Posted Thursday, May 19, 2005 12:10:28 PM by Sheri German
OK, my daughter said that if I was going to name her in the revenge of the music baton, I was going to have to let her answer in my blog. So, gentle readers, here is Jenn German, my teen daughter, who has very eclectic tastes...
Greetings. I could, as my mom said, simply put this in a reply to her music entry. However, as I consider a non-CMX partner to be unarmed and defenseless, passing on the baton to me is cheating. Therefore, I am instead hijacking her blog. Nyah!
I try not to look. I'm extremely paranoid about hard drive space, and I only check how much space is left in total.
Last CD Bought
Russian Favourites (a whole lot of Missourgsky, with some Borodin and similar composers thrown in
Song Playing Right Now
Nothing at the current moment, but I had "Kovanschina" by Missourgsky on my iPod a few minutes ago.
Five Songs I Listen to a Lot (at the moment)
- "At the Great Gates of Kiev" from Pictures at an Exhibition by Missourgsky
- "Kovanschina," by Missourgsky
- "Habit," by Jump, Little Children
- "Paperboy," by Mycroft Holmes
- "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues," by EELS
Five People To Whom I Am Passing this Baton
- Meredith Collier
- Danielle Trucano
- Bob Jones
- Nicole Harris
- Jana Piotrowsky
Category tags: Music
Posted Thursday, May 19, 2005 11:16:47 AM by Sheri German
OK, I am gonna get Tom Muck for this--passing me the music baton LOL. Or perhaps you, my gentle readers, should. I know what you're thinking: "Oh, no! That ranting classical music person again. Not her!"
Zero when I am working. Here's my little secret: I can't listen to music when I am working because soon I am NOT working. Music is a snake charmer and it makes me want to get up and dance. I do have a Bose Wave radio with CD player in my work area, but that is silent during the day unless there is a big, breaking news story.
In the car is a completely different story. I spend hours a week in my car. I turn the volume up loud. In fact, we're in the market for a new car, and we're looking at one with an upgraded sound system. I could care less what color, make, or model the car is. I will even live without air conditioning and heat--but I can't live without a CD player and great sound system. What do I listen to there? I toggle between WBJC and WGMS, our two remaining local classical music stations, and my CD player. I just bought Benjamin Britten's Simple Symphony from the Apple Music Store, and have been wearing a groove in that of late.
Oh, wait. You mean my HD volume LOL? Very little. I burn my tunes to CDs with my SuperDrive.
Last CD Bought
The above mentioned Benjamin Britten Simple Symphony
Song Playing Right Now
None, but like Tom, I am listening in my head--and it's the fourth movement of the Simple Symphony.
Five Songs I Listen to a Lot (at the moment)
- Shostakovich Piano Trio in e minor
- Hindemith Four Temperments
- Benjamin Britten Simple Symphony
- Camille Saint-Saens Samson and Deliah
- Prokofiev Second Violin Concerto
Five People To Whom I Am Passing this Baton
- Jenn German
- Rebekah Herbold
- Elizabeth Bateman
- Laurie Casolino
- John Gallant
Category tags: Music
Posted Friday, May 13, 2005 12:59:37 PM by Sheri German
After three years of sitting in on the Howard County Middle School Gifted Talented Orchestra, it's all over. My son joined the viola section in 6th grade, and I stayed for rehearsals partly because we live a half hour away and driving home, then back again made no sense. I also stayed, however, because I liked watching the music evolve from the first sight-read train wreck to a finished, polished gem. I liked watching the director, a master teacher who handled the children with skill and humor, mold pieces in the shortest time possible, as the bird flies. I fell into creating and managing the orchestra web site, helping with chairs, and organizing parent volunteers.
It's all over now. My son is graduating from eighth grade. He probably didn't always like having me there. I probably won't be able to sit in on the equivalent high school orchestra, Howard Regional Youth Orchestra, that he hopes to join. So it is with a great deal of melancholy that I attended the final HCMSGTO concert of the year. I sat amazed, as always, at the quality of an orchestra that auditioned and accepted only children who played at a high level because they were willing to practice diligently. Still, even among these children, few will become professional musicians. There are just too few spots for professional classical musicians, coupled with ever dwindling audiences.
