Ten albums to listen to when coding

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Mar 282011

I often find it difficult to get the balance right. Too song-oriented and I find myself getting distracted; too ethereal or ambient on and my mind wanders.

These albums seem to work though (all links go to Spotify):

Five things I learnt in week seven

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Nov 172010
  1. What Ajax allows us to do. I had heard of Ajax before last week, and I could even remember what the acronym stood for (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) but I didn’t realise what it actually does: allow applications to ‘retrieve data from the server asynchronously in the background without interfering with the display and behavior of the existing page.’ (Wikipedia).
  2. There’s no point worrying about learning JavaScript from scratch. Frameworks like jQuery are there to do the heavy lifting for you, although understanding the basics of programming (functions, arrays, expressions, operators etc.) is a big help.
  3. Embrace the DOM. It’s as simple to target elements with a framework like jQuery as it is with CSS.
  4. jQuery functions toggle! Perhaps the single most useful thing I learnt last week.
  5. There’s no need to be afraid. I’ve always been a bit intimidated by JavaScript, mainly because it speaks as if it were a programming language. Now though I feel that learning a framework like jQuery shouldn’t be any more difficult than learning CSS. Time to stop being a scaredy-cat and start getting my hands dirty

Five things I learnt in week six

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Nov 102010

Five things I learnt in Week Six

  1. I’ve finally got the hang of semantic class names/IDs. Don’t use names which describe how an element is presented (.red, #nav-left). Instead use names which give the element meaning (.warning, #sub-nav).
  2. Always write a print style sheet. It shouldn’t take very long, and it adds an extra layer of functionality (and polish) to your website.
  3. Use uneven padding to to centre the separators when styling navigation. I’m not sure why this works, but it does.
  4. Don’t avoid selectors just because older browsers don’t understand them. Using an adjacent sibling selector is the best way to remove the border from the last item in a navigation list. All that will happen in older browsers is that the border won’t be removed and I can live with that.
  5. Always ask ‘What happens if..?’ The best way of making your designs bulletproof.

The top five things I learnt in week five

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Nov 012010
  1. Justifying creates rivers in the text. And rivers can be very distracting. So, don’t justify unless you have a good reason.
  2. F0nt embedding is in its infancy. But it’s stopped crawling and has started to take its first tentative steps. If the font embedding/child analogy holds then it won’t be long until it’s running around causing chaos. Now’s a good time to start experimenting though, and it won’t be that long before it starts to become an everyday tool.
  3. The purpose of the serif is to guide your eye along the line of the text. This works great in print but not so well on the web, as serif fonts don’t render well at low resolutions. There are exceptions (hi there, Georgia) but on the whole sans-serif fonts are more legible on the screen.
  4. There are more tyopgraphical declarations in CSS than I realised. Letter-spacing and word-spacing give you a very fine degree of control.
  5. Notepad ++ has a move to view option. Good for looking at CSS and XHTML files at the same time. (Thanks Will!)
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The top five things I learnt in week four

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Oct 232010
  1. Putting an image in a paragraph will help with layout and CSS. I’ve always put images outside of paragraphs before, but putting it at the start of a paragraph will ensure that it fits nicely into the document. It also means that first child selctor rules (like h1+p) will work fine even if the image needs to appear immediately under the parent element.
  2. Alpha transparency can be used now! It’s well supported by modern browsers and although it might look ugly in older browsers, it shouldn’t break your website. Continue reading »

The top five things I learnt in week three

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Oct 152010
  1. Google weights words which come at the start of the title tag. Put the most important information, usually the page title, first.
  2. Keeping things semantically correct requires a bit of thought. <i> and <b> are not semantically correct because they describe appearance rather than meaning. If something needs to be italicised because it’s a convention and not for emphasis – like the name of an author – a better way to do it is to create a class that can be styled in CSS and then apply it using a <span> tag. Then, if someone later decides that the names of authors need to be bold instead of italic, all you need to do is update the CSS and not go through every page of your site replacing <i> with <b>. Continue reading »

The top five things I learnt at university this week

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Oct 072010

My colleagues are interested in what I’m learning so I thought using my blog was a good way of keeping my thoughts organised. I definitely learnt more than five things yesterday, but these are the ones that really stuck…

  1. Specifying image sizes tells the browser how big the image is going to be and asks it to display the page accordingly. I did know this once but I haven’t been doing it recently. Time to start!
  2. UsingĀ  “/” in relative links tells the browser to go to the root to look for the document and using “../” tells the browser to go up one level and look for the document. I never fully understood the distinction before. Continue reading »