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Friday, December 29, 2017

When the Customer Really Isn't Right

According to the file name, the brochure art that was forwarded to me was on its seventeenth revision. The client had either fired the designer or the designer had quit, I couldn't tell, but he was hoping I could make 'a few quick edits' to his website.

The designer in question, forwarded the WordPress login info with a note saying she was more than happy to let someone take over the edits, and warning that they were not easy edits to make.

Apparently, once he was more or less happy with the brochure, he then decided to have her do a website, but he didn't understand why the website couldn't be 'exactly' like the brochure. Looking through the pages of the brochure, I could well imagine the difficulty of coding stylesheets that would deliver the mix of fonts, sizes, alignments, etc., on the pages of the brochure.

For one thing, you don't really get to pick exact fonts with HTML/CSS code, you designate a neighborhood of fonts an let the browser render in whatever it thinks is the closest available font. If you've picked an exotic font that most people aren't going to have on their computers, you're not going to get 'exactly' the same result. Getting the complicated nesting of elements in the brochure, too, while I'm sure it could technically be accomplished by a stylesheet virtuoso, but it would be an epic effort.

I won't claim to be an expert on web design, my wheelhouse has always been print, but if he'd started building the website with me I would have told him to forget about matching the brochure exactly. Ink on paper doesn't look the same as a screen shining light directly in your eyes anyway. No the green won't be quite the same, no the fonts might not all match your brochure (depending on whose browser is rendering it). Get over it. Nobody is going to take your brochure and hold it up to your website and compare that shit, only you are doing that.

I'm pretty sure the fired/quit designer told him the same thing but this is not a person who listens to such things. So I gather the designer did the only logical fix: she made PNG images out of the brochure's elements and place those images in the WordPress template. Which is fine, except it isn't.

First of all, in terms of search engine optimization, if your text is rasterized in PNG files, you're invisible to Google. If nobody comes to your site because Google's crawlers can't figure out what the hell you're going on about, it doesn't much matter what your site looks like.

Another reason it's not okay is when you want to just 'quickly fix a few typos,' you're going back to the brochure, making the edits, then trying to figure out the dimensions those PNGs were exported out at so you can replace them. I was facing four pages of handwritten notes about things the client wanted tweaked or fixed and each line he'd written was a time consuming mess.

I was tempted to take the client's money. If the site had been coded in WordPress to begin with in a sensible way, it was maybe a half hour to an hour of work. As it is, it would probably have taken me six to eight hours and there were a couple of things on his wish list that I probably couldn't have managed (I won't say they're impossible, but they might be impossible with my skill set). If he's willing to pay upwards of $600 in shop labor because he didn't listen to sensible advice from the last designer, I'll play.

But my employer decided this was a bridge too far, and that was probably the most ethical decision. Like I say, you might as well leave the mistakes in the site since nobody is going to find it anyway. I always cringe when I see someone still designing websites using tables like it was 1996 or something, but this was by every measure even worse. Plus, having dealt with this client before, let's just say I've already experienced him asking me to do something that's not actually possible, and having him decide it meant I don't know what I'm doing.

And as frustrating as he is to work for, lest you think I'm just trashing my client, I think he's a decent guy. And I think the business he's trying to start sounds like a great thing if he can get it off the ground. Hopefully he'll grow ears at some point.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Tale of Two Cities (Sorta)

So I take Mo to the bar sometimes to watch sportsball, especially the Chiefs. Generally, she seems to like it. Even when the crowd is noisy, sometimes especially so.

I've caught her giving high-fives to strangers when the crowed erupts over a big play. She'll even tomahawk chop.

Autism is tricky, though. Her ability to express a desire to, say, leave, well, that leaves a lot to be desired. Earlier this year, I had taken her to Johnnie's on Seventh, one of my favorite dives. They have the game on, the crowd gets into it, they have cheap draws of light beer (diabetes has made me appreciate that anew) and an astonishing selection of Irish whisky.

