Saturday, April 28, 2012


Seeing my newfound consistency on my blog, I felt I had to continue that trend and write again today. Following The Rule of Three*, I also knew that I would have to write about the website project one more time. I won't make it such a long read again, though.

I had a little trouble coming up what to write about this time that involved the website project, but then something I had thought about yesterday after writing my post came to mind again and I knew I had my topic. You see, after I had written yesterday I wondered why I had decided not to post the name of or link to the website just yet and whether I had made the right choice in doing so. What better topic is there than for me to explain my reasoning.

A bit back when I was on my most active period on twitter so far (which means that I wrote maybe a dozen tweets over a two month period but moreover that I actually followed some people in the actual sense of the word rather than the technical one twitter has made it out to be) I read a tweet about transparency. I think it may even have been a link to an article. The article explained how a startup should be as transparent as possible, to its employees as well as to the world. This would mean that it was going to be obvious when falling apart (to the employees as well as to business partners) which would mean that there was a lot more hat one could do about it than when it only became known much later. On top of that, the fact that the transparency would allow business partners to see that things weren't falling apart, which would give them confidence in your startup.

I am not starting a startup, so the story wasn't quite the same for me. However, I did try to take that lesson to heart as I saw the truth that was in it. So, from then on I tried to be more open about my own projects. And yet, what I am doing here is the exact opposite.

The key in here is in the fact that what people want to see through such transparency is progress. The one fact that shows things aren't falling apart  is the fact that you are making progress. And in the website project, I am not making any project. I mean, I didn't return to the project all the way, I just made the front page with the plan to shelve the project when I was done. On top of that, I have long ago decided that I am going to build this website on top of another piece of software I am developing. As such, returning to this project would mean working on that software, and that would mean that the website for the website project would not show any progress even if there was some.

As such, I decided not to give you guys the name of the project just yet. Or at least, that's my rationale for it, I made the choice before I made up the reason why I did, but that's just human nature. Let me also say that I have no doubt that there will be a day when the website is showing a lot of progress, then I will want as much exposure as possible. I will make the promise that when that time comes, this will be the first place where I publicly post the address and name of the site. Of course, I am keeping the option open to publish those details earlier here, so it may also just be that by that time I already have published the name and url here.

See you around, guys!

*Let me apologize to anyone who I got trapped on tvtropes. The site just is too awesome not to link to, though..

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Website Project

After writing my post yesterday, I added tags. After adding tags, I checked the tags I had added. One of those tags was "website project". The thing with it was, that I talked about not knowing the name because I didn't have a domain in one post and then the next post with the tag I briefly mention having had the domain for the project for some time now. I felt this needed some explanation, so this is how this post got to be.

First off, let me confirm that using the same tag was because this is about the very same project. So, the two stories are actually contradicting. However, upon closer inspection one can see how this was possible. The thing is, the two posts were made with almost two years between them. So, I'm not really here to resolve some contradicting posts, I am here to fill in some of the gaps.

So, to get the story complete I need to start quite a bit before I made that first post. You see, I have walked around with the idea for this project for quite some time now. I think the first idea for the website was somewhere in 2008 or 2009.

Over the years the ideas have fleshed themselves out a lot, but the principals are the same and they are still the thing that make the website. One of the things I did early on was - obviously - to think about a name for the project. However, I wanted a name that could be represented by a domain name, clearly it had to be one that didn't have an owner yet. While in my early concepts the original focus of the website was much stronger (right now, it's more like the first component I will be building with a clear intention to build more components from the start) I already knew that I wanted to at least be able to go beyond that original focus, so I needed a name and a matching domain that was able to do the same. It took me a while, but in the end I came up with a name that I liked. Its .net domain wasn't owned by anyone yet, so that was a possibility as well.

Nevertheless, I didn't act on buying the domain, but instead just shelved the project to be retrieved on a later date. This was clearly a mistake, considering we are now going to flash forward to 2010, when I wrote that post and we already know the gist of what problem I had at that point. Obviously, by that time someone had bought the domain. At first, I tried to come up with a new name. Unfortunately, I was unable to come up with anything that I liked anywhere near as much as the name I had previously.

Then, I looked into buying domains for the original name. I also inquired about the .com equivalent of the domain, but that was owned by a stupid company while focusing on selling domains, didn't have any price categories mentioned and didn't respond to my email. When I then made an international call about this, I finally got to hear an opening bid. That was all I wanted to know, and I told them that if that was the opening bid, I didn't much care for haggling, as they clearly weren't going to go quite as low as I could afford. Nevertheless, the company sent my emails for years whenever they had a 20% discount, despite the fact that I needed more like a 99% discount to be interested and they should have known this. I replied a couple of times about how preposterous them sending me such emails was, but they kept sending me those email. I should add that I haven't seen any of the kind lately, so probably they finally have stopped, but this took way too long.

