Playing around with the ESPN API a bit lately. I made a quick Rails app to pull in all the NBA teams and display the headlines for each team. Check it out at here.
The API is pretty cool and is progressively getting better. The problem is a lot of the cool stuff is only available to 'partners'. Hopefully they open it up a bit more in the future.
04 Apr 2013
Responsive design is in full effect these days. It's a easy way to make sure you site looks good for everyone. Since all of my personal projects are responsive I wanted a way to quickly check my sites. So, I made a little app to send a set screenshots to any email address. Check it out at ResponsiveShots.com.
It's fairly simple right now, but I have some plans to make it better. I want to add the ability for developers to post to site after a deployment. This will allow a quick sanity check of the site and prove to whoever that the feature(s) were released.
03 Feb 2013
I just finished up some work for a great photographer in Omaha. Check it out at Look Portrait.
I used a couple of new tools this time around. First was Middleman for making a static site but with the advantages of reusable templates, SASS/LESS, and a suite of other features.
For the grids system I tried out Bourbon Neat. Neat is a sweet little fluid grid system developed by some guys at Thoughtbot. It is a different take on grids than I used before and I really liked it. The fluid grids just work and are easily configurable.
At work the other day we hit 100,000 users. It was pretty exciting as it is by far the largest site I have ever worked on. We also had a hacknight that night at work and was looking to do something with the theme of user and their avatars. So I started playing around with something on JSBin to see if I could make one of those mashups of small pictures creating a larger picture. This isn't perfect but it shows some cool use cases for some new CSS3 properties. Check it here: 100,048.
Working on some random jQuery this weekend I noticed something about data-attributes that I hadn't before. Apparently jQuery's .data() function tries to coerce any number like value into an actual JS number object. This means data-whatever="0000" turns into whatever=0 in the .data() object. So, it is advised to use .attr() whenever you need to get the true value of an attribute.
Jekyll is an awesome blogging tool that I read about a few month ago. I played around with it a bit for creating Github pages, and thought it might be a nice replacement to my made from scratch CMS I was utilizing. Turns out this was the case and Jekyll + Github is perfect for blogging...if your developer.
I am still in progress of migrating my posts from my old Rails app to this Jekyll based Github backed blog. However This has proven to be easy to set-up, extensible enough, and worthwhile to learn some new tech.
Ihad a valid reason to use the dreaded CSS !important this weekend. I swear. Well...it was that or my Excel exports would not have the colors requested. So until I fix the Excel export, then !important stays. I feel dirty.
Ifinally left Bluehost and switched my domains over to NameCheap. I don't have a need for hosting other than Heroku/Github anymore. I store all my personal work in a private repo and any fun or demo type stuff in public. I like it much better than trying to manage a server and all that.
I put the Heroku commands in a Gist for reference later on:
All the cool kids at work have switched to Janus/VIM from Eclipse. I got a new computer today so I decided to try it out. I ran into some issue installing from the default script. I put my notes in a gist just in case I have to redo it later.
So far so good, I prefer VIM to any text editor as I have a systems background I am fairly comfortable there. BUT, our app uses a ton of API calls and I hope debugging will work out well. We will find out in the next few days.
I had to change up the standard Django RadioSelect form widget today because I didn't want the label tags wrapping the input like it usually does. This is normally okay (and semantically fine), but the label wrap can be difficult to style when using it in a list. It was a bit confusing at first but generally simple once I figured it all out.
Iam switching roles at work soon and had to document everything I do for the next person. I have no idea if the next person will be a web developer or not. So I added a few links for them to use to my Getting Started doc. I figure I should post them here as well. Keep in mind I used Ruby, Rails, and some PHP for my old position.
Pretty good documentation with good examples in the comments
Other good links:
A List Apart - Pretty much everything here is good
Irecently needed to fix my CSS and JS (asset) distribution for a project at work. It was my first time doing this but had some great success with Jammit.
Jammit will help with minifying JS/CSS and package them all up as one file. This does a couple things. It first allows you to have smaller files to download, which take less time for the user to download them. Second it packages them into one file so there are less HTTP request to download different files. These two changes will really help page loads.
On top of using Jammit, you will want to setup mod_deflate for Apache. This was partially setup for me by default. You will need to tweak the httpd.conf file a bit. Here is mine:
This actually sets up future expiration dates on files, so they are cached for a longer period of time. This also disables ETags.
I recommend install YSlow for FireFox and testing out your sites. I started with a C grade and moved to and A grade with about a days worth of work. The descriptions for fixes all link to the YUI performance guidelines. These are all pretty helpful, but can be a bit confusing the first time through. Just set your Rails environment to production mode and test it out. You can easily see which items are caching and which are being download from the Net tab in FireBug.
Overall Jammit really made to process easy and had decent documentation. It took a bit of playing around with, but overall was very worth it.
Dakota Dunes, SD was my home for the last week. This is where my parents and a number of friends live. The place is about to flood throughout June because of abnormal amounts of rain and snow in Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming and anywhere else on the Missouri river.
I am finally back in Kansas City now but feel bad to leave. There are 2,000+ people being evacuated from the area currently. The government has told them all that they might be displaced for 2 or more months.
There are going to be other areas affected by this flood not just the Dune's. There is going to be a long term impact from this not just the flooding and housing impact. The whole Siouxland (SUX) area will have a huge economic impact.
June 14, 2011 - Currently my parents and all the Dunes residents are still displaced from their homes. However, there is no damage to my parents home yet. Many of the homes right on the river are having issues, but the majority are still okay. I am not sure how long this will last but currently the levees are holding. There is no telling if groundwater is in the basement yet.
I will update again in when we have more news. Check out the pictures section or SiouxCityJournal.com for pictures.
Finally this site is up and running. I have made a few different designs and never liked any of them. So finally on my 27th b-day at 5AM we are live!
I decided to skip Wordpress or Joomla or any other content management system and just roll my own with Rails, JQuery, and little HTML5/CSS3 for fun. Since I don't get to at work, I really want to learn more about interacting with different Social API's. So hopefully you'll find more and more integration with Twitter, Flickr and whatever else is next.
I have no clue how often I will post or what about. My main reason for doing this is to play with new technologies and get some more design experience.