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Groundwork

On April 28, 2009 Doug Clifton passed away due to health problems. As his close friend and protégé, I am going to keep his site, visions, and programming ideals alive.

loadaverageZero is dedicated to the latest standards in Web accessibility, design and programming using client-server, open-source technology. It grew from a seed of an idea I had many moons ago, but I haven’t had the time until now to sit down and get the job done. I now consider it a sapling of sorts—I have a long way to go but the basic structure is there. That’s the hard part really. Now I can create and add pages fairly easily.

bamboo fronds This is, and will continue to be, an evolutionary process. Much like the Web itself. I believe that we are at the end of the primary stage, and at the beginning of a new era in user (and developer!) experience.

Through a series of labs I will document this process, starting with presentation and layout using CSS, then page structure and content using XHTML and PHP, and finally overall site hierarchy using MySQL and other tools. As I mentioned earlier, these are all Open Source technologies, which I use almost exclusively. I am also working towards keeping the site as accessible as possible by supporting as many browsers as I can. And by encouraging the use of a flexible design so people with impaired vision and other disabilities can use it as well.

FAQ: What is Open Source?

However, another design goal was to use the latest Web standards as I felt were appropriate. This means older browsers most likely will not work—so if you’re using one I highly recommend you upgrade to a newer version and/or change vendors if you are having difficulty. I think you will find your experience here, and the WWW overall, richer and more rewarding. I have my own preference if you’d like a suggestion.

I hope everyone learns something, including myself.

Enjoy,

—Douglas Clifton

up 767 days, 1 user(s), load averages: 0.00, 0.02, 0.00

Hey, nobody’s perfect. But that’s pretty close!

FAQ: What the heck is this load average thing anyway?

News and Announcements

System Date: Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

November, 2005

Nov·11·2005
Happy Birthday loadaverageZero! Wow, I whole year has passed by since I first fired up this Website. And in that timeframe I also added blogZero, which more or less obsoletes this news and announcements area. So, for more information on this anniversary I recommend you visit the Happy Birthday loadaverageZero! post there.

August, 2005

Aug·19·2005
Blue Moon. Oops! I completely forgot tonight is the Blue Moon. I’m an idiot. Some links: Blue Moon on blogZero. My Web-based calendar for August, 2005 and some details on how the moon phase data is implemented via dbrowse: Moon Phase Data.
Aug·7·2005
blogZero. Well, I broke down and installed some PHP-based blogging software. I’ve been planning on writing the thing myself, but haven’t had the time lately. I probably will someday soon, when I get fed up with the quirks and incompatibilities of the existing systems. For the time being, I’m evaluating and using Serendipity, aka s9y. It’s pretty slick actually, the installation is straightforward and the backend is easy to use. It has whole a slew of plugins, and uses CSS and Smarty templates so you can hack it to bits if you want to. Being a tweaker myself, this is already well on course.
There are some things about s9y I already have problems with. First of all, it’s table-based, actually, it uses a rather strange mixture of tables and divs for layout. It relies too much on <br /> elements for vertical spacing—although that is in part due to the Smarty engine and can be fixed with some serious hacking of the templates. Second of all, and I don’t understand this at all, why do people keep releasing XHTML code without sending the correct media type to browsers that support it? It’s not terribly difficult or anything. (see: Vanilla).
Look for blogZero to evolve and improve, and possibly even be replaced if I take the time to evaluate some of the many other open-source blogging packages available out there. Stop by for a visit and say hello. Look for general news and announcements to remain here, but longer winded and trackbacks post to start appearing on the blog.
1 Comment
Aug·4·2005
OSCON Jones. If you are sorely missing being at OSCON like I am, in addition to all the regular bloggers I keep track of, Event Blogging Services has an aggregation of many others you can check out online, or subscribe to the feed. Planet OSCON has a similar set-up, including another RSS feed.
Not to mention I love Portland, and have friends and family out there. I’m deeply and seriously thinking of packing up my meager belongings and heading out there permanently this fall. I wasn’t cut out for east-coast living, unless it means NYC—but dear lord that’s a tough town to survive in.
Woe is me, so depressed. Sigh.
1 Comment