I decided I really wanted either the .net or the .com domain and didn't really want any alternatives. This meant that with the .com out of the picture, I just had the .net to look into. The thing was that it was used only for advertisement purposes and it didn't look to be doing too well as such. I also found a listing on a site that could be use to discuss selling domain names and estimated that it was going to cost me about $100 to get the domain. It was an acceptable price for this domain and that if I was serious about this project, I would just have to pay up. However, in the end I ended up shelving the project again instead of inquiring about the price of the domain. I am glad I never contacted him, as that could have changed things from the way they turned out.

We flash forward again to last summer. I was starting up Project CoreBot and as such, I needed to buy a domain for it. Out of sheer interest I looked up the status of the .net for the web project. It turned out this was a good thing, considering it no longer had an owner. Not wanting to repeat the sequence of events from before and realizing how little it would cost me this time, I just bought the domain this time. I didn't have much time for the project as I was working on Project CoreBot, but I didn't care. I just wanted to have the domain in my possession so nothing could go wrong again and then I would make a simple front page for the website some time. I never ended up making that front page.

Until now, that is. It all started with a random moment when I grabbed a permanent marker and starting doodling with it. What I ended up with was the naming (/"logo") scheme I talked about last time. This was without my first doodles even being about the project. These events are what basically unshelved the project for me. I then started working on finally making that front page, but as I mentioned last time, I wanted to do so with a bit of a look into the future. I am not planning to do much more work on the project at the moment, but for now, I have made some big steps and I still believe that this website is going to exist one day. What's more, I think when it is going to, I think it's going to be a popular website at that. It most definitely has the potential.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fonts on the Web

I was doing some preliminary work on a web project that I have had planned for quite some time now, when I was wondering about the use of different fonts on the web. My findings were quite interesting (in my opinion, at least), so I decided to share them with the (part of the) world (that happens to read my blog).

First, let's give some context, though. This is a web project I have had in my mind for quite some time and though I have owned the domain name for it for a while now, it was just the webhosts standard page until now. I have tons of ideas in my head, but I haven't started implementing them quite yet. All I have done is make a simple (static) homepage for the site. The thing is, though, that I wanted this website to have a layout that resembles something that I might actually use for the website.

One of the things I did look into was the logo for the website. Or, actually the name. No, I can't pin it down to one of the two. It's both. It's something in between. An idea that I came up with recently was to use the name (which I had decided on quite some time ago) and some other chatacters to make a "logo" that can be typed. It also has a shorthand that is the same thing with the name replaced by the first letter. Honestly, I think this could have a really good effect on publicity and the way you generally handle referring to the website. It also had a number of additions for different parts of the website and all together, I think I created a pretty sttrong system with that.

Anyway, for this to work I needed a font to display the "logo" in. It didn't have to be too fancy, but it had to give some character to the whole thing. I ended up with a font after spending some time on different sites looking for fonts. Once there, though, I wanted to spend more time doing this and wanted to go looking for more fonts. As I wondered whether to go for a serif font or a sans serif font, I scouted the internet for an answer to that question.

First off, I read some articles on the matter. They weren't too clear and they said that the web trend was to go for sans serif, but also mentioned that you shouldn't be afraid to use serif fonts either. One of the articles I found actually came to the conclusion that differences (in readability) were bigger within different fonts of a single type than in general between the two types of fonts.

So, then I decided to go looking on some of the bigger sites what fonts they used. The interesting thing about this was that there wasn't just a simple division to make in serif and sans serif, but there was even a simple trend about fonts.

The reigning font is clearly Arial. It needs to be downsized as it is too big, but you basically can't go anywhere on the web without seeing Arial (you might end up seeing something else if you don't use Windows, but let's just forget about that for a moment). However, I did also find some uses of a serif font on some of the busiest places on the web. All of them were consistently Georgia. And what's more, while many website use nothing but Arial, Georgia was usually used in one or two places on a website using mostly Arial. Oh, and if there was italic text on such a website, it was more likely to be the Georgia text than Arial text.

Of course, this has been influenced largely by the fact that the web just doesn't have too many fonts to work with. However, it also says something about how the big websites aren't using font embedding just yet. And besides, even if there was little to work with, I think it still says a lot that from the couple of fonts we had, we are working with only one and using one other to compliment it from time to time.

In the end I decided to go with the masses and use Arial for my main text. Of course, I did have the font for my "logo" and I want to do a trick where whenever the site is named (with the other characters there as well) the same font will be used. I also did go for a different font for the headings on my website. Between the two fonts, I think I clearly instilled some character into the website.

(Oh, and before anyone asks, the project now has a spot on the web, so it is now possible for me to link to it. However, I am still not going to do so, because it is nothing but a single page. Perhaps in the future, when the project really takes off I'll link to it...)