Month: February 2004

Changing Links

I’ve changed a few of the links on the left hand navigation. There’s my currently reading list, which includes my security blanket, “Eric Meyer on CSS”, my most read book of the last year, and the book that I carry with me pretty much everywhere.There’s TiVo Hacks, an essential book for anyone with a series one TiVo.

Then, there’s the best sci-fi series of the last several years, FireFly, one part space opera, one part western. This was an amazing series, and it’s a freaking shame that it didn’t get a chance.

I’ll be adding a couple of new links, including a link documenting what I’m doing to TSN.ca right now, and how much of a bandwidth savings it will be.

What I’m looking for in a phone

It’s almost time for me to upgrade my aging cell phone. The screen is cracked, it doesn’t keep a charge, it doesn’t get reception inside of most buildings, and it does strange things like miss the call, but alert me to messages ten seconds later.I’d like a phone and PDA in one, something that can hold all of my contacts, my appointments, a few word docs, and maybe let me play solitaire when I’m bored. I want decent battery life (72 hours without recharging would be nice, a couple of hours talk time would be excellent).

I don’t need a camera, I don’t particularly want to surf the web wirelessly (unless it’s seamless and uses the http protocol and not WAP), I don’t care if I can play MP3’s…all I want is for it to sync with Outlook, and for it to be relatively small.

Really, I’d like one of these 3GSM phones, but they probably won’t make it to Canada for another two or three years. I’d like one of the PocketPC phones, but they’re only available on Fido. If I hadn’t just printed up my business cards, I might go for a Fido phone, or even go with one of the Bell Mobility Handspring Treo’s. For now my options are limited, and it looks like I’ll still need to carry a PDA and a phone.

For the two of you who are enjoying reading about the TSN.ca redesign, I’ll continue my series tomorrow.

TSN.ca Re-build day 2

Yesterday I talked about the basics, today I’ll talk about navigation.TSN.ca’s 2002 re-design saw us embrace drop-down menus. The content on the site is incredibly deep, and navigation can quickly get out of control. At the time, we figured drop-downs were the way to go, and they are effective…but two years later, they have their problems.

First off, they’re not really accessible. Because they’re javascript based, navigation basically vanishes for anyone who has javascript disabled.

I set out to find an alternative to the drop downs, inspired by the likes of ESPN.com’s cool fly-out nav. A quick trip to A List Apart showed me “Suckerfish Dropdowns“. That led me to “ADx Menus” and to Gazingus.org’s Expandable Menus.

After playing for the better part of a day, I realized that ESPN’s style of flyouts is brilliant and incredibly small.

Here are my experiments;

Suckerfish Nav – I never got this one to really work, not sure why.

Expandable Nav based on Expandable Menus – really nice to look at, but quite slow in I.E. for some reason.

ESPN style – needs work, but it’s the most elegant solution so far.

Up next: Onward to the “Chewy middle”.

If we re-build it, will they come?

In the summer of 2003, I decided, inspired by the CSS Zen Garden, that TSN.ca needed to come into the 20th century, and really take advantage of XHTML 1.0, and CSS. To do so would require an entire re-build of the site, just more than a year after our last re-build.The site was getting cobwebs anyway, and the sales team was starting to complain that they didn’t have certain ad units available. Maybe the re-design would be a way to incorporate some new sales units, and at the same time achieve my goals of bringing the code up to snuff, eliminating 90% of our hacks, and slimming down our pages (which would translate into an immediate cost savings).

I took our site, and really parsed it down to the basics.

Digi-Bar: The topmost bar on the website which contains links to the other digital sports sites in the CTV family, as well as TV Schedules.

Banner: The branding area on the TSN.ca front page

Money Bar: The grey bar under the banner which houses things such as A/V, Photos, Fantasy Sports, and Contests

Navigation: Left side navigation, formerly based on dropdowns, in this brave new world I would re-design it in CSS using an unordered list and some fancy Suckerfish like flyouts.

Content: Anything inside of the “chewy middle” is deemed content. This includes stories, front pages of “hubs” which have two columns, a main and right column.

Footer: A series of links at the bottom of every page. Includes text links to all of the help pages you need in a corporate website, and of course the copyright material.

Here’s a look at the base basics:

TSN.ca basics in CSS

Tomorrow: first steps, digibar, banner, moneybar, footer.

