Thursday, June 28, 2007


I just pressed the "submit" button on my application to take part in FullCodePress. Woohoo!

Regular readers might have noticed a distinct lack of entries on my blog over the past couple of weeks - well now you know why. I've been updating my website to include the dozen or so sites I've built over the past year (Oopsie! Need to keep that website updated, girrl!)

I'd like to collapse in a heap right about now, but no - I need to keep on working on the latest awesome site to leave the hallowed halls of Shift, so this blog post is gonna be pretty short.

In fact, I think I might stop right now. I'm planning to do a bunch of musings on FullCodePress over the next few days - I have one in my head entitled The pursuit of perfection and learning to let go which I'm sure you're just dying to read, but I'm gonna leave it for now and get back to WORK...


FullCodePress (part two)
Awesome! I'm on the team!

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Wanted: 1950s wife

This is probably going to be the most un-PC thing I ever write in my blog. Feminists (and I include myself in that group) look away now! (Which seeing as I also have to look away, is going to make it quite tricky to write this...)

OK, here goes.

I want a wife. But not just any wife. Oh no - I have my heart set on an archetypal, stereotypical, swirly dress-wearing, 1950 housewife. You know the type - she cooks like a dream, keeps the house spotless, and anticipates her husband's every wish. She wears an apron/pinny like it's her uniform, and she lives to please her man.

I told you this was going to be un-PC, didn't I?

Wouldn't it be nice (I dream to myself) to come home from a hard day's web developing and have my ever-loving wife waiting for me in the kitchen. "Hello darling," she'd say, "have you had a good day? Oh - you look a little worn out, sit down here in the comfy chair and I'll bring you a nice cold beer/hot coffee. Dinner's nearly ready - we're having your favourite (of course!). Are your shoulders a bit tight darling? Shall I give you a shoulder massage?"

Ah bliss...

During dinner I'd tell her about my day. "Goodness me darling, so you solved a tricky little HasLayout bug, blew away two examples of the double float doubled margin bug, built a min-width layout using the jello mould technique and exceeded e-government accessibility guidelines for levels 1 to 3! Gosh darling, you are clever!"

And after dinner she'd be all "now darling, you go play on your computer while I stack the dishwasher, tidy the kitchen, run around the house with a duster, clean out the cat tray, do the washing and fix you a lovely lunch to take to work tomorrow... no, no, of course you don't need to lift a finger to help - I love running around after you anticipating your every need. Would you like a foot rub when I've finished cleaning up?"

In return of course I'd take care of her, open doors for her, give her some housekeeping money and "ensure she's kept in the manner to which she's become accustomed" - which I would have had to convince her father I was able to do, before he'd have "given" her to me. Hmmm. It doesn't really sound like a fair exchange for having a full-time unpaid servant, now does it?

I suppose these days the closest you'd get to the 1950s housewife would be having a housekeeper, or a cook, or a butler, or even a cleaning lady. But it isn't the same really, is it? Your cleaning lady isn't about to listen to the minutiae of your daily HTML adventures, and neither is your butler, and I'm sure a housekeeper wouldn't be into giving you a foot rub after dinner...

*sigh* I was so born the wrong gender in the wrong decade...

Heh. I'm joking of course. Mostly ;)

But look! It seems that I'm not the only one nostalgic for the 50s:

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Friday, June 15, 2007

File this under "too cute for words"

Ah Connie! You restore my faith in... I don't know, you just restore my faith.

This is 6 year old Connie, singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow on ITV's talent show, Britain's Got Talent. I don't know about the rest of Britain (it's been a while since I lived there), but Connie certainly has talent to burn. The best smile ever and the most amazing voice you'll ever hear from a 6 year old. Stunning.

