On the iPad and Iterative Design and Web Sites

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, February 03, 2010 at 04:21 PM with 0 comments

photo of a pad with the letter i on it, thus an iPadAs several people have asked me about my opinion about the iPad, I figured what better way to answer them than on The Hot Iron? While collecting my thoughts on it, what I am presenting goes beyond the device itself, but is related to how and why it is here.

Before I start, let me say I own an original iPod Shuffle and an iPod Nano. I don’t own a Mac or an iPhone, the former as I am content with my Windows PC and the latter is due to it being a locked device to the shaky and overpriced AT&T network. I will also say to satisfy the FCC hawks that I have no direct connection or direct financial stake in Apple. Working in tech my entire career, I also understand a little on how Steve Jobs thinks, and my opinion will come out as you read this.

On The iPad Itself

When I saw the announcement of the iPad, I admit I was not blown away by it, but I was also not repulsed by it. It seemed to me a larger version of the iPhone, allowing for full Web browsing and book reading, which is not an unfair description.

Here’s what I said to PSFK’s Purple List, which was posted on their blog the other day:

“In the short term, Apple fans and early adopters will gravitate to the iPad, though many I have talked and my own belief is that people prefer the portability of the iPhones. In the long-term the impact of the iPad will be in the advancement of other hardware manufacturers’ own foray into tablet devices.”

It’s a nice device but not for me. It will have its market but I don’t think it will take off in its current version as some may think. And this is about all I have to say about the iPad.

On Iterative Design

You’re probably wondering that is all I, Mike Maddaloni, has to say? Actually, that’s it, for I feel this first version of iPad is really about getting out there and seeing how it is received in the marketplace. I can somewhat speak from experience as the Shuffle and Nano in my home are only a few years old and far different from the current models. Apple is a product company and they need to sell units. What better way to do so than under the moniker of innovation?

What Apple has done is put out an initial, well-styled and designed product. They will next put out another initial, well-styled and designed product with iterations in its features, but not quite perfect. Where critics will pick apart each new version, it will certainly draw customers, and as a result sell more products. Granted Apple is not the only company who does this, but among all of the style and black clothing, Apple is a business. This in itself is a topic which could be debated on and on and on.

On Web Sites

Rumors are swirling as to why the iPad’s browser will not support Flash. Today, Flash is the main way people view video content on the Web. It has not always been that way, and it won’t necessarily always be that way. Talk of how the next version of the HTML Web programming language supporting video will address this issue has been one answer, but asking any programmer you will find few thinking about HTML 5.

My rumor to add to the mix is AT&T couldn’t possibly handle the network traffic of full-screen, high-definition video. As Apple continues to be tied to AT&T, this is a sacrifice anyone who owns an iAnything will have to deal with.

I don’t see this as much of an issue for those who build Web sites. In general, you should accommodate for those who don’t want to see Flash or don’t have its browser plugin. Sure, all Flash Web sites are still popular, but it’s nothing I recommend to my clients at Dunkirk Systems, LLC, and here’s a prime example of why. I doubt the iPad will push new ways to view video on the Web. Apple has its own Safari browser and QuickTime video format, and these could be a contributing factor as well.

In other words, I am not losing sleep over the launch of the iPad, nor is it making me sleep easier. I am more curious to see, as I was quoted, what the competition comes out with as a result of this high-profile device.

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Introducing the Chicago ExpressionEngine Meetup

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, February 02, 2010 at 04:00 AM with 3 comments

ExpressionEngine logoExpressionEngine is a content management system from EllisLab which we at Dunkirk Systems, LLC have used to develop several blogs and communities for clients. Like any tool, it is good to know others who work with it to share experiences and learn from. This is why I took the initiative to start an ExpressionEngine Meetup group in Chicago.

The first Meetup will be on Tuesday, March 23, at OfficePort Chicago in the Loop. We launch the first meeting of the Chicago ExpressionEngine Meetup with Michael Boyink, principal of Boyink Interactive and the founder of Train-ee, a leader in ExpressionEngine education.

For more information and to join, visit the Chicago ExpressionEngine Meetup at Meetup.com.

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Selling The Web Design Business Kit from SitePoint on eBay

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 06:54 AM with 1 comments

It has served me well, and now it’s time for it to be in the hands of a start-up Web design and development business. I am talking about The Web Design Business Kit from SitePoint, which I have just posted for sale by auction on eBay. Below is a photo of the 2 binders and CD-ROM which make up the Kit.

The Web Design Business Kit from SitePoint on eBay

The Kit consists of processes and procedures for owning and operating a Web design and development business. It is a step-by-step process that takes you through the business process of building a Web site and is supported by documentation and files in Excel and Word you can use right away in your business. Note the files are in Australian MS format but can easily adapted to US format. I purchased the Kit brand new a few years ago and learned quite a bit from it. The version 2.0 of this sells for almost $250.00. The content in the Kit is timeless.

The auction closes next Monday night, February 1, 2010, and bidding starts at a penny for this great buy.

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Tips On Reporting Web Site Errors

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, January 18, 2010 at 04:00 AM with 0 comments

In the ever-changing and rapidly-developed world of the Web, errors happen. From browser incompatibilities to outright bad code, bugs occur and can cause everything from minor discomfort to outright pain for the Web visitor. Like any good Web consultant, we here at Dunkirk Systems, LLC want to fix them as quickly and efficiently as possible. And in order to do so, we need as much information as can be provided to me to troubleshoot and fix the issue.

partial screen shot of Web site error message

The following is a list of types of information needed in order to research and fix a Web error, as well as detailed information for each area. Though it may not be possible to provide all of the answers to these questions, as much information as possible will help in getting the Web page or site back up and running properly.

Where are you and when?

  • Computer type – PC, MAC, mobile device
  • OS – Windows, OS-X, Linux, etc. and what version
  • Monitor/screen resolution
  • Browser – IE, Firefox, etc. and what version
  • How connected to the Internet – work, home, public WiFi
  • Any plugins or toolbars in the browser that can impact behavior?
  • Any popup blockers?
  • Date/time error occurred - not always vital, but can be used to check against Web server

What are you doing?

  • What link/URL are you accessing?
  • What were the steps that lead you to the error?
  • Does the issue happen every time or just on occasion (e.g. when first opening the browser)
  • Have you been able to recreate this issue on another computer?
  • Have you recently cleared their browser cache? If not, do so and try again

What happened?

  • Details of the error
  • Screen shots of the entire desktop, not just the window at issue
  • Any error messages that appear in the browser or on the desktop that the user observes but does not appear in a screenshot

What were you expecting?

  • I ask this as there may, in some cases, be an issue with expectations

As you can see, there are a lot of issues that can play into a Web site error, and the number variables in play with the Web will only get larger as the number of devices and ways people connect to the Internet are created. Help us help you, as well as everyone else, build a beautiful – and functional – Web experience.

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