Diary, Web

Coming up: Web programming certificate

I finished my master’s over 2 years ago and, though I am always learning about something by reading or doing, I’m beginning to feel the itch to do some structured learning again. The last time I did a class it was cake decorating and I ended up successfully making a 3-tier wedding cake this summer. This time, I’m going to do something that will hopefully also help me professionally: a web programming certificate offered by the O’Reilly School of Technology. Not that the cake decorating wasn’t useful – knowing me, I still may end up a pastry chef/restaurateur someday.

If I finish it, I’ll end up with a Certificate for Professional Development from the University of Illinois. It was half off for a few days and my mother loves the idea of me doing some non-music schooling, so for the cost of one grad school credit (seriously, one credit is currently $1,040 at Eastman) that’s not coming out of my pocket, I can get a piece of paper that proves that I know more than how to play the piano. Sure, books are way cheaper and the classes may or may not be of the best quality (I get the feeling I’ll finish the HTML/CSS basics one in an hour), but my gut tells me that as a person with two degrees in music but a job in web development, a certificate in web programming can’t hurt.

As I get started and move on, I’ll try to remember to blog some thoughts – maybe using a WordPress for iOS beta?! (I got into the testers group! Woohoo!)

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Links, Reading, Web

Great read on higher ed websites as prompted by that XKCD cartoon

But even then, some colleges’ home pages are saturated with features that do not so much reflect guesses at what visitors need, but what various campus interests want. Greenfield said “home page politics” — different departments and personalities jockeying for position — have a strong influence on what an institution’s site ends up looking like. After all, he said, if a president says he wants a letter and a mission statement out front, what Web administrator is going to say no?

No Laughing Matter at Inside Higher Ed

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Mac

Dear Finder: You suck.

Thank goodness for TotalFinder: tabs, dual pane, visor, hotkeys, .DS_Store litter management, folders on top (at least in list view – can we get some column view soon?), all in a Finder plugin. Might actually spend the $15 on this when 1.0 comes out – happy with the alpha so far, and it’s way better than $40 for Pathfinder and more app clutter.

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This really made me think (from It Isn’t Minimalism at Usability Post):

Clear, clean and simple design isn’t minimalist. It’s just good, clear design.

I always look at minimalist web design roundups with great interest because they inspire me, yet for some reason I never thought about how that is in direct opposition to my general indifference toward minimalism in music. Minimalism in music is characterized by patterns that repeat, with the interest generally being in shifting rhythms and/or small changes in tonality that are more apparent because of all the repetition. Minimalism in web design (and design and architecture at large) refers more to the stripping down of a subject to its basics. I suppose you could say that minimalism in music and design represent the same aesthetic, but most minimalist music bores me to tears and I would be pretty aggravated if somebody were to approach me and say that it represents the only necessary elements of music.

I’d opine that the author of the sentence I quoted above is right in questioning whether or not minimalism is the right word, as opposed to something like simple and functional. I’d then have to argue that “good” is far too subjective and that simplicity neither represents good nor bad on its own. I also have to say that just because I’m inspired by these minimalist/clean/functional websites doesn’t mean I don’t still love things that are make huge visual impact in the opposite way (though they must still be clean and functional or I get annoyed very quickly). I wonder how long this trend will last before everything starts to look essentially the same. Sometimes decoration is necessary to give something its own individual character, much like ornamentation can tell you which Baroque composer or architect created a piece. I just hope that the simple, clean functionality espoused by these “minimalist” websites can carry over into web design at large.

Bonus: Music I love that is so not minimalism (and yes, the ending is ridiculous slash bordering on funny):

Mac, Technology

Magic Trackpad?!

Anybody who’s been subjected to me talking about my computer setup/injury prevention/productivity obsession knows that I love using a trackball* the vast majority of the time. So far the only exception I can think of is Minesweeper, but now that I’ve completely switched over to a Mac slash Apple products in general, this awesome clone of Minesweeper on the iPhone quells my bomb-defusing addiction.

ANYWAY, for me, today’s Apple announcement about the Magic Trackpad boils down to this:

magic trackpad plus pogo sketch

(In case you’re not into input devices, that second item is a Pogo Sketch, which, along with their Inklet software, can turn trackpads into pressure-sensitive tablets. And yes, of course it comes in orange. And yes, I have a Wacom tablet, but I got it before they came out with the Touch line. Sigh.)

* The Kensington Slimblade FINALLY has programmable buttons. I was happy with it even without, but now that it can do more than just zoom/pan and control music, I wholeheartedly recommend it as a badass and very sexy trackball. I just need a wrist pad. And to stop obsessively cleaning it whenever I am meditating on something at work.

** I should probably also mention that those icons in my quick graphic up there are from a set called BlackStroke.

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