July, 2005

Jul·27·2005
What is RSS? Perhaps the terms “aggregator,” “autodiscovery,” and “RSS feed” are part of your daily lexicon, but I am to understand that as few as 10% of Web users even know what RSS is or what to do with those orange XML chicklets. And worse, clicking on one usually results in a page full of confusing source code or the browser prompting you to download the file. These are not good results for visitors that are new to RSS. So, even though the target audience of loadaverageZero are Web developers, who presumably understand RSS well enough, I felt it was important to publish an article that describes RSS in layman’s terms, and explains how visitors can subscribe to my syndicated content.
In the United States at least, this seems to be even more pronounced than even I was aware. Check out the results of this nationwide phone survey on the Public Awareness of Internet Terms, conducted by Pew Internet.
Now, without further adieu: What is RSS?
4 Comments
Jul·22·2005
Original Vanilla. I kind of like chocolate myself, but this is good too. If you’ve ever installed phpBB, or looked at it from the perspective of modern Web development, then you know that despite its many features, it falls short when it comes to standards and CSS support. It’s also a PITA to install and configure to get it running the way you want it. This morning I installed Vanilla, from Mark O'Sullivan of Lussumo. I had it working and tweaked in less than an hour.
The markup is valid XHTML, it supports plugin extensions like Markdown, it’s built with PHP and MySQL, and is itself open-source. Not to mention you can fiddle with the interface all you want via the CSS stylesheets. I can go on and on, many of the features are built with so-called AJAX technology, so you don't have to wait for a page refresh to make modifications.
This is indeed one sweet piece of software. I hear that Mark is getting slammed with traffic. He deserves it. If you want, you can browse all the categories, visit the Vanilla Forum, or sign in here.
2 Comments
Jul·17·2005
Sky Rockets in Flight. In one delightful afternoon, the pagerank for Web Developer Resource Index (drx) shot from nil to six. The gods at Google sure work in mysterious (and goofy) ways. Now, I’m not sure who should be more pleased with this turn of events, me (as a reward for all the hard work I put into it), or the 700-odd pages I’m reviewing, rating and linking to. I guess some basic arithmetic answers that question.
Jul·10·2005
Basecamp Bats 500! Over the past few days I’ve been pondering my next addition to the drx database, because, as a sort of mini-milestone, the author I have selected will mark the 500th contributor to the list. My guidelines are already pretty strict, but this one had to be something special. The Innovators category was an easy choice to find a suitable entry for, the hard part was just that, finding the right one. To further restrict these boundaries, I wanted it to be not only something I could review and evaluate, but something I actually used in the context of Web development.
Well folks, Basecamp is it. As you may recall, I recently accepted an invitation to join the staff at Digital Web, where my role is to keep the database backend running smoothly, and enhance the software that drives the front end. We are a pretty small team, and are scattered all over the planet, so communication is a challenge. It was Nick who first suggested to Krista that they give Basecamp a shot, and they never looked back.
I have to admit, I’ve seen lots of hype about this product, much of it out of 37signals. So, I was a little skeptical, because that is my nature and I’ve seen lots this sort of thing from PR departments with little basis in reality.
After using it for about a week now, my conclusion is this: Basecamp is slick, there is no doubt about it. Give it a try, or one of their other products.
Jul·7·2005
The Pacific Northwest is Buzzing. And hopefully it isn’t the sound of chainsaws. Two big events are right around the corner. If design is your gig, then plan on attending WebVisions 2005, taking place at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, starting July 15th. Just of few of the well-known speakers will include Stewart Buttefield (Flickr.com), Molly Holzschlag, Luke Williams (frog design), Cameron Moll, Peter Merholz (Adaptive Path), and Sarah Horton.
If you’re an Open Source/Web developer, then maybe you should hold out until August, when OSCON 2005 will be rolling in the same location. They have a few luminaries of their own, including Jonathan Schwartz (Sun), Mitchell Baker (Mozilla Foundation), Larry Wall (Perl), Andi Gutmans (Zend), Rasmus Lerdorf (PHP), Greg Stein (Google), and Guido van Rossum (Python).
Sadly, I can’t make either one. If I had my druthers, I’d make a beeline for OSCON with the singled-minded goal of meeting Larry Wall and shaking his hand. Maybe someday he’ll take me for a ride in that old Datsun.
Enjoy.
Jul·5·2005
Digital Web: On Staff I am pleased to announce that I have accepted an invitation to join the staff of Digital Web. It seems that Cal Henderson is rather busy these days, with a little thing called Flickr. Nick has assured me Cal remains the lead programmer (it is his system after all), and hopefully he will be able to continue his role at DWM when things cool off for him a bit. In the meantime, I will be working on the database backend, and the software that drives the front end. Questions regarding the technical aspects of the magazine can be directed towards me, and if I have the time I will also try and help out with Web development questions in general.