Why don't young people like classical music? Or is it just that they think they don't like classical music because of all the misconceptions out there? Even those with the best of intentions write things like "to become relaxed before bed, listen to classical music." No wonder young people don't give it a chance. I don't like deadly dull, soporific music either. And classical music. is. not. dull. Nothing beats the savagery of Stravinksy's Rite of Spring cranked up loud while you're driving 70 on the Interstate. Shostakovich's Piano Trio in e minor would give any heavy metal piece a run for its money, written as it was on the theme of Jews being forced to dance before being shot by the Nazis. Or how about this? Last summer we drove through the Austrian Alps with Wagner Overtures blasting from the bus CD player. Everyone--young and old--got a rush from that. Classical music appeals to my Dionysian side, not my meek and mild side.
So how do we save Mozart? A lot rests with our music educators, many of whom are confined to teaching in janitor's closets, like our daughter's string orchestra teacher was for her first couple years of high school. Engaged in an underground movement of sorts (competing as they are for dollars that many parents would prefer to see put into sports), the dedicated music teachers of Howard County are answering the challenge. At the final orchestra concert, the superintendent of music took the mike and told the audience that Howard County had just been named one of the top school systems in the country for music.
It helps that our county is within spitting distance of Peabody Conservatory (a division of John Hopkins), and is awash with the highest quality teachers, both private and in our schools. It helps that we have educated families who recognize the value of music lessons and are willing to see that their children get them. But what will save Mozart is the dedication of our music teachers as they give time to all the extracurricular orchestras, bands, and festivals that the county hosts. Yes, most of the children in these groups will not become professionals, but they will become audiences.
And as wonderful as it is to have YoYo Ma and Joshua Bell and Wynton Marsalis, in the end only audiences - head over heels in love with the music - can save Mozart.
Category tags: Music
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2005 7:19:30 AM by Sheri German
After years of playing the violin, our daughter decided she wanted to learn the cello. Adventure-bound, we loaded up the car one day with my husband, son (who needed a new viola chin rest), daughter, and two of her fellow string player friends.
Ray Hardy is our Strings guy. I've known him for years, and we have spent many hours together working on his Mac (many musicians love the Mac.) On this particular day, however, we were there for "business." Ray was ready with several cellos in our price range. With our large audience gathered around, Ray took out the first cello and played a scale. No Bach Cello Suite played by Yo-Yo Ma was every more attentively listened to.
And so it went, as Ray demoed cellos with his beautiful, Peabody-graduate vibrato. Finally he went in the back room and pulled out a last cello. All ears leaned towards the "C" string as its low growl began a two-octave scale. Such primal beauty! No mating call was ever more seductive.
This was the one. It was a little more expensive, but what is money for anyway?
And so it came to be that another cat came into our house that already holds a population of Birman, Siamese, and Ragdoll. This, a Royal Bengal Tiger of cats, low "C" growling and announcing its supremacy over the others, had to have a name too. We dubbed him "Richard Parker" after the tiger in Yann Martel's book "Life of Pi."
And just as a character in the book claimed of its story, "it might make you believe in God," so too does this cello invite the wonder of the universe through sound.
Category tags: Music
Posted Friday, April 01, 2005 8:06:56 AM by Sheri German
Dreamweaver's appeal for many people is its visual tools. Macromedia has included many one-click features that are meant to expedite production and ease the learning curve of some of web development's more difficult steps. Some of these features create their own problems, however. For instance, the Properties inspector has text formating buttons that can add seemingly endless inline styles: style1, style2, style3, ad infinitum.
I try to teach my students to use Web Standards and Dreamweaver "best practices." Unless I can replace the MM quick and dirty tools with something equally appealing, though, it's a hard sell. The students fall into the bad habit of adding those styles--among other things--and allowing them to conflict with the external style sheets we painstakingly constructed.
Through my work in promoting the Community MX JumpStarts Dreamweaver CSS templates, I have developed quite a few bits of reusable CSS code. I started adding them to my Snippets panel, a Dreamweaver feature with enormous potential that is still largely untapped. Community MX is extremely pleased to offer two sets of CSS snippet collections, easily installed into the Snippet Panel with extensions created by Danilo Celic.