The last time I took Mo there for a game, about halfway through the second quarter, she grabbed my pint of beer, and I panicked, thinking she'd drink the beer. She's almost 21, but still, autism, seizures, the meds to control the seizures, I'm not keen to add booze to that mix. My anxiety was misplaced though, she smiled and threw the glass to the floor, shattering it.

I don't know if she knew that would get me 86'd from Johnnies, but it had that effect. I tried to apologize to the bartender and offered to do to the cleanup, but he was like, 'I'm cleaning it up, but you're done here.'

Fast forward to Christmas weekend. We'd had family stuff on Friday and Saturday for the actual holiday, and on Sunday, Christmas Eve, I figured to take Mo to Episode VIII of Star Wars (I'd seen it myself the weekend before, but it's the best since Empire Strikes Back so an easy second viewing for me and she seemed stoked about it). There was a 9:15 showing, and I thought that was perfect because then we could catch most of the noon Chiefs game when the Chiefs stood to clinch the division.

The movie part went just fine, and we got to a bar in Mission in the middle of the first quarter. Mo asked for and I retrieved her art bag from the car. Her favorite beverage, Sprite, was obtained. Quesadillas, too. And just before halftime I heard the shattering of glass and looked down to realize she'd thrown her Sprite behind the bar like she was spiking a football in the end zone.


The difference in reactions of the staff was notable. My local dive, I was kicked out without ceremony. This joint was like, 'accidents happen, does she need another Sprite?' I'm like, no, she definitely doesn't need another Sprite, and I'm at a loss as to how to communicate to her how fucked up it is that she repays me for taking her to a kickass movie and then to get her favorite soda and foods by making someone behind a bar do unnecessary extra cleanup work.

The Chiefs clinched the division on my car radio while I chewed Mo out for what she did. I don't know if I got through, that's one of the things autism takes away.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Plaza Lights

I think I need to go back late at night. Between people walking into my shots and car traffic, it was a challenging thing to get good photos of the Plaza lights this evening.

A person even asked me, 'Are you recording?' I said yes, and then she walked right in front of the camera anyway. Like she was only asking to make sure she was fucking up my shot.

I was shooting with my ultra-wide Tokina 11-16mm. It'll go to f2.8 as far as wide open shooting goes, but for a landscape situation at night, a lot of times the long exposure at the higher f-stop is the winner.

My D7000 doesn't autofocus, generally, in such low light. Which is frustrating. Seems like at one time I was able to get it to do so more often in these situations but that may be a faulty memory. It's hard to manually focus as crisply as the autofocus when it's working. I use the selective focus where I can target a spot in the viewfinder that I want to be tack sharp and let the depth of field work itself out from there. Looking through the viewfinder or chimping after the shot is pretty limiting, you get home and see it big and up-close on your computer and it's a whole different shot.

It's interesting the things you notice when you do these long shots. Fountains that seem like really good subjects until you notice the shit floating in them or the jets that aren't functioning.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

From the Meadery

So I tortured myself over the bottle labels for my Morat, Raspberry Melomel and Pear-Autumn Olive Melomel. But I was making the perfect the enemy of the good, I realized, and I also realized that if I kept putting it off, I was going to end up getting bottles mixed up. Especially the raspberry and mulberry, the color of the wine is so similar.

And it's not like I'm a huge commercial winery with thousands of bottles to label. My morat yielded 20 bottles, I think the raspberry 23 bottles, a couple of which have already been consumed. The pear & autumn olive one, I kegged part of it and started with five bottles, three of which are extant.

The photography here, well, I have two SB-800 speed lights for my Nikon D7000. But my house is a terrible environment to shoot in, and so far my skills with the speed lights, the soft boxes and reflectors, are just not quite up to the task of taking good photos of these wine bottles. So much to learn about photography. And meadmaking.

And like Mr. Carlson after the turkey drop, God as my witness, I thought Mulberry had two L's in it.