simple design

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Why I Use a Mac (or thank you iMovie/iDVD)

In relation with my previous post, I want to say a few words about why I love using a Mac. For the Bakies, I volunteered to edit my group's movie. I planned to use iMovie, a very nice program that came with my Mac. It was amazingly easy. If you compare the two movie editing programs that come with Windows and Mac OS X (Windows Movie Maker and iMovie, respectively), there is no competition: iMovie is the clear winner.

I've used both of these programs for projects, and have found that Windows Movie Maker is seriously lacking in features. While iMovie has the ability to edit volume, extract audio from video clips, add transitions and effects, and create titles, Windows Movie Maker lacks all of these. Using separate audio from the audio that is part of the video clip is a pain, and doesn't always work the way expected. And while creating simple text requires the use of something such as Flash or Photoshop, while in iMovie it's extremely simple.

I have not even considered iDVD, though. When used in combination with iMovie, it has the ability to create professional DVDs. It's about as simple as it gets. First, in iMovie, you click the iDVD button and assign names and starting times to different scenes in your movie. This is used for iDVD's Scene Selection menu that you see in any DVD worth buying. After you've added all your chapters, you hit the Create iDVD Project button, which will open iDVD with a new project for your movie, complete with Play Movie and Scene Selection buttons. Now you can select a theme and add more to your DVD, such as extras like bloopers. It's a piece of cake. And visiting this site will show you how to get iDVD to burn to an external DVD burner.

Now I need to head to my uncle's house to actually burn the DVD. He's got an external drive, so we'll see how the above hack works.

The Bakies: World Geography Hell

In world geography, there is a project that everyone does each semester: it's called the Bakies. You work in groups to create a movie about a specific event or person in history. I'm working in a group of 9 people creating a movie about the assassination at sarajevo. Not the best idea! It is absolutely impossible to get a group of 9 together to film. However, we've gotten everything filmed now and it looks like we're going to be alright. Nobody will have to write an essay now!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A snapshot of Prologue

Here is an early snapshot of the Prologue administration area: http://blocparty.org/prologue.pdf. The layout is done in pure CSS and XHTML, and it validates! It took a good deal of work in order to make sure I didn't use anything that would conflict with IE. However, there is a slight problem with a border in IE5, but I say to hell with bad browsers. The nice thing is I didn't have to mess with the stupid box model hack.

How did I avoid this? On any divs where I had to specify a width (only one I think: the sidebar), I avoided specifying padding or margins. Instead, I used margins on the elements inside, which were just a ul and a h3. I am very proud of this design, and I think that it will be a good design for the administration area. In my opinion it looks best on Mac OS X, but maybe I'm just biased toward the Lucida Grande font.

I keep getting a ton of ideas for Prologue. Some of them are my own creation and others are ones I've seen in other systems:

* XML-RPC backend for support with weblogging software. I know Prologue is not meant as a weblog, but there are many similarities.

* Text Filters: This is from MovableType. I want to support XHTML, Textile, and Markdown. For each article, you should be able to select a filter to use on the text. In addition, you should be able to set a default one. I love that Rails has built-in helpers for Textile and Markdown.

* Built-in CSS support: Stylesheets should be stored separate from the layout. In Prologue, you can store multiple stylesheets and select them on a per-layout and/or per-page basis.

* Multiple Content Types: Each with their own fields and templates. Because of ActiveRecord, all you need to do is add the fields to the database, run script/generate model typename, and then create templates for the form and actual view of the content.

* And more...

I hope all these features and more can come together to create a real kickass CMS.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

A New Project: Prologue

I'm creating a new project with Ruby on Rails: Prologue. It's a CMS on Rails, meant to provide power and simplicity at the same time. I'm currently working on a design for the administration area, which I want to be stunning, as I am not fond of using applications that look ugly (I am, after all, a Mac user). I'm using OmniGraffle, which is excellent, to get a feel for how I want it to look. It may not be the intended use, but it's working well for me. It doesn't require me to go into Photoshop just to do a very simple gradient. I'll post an image soon.

I'm testing out Blogger's e-mail service, where you can use e-mail to post to your blog. Seems very cool. We'll see if it works.

Blogger needs some different domains!

When signing up for a Blogger account, I found that all the halfway decent URLs for Blogspot.com are taken. They need to get some separate ones or something and let the user choose. I tried all kinds of different URLs and most were taken. The last one I tried was nogoodurls.blogspot.com. You can probably see why I picked that one. I plan to use this blog to post about my life and things I find interesting. I am a student and a computer programmer, and enjoy doing most of my programming in Ruby on Rails. It's an excellent framework, which I and James Cooper used to create Ourpage.us, a service for creating websites that is simple and easy to use.