Gareth’s blog

Thursday, December 23, 2004

FierceShop.com

FierceShop.com recently relaunched, but as I had a bit of spare time over Christmas and haven't had a chance to do much web-orientated stuff recently I thought I'd have a go at remodelling their design. I managed to reduce the HTML by over 30% alone. Anyway, the e-mail I sent to Furious?:

Hi,

Typo on FierceShop.com

I've seen the recent redesign of the Fierce and I like it. However, there are a few things I reckon you could do to make the FierceShop even better, and as I had a bit of spare time over Christmas thought I'd tell you them.

First off, no doubt sounding a bit nit-picking there's a typo in "Address" in the login box - it reads "Adress." Have a look at the image on the left.

There's also an empty meta tag in the header:

<meta name="Description" content="">

So when you Google for FierceShop.com you get the following summary:

...product. Switchfoot DVD. Livin It Banner. Copyright © 2004 Fierce Distribution *Applies to all orders £5 and over Powered by osCommerce.

Which isn't really that helpful. You guys can write great publicity, I get it through the post and see it in my e-mails, so why not your site to? Something like:

The best in Christian music at the very best prices. From Delirious? to Switchfoot, Graham Kendrick to Moya Brennen, Cathy Burton to Rock n Roll Worship Circus.

and perhaps amending the title to "FierceShop.com from Fierce! Records"?

Now the biggest problem with the redesign. 5 years ago it would have been great, that's when the HTML 4.01 Specification was last updated. Sites have moved on, XHTML and CSS have revolutionised web design. If you're not familiar with what I mean, or what the benefits are, have a look at this presentation and this article, because tables are for tabular data, not layouts.

By implementing standards and creating well structured documents (using headers, paragraphs and meta descriptions) you'll improve search engine rankings, improve accessibility, reduce bandwidth usage and speed up page loading times.

Here's an idea of how you might go about doing this with the front page of the site.

I hope the above is of some use to you, please take it constructively -- the designs you people produce are fabulous.

Any questions/comments more than welcome,

Gareth.

The strange use of domains confuses me to. The shop is referred to as "FierceShop.com" but redirects to http://fiercedirect.com/ which seems strange as it will confuse the search engines into thinking there are two sites.

And the response from FierceShop.com:

Dear Gareth

Thanks for taking the time to contact us and for all your input. We will take up the issues you have mentioned and see what improvements we can make.

We appreciate your support

Clive Sherwood
Office Manager

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Bike accident

Had a rather painful accident falling off my bike yesterday. Nothing caused by my bike fortunately, just an unlucky slip on a wet manhole cover leaving me generally grazed and hurting my face a bit. I've had the day off college and feel a bit better now, though still rather painful. This combined with managing to drop a set of scales on my foot on Tuesday evening means I'm a bit worse for wear at the moment. I guess there isn't much else that can get hurt, I hope!

College seems to have their usual lack of restraint in setting work for the holidays, one economics teacher suggesting we only work for a few hours on Christmas day. Oh, how kind! Thinking of economics updates to lots of the notes are well overdue, and a few things for exam revision should appear over the Christmas break.

To start the festive season, SpeedySanta.com, a little flash game.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Trip to Bath

After at least one request from Helen, and me slacking off for two months under pressures from just about everywhere else this term I've managed to get round to an update. So here's the autumn term.

Bath university was a really good day out on Wednesday, really nice campus at the top of a big hill, up which I should probably have caught a bus instead of walking and then on the way back should really have learnt my lesson from the walk up, but it was good exercise and nice to see the city a bit.

The people at Bath seemed much more open about real life at the university commenting on a photo of the artificial lake "lovely in summer, freezes easily in winter." There was a nice tour of the campus where all the students seemed friendly and the other applicants seemed much more normal and encouraged by the prospect of university than some of the other places.

Photos of the trip to Bath:

Kings cross Bath Bath Bath

From UCAS I've received 4 offers so far from St Andrews, Bristol, Nottingham and Warwick all AAB, some with additional criteria and the Warwick offer with a short book detailing possible additional criteria to be met in certain combinations.