June, 2005

Jun·29·2005
By popular demand, I have put together a document that describes how the dnews application was built using MagpieRSS, PHP and MySQL. Visit Howto MagpieRSS for more information.

May, 2005

May·15·2005
traffic stats Which one of these things is not like the other? I would like to take a few moments this morning to apologize to my visitors for the downtime I’ve been experiencing in the past couple of days. In the wee hours of the morning, two days ago, my hosting company initiated a planned infrastructure upgrade, which is just a fancy way of saying they were moving some fiber around. As expected, I experienced some downtime, connectivity, latency problems, whatever you want to call it (packet loss, routing errors...).
However, in the ensuing hours and days this remained a problem to the point where I became alarmed, frustrated and then downright angry. As I write this post, I still am, from time to time, staring at the dreaded hourglass. Hopefully this issue will be resolved completely today.
Now this is not necessarily to point fingers, and blame the hosting company. Normally the Planet has a rock solid network and excellent uptime. What angers me is the total lack of quality tech support, and in particular being lied to or worse, when people assume I haven't done my homework or know what I'm talking about.
I would say that this thread, and the comments from linux-tech, pretty much sums up my experience in the past couple days. "Disable your firewall and try again." "It’s not my firewall, should I ask the other 20 people all over the world that have confirmed to me that my site is inaccessible to disable their firewalls too?" Sigh.
So the answer to the question is, it’s pretty damn obvious which one is not like the other. And the really strange thing is, the traffic I did see getting through was bots. That’s right folks: you don’t count but Google and MSN and Yahoo do.
May·12·2005
hReview and drx: After spending an hour or so yesterday studying the specification on the Technorati developer Wiki, I quickly came to the conclusion that drx is well suited for testing the new microformat. Since in essence drx is a categorized list of reviews (although I prefer to describe them as resources), and because of the modular nature of the application and its inherent metadata design, I had no trouble adapting it to the first draft of the hReview spec.
However, the implementation raises a few questions. Most importantly stemming from my choice of the definition list as a markup structure. It is my opinion that X/HTML falls short of being able to define a list of records, as is so common in the various forms of RSS (<channel> -> <item> -> <title>, <description>, <date>...). Should I wrap each <dt>/<dd> pair with an (otherwise unused) <span> just to give each record semantic value? For now I have set the class attribute to hreview for the entire <dl> in each category.
And although I also added a rating system, it seems a little silly since the whole premise of drx is to only categorize high quality resources—in other words a 5 star rating system boils down to a 2 star system. You won’t catch me adding any “worst” recommendations.
My apologies for not having a blog system in place on this Web site to post comments too. Interested parties can use the Wiki Feedback system, visit Tantek’s introduction to hReview or the Technorati hReview span page for more information.
May·9·2005
New for drx: Every category now has a dedicated RSS 2.0 feed, which you can find at the bottom of each page. Look for a largish yellow button right under the search interface. Also new: You can now download the entire directory as an OPMLopml file. And while I haven’t had the opportunity to test it with any other feed readers, it works great running in Firefox using the Sage extension. If anyone is interested, I spent a few minutes over the weekend putting together a small set of screenshots flickr. Have a look.
May·4·2005
New for drx: Added Live RSS feeds for feedicon Recent Additions. By live I mean the RSS is dynamic, as soon as I add a new resource to the index it shows up in the feed as well. This is also reflected in the vertical “marquee” of icons you should notice in the top-right margin. A new entry appears at the top and pushes the list down. Pretty cool. Each category, and there are 60+ of them now, has its own feed as well (assuming there are resources in the category, some are only folders or containers for other categories). I am also working on an OPML of the whole enchilada, which you will be able to import into your reader and see the entire directory from there. My initial testing with Firefox and Sage has shown this to be an extremely effective way of navigating the whole directory. You’ll hopefully see what I mean if you grab the feedicon Recent Additions feed since it jumps you all over the categories. Sweet!
May·2·2005
New for drx: Added Domain indexing and Recent additions. Search has been included on the index pages as well, but I am still beta testing this feature.

