Archive for the ‘Web Development’ Category

Hacking It Up – Black Ops Style

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

A couple of weeks ago on a harmless April Friday, we held our first Hack Day at work. It was totally inspired by and loosely modeled after Yahoo’s Open Hack Day, with the notable exception that ours was not “open”. I think Yahoo’s Hack Day was a great idea and I was very excited to see us doing something similar.

Given the fact that I hadn’t done any serious programming for a while — sorry Expedia Dashboard widget, you don’t count — I was itching to enter the contest to stretch my coding skills a bit and, of course, blow everyone away with something so cool we had to win. Lucky for me I had some friends at work who were interested in doing the same. So armed with two rock star developers and two crazy program managers who code (“why would PM’s write code??? they say), we formed an elite black ops unit that began to meet and discuss the details of our project.

Hack Day came around and we hacked our little hearts out. I learned JavaScript tricks I never knew existed, we became intimately familiar with the Prototype library (don’t write JavaScript without it!) and writing object oriented JS, and we wore out the JS debugger and other tools in Firebug — the Firefox extension sent from the heavens unto web developers everywhere.

Working day and night through the weekend on our project (yes I know it was Hack Day but they said if we wanted to work all weekend, more power to us) took me back to the nights spent in Soda Hall on the Berkeley campus trying to finish up one of our many CS class projects a few nights before it was due.

Lots of lines of Java, XML, JavaScript, and CSS and three days later we had completed our vision for a next-generation travel shopping experience. We showed our prototype at the judging the following Wednesday and it was a big hit. Since the initial presentation we’ve been inundated with questions and requests for demos for various groups. Tonight we found out that we won and tied for first place. We had a lot of fun working on the project and I can honestly say I’m very proud of the work we did.

Anyway, if you were wondering why I had been MIA the last couple of weeks, now you know what I was doing pretty much that whole time. I can’t post screenshots or videos of our prototype here but if you know me and are interested in hearing more about this, get in touch with me. Hopefully someday soon I can point to something on the live site and say it was inspired by (or is!) our Hack Day project.

Google Reader – Meet Google Homepage

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

For a very long time, probably ever since I actually cared about news, I have been getting my news from the Internet. Whether it be world news, automotive news, tech news, or whatever other drivel was interesting at the time. Recently, I finally succumbed to the cries of “Use syndication, use RSS” and started making use of Google’s Personalized Homepage feature. It lets you throw multiple feeds onto a page with a Google search box at the top of it, and makes for a fairly good one stop shop for taking a glance at my news feeds.

Now the cries from the tech-y friends are changing, “use Google Reader” they say. I’ve looked at it before and to be quite honest, I didn’t find the UI very appealing. In fact, I haven’t found the UI for any feed readers I’ve tried compelling enough to make me want to use them. That goes double for feed readers which live outside of my browser and don’t let me take advantage of one of my most beloved user behaviors: opening all the articles I want to read in tabs behind the current one, then quickly scanning them and closing the tab — the next one, already loaded, appears and is ready for my consumption.

Well anyway, I thought I would give Google Reader another shot. And I naively assumed that since Google Homepage and Google Reader are run by the same people, that Google Reader would at the very least give me the option of picking which of the feeds on my home page I wanted to also read from Google Reader. At best, it would have a folder containing all of the feeds from Homepage and I could just remove or reorganize them as I saw fit. Well, neither one of those is the case. As far as I can tell, Google Reader doesn’t know, or care to know, anything about the 20+ feeds I have painstakingly plastered across the four tabs of my Google Homepage.

Here’s news for you Google: I don’t care to know about Google Reader.

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A CSS Cheat Sheet

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

Cascading Style Sheets? More like Cascading Sheets of Seizures. If you have tried your hand at web design or development in recent years, then you have probably dabbled in using CSS as well. Of course if you tried to do anything complicated and have it work well across different browsers you also probably suffered a stroke.

I’m glad you have made enough progress in your recovery that you can read again. As a get-well gift, I point you to a cheat sheet for CSS that gives the breakdown of the CSS syntax, properties list, box model, selectors, etc. I think it is a fantastic resource; my thanks to Dave Child for coming up with it.

Cheat Sheet for CSS 2.1

While we’re at it, why not share all the other helpful cheat sheets he’s put together for Javascript, PHP, regular expressions, and others.

More cheat sheets from Dave Child