Towards the Horizon Further

It seems there’s nothing wrong with how I did the previous semester. I’m now expecting at least decent grades to keep my status in the program safe. No worries unlike the previous semester in short.

Having IS295a as my only major subject this coming semester, I have to start thinking about the final project required of MIS students before graduating the program. I have some ideas in mind already and I thank the people at the UPOU kapehan for leaving the trails from previous discussions there. For now, I’m reading on related stuff to give me an idea on how much I would score on innovativeness, creativity and usefulness.

As for those MIS classmates from IS201 who have been asking what to expect from the next semester, I gave a rather vague answer in the forum. That is, IS215 is a lot like IS214 in terms of the requirements–4 FMA’s and a 170 multiple choice type of final exam–and IS226 is a web programming crash course. With that said, I discouraged people from enrolling in 9 units again if they already took up 9 units the past semester and found it too difficult to manage their studies among their routines.

To anyone who might find that still unclear, here’s an attempt to explain what’s in store for the student further without getting me in trouble.

While the requirements for IS215 and IS214 seems similar, the resemblance ends there. I can say that while there were tons of concepts to be remembered in IS215, there are even more concepts in IS214. However IS215 outdoes IS214 in terms of the requiring the student to think analytically. Sure there are a number of algorithms discussed in IS214 too but even those taken collectively doesn’t beat having to think of coming up with stuff given just a sequential storage and crude assembly-like language.

So if one were the I-can-remember-tons-of-information kind of person, then IS214 would be easier. If one were the I-hate-having-to-memorize-because-I-was-made-to-analyze type of person, then IS215 would be easier.

I find no point in contrasting IS201 with IS226 however. Taken per se, one is entirely different from the other. The former deals with computer ethics while the latter with Web Technologies. Sure there may be times when both disciplines overlap, (e.g. “How do I go after someone who lifted of my content?”, “How would I be liable if I use this graphic?”) but the amount of time and effort to be spent in either subject depends on the ability of the student involving different skills. IS201 is more on writing and interaction on issues while IS226 is about putting those technologies to use.

So I would imagine someone with the intention to shift to the field of IT having more difficulty learning a whole bunch of technologies and making use of them to come up with the requirements. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised that the student who is almost exclusively a programmer at work would somewhat find IS226 somewhat to his or her liking.

A caveat is in order here though. I’ve been a web developer for many years prior to taking up the course but still had my share of difficulties in managing time in the subject. I may have done web applications in the past but none of those were cross-browser compatible. That’s because businesses tend to limit browser support to the most popular browser, IE, especially when a cross browser compatible site carries a heftier price tag with it or given an idea of the composition of its user base. I’m not complaining though, it makes life easier at work really.

The inexperience on web standards took its toll when I was a student of the subject though. While I already knew of the soup that’s XHTML, CSS and Javascript, it took a more rigid approach and more refinement before my deliverable passed the HTML and CSS validator at W3C. Before I forget, don’t even think of passing off that obfuscated tabled layout.

Someone new to the whole programming-the-web thing will definitely find Firefox and these plugins helpful though. Personally, I’ve used Firebug and Fireshot over there and I can say it works like a charm. Note though that it was still Firefox 2 for me then. I’m having trouble keeping my Firefox 3 sessions last long enough without crashing them so I can’t say that I’m recommending that record-setting attempt for now.

So should someone from the IS201 people find this post, (as my dashboard seems to suggest,) I hope that was more of help.

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Alternative to an Alternative

I switched to Firefox way back mainly because of a lot of reasons adding up to my over-all discontent on Internet Explorer. I was glad I made the switch then. Enhanced usability, less pop-ups and faster loading of pages was all too good reasons to have me consider another browser for my needs.

Add the fact that I get plugins to serve my purposes had me contented for long. Throw in Firebug for tinkerking HTML, XHTML, JavaScript, CSS and real time DOM values in browsing sessions, and Fireshot for handy page or window screencaptures and Firefox has a happy customer in me. The fact that there are more plugin goodies for firefox out there all the more emphasizes how much IE pales in comparison with Mozilla Foundation’s baby.

With persistent and erratic crashes of my browsing sessions with Firefox 3 these days however, I decided to look elsewhere. At least for now.

Larry was right in pointing out those crashes. Firefox 3 does prove to be more of an annoyance than a step forward in terms of internet experience. The next logical stop for me then would be Opera.

