New Site Design

I spent some time at the weekend upgrading the look and feel of my website.

My aim was twofold: First, a kind of spring cleaning, aimed at de-cluttering the site and focusing the experience primarily on the articles, rather than myriad sidebar links. I have come to realise it is not so much reading on screen, as reading on a screen full of other options, that I find distracting and therefore distressing. Hopefully, in this sense, the new site mimics the experience of a print publication just that much more.

Second, I wanted to make my site more mobile-friendly. I extended the forthcoming and much-anticipated WordPress TwentyTwelve theme (still in alpha) with touch-friendly features such as a button-like top navigation menu and larger search box. The site also adapts based on screen size to avoid having to zoom and swipe around when reading on a small screen.

Although I typically have only upgraded my site every couple of years, it felt important and appropriate to serve a growing mobile readership with a better experience, and everyone else with what I hope to be a more elegant and visually-appealing presenation of my writing.

What do you think? The site may well have a few kinks to iron out (let me know if you find any). For those interested, you can also view past site designs, dating back to 1999.


Highgate Poets Website

In 2006, after moving to Ojai, California from Los Angeles, I helped redesign the Ojai Poetry Festival website. Drawing inspiration from print designs by the late Hope Frasier, I outfitted the site with a newsletter, RSS news feed, and online ticket sales system, as well as information about headliner poets and photos from past events. The site served the group well for several seasons, until the festival recently went into hibernation for financial reasons.

Having recently moved to North London and joined the Highgate Poets, I seized the opportunity to help them put up their new website soon after being accepted into the group. What took weeks of custom programming to create the content management system for the Ojai Poetry Festival only took a matter of hours this time, owing to advances in the WordPress blog software.

Thanks also to a host of software plugins, the site not only features member news, but has a calendar of events, newsletter, integration with the group’s Twitter account, and much more. Going forward, options for selling anthologies on the site or enriching the list of members with more detail is just clicks away.

It is a pleasure to be associated with such a fine group of poets, actively writing and publishing in the UK, and remarkable to see how open source software such as WordPress makes setting up a dynamic website easier all the time.


O Brave New World

“O, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in’t!”

-Miranda, from “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare

This past weekend, I accepted the role of Chief Technology Officer for BraveNewTalent, a social recruitment startup based in London. At the David Allen Company, I have been using technology to help bring the GTD® methodology to millions of people worldwide, freeing them up from organizing tasks in their head so that they can focus on doing their best work in any context. BraveNewTalent seeks to help the workforce of the twenty-first century find, not only ideal new workplace contexts, but the relationships and aptitudes that will unleash the best work of an entire upcoming generation.

Led by visionary young entrepreneur Lucian Tarnowski, the company has already assembled a fine team and is rapidly accumulating blue-chip clients and media attention. It is an exciting time to be bridging the gap between baby boomers in corporate leadership and an inherently digital generation, who hold the promise of a new way to work. Doubly exciting is the opportunity to join not only a well-positioned startup in a high-potential emerging marketplace, but to do so in London–which is itself emerging from the ashes of the financial meltdown as a technology innovation powerhouse.

I am looking forward to doing interesting and meaningful work, with talented people, in one of the greatest cities in the world.


Website Redesigned

I spent the day redesigning my website. What may appear to be just a simple visual touch-up was actually a major overhaul. I ported my site from Serendipity–which I began using when I first transitioned to a blog format in 2006–to the more popular WordPress platform. The template is my own custom design built on sandbox.

I have had a personal web presence for over ten years now, and interestingly enough, when I look back on previous sites, it seems I have upgraded the site look-and-feel about every two years.

For your amusement, here are some screen shots from the past (click the thumbnail or year to see a larger image):

Continue reading…


Bertrand Gugger: Qu’il Respose En Paix

I was shocked to discover today that French PHP programmer Bertrand Gugger passed away last week due to a heart attack. Bertrand was co-lead on the Net_Monitor project with me, and contributed many valuable additions to the project, including all the SMS messaging support and end-to-end testing of European SMS messaging providers.

Bertrand was a character, to say the least. He was passionate about PHP and often had very strong opinions about how to write code well. This, combined with an imperfect grasp of English, often got him into trouble on the Pear Developer lists. Still, in the end, Bertrand and I always got along really well and he contributed some very valuable code to the Net_Monitor project as well as many other Pear projects. Whatever he did, he wanted to do right, and this commitment to writing high quality code–as well as a voracious interest in contributing to PHP development–will have implications and benefits for other PHP programmers for a long time to come.

Reading the news a week late on the Pear website drove home how little I have been involved with a community that used to be such a big part of my life. After James’s death, I began to refocus my life (and this website) on one of my original loves: poetry. And, with the growth of the company and my development team at work, I rarely delve in to actual PHP code these days.

That said, just the other day a new programmer signed on to the Net_Monitor project, and I am happy to see this work continue. Coding for love instead of money, giving something back to such an amazing community of talented programmers who have made so much possible for me in my own career and life–is a kind of lineage I have been proud to take part in. Bertrand was an important part of that lineage, right up to the end. He is survived by wife and children, who have my deepest sympathies now.

Que vous reposez en paix, Bertrand. You will be missed.


On the Map

Even though it’s been awhile since I’ve made a major contribution to Pear, I’m still on the map. (Click the southernmost monkey in California.)


Sea Breeze Deters Fire from Ojai

ABC News reports this morning that, “Officials credited a cool, moist ocean breeze Sunday night for slowing down the fire and putting communities out of immediate danger.” So, for now, a waft of sea breeze has put us out of this fire’s path. Unfortunately, “The fire, which has cost about $15 million to fight, also scorched a condor sanctuary in part of the Sespe Wilderness and fish and game officials closely watched a condor fledgling.”

Meanwhile, I set up a very quick-and-dirty command-line PHP script to check the Forest Service’s RSS feed and page me when the title of the most recent item gets updated. I didn’t have time for fancy XML parsing last night, so I just relied on regular expressions to pull out the title and stored an md5 of the title string for purposes of comparison. Works great so far, and helps me rest assured that I will get the latest updates when they happen.