A little more blogging

Inspired by some friends (thanks Emily!), I decided to start writing more regularly. Writing well takes practice and most of my writing lately has been of the more technical sort. My theme for this blog is still fairly general: things I find interesting. There will probably be posts about art, photography, design, work as an IA/UX professional, the role technology plays in the world around me and even some genealogy/history.

Last year I learned an interesting anecdote about my Aunt Pat’s life. I already know my Mom once learned how to program Cobol and even liked it. My Aunt Pat also studied computer programming back before people had home computers and also found she had a knack for it. So, she looked for and found a job as a programmer. When she got to the new place of employment, they took her to her new office and it was, basically, a small, dirty closet. While there, she was expected to sit by herself and code and not interact with anyone else all day. She told me she lasted only a few days and that was the end of her computer programming career.

I have to wonder how many women like her were discouraged by that sort of environment over the years. It wasn’t the work itself that was the problem, just the working environment. Computing may have lost her talents, but her language skills were certainly appreciated by all the English, French and ESL students she taught in the years to come.

New Taproot Project

I’m starting a new project with  Taproot: a redesign of the website for Riis Settlement House. I’m really looking forward to working on this because I get to wear both my IA hat and my Front-End Developer hat. There isn’t a dedicated IA on the team and they need someone to create the sitemap and wireframes. Naturally I volunteered.

The most exciting thing is that we are going to use Responsive Design principles to design the site so it can be viewed on mobile devices as well as laptops and desktop computers.

HTML5 and Video

Recently a client asked me to put up a video on her new website. The one thing I knew for certain was my solution had to be HTML5 friendly, but also backwards-compatible for all the clientele still using IE (well, IE7 & 8 – I’ve mostly given up on IE6). When I first started coding HTML, RealAudio was the solution everybody used, now a lot of video is Flash-based. But wait, Flash isn’t exactly a universal solution.

I started my research with the Video chapter of Dive Into HTML5. After reading, I knew that no one format of video was going to work. I also needed a player that would be easy to integrate.

I found a list of HTML5 players on this HTML5 Video Player comparison page and looked for one that was free, open-source, had flash fallback and was easy to integrate and theme. My choice was Projekktor. There might be better ones, but I had limited time to play around with different players and this one had good documentation. Next, I had to find an encoder… or two or three.