NC Triad VTAA Screenshot

NC Triad VTAA Screenshot


The NC Triad Hokies site represents my longest tenured project.  I picked up control of the site in 2005-2006 and eventually migrated the site onto a Content Management System from it’s previous static design.  The idea behind that was to allow multiple officers the ability to update the website with relevant content without my interaction.  With the movement into a CMS, we were also able to adopt forums, allowing us to (hopefully) increase local user interaction and a possible marketplace.  In the upgrade to a CMS, we also brought newsletter management in-house, allowing users to manage their subscriptions, as well as providing sending access to all approved officers.

The latest iteration of the site is built around WordPress.  As of August 2013, the site features a fixed-width layout.  I anticipate re-writing the theme before the end of 2013 into a mobile-friendly (responsive) layout, allowing me the opportunity to drop several plugins from the installation.



  • Home page with news slider
  • Forums for local interaction/participation
  • Events manager with RSVP system (not connected to any payment services)
  • On-site newsletter management (creation, sending, subscriber management)
  • Photo gallery
  • Integration/auto-posting with Facebook & Twitter accounts

Anyone who’s known me over the past few years will know that, generally speaking, I avoid commenting on current politics.  Anymore, it seems we’re just going from one knee-jerk reaction to the next knee-jerk reaction without the benefit of any real discourse.  To say that this is a sad state of affairs is understating the case in leaps and bounds.  We can argue all day long about the who, the what, the where, and more importantly, the why all day long.

I bring this up because SCOTUS’s decision on Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act triggered just such a knee-jerk reaction from my cousin (mirrored with the dozens I’ve seen pasted across Twitter) that Civil Rights is now set back 50 years.  Having the benefit of actually reading nearly half a dozen articles (from both “liberal” and “conservative” leaning sites), I chose to engage him with my opinion that I don’t believe that it’s quite the “death knell” everyone portrays it to be.  While it’s certainly disconcerting and does “open the door” to future possible discrimination, what the ruling does is invalidate Section 4 only.  Section 4 creates the scenario that makes certain jurisdiction (states and a few counties) subject to federal oversight of election process changes.  Section 5 actually enforces the oversight, but Section 4 creates the conditions to qualify for additional oversight.

While it’s true that the conditions laid out in Section 4 basically make Section 5 a moot point right now, that’s not to say that it goes away entirely.  SCOTUS has basically said “Congress, you should use more relevant data than something from 40 years ago.”  Makes sense to me, right?

Then people go on to say “well, Congress isn’t getting anything done” – there’s a certain measure of truth there.  But I made the comment to him (and he has yet to respond) that this is such an “under the radar topic” that Congress might just surprise us.  Believe it or not, Congress does actually accomplish things.  It’s just not on the “tentpole” issues that are major headlines to news outlets.  Those are the issues where we see the “partisanship bickering” because Congress actually has to campaign on their visible record.  It’s easy to tell your constituents “I voted against (or for) immigration reform, while my opponent is against my stance.”  It’s not so easy to do on “lower profile” issues or where you might actually agree with something.  Continue reading

I was unfortunate to start having errors on my home desktop over the past weekend.  BSOD’s, all that fun stuff. To be fair, the errors have been happening for a few days prior, but I digress.  Eventually, it was to the point where I determined that I’d need to do a re-format of my SSD, and possibly change out my primary data drive.

Once that was done, it was a matter of copying files over from the old data drive to the new one.  But I thought that rather than do a “blanket” copy, I’d take the time and really sort through the stuff on the drive.

Buried in one of the download folders was a site backup I’d done in 2009.  (When I was still on the “full” domain name of  Near as I can remember, this was about when I made the switch from shared web-hosting to running my own VPS.  But what intrigued me was looking into the folder a bit more – it was a WordPress install.  Finding the readme & version files, it was 2.8.4.  Not bad… so I’d probably been on for at least a few months prior, maybe back to 2.7 or even 2.6.

With the release of v3.6 imminent as well as WP’s 10th “anniversary” last month, it’s just one of those things that you kinda say “wow”.  =)

One of the things I’ve been working on lately is keeping an eye on site stats – trying to understand how they work and all that.  Part of it is just trying to understand SEO, part of it is just my own idle curiosity.  It’s interesting to see just what takes the interest of people who stop by my humble musings.

