CB > FB?

Sometimes I feel a bit jealous of teenagers today. They have all this cool online social networking stuff that I would have loved to had access to when I was their age, but this evening while deflating the paddling pool (I know, rock & roll eh?) it dawned on me…

I was using a social network 18+ years ago!

CB

OK so I wasn’t on Twitter or facebook or bebo or whatever, but still:

  • we invited our friends (on Channel 19)
  • we arranged events
  • we had handles, back then I wasn’t fordie – I was “Nemesis” (Rawr!!!!1!one)
  • we made new connections
  • we shared geo location data (what’s your twenty?)
  • we pimped our profiles (or our rigs, with echos and fancy roger beeps)
  • we even occasionally swapped songs (even though it pissed other breakers off a bit)

So in the last 18 or more years the technology has changed, but our use of it hasn’t all that much. Looking back with my rose tinted specs it seems that CB will always be better than FB.

I wonder what’ll be next?

I think Ferris Buller said it best…

life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it

Ferris Buller

The last time I blogged about my life I had just left my Job as Lead Front End Developer with Tesco Property Market. I’d been there for 2 years and to be honest things weren’t going the way I’d hoped, so I took a role with Madgex in Brighton.

Madgex are well respected in the web development community, they sponsor a number of tech events in Brighton. It looked like exactly the sort of role I’d been looking for & I was excited to join the team there. Then the recession hit. And Madgex ended up having to make dramatic job cuts & I found myself out of a job. I have to admit, I wasn’t actually all that upset – I’d been tempted for a while to go contracting but I’d never had the balls to go & do it. This was my chance.

So that’s what I’m doing. It does mean a bit of uncertainty & less time with the kids, but I am quite enjoying the variety.

Breaking news, different people like different things!

Bobbie Johnson has article in the Guardian today about twitter. Nothing remarkable about that, Johnson is after all one of the Graun’s Tech Journalists.

What is remarkable is the number of comments moaning and bitching about the coverage that the Guardian gives to twitter. It’s true that they have given it quite a lot of coverage lately in the paper, on the website & on the excellent Tech Weekly Podcast, with good reason, and this is the reason: some people, maybe even a lot of people think it’s interesting.

The fact is I find twitter extremely useful. As a web developer I use it for keeping up to date with the latest industry news, it’s an excellent way to pick your peer’s brains & share your own knowledge.

Every day papers & news websites dedicate pages & pages to sport. I hate sport; I particularly hate football. So do I take time out of my busy day to write to the paper or post a comment on the website every time there’s a sport related story? No, I ignore it and remain blissfully ignorant. I guess some people just have too much time on their hands.

Review: HP Photosmart C4585

Wireless Printer, Copier & Scanner – All In One Printer.

Since my old printer died a few months ago I’ve been looking for a suitable replacement. I ummed and ahhed for quite some time trying to work out what I wanted from a new device – eventually I decided that I wanted

  • a colour printer
  • integrated scanner
  • ideally wireless printing & scanning
  • cheap (<£100)

I’d almost given up on finding all these features in one device for the right price, then on Friday I spotted the HP Photosmart C4585 for £75 on the pc world website & decided it looked just the job.

Set up

Setting up the printer was surprisingly easy. Once the power was connected the printer displays easy to follow instructions for installing the ink cartridges on it’s screen.

Next I popped the set up DVD into my MacBook & followed the instructions. I was half expecting to experience pain trying to set the printer up with the Mac, but actually it was a doddle there’s a wizard that guides you through the whole process. Eventually it asks you to connect the the printer using the supplied USB cable; it asks you if you want to connect to a wireless network, if you answer yes the set up program displays the name of the network your computer is attached to and prompts to enter the network key and er, that’s it. Easy.

Note: When adding the printer under Print & Fax on your Mac OS X be sure to choose “HP Jetdirect – Socket” from the protocol drop down or you’ll get network device not ready errors when you try to print.

I thought it was a nice touch that HP provide a Mac OS desktop widget that shows you the printers ink levels.

Now that the printer was on the network it was very simple to set it up on the wife’s Windows XP rig. Again there’s a wizard to walk you through the set up, this time I told the software I wanted to install a network printer – it did a quick scan & found the printer. very, very easy.

Printing

If you buy a printer it’s a good idea to buy paper unless you’re sure you already have some. I wasn’t able to test the printing straight away. But when I did get to the shop and printed a documents I was very pleased with the text printing. I’ve also tried printing one photo (on photo paper) so far, I have to say I’m extremely impressed with the quality.

Scanning

Before setting up the printer / scanner I wasn’t entirely sure if the scanning function was goting to be available over Wifi, I was extremely pleased to find that it does. No more plugging in USB leads for me! The scan results seem very good, so far I’ve used it to upload embarrassing photos of my Sisters to Facebook.

Conclusion

I’ve only had this bit of kit for a couple of days, but at the moment I’d be more than happy to recommend it to anyone based on my limited experience.

jQuery intellisense in Visual Studio 2008 & Dreamweaver

jQuery is a lightweight JavaScript library that emphasizes interaction between JavaScript and HTML it’s my weapon of choice when it comes to adding client side interactions to a site.

It has rapidly gained popularity with web developers and designers – now software manufacturers are starting to take note with industry leaders like Adobe & Microsoft adding tools to their web development environments to help make jQuery development even quicker.

Microsoft Visual Studio 2008

I spoke previously about getting Jquery intellisense in Visual Studio2008. Since then Scott Guthrie announced that that Microsoft will be shipping jQuery with Visual Studio going forward and then just yesterday I spotted this article on the Visual Web Developer Team Blog with interesting updates to VS2008’s jQuery intellisense. The best development from my point of view is the ability to get code hints in your aspx & master pages, not just your .js files.

