No More Chalkboard Spam

A Message to my fellow U of C Students….

'PL'-this BS-'O'

The other day I was sitting in class watching a prof write some notes on the chalkboard. As per usual, he navigated around a big section of the board that was boxed off with a note “PLO” (Please Leave On) written over it. The notes he wrote were compressed and distorted as he really needed a full board to express the idea.

It got me thinking…

Watching my prof thoughtfully navigate around the box got me thinking of how this ‘bull’ was affecting everyone in the room. There we all sat to learn something new. The person sharing their idea has so many limits on communication to navigate and this PLO box was one of them.

I recall seeing these kinds of ADVERTISEMENTS on chalkboards back in to high school. I’ve seen them thoughout my 8 years / 2 degrees at U of C… They’re nothing new and they compete for our attention. Yet I’m starting to wonder why my profs generally respect and avoid these intrusions?

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iPad FTW?

iPad Promo Images

Yesterday Apple introduced their massively anticipated iPad tablet device. For those who haven’t yet heard about it, it’s basically a hudge iPhone (that doesn’t make phone calls). The iPad is meant to unlock a “new” market segment for small computing devices that is somehow not already met by the iPhone and netbooks.

What does it do, anything new?

The iPad doesn’t bring new functionality to the computing world, but it does consolidate and simplify use particularly of eBooks. There have long since been many very cool eBook readers out there built around providing simple means for people to read electronic books.

Amazon's Kindle eBook reader

With the release of iPad, iTunes will expand to include support for buying eBooks and of course that functionality will be easily available for regular computers and perhaps for the iPhone as well, unless Apple decides allowing that would result in you buying less stuff.

Beyond books, the iPad does all the stuff you expect from an iPhone. It runs the exact same applications (with rare exceptions), it will play back music and movies. Of course one major distinction is screen size. The iPhone’s screen is made up of 480×320 pixels where as the iPad provides 1024×768. So in the case of browsing documents, this will make a major difference. The iPad’s resolution however is like that of a standard TV – so all our new HD/widescreen content won’t fill the screen (unless you like cropping out much of the scene).

Like some of the better eBook readers, the high end iPad offers 3G connectivity. This enables those users to be connected to the internet via the cell phone network (like our smart phones). The sad part here is the extra ~$130USD for 3G is well on it’s way to paying for an Amazon Kindle or a Barnes & Noble Nook (both $260USD) which are optimized strictly for reading eBooks but both include 3G as well.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-01-25

  • Ugh, having some weird connectivity problems with #Shaw right now. #yyc. Established connections are holding, new ones will sometimes work #
  • Being forced to work on my pf skills.. Can't resume my Django fun until I solve this. Sigh. #
  • Well, that was a good #django jam session. What? stayed up all night again? Huh.. #
  • Okay, I fixed my GoDaddy problem.. I'm not happy that my DNS record randomly changed like that. WTF? #
  • Well, here's a strike against GoDaddy.. They just randomly "broke" my DNS record & their management tool is "Temporarily Unavailable" #
  • Having some power spikes in NW #Calgary (#yyc) over the last couple of minutes.. #
  • Awesome! I managed to get another course recognized as an equivalent to stuff I already did – another step closer to grad! #
  • I've spent a few hours trying to solve a Python problem the last few days – turns out it was a trivial user permissions problem. Ha ha ha, #
  • Nice, this is prime time and yet I'm getting between 330 to 700 KB/s upload to my server in Texas. Not too shabby. #
  • Anyone know of a good way of integrating typical #Django authentication with OpenID? I need a M to RTF. #
  • Got 'git' going.. I really like that there aren't hidden directories everywhere and a requirement to use git to add/del stuff! Easy! #
  • If my #Django <3 continues to grow at this rate, by next week I'll never sleep again! #
  • I just registered my first, and likely only .it domain name.. Freakin rip off, but I like the name that much, I guess. #
  • Talk about over optimization of parking resources #
  • King of Crows: (from Digg) #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-01-18

  • When I become a tycoon, my bathroom tower room will look like: #
  • Well, I just refined my website redesign a ton. What you all think? #
  • Whoops, damn automated Tweet thingys – gotta remember where my spies are. 😉 #
  • Web Apps #
  • Hardware #
  • Software #
  • Spruced Up #
  • Man, my quest to not eat chicken is a formidible task #
  • Evidently Jeri Ryan is marginally larger than my hand! #
  • Mmmm, nerdy #
  • Close up view of 29th centry tech – the mobile emitter prop. Looks upside down #
  • The CPO Star Trek concert is about to begin #yyc #
  • Crap I dropped my carrot juice! 10 second rule? #
  • WTF the new renos to the UofC Subway have halved how many ppl they can serve!? #
  • Handy Date Selection Java Script Widget I'm using with a Django App: #
  • Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-01-11 #
  • Just finished helping my bud do his first Apache install, now we're setting up WordPress. # Spruced Up

Previous Layout
Previous Layout

I’ve just spent a few hours re-designing the layout of The old one served me very well and I really liked it. I had heavily modified the previous theme to work for me and work it did. I may tap it some time in the future as a backup… As you can see to the right, the new style is fairly different compared to the image. Although I kept the workflow as I think it was already pretty good.


Basically, I was trying to get the site to be:

  • Simple to use
  • Uncluttered
  • Attractive
  • Professional & Casual
  • Technically Interesting
  • Simple to use
  • Did I mention, simple to use?

I feel I accomplished these goals. Though I felt I had to sacrifice some technically interesting features in order to reduce the clutter. I had made some cool logos awhile ago that looked good on the more cartoony past version of the site, but they looked horrible here. I ultimately decided to just get rid of the top banner all together, I don’t think people need to keep being reminded of what site they’re on. Anyway, comment below eh!?

Technical Blah

I’m using a few css tricks I’ve learned in the last while to round corners, shade and pretty things up. Mainly, for rounded corners I use tricks such as those found here.

In terms of the shading, if you carefully look at my setup, the black gradient on the red background is made from a 1 x 200 px png image file overlayed on a red background. CSS for that trick is that like this:

background-image: url('/media/bkgd.png');
background-repeat: repeat-x;

Most shaded regions are made using 10 x 10 px images repeated that are very transparent png images. I use css nearly identical to that above for this too, only difference is the repeat statement has no -x to it.

I built up the new theme using the very famous and helpful Atahualpa theme. I’ve used this theme for various WordPress websites of mine including those for:

Also, my buddy Devin who I recently helped get his first Apache/MySQL/PHP/WordPress server install going is using the Atahualpa Theme for his website, it truly is a great WordPress theme for both advanced and beginners alike.

Your Turn

What do you all think of my redesign? Any suggestions? What WordPress theme do you use?