Set one includes 15 handy hacks such as the Tan Hack, the Caio and Anti-Caio Hacks, the Holly Hack, and various permutations of IE conditional comments. Set two includes 17 helpers and fixes such as centered layout starter code, IE fixes for bugs such as missing images and double float margins, and zeroing out multiple margins code. We invite you to check them out.
I would like to note that this project was not developed in a vacuum. I had the help of some of the best CSS gurus in the business. Big John of Position is Everything and CMX, Holly Bergevin, Zoe Gillenwater, Adrian Senior, and Stephanie Sullivan all contributed valuable suggestions. We sincerely hope that these collections speed up your CSS development as well as spare you some head scratching.
Category tags: Dreamweaver
Posted Friday, February 25, 2005 8:41:14 AM by Sheri German
Today, just today, I wish I was not a partner with Community MX. I am positively drooling over the drawing prizes that we're giving away to commemorate hitting article number 1000. Two lucky people will win a package of eleven books by CMX authors on a range of Macromedia Studio products. Everyone is invited to enter.
On March 31, 2003 Community MX opened its virtual doors for business with the promise of two pieces of content--tutorials, articles, and extensions--every business day of the year. The first two member articles on that opening day were Creating Fluid Pages by Stephanie Sullivan and Ordering Tricks in SQL by Tom Muck.
CMX has always made good on its promise, and today articles 999 and 1000 were released: Slicing Fireworks Navigation Bars with Frames by Kim Cavanaugh and Discovering CFMX 7: Flash Forms by Adrian Senior.
To celebrate this achievement, we are holding a drawing to win a package of the following books:
- Dreamweaver MX 2004 - The Complete Reference, Ray West and Tom Muck
- Dreamweaver MX 2004 - A Beginners Guide, Ray West and Tom Muck
- Razzle Dazzle - Linda Rathgeber (eBook)
- Photo Magic - Linda Rathgeber (eBook)
- Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 Magic - Kim Cavanaugh, Danilo Celic, Stephanie Sullivan, Joel Martinez, et al
- Macromedial Captivate for Windows - Visual Quick Start Guide - Tom Green
- Building dynamic Web Sites with Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 - Tom Green, Chris Flick, et al
- Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Bible - Robert Reinhardt, et al
- Flash MX 2004 ActionScript Bible - Robert Reinhardt and Joey Lott
- The Joy of Dreamweaver MX: Recipes for Data-Driven Web Sites - Paul Newman
- ASP.NET Development with Dreamweaver MX: Visual QuickPro Guide - Joel Martinez, et al
Do you think Ray West would notice if my cat entered the drawing? ;-)
Posted Friday, February 25, 2005 8:07:45 AM by Sheri German
When I was studying music back in the 80's, I lucked into a job as backstage manager of the Concert Hall of the Kennedy Center. During that time, the National Symphony Orchestra started doing their Fourth of July concerts out on the mall. Back then, you could take a picnic dinner and a blanket, and sit back and enjoy a lovely concert with familiar classical pieces and a few Sousa marches. The concert always ended with the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky, accompanied by real cannons.
Well, over the years, pop music pieces were added to the mix. Then, finally, the concerts became all pop--with lots of invited celebrities--and a token remaining classical piece: the 1812 Overture. Even that became too much for the attention spans of the audience, however, and now only the big dramatic finale of the 1812 is included.
A few days ago, a friend of my husband's family was telling us that he attended a concert by the great Guarneri String Quartet at the University of Maryland. He mentioned that he was the youngest person by far in the audience. His age? 52.
I know what you're thinking. This is just the typical whining of a person with a minority musical interest. OK, what about this blow?
A week or so ago WETA, our Washington metropolitan area PBS radio station, announced that it was dropping ALL classical music programming. The station is moving to an all news-talk format because its managers feel that news-talk listeners are more inclined to give money. Marc Fisher, a Washington Post staff writer wrote an analysis of the move, citing Newt Gingrich and David Giovannoni as the central orchestrators (oh!) of this demise. Whatever the reason, we are now seeing the defeat of the original purpose of PBS: to maintain our artistic heritage even as it is ignored by big commercial media.
