Friday, April 15, 2011

RIF Notes #4

“It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both” – Machiavelli

“A well-stated problem is half-solved” – John Dewey

Friday, April 8, 2011

Javascript is here, its jQueer, get used to it

I’m way late to the javascript bandwagon.  I’ve long held the opinion that heavy use of client-side javascript in web applications made them messy.  No compiler checking, no type safety, excessively verbose DOM manipulation syntax, fragile browser specific nuances, duplication of logic already written on the server, and so on.  I, for one, always appreciated that ASP.NET server-controls and later ASP.NET Ajax largely hid that from me.  The framework would generate and inject the messy javascript required to make things work.  But the days of the framework being able to do this in a way that supports the rich interactivity that web application development requires, have long since been over. 

It’s increasingly apparent to me (maybe I’m the last person to realize this) that getting by with only a sprinkle of javascript, and cursory knowledge of the language and its libraries, is like burying my head in the sand.  Libraries like jQuery have largely solved the DOM manipulation, messiness, and browser specific problems. Additional jQuery plugins as well as libraries like Knockout also aim to further solve some of these shortcomings.  And while type safety and compilation may have felt like deficiencies in the past, the popularity of dynamic languages like Ruby and Python have legitimized that same power in javascript. 

Recent podcasts have further opened my eyes to the power and ubiquitousness of javascript.  It’s clearly not the toy language I had always felt it to be. 

I’m currently reading JavaScript: The Good Parts, as my first act of contrition to the javascript gods.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I am Dungeon Master, your guide in the realm of Dungeons and Dragons

I’m not quite that geeky, although I did just quote the intro to the 80’s cartoon, so maybe I am.

A few years ago a book series was recommended to me, described as a grittier more adult version of the Lord of the Rings.  Not typically the kind of thing I’d read, although Excalibur and Conan the Barbarian are among my favorite movies.  All I could think of was all the ‘adults’ fawning over Harry Potter books a few years earlier.  Nevertheless, I read A Game of Thrones and in rapid succession the rest of the A Song of and Fire series.  They may be the best books I’ve ever read.  The story intricate, dark, violent, and unpredictable.  Not like anything else, good guys don’t always win, perception of who the heroes and villains are shifts, seemingly central characters are abruptly dismissed, very sophisticated. 

The reason I mention this is that HBO has turned it into a mini-series, which will air pretty soon.  I’m eagerly looking forward too it and hope they do it justice.  After all, my reputation depends on it.  If its good, I’m redeemed, if not I guess I’m just another D&D lovin’ Harry Potter-ist.