if ( knowledge ) {

A place for thought, progress, and dissent.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A perfect day.

I can't believe it's still March, the weather is so beautiful!

At lunch, I was able to run in shorts and a t-shirt.

Now, I'm working in the sun on my porch and drinking a cup of good coffee.

66 degrees. Amazing.

Update 2:39 PM:
I just had a squirrel run past me, three inches from my coffee cup. I was worried that he was going to drop the giant nut he was carrying into my mug.

But now the battery is getting low... I definitely need to find a way to get power out here.

Monday, March 21, 2005

My new dev suite

After giving up on DreamWeaver a bit ago, I'm finally settled in to my new workflow.
XCode + CSSEdit + Transmit

For coding, I settled on Apple's XCode. It has a slew of useful techie features, and I've used it a lot in the past, though generally not for web projects. I lose (most) of my loved auto-completion, and the syntax coloring isn't as good, but I have full control, which I never quite had with DreamWeaver. Plus, SCM features might come in handy someday (setting up Subversion is on my long-term to-do list - working alone makes it easy to put off). Plus, it's free, which is the reason I prefer it over BBEdit. As a side note, I was in love with SubEthaEdit when it was first released (under a different name) and use it for XP but I don't like it for everyday use.

I found CSSEdit a while ago, and I love it. Brilliantly simple, and a breeze to use. The Source Editing mode is great (auto-complete alone saves me tons of time), and I can switch into Visual Mode to get a more compartmentalized view.

Finally, I purchased Transmit, a handy FTP client. I spent a couple hours test-driving a number of options, and had a bunch of personal email deleted in the process. Needless to say, Transmit did a bit better. Its interface is simpler than most, but actually offers more advanced features than the competition.

I've completed my development suite at a fraction of the cost of a DreamWeaver upgrade. I'm happy.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Question of the Day

Why are the people who believe in predestination the same ones that insist that you need to be Saved?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

I want to use Unicode, but...

I want to use Unicode in my work. I really do. UTF-8, to be specific. It's safer, cleaner and easier to use... but I can't.

Let me pause and elaborate. What I'm talking about here is text-encoding, which is the way a computer represents characters (letters, numbers, punctuation). It's something most people should not have to worry about. Most web pages use some variant on Latin-1 encoding. This is great for english sites, but start adding accents and you get in trouble. And Eastern characters (think Japanese or Chinese)? Shoot, we didn't plan for that.

So some nice folks created Unicode (actually, a few flavors - many sub-par) to represent every character in every language known to man.

Here is a simple example of why Unicode is handy when you're writing pages: Let's say I want to show the Copyright symbol: ©. I can't just type it, because it doesn't work in Latin-1. Instead I have to write ©. But wait, using XHTML, that isn't guaranteed to work, so I have to use the difficult-to-remember ©. All this just to display a ©. If I was using Unicode, I could just type the symbol (option+g on my mac) and save the page.

So back to my problem. Why don't I just use Unicode files (UTF-8)? First, I'm dealing with a silly problem. My (old) version of DreamWeaver saves UTF-8 with a byte-order mark (BOM) which is unnecessary and causes all kinds of problems with PHP. Becuase my budget doesn't allow for upgrades, I'm stuck using other programs (XCode, which I don't like for PHP editing) to save UTF-8. This is more a productivity issue than a technical one.

The bigger problem comes in with MySQL, the database I love to hate. Older versions of MySQL didn't utilize UTF-8. This wouldn't be a problem if two hosting companies I'm working with right now used the newest version. (Fortunately, one client just upgraded their database.) So even if I go to unicode, any data in or out of MySQL is stuck in Latin-1.

One client is running UTF-8 pages, with latin-1 database data thrown in. Another is all latin-1, but I hope to switch to full UTF-8 after the fortunate upgrade I mentioned before.. Unfortunately, my upcoming personal site will be stuck as a mixture.

I want to go to Unicode, but I'm being held back.