One of the more complex issues we’ve begun to run into with the flurry of requests for iPad and mobile web apps we’ve seen over the past few months is planning for connectivity loss and offline usage. The complexity isn’t a matter of the technology available to us being complicated. Rather, it’s that we find ourselves adding one more planning and development consideration to our production mix. As with any emerging technology, we’ve found ourselves focusing a lot of effort on simply building a vernacular to enable conversations about mobile with clients who don’t always have technology representation at the table.

I suppose it’s a measure of our success that we’ve gotten beyond conversations about the basic differences, strengths and weaknesses of web apps and native app and have now moved on to talking about such meaty topics as CMS publishing protocols and synching tasks.

The Ajaxian twitter feed had a link to a really nice overview of the offline technologies available to us today.

I imagine we’ll be seeing mobile driving a lot more discussion of new technology over the next year. Things like geolocation, checkins, camera APIs, voice-enabled and microformats, microformats, microformats are going to be defaults in everything we build.

It seems like it has only been a year or so since we started trading page-based architectures for accordions and slideshows and overlays and other richer more application-like functionality. I am amazed at how quickly we’ve sped by these new UI considerations and moved right toward a whole new pile of technology to try to grok and bring into the fold.

I’m really excited about offline and our ability to deal with local storage of binary components in particular. Browser caching has never been quite what it should be and we now have a lot more control over storing images, JS and CSS files on the client. I believe that performance is going to be a key differentiator between Web Standards evangelists like VSA and firms that are content to continue to slop together nonsense.

One of my LinkedIn network peeps recently showed a status of “Biggest Footer Eva!” with a link to the site. I went to see for myself and had a pretty decent laugh over it. I did some Googling and browsing this morning to see what, if any, discussion there might be of this super tall footer. For starts, @erikvorhes, my own personal “feeling lucky” button, pointed me in the direction of this post.

Totally get that whole I’m reading down a page and now I’m at the end thing. I’ve definitely grown to like the rich footer. We’ve been pushing these things all year long, but apparently rather conservatively. Witness the teensy one we made for Shure or the new GE Citizenship site.

Up until now, I’ve thought these are reasonably sized footers. They give users some place to go, but not too many places to go. The Zappos footer seems huge at 16KB of HTML and several hundred pixels tall.  However, if you figure that Zappos gets a couple million unique visits a month, that’s only about 6GB of footer getting pushed out into the interwebs. So really, no big deal, right? Happy Cog are no dummies and neither are the folks at Zappos.

I’ve been trying to argue designers and clients into believing that users don’t mind scrolling for years. So, while at first glance the sheer size of the Zappos footer feels weird to me, I can’t help but wonder if I don’t like this better than the giant grow out navigation overlays or other now-you-see-it now-you-don’t gimmicks I’ve been seeing used as a means of exposing ever-growing site structures.

I’ve poked around for some more discussion of the footer aspect of Zappos UI, but can’t find anything tonight. Happy Cog’s post focuses on the project in general, but doesn’t specifically get onto footer. If anyone sees a post let me know. I’m curious to see what others think (once they stop and get past the initial shock).

Exactly the kind of hiatus I didn’t want to happen. Work ramps up and overwhelms. Next year, I’m going to split the reviews up with Zack. Fitting writing and face-to-face meetings together with 8 people is tough. I usually feel like it’s a great exercise for getting a handle on what happened in the past year, but this time it felt rushed. On the bright side, I got some major contributions in on some RFPs that have come in, so that feels good. But all in all a whole mess of above and beyond going on this month.

Wow. This training thing is really pretty incredible. I couldn’t have imagined being able to run 15 miles 4 years ago. I certainly wouldn’t have thought I could do that and then play nearly 90 minutes of soccer two days later. I feel good. Really, really good. Despite some seriously sustained insomnia over the past 24 months, I feel healthier and stronger than I have in years. I’m about 8 weeks out from my taper for my first ever marathon and so far feeling pretty good about it. If can just add a little over a mile a week on average, I’m home free.

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:

Sadness and happiness simultaneously. Not sure what is up, but my YSlow grade has already dropped to 82 with only a few posts added some teeny CSS modifications and the addition of two plugins. Disappointing to see that happen so quickly, but I suppose it’s also an opportunity to do exactly what I’ve set out to-do with this install.

UPDATE. False alarm, Firefox or maybe Firebug was temporarily deciding to count some images from Feedly or some other weirdness into my score. I’m still at 92. Which is where I started off at. Maybe just to feel better I’ll go tweak my ETags which are currently not accounting for CSS. Then that’s it for tonight. My poor eyes are ouchy. I desperately need a new prescription or a couple months off from screen time.

UPDATE 2: Found a nice post that talks a bit about the particulars of some htaccess settings and WordPress (including some Media Temple hosting specifics) at

I’ve implemented the suggested config and have bumped my YSlow up to 95 JIT for bed. Goodnight nerds.

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

Tonight I headed out for a run to makeup for missing the gym at lunch and stress-eating way too many snacks during the day. I got out a little later than I’d intended, but wanted to get at least a 5k in without being out past my usual chillaxin time. I decided to torch it. This usually is a recipe for major bonkage at right about the halfway point. I can push my pace no problem in the late morning, on an empty stomach. Most of my short distance PRs have been set under those very circumstances.

Night runs for me are usually post dinner which never works for me, but I managed to keep my plate light tonight, knowing that I intended to run. As a result, I was able to get a pretty sweet run in despite being outside my comfort zone. Well outside, considering I left the ipod and the Nike+ in my pack and opted for cicadas, the steady rhythm of my breath and the pounding of my heart in my ears and my feet on the pavement.

I managed 3.3 miles in 31 minutes which is right around a 9:24 mile. A little over my 5K PR pace, but all-in-all, a fairy casual Tuesday evening run that ended up feeling pretty damn effortless even in the heat, which I’m kinda hatin’ these days, even after a 13.1 mile training run Sunday morning. As with every little achievement like this now, I can’t help but think that maybe this whole 26.2 thing might be actually be possible. Clearly the training is doing something to my body.

Anyhoo. Seems like a good enough reason to add another of my intended categories to the blog. I suppose I could have used Soccer first given all that has transpired over the past few weeks, but somethings are more important than blogging even if your precious Oranje do end up losing. Arsenal preseason starts next week though, so I don’t expect the footie blogging to be too far off.

Beyond that, maybe some parenting stuff, some eco-rants and other stuff to keep my writing and coding skills rust-free.

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 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.