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Category Archives: Outbursts

Shake up your web design, grab a skateboard

Yeah, you’re irked. Your client has a great idea for an internet business, has spend hours working though the details, you sit down to start a layout, and nothing! You’re stuck. The ever-present deadline looms and you need to be productive tonight or your schedule is shot. What do you do?

For years my favorite cure for for writer’s block, designer’s block or boredom of any sort has involved a skateboard. My house is located near Little Cottonwood Canyon for two reasons. The world-class winter conditions a few minutes away at Snowbird and the many canyon hills surrounding my house.

My freelance work is usually late at night, and many moonlit nights have found me bombing my steep little Alta Canyon Road under the 1 AM streetlights. A few exhilarating trips down the hill and my heart is pounding, my brain is alert, and I’ve had the necessary diversion to once again be productive.

Sector 9 Skateboards

On our annual beach trip to Balboa Peninsula, my eight year old daughter, Ellie, took a giant interest in skateboarding. In fact she spent so much time on my Sector 9 Cosmic 1 deck that I went out and bought a new Sunset Bamboo Series Sector 9. I know it’s a concave rip off of a Loaded deck, but it sure carves nice.

So last Friday I had the day off of work. The 24th of July is a state holiday in Utah. It’s basically a second 4th of July disguised with the title “Pioneer Day”. Who am I to complain about a day off. Lately, I’ve been interested in building an old-school deck. In fact, I’ve even been scouring eBay for my first real early 70’s skateboard, an aluminum with big Road Rider wheels. I loved that deck like no other.

banzai skateboard
Mine was blue

So on Friday morning I took Landon and Ellie to my old shop, Salty Peaks, to build an old-school deck for Ellie that I might ride a little when she wasn’t looking 🙂 Of course she was more interested in every flavor of pink instead of how closely dad could recreate is old 70’s friend. But I must say we ended up with a fun little Real custom old-school deck.

After a few minutes of assembling and padding up Ellie in her safety gear, we were off to have mexican food and practice in a parking lot near our house. We took several runs and Ellie was doing so well. Then it happened, a teenage in a white sub-compact car came speeding directly at us. I don’t know what he was watching but we were the only ones in a giant parking lot and he was about to run us down. I grabbed Landon, turned around to yell “Stop” to Ellie and the next thing I knew, Landon and I were down. I broke Landon’s fall except the poor guy bumped his cheek a little, and fortunately the kid in the car was nice enough to slow down and swerve around us as I picked up my 3 year old boy.

I sat him on my skateboard and realized my right shoulder wasn’t exactly where is was supposed to be. I few doctor visits later and I’m supposedly good as new, but it sure does hurt.

Sector 9 Skateboards

Sector 9 Skateboards
My new and improved bionic shoulder

So apparently I did an extra good job of diverting myself from designer’s block this time. Hopefully when all of this loritab wears off, I’ll be able to focus, because no one in my family will let me skateboard in the near future.

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BouncyBall.jpg

Reasons why every web developer needs to carry a bouncy ball in his pocket at all times.

Web development has it moments. In a minor way, you can create a whole new world with every project. Creativity, problem solving, mathematics, all have their place in development and can be quite rewarding. In fact job satisfaction is the only thing that keeps this snowboarder/skateboard sitting at a desk day after day.

On the other end of the spectrum, frustrations can run high. Timelines, deadlines, and unforeseen issues add anxiety that can linger long after a project is complete. To help prevent ulcers, may I suggest a bouncy ball. A bouncy ball in your pocket can provide a few seconds of childish fun when things don’t work out as planned.

Below I have listed a sanity formula for some of the issues I face daily. I’m not sure Tony (in the office next to mine) appreciates my formula, but he can always get his own bouncy ball, right?

Lack of Organization (5 Bounces)

You know it, and I know it when corners are cut, hacks are implemented to save the day, directory structures are out-grown, shortcuts usually catch up to you. If you’re paying the price daily for a poor decision made years ago, take out that bouncy ball and unleash it against the nearest wall.

Unreasonable Deadlines (10 Bounces)

What can we have by friday? is a phase that occurs way too often at my place of work. Rolling a project and assuming there will be time later to add necessary features is a flawed mindset. There is never enough time to fix half-baked features, let alone repair customer perception. Sorry Tony, that will be Ten Bounces!

Network Issues (15 Bounces)

You have a deadline looming. You’ve cleared all of your meetings so you can code without interruption. Headphones on, your favorite up-tempo mix on itunes, game on! Then you realize, server lag. Type one character, wait two seconds. The IT guy that left and the company never replaced wasn’t that important until right now. Fifteen bounces (20 if the CTO comes downstairs and asks if you can see what you can do about the internet).

Bad Eye (20 Bounces)

Have you ever taken a job, and then excitedly came up with a perfect website prototype that is exactly right for your client? Then you remember that you promised 3 layouts by your next meeting so you come up with 2 horrible layouts that they will never like. Then in your meeting, your client decides that one of your horrible layouts it exactly what the company has been looking for! Twenty Bounces!

Right Job, Wrong Person (15 Bounces)

You’re hooked up this time. A perfect client that will look great on your resume. Your lawyers have reviewed the contracts, everything is signed, and two weeks into the gig, your point of contact is changed to “Cheryl” that sounds slightly older than your mother on the phone. That’s not bad, until her first question is, “Do you know how to use the Eyedropper Tool in Photoshop?” She then proceeds to ask for your company fax number, since she doesn’t quite have this “Outlook” thing figured out. Fifteen bounces.

Lack of Direction (25 Bounces)

You company is growing, your priorities are set, and the future looks good. The web team is half way through a project that is going to do wonders for the company’s core business. Then a company exec is playing on the internet and finds a feature on a site that isn’t in your market. Your priorities are shifted overnight and the web team is hard at work on a project that doesn’t really apply to your core business, but orders are orders. Then this buddy of that same exec (who happens to be an unemployed DBA) can’t believe what the web team is working on, but he has something he’s been working on with his brother-in-law that will revolutionize our business. New priorities for the web team. If this is you, I feel sorry for you. Twenty-five bounces and a trip to the mall to reload on bouncy balls.

IE 6 Compatibility (75 Bounces)

Seriously? Can IE 6 die yet?