I’ve moved…

Posted in General Blah! on February 19, 2008 by Shaun

I’ve been slowly working on a side project and as part of the progress I’ve moved the blog.  Hopefully I haven’t inconvenienced anyone in the process and I apologise if I have.

The new home of the caffeinecoder blog is over at caffeinecoder.co.uk

I’ve tried to maintain all the same look and feel from the recent redesign and I’ve imported all the articles from here over to there.  The main reasons for the move are linked with a new business I’m starting up with a friend of mine, this gives me the freedom to host my own wordpress installation and thus expand it with a little more freedom.

I’d like to thank the WordPress crew for giving me a home over the past couple of years and I’m going to continue to use this awesome blogging platform for many years to come.

If you currently get the feeds for caffeinecoder, please stay with me and change them over to the new address I look forward to hooking up with you all over there.


The revolution continues now we can have iCoffee…

Posted in General Blah! on February 18, 2008 by Shaun

Well sorta, seems apple are releasing an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch that allows you to order your coffee in Starbucks without even going up to the counter… no doubt this is only in the States for now, and I wonder how long the novelty will last.


Book Review – Prototype and script.aculo.us

Posted in Books on February 9, 2008 by Shaun

I’ve always fancied running a book review feature on this blog, covering technical books I’ve read and mixing in the odd review of any fiction I read.  It never got past the thinking about it stage so I figured I’d just do it and see if this takes off in any way.  Feel free to make your own comments, and to let me know if you found the review interesting or even if you think it’s rubbish and I should stop.
I may not bother paying any attention to you of course but hey you never know ;0)

So my first book is titled ‘Prototype and script.aculo.us’ with a sub title of ‘You Never Knew JavaScript Could Do This’.  As the title clearly suggests, this book is all about the Prototype and script.aculo.us JavaScript libraries that are extremely popular amongst web developers especially developers of AJAX based sites or applications.

After a good week with this book I think a better subtitle would be ‘The Missing Manual’ because that is exactly what this book is.  Prototype has had a hard time, despite it’s popularity, in the past because people found it really hard to figure out how to get the good stuff out of it, how to make this baby burn.  Later came some much better documentation on the prototype site, and now we get the good stuff.

This book is for everyone who wants to unleash the power of Prototype and ‘scripty’ (the developers pet name for script.aculo.us – no doubt because they were sick of typing it out in full).  The book is put together well, the reading style is easy and you can either just read along or, to get more out of the book, you can follow the examples and code them yourself so you see it in action.

Right off the bat you’ll get to see how prototype gives you full CSS3 power without relying on the browser, and you can see how to build some truly awesome routines that will make your life so much smoother.  Whether you are a web developer for small sites or a developer working on enterprise web applications, there is something in this book for you.

Topics covered include:

  • Discover Prototype
  • What it is
  • Jargon and concepts
  • Explaining the $’s
    • $W, because array literals are boring
    • $A, the collection unifier
    • $H, make a hash of things
  • Regular JavaScript on Steroids
  • Advanced Collections with Enumerable
  • Unified Event Handling
  • Playing with the DOM is finally fun!
  • Form Management
  • Ajax has never been so easy
    • Streamlining
    • Polling
    • Debugging
    • Accessibility
  • More useful Helper Objects
  • Performance Considerations
  • There’s a neat task at the end of the prototype section so you can build a task list to put your new skills into action.

    The Scripty section includes:

    • Discover script.aculo.us
    • The modules of script.aculo.us
    • Using it in your pages
  • Visual effects
    • What are they and why use them
    • Core effects
    • Effect Helpers
    • How to create your own
  • Drag and Drop
  • Autocompletion
  • Building DOM fragments the easy way: Builder
  • In-Place Editing
  • Sliders
  • Sound without Flash
  • Extending and Contributing
  • There’s a section on further reading to help you carry in learning and a section on installing and using Ruby too as these libraries are deliberately built to play nice with Ruby and in many cases you’ll notice how they do things in a Ruby sort of way :0)

    Source code from the book is available but it took me a couple of minutes to find it as it wasn’t obvious from the book, or I completely missed the bit that showed you where to get the source, anyway it’s here if you want to go get it.

    The book is published by the Pragmatic programmers label and you can get more details or purchase it here I got my copy through compman in the UK for £15.39 Amazon have it for £16.49

    If you use or are thinking of using these libraries in any shape or form in your sites or applications I can’t recommend this book enough.  It will open up the power of the libraries to you and may just give you that extra spark to innovate.

    I give this 10/10 it’s a great book.

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    Get a free book…

    Posted in General Blah! on February 9, 2008 by Shaun

    I thought this was a scam when i first read about it, but it turns out to be completely genuine. Rather than paying through the nose for the self titles SEO ‘experts’ books you can get the PDF version of confidential SEO secrets by Allen Harkleroad.

    I’m never one to turn away from freebies – yup I’m one of those guy’s that goes to shows and conventions hoping to get a free branded rubics cube or cool pen etc… :0) You just never know what might turn up and it makes my office a neat place to be :0D So I downloaded this and it looks good i have to say. You can make a donation to the author if you want or go get the Amazon reader version for less than $10.