I bet you can't watch it without getting a little teary - and if you can tear yourself away from Connie for a second, check out the audience while she's singing. I don't think a single one of them took a single breath throughout her whole song. She had them, as they say, in the palm of her hand.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Meeting Florence - and choosing not to have kids

This is Florence (Flo for short) with her new dad and mum, Kurt and Briget. She's the latest addition to my wonderful circle of friends. Isn't she gorgeous?

I got to spend all afternoon with them yesterday, and we went through a whole "baby cycle". Hold baby, talk to baby, baby naptime, baby wakeup, baby feed, baby play, hold baby again, talk to baby again, baby bathtime, baby sleeptime. Grownup talking, grownup fish and chip eating, grownup rugby watching (go the All Blacks!), grownup beer drinking. It was lovely!

Unlike the majority of my friends, I decided a long time ago that I didn't particularly want children. I think there are a few reasons why...

Firstly, I don't think I have the "maternal gene" - whatever that is. Most women get that biological clock thing happening at some point - generally in their thirties I suppose - and the ticking of the clock becomes louder than anything else in their life. So they do something about it, which generally means finding someone to have kids with (assuming you don't have a someone already) and then getting down to it.

My ticking clock never eventuated. I never heard the tick - and, to be honest, I didn't really expect to. Because...

...reason number two - I never envisioned children in my future.

You know how throughout your life you have a mental picture of how it is now, and how it's going to be? Well, my mental picture of my future never had children in it. I never really had a positive picture of being a mum, or having kids.

Oh sure, as a child I stuffed a pillow up my jumper to see what it would look like (I thought I looked ridiculous). I do also remember imagining myself being a mum. I have an incredibly vivid picture in my mind of how I imagined life would be. It's a vision of a woman, alone, pushing a pram up a hill in a deserted, lonely street.

I have no idea where the vision came from - the suburb where we lived was beautiful, tree-lined, full of parks. Nothing like the dismal housing estate in my head. Still, I remember sensing the intensely lonely desperation of the woman in my mind, and I remember vowing that that would never be me.

Reason number three is that I have not met my soulmate, and therefore I have had no reason to want to set aside reasons #1 and #2. Kurt reckons that, had I met Mr Right, I would probably have had kids, and I think he's probably right. The love of a good man, and wanting to express that love through having children together, would have overridden any doubts I might have had.

But it didn't happen. There have been three men in my life with whom I could imagine having children, but they didn't feel the same way about me. As I said, rather sadly, to Kurt - there's actually no-one who's wanted to have children with me. Ah well.

I just feel incredibly lucky that I wasn't desperate to have children. Imagine how much worse that would be, if I ached to have kids, and I hadn't had them! Alice reckons if my clock had started ticking I would have made sure I found a man who wanted to procreate. She's probably right.

Or I suppose I could have got myself knocked up and had the baby on my own. I know the thought crossed my mind somewhere in my early 20s (before I knew any single parents and realised what an incredibly difficult job it is), but it didn't really go anywhere. I just remember thinking that if my clock did start ticking at some point, I'd be prepared to have a kid on my own if it came to it. Except the clock appears to be broken...

There was an interesting piece in The Guardian Comment is Free section recently. It was written by a woman who (thus far) had decided not to have children. She's not ruling it out in the future, but right now, she's not interested. She's happy with her life, and her career, she's not that into babies, and her clock isn't ticking, although she accepts it might start sometime. She wasn't very impressed with the women who have kids giving her a hard time about not having them.

The comments section was very interesting. I don't think I've ever seen such vitriol in The Guardian (unless it's aimed at George Bush). She was called "selfish", "self-centered", "barren", and told her life was meaningless and pointless. It was amazing. Women who felt the same way as she did were laying into the "smug marrieds", and those who they feel are selfish for having children and for wanting to create a little "mini-me".

Both sides felt they were continually being lectured by the other side. Mothers were tired of having the job of childrearing undervalued by career women. Women without children were tired of being told that they led selfish, meaningless lives. It got very heated, very polarised and really vicious.