April, 2005

Apr·29·2005
Generating Dynamic CSS with PHP, an article I wrote this spring, has just been published by Digital Web. DWM is an outstanding online Web development magazine from Nick Finck. Check it out!
Apr·28·2005
New for drx: Indexes by Author, Category and Title. [ACT?]
Apr·23·2005
I am releasing today, drx a Resource Directory and Index for Web developers, designers and programmers of all skill levels. As you might expect, it focuses on standards, accessibility and open-source software, solutions and tools. There are over 300 hand-picked resources with descriptions in 60 different categories already in the database. Each category has a brief introduction with examples, the categories are carefully cross-referenced and provide pre-tested links with preferred terms to search engines, reference sites and other directories. New features already in implementation or planning stages are the ability to search the directory, an A-Z index, cross references and index by author, site and other metadata, and RSS feeds for each category (and perhaps the whole thing). If you know of a resource that deserves placement, drop me a note. If you notice a bug, please do likewise.

March, 2005

Mar·21·2005
I am releasing today, for testing and evaluation, an alpha version of the MySQL dbrowse Database Browser. Please have a look and let me know what you think. An article/lab series will be forthcoming to accompany the application.

February, 2005

Feb·28·2005
Added a new skip navigation feature. See the Help page Skip Navigation section for more information. Also, if you’re a Firefox user, mozilla.org has released a security update. Check out the News on my Firefox page for details.
Feb·27·2005
Added a new Copyright information resource. Additional information is also available on the Help page, or at the bottom of any page when you’re in full graphical mode.
Feb·25·2005
It occurred to me this morning that I never really stated clearly my objective for this Web site. So have a look at the new blurb at the top of the About page if you’re interested.
Feb·24·2005
Converted these announcements to a definition list. So what you say? Well, just you wait and see. There is always a method to my madness.
Feb·22·2005
Added a RSS 2.0 Feed. I hand coded it for now, and it needs some work, but before long I should either be using PHP or Perl XML::RSS to completely automate it. More research is needed on Atom before I can implement that as well. Also new, the original XMDP was improved to provides links to those terms that refer to a particular resource on the Web site. Updating the XSLT version will require delving into transform techniques such as <xsl:if> and functions such as concat().
Feb·20·2005
Everyone needs a little Help. Or in this case, a LOT of help. Phew! That was (and remains) some big project.
Feb·17·2005
And for you XML and XSLT fans out there, an all new version of my XMDP! If your browser chokes on it, get a real browser.
Feb·12·2005
For you Metadata fans out there, added an XMDP. I know I’m one. Some day soon when the Semantic Web is a reality and search engines begin to exploit these features, they will become very handy to have. All driven by MySQL and PHP of course. Not exactly a RDF yet, but I can only work so fast!
Feb·7·2005
DocSimple added. This gives you a nice clean non-graphical interface to any document on this site. Designed for easy reading, and in particular for those with sight impairments. I personally find it very useful and wish more Web sites had this feature. It is very easy to return to the full interface from a link at the top of the page or by simply refreshing your browser. You can access it from any document by clicking on the button in the left sidebar menu area. I’m working on a shortcut/accesskey for this feature, not so easy to do since it’s triggered by Javascript rather than an ordinary link.
Feb·6·2005
Site Map added.
Feb·1·2005
After much work, the PHP Lab series is complete. Well, complete enough for now. I still have some more proofing and tweaking to do. Writing is so hard! Also note that the first CSS Lab titled Absolute Viewport needs some serious updating. I finally got to the point where the inability to use the mouse wheel under that design was too much. Actually, it was an even worse bug that was the last straw — if you use fragment identifiers to navigate the same document with pseudo-frames active, it breaks the back button. So no more fixed positioning for this site. I still looks pretty much the same in all the browsers I’ve checked it with so far, a few lingering bugs but what are you going to do?