I'm still waiting for offers from Bath and Cambridge, though I hope an offer from Bath will come soon, and something from Cambridge just into the new year, hopefully an offer!

I've had a look round Bristol, Bath and Cambridge and going to the other three early next year. Bristol had a very informal interview, there weren't any maths questions and I think it was more a time for us to ask questions on a more individual basis. The Bath interview was a bit more formal and was mainly spent on me explaining what the 1/SQRT(2pi) is for at the front of the normal distribution and why it's 1/SQRT(2pi). The guy seemed friendly though and was good a guiding me through.

I hadn't expected Bath to be as good as it was, the city is beautiful and there's a really nice campus. The students and other applicants there on the day all seemed friendly and just like normal people!

Late last week I was out suit shopping, the first of two recent expensive shopping trips -- the other to get me a new bike -- for my Cambridge interview at Emmanuel. It seemed to go strangely well, I'd expected hard maths questions, like the STEP questions really and they ended up being questions that needed more thinking. In the first interview there were quite a few geometry questions to which I liked as I've read a few books in preparation for the interview on various bits of maths, mainly projective and algebraic geometry, though the interview questions were more Euclidean geometry.

Maths has taken up a lot of time this term, Mr Thomas has run weekly sessions for interview preparation which have been invaluable and really helped me in preparation for interviews. Early on we were asked to do a talk on some topic in maths and Chris and I have tried to keep going weekly giving each other talks on something. Generally it's been reasonably successful, though these last couple of weeks it's fallen apart. I've done a few more talks on geometry, Riemann's zeta function and a few problems and Chris has presented algebra and number theory problems.

That's one thing that particularly impressed me about Bath - how open they seemed to be about their research. The guy who interviewed me wanted to talk to me about what he'd been writing papers on recently, but at Bristol they seemed much more closed. I guess understandably at Cambridge the interview process was more formal so there wasn't the opportunity to talk in the same informal manner.

Outside of university applications I decided to just take the piano exam this November and wait until Easter to take guitar. The exam didn't go so badly though I haven't been able to practise as much as I've have liked. Earlier this week my teacher rang me up and told me I'd got a merit which was nice! The piano in the exam wasn't particularly good. Catherine had warned me about it and was put off as two of my pieces were quiet ones. Seems I was lucky though, my teacher said the examiner seemed a bit harsh and Cat failed :-(.

It's now been a year since I started Welsh lessons and hopefully I'll keep going next term though Wednesday isn't such a great day for lessons as it's when all the universities have their open days. Welsh lessons have been quite good, Will's got enough signatures for his Duke of Edinburgh gold and earlier we played a lot of tennis, though within the last half term I'm not sure we've both been to the same lesson at all. With Will's posh job at Netherhall we might be able to get a court for free though I guess in winter the outside courts might be a bit lethal.

Thinking of near-fatal experiences I'll return to my bike. Since September the whole bike front has gradually got worse and these past few weeks I've been stuck in one gear and my bike rides accompanied by an assortment of unhealthy clunks leading to me getting a new bike this week. It's a Dawe's horizon, and looks quite a bit like this.

Over a month ago now my mum had a really bad week as Auntie Margie and Auntie Edna both passed away in the same week. I didn't know Edna, and I don't think Auntie Margie was a suprise, she's been ill for a while and was rather ill, though that didn't make it much easier. Going to her funeral was strange to, as I didn't know anyone there.

To return to something more mundane I've got lots of updates to AS/A2 notes sections which I need to get round to turning into PDFs and HTML then uploading, so should be available soon, hopefully all up to date by the new year or Christmas, by which time I'll also have done my Christmas shopping. Working means I haven't had half the time I'd like to have spent really, especially for hard-to-buy-for relatives.

Thinking of work less some annoyance over having hours moved around so they have to pay me less over Christmas work's been quite good. Still working the same hours, the past few Saturdays have been really busy, it's really coming up to Christmas and I'm hopeful I won't be working Christmas eve or the 23rd, looks like it will be rediculously busy.

A few links to assorted bits and pieces: