A Realignment

I’ve started to follow Matt Mullenweg’s blog (yes, the WordPress founder) and he does a great job of blogging things he cares about in his personal life as well as his professional life. The tone of the blog is very positive, interesting, and entertaining even for people that aren’t WordPress fans like myself. You get a great sense of the man behindthe site that I think some blogs are missing. I saw a link that he posted that went into depth about the idea of “owning our digital homes”. To go along with the idea of a “digital home”, I’m realigning my own blog. I want this blog to be useful to people and interesting, but also to serve as an archive and a record of my own data . This blog holds my data and it will retain my data for as long as I keep it running. I won’t be posting personal things that should be on something like Facebook, but I will be posting more links I find interesting like Martin Wolf does on his blog and that other people do as well.

New Theme

I rolled out a nice upgrade to the site today by moving to the Yoko theme. Yoko is fully responsive and very minimal which is just what I wanted. Gone is the glossy Web 2.0 nav bar and other stylistic errors and replaced with a nice light texture, the Droid sans font (which I’m not completely sold on yet) and a simple nav bar. Yes, I’m still working on the logo.

I’ve added a few new pages as well with some new content coming soon. I wanted a place to track my Fitness levels and also a place to store my code-specific wallpapers and that content will be coming soon.

Checking In

Not too much activity here on the ol’ blog, but I’ve been plenty busy.
I’ve been working on the launch of a web app for a mortgage firm writing up the front-end code and assisting with some design aspects as well. Very, very challenging but I’m loving the work.

On a personal level, 2012 has been the year that I get myself back in shape. To do that, I’ve been running during my lunch hour at work which is usually the time that I get to code. So my personal coding has slowed down some, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Feel free to email me if you’d like more details about my ongoing running/fitness tale.

And if you’re not following CSS Wizardry yet, you should. Harry has been putting out some amazing content for CSS (and HTML) aficionado’s alike. I’m reading through all the archives and loving it. Good stuff.

Also, here’s a little inspirational wallpaper I whipped up just for fun:

CSS Reset vs. Normalize

I was listening to the Shop Talk show to the other day and they had Paul Irish as a guest. If you don’t know who Paul is, he’s the one who created the HTML5 Boilerplate, CSS3Please, and various other tool-type sites that are awesome and super useful.

Paul mentioned that they’ve switched to normalize.css on the latest version of the HTML5 Boilerplate instead of using reset.css. normalize.css has some reset functions but also keeps some default styling intact as well.

I tried using normalize.css on a project the other day but realized I still like Eric Meyer’s reset.css a lot more. Using a reset gives you a clean slate to build your CSS which is my favorite part about it. However, creating your own “boilerplate” is even more valuable. If you find yourself re-writing code because your reset already cleared it, you should then modify your reset to fit your own needs. I like to take code, em, pre, and strong, out of the normal reset flow because I always use one or all of those tags in my projects.

Newsletters

If you’re like me, your Google Reader is filled with tons of subscriptions to various Web Dev, Design, and Web Technology-related news. While those subscriptions are valuable, sometimes it’s helpful to just get a summary of all the noteworthy news you might have missed during the week.

Enter “E-mail Newsletters”.

While it’s definitely an old-school way of distributing news, the newsletter seems to be making a comeback. Here are my picks:

HTML5DEV is a great resource for all-things HTML5 and browser technology.

Tom McFarlin writes a great software/web development newsletter.

And for the web designers, Web Design Weekly generates a great newsletter as well.

For a novice like myself, I find that the more resources and learning materials that I have, the better I get at coding websites.

Moving Day

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about setting up my landing page. A “landing” or “personal-brand” page explains in a summary of who you are and what you do. I had thought about just setting up an “About” page link on my blog, but ended up moving my blog to blog.andrewcodes.com and my landing page to the top domain andrewcodes.com.

Moving WordPress

I’ve never created a sub-domain before or a landing page, so I wanted to jot down my steps on how I did that:

  1. I went to my cPanel on my host and setup a new subdomain, blog.andrewcodes.com. Just a few clicks and it was done.
  2. If you are using WordPress, you’ll definitely want to follow the Moving WordPress guide.
  3. The key points from the Moving WordPress guide are to change your Site Address and WordPress address before moving your actual site. If you don’t, you won’t be able to get into your Dashboard.
  4. After changing the URL’s, move the files and folders that hold everything related to WordPress to its new location. For me, that meant creating a folder called “blog” on my host and then moving the files and folders over (don’t forget to move index.php).
  5. And that’s about it! Once you’ve gone through the steps, you’ll need to wait a little while for your host to update all the changes. It took mine about five minutes.

After I walked through those steps, I was able to upload my landing page to my host and got it up and running with no problems.

Landing Page

I got a lot of inspiration (and the background) for my current landing page from one of John Saddington’s early designs. Check out his other designs as well to get a good idea of how to create your own or use one of his that he’s released.

Other great landing pages:

Phil Coffman

Michael Novotny

Jon Raasch

Minimal Tasks Re-design

Moving to WordPress has giving me more time to work on a new re-design of Minimal Tasks which is definitely needed. I’m also cleaning up the code as well to make the actual size of the site as small as possible. Many thanks to Harold at Overcommitted for helping me out with my lack of design skills.

If you like and use Minimal Tasks, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail with any feedback you may have. Thanks!

WordPress

I have finally made the jump to WordPress. And so far, I couldn’t be happier.

No longer will I have to create a blog post in HTML, then copy that post into it’s own page while making sure I link back to the main page and the CSS correctly. No longer will I have to deal with revisions upon revisions of my custom themes. No longer will I have to think about, “Okay, I saved my images here, but I’m in this post, so the file path to that image should be …”.

I’ve only used WordPress.com which is the free, light version of WordPress. WordPress.org is where you’ll want to download the full, install-able version. I’ve now installed WordPress on my host, created the database, and got everything up and running. It took about a week to transition over. I chose the Skeleton Framework as my theme due to it’s simplicity, built-in responsiveness (go ahead and re-size the page), and overall minimal design.

I used John Saddington’s excellent guide (aptly named “The Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog”) to get WordPress running which takes you through the steps of installing WordPress on your host and securing it correctly.

It was a little daunting once I realized that PHP and MySQL are involved for getting your site up and running, but there’s actually very little on the back-end that needs to get setup in order for your site to run. Obviously you’ll need a database, but John’s guide takes you through step-by-step on setting that up. I highly recommend starting out with a framework or existing theme when starting out with WordPress if you don’t know any PHP. A framework will still let you customize the look and feel without having to worry about the back-end.

So what does this mean for this site? Their is now a comment system in place and you are welcome to comment on any posts. This also means that I can concentrate more on learning and publishing then on the blog’s architecture because WordPress can take care of everything. Also, RSS is now active and you can now subscribe to my posts. As I’ve stated in another post, I enjoyed creating the site in a static, HTML/CSS-only way, but the tipping point was when I had to start thinking about pagination and I realized I had absolutely no desire to try and set that up. Creating a static site is a great way to learn, but to me, converting over to WordPress was the next step.

More WordPress links: WordPress on the Tuts+ Network, WordPress frameworks