September 2005 - Posts - Jon Galloway

September 2005 - Posts

[OT] Going independent

Tomorrow's my last day in a big corporate IT shop. I'm going independent to join forces with Phil Haack (Haacked) and Micah Dylan of Veloc-IT.

Apparently my official title will be Rockstar Developer. So that's good.

There are a lot of really positive things about the new position:

  • Working from home (they're in LA, I'm in San Diego)
  • Eliminating my commute (8+ hours a week - not abnormal, but a total waste of time) 
  • Being part of a small, tight, fast moving team
  • Learning some new technologies
  • Working with some of the sharpest, best informed developers (portable CTO's) I've met

In spite of all that, it wasn't an easy decision. I'm leaving behind some really close friends, a little job security, and the comfort of understanding most of the systems and procedures that drive a major financial organization. I've been here three years. But it's time to move on, and I'm ready.

I'm really excited about what's ahead.

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PDC Wanna-be 2005

Not going to PDC, but San Diego is close enough that I can drive up for some evening events once or twice. I'm planning to go to two events Tuesday (9/13) - a secret "underground" event and the Mono meeting.

Any other recommendations? Blogger meetups?

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IE Toolbar that's kind of like the Firefox Web Developer Extension

If you're a diehard Internet Explorer user, you might not know how great the Firefox Web Developer Extension is. This IE Toolbar isn't as good, but it's still pretty cool. 

Web Accessibility Toolbar - Wow this is cool. Page validation, browser resizing, CSS validation & manipulation, image  lists, color manipulation, page structure, and more tools. Looks like a must for anyone doing web development.

Source: Geek Notes 2005-08-11

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High-Resolution Image Printing

A cool solution to a common web design problem - how to make an web images print well.
A List Apart - High-Resolution Image Printing

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A Google Maps .Net Control

Bill Pierce created an ASP.NET Server Control wrapper for the Google Maps API. He's posted the first of three articles on Code Project: Lat Lays Flat - Part 1 : A Google Maps .Net Control

Demos here

The demos won't knock your socks off if you're expecting a new Google Map Hack. This wrapper makes Google Map Integration a lot simpler in ASP.NET, though, so I'll bet it will power some cool GMap Hacks and encourage simple GMap integration in ASP.NET apps. The wrapper code and object model look pretty well put together with good support for client side callbacks, databinding, etc. I'm looking forward to parts two and three.

GroupBar Prototype from Microsoft Research

A recent post about Microsoft Scalable Fabric prompted me to browse through the MS Research Download page, where I ran across GroupBar [download]:
"GroupBar is a prototype for demonstrating the use of window-grouping features in an XP TaskBar-like interface. The window tiles in the GroupBar can be rearranged in any order or dragged and dropped into lightweight "groups" that allow one-click task-switching and convenient group operations."

Microsoft GroupBar

It's been available as a Microsoft internal download for a while, but was just released for public download earlier this month.

More info about it here:
http://research.microsoft.com/vibe/instruct.aspx
http://patrickbaudisch.com/projects/groupbar/
http://www.research.microsoft.com/~baudisch/videos/2003-Smith-OZCHI03-GroupBar512kbps.wmv

I've used it a bit and really like the idea. One problem I've encountered is that it duplicates a lot of the functionality in the standard taskbar, but doesn't include the Taskbar Notification Area (do not call it the systray!), Quick Launch, etc. You can set your TaskBar to AutoHide, but clicking the GroupBar Start button causes it to pop up.

The GroupBar page has this tip, which helps a bit but is still kind of kludgy:
Handy usage tip: Resize (by unlocking and dragging the edge) the "real" TaskBar to be as small as possible while still visible (about 35 pixels wide). This allows you access to the systray and and any of your existing TaskBar deskbands (e.g. QuickLaunch). You can place GroupBar along the same edge as the existing TaskBar if you want.

It's way above the quality I'd expect in a prototype, but it's not at the integration level you'd expect for a full Windows feature. I've been playing with it off and on since it was released. It seems like it would be great on a big screen or dual monitor setup, but I'm not completely sold on the idea of running it along with the existing Taskbar.

I'd love to see this kind of grouping in tabbed browsers, by the way. That includes IE7. I use the Firefox SessionSaver extension to save tab groups, but it would be nice to have this a little more integrated with the browsing experience. Maybe if I used the GroupBar more, I wouldn't care so much about tabbed browsing, though.

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