Or, is *now* ignored by big commercial media. A Christmas or so ago I received a video of the New York City ballerina Maria Tallchief's complete Bell Telephone Hour performances of 1959-1966. Back then the commercial television stations saw the merit in educating the public with minority interests. Now even our PBS stations are turning their backs on the arts.
Of course, there is still--for now--Sesame Street. Many children know who Yo Yo Ma is because of his guest appearances on both that program and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. How long will children continue to recognize his name when not even our PBS stations care? Surrounded by pop everywhere they go--the grocery store, the malls, the dentist office--an audience of even one 52 year old will no longer exist.
Category tags: On the Personal Side
Posted Monday, February 14, 2005 8:31:31 AM by Sheri German
Forget chocolates! Who needs the calories? Your web pages don't need them either, and you can reduce their weight by using the newest CMX JumpStart: Venice. In the tradition of including unique features in every JumpStart, we've packed this valid XHTML and CSS 2.1 styled, WAI and 508 compliant Dreamweaver template with lots of goodies for a special Valentine's Day treat.
I love the romantic, rounded corners that are featured in both the three-column home page and the two-column form page. I also appreciate how the equal-height for the columns is achieved through faux column technique.
Sure, it's great to have templates as starting points for my clients' sites, but the aspect of JumpStarts that has really been equally valuable to me as a teacher (and forever a student!) is their educational opportunities. There is so much to learn in the eleven included tutorials and extensively commented style sheet.
A new feature in Venice is how its source PNG is organized by new CMX partner Linda Rathgeber, the author of Playing with Fire among other books, according to Fireworks best practices. I've learned to use one file to organize multiple layouts that use shared assets.
When my Valentine's flowers are wilted by the end of the week, or see an early demise at the paws of my nibbling cats, I'll still remember Valentine's Day 2005 every time I use JumpStart Venice.
Posted Wednesday, February 02, 2005 12:20:37 PM by Sheri German
How many years have I been telling students that they need to be careful about the fonts they put on their web pages? That they need to provide common fonts that are likely to reside on most user systems? That they need to list several fonts so that if the user's system doesn't have the first in the list, perhaps the second or third font is there?
So if you want to save time and effort, read on to learn how, through the magic of JSFL and a little variable editing, Flash MX 2004 can be used for automating the creation of sIFR font SWFs.
Posted Sunday, January 23, 2005 8:35:42 AM by Sheri German
I followed my usual morning routine of coffee and The Washington Post, and an intriguing piece on the Op Ed page caught my eye: "The Art of Education Success" by Nick Rabkin and Robin Redmond. The essay is about how the arts are being integrated into academic lessons in the classrooms of low-income schools in the Chicago area. Rather than expose these children to yet more testing and traditional rote learning, this experimental program is using the arts in conjunction with core subjects such as reading and social studies. The authors give one example of how fourth graders draw portraits of each other in their unit on descriptive writing. Since the new economy will demand such skills as creativity, adaptability, and teamwork, this innovative, new approach promises to prepare children for success in the future workplace.
Given that my college degrees are in music, I have long despaired over the subsidiary role the arts have been given in public education, and indeed, in American culture. I have despaired over whether we are passing on our rich cultural heritage to our young people. And when I despair over the state of our world, I know that the arts are what remind of us of our humanity, give us hope, and present us with a snapshot of our lives. The Chicago program renews optimism on so many levels.
In my classes for education majors at Trinity University, I realize yet again that the computer is a fantastic device for artistic expression. My graduate students in the condensed winter mini-session worked hard on WebQuests for elementary school children. WebQuests use the Internet not just for mere fact-finding, but to encourage active participation, self-expression, and creativity. If you read my three part series on WebQuests, you may remember that music history was brought alive by allowing children to become VJ hosts in an MTV program from another century. The research links in the web page include audio and video files from the growing repository that resides on the Web.
It has become easy to produce multimedia on the computer because of all the applications--particularly those of Macromedia--that have evolved to make it visual and intuitive. I believe that the father of modern multimedia presentation was Sergei Diaghilev. A Russian visionary, he brought together the greatest artists, composers and choreographers in full theatrical productions during the first three decades of the twentieth century.
