Analogy for a good foundation to web design

Always start with a good foundation

Although I went to school for web design I basically taught myself HTML and CSS. I am generally an organized person, so I always kept my CSS neat and organized. So if someone had to pick up where you left of they code without a huge amount of trouble.

Since joining the Vancouver WordPress Community I met Christine Rondeau who instilled in me just how standards are so important. I have been using her blank themes for WordPress development for a number of years now. I’ve also collaboration with Christine on a responsive blank theme For WordPress development.

Another Vancouver WordPress developer Joey Kudish had done the same for Christine’s blank themes and pickup up a lot of good habits from those two and many others.

This past month I had two examples of how important this truly is!

One site was small but needed to be professional and only had a three week timeline from start to finish. I took Christine’s Bold Headline theme from the WordPress Theme Directory, Changed the font, moved a few things around, added my own footer and a couple other style flourishes. The client love it, deadlines were met everyone was happy. But it all started with Christine’s Bold Headline (which originally started off as a Underscores default theme).

Christine had a good foundation with Underscores and made Bold Headline
I had a good foundation with Bold Headline and made my clients deadline.

The second example was less so.

It was a theme that was purchased from a theme house and I was contracted out to make a number of similar changes to this theme. A font change here, a new footer there and a couple other style flourishes to give the theme it’s own feel.

(Don’t judge a book by it’s cover some theme houses have great code and awesome developers working for them.)

After checking the support forums of the theme developer he didn’t provide any support if a single line of code was changed to his theme. If it wasn’t in the customizer. Don’t try it and if you do I can’t help you with it. Also it was said this theme could be used with the current version of WordPress btw.

I now know why he provides no support to making even slight changes to the theme. The theme’s is a mess of hacked code with no rhyme or reason why it was done.  Italics tags with the italics removed, anchor tags with both absolute and relative positions to them (you should never apply a position to a anchor tag anyway) … I could go on but it makes me cringe and nothing was commented…

Now I am not without my abilities and I was able to modify the existing theme to suit the clients purposes and they are happy with there site.

But both themes have left me with two very different feelings on completion.

The first theme I’d gladly work on again. I can adapt change to the clients needs and anyone with WordPress, HTML and CSS knowledge could work on this. They need some plugin that changes the functionality of the site. Shouldn’t be a problem.

The second theme: I never want to see again… Not because the work I did was of poor quality, or I am ashamed of what I did. But because any small amount of code change could completely break the theme. Just to change a icon took over an hour and for no good reason. Who know what will happen if or more likely when you want to add something to the site.

Coincidentally both projects came out to similar prices.

So the moral of this story is to always start with a good foundation or else you’ll be living with a website that feels like this:

House on stilts
Just keep to the right hand side of the house and you’ll do fine…


One of our long-standing family traditions from our Scottish side. Is the coal at New Year’s Eve. Commonly known as the  First-foot.

In our family home we run outside on to the porch with a bunch of noise makers and the enter the house via the other porch door in the new year.

Over the years we have all done it. One year we made the family dog Toby do it tying the coal to a bag to his collar and the calling him from the other door.

We haven’t done the tradition in years but my nephews were up this year and my youngest nephew Oxford wanted to do it with me.

It was kinda a fun to rekindle an old tradition I haven’t done in over a decade.

Giving the Gift of Kiva

The Kiva Logo
Helping out the poor $25 dollars a time.

I was introduced to Kiva by Christine Rondeau. She tweeted out a link to Kiva micro loans some years ago and peaked my interest.

Since I visited Colombia some years back and I really like Colombian Coffee I decided to help Elkin a Colombia Coffee.

It was all payed back months before it was due. I was happy to help and went on to re-invest in a phone accessories store and a smaller grocery store.

Other friends Flynn O’Connor and Jeremy Felt got into the game and donated to Ibrahim and his beer and stout business.  Two craft beer affectionados helping out another worlds away.

