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Kiai Kim

Nonprofit Website Do-Over

1 min read

When Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc. had to slash their budget, I helped them get rid of a ridiculous service that charged $200 a month for this:

Yes, it's WordPress. For $200 a month, the nonprofit had this site hosted on the service provider's servers. Included in the cost was a Facebook page and a limited number of updates. Granted, it's really not very expensive compared to hiring a WordPress developer to build it and continue updating it. But with this subscription service, both the website and the Facebook page were filled with stock photos, and the site was rarely updated. Not very enticing.

For the price of a tax-deductible receipt, I had the domain pointed to my Dreamhost server and built this, also in WordPress:

Nonprofit to save the Brooklyn Heights Library

The Howard Johnson's color scheme had to go. Well, it had red not orange, but it was still ugly.

Kiai Kim

Resurrecting an HTML4 Website

2 min read

In 2009 Adobe CS4 was relevant software with some of the best desktop publishing tools available, back when "desktop publishing" referred primarily to creating printed documents from a laptop or desktop computer and HTML4 was sexy markup. With the suite came Dreamweaver, Flash, and Fireworks – shiny software originally by Macromedia. Adobe soon would integrate functions within Flash and Fireworks into their own Photoshop application, though integration was not entirely successful; Flash's animation ability would later become the focus of Edge Animate.

Back then Dreamweaver was less than perfect. It had a graphical user interface that allowed users to drag and drop elements onto a page while the program created the markup in the background. The markup was sloppy, containing complicated-looking classes and IDs that made simple text changes to the HTML document a visual nightmare. I tended to stay away from the GUI and create websites from the text console, making use of Dreamweaver's preview and tag-closing functions. One of those websites is still alive at kiai.us.

Note the black background; looks sleek and saves energy. :D

Screenshot of Kiai.us as of October 2017

As of today's date (October 8, 2017) many of the links don't work. At some point, the site had been migrated and its secondary pages got lost. (There must be a backup somewhere...)

The fun side to this website is that it was built in HTML4. The pink page links were created in Fireworks, which automated the production of mouseOver, onClick, and mouseOut images. The GIFs are encased in a table, Internet Explorer–friendly. The comments at the top and music player at the bottom are linked to Revernation.com and require a Flash plug-in to operate. One of these days, I'll replace the comment widget with something on my own server, maybe javascript-based.

For simple websites, I still like typing out HTML. It's a little like knitting: meditative but still requiring thought and planning. Though it's hard to keep up with developments in styles and tags, at least W3.org does a good job and keeping its content updated. I'm thanking Adobe for giving us Brackets to help out. And Dreamweaver has been greatly improved since CS4. I still rely on console windows.

Kiai Kim

This is a Known website

3 min read

I don't mean this website is known. If that were the case, I'd probably be making a living off of ad revenue or more book sales. Rather, the platform on which this website is built is called Known, co-founded by Ben Werdmuller. Like WordPress, Known allows website owners to post their content in a feed. But one of Ben's goals with the platform is to enable content owners to keep their content without the risk of losing it to a corporate shutdown a la Geocities in 2009 or MySpace Blog in 2013. He and other independent web pioneers breathe life into IndieWeb.org, a website and community aimed at promoting independent web content ownership everywhere.

Why use Known to blog instead of WordPress?

The interface is extremely simple. Installation, as easy as WordPress; maybe even easier. Some webhosting services offer one-click installation, like WordPress. Standard installation, however, is still simple even for novice developers: Create a database, unpack the Known zip file in your web server's root or designated directory, and then visit your domain or directory on the domain. Known walks users through the set up process, also like WordPress. Posting is done right on the main page with a WYSIWYG panel. No Dashboard visits to post.

Look and feel can be edited through the Site Configuration portal with functions appearing on separate pages. Site configuration is a little more friendly for the less tech-savvy user than WordPress. On WordPress it's very easy to break the site since WordPress enables PHP edits to templates' core files from its dashboard. Fine for developers; not fine for non-developers. With Known, users must know how to access the server in order to mess with templates.

Also like WordPress, Known is open-source. Improvement and development of plug-ins, themes, and core files is welcome as long as developers follow coding standards and guidelines.

Perhaps best of all, Known is young and Ben and other developers involved in the project are reachable by email. Maybe not for long though. But isn't that true for all great developments? Well, I'm still trying to figure out if Known is great. So far, so good.

Known's default theme

The default theme is ready to color – it's simply black on white:

I didn't use the default theme, but the Tabula rasa theme is pretty close to it:

I prefer black, grays, and darker backgrounds and have tended to make the margins of my webpages black in the past. Cuts down energy use. For the sake of time, I've made minimal changes to this theme's CSS, just enough for me to be happy to publish. I do have the ability to make more drastic style changes, but I prefer to keep it simple.