I had a GREAT TIME at the 2008 Phoenix BarCamp today! I was a little… OK maybe more like VERY nervous about having to stand up in front of people and tell them about things that I might have some expertise in. But once I saw that everyone else was just as informal, I got into the grove of things. All the discussions were very informative, some of them so much so they were over my head, but thats ok!
I’ll just go over some of the great points some of the speakers had regarding their topics and discussions. Anyone that was there, feel free to pipe in regarding what you thought was interesting, points I missed, etc.
Pam Slim author of Escape Cubical Nation started off the day speaking about how growing start up companies can avoid becoming the cubical corporate environments that the entrepreneurs came from to begin with. There was a fairly voiced concern from the business owners in the room regarding how to avoid becoming that which they didn’t want to employed by to begin with.
Pam offered a simple common sense approach to really keeping the soul to your company, meet and get to know your employees. That a business owner should know what his/her employees really want to get out of their time with the company, and to realize there really isn’t any binding contract for these employees to be invested in your company if you don’t return their investment by investing in your employees. She mentions that open, honest communication is key to this relationship between employee and employer.
To really spend the time to know what each of your employees is interested in and their personal investment and interest in your company. She says to build on what your employees want to learn and do, this will enforce trust in you and foster a real value of your company to your employees instead of merely being a “job”. This will help take the pulse of your company’s true interests and values from the ground up.
Understand that perhaps some of your current employees final goals in their career may mean starting their own business, or moving away from your company in some other way. Foster this growth in your employees, perhaps once they have broke out on their own they’ll send business back your way, or other potential employees that will be a great fit for your company. Make sure you aren’t buying into the mafia mentality of you’re either with us or against us, and if you leave you’re against us for sure.
Open, honest communication allows for huge growth potential in your company when your employees are allowed to honestly express their ideas and true feelings on company projects and directions. Instead of wasting six months on a dumb idea, Fred over in development, will simply be able to express… “you know that’s not the brightest idea, but I’ve been toying around with this other thing and I think it might work…”. Don’t make yourself or your employees “check their soul in at the door”, make sure everyone is in agreement that all your companies practices align with your company’s overall goals and values.
Derek Neighbors from Integrum Technologies spoke regarding rapid business growth and how your company can live through culture changes from creative culture to command culture and back again.
Derek started out with a recap of Integrum’s rapid growth due to new projects and contracts that they were taking on at a very rapid pace at the very beginning, and that when you loose sight of your company’s core values things can get messy VERY fast. They had become a beast of command and control with sour employees.
So, once they finally realized that they had become the beast that they tried to run away from, they revisited their core company goals and values. Then they took the pulse of their employees, finding out what really motivated them every day to get out of bed and drive to work, and how those motivators aligned with the company’s goals and values. Aligning your employees goals and the company goals will make each teammate personally responsible for their part within the company, allowing for self-motivation and interest in the company as a whole. Making you less responsible to your immediate manager and more responsible to the company as a whole. Derek says, “Sometimes people have a hard time figuring out who’s the boss when they visit the office.”
Derek sighted that these key communication between employee and employer was an extremely important part of really getting back to their creative, coordinated company that they had originally envisioned. Today, Integrum is a team of eleven VERY talented, VERY driven close-nit people that get things done and done right. But, without that reassessment of their goals and how their employees fit within those goals was key to that success.
I asked Derek, as part of a fast-growing company, what can I do as an employee to help foster that feeling of a creative culture instead of a command culture. Derek’s advice was to share my opinions and ideas candidly, build team activities that bring us closer together as a whole, and become entrepreneurial within my own company (build activities to promote and foster teams and the company within itself).
As an early Christmas gift to myself I went ahead and bought an iPhone. I’ve been debating for quite a while about plunking down the change for one, but eh, there just really isn’t a better phone out there right now, and there isn’t going to be for a while. So, why not.