In order to take advantage of these improvements you’ll first need to install Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1and this hot fix.

Next download the jQuery IntelliSense documentation file and save it in to your website in (probably a good idea to put it in the same folder as your jQuery file).

To add jQuery intellisense to a javascript file simply add this line to the top of the file:

  1. /// <reference path=“jquery-1.2.6-vsdoc.js”/>

To add it to aspx & master pages do add the following lines to the head of your document.

  1. <% if (false)
  2.    { %>
  3.     <script src=“~/[PATH_TO_REFERENCE_FILE]/jquery-1.2.6-vsdoc.js” type=“text/javascript”>
  4.     </script>
  5. <%} %>

Points to note:

  • The “if (false)” statement will prevent the link to the reference file being rendered at runtime.  Microsoft are planning to release a hotfix to automatically search for the vsdoc file if the javascript file has a reference path in it meaning that these links in the head will become redundant.
  • If you are using aspnet’s MVC framework you need to ensure that your path to the reference file starts with a tilde otherwise VS will not find the reference file.
  • dding a link to the reference to a master page means all aspx pages that inherit that master page will have intellisense enabled.

Adobe Dreamweaver

CS4

Adobe have just released Dreamweaver CS4 which also has support for jQuery code hinting. Adobe have taken a different approach to Microsoft, they use “introspection” to parse any javaScript files you have linked to your page and provide code hints.

This seems to work pretty well, and even handles chaining. However, I do have a couple of minor gripes. Firstly as soon as I typed “$(” dreamweaver told me I had a syntax error which really confused me, in the end I realised that just had to keep typing and DW would eventually figure out what I was doing. The other thing is, as a VS user I’m used to to code hits appearing strait away, in DW you have to press Ctrl + [space]. It’s not a big deal but would take some getting used to.

Older Vesions

Users of older versions of Dreamweaver this extension from Chris Charlton adds excellent code hints for jQuery & jQuery UI and what’s more it prompts you as soon as you hit “.” good work Chris!

Scroll to the first error in form – using jQuery

Oftentimes we ask our users to provide us with an awful lot of information in things like registration forms. It’s no wonder that every now and again the poor dears forget to fill in a box or make a mistake.

On longer or complex forms users can find it difficult to see where the errors actually are.

The other week our QA manager asked us (the front end team) to scroll to the first error on a page. I started off thinking that it was going to be difficult and time consuming to achieve, but with the awesomeness of jQuery & one little-bitty plugin I was able to achieve the desired effect in  3 or 4 lines of code.

This technique relies on you already having validated your form and added a class of “error” to you the markup, either on the form elements or an error message.

You will need

  • jQuery
  • The scrollTo plugin (I used the minified version)
  • A web page with some errors on it
  • a couple of old yoghurt pots and some sticky back plastic.

And here’s the code

add this to the head of your document:

  1. <script type=“text/javascript” src=“/JQuery.js”></script>
  2. <script type=“text/javascript” src=“/jquery.scrollTo-min.js”>
  3. </script>
  4. <script type=“text/javascript”>
  5.     $(document).ready(function() {
  6.         $(“.error:first”).attr(“id”,”firstError”);
  7.         $(“#firstError”).each(function (){
  8.             $.scrollTo(“#firstError”, 800);
  9.         });
  10.     });
  11. </script>

And Bob’s your uncle!

Please let me know if you found this technique useful.

Incidentally the code for this post was prepared with the very excellet postable. Check it out!

Looking forward to d.construct

d.construct07It’s only just over a week away now. d.construct is the only conference I’m currently booked to attend this year (though I’m hoping to get to @media Ajax in November) So I’m really looking forward to it.

The sessions look like they are going to be very good – I’m also looking forward to spending getting to know a few people who’s blogs I’ve been following over the past few years. Oh, and the free food and drink ;¬)

If your going to be there get in touch through the backnetwork & let’s grab a beer.

The first Worthing TweetUp

Last night at the Burlington Hotel, during the biggest thunderstorm so far this summer we had the first Worthing TweetUp.

Considering this is something that started as an idea I mentioned to David Rosam in passing two or three weeks ago I was pretty pleased with the turn out. David & I were there along with Jala68, Loudmouthman, Spidernix, Steaders and Clive Flint.

It was an informal event with everyone sat round a table chatting about everything from social networking to photography and the Russian Mafia! Loudmouthman managed to stream some of it to qik, and Clive has posted some photos to twitter.

We were also joined for a while by a lovely – very scared collie called bones who’d run away from her owner on the seafront during the storm.  She ran straight into the bar at the hotel & took up residence under our table.

It was really good to meet everone last night, I’m planning to arrange another meetup in a few weeks, probably at a different venue (hopefully somewhere with WiFi) so keep an eye on this blog and upcoming for more information.  Incidentally, if you are interested in sponsoring future events please get in touch.

Worthing Tweetup

worthing pierThe other day I got chatting to David Rosam on  Twitter when we discovered that we lived very close to each other.  It occurred to us that there were probably a number of other Twitter users in the area, failing that it seemed likely that there would be lots of freelancers & assorted geeks Worthing and surrounding areas.

So, we’ve decided to have a go at getting as many people together as we could.  The proposed TweetUp is an informal social event, it’s a chance to get to know your fellow geeks / freelancers / twitter users, bump your gums and press some flesh all in the pleasant surroundings of Gio’s bar at The Burlington on Worthing seafront. We’ll be there from 8pm on Wednesday the 6th of August 2008.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in then please indicate your interest on our upcoming page.

You don’t have to be a twitter user to attend, nor do you need to be a freelancer. In fact anyone is welcome to come along – who knows what might come out of it?