Hosting on Amazon Web Services

I just moved this blog and our corporate website to a new host. I decided to go with Amazons Web Services (AWS). They offer all sorts of packages but basically what you are getting is your own server. You get to chose some performance parameters (like RAM) and the base OS. The base OS choices are Linux (Red Hat and Ubuntu) and Windows Server 2008. With Windows you also get to choose what kind of SQL Server you want.

How to accommodate smaller screen sizes with Drupal's Zen Template

Making a website that accommodates different browsers and screen sizes is always a challenge. Deciding what screen size to target can be difficult. 1024x768 is considered an acceptable size to target these days. Fewer people are using 800x600 resolutions. But these people cant be ignored. The issue is especially important if you have a web design that uses a right sidebar to contain the site navigation. This style of navigation is especially popular with blog designs. With this design if

Web Design using ASP.Net MVC

ASP.Net is a great platform for building websites. The original architecture pushed developers down the path of using their form model for delivering content. This approach forces a web page to act very much like a form in a classic winforms application complete with event handling. The benefit of this was it was easy to transition from a classic winforms developer to a web developer. The drawbacks, well they are many.

CSS Friendly Menu Adapter Problem in IE

Part of good web design is keeping your web page size small.  Anyone who uses ASP.Net knows that its default HTML rendering is often very bloated and relies heavily on tables for layout.  A great solution to this problem is to use the CSS Friendly Adapters toolkit. 

I was working on a website whose design called for a left sidebar panel with a drop down menu, really I guess it is a drop out menu.  CSS Friendly adapters consider this is a vertical menu.  The menu has a top level stack of menu items.  When you hover over the menu items sub menus appear to the right.  I was using the CSS Friendly adapters and found that my menu worked perfectly for Firefox.  But as anyone who does web design knows Internet Explorer (IE) is another story.

In IE, and this was version 7, when I hovered over a top level menu item the submenu would appear to the right as expected.  However, there was a gap between the top level link text and the submenu.  When you moved the pointer off of the top level menu text the side menu would disappear.  To be clear, in IE the only way a submenu would appear is if you were directly over the top menu text.

The Fix

What fixed the problem for me was setting the background color for the top level ul.  In my original test the page had a white background as did the top level menu as it simply inherited the color set for the page.  The submenu did have a different color.  In trying to debug I started to set background colors to to verify the widths of my various menu items.  I gave the 'ul.AspNet-Menu' class identifier a background color of gray.  That immediately fixed the problem.  I could now move the pointer off of the menu text and the submenu would continue to display.  In experimenting I then set the background color to white, making it the same color as the page but now explicitly setting it.  To my suprise that also worked.  So it seems that setting a background color, any color fixed this problem.

I cant say I understand the cause of this problem.  Anyone doing web design is constantly amazed by the wierdness of IE.  But this problem is to me one of the more bizzare.  If anyone has any insight as to why this worked I'd love to hear from them.

Godaddy Website Redesign

Godaddy has redesigned their website recently.  Their previous web design would be best described as compressed.  They had tons of functional links crammed into as small a space as possible.  It kind of hurt the eyes to read their pages.  And it was easy to miss something as there was so much information jammed onto any one page. 

The new design is nothing too exciting.  They dark grays and linear gradients ala late 1990s early 200s.  But they do manage to make the page less clutured.  And that is good.

What is not good is it seems to me that whatever they did in revamping the site has made is extremely slow.  Godaddy needs to be fast.  I think speed is far more important for existing customers than the layout.  Sure it is easier to find things, but you have to wait at least 3 times longer to load the page you want.  Who would want to buy website hosting from a company whose own website runs so slow?  The worst part is they use ASP.Net.  They are giving PHP fanboys ammunition by having such a slow, high visibility site run on the .Net platform.

Godaddy needs to make it a priorty to get their website back to the performance it had before the upgrade.  That previous level was nothing too great, but it was acceptable.  Their current performance is not.