I LOVED the fact that I didn’t have to spend a ton of time in the AT&T store to set it up, I just bought the phone, and left. That’s right… no questions, no paperwork, no signatures, no plan upsale, no blah blah blah. It was nice, since I’m a geek and social interactions are difficult for me to manage sometimes.
I come home, unwrap it, plug it in, and AWAY WE GO! My pro version of Vista didn’t seem to have a hard time shaking hands with the Apple device, and iTunes recognized what I was trying to do RIGHT away. I went through the really simple steps of selecting a plan, transferring my existing Verizon number (waaay easier than I thought it was going to be), and synced up with all my music. DONE!
The only smug thoughts I had were the fact that it doesn’t sync with my Firefox or Thunderbird.
After using it during the weekend I noticed the headphone jack flaw that everyone was griping about, but after a quick trip to Best Buy to pick up a headphone adapter for $7 I was back in business with my audio connection in my car and my Sony earbuds I love so much.
I have since handed over my 30GB iPod to Kaleb to use in his new car and I use my iPhone for all my music needs now.
I LOVE the map feature, I can quickly search for businesses, get directions, and all that with a couple of clicks. So I don’t have to call Kaleb asking where the nearest PetSmart is from Rural and Broadway.
The only issue I’m having with the iPhone right now at all really has little to do with the phone itself. AT&T coverage seems to be spotty in the valley, especially in front of my computer in my home office. What gives?
I think it’s interesting that AT&T and Cingular’s whole advertising campaign is “More bars in more places” and I can’t even get a good signal in my house in a super urban area. BOO!
But besides the coverage, everything is going great, I’ll keep you posted as I use it more and get used to some of the features it offers.
I just wanted to make sure you were invited to all the awesome web and design happenings this week in Phoenix!
Tues, Dec 4th – Refresh Phoenix
Refresh Phoenix meets every first Tuesday of the month to discuss current internet issues and trends. The topics range from becoming your own boss to css frameworks to make your work more efficient. This month the topic is results from the 2007 Web Design Survey that was put out by A List Apart. This should be a very interesting conversation since there really has never been a survey of the internet industry.
When: Tuesday, December 4th 6:30 – 9:30 pm (come early to get some networking in)
8658 East Shea Blvd, Scottsdale
Fri, Dec 7th – 16th Annual AIGA Art Auction
AIGA Arizona is holding it’s annual Art Auction event in Downtown Phoenix at MonOrchid Studios during December First Friday! AIGA Arizona is pleased to present over 100 original works of art (paintings, mixed media, photography, digital art, sculpture, jewelry, and more) displayed on sale in live and silent auction formats. Plus bid on a selection of special packages that include dining, entertainment and recreation. This year’s art auction will also feature the Mohawk Show.
When: Friday, December 7th 6-10 pm
214 E. Roosevelt Street, Phoenix
Sat, Dec 8th – BarCamp Phoenix
BarCamp is an ad-hoc un-conference born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees. All attendees must give a demo, a session, or help with one. This is great because you can both speak and be an audience member.
When: Friday, December 8th 9 am – 5 pm
University of Advancing Technology (UAT)
2625 W. Baseline Road, Tempe
Alright so what do all those geeks out there want?
I’ve rounded up a sweet list of the things I have been hearing around the office… and around the web.
For the Gamer Geek: I’d recommend picking up one of the three most talked about games of the year, Halo 3, Orange Box or BioShock. If you want to go big time, pick them up a Wii or an XBox 360, which ever one they don’t have already.
For the Dirty Geek: Know that geek who is so busy gaming or building applications he has no time to clean? Check out the Scooba from the iRobot, the same people who make the roomba vaccum robot.
For the Green, Birkenstock-Wearing, Social Cause Geek: One Laptop per Child XO Laptop is a GREAT gift for this geek, not only do they get a nifty laptop, but a child in need gets one as well.
Blueprint is a CSS framework by Olav Bjorkoy, which “aims to cut down on your CSS development time.” Matt Heidemann & Matt Gist from Integrum Technologies will talk about their recent work with Blueprint. They’ll show examples of the framework and a project they recently used it with.
