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grammatica 12th
My daughter is happily involved in the DanceVersity World Dance for Youth group, and despite Lou Rosenfeld's good advice, I completely redesigned the web site. It was unreadable on mobile devices and the festoons of purple lace made it hard to scan on the best monitors. It was so fragile that literally typing one word in the body could suddenly break all the layout and everything would be stacked on the left side. Oh, and there were large blocks of text that had been created in a bitmap graphics program, completely opaque to assistive devices and search engines, and they were impossible to update.

So I cut out half the pages and 2/3 of the navigation links, made the fonts bigger and em-based, the layout liquid, and everything much much simpler. The page titles are now fairly uniform and informative, and I stuck in some location keywords and wrong spellings, so it's much more search-engine friendly.

There are still loose ends but it was a small project that was very satisfying. And everyone really loves it, which gratifies me no end. I'm happy to say that the principals of information architecture and user experience worked in practice exactly as in theory.
3rd-Apr-2010 06:57 pm - David's triumph!
David has been very involved with student-run conference at UC Berkeley about Big Ideas and Cool Stuff, called TedXBerkeley. He's been working hard on it for a month, and full-out this last week. And it worked! 700 people in Wheeler Auditorium, some new ideas and some old ideas explained well. Everyone seemed to like it.

This is what it looked like:

And after all the running around and phone calls and making sure the volunteers did what needed doing, when it was over, they appreciated him (he's the one wearing the white shirt and skinny tie):

We were watching the webcast and beaming as only proud parents can

PS I am sorry about the advertising, I will move this shortly
7th-Mar-2009 09:23 am - Once upon a time on the Internet
grammatica 12th
 Back in the early days of the Web, I registered a random name (based on a ship in Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey-Maturin novels).

Then I sold it in 1999, for a whole lot more money than I expected. It really did feel like being lucky in a land rush: I was just in the right place at the right time!

(triggered by the Freakanomics blog post on domain name squatters)

[when I get inspired by a blog post and comment, just feel like keeping it where I can find it]

The Freakonomics Blog in the NY Times has been trying to dispel myths about Los Angeles, including car culture. Today, they feature a photographer who walked and took photos from Hollywood to Venice - as if that's somehow representative.

My answer
I’m all for walking and photos, but that’s not even a tenth of Los Angeles, the city, much less the county. It’s like walking around Manhattan and saying you know New York.
LA is the Valley, it’s Watts, Chatsworth, Tuhunga, and all the way down to San Pedro! LA so much more than the northwest edges of the main basin.
This actually makes a point about LA and cars: Mathieu Young could only see a tiny bit of the city on foot.
– grew up in Encino, commuted by freeway to junior high

Best and most telling map: City of Los Angeles neighborhoods
20th-Dec-2008 10:27 pm - nerdy academic fun
CiteSeerX -- all sorts of automated linking goodness -- what's better is that I got to track down the info and write an article about it. It makes me a little nostalgic for the very first days of EndNote, when we all worked in one room and answered the phone, and I wrote the sort function, with lots of help from Greg.
6th-Sep-2008 07:33 pm - Tropicana design failure
I gave the TROPICANA orange juice bottle a good shake and the damn lid flew off and it sprayed OJ all over the kitchen floor, the stove, my sandals, my toes!

Apparently the idiots at TROPICANA haven't user-tested the new-style plastic cap. The TROPICANA plastic bottle has instructions on how to close the cap (press the center to seal). This is a known sign of bad design! TROPICANA should go back to the old simple screw-top cap. Until then, don't buy TROPICANA with the silly snap top.
13th-Jan-2007 05:20 pm - Etymology and history
grammatica 12th
My kidlet's writing a story for school, about a bear in a meadow. She asked how to spell meadow and I had to check. And it got me thinking about the word 'meadow'Collapse )

Yay Online Etymology Dictionary!

But that got me to thinking about the changes that the Web has wrought, in general. I read a lovely book, very well written, called "The Historian". It was set in the 50s and early 70s, all melange of genres including mystery, horror, romance, epistolatory (told as letters) and some others I can't remember. But the main theme was based around a mysterious story of Vlad Drakul -- Dracula -- and there were many trips to exotic libraries, each of which had tiny pieces of the puzzle.