I guess I was surprised because, really, what does it matter what other people choose to do? I'm happy with my life, but I see no need to either justify my choices or judge other people for having made different ones. I know I've made the less usual choice, but that's fine by me. I never was entirely conventional anyway. But it doesn't mean I think any less of people who do make the more conventional choice. We each make the choices that are right for us.

I like kids. I like them quite a lot - and they like me. I also like giving them back after a while. They tire me out (as I'm sure they tire their parents out, too!). I've never felt grown-up enough to have kids, and I'm always slightly surprised when my friends go ahead and have them anyway, because I see my friends as being at the same level of grownupness as me. I guess they're not.

I can't imagine being totally responsible for the health and wellbeing of another human being. It frightens the life out of me. I'm completely inconsistent in my level of care of myself, let alone another person. Kurt and Alice both think I think about things like that more deeply than some other people do, and maybe that's what's held me back. Maybe it's also because I'm such a perfectionist and I don't know whether I'd be able to do a good enough job of parenting... and perhaps I'm afraid to try in case I don't reach my own standards, whatever they are.

Kurt and Briget are much more laid-back about the whole parenting thing than I could ever be, and they're doing a great job - without, it seems, too much angsting about it all. I admire all my friends for the way they just get on and do it - they are all such wonderful parents.

I've wondered if I'm completely selfish for choosing not to have children (Alice says no - and thinks that some parents are pretty selfish - the ones who want to create a little mirror image of themselves, anyway). I've wondered if my life is meaningless and unfulfilled, as some of those parents on the Guardian comments thread would judge it to be. I don't think it is, and so I guess that's OK, seeing as it's my life, and my choice.

Anyway, I'm thrilled to have so many little friends in my life. I'm thrilled to be an honorary member of another family (as Zef and Sarah's daughter Eesha has described me, much to my delight). I adore having two nieces and a nephew, and although I'm sad they live on the other side of the world, I'm in awe of the fact that apparently the spare room at their house is now permanently named "webweaver's room" even though I've only stayed there once. I'm honoured every time I get invited to one of my little friends' birthday parties (and find it funny that parents I don't know invariably ask me "which one is yours, then?")

So welcome to our beautiful world, baby Florence. You're going to have a wonderful life with your awesome mummy and daddy. I hope I can share in a little bit of it, just as I do with all the other children and babies in my my inner circle of friends. I'd like that.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Put Paris back in jail!

I'm too tired to write too much tonight - it's been a MEGA week at work - but I just wanted to say one thing today...

Please put Paris Hilton back in jail! At least she was doing somethng useful in there (like stamping licence plates), which is more than can be said for the rest of her sorry, selfish life.

My god. Talk about a completely fucked-up justice system! So children, what have we learned today? Well - it seems that if you're RICH and WHITE you can do whatever the hell you like, and even if they decide to put you in the slammer for breaking the law, you'll be out in three days anyway - "because they're afraid you might have a nervous breakdown".

Give me a break.

Um hello? JAIL ISN'T MEANT TO BE FUN! How come everyone else just has to deal with it and she doesn't?

How come stupid dumb rich white slutty heiresses get off with home detention when they should be in jail, (and they only get sentenced to 24 days in the first place), whereas young black football players like Genarlow Wilson get sentenced to 10 YEARS in jail for receiving a blow job at the age of 17 from a 15 year old (white) girl who, everyone agreed, including the prosecutor and the girl herself, initiated the act...?

And don't get me started on the travesty that is Abu Gonzales, The White House and the "Justice" Department.... The New York Times, by the way, reckons it's subpoena time...

And speaking of justice (or injustice, depending on how you look at it) - anyone taking bets on a) whether they'll let Scooter Libby stay home while his appeal goes through and b) how long it takes Bush to grant him a pardon?

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Five - nil!

Team New Zealand unfurls the flag. Wow!