A past post of mine recently moved across one of the “search terms” and has been displaying on my dashboard.  I wrote it back in August 2010, almost three years ago.  At the time, I was commenting on the latest set of allegations regarding Lance Armstrong’s doping.

By now, everyone has heard of the findings over the last year.  In exchange for reduced sentences, former members of USPS testified that there was indeed, a culture of doping present during Comeback 1.0 (99-05), and likely in Comeback 2.0 (09-10).  Lance has even admitted as much, without much of a sense of remorse.  The ASO has vacated his 7 victories, choosing not to re-assign a winner.  Johan Bruyneel is no longer involved in professional cycling.  Lance has also been banned from competing in any event which USADA has some oversight in.

There’s been numerous commentaries over the actions of the governing bodies – some say it was too much, others not enough.  I don’t really have any opinion on it.  ASO had a tough time, because let’s face it, in hindsight, it seems that half of the pro peleton was doping.  It certainly doesn’t help that Jan Ullrich (runner up several times) as well as Ivan Basso has been implicated in past doping practices (Basso even served a suspension for his association with Operacion Puerto).

I offered up a couple of thoughts as to what might happen should Armstrong’s “guilt” be proved.  To some extent, I feel prophetic.  😉Continue reading

I’ve been working on a theme for re-doing this site.  While digitalnature’s Mystique has served me well over the last couple of years, I’ve been feeling it’s time for a facelift.  Since I’ve been working with Zurb’s Foundation, I stumbled across Amit Gaur’s “Almost Flat UI“.  It’s inspired/drawn from Designmodo’s Flat-UI for the Bootstrap Framework, but adapted to be used with Foundation.  You might see it in action here in the next few weeks.

At first glance, it’s an impressive work.  He’s adding more “button styles” and other such tweaks to what already seems to be a pretty solid framework.  But I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed when I start digging into the code.

All of these “major” frameworks are written in SCSS or LESS or some other CSS pre-processor.  I haven’t gotten that far yet (in learning the methodology behind pre-processor styles), so I’m still using the basic CSS file.  The one site (Greensboro Pony Run) I’ve taken start to finish with Zurb uses v3 (which still supports IE8), but I’m using v4 for my re-design.  Quite frankly, on my own site, I don’t care if scare away IE8 folks.  I don’t think that I’ll ever have enough of a corporate following (the only ones still forced into older versions of IE either due to upgrade policies or OS support policies) to justify using v3 on this project.  But I digress….

The “stock” full version of Foundation stands at 116KB, 91KB minified.  The CSS file for Almost Flat UI is 341KB, 295KB minified.  That’s humongous!  Both files are 3x the “stock” versions!

While it’s true that more and more of the web these days connects via broadband, I’m still not sold on forcing end-users to download nearly half a Megabyte of data before you start accounting for images.  To be fair, I’m beginning to be of the opinion that 100KB of CSS is too much.  By the time WordPress plugins add in their own CSS and JS files, you’re asking a user to download 1 Megabyte.  On a standard cable connection, it’s not too bad, but when you’re building for mobile, connection speeds are spotty at best.

Near as I can tell from his CSS file, what he’s done is rather than just adjusting the original Foundation CSS for the Almost Flat design, he’s recreated the original with his own changes.  Sometimes repeating some sections at least once, sometimes twice.  It seems like a bit of overkill.  (I don’t want to call it laziness just yet, because I don’t think that I have the “community standing” to call it that when my own CSS files are sometimes un-ordered and messy).  To me, it would have made more sense if you’re repeating code to just strip out everything but the color, background-color, etc. so you could still leave the original CSS intact.

I bring this up because while I’m working on my re-design, I’ve been debating how I want to use everything in terms of a framework.  Overriding specific colors in the CSS seems to make a lot more sense than re-building the entire code base, although at this point, v4 is pretty mature.

Just food for thought.  I don’t want to take away from the strong work that Amit’s done already, but if anyone wants to use it in their own projects, just be prepared that it’s not quite ready for a development environment, I think.