Theodicius

Good. Evil. Bratwurst.

Lessons Learned

Posted on by arlen

Sorry about the delay. I’ve been working, and learning. I think as much or more of the latter as the former.

What’s going on? In no particular order:

Andy Clarke tipped me to a huge improvement over opacity, RGBa. He got it from Dan Cederholm (who, BTW, quotes Wilson Miner on a “crafty” use for it, that I found nothing short of spectacular. Remember, children, God is in the details.) Unlike opacity, RGBa only affects the transparency of the color, not the text or images inside the box. It’s only CSS3, but that will soon mean all the current levels of the browsers, so no, it’s not too soon to start thinking about using it. And I am. (For the record, both messrs Clarke and Cederholm are on my list of Voices To Listen To. I may not always agree, but I have to think carefully when I don’t. But more often than not I say “Wow!” as the continents in my world re-align.)

Rails is cool. It makes building database-driven sites so much easier than PHP ever did. Far as I can tell, it doesn’t do things PHP can’t, but I’m basically lazy; why work hard when you can do the same job simply? I call that efficiency.

Javascript can be fun. Oh, I learned it way back in the day. I grew up as a programmer, and the first thing I looked at was this cute little almost-language that Netscape shipped with their browser. Interesting, but couldn’t help but wonder why they didn’t bother to create a real language for me to use.

Lo and behold, all these years later, and javascript is still not quite a real language, but all the same, folks have been building some fantastic things with it. It’s mind-boggling to see how people have hacked all sorts of features into the language that it really doesn’t support (I keep expecting to hear a loud crack! someday when I open my browser — the sound of javascript’s bones finally breaking under the weight of what’s been added to it). I look at their code and know there’s no way in creation I’d want to work that hard to do something that should be simple, but all the same I salute the effort and will gladly and gratefully use it. (I began as a big fan of jQuery, but as I’ve gone along I’m leaning towards script.aculo.us, especially after being disappointed a couple of times by shortcomings in the jQuery library.)

I don’t think I’ve ever liked a language as much as I like Ruby. It’s so clean and simple, yet elegant and powerful at the same time. As for “Literate Programming,” well how do you get clearer than “front_door.is_open?” (And yes, the question mark is part of the code.)

I have a Safari account, so I thought it would be easy to trim down my tech book shelves. True, I culled about two crates worth, but there’s still some that either aren’t on Safari or are just too bloody useful (yes, Dan Cederholm, I’m looking at you) to give up.
Everywhere I’ve turned this year, I’ve learned something. Kim, Chris, Brennan, a Jeremy or two, a couple of Steves, even a Nereus, and more. (Then there’s Andy, Dan, yet another Steve and Eric who left their fingerprints on electrons in my in-box.)

For the first time in years I’ve regained some excitement about what can be done, more importantly, about what I can do.

And that’s priceless.

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