Awesome sailing, guys! I can't quite believe it - Team New Zealand wins the fifth race against Luna Rossa - we're going to challenge Alinghi for the America's Cup! And at last the Kiwis crack a smile!


Now I'd better go to bed...

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

In honour of my book club

The Book Club - cover. ...or really, in honour of the wonderful women in my book club.

I'd love to write a novel about them. I know, I know, it's been done before - and anyway I'm not sure they'd necessarily appreciate their trials, tribulations, joys and triumphs being put down on paper and shared with the world - but still. They are an amazing group, and there are not many things in my life that can take precedence over my monthly get-together with them all.

I've lost track of how long I've been going to book club - maybe 5 or 6 years now, maybe more - but every month brings something new. Often it's a fresh and wonderful book to dive into, but of equal importance to me is the opportunity to catch a glimpse into the lives of each of these awesome women.

There's something about seeing most of them only once a month that intensifies the experience, somehow. It's like we each open the window of our lives during that evening, and let everyone else look inside. Just for a moment. Then the window closes for another month until we're together once again.

It's an interesting group. A wide range of personalities, backgrounds, and professions. I suppose we're mostly 40-something or older. Some of us are married with kids, some of us are single with no kids, and some of us are somewhere in between. There's no real Alpha female in the goup, which is a Good Thing. I do hear tell of one Wellington book club where the resident Alpha female has actually driven people away - in fact I think one or two of our members might be refugees from that very group - so I think we're all quite grateful for the mix of people we've ended up with.

Over the past howevermanyyearsitis we've experienced our share of births, deaths and marriages, hook-ups and break-ups, sickness and good health - either personally or with those we love. I suppose it's no more or less than any other group, but because of the once-a-month intensity thing, it does sometimes seem that our combined lives are rather full of dramas, both good and bad.

My dear friend Mary is going through a particularly tough time at the moment, and as I'm not the world's most reliable friend, I know in the past I've not always been there for her as much as she'd like. This time though I know she needs her mates around her, so Alice and I are planning to spend some time with her this weekend. Mary and I joined book club together, so I've known her for longer than I've known anyone else there. She's an important person in my life.

I know you don't spend much time online, Mary, and I don't suppose you read my blog, but I'm sending out my love to you anyway. If it hadn't been for you I wouldn't ever have joined book club, and I for that I owe you. You've brought me into contact with a great group of women, and I think my friendship with you has been enriched as a result.

Kia kaha my sweetie. I'll see you at the weekend.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I heart Stu Nicholls' image maps!

So I was working on this map of New Zealand today. I've got a bunch of dots all over the map, and a piece of text that goes with each dot.

I wanted to hover over a dot and have the dot light up, and the relevant piece of text come up - but not next to the dot. Rather, I wanted all the pieces of text to show up in the same place on the graphic - somewhere out at sea where they are easy to read.

In the olden days I'd have made some kind of hideous image map in Dreamweaver - and used Dreamweaver's proprietary scripting to do all kinds of mouseovers and mouseouts in various places on the map. The HTML would have been impenetrable - as I realised today when I took a look at "one I did earlier" and couldn't for the life of me remember how precisely I did it - and it would have filled up my lovely clean CSS-styled page with tons of crap.

Surely I thought - there must be a better way. Flash? Nope - it's not a Flash site and I want it to stay that way. JavaScript? Hmmm - I'm not exactly a guru... I bet there's a way to do it with JavaScript, but I wonder if you can do it using nothing but CSS?

Googlegooglegoogle - oh! here's that lovely Stu Nicholls, popping up in my Google search results. Wonder how he does his...

Hmmmm. It has a big image, a bunch of rollovers where the graphic changes, and some text (and an image I don't need) somewhere else on the page. This could be it!

I just love playing with coding tricks and techniques, and adapting them to do what I need them to do. I'm such a geek. Most of the time these days I know enough to solve most CSS problems or challenges I come across, but sometimes you need a bit of help - and this was definitely one of those times.

