I'm Holly, and this my blog. I'm a web designer and developer currently living in Houston, Texas.
This is the place where I post about my life, my work, my thoughts, my opinions, "and the other things," that make up who I am.
I recently found out that I had won the Spring 2012 Quarterly Scholarship for the Web Design & Interactive Media program at my school. This scholarship is based on academic merit and dedication to one’s field of study. It was a big surprise for me to win it because it isn’t the sort of scholarship that you apply for; you have to be nominated for it.
Yesterday, went to the luncheon for the scholarship winners, and was presented with a certificate by the chair of the Web Design & Interactive Media program.
I recently launched the redesign of my website and I wanted to take a moment to talk about one of the unexpected issues I encountered during the launch and how I was able to overcome it.
So, one of the portfolio sections is for my video work, so obviously there are videos hosted there. I wanted to avoid the issues that using flash for viewing videos can create so I decided to use HTML5 to hold and view the videos.
While I was developing and programming the new design for the website, I made sure to test my HTML5 video players in Firefox, Chrome, and Safari to make sure everything was working as it should. I included reference to both a .ogv file for Firefox & Chrome as well as a .mp4 file for Safari, and tested frequently and everything seemed to be working fine.
Then, last week, I started uploading all the new files for the redesign. I made sure to recreate the exact file directory that I had been using locally to prevent links from becoming broken and then I uploaded everything. Once all the uploads were complete I started going through the website to make sure everything was as it should be, and things looked great…
Until I went to test the videos. The players seemed to be working fine, but they weren’t pulling the video files, so I went back and re-uploaded them to make sure that there hadn’t been a problem with the first upload. I checked again and they still weren’t working. I knew that I hadn’t changed the path and the file directory had been correctly set up, so I wasn’t sure what could be going wrong.
So I started troubleshooting.
I was afraid that the video file itself may have become corrupt somehow. I had been testing the live site in Firefox, and I couldn’t test on Safari because I didn’t have access to a Mac at the time. But I could test in Chrome.
So I opened the live site in Chrome and to my great surprise, the videos were working fine. So right away I knew that the files and the path weren’t the problem. Also, because Chrome supports the .ogv file format in HTML5 video like Firefox, I knew that the problem was apparently browser specific. So I did a little research and found that Apache doesn’t know how to handle .ogv files in Firefox yet so it generates them as text files which, of course, wouldn’t play as video. I also found that by adding a few little lines of code to the server’s httpd.conf file, I could add support for .ogv files in Firefox and fix the problem.
If only it was that easy.
I started trying to find the httpd.conf file in my FTP directory, but it was no where to be found. After some more research, I found out why. Because my website is hosted on a server with other websites, my hosting service won’t allow me access to that level of file because it would affect the entire server and everyone else websites. The only way I could access such a file would be if my website was hosted on a dedicated server.
So basically, I knew exactly how to very easily fix the video problem, but I couldn’t actually do anything about it without upgrading my hosting account to a dedicated server. Which would cost me about $1200.
Now I should probably mention that at this point because of finals at school the week before and trying to get this redesign finished by the deadline I had set for myself, I had barely slept at all in over a week. And I had specifically designed the video section to support HTML5 instead of Flash, and I had just learned that without upgrading, I was going to lose video support in Firefox, which accounted for about 41% of browser usage in 2011.
Which meant that my reaction to this realization was something like this:
I was pretty much at an impasse. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I couldn’t just let all the work I’d done be for naught so I did some more research…
And that’s when I discovered how to create a .htaccess file. This file can be used to configure the server like a httpd.conf file, but it can be placed at the directory level instead of the server level. Which meant I could add the configuration code for .ogv video files there and simply upload it to the highest level of my directory.
So I added the code and uploaded the file and I tested in Firefox and the videos worked !!
I was so relieved I literally nearly cried. Since then I also learned how to use .htaccess for other cool things like URL Rewriting and page redirecting.
Having an unexpected problem like this isn’t exactly great, but I not only fixed the problem (without spending a dime, let alone $1200), I also learned something new and useful in the process. Which is what creative problem solving is all about.
So I finally got new glasses.
They are red and over-sized and more than little bit hipster, but I can’t really bring myself to care. I think they’re awesome, so whatever.
I typically wear contacts when I go out and only wear my glasses around the house anyway. But, I had been wanting some new glasses (with my updated prescription) that I could wear out for when I want to add a little geek-chic’ness to my wardrobe.
My mom says they’re totally Sally Jesse Raphael glasses.
And I’m just like:
I finished the graphic design piece I posted about before. I’m really happy with how it came out.
I created this poster as graphic design piece for my portfolio. I started by sketching out the illustration and then drawing the line-art. After that, I scan the drawings into the computer and cleaned the lines up in Photoshop. I also added some effects with some layer overlays. Lastly, I added the text in Illustrator.
The fictional music venue mentioned in the poster, “Fitzpatrick’s,” is a reference to Fitzgerald’s, a actual music venue in Houston. Also while the first five bands listed on the poster (Sunlight Demons, No Glitter No Blood, Crowns of Crayons, The Prismatics, & Tangle of Thorns) are fictional, the last five (Wild Moccasins, Buxton, New York City Queens, The Tontons, Featherface & A Sea Es) are actual local Houston bands.
206 = the number of bones in the Human body.
1030 = the number of bones you have to draw when you want to illustrate a quintet of reanimated skeleton warriors.
Something I’m working on right now…
I’ve been coding for two days straight…
…but things are finally coming together.
I just had my hair cut in a 1920’s bob à la Hollywood actress Louise Brooks circa 1929.
I’ve recently been enamored with old Hollywood actress and Brooks is only one whose been inspiring me lately.