TiVo changes the way you watch TV

Usually marketing slogans are just that, something that’s catchy to say. TiVo’s is actually true.I recently got a series 1 TiVo, hooked it up, got the latest operating system for it, and started playing with it. All I can say is…wow. Because I’m in Canada, the guide doesn’t work at all, and I had to jump through some hoops to get it to even set up (so that I could download the latest OS). But now that it’s running, I’m quite taken with the little box, and so is Charlene.

All I can do is manually tell it what to record (so far Arrested Development, Las Vegas, 24, and Angel), but once I start hacking, I should be able to get it to actually use a guide.

I’m going to install Lindows on my PC so that I can start playing with Linux and Apache Web Server. I’ll use the hacks on TiVo Canada to start getting a guide, and I’ve ordered some stuff from 9th Tee to hook up a Wireless Ethernet connection on the TiVo.

Details to follow.

Fanboys need to let go

(Something I posted on Newsarama.com) With all due respect to comics fans in general, we all need to just let go of things.Let go of Hal Jordan, let go of Ronnie Raymond, let go of Barry Allen, let go of Young Justice, let go of Kara, let go of your freaking childhoods and just let creators tell stories.

I’m tired of the Hal Jordan nonsense, the guy was a cardboard character who had no personality (and I was a HUGE Green Lantern fan in my childhood). In five issues Kyle Rayner had more character than Hal EVER did. Kyle has actually grown as a character, again something that Hal never did.

Wally West has become the best Flash ever, and the stories that are being told are amazing, bumping even Mark Waid’s run to second best.

Ronnie shared the same fault Hal did, cardboard, without a real personality (again, I was a huge Firestorm fan). I’m looking forward to the new series.

Young Justice, an interesting fringe book (which I collected), but it was always the New Teen Titans. The new series is really well written, has awesome art, and pays homage to the old while striving forward with new ideas. Heck, the people who are crying for Hal and Ronnie should be delighted with this book and how much honour it puts on the old “feel” of the 80’s Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans run.

Where’s the arms being flailed over Hero? The new concept is golden, the original series was fun, and it was always cool to see original designs, but this one is awesome.

All in all, I get really down on comics fans when I come here. Comics are better than they’ve ever been, and all I read is “I want Hal back”, or “Young Justice was better than Titans, Wizard hyped Titans up so much”.

By the way, if Wizard has so much influence on everything, does that mean that Wizard outsells the number one comic? Wizard influences me a lot less than “First look previews”, and good reviews of books from the likes of TheFourthRail.com

Star Wars geeks, your time has come

…and by your, I mean “our”. The original trilogy is coming home to roost on DVD next November. StarWars.com even has the official announcement.Highlights: 4 disc set, much like the Indiana Jones trilogy that was released late last year. Coming to stores on September 21st, available only in the set, not as individual films.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi will be available in a four-disc set that includes a bonus disc filled with all-new special features — including the most comprehensive feature-length documentary ever produced about the Star Wars saga and never-before-seen footage from the making of all three films. Each of the three films in the Star Wars Trilogy has been digitally restored and re-mastered by THX for superior sound and picture quality.

I’m pre-ordering mine from Amazon.ca today!

Toon Titan turmoil?

I love headlines like that. The corporate gigantisism continues as Comcast Cable attempts to become the new Time Warner by launching a bid for Walt Disney corporation. How does this affect me you ask (since everything on this site is about me, me, me), well…Disney owns ABC, which owns ESPN, which is a 40% owner in TSN, whom I work for. Couple that with the ongoing rumours that Bell is trying to divest itself of it’s non-core properties (i.e. broadcast networks and newspapers), and there could be a 100% change in ownership of the company I work for.Wow. Fun.

A Donut at Bessborough

The Angry Huggybears locked down the Monkeys offense all game en route to a 4-0 shutout at the hated, tiny Bessborough gym. Netminder Jeff Styga was tested often in this game and had to be sharp on rebounds and one-time shots. The Monkeys attack was stifled by the two-headed Huggybear’s dragon of a well positioned defense and an active, fast-gunning offense. Kudos go out to our spectacular female crew [who played with only 3] and to Larry Woo who proved a headache to the Huggybears defense. Next week, I saw we do what angry monkeys do: bite and fling poo! Oh yeah, and a few goals would be nice.MONKEY’S THREE STARS

1. Larry Woo – Hustle and muscle.

2. Jeff Styga – Remincent of a younger, prettier Johnny Bower.

3. Charlene Garside – Awesome effort at both ends.