On Mothers Day I though of giving the gift of Kiva but getting my parents involved was a little harder then I originally though.

They are generous people who regularly donate to charities and such. But the concept of micro-finance, crowd funding and field parters was all quite new and they didn’t understand if it was a donation or a loan.

So we put it off for a couple months and while we were out for dinner one night I explain what micro finance was and how this was empowering people who couldn’t even the smallest of loans for there business. How they weren’t taking on the entire loan but a portion and how they were payed back and then they could loan it out again.

Lastly I tried to explain field partners to them. This was actually quite difficult because my folks though we were actually donating to Kiva.

They were still somewhat unclear how the whole processed worked mainly the loan part and they repayment terms…  But one thing my stubborn mother taught me well was be determined and don’t give up… Well I didn’t…

On Christmas Eve of 2013 I saw my dad on a charity website asking him to donate. I asked why he didn’t try a kiva loan.

Antonieta and her store. photo credit:  Kiva
Antonieta and her store. photo credit: Kiva

We sat down and I showed him my profile and then I showed him how you could pick someone, anyone. He suggested we find someone in the Philippines. We decided on Antonieta and her little store.

My father also made a second loan to Victor a chicken farmer from Peru.

I was so happy that they finally understood the process and decided to give it a try.

My mother who was the most skeptical of the enter process said.

“I wish them the best of luck in there business venture, but if we don’t get the money back will consider it a donation” I was glad to see such a turn around from her as well.

I also decided to give my brothers wife Michelle a Kiva Gift Card and she though it that was one of the most thoughtful gifts and can’t wait to pick who she can help out.

Post Script: I have asked Kiva about the interest rate that there field parents apply to the loans as I hear they can be quite high. Will keep you posted on my correspondence.

Andy Clark shoots The Patricia Theatre

Photographer friend Andy Clark of Reuters News Pictures visited the Patricia Theatre after I told him about my recent visit and he shot this amazing photo story.

He also wrote about his time in Powell River on the Reuters Photographers Blog.

Truly amazing what happens when you scratch the surface and look at the history of a community. I was just happy to help get this little gem of a theatre some much deserved recognition and hope it has many more years of opening nights and afternoon matinees.

Cheers Andy!

It’s not all about the commit

You can learn so much just by trying to submit a patch. It’s is nice to get the commit but it isn’t a requirement to learn something about the issue.

The back story

You can’t put rgba inside of a placeholder property, for example:

::-webkit-input-placeholder {
   color: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.30);

but you can do this:

::-webkit-input-placeholder {

Also Takashi Irie (author of Twenty Fourteen) after some research found out that Firefox 19 lowers the opacity of the placeholder to 0.54 by default. To get the correct color you need to reset it.

So to properly use the color and the opacity you want you would have to do this:

::-webkit-input-placeholder {
   opacity: 1;

What I though would be an easy open source hat trick.

  1. Trac Ticket
  2. Patch Submission
  3. Core Contribution

Turned into a learning something new and you know it’s not all about the commit…

Final Approach

The Final Approach into Vancouver with English Bay, Stanley Park, Downtown Vancouver and Burrard Inlet in view. Far off in the distance Mount Baker. Photo Copyright 2013 Robert Dall ~ All Rights Reserved
The Final Approach into Vancouver with English Bay, Stanley Park, Downtown Vancouver and Burrard Inlet in view. Far off in the distance Mount Baker. Photo Copyright 2013 Robert Dall ~ All Rights Reserved

Andrew Nacin sent out a tweet today about  how he never getting tired of the approach into Washington DC. The statement is so true… It’s a beautiful city. I hope to visit it one day.

I accidentally and for the first time in years missed the bus to the ferry for a meetup in Vancouver and luckily enough Harbour Air had a seat empty to Vancouver.

It was a beautiful flight and it gave me a chance to think about the view coming into Vancouver via float plane and I never get tired of it, the view never gets old. So on this day of Remembrance I think about a lot how lucky to live in such an awesome area of the world we live in.