The Web Dev Speaks

I’m finishing a website for a couple in Cheshire. It’s her business, but they’re both involved in the project. It’s been fun to design and what I plan to do when we get to SoCal.

Maybe it doesn’t seem this way from the outside, but web design is like writing or making furniture or any other creative pursuit.

Designing her site meant a logo, color scheme, fonts and a zillion other tiny details. It’s like picking an outfit to wear and making sure every piece goes together. When it works it is very satisfying.

Actually, the whole creative process is satisfying. That’s why I always enjoyed being on TV, even after three decades of doing it nightly. Being creative never gets old.

This is my expertise. The couple gave me a free hand with the understanding they have final say. That seems to be the easiest way to make everyone happy. Most people really don’t know what they want until after they see it!

I’ll unveil it in a few days.

In 2013 Spelling Counts!

Things are going well at DopplerDesign. Working at home is fun. We have a very casual dress code.

I’m in the middle of a website makeover for some folks in Bethany. I want you to see it, but not yet.

I think I’m doing a good job for them. Here’s how I know. I’m really enjoying the work.

Like coders a third my age, I work in spurts, often at night. Friday’s run started early evening and finished Saturday morning around 7:30.

If you’ve never coded you probably don’t know, spelling counts! It’s one of the few places left.

Go to Google and misspell Britney Spears name. They’ll find her.

Humans are good at that too. We’ve adapted to live in a world with imperfect information.

Not so on the Internet, where every command has a specific response expected. And, unfortunately, servers gladly execute bad commands!

The website do-over is being coded in CSS and HTML, with a tiny bit of PHP and JavaScript. That’s a CSS sample above. Click on it for a more readable, but no more understandable, view.

This code is written by hand. I type the commands into Notepad++ which is connected to a distant server. When I hit “save” it’s online, immediately affected by my keystrokes.

Nobody’s perfect.

Last night I brought on the “White Screen of Death!” One extra “Enter” turned the entire backend of the website blank.

A quick Google search found the proper corrective action. IN cases like this, Google is your friend!

I have special tools to go into the server and fix stuff like this.

Missing “;”s and “}”s are almost as bad. The website displays on the screen, but everything’s in the wrong place or is oddly formatted. It’s a mess.

The problems have been all taken care of, but surely there will be loads of snafus large and small before the site’s finished. The last step before going live is clearing the ‘punch list.’ It’s just like the one on a new home.

I really do want you to see it. Soon.

It’s Not That You Don’t Know, It’s That You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know!

Since the age of 19 I’ve been an employee. Every week a check mysteriously appeared. It was the same amount in August, a slow time for advertising, as it was near Christmas.

I thought of myself as a consciousnesses employee. Never took a ‘mental health day’. Always used fewer than the allotted number of sick days, until last year.

Now my wife and I are business people. Please, no giggling. It’s a different ballgame.

I work in the house. I wear pajamas. The house is a good place to work.

There’s fear in starting DopplerDesign. Lots of uncharted territory.

I have confidence in my ability to build websites. Clients will be happy with what they get. It’s the other stuff that gives me the willies.

Organization is key. I need more.

Since Monday I’ve been in touch with nine people about websites. Each of them has a different story to tell and a different goal to reach. Very cool.

It didn’t take a full day to realize my notes on a legal pad weren’t going to make it. I scrambled to find a CRM so Helaine and I can keep everything straight. My handwritten notes are now in a more usable form.

I began to write proposals last night. Who knew? After looking at a bunch online I got the gist and wrote my own. Each gets modifications to suit the job. I’ve got a few more that still have to go out.

There’s a lot of excitement in this.

No sales yet. Got it. Not counting chickens. Still, I can close my eyes and see how these sites should look.

A friend who’s also a web developer said he was glad I pulled the trigger. Me too.

There’s an old expression. It’s not what you don’t know, it’s what you don’t know you don’t know! That’s my worry.

Helaine and I have fabulous support from our friends and family. Reassurance.

Why didn’t anyone tell me about the 14 hour days?

Let The Web Begin

Helaine, Doppler and I are please to announce the opening of, our new web development company. It’s the culmination of lots of thought and months of work.

Our plan is to serve small businesses and professional practices. These are businesses which often have no website or a site that needs a more contemporary look.

In 2013 there’s no choice. Today’s first contact is often over the web–not necessarily on a computer. builds responsive websites, meaning they look great no matter what size or resolution the screen–even a cellphone.

