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NoFences.net is the personal website of the Neil family. It was designed and published by Rick and Marissa Neil primarily as a means of sharing our photos with family, friends and anyone else that happens by.

We update the site whenever we get around to it, which is to say not very often. After all, we do have lives you know -- oh, and two kids. We keep promising ourselves (and everyone else) that we'll update the site more frequently, but... Did I mention that we have two kids?

This is officially version 2 of NoFences.net. Version 1 was permanently retired in April, 2009 after a glorious seven-year run. May it rest in peace. If you haven't visited here in a while, that's why the place looks so different. You know, the winds of change and all that. We hope you like the new design. Especially since our kids will likely have grandchildren by the time we get around to doing Version 3.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions concerning the site, please feel free to email us. We'd appreciate the feedback.


WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Why "No Fences"? Good question. It's a shame we don't have a good answer. How about this? Because it denotes freedom. Because it reminds us of our love for the great outdoors, for wide open spaces, and our burning desire to rid ourselves of artificial boundaries and limitations. Or some such. Besides, it's short and easy to spell. And it was available.

If the theme is "No Fences", then why all the photos of fences on the Home Page? Ironic, isn't it? The truth is, I like fence pictures. When I see a fence with scenic surroundings, I'm strangely compelled to photograph it. I like the way fences recede gracefully into the distance and the notion that beyond the fence lies... well, something. Even if it's usually just another fence.


THE PHOTOS

Who's the photographer? All the photos on NoFences.net were taken by Marissa or me (Rick). Clearly, we're not professionals. In fact, we're only mildly (and infrequently) serious amateurs. Even so, we enjoy it. Marissa generally has a better artistic eye, while I'm more of a technician. Marissa shoots on instinct, while I invariably seem to over-think every shot -- often missing a shot entirely as a result. I tend to take photography more seriously, but Marissa tends to take better photos. You do the math.

Some of your photos appear to be little more than snapshots. Indeed they are. We'll often include shots in a gallery based solely on their subject matter or because they capture a moment as we remember it, not based on their technical merits or "wow" factor. Perhaps as we become better photographers, we'll consistently produce more images that include all of those elements -- that's what great photographers do. But we're not great photographers (yet), so our galleries freely mix "photos" with "mere snapshots". We'll leave it to you to decide which ones are which.


BLOGLESS

You folks don't blog? No. At least not at the moment. Nothing we have to say is important enough to merit publication, even on the Internet. Besides, we're too busy (read: lazy) to keep up a blog. We're in over our heads just trying to get a few new photos posted to the site now and again.


TECHNICAL MISCELLANY

For web geeks only. To the rest of you: move along, nothing to see here.

Desktop software. NoFences.net is primarily produced with Freeway Pro 5, a WYSIWYG site authoring program for Macintosh (we don't do Windows). Freeway 3 was used for the original No Fences website back in 2002, so the new Freeway seemed to be the obvious choice for the new No Fences.

Even so, I wanted to give iWeb a try first. In fact, iWeb's "Freestyle" theme remains central to the site's design even today. I also briefly considered switching to RapidWeaver based on the abundance of positive reviews/press. I experimented with it for a while, and was certainly impressed. But like iWeb, RapidWeaver uses a template-based design model which I found too restrictive. In the end, Freeway's greater flexibility won the day.

The photo galleries are produced with a slightly modified version of the Default Flash Web Gallery Template that ships with Adobe Lightroom 2, which is currently my peferred application for cataloging and editing photos. This is subject to change on a moment's notice however, as I never seem to be satisfied with the web gallery generators I've encountered. For now, this one seems to strike the right balance between output quality, ease of use, and flexibility. It will be interesting to see how long that opinion holds...

Other miscellaneous software used: Adobe Photoshop CS3, TextMate, BBEdit, CSSEdit, Yummy FTP, and iWeb (still used in a limited capacity for generating certain graphics and such).
 

Web hosting. We're currently hosting with HostMonster. As of this writing, we've been using them for less than a year to host another website, and only just transferred this site recently. But so far I have no complaints. Their online tools and services work as advertised, their rates are reasonable, and they allow for unlimited hosting space, unlimited site bandwidth, unlimited domains, and unlimited email accounts. The customer service has been very good, though I've honestly had little need of it so far, which frankly speaks for itself. Before signing up, I called the Tech Support number just to ask a few questions and evaluate how they were answered. My hold time was just a few minutes, and the nice lady on the other end of the phone spoke perfect English and was able to answer my questions quickly and professionally. A far cry from my experiences with a previous host, Energized Hosting. Don't get me started.


Site design. As noted above, the site design for Version 2 of NoFences.net is not entirely original. In fact, users of Apple's iWeb will probably recognize many of the fonts, colors, graphics, and general layout as being shamelessly lifted from several different iWeb themes. Many original elements were added and modifications made along the way, but the lineage is undeniable.
 


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