Archive for the 'blather' Category

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The Ajax Experience Boston Edition 2006

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

I’m off to The Ajax Experience Boston Edition 2006 tomorrow. It starts Monday morning at the Westin Boston Waterfront.

This show is the event of the season and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone. It’s not just the sessions, it’s also the opportunity to meet top people in the biz – fellow Torontonians Joey deVilla and Pete Forde will be but two of the world class developer folks in attendance.

My presentation will be right near the end of the show on Wednesday at 11:00am in Grand Ballroom C. After lunch we’ll be hearing Brendan Eich‘s keynote speech about Firefox 2 (likely covering some of Javascript 1.7′s new features) just before the wrap-up ceremony.

I’ll be participating throughout the whole show on panels and in discussions, so by all means track me down and say hello.

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Classic UI Design Fault

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Via fellow Canadian Tech Mobster Bil Simser, I discover EgoSurf, a frivolous site that comes up with a number based on inbound links to your blog from elsewhere on the web and then presents a gauge to boost your ego and a pejorative listing in their recent searches on the main page to tell everyone you’re a putz.

While it’s a clean-looking Web-Me-Too-Dot-Oh interface, they fall prey to one of the most egregiously boneheaded UI design faults I’ve ever seen. If you enter your web address with the http:// protocol, the app recognizes that you have done so and refuses to submit, displaying in red the following message:

Please don’t include the http:// in domains

…at which point, you are forced to manually navigate by tab or click back to the URL entry box and correct the entry yourself by removing http:// and then resubmit.

There’s absolutely no excuse for such stupidity. This isn’t a bank transaction. The program has already determined what’s wrong with the input. Fix it and accept it.

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Going down, next floor Basement Level

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

I said four years ago that I thought America’s empire may have reached its zenith and it might be all downhill from there. The decline has only become steeper, and as I predicted at the time, the pressure has come from within.

Let us all hope that America has reached its nadir when we hear today’s news that among other things Habeas Corpus is a thing of the past for permanent US residents and torture has been redefined to the extent that it is legal if the President says so.

If there is futher to go down this abyss, it’s going to get darker before it gets lighter.

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Simplicity begets Stability

Monday, September 25th, 2006

I’ve been following advances in the Ajax world so I can keep my Ajax Transport Layer Alternatives presentation up to date for The Ajax Experience in Boston next month.

Harry Fuecks wrote recently about new approaches to Javascript asynchronous calls. It’s really neat stuff and I’m stretching my brain to try to understand it fully. I wonder though to what extent it will actually solve problems that really exist for most people any better than what already exists.

I’ve been making Ajax apps that work well enough for years while many people have been waiting for all the stars to align before they even try it. I’ve had all sorts of flack from pedants for using iframes and img/cookie because they’re hacks, but JSRS and RSLite have worked consistently and predictably across a large number of browsers for 5 years and more without modification. I only changed my Blogchat app to use XMLHttpRequest recently (for no really good reason – it’s been unchanged since 2002) and the first thing that happened was a huge debugging session to figure out a really wonky deep IE7 issue.

The thing about simplicity in the programming world is that it begets stability. The unknowns and dependencies introduced by layers of abstraction and frameworks and preprocessing can in some cases introduce far more potential complexity and maintenance issues than the problem at hand is worth. While there is definitely a class of complex UI problems that are now trivially resolved using the latest and greatest of libraries and frameworks, don’t forget that many simple problems deserve simple solutions.

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Ajax Experience Boston 06

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

Those of you who visit my blog with a browser rather than a newsreader may have noticed that for the past couple of weeks I’ve had a new banner up for the new Ajax Experience show in Boston on October 23-25 2006.

I’ll be there giving my Ajax Transport Layer Alternatives presentation, participating on panels and mixing with the attendees and presenters.

The first AE show was in May this year and was a resounding success for both the experts and the audience.

As I said to Ajaxian founder Dion Almaer when accepting the invitation for Boston, I’m really interested to follow up on the potential advances sown at the last AE and see whether I (have managed to || continue to) exert any influence whatsoever as regards connecting people who need to work together to make this technology realize its potential.

Again the sessions are 90 minutes each, so lots of time for Q&A. Although many of the sessions from the first show are slated to be repeated (many like mine updated with current information), with 5 concurrent tracks, if you attended before this is an opportunity to get to see the ones you missed last time.

The swag was great at the last show – branded AE iPod Shuffles for all. I understand alumni will qualify for a Nano this time!

If you come to the show, be sure to find me. I’ll be fairly easy to find wearing my Ajax duds.

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Anticipatory design

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

Pete Forde reinvents search with his Live Filter demo.

Take particular note of Pete’s never-ending auto-loading page that gets more elements from the result pool as you reach the bottom of the page. Try it yourself – click the View Results button right at the start to see all 64 items, then scroll to the bottom and watch it get the next set of items on demand before you even knew you were demanding them.

Pete and the Unspace folks have been taking serious aim at improving the state of UI interaction for the good of us all. Not content with simply implementing something like OpenRico’s LiveGrid, they apply even more anticipatory design to fixing the scroll-within-a-scroll UI anomaly that LiveGrid introduces to a page that uses it.

The result is that by anticipating a need I didn’t even know I had, they have provided an interface that is natural to use yet very powerful.

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Too many chiefs?

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

I’ve been reading the IE Blog which the IE development team hosts. I’ve started to notice that every time I see an entry it’s someone else and they’re all “Program Managers”. Is EVERYBODY a PM at MS? Is there nobody that actually DOES anything? Sounds like layered middle management run amok. From the names and titles I can see, IE seems to be divided into so many separately managed projects that they must have program-manager-managers that just coordinate information flow amongst the program managers. Yeesh.

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BarCampEarthToronto

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

[via David Crow]

BarCampEarthToronto takes place this weekend. I can’t make it for the event itself but I plan to be there with my family for the barbeque on Sunday.

Hope to see you there!