Take, for instance, the production called "The Parade." The sets were created by Picasso, the choreography by Massine, and the music by the French impressionist Satie. Or how about "The Prodigal Son" with choreography by Balanchine, music by Prokofiev, and costumes and sets by Georges Rouault? What astounding collaborations! Now fast forward to a "Lewis and Clark" history DVD Scotty German, 7th grader, produced last year. A twelve-year old child brought together music, art, and video into a history lesson, and made it come alive.
Community MX is a powerful tool for education. Not only do we teach you how to use tools, but we create tools that make it easier for you to use the computer to express yourselves and the world around you. Paul Newman's Flash Video Player Flash and Dreamweaver extensions are prime examples of tools that release you from technical problems so that you make artistic expression and education the primary focus. Don't go away. There's more to come...
Category tags: Education
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2005 1:32:09 PM by Sheri German
Can we be all things to all people? Probably not, but we're going to try to get as close as possible with the latest CMX JumpStart Dreamweaver template, Liverpool.
This one's really cool. Of course it has the same valid XHTML and CSS and WAI and 508 accessibility features as our previous JumpStart templates. Like the others, it includes a generous bundle of tutorials to help users understand its construction. And naturally there is a folder of source PNGs just waiting for modification and branding. This one has something extra, however. It includes an authentication (login) system with starter files and database for three popular server models: ColdFusion, PHP, and ASP. An "admin" folder includes a set of four files that logs users in and out based on access level. There is a separate tutorial for each server model as well, and some of these tutorials include videos.
If you haven't tried a CMX JumpStart yet, now is a great time to give one a whirl. We don't care if you're on a Mac or PC, or use Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, or Opera. We don't care if you prefer PHP, ASP, of ColdFusion. CMX JumpStart Liverpool--living up to its name of "City of Culture 2008"--has something for everyone.
Category tags: Dreamweaver
Posted Friday, December 24, 2004 7:59:20 AM by Sheri German
It poured like crazy yesterday in the D.C. area, but it stopped before the temperatures dropped in the evening. That's fine with me because I am more into ballet than skiing. I like liquid as long as it's not snow, though, and especially if it's a liquid, 3 column CSS-P design.
Enter Aspen, the latest JumpStart in a growing collection of Dreamweaver templates that use XHTML, CSS 2, and WAI and 508 Accessibility. In order to get a three column layout in the past, I simply used tables. Now I don't have to, and I anticipate using this classic CSS-P design over and over.
What is so cool about the JumpStarts is that they get coding issues out of the way so I can just, um, jump right in and start messing with design. Aspen is especially fun because the background images lend themselves to playing around in Fireworks textures and gradients. It is the sandbox all over again as I try out every combination, in every kind of blending mode and opacity level, till I find the effect I want.
So jump in! The liquid is fine...
Category tags: Dreamweaver
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2004 5:19:08 AM by Sheri German
Hard as it is to believe, Community MX is giving away its latest JumpStart as a holiday gift to the web development community. North Pole is a two-column, fixed-width CSS positioned layout that uses a clever deployment of background images in its navigation and content areas of the design. And of course North Pole validates for CSS, XHTML, and 508 and WAI accessibility. Also included in the gift is a bundle of six articles that explains the techniques behind the construction, and two articles that explain the techniques behind the creation of the graphics. So what are you waiting for? Download North Pole now and join the party here at Community MX!
Want to decorate your site for the holidays? This is a quick and clean way to do it. Our own Jim Babbage has already put his site into the holiday spirit: Jim's Site
You can see my site dressed up for the holidays here.
While you're visiting CMX, take a look at our gift certificates for geeks. If you are looking for a special gift for the Web guru who has everything, make sure he or she really has everything--including a subscription to a gift that will keep on giving during Christmas in July.
Now I wonder what city CMX will travel to next? And when? Keep tuned: our elves have been very busy...
