JavaScript renaissance

JavaScript Libraries are definetely changing the way developers approach the client-side.  Richness in the UI is becomming easier and easier.  (Remember designers: With great UI power comes great UI responsibility.)

What is happening now is an explosion of different libraries that all do similar things in different ways.  Of course, I am a staunch support of jQuery.  It’s ease of use make it the perfect tool for html/css developers like me.  But there have been all kinds of new libraries out there.  Recently Dean Edwards, who is famous for his HTML/CSS ad JS expertise released a library called Base2.  He is a big fan of jQuery, but apparently wanted to build his own.

Then another guy named Dustin Diaz released his library called DED|Chain.  (rolls off the tongue.  Is it pronounced Dead-Chain?) The funny thing is that I just used a Dustin technique to fix min-width in my css.  It was exactly what I needed.  Thanks Dustin!

This new DED|Chain is very interesting to me because it is based on YUI and YUI-ext, which we at work, are using heavily.  My real question though is whether DED|Chain is going to useful after Jack Slocum’s 1.0 release.  I am not sure if it would be beneficial at that point.  Look at the samples on that page. The combo box is AWESOME.  The capabilities are just stunning.

Interestingly, in the mix, Matt Kruse joined the jQuery community and started developing with it.  I actually confused him with Matt Wright of Matt’s Script Archive.  But Matt Kruse is a Javascript force on the web and has created lots of downloadable widgets over the years.

My career and many people’s lives have been changed by HTML.  And again by CSS (or for some Flash).  Now the world is changing again.  This time by the JS Libraries.  Visual designers, marketers, content managers, web developers, executives and anyone involved in making a website should pay attention.  These tools can make you more successful.

TurboTax rap

David Foltz over at Turbotax pointed me at this video.  I think it’s brilliant.  Apparently they are having a content for the best Turbotax rap.  Now that is some inspired marketing.  They should put this on TV.  Their regular commercials are boring and stale.

The work I did with Turbotax last year has been tested this season.  Although some of the tests did well, unfortunately, none became the control.  I can take some solace in the fact that my original concepts were changed and the tests I proposed never saw the light of day, but still, I hoped for some more success.  It puts a dent in my "street cred".

Sean, Florence and Sean did an awesome job and I am proud to have worked with them.  And, of course, Bill Mirbach, who is my inspirational hero!  And another shout out to Dan Mauer who was the most open-minded executive (except Bill!) that I met at Intuit.

My Whole Body Hurts

My whole body hurts.  It hurts to type.  I played tennis yesterday and today for 2.5 hours each.  I joined a 4.0-4.5 league.  The competition seems right.

My physical game is ok, but my mental game is horrible.  I am constantly trying to STOP thinking about my game.  Whenever I am thinking about my game, I miss.  Whenever I am relaxed and just playing, I win.  I wont the first set 6-3.  Then on the first serve of the second set, I hurt my elbow a little.  (Going to the doctor tomorrow to have it checked out).  Then I played awful for a set, thinking all the while about every shot.  I lost the second set 7-5.  I checked my watch and saw that I had 30 minutes before Katie needed me to be home.  So I tried playing "fast" and lost 3 games in a row.  Finally, started to panic.  How was I going to win with only 20 minutes left?

I decided to go to net every single point so I could end the point sooner.  I also went for winners every point so that the points would go quick.  I was so distracted by the time, that I stopped thinking about my game.  I won 6 games in a row and ended at 3:01pm, just in time.

The lesson is:  You can’t play tennis and think about tennis at the same time.  You need to be distracted and think about anything else.  Thinking about tennis ruins your game.  Well, mine anyway.

Now my body feels like I got hit by a truck.  I need to lie down.  Ugh.

A wonderful thing has happened!

I was checking email this morning with Matthew on my lap.  He slid off and sat under Katie’s desk.  I immediately recognized this action.  He needed to go #2! 

So I jumped up and said, "Come on Matt, let’s go sit on the potty."  I put him on the throne and he looked at me and said, "EYEDONWANNA!"  I replied, "Maybe you need some privacy" and walked out the door.  I was listening with my ear to the door and called Katie over.  About a minute later…BOOYAH!  It was like NASA launching the first rocket into space!

We waited until he sighed and slid off the pot.  I ran in and said, "WHAT A GOOD BOY!!!"  Katie screamed in his ear and yelled "M&M’s"!  He looked a little sheepish, but eventually got happier and proud of himself.  Katie and I were overjoyed and almost exploded with relief!

This is the most wonderful day in my life.  Well, maybe not.  But it sure beats changing diapers.

Thank you Matthew.  Thank you thank you thank you thank you.  Now, please do it again!

Book, by Glen Lipka

I am interested in writing a book.  It’s hard to get started and get organized.  The theme of the book is this:

People who know HTML and CSS, but are newbies or know nothing about JavaScript can create nice looking but static websites.  They can’t add interactivity unless an engineer helps them out.  I was one of these people.  jQuery has changed my lifein this regard.  It has allowed me to make real UX choices and implement them in cross-browser and elegant ways.

I can show through examples and explanation how to use HTML/CSS and jQuery to build very interactive and robust websites without learning to program.  It is not really any harder than using CSS alone.  I want to empower non-programmers to create great things without begging for help from engineers.

The main thing for me is to organize my thoughts logically and start the process.  The journey of a thousand pages (well, maybe 300 pages) begins with a single sentence.  Maybe I should start ith an outline.  Or should I start with examples.  Ugh.