What's great about Stu's technique is that it uses a simple definition list to hold all the text, with a link and a span inside the <dd> - and that's about it! There's also an image and an empty <em> tag (to draw a line from the large graphic to its accompanying piece of text) inside each <dd>, but as I don't need these bits, I can get rid of them and make it even more minimalist.

All the styling and absolute positioning of my text and the hover-state dots goes into the stylesheet, which keeps the HTML super-clean and tidy. No Flash, OnMouseOvers or JavaScript in sight! Amazing!

It took me a little while to figure out what each hook does, and I've realised that the positioning of each piece of text is calculated in terms of its relationship with the position of its accompanying dot. This will make for an interesting evening of measuring positions on my photoshop file to the nearest pixel, and translating these into co-ordinates... Still, I think it's a brilliant solution.

I'll show you the map when it's finished. So far I have precisely ONE dot and ONE piece of text in the right place. But at least I know it can be done now.

Thanks, Stu - you rock!

Hope my clients like it...

UPDATE 13/12/08: I meant to add a link to the completed map ages ago, but I completely forgot. Here it is at last - Māori Media Network - click on Why Māori radio > Radio map to view it. Oh - and the client loved it. Yaay!

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Oh gawd, what shall I write about today?

I'm working on writing more in my blog - I did pretty well in May, and I want to keep it up. Thing is, sometimes I just don't have anything particularly exciting or world-shattering to say. The conversation in my head goes something like this:

"Shall I do a "dear diary" type piece today instead then? But who wants to read that stuff anyway?"

"Well, I guess my friends around the world who pop in from time to time to see how I'm doing, might like it."

"Yeah guess so. It's hardly going to get me bazillions more dedicated readers though, is it?"

"Oh - is that why you're keeping this blog then? I thought it was for the love of writing... Fame gone to your head now has it?"

"Well no, I'm hardly famous - not by a million miles..."

"But you really liked it when all those thousands of people came to read about the first Wii fatality though, didn't you?

"Yes, but..."

"And what about those visitors from all around the world who came for your impressions of the Roger Waters concert? You liked that, didn't you???"

"Well yes but I..."

"And what about the dedicated members of the ClayNation who come and see what you've written whenever you mention our Teevy boyfriend? You're thinking about writing something new for them, aren't you?"

"Yes - well, I have been feeling a bit guilty about my current MIA status within the ClayNation and I was thinking of..."

"I see you sneaking peeks at your Technorati ranking, and your visitor stats, and your Google Analytics and all that stuff you know. I'm in your head, remember, how can I avoid it?"

"OK, you got me - I confess that I do look at the stats pretty often. But what I like most is when I write something I'm really proud of - and/or when someone takes the time to write me a comment, and/or when they think what I've written is worth linking to. That makes me really happy. Anything else is just icing on the (blog's birthday) cake. Know what I mean?"

"Yeah I know. And hey - look at that - you've written a whole page already! Now that wasn't so hard, was it? Sometimes writing regularly means writing through the days when you don't have much to say - as well as the days when you do."

"Cool. Thanks. Nowgetoutofmyhead."

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Sunday, June 03, 2007


i bleev u have mai staplr - KTHX CHEEZBURGER.
For some reason this piece of LOLCODE just tickled me to pieces:


Kiti haz malfunkshind - KTHX CHEEZBURGER.I found it in the new LOLCODE wiki, where the LOLgeeks are busy creating and refining the newest and bestest coding language on teh internets, LOLCODE. The suggestion above is from the debate on the possible uses of O RLY?, and was suggested by Risser.

I has a money. What I do wif it? - KTHX CHEEZBURGER.For a word geek such as myself (who also love teh kittehs AND codinz), dis r pretty awsum.

Seems I'm not the only one who's fascinated by the development of a whole new language. Here are a bunch of kewl links to LOLCAT stuff, and associated linguistic musings. Plus a couple of gratuitous LOLCATs, because I just can't help myself.