The Opera Browser

The Opera Browser

The said browser had its roots early on during the early days of the IE-Netscape browser wars and is still on its feet after so many years. These days it has the lead in mobile browser usage. While I’ve used the browser sparingly then mainly to come up with screenshots for my web programming class, it’s only now that I appreciate what it lays on the table. I’m pretty much obliged to say that I’m still learning the ropes hereas there seems to be indeed a lot of cards from this direction.

Like Firefox, it takes pride in fast loading of web pages as much as in its adherence to web standards. Unlike Firefox though, its latest release was more than a step forward in the browser race. Throw in Dragonfly for us Web Developers and Opera has just shifted its contention among big names in desktop browsers up a notch.

A Software a Day

Because of my recent crash course with the LAMP mix for a real project, I got to add another duo of softwares in my computing sleeves.

Notepad++

notepadpp.jpgI never went out of my way looking for a trusty Notepad replacement because I didn’t use it much then. When I ended up opening different file types for different scripts and file formats among others however, I knew I had to start searching.

I encountered Notepad++ in a forum back then so I decided to try it out. Among the things I liked about it compared to Notepad are:

  1. It simply has lots more functionalities. Editing’s definitely easier because of more advanced find and replace allowing the user to specify regular expressions. Another plus is the ability to split the window to allow two views of the contents of the same file.
  2. It supports various syntax of different programming languages. As a Developer, I don’t even wanna think about how much time and effort the software’s creator put into including such functionalities as reserved word highlighting and collapsible blocks of code. Luckily for this one, I’m the end user needing something for PHP, HTML, CSS, DB scripts, INI and log files.
  3. It supports a lot of plugins. Since I was very busy to install Hiew back then, the Hex Editor plugin was sure helpful.
  4. It allows me to open various files in different tabs in the same window. Ever since I have always preferred different files to be opened by the same application opened using minimal number of windows. That was one reason why I switched to Firefox years ago when I had to put up with such behavior of IE6.

Firebug

firebuglogo.jpgThe code’s there but the functionality’s not. Not surprising as it’s oftentimes been told that a rule of thumb in programming is that things don’t always work properly the first time.

Prior to Firebug, debugging web applications was so much a pain in the neck. The Firefox extension however has proven to be helpful in going about with Javascript and most especially CSS that I’d be sharing the sentiment of those guys from the review who wouldn’t be doing web development without Firebug anymore.

It’s a Blogger’s World

The recent outrage over Malu Fernandez’s articles in two publications found a convenient yet very effective medium of expression in cyberspace: the blog and forums. The former is even more effective as it enables the writer to put his or her thoughts without the restrictions commonly associated with forums where other people have a degree of claim to the same space. Also the fact that blogs are dispersed all across the internet that the fact that a lot of people blogging about a common topic not only puts a great deal of significance in the medium but also becomes at the very least a good indicator of public opinion.

Just Me

I’ve been blogging for at least 3 years now starting with Yahoo 360. Early this year I moved here because I’ve found the blogging functionalities of 360 insufficient. Now however, I’m thinking of moving elsewhere again, (maybe Blogspot,) because of two main reasons: the technical limitations of wordpress.com like the restriction of javascript and iframe from posts, and the non-tolerance for ads even if the blog owner wishes to include them.

I won’t argue such restrictions here though, (they say beggars can’t be choosers.) So I looked at several posts and found this and this. The former confirms the wordpress.com restriction on ads while the latter links NodBlog as a free wordpress blog hosting service. When I get the time from my busy schedule though, I think I’m moving this elsewhere again. With the way things are going however, I’ll be lucky if I can pull that one out before the year ends.

Finally just for the heck of it, you might want to click on the graphic below to find out how much your blog’s worth:

My blog is worth $7,903.56.
How much is your blog worth?

So after 6 months, this spot’s still pretty much cheap!

Elsewhere

To interested bloggers anyway, here are some useful entries about blogging from elsewhere:

  • How do you find Time to Blog? – definitely worth a look if you’re one who’s anything like me. With time management an issue for the busy bee, this one’s definitely worth a look.
  • 7 Points to Consider When Blogging for Money and How to Find Advertisers for your Website? – Taking off from where I left off earlier, here are stuff for the bloggers serious in cashing on the time and effort on maintaining their blog. No one’s saying it’s gonna be easy though.
  • Copyright Law: 12 Do’s and Don’ts – A pretty important read if you’d ask me. One thing that’s going to get a blogger in trouble are copyright issues so it’s better to read up including the exchange of comments there. Dunno how much U.S. copyright laws should affect foreign violations though so it’s still best to consult a lawyer versed on such pertinent laws.
  • 43 Web Design Mistakes You Should Avoid – Pretty much a lump of all mistakes the web designer has encountered from cyberspace in one place or another. The post and the ensuing comments include SEO and usability tips that should benefit the web designer’s while.

