Monday, January 02, 2006

Just plain quirky 

Is how Howard describes this blog's look and feel here. (naturally just after I disappear off the net for two weeks). He goes on to make the most excellent point that look and feel counts and is a part of the content of the site. I have to say that quirky probably sums me up as well as most single word summaries would, and I'd consider it a compliment even if it were not so intended.

However I do intend to revamp the blog a bit. Partly because Howard is exactly correct - look and feel matters, though I remain to be convinced that the black on white newsprint style is an appropriate online style - but also because of a couple of other issues.

The first is retrieval of old posts, Howard and many others like the calendar, technorati like tags, blogger likes archives and I, well I don't really like any of them. Most Oracle related blogs aren't date but subject matter driven so I don't like the calendar/archive approach. I also don't like the meta-tagging approach (no I don't much like xml either) for this to work effectively everyone needs to agree on what the tags mean (or ship and publish endless datadictionaries/schemas/taxonomies that everyone keeps up to date). This probably works to a degree for simple entities like orders but for free text content this isn't great.

The second is that I will eventually need more space than my current isp offers for free, this means that I need to start considering some options about hosting.

so what I am after is a service that is cheap - free is good. Offers good search facilities, comments and comment verification, neat but not conventional designs, and is fairly hassle free for the blogger. It'll also have to compete with the idea of writing something and sticking it on production XE sometime, which has no merit but technical interest.

If you've read so far then you'll know what is coming. Recommendations please. Bear in mind though that I don't much care about ease of use from my perspective, its searchability decent space allowance and good designs that I'm after, which equates I hope to ease of use from your perspective as readers.

9 Comments
9 Comments:
I could wish you'd phrase things slightly differently. There was no deliberate intent on my part to say something critical about your Blog's design knowing that you were off-air for two weeks, and therefore that I could trash the place without fear of retribution or comeback. Your last 2005 blog said you were off on holiday, not that you wouldn't be accessing the Internet for a fortnight.

Your second paragraph implies I think the black-on-white newsprint style is an appropriate online style, yet my blog is olive, white and shades of brown, and the main site is green, grey and white, though with a choice of alternatives. I have actually been at the forefront of trying to give people the choice of how they want things to look, by advocating for nearly a year strong use of standards-compliant HTML and Cascading Style Sheets.

Your statement that "Most Oracle related blogs aren't date but subject matter driven so I don't like the calendar/archive approach" misses the point, I think. The calendar is a square inch or so of potentially 30 links to content. That makes it a very dense, information-rich linking tool. The fact that it has a time-based component is almost incidental. Besides, if I ask you how indexes work, and you say that you answered that question back in October, the distinction between 'subject matter driven' and 'calendar driven' becomes academic, and the time-capabilities of the tool are suddenly less incidental.

You are unlikely to be able to better (IMHO, of course) www.lunarpages.com. For US$7.95 per month, you get 3GB of disk space, 400GB of monthly bandwidth, excellent email-based technical support, as many MySQL or PostgreSQL databases as you like, and hence the ability to run Wordpress blogging software (supplied for free) under your full control. http://www.webhosting20.com/lunar-pages-review.htm -though if you google for 'review lunarpages' you'll find the usual bunch of slightly odd people complaining they are the worst rotters since Adolph. Not my experience at all, is all I can say.
 
About the look and feel: i think you need to add some white space. Your text is touching the borders. This gives it a very chaotic look and feel. Add some padding or margin. With the propper white space, you may not even need the borders anymore. Here's a good book on this subject: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1581152507

Regards,
Andrej
 
Wow ! I just realised that you have been blogging since March 2004. Does that make you the earliest Oracle blogger (aka. oldest blogger in town) ?

Good luck with the revamp whatever you decide to do. I enjoy your blog content regardless of the presentation. I use hosted WordPress.com which I am perfectly happy with (especially now I have a theme that displays a calendar) :-)
 
Howard,

There should have been a smiley after the disappear off the net comment, which was intended ironically. I really didn't intend my remarks to imply that you either were the type to offer anything else than positive and helpful criticism. I certainly wasn't offended and I didn't intend my introductory paragraph to suggest that I was, I don't read it that way but then I did write it.

The black and white remarks aren't aimed at you (or anyone), that is why they start a new paragraph, they were just prompted by the observation that many Oracle blogs I see feature black text on white backgrounds. Clearly yours doesn't fit this category.



Andy,

Actually I have been using blogger since 2004, I've being doing the periodic site update with various bits and pieces since July 03 - don't know if that counts as blogging or not. Scary either way.

I believe Mark Rittman would count as the oldest blogger in town - his archives go back to June 03.

I still disagree with both you and Howard about calendars though - but I'll probably now include one, if I'm to be true about being driven by user needs not my ideas the calendar needs to feature.
 
This post has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
I revamped my template just because I got tired of looking at the same thing all the time.
 
I don't know if you ever saw it, but I posted somewhere that your site looks fine on my new flat-panel screens, and still looks not-so-good on some old CRT's. So not only can you not satisfy all of the people all of the time, you can't satisfy one person all of the time. So make the default look good in your opinion, and follow Howard's display advice.

I'm also looking for free/cheap hosting for "small" videos, putfile.com isn't working for me at all.

verification: foasd man, that has to be rude.
 
cheers Joel

I don't think I have used a CRT since 2001. I guess that means I haven't thought about that display medium in a while. mea culpa.

foasd = federation of amateur software developers :)

mine is pwvwypkc which I think is a hot new linux package..
 
Sounds like something Pink Floyd would groove with :)

igstlu - sounds like IM speak, I just tell you, I guessed luser
 
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