There’s something strangely satisfying about switching gears from a well structured language like Ruby all the way back to the days of actionscript 2. It brings me back a little. Actionscript 2 has a lot of intricacies and subtle nuances that you wouldn’t expect and that’s one thing that makes it fun. It’s fun because it doesn’t normally work as expected. You have to delve deep into the minds of the poor people who were forced to create it and outsmart them. It’s fun because when you finally get something to work, you can look at your code and say, “there’s no way that should work!” After a few hours of working with the language you begin to anticipate the worst possible scenario. You would think this for instance: If I want to create an array object called bar with 3 elements, I’d do it like this:

var bar:Array = new Array('a', 'b', 'c');

but if I wanted only one element in the array, I’d do it like this:

var bar:Array = new Array(['a']);

Of course! It’s so obvious. The square brackets are obvious because actionscript 2 wants to make doubly sure that bar will actually be an array and not just a string, whereas the commas give it away in the first example so adding square brackets there would just create an array containing an array.

Continue reading »

Young cheerleader screaming with hands in the air I was investigating some web site slowness for a friend the other day. His company uses SugarCRM over https. He had been complaining about slowness for over a year and I finally decided to give it a thorough look. Since the sugar application makes heavy use of its database backend, I decided to start there. Unfortunately mySQL’s slow query log turned up nothing, except that the database was running about as fast as you could possibly expect with the whole database buffered in memory. I honestly didn’t think to check the web server itself because I’ve never really had a measurable problem with that before, default web server settings have always suited me fine in the past. Apparently all bets are off when running under SSL…

On a whim, I downloaded YSlow, a firefox plugin developed by Yahoo! which I had heard about from a fellow developer a few months ago. It gives your site a letter grade based on a number of factors that contribute to site slowness. I had two major improvements I could easily make, plus a number of small ones that I’d like to do, but I’m not about to dive into sugar and restructure it.

Continue reading »

I ran across this note from Ray Steele, publisher of the Fresno Bee sent this morning:

Because of continuing economic challenges, we are implementing an across-the-board wage freeze.

This is an important part of our effort to manage through an economic downturn that is having an unprecedented negative effect on revenues, and, therefore, our financial health. While we have taken many steps to reorganize and streamline operations to respond to these economic challenges and change our business model, we need to do more to control expenses.

This is definitely a major discouragement, especially at a time when most of us newspaper employees are already discouraged. Its not the end of the world, but it certainly seems to be just one bad thing after another. Most of us could feel this coming a long way off, but seeing it in your inbox makes it much more real.

Continue reading »

I sometimes wonder about people who dedicate all their knowledge resources to only a few development platforms. That’s why I was taken aback recently when I heard some developers that I respect start bashing on PHP. They raised all kinds of invalid arguments (some of which had been valid years ago) to support their position that Perl is better than PHP, or Ruby on Rails is better than PHP, or Python is better than PHP. Now their positions were far deeper than a simple superiority (whatever that means), some of these developers genuinely hate PHP.

For inexperienced developers, I would say this type of attitude is only that, inexperience. But these were seasoned developers. For more experienced developers, maybe its just a bad experience, or myopia or a sad superiority complex. In my view, each platform is a tool and each tool has its purpose. One tool may be generally better than another, but if you only know how to use one or two tools, then you’re probably working too hard. Do yourself a favor and learn to use more tools!

Continue reading »

I’m going to use this post to talk a little bit about myself. I work for the Fresno Bee, a leading newspaper in Central California. I started working here a few years ago as a summer intern during a site redesign. The Fresno Bee eventually hired me on as a part-time employee in the newsroom while I was still in school and eventually as a regular full-time newsroom employee.

Most other blogs that I’ve found are written by people who’ve had enough of the newspaper business and have decided to leave and pursue other opportunities. This blog will be a place for me to muse about the industry from my perspective as a web developer who’s not quitting. Though I’d be lying if I said I haven’t looked at job listings from time to time and taken some contract work on the side. Many of my musings will probably be critical, but my goal outside of this blog is to help my company put its best (webbed) foot forward and I’ll talk here about any progress I feel like I’ve made (or lost).

Continue reading »