31 August 2004
30 August 2004
I bought software online for the first time in my life today. Handed over my card details, got emailed the license key.
It’s not exactly shareware, given that the unregistered product is crippled, but it’s significant, I guess; I’ve been using shareware since the age of six, and have never registered any until now – mainly because it usually required sending credit card details to the US.
Which, in my case, at six I did not have.
Anyhow, I bought Launchbar. From the first time I used Launchbar 4, I swore I’d buy it when it was done. Unfortunately, for about the past six months, I’ve had to download a new copy every 30 days. Not any more. Today, I downloaded Beta 9, and found that I could purchase it (in order to uncripple it). So I did.
It’s a remarkable piece of software, indexing not just files, but information and metadata galore. It’s easier just to try it than to explain it, but now I’ve got it, I can confidently state it pretty much makes many items that are in my Dock obsolete. I grew up on command lines, but my mastery of *nix is pretty lousy. Now, I can let my fingers walk through my entire hard disk, finding contacts, files, apps, and internet searches.
If you’ve got OSX, I really recommend buying it. It’s changed the way I use my Mac, and made my Dock a lot tidier.
25 August 2004
Stephen King’s Everything You Need To Know About Writing – in Ten Minutes.
24 August 2004
Kitchen looks fantastic. Two lunch options each day – one veggie, one not – delivered straight to your desk. Order the day before. The archive of past menus is mouth-watering, with a variety ranging from Oriental and Middle Eastern to nursery food. Oh to sample their calzone.
So it’s a shame it’s based in Nottingham, then; my taste buds are tingling just looking at their menus…
23 August 2004
Also of note: I finished off a few rough edges on this site at the weekend. We’ve now got individual-entries sorted, but also a new About page, and the Archive page now also works correctly. The monthly archives are also done.
In short: we’re just about finished. I got rid of the grey background; it wasn’t doing it for me at all. Black on white. How it should be. Also, if you’ve got Gill Sans installed, it’ll make a very lovely main body copy font.
That’s the decorating done. Now to fill these walls.
23 August 2004
22 August 2004
Every now and then, as part of my job, I get to work on building websites – either tinkering with what exists, or creating new pages. Sometimes, I even get to work on brand new ones. This week, I’ve begun work on a new site, and rather than tinkering with the old design for another year, we’ve started from the ground-up. In this case, we’ve also gone with a web-standards based design.
And suddenly, I’m into the learning game, starting from scratch again, checking out resources and remembering what tag goes where. This is the kind of thing I love; knowing what result I want but having to remember how to do it, and thus having to research again, and hopefully drill the code deeper into my memory. The site is nearly done; it still needs content and final tinkering, but the tough stuff – basic layout, design choices, usability – is all there. It’s been really satisfying to work on – seeing something come to fruition – and even though I’ve worked with standards-based design before, it was remarkable just how fast it all developed.
This was in part thanks to the Web Developer extension for Mozilla Firefox, which makes life wonderful. Lots of great shortcuts – for turning styles on and off, outlining block-level elements, disabling images, validating code. If you don’t have it, it’s worth getting Firefox for. Easily the most impressive feature is the ability to edit the CSS of a page live in a sidebar whilst the page alters in realtime in the main window.
This feature is what really saved time in development. I sketched out the page with pen and paper first. Then, I worked out just how many
div tags that would require, and marked up dummmy content with the
divs. Then, I loaded the page in firefox, and started writing the stylesheet direct into the sidebar. It thus took very little time to get the draft of the layout created, and then I could further tinker with styles and add nested styles with great ease. I’m really proud of the result, and will probably link to it in due course. It’s a huge saving in terms of download time compared to the previous site. Also, there’s a certain glow to be had when you see the phrase “THIS PAGE IS XHTML 1.0 (TRANSITIONAL) COMPLIANT!”
This site started out as an attempt at compliance; it didn’t last, as everything got a little sloppier as it went on. Hey, at least I started with good intentions, and at least it’s better than not attempting. Perhaps the thing that made me happiest with the new site was the method of development; starting with markup, styling later, and managing always to keep it tidy. It’s the cleanest code, both XHTML and CSS, that I’ve ever produced. I hope the site serves its purpose as well as its code is neat.