Meet-aversary

It was 12 years ago tomorrow, St. Patricks Day.  I went downtown in NYC with my cousin Andy.  We hit Jack Dempseys Bar.  Is that the right one?  I saw this girl across the room smiling at me.  I asked Andy if he knew her.  he said, "Her name is Kathy, and her friend is Kim".  I said, "That girl Kathy keeps smiling at me.  Like she is obsessed with me or something!"

So I staggered over. (Yes, I had some to drink that night.)  As I was saying, I strutted over.  I said, "Hey, your name is Kathy right and you are Kim."  She said, "No.  I’m Katie."  I looked over at Kim and said, "So Kim, HI"!

From that moment it was a love fest.  Everything I said, She laughed and smiled and thought I was oh so witty.  She kissed me that night.  Then she called me the next day BEFORE NOON. (Crack of dawn on the day after St. Patrick’s day.)  She moved in a few weeks later.  We started a business a few months later.  We got engaqed exactly (to the day) 2 years later.  Moved apartments.  Got married 15 months after engagement.  Had a baby.  Bought a house.  Had another baby. Sold a house.  Moved to Berkeley.  Had another baby. Moved to Hercules.  Moved to San Mateo.

Somewhere in there we fell in love.  I think it was near the beginning, but its been a blur.

I love Katie more than jQuery.  More than UX Design or computers.  I love her more than the NY Jets.  I love her more than The Last Dragon.  I love her more each year and each day.  Happy Meet-aversary, my honey.  You are my density.

Microsoft Vista UX Report

I saw this article while searching for the use of animated logos as "please wait" icons.
http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa511284.aspx

It is part of a larger UX guidelines kit from MS regarding VIsta.
http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa511258.aspx

Amazingly, it is quite objective and even harsh against certain Microsoft tendencies.  I think it’s awesome that a company can be that objective and publish "bad things" about their previous design choices.  I am going to read it in more detail.  Great job to the authors.

With that said, I am very disappointed in the UX of Vista.  It is slower and harder to use.  UAC is the worst decision in the world and will lose them lots of good will.

LinkedIn

I used to slam LinkedIn for being too complicated.  It was so hard to just get up and running because you needed to know everyone’s email.  However, after using it for a little while, it has grown on me.  It has nice features and a crisp design.  Several UX things they do, I have adopted into my own approach.  For example, they have this area when you login that tells you what you should do next, like add another job, or get another recommendation.  It even gives you feedback like 75% complete to give you a sense of how much more there is to go.

In general, I have come to like it very much.  This probably means that it has a steep learning curve.  SO for anyone who doesn’t like it, I would suggest that you may be in the early curve stage.  I think it hits it’s sweet spot for power users.  The whole thing reminds me of "The Tipping Point".  It shows you who the "connectors" are.

My profile is here.  My one UX suggestion to LinkedIn would be to up the number of "connections" someone can display.  Right now it peaks at 500.  I’d like to see who has 10,000!  Also, I wonder about people I "connected" with whom I really don’t know.  Makes me feel a little fake.

JSFrameworks.com

This is my idea for a cool site that would help alot of people.  The URL is available now: jsFrameworks.com.  It would have sections for all the javascript frameworks.  The idea is to have similar or identical challenges with the different implementations from the different JS Framework communities.  So, for example, there would be a challenge to have a table with alternating colors for the rows.  (See example)  Then a developer could compare apples-to-apples for each challenge.  Also, it would allow a developer to switch between one framework and another.  They would have a rosetta stone.  It would be real world documentation helping ALL the developers.

I could register it and host it, but I am wondering about which technology to use to make it work.  A wiki?  Ideally I could use someething that has a "instant installer" at POWWEB.  Anyone have an idea what to use to make that work?  If it was a wiki, how could I make each page call the right JS include?  Each page should include JUST what it needs to meet the challenge.  Plus, I don’t want to break challenges with new versions of the frameworks.  Maybe they SHOULD break the challenges.  Hmm.

In other news:  I stepped on the scale this morning and weigh 206 lbs.  That is my lifetime high for weight.  Yuck.  I need to stop eating.

What “Bee” the problem?

Something is definetely going on.  Bees have disappeared all over America.
http://digg.com/environment/Earth_Life_Threats_Alarming_Disappearance_of_Honey_Bees

 This is not cool.  A third of all of our agriculture depends on these little creatures.  We are not ready to deploy millions of nanobots either!  We are not far enough along to make “The Age of Spiritual Machines” a reality.  I knew Bush was bad, but I was hoping that he wouldn’t end civilization as we know it and hurl us back into the dark ages. 

Damn it.  Global warming.  Bees disappearing.  The Jets might win the superbowl next year, which would certainly be the seventh sign of the apocolypse.  Please God, just another 40 years or so.  That’s all I ask.  Fingers crossed.

Side note:  I picked up Uncle Daniel at the airport at 3AM this morning.  I couldn’t get back to sleep.  In the morning Matthew wakes me up and says, “Daddy, Can I hug you?”  Of course, I say yes and bring him into bed.  He looks me straight in the eye and says, “I love you.”  Then he says, “Good Morning!”  My heart is tender, he is so cute.  Then he says the exact same thing 40 more times in a row.  After about 20, I start to think he is broken.  Too much of a good thing, I guess.