Nearly a year ago, I wrote a post detailing my New Years Resolutions for 2009. Some I've managed to stick to, others I've either failed slightly or considerably. So, keeping the same numerical order:
- Get Married - we've officially been married for 7 months and 15 days. Our Wedding website is live with pictures from the big day and our honeymoon that followed.
- Lose the Christmas excess - I've not attempted to lose any weight this year, but the good news is I don't weight any more since I did at the end of 2008. Hopefully next year I'll make a better go at this.
- Learn ASP.NET - the fact that I code in VBScript/C# using the .NET framework each day suggests I've got the basics covered. Each new project or application I develop using .NET allows me to further improve my skillset. I'm planning a few .NET personal projects for 2010, so stay tuned.
- Stick to no magazines - I don't recall purchasing a single magazine this year and have only read a couple from friends/family. The only downside is that I've not read as many books as I had hoped to during 2009.
- Get to grips with IIS7 - complete. The main web server at slickhouse is using Server 2008 and we're also migrating to it at work. IIS7 is a great improvement over 6 and the additional modules allow for even more functionality.
- Finish my own CMS - not quite there. I'm currently completing version 2 which should be ready for public release mid-January 2010. There's a few major features still to implement, such as Tags and Categories - to make it a worthwhile WordPress alternative. See SlickCMS in action.
- Build up plenty of savings - not complete, but other things have taken priority financially and I've felt the affects of the recession. Hopefully 2010 will be a better year.
- Complete an XBOX 360 game - again, not complete. However, on 2009-01-07 I had only 730 gamer points; today I have 1900. Not a substantial amount, but it's more than doubled.
- Release a new web project - I have a few planned projects, but these are all on hold until SlickCMS has been released to the public.
- Eat breakfast - complete! Each day we've got up with Lily at about 7am and sat down to eat breakfast with her. This will continue into 2010 as Baby #2 arrives and is a permanent lifestyle change.
That's 2009's resolutions summarised. As you can see, there's a few to be carried over to 2010 - I'll be posting the next set in the New Year. Whatever you're up to this evening, have a Happy New Year!
For the past 5+ weeks since I last posted, I've been contemplating what to write about next. There have been a few minor news stories that I could have reflected on and the weather itself has been extraordinary this month for the UK.
However, today's big story had to be echoed - Michael Schumacher is to return to Formula 1 next year! The story goes on - he's to drive for Mercedes (Brawn GP of 2009) alongside a fellow German, Nico Rosberg and with Ross Brawn heading the team who helped him achieve many of his previous F1 wins.
What with McLaren and their 2 British Drivers, Hamilton and Button and now Mercedes with their 2 aforementioned German Drivers it'll be a cracking season next year. The interesting part will be seeing if Michael still has what it takes to be a championship winner. The Brawn/Red Bull match throughout the 2009 season may unfold in the form of Britain/Germany (McLaren/Mercedes) for 2010. Or, he could find that his determination and previous wins aren't enough as he struggles to qualify and race at the same level as before - the field is mostly young drivers these days, most of which has shown promise over the past 3 years since his retirement.
So, the 2010 Formula 1 season is shaping up to be another one worth watching. There are new teams, new transfers, the previous 2 champions racing with each other and now Schumacher's return. Roll on Bahrain!
Take a look to the right and you'll see 5 lots of Novembers in the Archive:
Which makes this blog 4 years old! A lot has happened in the past 4 years, including 2 jobs (with a slight career change); visiting Africa twice; becoming a Dad; getting married; becoming a Dad again.
Hopefully I'll be looking back in another 4 years stating that slickhouse.com is 8 years old. Over the coming months into 2010, I plan to make a few strategic changes to the site and increase its popularity. I've learnt a wealth of knowledge working as a Web Developer since May 2007, so I'd like to publish a few articles along those lines too. And my side-project SlickCMS has been rolled out to several sites, so I figure it's now time I bite the bullet and switch from WordPress. There's a bit more functionality still to add, such as RSS feeds and Archives - but once they're done Slickhouse will be powered by SlickCMS.
Don't get me wrong: WordPress is a fantastic piece of Web Publishing Software, it's just that after 4 years I feel it's time to put what I've learnt from using it to good use and develop my own. Besides, I'm an ASP.NET/SQL Developer and my PHP knowledge is dwindling in comparison.
Inspired by a few articles I came across recently, namely:
- http://css-tricks.com/images-on-a-subdomain/ (Chris' move to a separate domain)
- http://developer.yahoo.com/performance/rules.html#cookie_free (rules for improving performance)
- http://sstatic.net/ (Stackoverflow's static site)
- Increasing the number of simultaneous requests
- Reducing the size of the requests/responses to and from the server(s)
2) is achieved in the same way, by switching off cookies on slickhouse.co.uk - which in turn, can help reduce the request/response sizes and thus the page load times.
My initial testing has shown a noticeable improvement, though I don't have any metrics to share. I used Microsoft's Fiddler tool to profile the load times and was surprised how much external content the site uses, from 3rd parties. The twitter feed on the right is 2 requests alone and the Google Map that was tucked away in the site's footer added a further 20 or so. This gave a sluggish feel to the site as each page loaded.
So I updated the theme files and removed some of the excess requests, to bring it down to ~14 for the homepage. It's still high and could be improved further using CSS sprites. But I'll save that for the next version.
To summarise, splitting your static content from the dynamic pages helps increase page load times. It also allows for future expandability, as the static content could be hosted on a separate server, or even on a cloud/CDN solution.
Finally, after several months waiting for Lincoln to be included in the rollout - to the actual installation day, our 50MB Virgin Media Broadband has arrived! Unfortunately it meant that all the domains hosted here were unavailable for nearly 12 hours yesterday, 5 of which I spent getting it all to work - and to my surprise, a speed test showed that is was running at full capacity.
So far it seems quick but we've been accustomed to 20MB for a while now - which was hardly 56k speeds. The cost is also very reasonable since they dropped the prices on 1st September, so much so that it only cost a few £ more to upgrade. They also throw in a D-Link Wireless-N router and USB adapter to take advantage of the new speed.
You should/may notice an increase in page load times around here, as the servers can provide content over twice as fast as before. There's also headroom as Virgin Media are currently trialling 200MB download speeds and 10MB upload with their new DOCSIS 3.0 system. In the words of Samuel L Jackson, it's the dawn of a new era.