When Surface Acquaintaince Becomes Practical Knowledge

In my pursuit to become more literate in the web-development world I recently made a few purchases of technology books that I hope will accelerate my understanding of things like Ajax, DOM, Json, JavaScript, Java…etc. I know that there is a wealth of material available for free on the internets but there’s just something about a good book that makes learning so much easier. Key word there is good!

A good book I’ve just finished reading (and written a review on) is “Head Rush Ajax“by Brett McLaughlin. Thanks to the freaky layout and writing style (it’s definitely not your typical technical resource!) this was a book that I quickly worked through and at least now I have a firmer grasp of concepts that were just acquaintances before.

For instance, I now know:

  • AJAX – isn’t a new language. It is simply a “method” of coding (using existing languages – JavaScript primarily) to enable visitors of a web-page interact with a page without having to reload it. Of course, I already knew of AJAXian goodness from using all the various web-apps that apply it – but it’s neat to know that it’s really not that hard to work with – it certainly isn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be.
  • DOM – Wow! What was I missing! I had no idea there was such hidden power in the browser and that so much could be manipulated by accessing the DOM tree 🙂 Of course to seasoned developers the DOM is nothing new – but it was one of those terms I saw referenced and mentioned but never realized it’s application. Understanding DOM is one of those knowledge bits that kind of pieces the puzzle together for so many code snippets that didn’t make sense to me before. Now when I read a bit of Java-script I’ll know what document.getElementByID("gotcha") means. To any neophyte web-monkey’s reading this…learn DOM!
  • XML – Okay I knew a little bit of XML before reading this book but the book helped me understand the far-reaching applications of XML that I didn’t know of before.
  • JSON – Hee hee, now when someone mentions JSON I’ll know they aren’t talking about that guy from Friday the 13th. This JSON is so much cooler! But since the book just scratched the surface on JSON vs. XML there’s a lot more learning that I’ve gotta do with it.

Bottom line, I’m glad I invested a few bucks in the book. It will be a good resource for me as I try out AJAX on my own and has opened up a new world of web-application and website prettification that was just a dream for me before.

An added bonus? I’ve got some ideas for how I want to improve my Organize Series WordPress Plugin 😉

A wordpress plugin I’d scramble to get…

Okay, I wasn’t going to post about the recent interview Matt Mullenweg did with Blogging Pro but there was an intriguing response to one of the questions asked that led me to leave a comment on Photomatt where Matt posted about his interview. The purpose of my comment was to try and tickle out more information – alas my comment was deleted for some reason and so I find myself writing this little blurb in my blog hoping (I’m not quite at begging yet hehe) that someone might have more information 😉

UPDATE: Mysteriously my comment reappeared on Matt’s site…dunno what happened there hehe 😉

Anyway, in the interview, Matt was asked,

What?s Automattic?s next move? I know you have been focusing on the next versions of WordPress, and your great Anti-spam service Akismet, but with the people in the Automattic now and your great eye for filling a gap in the marketplace, could you give out any hints on what we can expect next?

Tucked in his response was this reply…

We?ve got a few plugins and services we?ve cooked up internally that we?re going to provide to open source, including a little todo/project management app.

“todo/project management app.” plugin for wordpress? Now that would be nice. I’ve searched all over for a nice plugin that would do this in wordpress and have come up short. I’ve even contemplated writing my own code but unfortunately my coding skills are rather limited and I’m short on time for the moment. If the team at Automattic was to come out with this anytime soon it would make my day!

I don’t know why my comment got deleted on Matt’s site but I hope more news will be forthcoming – that teaser in his interview was just cruel! (from my point of view anyway hehe) 😉

UPDATE: Thanks to opa (see comments below)? I’m now trying out a “To-Do” plugin by Abstract Dimension.? It’s much better than what I’ve been using and so far it’s pretty neat.? Only thing it’s missing in my eyes is the ability to group the to-do’s into different lists.? Nevertheless, I appreciate the find!? Thanks opa!

Another UPDATE (July 15, 2007): Thanks to PaintChip (see comment below) I’ve discovered that the To-Do plugin by Abstract Dimension seems to be no longer available (the site is down).  I did some digging and found “Our To-Do plugin” at the site,  “WordPress by Examples“.   It is based on the original To-Do plugin is an improved version of it.  I haven’t tried it yet but it looks nifty.

Been a bit quiet here…

Yeah I know, I haven’t posted in a while. It’s just things have been so busy everytime I visit thinking I’ll post something I’m just so tired – too tired to think let alone type :lol:! Anyway, what have I been up to that’s kept me so busy? Well aside from church stuff I’ve been working on a website for my brother-in-law in the evenings. He’s got a cabinet making business and asked me to design a simple website for him that’s easy to maintain. I just finished most of it last night – when it goes live I’ll post a link.

Another thing that’s been keeping me busy is cutting wood in preparation for winter. My house has a woodstove and it is by far the most economical way of heating our old house. So between cutting/splitting wood and preparing the house for winter I’ve been kept pretty busy outside as well. The upside to this is I’m getting lots of needed excercise and fresh air!
Meanwhile…other things that have been percolating in my brain in the last little while – get ready here comes a list…

  1. I’m getting sick of the first theme I designed. I learned a lot doing it – but it’s a little bit more clunky than I envisioned. Unfortunately I don’t really have the time to do anything about it right now – but I definitely see a new layout down the road.
  2. I’m really liking WordPress and the thought that’s gone into it’s core code. The more I examine it’s innards the more I appreciate the quality word that’s been done therein – even though my noobness means I don’t understand a lot of it :lol:. Nevertheless I like working with wordpress so much I’m strongly considering converting my church website over to wordpress from phpnuke. Along with a couple other things…
  3. I’ve registered a new domain – unashamedsermons.com – which for now points to gohpc.net where unashamed sermons is found. However – I think I’m going to move Unashamed Sermons to a seperate website from my church website again. Unashamed Online is okay but with the integration it really isn’t serving the purpose for which I created it and hoped would take place. It’s a rather clunky place for visitors to find out any information about our church and creates extra steps for people who use Unashamed Sermons to get to the content. By seperating the two I can focus on making unashamedsermons.com the hub for pastors/teachers/and students of God’s word as a resource containing not only my messages but other focused material that fits that group of people. And I can focus on gohpc.net as being the primary information center for my church. I have a few ideas that I think will make wordpress a really cool solution for both instances. If you are a visitor/member of unashamed online don’t worry I’m not going to do anything to it until I have everything up and running with the new ones.
  4. One thing that I’ve had on the backburner for a while is an online catalog of our church library. I was developing a module for php-nuke but since stumbling on wordpress I’m considering scrapping everything I’ve done so far (which isn’t too much thank goodness) and yes you guessed it – create it in wordpress. I’m excited about the possibilities.

Of course while those things are on my mind there’s one problem. The time-factor. My only opportunity for doing these kinds of things it at night after the kids have gone to bed. Oh well, I’ll plug away at it when I can!