). Every form I’ve ever created does this.

The way to get HTML forms to properly navigation is by using the TABINDEX attibute. According to the W3:
>The following elements support the tabindex attribute: A, AREA, BUTTON, INPUT, OBJECT, SELECT, and TEXTAREA.

via

Just about every form element in HTML supports the TABINDEX attribute as you can see above. I think it might be something that not everyone is familiar with. It’s as simple as adding

tabindex=1

to the form attribute. Using sequencial numbers will provide tab stops exactly where you want them. Especially handy if your form covers 2 columns or has many SELECT (drop down) boxes.

Forms are a big part of the user experience on the web. It’s a shame not all sites treat them as such and just cobble them together without fully checking how they navigate. Just a little something to think about.