| April 2005 |

Feel My Wrath

This is the beginning of the end. Exams have just started, and in two weeks I’ll be officially unemployed. What a great way to kick things off by messing up my first exam.

Revision took longer than expected, as usual. Time was running out and I had to make the choice between doing the problem sets or the past years’ exams. I chose the former, which seemed like the right decision at that time. We only had solutions for the problem sets, and I thought I could understand the material better by attempting them.

As it turned out, this year’s exam was nearly identical to last year’s. They were so similar that I had to check the dates to be sure which exam I was looking at. It’s easy to look back with perfect hindsight and blame myself. Wasn’t it obvious that the professor is going to reuse materials from last year? And didn’t I advise my friends to practice only the past years’ exams if time is running out? There’s an unopened bottle of vodka sitting on top of my bookshelf, and I was tempted to get myself drunk. But I knew better after my recent experience with alcohol. Apparently I go crazy when I’m drunk — very crazy.

Just when I thought things could not be any worse, I woke up this morning only to realise I left my calculator in the exam hall. I had it since my secondary school days, long enough that I’ve changed its battery twice. I’m so used to it that I refused to change my working calculator to a financial one, even though that would complement my studies better than my old scientific calculator. I doubt I can even find the same model on the market now.

I started wondering if losing my calculator made me feel worse than failing my exam. I’m a sentimental guy, and losing a calculator I had for nearly a decade isn’t a trivial matter. But what I do know is that some vodka will be good for me right now.

A crazy Ray brings laughter to the world at the expense of himself. An angry Ray brings laughter to himself at the expense of the world.

22 April 2005 · My Life · Comments (0)

A Taste of Things to Come

I’m not a professional web designer by any standards, but I feel very much a part of the web design community. So I was very tempted to join the May 1st Reboot — an international collaboration in which participants will simultaneously relaunch their websites on the specified date — when I found out about it.

At the same time, I was intimidated by the fact that most participants are professional web designers, many of whom I very much respect, because SG Watch will automatically be entered in the best designed website contest if I do sign up. Furthermore, May 1st Reboot is targeted at professionals working in the field of web design, and not amateurs like me.

However, I realised this may be the only opportunity I have to participate in the May 1st Reboot. It’s by pure coincidence that I decided to redesign SG Watch at this time of the year, especially since my exams are just around the corner; plus the fact that I’m going to graduate and, hopefully, start working soon also means I may have to give up this time-consuming hobby.

I rather be ridiculed for my poorly designed website than to regret not participating in May 1st Reboot later; I can improve on my web designing skills in the future, but a missed opportunity is lost forever. In any case, I’m in it for the experience. And if I’m really forced to give up web designing due to future work commitments, May 1st Reboot will be a fitting conclusion to my adventures in the world of web design.

In addition, I’ll also be participating in the CSS Reboot, a project started in the same spirit as the May 1st Reboot but the emphasis is on CSS-based websites. For the lucky few who caught a glimpse of the new design, think of it like a teaser of sorts. SG Watch version 4.0 will be relaunched on 1 May. Stay tuned!

20 April 2005 · Site · Comments (4)

A Brand New Look

It has taken me quite a while to get here, but when I realised that I’m only one entry away from my 100th post, I’ve decided to mark this milestone with another redesign effort.

SG Watch version 4.0 presented me with the most technically challenging redesign thus far. One of the main problems I faced was the use of custom corners in the layout. There were many solutions available on the net, and a relatively easy method employed by many people is to create the overall layout with a single background image. This eliminates the problem of having to align separate header and content background images using CSS hacks. However, I wasn’t very comfortable with this solution; I felt that a background image should be coded under its corresponding section for semantic reasons.

An alternative solution was suggested by Søren Madsen, which involved using three separate <div> elements. Although his method is semantically correct, I found it too complicated for my redesign. It requires six separate background images to create a single layout with rounded corners, not to mention the use of negative margins to make everything align properly.

I finally settled for a simpler method which uses nested <div> elements. Although this method isn’t as semantically correct as the one suggested by Søren Madsen, it’s a compromise between semantic accuracy and simplicity.

Coding for IE is always a pain; I had to make significant adjustments to ensure that everything renders properly in both IE and standards-compliant browsers. However, the fact that IE doesn’t fully support CSS means SG Watch will look slightly different to IE users. Download Mozilla Firefox and give it a try — experience the difference.

I’ll fix up the photo section tomorrow, and minor changes will also be made over the next few days. In the meantime, feel free to browse through my photos using the old layout.

17 April 2005 · Site · Comments (2)

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This div exists because IE refuses to cooperate with CSS.