Book Review: Learning jQuery 1.3

As a web developer, I swear by jQuery. The library has done wonders to make JavaScript both fun and usable, two words that I never thought I’d use to describe it when I was first learning to use JS. My approach to learning jQuery has always been somewhat haphazard, though, learning the little bits I need here and there to do what I need to do at the time.

That’s no way to live as a professional web developer, though, so when Packt Publishing asked me to review their new jQuery book, it seemed like the right time to receive a more thorough education in the library.

Learning jQuery 1.3: Better Interaction Design and Web Development with Simple JavaScript Techniques, by Jonathan Chaffer and Karl Swedberg, aims to provide a thorough introduction to jQuery. It walks the reader through techniques for DOM traversal and manipulation, event-handling, animations, and Ajax. After several chapters of detailed examples, the book concludes with an introduction to using and writing jQuery plugins.
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Retirement

A brief personal note: I have left my job at Ball State University so I can have more time to pursue my career as a freelance web developer.

For about two years, now, my wife and I have been building up our business, Adelie Design, Stephanie doing the design, me doing the coding. Business is good—good enough that working nights and weekends isn’t enough anymore (and doesn’t leave enough time to see the family!). So I’m “retiring”, which is to say that I’ll be staying home and working 40 fewer hours each week.

I’m glad to be leaving, but it’s been a pretty good four years at Ball State. To my colleagues and friends there: thank you. I hope to remain involved in libraries, and especially the code4lib community. Hopefully I’ll have some free time I can devote to “fun” projects.

If you, reader, know of anyone needing a web developer or designer, please have them contact me.

Running Linux in Windows with VirtualBox

I recently decided to halfheartedly stick my toes back into the Linux waters. It’s been about six or seven years since I last played with it. At the time, I was a music student with an interest in computers, and it ended up being a little over my head. So now, a little wiser (I hope), a little more knowledgeable, I wade back in.

Rather than wiping a hard disk, or even dual-booting, I opted to go with a less committed approach. I’ve set up a virtual computer to run within Windows Vista. I tried Microsoft Virtual PC first, but I never got past the boot stage (on several Linux distributions) before it collapsed into a whimpering heap of self-contradiction. Not dissuaded, I gave Sun’s VirtualBox a try, and it worked admirably.

So I now have Linux Mint 6 installed within VirtualBox within Vista. From what I’ve read about the distribution, it’s a lot like Ubuntu, with a few additional tools to make it easier for the uninitiated to use. I have two monitors, so I’ve pretty much just dedicated one to displaying Windows and one to displaying Linux.

So far, my experience has been pretty good. For basic basic usage (i.e., Internet browsing, word processing, etc.), it seems as easy to use as Windows. mintInstall, the software installation program that comes bundled with Linux Mint, makes installation of the thousands of common software packages very easy, and apt-get fills in where mintInstall leaves off. I had XChat running happily within moments, something I still haven’t figured out how to do on Vista. I still have a bit of learning to do inside the terminal, but I’m making progress.

As I run across obstacles, I’ll try to post them here (with their solutions, I hope) so I can remember how to do things again later.

Pizza Crust Recipe

A while back I promised some people I’d post my pizza crust recipe, so here we go:

Ingredients

2.25 tsp. yeast
1.5 c. warm water
1 T. sugar
0.5 tsp. salt
3.5-5 c. white bread flour

Directions

  1. Mix yeast and water
  2. Add salt and sugar
  3. Slowly mix in an appropriate amount of flour (How much is appropriate? Good question… I keep adding flour until I can hold it in my hand without it sticking.)
  4. Let it rise for about 30 minutes
  5. Press, spin, etc., dough into a pizza shape
  6. Let it rise for another 10-30 minutes
  7. Brush a bit of olive oil on the outer edge of the crust (optional)
  8. Top with toppings
  9. Bake at 450°F for 20-30 minutes (or about 10-15 minutes on a pre-heated pizza stone)