That's barely thinkable today, especially with a topic as popular as Dracula. For even obscure topics, there are a couple of decent web pages, a Wikipedia article, and a hundred passing mentions. It's amazing.
15th-Dec-2006 03:52 pm - resource for mysterious calls
I was getting a ton of calls from a mysterious number: 800 807 4106, and the only message was to call back and ask for a Nancy someone. It turns out I'm not the only one: this site helped me decode it: http://whocalled.us/.

I did eventually call and they asked for someone I'd never heard of, which I said. So they said they'd take my number off their list -- we shall see.
I have used the Message Center, http://www.livejournal.com/inbox/ for a while now, and it's useful but significantly flawed.

  • Lets users track replies to other people's post.

  • Provides a simple way to follow threads in long posts

  • Actually notifies users of being added to people's flists.

  • Not being able to search, sort or tag messages is ridiculous! Users can't even find the unread messages.

  • The items don't show the title of post, all it ever says is "an entry" - that's annoying and basically useless

  • What is the "pages" thing? Why isn't it just a list?

  • I delete stuff, the page is empty. I refresh, it's filled in. WTF?

  • There's no auto-refresh, no matter how long the page is open. This is user-hostile behavior.

  • How many is the maximum number of messages? What happens when a person hits it?

  • We should be able to open parent, and/or reply directly to a message.

  • WHERE is the help? the FAQ is wildly inadequate.

  • New friend notification doesn't have the "new" label, but is bold until you mark it read

  • The "new" label stays around even after marking the entry as read. What does it mean? How long does it last? One day? A week? A month?

  • No action buttons at the bottom

  • No "go to first page" link at the top

  • Select All should be labeled, not just a checkbox at the top

  • The JavaScript eats my Firefox command-click to open in new tab, also space bar to page down.

    • Basically, LJ should just look at Gmail and copy most of those features.
4th-Oct-2006 12:20 pm - del.icio.us millionth user party
The food was, as promised, delicious, or at least pretty good. Nice wine, too. There are pictures of computer nerds standing around, but I'm not in any of them :-)

I asked two questions of the del.icio.us people:

Why are the tags separated by a space instead of a comma or something else?
(They screwed it up on the free T-shirts: they said millionth user -- which is two tags when they should have had one, though none of the options is particularly good: MillionthUser? millionth-user? millionth_user?, which kinda proves my point.)

Anyway, the founder said that it seemed like a good idea at the time, that he regretted it and that they are working on making changes, but the transition could be tricky. He also had to look at the T-shirt and was chagrined that they got it wrong.

(Grace's question) Can you search by URL, host or domain name?
Nice programmer helping distribute T-shirts said that they do have a url search, http://del.icio.us/url/, but only for specific pages, not whole hosts or domains. He laughed at the question about wildcards there -- apparently the whole back end is on mySQL which is just not up to the task and he's trying to fix that. Which is why it takes so long for new tags to show up.
11th-Nov-2004 10:37 pm - friending policy
My personal stuff here is locked. It's easy to get your own LiveJournal and if you do and you are one of my real life family or friends, I will be happy to "friend" your journal and let you see what I'm up to.
3rd-Nov-2004 12:15 pm - about the next four years
I can't leave the country. I have a mortgage and t'husband's job and kids in school and family here and way too much invested (emotionally) to leave.

I won't leave the country. I love the United States of America: I love the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the system of checks and balances, the ideals of democracy, the populist streak of our history, separation of Church and State, public schools, public libraries, the opportunities for poor and immigrant people to find success.

These are the things that are likely to happen with Bush as president and Republicans controlling the Congress:Collapse )

I predict that it will be pretty bad. It was bad when Nixon tried to control the media and wanted to round up the liberals and radicals. It was bad when Reagan wanted to go back to the movie-1950s when everything was traditional and only we had The Bomb. We lived through it, but it was bad. I intend to work hard against this agenda by spending money, time and effort in groups like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, peace groups and the Sierra Club. But I don't expect to enjoy it.
8th-Jul-2003 11:41 am - Yes, I am the Avirr
This is a journal for Avi's personal stuff.

All professional contacts, please go through searchtools.com or send email to avirr at searchtools dot com.

If you want to contact me personally, try my avirr.com web site or send email to nets at avirr dot com.

If you are a friend and want to read about my life on LJ, comment on this message and I'll friend you.
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