In my ongoing effort to find time for doing things to keep my development skills unjustified I’m once again looking to my commute as a source of unused time. This evening finds the added boon of a two hour plane trip to Atlanta. This morning I decided I was for sure going to travel Macbookless and prepared for the trip by grabbing a selection of three of the popular HTML editing apps available for the iPad. Despite my intentions, my heavy ass lappie is in the overhead. However, I nonetheless sit here with my third Jack and Coke, my finger begreased tablet and a pretty sweet Gogo Inflight Wireless connection posting for the first time is months while prepping for some real world testing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I think I need a new theme. Finally started to dig into the CSS and HTML of this Sandbox theme and am noticing a lot of DIV based layout. Now I’m trying to decide just how much learning I want to do in here. I could get into all of the actual PHP files in the theme and start altering the way they are coded. I’ve done that with other themes and it is definitely a great way to get real familiar with WordPress real quick. Given the new version and the fact that I’ve had little experience with Parent-Child Theming* thus far in my life, I might get to reading and go that route, or I could just start stripping down to the barebones and build back up.

Given that I’m doing more and more real work that leverages WordPress, I’m inclined to go the Parent-Child route and to experiment with multi-blog serving on WordPress 3.0, conditional theming and platform targeting. I suppose one of the benefits of starting so simple is that reverting is no big deal.

I think I’ll poke around a bit, before I do anything else which means the super simple utilitarian look may be here for a bit more.

*Brief article by Ian Stewart with some great starting points here: http://themeshaper.com/functions-php-wordpress-child-themes/

Tonight is about keeping some momentum and not letting another two week gap creep into my progress on this blog and my general attempts to get a better handle on my personal Web presence here, and beyond this domain. I’ve decided to knock the “install SEO plugin item” off my development to-do list and have managed to sidetrack myself into making a point about donating for open sourced software.

I’ve long been a fan of the All in One SEO Pack by Michael Torbert of Semper Fi Web Design. Tonight I sent a donation to Michael to show my appreciation for this plugin that I’ve been using for a few years now. There may be other alternatives out there, but All in One SEO Pack has always done everything I’ve asked of it, with very little setup and zero problems. The least I can do is click a few keys and press a button on my Paypal dashboard.

In recent years, I’ve really been trying to be better about donating for shareware and good open source software. If, as a front-end engineer, I want to argue and advocate for open platforms, then I feel like I should be backing up my opinion by supporting other developers. These folks are kind enough to lend their skills and expertise toward creating tools so the rest of us can do what we are passionate about and not spend our time coding PHP to generate site maps or rewrite WordPress template headers.

Done: SEO Plugin install

I sat down tonight with the question “where to next?” on my mind and immediately got a good eye twitch going as all of the to-dos in my brain starting swirling to the surface. This basically means that what I need to do is make a list. A roadmap if you will. I am definitely a list maker by trade. Without lists my poor little peabrain would be defenseless against the demands of juggling multiple projects in increments as small as .25 hours with a team of nine full-timers, a regular cast of contractors and near constant scheduling and scope changes.

Even without all that though, I’d still be making lists. I do it around the house for long term projects, weekends at home, shopping trips, you name it and I’ve got an scrap for that or more likely a striped index card size or 1/2 letter sized Post-it. I loves me some striped Post-its.

Anyhoo. It occurs to me that my road map will be something I update over time and there for not necessarily something I want to continue as a post. So we have our first item for the Road Map: 1. Add Road Map page to navigation hierarchy.

Stuff I did tonight: Started the list of stuff I want to do. Wrote way too much about my content ideas. Added a sitemap plugin. Eyes hurty. Time for bed.

So. Starting a new blog for myself. Been a long, long while. For my first few posts, my intent is to document the process of building the blog itself. Most of my Web development these days is focused on search engine optimization, metrics and data analysis and the front-end engineering necessary to creating a high-performance user interface. My goal with this new site is to explore building a site from the ground up to be fast and effective without the pressures of deadlines, clients and internal team resource management that are the constants in my day-to-day.

My team at VSA Partners strives to build accessible, progressively enhanced user interfaces that push the boundaries of our client’s IT teams and the third-party systems integrators and content management vendors. As is to be expected, we make a lot of compromises along the way. Everyone involved in any large-scale IT project does. The stakeholders, the writers, the designers, the application developers, everyone. Nothing would get done otherwise. Time and money are always factors in any development endeavor.

Recently, I’ve got to thinking about what it might be like to build a site from the ground up, or as near to the ground as one can be when you start with a fantastic piece of open-source software like WordPress. Now, I’ve taken thought to action and gone a registered a personal domain for the first time in several years, and here we are.

I’m starting as simple as can be. I’m using the super skeletal them, “Sandbox” built by Andy Skelton & Scott Allan Wallick. I’m going to take a pass through the theme to pull out anything I don’t need and from there will start to progressively layer on CSS and Javascript enhancements to the UI. Additionally, I’ll be adding plugins to help me we search optimization, metrics tracking, syndication and all the other staples of a well-oiled Web platform.

As things stand now I’ve got a YSlow performance score of 94 with 3, count them, 3 HTTP requests and total page weight of 6.4K. On my lovely UVerse FIOS connection I’m getting a 497ms page load. Gotta love that. Let’s see how much I can junk this thing up while still keeping the A.

To-Do for tonight: Reconfig MediaTemple to kill the default blog.mattielangenberg.com URL.
Done: Used the file manager to rename the domain folder contents and switched the settings in WP to point to the correct URL
Done update: Okay. Couldn’t resist updating the permalink structure and editing the post slug.