Month: June 2005

So many projects…so little time

I'm knee deep in a half dozen different projects right now, all of varying secrecy and importance, and they all need to get done in the next six weeks…which is when Operation Baby Garside arrives.

For work I'm continuing to work on the TSN.ca relaunch. We've finished the front page, and we're starting to design inner pages. It's a lot of fun, but a lot of work.

On that note, thanks to everyone who made comments, and who dropped by to say kind (and not so kind) things about the relaunch. I appreciate every single comment. Our users on TSN.ca flooded us with emails in the first 48 hours, and those emails really helped us to make some major tweaks which have made the site better.

We're making some major changes to our registration system, which will include an all new Morning Email system. The new Morning Email is more accurate, and will look infinitely better than the current one.

Then there are the personal projects. Project Baby Garside is of course priority #1, there's painting and prepping of the house to be done, loads of little things to pick up, and lots of planning to do. My biggest thing right now is to make sure that all my extra work is off my plate in the next couple of weeks.

I'm doing some tweaks to some of the sites we host. Adding photo galleries, and getting everyone on the current version of the code. Then I'm going to add a rich text editor to the sites, and I'm going to further tweak the EasyUpdating tool to reflect the new stuff.

I had planned on relaunching HeadsDown, Writer's Quill and Hockey Updater, but haven't had the time yet. I have a design ready to go, I just have to finish the coding.

Finally…I need to complete 3 website designs. There's gonna be some laaaaaaaaaaaaaaate nights this next couple of weeks methinks!

TSN.ca: Reloaded

Yes, there's a brand new TSN.ca in town. This morning at 9:00am ET, TSN.ca relaunched with a brand new face. While not a full “relaunch” per-se, it was a reload of the new home page, and a little bit of a change on the back end. Gone are nested tables within tables within tables within tables. In is CSS and stylin' table-free design.

The new front page is about 1/2 the weight of the old page, loads twice as fast as the old page, and contains 40% more information thanks to the new “4th bar” which will be great for the 85% of our users who are at 1024×768.

By the numbers:
Lines of code in the old front page: 1014
Lines of code in the new page: 513
# of characters in the old page: 58,121
# of characters in the new page: 35,063
# of tables on the old front page: a buttload
# of tables on the new front page: 1 (for the masthead/banner combination, someday I'll figure out how to eliminate that one too).

The new front page uses SIFR, which I love, and a lot of really sweet CSS tricks to get the work done. I've had to drop out some support for IE 5.0 users, but hey, when you're using a 5 year old browser, you're probably used to not seeing all the cool stuff. Netscape 4.7 users are totally out of luck. Sorry friends.

So far the response has been mixed. The response in the building is “Nice site, love it.” The response from users is “We fear change, go back to the old look” (which is what people said about the last relaunch), and the response from the jerks is “Way to sell out TSN, you look just like ESPN now.

Now's a great chance to use my comments. Got something you love or hate about the new design? Let me know.

***UPDATED June 23rd***

24 hours after the launch and we're still tweaking things, getting rid of little errors, and modifying stuff. We've tweaked the fonts, set a base font of 12pt (which I hate the fact we had to do it), and cut our size in half. The actual HTML page was tiny, but all the images etc it was caching were HUGE!

There are still a bunch of validation errors, but it's coming along.

We're also starting to get some notice for the site changes. Today Dave Shea's Mezzoblue gave us a shout out which is pretty cool. Zen Garden has been inspirational for me, and he's helped to revitalize my love of the web. Thanks Dave!

Update: Comments have been closed on this story thanks to the comment spammers out there.

The Bat…it begins

I saw Batman Begins this weekend as part of the massively huge “Larry Woo Stag Crawl”. It was, while slightly flawed, one of the best superhero films of all time (currently 4th in my list behind Spider-Man2, The Crow, and the first Superman). For those of you who haven't seen the movie, I'd suggest not going any further. If you've seen it, click through to the fully spoiler filled Chronicology review.

SPOILERS!!! If you're reading this far, you have now officially entered the spoiler space, and I can not be held libel. You clicked the little link, you came through. You're here. Click back quickly before I tell you that Bruce Wayne is Batman…oh damn, I spilled the big secret!

