Anger Management

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How are we doing today at anger management?  It seems today we do a poor job of controlling our emotions.  I’m sure there are all sorts of reasons why.  But today I want to talk about how to manage that anger when it crops up.  It might happen to you in the car, at the grocery store,  or while you’re at work, to name a few places.

The first thing you need to do is be aware of what is going on around you before you get a chance to get angry.  Think ahead of time how you will handle possible situations.  Are you going to yell at the car that cuts you off, or are you going to sing a little louder to the song on the radio?  Are you going to quit your job when someone else gets a promotion, or are you going to talk to your boss about how you can advance?

In the workplace it is important to conduct yourself professionally.  Losing your cool is not professional.  If there is something going on at work that is ruffling your feathers, find someone to talk to.  Maybe you are getting upset about something that really isn’t an issue at all.  Talk to your boss about your concerns instead of stewing and worrying yourself sick.

Many times we get upset about things that really won’t even matter to us tomorrow.  Maybe we are in a bad mood, we didn’t sleep the night before or we haven’t had our morning coffee (or diet Dr. Pepper).  Trying the old “count to ten” method is never a bad idea.   Another method is to leave the area.  Go get some fresh air and clear your head.  Take some deep breaths and relax.

It is very easy to say something you will regret during a moment of anger.  And words are hard for people to forget.  No one wants to be around an angry person.  They are hard to work with and difficult to trust.  I believe if we treat people the way we want to be treated, most of our anger issues can be kept in check.

Progressive Enhancement vs. Graceful Degradation

Today I read two different articles that discuss the differences between two types of web development – progressive enhancement and graceful degradation.  Progressive enhancement can be defined as delivering the best possible experience to the widest possible audience, regardless of the device type being used.  With this method, you write code that works in all base-level browsers then add layers for browsers that support more advanced capabilities. With graceful degradation, you build your site completely with all the bells and whistles.  Then you add workarounds or fallbacks for the browsers that cannot offer support. 

 In the article Graceful Degradation Versus Progressive Enhancement by Chris Heilmann, the author points out that with graceful degradation assumptions are made regarding the user’s environment and their ability to make upgrades.  While he is a supporter of progressive enhancement, he admits there are times when graceful degradation is in order.  This includes old websites for which there is not time to rebuild, websites highly dependent on scripting and new websites where development timelines restrict full progressive enhancement. Advantages of progressive enhancement include a working website, no matter the environment, smooth transitions to new browsers and easier maintenance.   

 The second article is Progressive Enhancement – What it is and how to use it by Sam Dwyer. He defines progressive enhancement as the journey from simplicity to complexity and graceful degradation as the journey from complexity to simplicity.  He points out strengths of progressive enhancement (PE), including a strong base to fall back on, the ability to release projects early then adding more complex code later, ease of maintenance and good usability.

The author then explains how to create code with PE using layers.  The first layer includes clean, semantic HTML which will allow any user to navigate your site.  Next, is the CSS layer which will allows users to view your site with it’s advanced visual enhancements.  Third is a layer of Javascript which can provide another level of usability to your users.

I agree with both these authors.  As time moves forward, the web will continue to offer new challenges to web designers in order to keep their sites viewable by all.  These articles help me see that future usability of the web is largely dependent upon the practices of web developers.  What route will we choose to take?  Progressive Enhancement will provide the guidelines we need in order to ensure a highly usable and accessible web experience for everyone.

Compassion

Dictionary.com defines compassion as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering”.

The first picture that pops into my head when I hear the word compassion is Jesus.  He had great compassion on the lost in the world.  Another picture is Mother Teresa.  She spent her entire life giving of herself to those less fortunate.  Today there are entire ministries across the globe based on compassion.  One such ministry is called Compassion International.  Through this agency, you can sponsor a specific child by making a donation. You exhibit compassion on this child when you sponsor him, write letters, share photos and offer encouragement.

Compassion International thumbnail

Compassion International

How can someone like me offer compassion today?  Our world is full of those needing compassion.  It could be a neighbor who has lost a family member, a friend who has lost a job, or a small baby in India that needs health care.

How might this apply to the web profession?  Perhaps a co-worker is having a hard time with a project, and you could offer your help.  Maybe a client is having tough time due to family issues.  You could help by lending an ear to let them know you care.  Opportunities are all around you.  You just have to look.

But first I believe your heart must be in the right place.  Without this, compassion has no meaning.  I think this can be difficult in today’s world.  We fill our schedules with every conceivable thing and leave no room for this type of outpouring.  We also may have fears about putting ourselves “out there”.  But when our heart is right, and we reach out to someone, it can prove to be a very moving experience. Lives can be changed with even the smallest acts of compassion.

Discover Your Passion

Purple Heart Illustration

My assignment today was to find something I am passionate about in the world of web development, spend several hours on the subject, and then blog about what I learned.

It seems early for me to have a particular passion, as I just started this program a couple of months ago.  But then I thought, what brought me to this program?  And there is my answer.  I am passionate about creating something using a computer and seeing the end result.  This passion can be put into use in more ways than I can count.  Right now I believe my passion is learning to write code.  This is important and where you begin when learning to develop web sites.

I decided to go to Lynda.com and learn more about CSS.  I just finished the book Basics of Web Design – HTML5 & CSS3, but I know I have only begun to learn these languages.  I chose to watch Jim Williamson’s tutorial “CSS Fundamentals” at Lynda.com.  I felt it would be a good review before I go into my next course, which includes another book on CSS.