Category tags: Dreamweaver
Posted Monday, November 29, 2004 7:33:27 AM by Sheri German
Yesterday afternoon I was talking to Stephanie Sullivan about various and sundry things, and at one point she mentioned that I should learn ColdFusion. She insisted that I would love it. She pointed to its simplicity and logic. I have dabbled in PHP, and the idea of an easy and intuitive way to do dynamic sites certainly appealed to me.
What then, lo and behold, appeared on CMX today but an article on how to install JRun and ColdFusion on the Mac. I skimmed through the directions, and they looked clear to me, so I decided to go for it. Sure enough, a hour or two later, I had a successful installation on my 10.3.6 version of Mac OS X. I am more than thrilled.
If you too want to take the plunge, Tom Pletcher's methodology is as good as it gets. The only advice I would add to his wonderful directions is to make sure you take it slow and double-check each of your Terminal commands. Be patient when hitting the enter key, and allow the commands time to execute. Sometimes it may appear like nothing is happening for a few seconds. Work carefully in Terminal, and you will have no problems at all. Tom's directions work.
All that will be left for you to do is dig into the rich repository of CF tutorials and articles at CMX. And, of course, never forget the forum support. You'll be a ColdFusion guru in no time.
Category tags: ColdFusion
Posted Thursday, November 11, 2004 11:40:55 AM by Sheri German
Have you ever been to a gallery and observed art students sitting at easels copying the great masterworks? A classic educational technique, students learn by copying and absorbing the traditions of the past, and from so doing, acquire skills for developing their own voices and styles.
While our CMX JumpStarts may not quite be Michelangelo or da Vinci, they nonetheless provide a great way to learn to create layouts through CSS Positioning rather than tables, as well as take advantage of accessibility features and semantic markup.
And maybe this is not the High Renaissance, but it is clearly the birth of a new age for Web developers. The days of using tables for laying out pages are slowly giving way to CSS positioning, and we're all back to square one as we learn to negotiate the intricacies, as well as the greater possibilities. We're in a period of transition where first the evangelists published pages that followed Web standards. Then more and more independent designers jumped on the bandwidth and discovered the freedom and greater range of CSS-P. Next some high profile sites like ESPN, Sprint, and ABC News made the leap, and now almost everyone who makes Web pages wants to know how they can make the techniques work on their sites, too.
Community MX can be your local art gallery, and CMX JumpStarts can be your models. Take them and deconstruct them. Examine their brushstrokes, use of light, and play of colors. Use them as a starting point for original designs, and see how you can give them your own style and voice.
And who knows? We may one day see your designs in the CSS Zen Garden. In the mean time, if you have created something wonderful from a CMX JumpStart, won't you share it with us? Send your links to email@example.com, and I will include the addresses of the best ones in my article about the release of the next CMX JumpStart.
Category tags: CSS
Posted Sunday, November 07, 2004 7:45:46 AM by Sheri German
Yesterday I drove into Washington, D.C. to teach.
I listened to news on my radio about evacuation practice in city districts.
I drove very, very slowly to avoid the ubiquitous cameras that nab you if you go over the ridiculous 25 mile per hour speed limit on the six lane city roads. (D.C.'s answer to the failure to pass a commuter tax, no doubt.)
When I arrived, I carefully parked near the hidden security cameras to protect my car from being stolen, an intermittent problem on campus.
In the face of so much negativity, one might wonder why I would even bother.
Yesterday was day three of the Dreamweaver and Fireworks class. We had spent the first two classes madly coding markup. Now it was time to bring on the fun.
And indeed great fun was had by all. We took our plain markup and decorated it with CSS. When we buttonized links there were lots of ooh's and aah's as we previewed the results. We made banners in Fireworks, and used effects, gradients, patterns, and styles to the great pleasure of my disbelieving students. The ultra big hit of the day was the Fade Image command.
And then one student asked me: What do I have to do to prepare myself to do what you do? And suddenly I felt very privileged to be there, looking into the faces of budding web designers who were discovering for the first time the marvels of Studio 2004. Rock on, Macromedia!
Category tags: Designing for the Web
Posted Sunday, October 31, 2004 7:36:13 AM by Sheri German
Sheri, cat herder here, checking in to update you on the latest efforts to maintain control of my Web dev biz life. Things are really good today. The clocks shifted back an hour, and oh, how I loved gaining that time! Let's see: what did I do with it?