I loved this movie. I loved pretty much every moment of it. I loved the lighting, the sets, the wicked awesome look of Gotham. Loved Christian Bale, Michael Cain, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, and yes, even Katie Holmes.

The story was awesome, with Bruce going underground and eventually getting caught up in the league of shadows. I loved the swerve with Ken Watanabe as Ras Al Ghul and Liam Neeson as Henri Ducard. The way that all of the weapons and gadgets came from defence contracts was awesome, and Katie's statement that Bruce Wayne is the mask, all rang true.

The cool little side-stories, like Zsaz (a serial killer who scars himself for each victim he takes), Arkham Asylum, and Scarecrow's manipulations were all awesome parts.

I have to admit, when we saw the police horses, I was sure that Batman would be riding a horse at some point…what a cool visual that would have been.

For those complaining about Katie Holmes…come now. Kim Bassinger, Michelle Pfeiffer, Nicole Kidman, Alicia Silverstone, Elle Macpherson…all have been Batman love interests, all were about as three dimensional as a piece of paper. Batman's not about the love interest. Batman's about the angst and anger. Katie did as well as could be expected in the role.

My only real problem with the whole thing was the microwave transmitter. It evaporates a city's water supply…great, but what about the water in our bodies?

Why crash the whole train rather than just destroy the device? That one really didn't make any sense.

However, all of that was forgiven with Gordon's last line in the film. When he tells Batman that escalation is the normal progress of events, and then flips over the playing card with a joker on it…the crowd went wild. The little kid in me jumped for joy, and I hoped against hope that Christopher Nolan would sign on for the sequel.

Tuppenny, the coolest pig in the world

Yesterday, Saturday June the 11th, Charlene and I had to put the sweetest guinea pig in all the land, Tuppenny down when the vet told us that she once again had tumours growing in her which were putting her in a lot of discomfort. She was almost 6 years old.

A couple of years ago, she had an egg sized tumour removed from her ovaries, but she was younger then, and came through that surgery amazingly well. The vet didn't think she'd make it through another. On Thursday we first noticed that she wasn't her usual self, and on Friday she pretty much stopped eating, just sleeping as much as she could. When we petted her, she still purred, but she just wasn't herself.

You could feel a big lump on her side, and she complained whenever you touched her side. The trip to the vet confirmed our worst fears, and our poor pig had to be put down.

She was an awesome animal. I haven't ever had a pig before, Charlene had two when she was a kid. Tuppenny was bold, she was gentle, and she had a hilarious personality. She never bit anyone, though she did nip at you if you were bugging (but never actually grabbed hold). She'd give you headbutts if you were bugging her, and pushed things out of her way. The best part of her was the way she would run from side to side of the room.

Charlene was amazing with her. The constant handling of her when she was little made her totally comfortable around people. She was never timid, never frightened, and would welcome attention whenever she would get it.

I'm glad we got to spend as much time as we did with her, I wish she could have met our baby, and our baby could have gotten to know our cool little pig, but it wasn't meant to be.

Tupp, you were the best pig anyone could have asked for. Thanks for the memories, the house isn't the same without you, and we miss you.

One night stand

I’m not a huge fan of WWE’s Byte This webcast show. I find it to be a silly hypecast of kayfabe and ridiculousness. This week’s show however had Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer doing a great little two man show about ECW, about their careers, and about their futures.

Like I said, I’m not a huge fan of the show, but with heart felt call-ins from Stevie Richards, Bubba Ray Dudley, and even a snide little call from Eric Bischoff (who’s character and real life persona are both snake oil salesman slimy), it was a pretty cool show.

I think the way that Heyman and Dreamer are booking the show, not letting all of the matches out, doing guerrilla marketing, trying to keep it small and intimate, are all really cool things. The only slightly crappy thing about the show is that there will be quite a bit of WWE talent on the show.

I think however that when the show gets going, there is a good chance that WWE will realize they’ve got something special on their hands, and Vince will tell everyone to back the hell off and let Paul do his thing. He’s a lunatic, but he’s a good lunatic, and he’s one of those guys who can get you to drink his Kool Aid just with the power of his voice.