Category Archives: site maintenance

A New Look

Washington Winemaker has a new look! This is the biggest design change since going mobile, and it’s aimed at easy reading on the many flavors of tablet plus modern large desktops.

Mobile support is better too, with a custom search box to help you find exactly what you’re looking for on this site.

I hope I smoothed out all the rough edges, but if something broke during the upgrade please let me know. And if you like it as much as I, I’d love to hear that too!

Best Of Twitter

I’ve been posting to twitter – I still can’t bring myself to say “tweeting” – for about a year now, and here are some of my favorites:

October 24, 2010: You are 90 percent more likely to buy red wine if you buy onions & more the wine industry has learned about you:

October 13, 2010: Want to make beer in a coffeemaker with Vegemite and raisin bran? Me neither, but it’s fun to read about!

August 18, 2010: Were wine bottling just invented, would we “stop up the end with chunks of Portuguese tree bark?” The case for screwcaps:

August 14, 2010: A home winemaker from a little town in Pennsylvania became an international champion with plans to go pro:

May 12, 2010: What’s really going on with sulfites? Here’s a great article on sulfites, histamines, allergies and wine:

March 17, 2010: Winemakers use hydrometers to measure sugar content. Works well for wine grapes, can be way off in other fruit:

I think my twitter experiment is going well. I’ve been able to share a lot more information than with my blog alone. You can click here to follow me on twitter.

Twitter For Windbags?

I don’t text, therefore I don’t tweet. Maybe if Descartes were alive today he might say something like that. I just never saw the point of Twitter – heck I’m probably past the 140 character limit already and I haven’t really said anything. So what am I doing on Twitter? I probably still don’t “get it,” but I think I see how it might be useful.

What’s twitter good for?

I come across interesting things that relate to wine all the time. News, blogs, talking to people, or what have you. It’s an interesting world and by paying attention I end up with a lot of scribbled notes, bookmarks, and half-remembered conversations. If I have enough  time, interest, and knowledge some of this turns into blog posts. The rest? Well I can’t just say, “here’s a link that might lead to something.” What kind of a post would that be?

Then it hit me. It wouldn’t be a post at all – it would be a tweet!

That got me thinking about twitter some more, and I realized it could complement my blog feed. Anyone can subscribe to the feed. It’s easy, it’s free and it automatically notifies you every time there’s a new post. There’s even a separate feed for comments. No need to check back manually to see if there’s a new post or if someone responded to your comment. But sometimes I update old posts as I learn more about the topic, and there’s no good way for people to monitor that.

Unless maybe I tweeted about it.

So I’ve experimenting with twitter, and I think it might be useful. You can click here to follow me on twitter to find out about new posts, updates to old posts, and links that might be interesting. In the meantime, I’ll try to find a good profile picture. And maybe figure out what all those numbers and abbreviations mean!

More about twitter

More than you wanted to know about the psychology of Twitter ~ Twitter: 10 Psychological Insights

Twitter like communication circa 1900 ~ Tweets of Old

Washington Winemaker Goes Mobile

I’ve made some changes that (hopefully!) improve the experience for mobile device users. You shouldn’t notice a difference unless you visit the site with a Blackberry, iPhone, Motorola Droid, or other such gadget. If you do, you’ll see links to the ten most recent posts, followed by a list of pages – things like the About Page or the Recipe Wizard that you’d normally see in the horizontal nav bar. The sidebar, with its navigational shortcuts, was jettisoned to save space. So was the beautiful (if I do say so myself) header graphic. What brought this on?

The Lady of the House Bought a Motorola Droid!

This is the first “smart phone” for the Washington Winemaker household, and we’re very excited about it. One thing we were really looking forward to was the navigation feature. It uses GPS, mapping data, and a voice synthesizer to give you spoken directions. We recently moved and we’re doing a lot of driving in unfamiliar territory. Well it works beautifully, exceeding our very high expectations, and it means that both of us are less anxious when the other goes somewhere alone. On top of that, we can access the internet from almost anywhere. Neither of us knew how valuable this was until we tried it; now we don’t want to be without it. All in all, the DROID is an expensive little gadget that’s worth every penny. Oh yeah, it’s a pretty good cell phone too.

I’ve seen the future and it is mobile

All this got me thinking about how we will use the web in the future, and I think these small mobile smart-phone/net book thingies are only going to become more popular. What would that mean for Washington Winemaker? When I first looked at this site with the Droid it was all there: the lovely header, the nav shortcuts in the sidebar, and it all worked. But it was a little awkward to read and use. In updating the site for mobile devices, I wanted to pick the low hanging fruit first and see how people liked it. Do you use a smart phone? Have you looked at this web site with it? What do you think? What other improvements are worth doing?

Well I best be going now. I don’t know how much more playing research and usability testing the Lady of the House will let me do before she takes it back.