If you don’t have a site, you don’t exist!

After three decades on TV, I understand the power of video. will specialize in websites with video. It’s not that hard to do (meaning not that expensive) and it’s incredibly effective.

I’d love to make a functional and beautiful design for you. The website will give you an idea of my skills. Each site is custom built for maximum effectiveness and reflects the vision of the site’s owner.

If you watched me on television for any length of time you know I don’t overpromise and I never hype. I will make you happy.

Most of you reading this have no need for a website, but I’d like you to take a look anyway. Maybe you have a friend or relative looking for a web presence. I’d appreciate your word-of-mouth help.

You can even share this on Facebook or Twitter. Look what Geoff Fox is doing now!

The Website’s Nearly Open

I feel like Mark Zuckerberg early on in “The Social Network.”

I have been working on the site for our new web development company. Long hours. This should be our showcase, right? It’s important to demonstrate what we’ll do. Everything is under the microscope.

I have been happily typecast for 28 years. Now, I need some cred as a developer.

Sometime later today I’ll officially open the doors. The site is running, but a few minor changes might still be made.

There is a special bit of hell web developers enter because of Microsoft. Thanks, Bill.

The web is based on standards. Car tail lights are red and electrical plugs have two parallel slots a specific distance apart because of standards. We don’t think or worry about these things. They’re always the same. The web is supposed to work the same way.

The web’s standards describe the response your browser gives when it receives a specific command. In a few critical cases Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is non-standards compliant. It does its own thing. Groovy, baby.

The code I write looks different on most versions of Internet Explorer. If I write four boxes across, IE might display three and one below the first.

Might? No, it did. Fixed.

There are inelegant hacks. They consume loads of time for little benefit. You’ve gotta do them. Each individual visitor is important no matter how they’re seeing the site. It’s a good challenge.

A moment ago Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome were all open on my computer. Gotta check. Gotta make sure.

The buzzword today is “responsive.” Websites are supposed to gracefully reformat themselves for smaller and smaller and larger and larger screens! A typical large LCD panel is 1920×1200 pixels. A phone might be 480×320 pixels. Websites have to look good for both. It’s tricky.

I am enjoying coding.

Quiet work. Intense. Very much like writing. Creative.

I mostly write CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). It’s the language which allows every website to look different. If you glanced at a CSS stylesheet you’d recognize lots of English words, but overall it would be undecipherable.

Most of what I do concerns how sites look. I build on WordPress. It’s mature software and reasonably bulletproof. Millions of sites use it worldwide.

I still have server backups made offsite each night.

I’m in a nerdy pursuit, no?

More later.

My Life As A Dev

Today was a busy day at the keys preparing to open Doppler Design.

First, I got an OK from Mark Shiffrin to go live with his site. Some of you might remember when Mark was Consumer Commissioner for Connecticut.

He is pragmatic. He wanted to check and double check and double check again. Detail’s good when you’re a lawyer. I was antsy to pull the switch.

Anyway, pulled it is.

The Doppler Design website is nearing completion. Pieces (and techniques) have begun to come together. I have been helped greatly by friends, honest in their opinions.

For the time being I’m on the kitchen table with two monitors. On my right is the site itself–the front end. That’s what you’ll see, though in the photo above I’m using some diagnostic tools on top of it.

On the left side is the back end. It’s where everything you see is controlled.

There is an exceptionally granular amount of control available when a site is designed. That poses a dilemma, because you can change and change and change and change. Too much choice is a time sink!

My speed of coding is picking up. So is my collection of go-to tools.

I’ve tried to follow the new web standard of using CSS (cascading style sheets) wherever possible, replacing the images that used to be used for shapes and backgrounds. There’s still a lot of Photoshop time.

Until recently web browsers could only show a limited number of fonts. To get around the problem developers often put text online as images. It works for humans, but Google couldn’t always read it.

To solve their problem and mine, Google now offers a free selection of 600+ fonts which diisplay in a browser and are search engine friendly! DopplerDesign takes advantage.

It turns out the web is full of little, esoteric websites that eliminate lots of manual labor. There are sites to help choose compatible colors and compatible fonts. There are sites which allow you to ‘draw’ objects then gives you the necessary code to feed your site. There’s a site that only does striped backgrounds!

On this Friday morning I’m happy with how things are going. Hopefully you’ll get to see it in the next few days.