Notes/Domino-Stuff Elsewhere

Domino LogoI’ve been working with Notes and Domino for more than 4 years now. I’ve worked with R5, 6, 6.5 and 7 and in the course of going around with the Lotus technology, I’ve encountered some things from different Notes and Domino experts elsewhere.

One common limitation in starting out with Domino web development is the lack of the Calendar control functionality for date fields. Sure this has been done by the Domino Web Development lot long ago but it still pays to maintain a link of pertinent resources for it. I encountered the need for the said solution and I just realized how much of a waste looking for something I have implemented more than 2 times already has become because more and more people are not bothering to take their time searching the Notes/Domino 4.5 and 5 Forum.

So half an hour into the search, (including the 6 and 7 Notes and Domino forum that is,) I encountered this forum post to which Notes-legend Stan Rogers’ response included this Projectdx resource. Another big name in the Notes/Domino arena, Jack Ratcliff, had this to say but the resource he linked to seems unavailable already.

Speaking of the quality of Notes and Domino forum posts, Ben Poole has this recent post he calls the Best Forum Post in Ages.

The Lotus Developer Domain discussion boards are pretty much best avoided nowadays. But every now and again a real gem pops up

Well, I have yet to encounter a forum where its hayday spans more than a few years, (I know of one where older members complain of the downward-spiral of content prevalent after nearly just 4 years.) I guess its pretty much a part of the evolution of online forums, (or just a question of how long it will take before idiocy creeps up.) Whatever it is, it’s just one good reason why I’m constantly on the run towards some other direction from time to time.

Matt sums it up in his comment when he says:

I think the senior developers have developed their own ecosystem on the various blogs and also private IM conversations these days. Not a good thing but the noise to usefulness ratio on the ND6 forum is just too high these days.

The image was taken from Jake Howlett’s site, Codestore btw.

Another List of Development Stuff to Think About

I’ve came across several stuff which I’ve decided to collate into a whole list for the interested seasoned developer.

  1. Here’s a list of what not to do when building a website. Josiah Cole gets candid yet ruthless in his quest against web development show-offs. While I don’t agree with everything there, it still presents a pretty comical stab at some web development practices we still commonly see.
  2. Next is something seemingly trivial yet commonly neglected in web development: explicitly setting the bgcolor CSS attribute of a website to white. Here is the link to Jeffrey Zeldman’s cents as he writes in favor of doing so. Ironically, I got there from Andrew Tetlaw’s blog entry expressing the authors disapproval. As for me, while I think it is still correct to do so, (despite sounding OC’ish,) I don’t hold it against the programmer of a site if he or she does neglect to do so.
  3. AJAX is a buzz word only a web developer hiding in caves shouldn’t have at least heard of. For those interested in finding out where it’s generally accepted to try it out, you might want to check Mat Henricson’s corresponding blog entry for the 12 perfect cases.
  4. We’ve all seen that nifty snapshots of the typical life at the Googleplex, (from Time magazine if I remember it right.) Here is however a dose of stuff that somewhat doesn’t really paint the same picture, (to say the least,) inside the company’s confines. Amusingly it even had to brand itself as a “Microsoftie perspective.”
  5. Completing the list at 5 would be an interesting read for all IT players out there who want to gauge more or less how long it should take before their bread and butter line up in the IT museum. From ComputerWorld, here’s a list of the top 10 dead, (or dying,) computer skills. I wonder how long it would take before Lotus Notes and Domino gets queued up for obsolescence though.

Top 5 CSS Tips

CSS LayoutsThe geek in me has this list of IT-wise goals I need to achieve before the year ends and one of them is a better grasp of CSS. Sure I’ve been using it for quite some time already but I’ve never actually wielded the mastery of the web ingredient enough to actually have me design a pretty decent website without taking a peek at other references and code.

Thanks to this blog entry from which the title was taken, I think I could aim to actually start somewhere. While I’ve just skimmed through the entry, the links there do look something definitely worth a second look.