    I don’t get enything from passing on this info except the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from helping others. if you do happen to notice a guy at a convention with a bag of goodies looking for a neat pen or something, just be sure to tell me where the best stuff is ;0P

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    IE8 – standards compliant?… ‘My Arse!’

    Posted in General Blah!, Web Development on February 6, 2008 by Shaun

    I read an article over on A List apart today regarding Microsoft’s proposed fix for the internet because they broke it when IE7 came out.  I respect all the authors on that site but I have to say that this article just got my blood boiling and left me feeling disappointed and let down by Microsoft yet again.

    Just to recap, if you aren’t already aware, Microsoft claim the web broke when IE7 came out because web pages failed.  Here’s a news flash for Microsoft: the web was fine it’s your damn non compliant ‘re-write the rules our way’ browser that broke!
    I am seriously getting sick to the back teeth of Microsoft, I liked to think of myself as not entirely anti-Microsoft having actually developed one of their products in a past job but seriously they take the biscuit.

    What has me so annoyed this time is their proposed ‘fix’ to ensure IE8 is standards compliant and to avoid breaking web pages.  What is this magical solution?  adherence to the standards already defined by the W3C? Well sort of but you’ll need to use a new meta tag to target particular browsers and versions of those browsers to get your page to render properly like so:

    <meta http-equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”IE=8;FF=3″ />

    Those of you on the same page as me here will already be thinking about the horrors of browser sniffing.  In a world where we have compliant browsers rendering pages just fine thank you without the aid of a cobbled together safety net, Firefox, Opera and Safari anyone?, we can but wonder why the hell Microsoft are so intent on making it our problem to ‘fix’ our web sites so they render on their browser.

    Well stuff that for a game of soldiers how about making IE8 fully compliant and adding the option for a switch for those who need to dial down the standards instead?  If this is progress them I’m afraid Microsoft have once again lost the plot.

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    More TF2 updates on the way.

    Posted in General Blah! on February 3, 2008 by Shaun

    I get more convinced every day that Valve Software and the Steam Network are the best value for money a gamer can get.
    There are some new updates coming soon for TeamFortress2 including new achievements to aim for and a cool new map with a new game type.  Goldrush introduces a new challenge.  the blu team must escort a mining cart through the map, the more blu players around the cart the faster it will move, if a red player gets near the cart the cart stops.  this is going to be a cool new addition to TF2 and I’m looking forward to playing this map I can tell you.  Frantic battles galore:0)

    Normally I play on the [Q] clan’s servers as these are superb servers and if you donate, you get a reserved slot and immunity to the balancing that moves you from team to team during the game.  £10 for a three month subscription is superb value and they update their custom maps regular.  There’s also great comradeship on these servers, not to mention [Q]’s own set of stats that you can now view off their website.

    A friend introduced me to some cool custom maps on the Wireplay servers:

    Wireplay.co.uk TF2 <11> You Gotta Be Kidding
    variety of control point maps

    There are some awesome maps in that set inclusing one crazy ass map that has you fighting the other team as well as dodging some giant boulders that roll around constantly.  it’s nuts!

    Enjoy your gaming and hope to see some of you onthe servers soon eh?

    Is this the end of games as we know ’em?

    Posted in Gaming, General Blah! on January 25, 2008 by Shaun

    Valve have, in my book at least, redefined the landscape as far as game distribution is concerned.  Whatever your gripe may be with Steam as a platform, you still have to admit the catalogue of games available and the fact they are constantly updated, without the need to go sign up on some download site to get a patch, well in my book this is pretty good and the pricing of the games on there is freaking awesome (to us brits thanks to the exchange rate anyhow).  Many of the top labels still sell for around the same price as you could buy on the net and get a DVD/CD but the convenience factor of never having to insert a disc to play and always knowing the game is up to date when I do play is awesome and increases the value.

    Well maybe EA are about to change things again.  Battlefield heroes is the next chapter in the Battlefield series and this one has a twist – it’s free!  i shit you not, they are actually giving the damn thing away.  All is not quite as rosey as the old tinted glasses may fool you into thinking though, this ain’t ‘free as in beer’ or ‘free as in speach’ my friend, this is ‘free as in ad supported’. (I claim that phrase as mine unless someone got there first  ;0P  ).

    Ads have been popping up in a lot of games recently so this isn’t exactly new, but giving the game away and making it entirely ad supported, well i guess we may be about to sell our souls to the devil or something huh?

    I wonder though, have you actually paid any attention to ads in games?  I suppose someone might but you’d be pretty bloody stupid stopping to read a billboard while hot lead is pouring around you right?

    i suppose you should never turn your nose up at anything free and the game sounds interesting, especially because it’s looking a lot like TF2 :0)

    The press release starts with:

    Unique Cartoon Shooter Introduces a New Way to Play Battlefield

    Well unique in that it looks like TF2, but I suppose the whole ‘its free’ thing counts.  Aparently you can customise your character and build them up, and there will be new content added all the time to keep the game fresh, i guess there is still room there to have us purchase content and I wonder if we’ll be seeing the old CounterStrike buy your weapons gig coming along so vets can blat the noobs all over again from a mile away with their super duper mega sniper?

    Ah I bitch too much but I’m still looking forward to sucking up all my bandwidth downloading ads.

    TF2 still rocks though!

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