See ya there!
There are sometimes when I truly wonder if designers and developers have it out for me.
Take for instance, the ASP .Net 2.0 login control. The designer wants it to look one way, however the .Net login control call only gives you so many options for style and layout. What is a front end architect to do?!
Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with the knowledge of the view as template option in Visual Studio 2005. The “view as template” option allows you to expand the normal login control code to a more complete view including the table that incapslates all the labels and text boxes.
To get to this magic option, do the following:
- open the page with the login control you want to expand
- view the page in design view
- select the little black arrow to the right side of the control on the page
- select ‘view as template’ in the drop down
- switch back to the code view and skin to your hearts desire
Recently we’ve completed four sites for Civigroup Companies. Within those sites you’ll notice several instances of sIFR (flash replacement text) inline with content. This is no easy task for sIFR text.
While trying to accomplish this feat of magic, I spent quite a bit of time researching different aspects of sIFR and how it works with CSS to understand how to make this work properly and of course, all while being cross browser compliant! So, in order to perhaps save someone else the time and hassle of trying to figure out the magic equation, I figured I’d share my experience.
Step 1: set the sIFR class on a span tag where you want the text to be.
<span class="h1inline" style="width: 325px;">Heritage. Commitment. Vision.</span>
Notice the width style attribute, this is required to make sure safari does not include extra space behind the span and before the rest of the copy.
Step 2: set the attributes in the sIFR-screen.css sheet to make it an inline block element along with the rest of your styles.
Notice the display: inline-block; this is also a safari required attribute.
Step 3: Tune height if necessary in the sifr-config.js
This will help if you plan no not only having your sIFR text inline, but also a link. I was having difficulties with the underline of the hover state being cut off by the flash doc.
And viola you have sIFR text inline!
I’m proud to announce that Terralever launched two new sites into the world wide web this week. We have just finished production on a redesign and large back-end content management system for Cities West Publishing sites, Phoenix Home and Garden and Phoenix Magazine.
I am really proud to have been part of this success. The website may seem large and elaborate, but with the use of themes, masterpages, and dynamic content the site itself is about 20 pages in total. This was the first website in which we were really able to experiment with large scale theme usage and I learned quite a bit about how to make the front end flexible enough to reskin.
Making sure css naming conventions were simple enough to reuse through out the process was a key piece of the puzzle. I used the content to determine the class and id naming instead of color or position since both of these could change dramatically. This was not only important to switch from theme to theme within the sections of the site, but also we chose to reuse quite a bit of code from one site to the next to save cost for our client. Thus, the reasoning in similar layout from one site to the other.
Making sure each piece of content knew what month and what section it appeared in was also a large undertaking in this process, thankfully our wonderful back end development team did an amazing job of coordinating how the data manipulated the themes and sections with in the site.
In addition to the amazing design and development that went on to create the front end look and feel, there was an amazing effort on the back end administration system. Back behind all that wonderful content is an editorial staff that needs to input it in every month in a quick efficient manner! To help them with this, Terralever created an amazing custom content management system that allows the editorial staff to select which issue an article appears, what section, enter in the content and add supplemental photos to each story.
For each story the editorial staff has full access to create and layout articles however they please. They can add as many photos, call outs, etc to make each layout custom to the story it holds. To help them with this process, we created five templates for them to start with, allowing them to enter content quickly and then make the necessary additions with more photos, more call outs, etc.
The administration also gives the staff full access for the featured flash piece on the homepage, to create and edit user polls, add events, showcase photos in galleries and have users sign up for news and emails.
While these sites were a big project and some nights were spent eating at my desk instead of in front of the TV, it’s always worth it in the end. To go to a live URL and see something you’ve invested so much and learned from is amazing. These sites are definitely two projects I’m proud to have been a part of. I hope you enjoy using them as much as I enjoyed building them.