Mon Mar 19
Kathy Sierra, of the Creating Passionate Users blog, has written about the social networking tool Twitter. In case you’ve not heard of it, Twitter allows you to add updates to things you’re doing right now from email, their website or instant messenger. So if you want to tell people you’re currently having a bowl of soup, or that you’re thinking about Brazil, you can. In fact, that’s the whole point.
Like Kathy I’m not convinced of the usefulness of this service, although I suppose a hundred trillion squillion users can’t be wrong. The hypothesis that Twitter works for many people because it tricks the brain into thinking that there’s some genuine interaction going on is, for me, a potent one. I can’t think of anyone’s mundanities of life I’d like to keep my eye on, and I’m sure no-one is interested in what I’m doing right now. But then again, I write this blog.
Using technology to replace real, human contact is a long way from becoming a viable option. It would take a massive leap forward to be able to get the same kind of vibe or buzz that you get from a bunch of like-minded individuals. Let’s face it, the majority of us like meeting up with people. Pretending we’re "connected" because we know what our friends are thinking 30 seconds ago is like saying we’re master chefs because we know how to stir. It’s part of the picture, sure, but it’s a long way from the whole caboodle.
Sat Mar 17
I have a new computer. The old one was getting a bit long in the tooth, and with an increasing number of people in the house needing internet access it became a nightmare to share. So we’ve now go a total of four computers in the house – 3 desktops and a laptop. My new machine has a pretty fast 3GHz processor with 1GB of RAM, but eventually I’ll add another gigabyte.
The building of the new computer was relatively simple, with high quality parts from some friends and moving about 140Gb of hard drives into a new box. Just in case I’ve organised my drives so that any messup with my OS (Windows at the moment, however shortly it will be dual-booting to Ubuntu) can be easily reformatted and the OS reloaded. I’ve just got to sort out a way to backup my data to one of my spare drives and I’ll be pretty confident.
Those in the know will understand when I say that although things seem to be working OK at the moment, I’m prepared for technological meltdown.
Thu Mar 15
Let’s say you have a list of musical styles and when someone chooses one you want to send their selection to a remote page. That remote page will look at their selection and bring back a load of sub-genres for that genre. So if they choose ‘Rock’ they will get back ‘Indie’, ‘metal’, ‘Glam’ etc. With me so far?
That remote page could build a new list of all the sub-genres, and Performer will take that sub-genre list and load it back into the original page inside the element you specify. And all that in the blink of an eye, or at least click of a mouse. Or, indeed, the press of a key – this function (and all the others, as far as my testing has proved) is keyboard-friendly.
Anyway, give it a whirl.
Wed Mar 14
The time has come, after many months of development deep in my secret lab, to release my
monster lovely library into the wild. Here’s the skinny:
It’s called Performer. It allows you, using nothing but standard HTML code, to add functionality to your web pages. Functionality like toggling the visibility of elements (now you see it, now you don’t) and updating parts of the page from a remote location (all that AJAX stuff).
it is built on the quite, quite wonderful Prototype framework (and the cool site design is nicked wholly from there).
It’s free and you can use it for pretty much anything – including commercial stuff. Just follow the simple instructions in the licence, OK?
Mon Mar 12
Years have I searched and never come up with a satisfactory answer. But now, thanks to this article I believe I have found the Holy Grail of database coding: paginate data easily with SQL Server.