- Set up a client with Contribute (made him a template to use for new pages, set his permissions, made him a connection key)
- Answered the backlog of mail that has been accumulating while I participated in the new CMX JumpStarts product launch
- Prepared next week's Dreamweaver and Fireworks class (this doesn't take too long because I have taught it many times before...it is just a question of updating to accommodate the latest developments)
- Played with my Birman cat
OK, so I always make time for the last task on the list because Allegretta the cat flops on my computer if I don't. I have to tell you: Halloween AND a clock change all in one day? Life doesn't get much better than this.
Ah! I see my husband taking out his costume and my witch's hat so we can get ready to scare the kids as they come to our door to "trick or treat".
Category tags: Web Business
Posted Friday, October 29, 2004 7:21:23 AM by Sheri German
I have been teaching Dreamweaver, among other Macromedia programs, at the Government Printing Office and Trinity University for the last five or so years. Kim's post about "friends don't let friends use fonts" really got me thinking about the evolution of my curriculum for web related classes. Macromedia has released a lot of versions of its various programs during that time, and this means I've needed to keep revising the exercises I give my students.
At some point I realized that it wasn't necessarily in my students' best interest to show them every single bell and whistle in Dreamweaver. In my enthusiasm, I would demonstrate everything from layout view to automatic table formatting to HTML Styles, whether I thought they should use that feature or not. I finally came to the conclusion that teaching a "best practice" workflow, as opposed to revealing every possibility, gave my students real concepts they could hang on to after they finished the course.
This brings me to the revolution that probably brought the biggest change to what I teach: Web standards. I now take my students through a very prescribed set of exercises that begins with basic (X)HTML, progresses through hand-coded CSS, and ends with two template pages: one a hybrid CSS table structure, and the other a CSS positioned page. To relieve some of the seriousness, I give Fireworks breaks. The kinds of graphics we make are determined by the needs of our Cascading Style Sheet, but we try to have a lot of fun with effects and creative commands.
Why am I babbling about all of this? In addition to the fact that it's one of my favorite subjects, it is also because I am very excited about the new CMX JumpStarts. These are exactly the kind of learning experience my students (and we all) need. By examining the extensively commented files, students can deconstruct the very usable two column layout and get a crash course in how to make a CSS positioned page work well in all standards compliant browsers.
And that is something smile about. Because teachers don't let students use font tags...
Posted Tuesday, October 26, 2004 7:44:06 AM by Sheri German
I get up very early each morning to get the kids off to school and a houseful of pets fed (the latter being more willing respondents to the wake up call than the former--come to think of it, the pets are the wake up call). As soon as I drive my so-called walker son to the middle school at 7:55, I start right in with my work. Given that I shove down breakfast and lunch while I am typing and mousing away, you'd think I would be done with work in time to enjoy the evening with my family. So why is it that I am often doing the midnight madness thing?
I was a music major in college. I remember how a bunch of us would meet for breakfast, then race down to the practice rooms to claim our favorite pianos. We often put in five or six hours of practicing a day, but we had breaks! We made time to relax and enjoy each other--even if we tended to relax by putting on a piece of music one of us had been practicing, and sing along together at the top of our lungs. I used to think we were crazy, obsessed monomanics. I hadn't even begun to know what monomania really meant.
So here I sit, another Tuesday morning with a long to-do list in front of me, and three cats lounging on the bed where I am working on my Powerbook. Not one of the cats cares for any of the others, so getting them to cooperate is not in the cards. Nor do any of them particularly fear me when I issue a command such as "Move off the blanket so I can at least make this bed!"
Well, this web field feels a lot like trying to herd cats. It's a slippery business, nothing seems to stay in control, and the clients often feel like those immovable critters on the bed. But then one of the cats (they're a somewhat grateful rescue bunch) comes over and pats an adoring paw on my face, and I know I love them anyway. Now don't we feel the same way about this Web biz?
Oh, no! My Birman cat just flopped on my Powerbook and deleted all this text! I am gonna have to type this over...
Category tags: On the Personal Side
See Community MX content by Sheri German