Things have been a bit crazy around here, lately. I’ve been working on updating the shop’s website, and whoo-whee, there’s a mess of code if I’ve ever seen one. All the HTML was brutally wrangled in Dreamweaver, locked away in nested-table isolation and proprietary Fireworks jiggy-jaggy. Trodding through the code was like picking through spiderwebs in a minefield. One minor slip-up, one little tag removed before its time had come, and the entire thing would disappear in the fury of a thousand suns.
But progress has been made. I’m slipping more and more design into the cascading stylesheet and slowly liberating the tortured HTML. The site falls apart in Netscape Navigator 4.73, which was released in November of 2001 and doesn’t support web standards, but looks beautiful in Opera 7 and other browsers that do offer support. Unfortunately all the database work is coded in ASP, which hurts my open-source ideals and prevents me from using PHP work-arounds to create virtual URLs (an address that resembles “www.aregularizedendeavor.com/about/” instead of “www.aregularizedendeavor.com?VendorURI=1354;CategoryID=09.asp”). Also, the database is all done in Access, when the programmer and I both would much rather see it all done in open-source MySQL.
But really, what am I doing? What’s my business mucking around with web standards and Section 508 and XHTML certification and W3 validation? Forward compatibility and compliance with current and future browsers, for one thing. Accessibility for alternative media and those with disabilities for another. Add a little dash of obsession, and I find myself wanting our shop to set a little standard for good-faith web design in the windsurfing community. Most windsurfing companies have icky websites (Flash intros, sloppy code, poor accessability for those using alternative means of navigation, confusing and inconsistent navigation) and I find that to serve a slight disservice to the sport. A website should no longer be a company’s afterthought, but a necessary facet of their interaction with the public.
With little pre-existing online infrastructure, could the windsurfing community be in a unique position to become one of the first few social and economic networks to fully support web standards? Big words for a little boy from Minnesota, but right now I’m smack dab in the nexus of the windsurfing world. Such a thing would be cool, and I can dream all I want.
Today I answered the phone to a guy asking for the Naish Boxer sail. Having just tossed all the Naish sail information into our database, I knew we didn’t carry it. I passed the fellow on to Mark, who told him that the Naish warehouse was five minutes from the shop and it would be no trouble at all for us to special-order the sail for him. Also, the aquatic recreation company Da Kine, purveyors of fine harnesses, harness lines, bags, backpacks and other pleasantries, is headquartered in Hood River, right next to the Full Sail Brewery. Sailworks (makers of windsurfing sails and masts) are based here in town as well.
I’m sure there’s more. These are merely the connections I know, having been here three weeks. The other nigh Peppy, a representative from Mistral boards, went out for scorpion bowls with us at Jack’s. Jack’s is a high-class establishment that should probably be known by its formal names of The Golden Rose or The Hood River Restaraunt. The name “Jack’s” doesn’t appear anywhere inside or outside the bar, and I doubt anybody named “Jack” actually works there. Nevertheless, we call it Jack’s because it has always been called Jack’s, or used to be called Jack’s, or because a drunk stumbled out of it one night after too many scorpion bowls and said JAAACKS to the gutter.
Jack’s is a bar downtown that hosts Karaoke every Friday night. It has an off-hand Chinese theme, with door handles made out of dragons and wallpaper patterned red with shiny flecks of tin. Sometimes they host wedding receptions on Karaoke night.
A scorpion bowl is a huge white bowl that is scripted at the lip with powder blue pseudo-Chinese characters. It is filled with some ice, as many long straws as you request, and a dizzying carnage of alcohol. No one knows exactly what is in a scorpion bowl, but whatever it is turns out orange. Before you know it you’re spinning your way to a bar with blue lighting and sheet metal walls called “The Shack”, drinking Jagermeister shots and Rolling Rock. And the representative from Mistral? He’s setting the pace. Though his head has turned into a giant balloon and you can’t stop getting lost in the puddle of beer-condensation in front of you.
Interested in helping with the web revolution of the windsurfing community? I’m gonna need a few good coders, designers, developers and programmers. For compliance with standards start looking at the Web Standards Project, the World Wide Web Consortium and Zeldman.com. For information on CSS check out Glish.com, CSS Zen Garden and Zeldman.com. Get your learn on and and figure out how to do it up with Perl, PHP and MySQL. Install the Opera web browser. Install the Linux operating system. Run an Apache server. Read Zeldman.com.
And while you’re doing all that? I’m going windsurfing. You nerds.