January, 2005

What happened to January? I must have been doing something. Oh yeah, the PHP Lab series.

December, 2004

Dec·29·2004
Significant UI, cross-browser and accessibility improvements to report. Regardless of IE’s poor support for CSS 2 or even 1, I’ve now come as close as I’m willing to take it to getting an equally satisfying experience with this site out that browser. I even went so far as to install and test IE7 but parsing the entire stylesheet set was just too painfully slow when reflows are already a problem if the user resizes the browser window. Getting :before and :after, etc. to work just isn’t worth the effort involved. ¶ I will be starting on Lab IIPHP this week so watch out for new stuff on that front soon. In the meantime note the SRC View links in the Sidebar (#left) navigation area. I really need to move these announcements to a separate page.
Dec·14·2004
Barring a few minor glitches, the site now works in Internet Explorer for Windows version 6.0. I would appreciate, but highly doubt, any reports of versions prior to v6 that work. Though I do not use Javascript directly to accomplish this feat of daring, it is used in a round-about sort of way [CSS expression()s] meaning the layout will implode if you have Javascript disabled. The irony of that statement is you wouldn’t even be able to read it if you’re running a JS crippled IE.
Dec·9·2004
Site layout MySQL schema designed, implemented and populated. What will this do for me? An automatic real-time sitemap leaps to mind. Which I will get to as soon as I have enough content to warrant it. For now it allows me to generate the Pebbles interface for new pages simply by adding a new page or directory into the database. What the heck is a Pebble you say? It’s kind of like breadcrumbs only you won’t get lost. Keep your eye on the box to the right of the welcome page header as you move around the site. You may find navigation easier using pebbles and after discovery of the index pages along the way.
Update
For those of you that are interested, a little research revealed that Safari uses WebCore as its layout engine. WebCore is based on the KDE/KHTML rendering engine. Gory details can be of course found at Wikipedia.
Dec·4·2004
Modern Gecko browsers are all supported now. Netscape 7.x/Mozilla 1.? and Firefox 0.9+ under 98, 2000 and XP have all been checked and confirmed to work. I don’t have a Mac at my disposal for testing but I am told that Safari works as well (is it even a Gecko browser?) as does Konqueror under Linux, BSD and other Unix-like OS’s. I can also confirm my copy of Opera, which is v7.54, works as well.

November, 2004

Nov·24·2004
PHP libraries written. My API is based on the DOM and allows me to quickly generate pages with the correct (and variable) DTD, <head>: <title>, <meta>, <link>, <script>s and so on. Going further, the modules address creating each page container, header, navigation menus, content area and footers. This is an on-going process as the parallel CSS classes and rules are built and refined. Everything modular folks!
Nov·2004
Host machine leased, configured and tweaked for Apache, PHP, Perl, Python, MySQL and various other tools that make all of this possible.
Last updated: Thursday, April 30th, 2009 @ 1:45 PM EDT [2009-04-30T17:45:30Z]   home

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