Monorail cat.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

A year at Shift

I'm all about missing birthdays and anniversaries, it seems.

As well as being my blogs' first birthday, this week marked my first anniversary at Shift. I was thinking it was yesterday, but I just checked my diary and my first day at Shift as a permanent employee was actually 29 May 2006. So there you go. I'll know for next year.

I love working at Shift. I reckon it's the best web design company in the country - which is certainly borne out by the fact that we've been nominated for four Webbys and won two over the past four years. Not bad!

National Library Timeframes. Being a complete perfectionist when it comes to work, of course I want to work for the best. I'd dreamed of getting a job at Shift for years, and when I finally got some contract work with them about 18 months ago I was thrilled to bits. I saw it as my opportunity to show them what I could do, and to prove to them that I was worth hiring on a permanent basis. I built three sites for Shift as a contractor - National Library Timeframes, NZ History, and a re-skin of Land Transport NZ.

A year ago the stars finally lined up, and Shift offered me a permanent job. Hooray! Funnily enough by then I'd pretty much decided I was better suited to being a contractor, and had it been anyone but Shift, I think I'd have turned it down - but I'd been waiting for so long... I just couldn't refuse. I'm so glad I said yes.

It's great being part of a team. It's the one thing you miss out on when you're a contractor. Yes, you can be a temporary part of the team if you're working on a contract, but somehow it just isn't the same. And what a team! Shifties are bright, innovative, dedicated, funny, silly, highly skilled, thoughtful, determined... and just plain good to be around.

I've been taking a look at my diaries to remind myself of the sites I've built over the past year. In each case I've been responsible for building the HTML and pure CSS, and for ensuring that the site meets e-govt standards and is consistent across a wide range of browsers and platforms. Here are a few of the highlights (in chronological order):

Resultex - a small but perfectly-formed site, with a twin, INOV8 (same structure, different graphics), which is also online but still under construction.

National Library website. National Library - a huge project that seemed sometimes to be never-ending! I built all the prototype templates for the site. Liquid layout, jello mold structure, lots of tricky positioning. Probably the most complex HTML I'd ever done at that point. Sadly my original templates have all but disappeared within the restrictive cage that is Plone, but they did exist once upon a time, and they were beautiful.

Open Cloud - another fairly small but perfectly-formed site - built using Dreamweaver templates so that the client could tweak and update the site as necessary in the future.

myVictoria - Victoria University's secure web portal for students and staff. An on-site re-skinning job, which involved negotiating my way through the existing portal application, and re-skinning it according to Shift's new design.

Shift website. Shift website - something like 3 years in the making, with many Shifties working on it during that time. It's a gorgeous site, using Expression Engine as the CMS so that we can easily update it, and so we can have all kinds of nifty interrelationships between pages.

Worldwide Fund for Nature, New Zealand (WWF-NZ) - new design and build using Expression Engine - not yet online.

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography - new design and build - not yet online.

NZ Police - re-skin of existing templates, new build of homepage content.

Legal Services Agency - HTML template build for this 3-colourway site, which was then handed over to another company for incorporation into their CMS.

Buy Kiwi Made websiteBuy Kiwi Made - the creation of an entirely new website using existing templates from the MED (Ministry of Economic Development) website and re-skinning these for implementation within the MED CMS.

NZ Police 111 Emergency - a sub-site aimed at kids - not yet online.

Tourism New Zealand intranet - a re-skin of the existing HTML, plus a total rebuild of the homepage and the header and footer of all pages, in four colourways. Gorgeous!

Education New Zealand - building 30 templates for this fully interactive site, which will then be incorporated into a CMS. Probably the most complex HTML I've ever done - and I'm loving it! It's wonderfully complicated to build, with tricky little design features that I'm having so much fun thinking my way through. Not yet online.

So there you go - not a bad highlight list for a year - may there be many more! Thanks a million Shift! You rock!

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