Thumbnail of W3C CSS current work pageThe tutorial began with a presentation of the basics of CSS. I was given an overview of CSS and it’s functions. Next, I heard about the history of CSS and how it evolved to where it is today.  I learned that currently,  you can get a high level overview of what’s going on with CSS by visiting the W3C’s cascading style sheet current work page.

Some great resources were presented regarding browser support. The website When Can I Use shows CSS support levels in current browsers,  including desktop and mobile browsers.   Quirksmode was discussed which shows browser compatibility charts. Wikipedia has a great comparison of layout engines as well.  The website Position is Everything, although older, is recommended as the “go to” site on browser bugs and ways around browser bugs.   Lastly, the browsers themselves offer support.

The next section of the tutorial discussed the various common CSS concepts.  This was a good review of what I have learned so far in CSS.  The last section covered a long list of CSS resources including code generators and editors.  I plan to check out a few other resources mentioned – Web-developer’s Handbook, Sitepoint’s CSS reference, and Chris Coyier’s blog  CSS-Tricks. Illustration of CSS Tricks website

I enjoyed spending time reviewing CSS and learning a few new things that will help me on this journey of web design and development.

Homepage Usability

Five Second Test 

I reviewed the website for Taste Oklahoma.  After the 5 seconds, I answered the following questions:

1.  What is the company’s core business? Promoting products made in Oklahoma

2.  What captures your attention?   Nothing, really

3.  What do you think you can do on the homepage?   Maybe purchase products made in Oklahoma

It’s not clear if Taste Oklahoma is a company, or just a way to promote other businesses in the state.   They need a good logo. It’s not clear where you should go from the main page.  The eye has nowhere to land when you first open the page, and navigation needs to be simplified for the user.   The search box should be moved to the top right of the page as well.  There is way too much information on this page.  It does not give a first-time user a clear idea of what the website is about.

Successful Websites

I think Aunt Sally’s Pralines has a very good homepage.  When you go to the website, the first thing you see is a photo of what they are most known for – pralines!  There is a link on the photo to take you directly to ordering – “have yours shipped today”.  This is great for those who already know what they want, and just want to hurry up and buy.  Some of their special items are along the bottom of the page.  They have a tagline – New Orleans Most Famous Praline, as well as the company name and description in the title tag.  Their links are very clear and specific.   One thing I would change is to put the link of the current page in a different color so you know where you are.  There is a search option at the top and bottom of the page, but it is rather small, and only in text.  I think it would be better to have search box to be more visible to the user.

Nichols Travel also has a good homepage.  The first thing you see is a beautiful photograph.  The navigation links across the top or side of the page give you a quick way to get to the areas you want to see.  Below the main nav area are links to each travel agent within the agency.  The site has a good tagline and the company name and description on the title tag.  The graphics are meaningful and not over-done.  I would add a search box and get rid of the sound effects.  I also would add a link to current specials.

Unsuccessful Websites

Hebert’s Specialty Meats is not a successful website.  When you first open the webpage, you cannot tell what the company does.  It’s mostly white space.  Your eye travels all over the place.  I have had this company’s products and know how fantastic they are.  This website does not do the company justice.  There is a link that goes nowhere.   There are no photos of what they sell.  The “about us” section takes up too much room.  You cannot tell where you are, when you click on a link.  There is a search box, but it should be moved to the top right.

Another unsuccessful website is Big Sky Tours.  This homepage is very difficult to read.  The wrapper color is ugly.  There is a ton of empty black space on the page as well.  The company name is very hard to see, and there is no logo.  The links are tiny and hard to read.  The content is hard to read as well.  I think they have a tagline, but it is not very obvious.  It is hard to know where to go once you come to this page. I just don’t see anything here that is working for the company.

Diversity

A Google search on the word ‘diversity’ returns 148 million results. Now that is diversity! Webster defines the word as “the condition of having or being composed of different elements or qualities: variety”. The world is full of diversity. Without it, our lives would be quite plain.

People are very diverse. I think we tend to surround ourselves with people like us, and it is not until we get out of our comfort zone, that we see and experience that diversity. Race, language, talents, education and occupation are some of the types of diversity you can find in people.

Colleges advertise their diversity to prospective students. They show their diversity through their students’ home states and countries, the university’s campus clubs and organizations, the gender and age breakdown of students, and faculty experience.

In the workplace, diversity is important. The job you are doing may require abilities you do not have. With diverse employees, you can look for help from another person with different skills and knowledge. That diversity can offer you more opportunity to do your job well. The larger the company, the more diversity you can find.

I enjoy seeing the diversity around me and appreciate the diversity I have.

Web Design & Development

What about this course most excites me?

Most of all, I believe it is the opportunity to learn something new in a field I have been interested in for many years.  After college, I was a computer programmer for an oil company in Houston.  This was in the cave men days before the PC was invented.  I have always had a love for computers since then.  Once the PC came into the world, things in the industry began to change very quickly.  Here is a photo of BYTE magazine introducing the first IBM PC.

Wow, have things changed!  Eventually the internet was introduced, and I got my first internet connection.  It was with a company called Compuserve.  My dial-up modem speed was 300 baud!  Follow the link below to an article about the history of modems.

Later, I became interested in web design and began tinkering with websites using WYSIWYG programs.  Now I’ve come to a place in my life where I am ready to learn more.  I am very excited about all the prospects out there in the world of web design.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/218274/modems_60_years_of_hooking_up.html

 

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