I got a new toy. Well, for me it's a toy. Many years ago I gave up using mice and went with trackball(s). My trackball of choice was the Logitech Trackman Marble as I can use my fingers to roll the trackball instead of my thumb. I seem to have finer motor control over fingers. A Logitech trackball lasts about 3 years for me. That's when the left button decides to work intermittently. I don't think it's a problem with the components or a connection gone bad, but instead a build up of gunk from my fingers clicking the button for years. I know it sounds gross, but given the dirt I clean out of the ball holder (yes, that sounds bad too) about once per month I can only imagine what creeps into the crevices of the button.
I could try to clean it out, but given that one of those trackballs is $20 it's just easier to get a new one.
Well, the trackballs used to be $20 when I could trot down to CompUSA and pick one up. The last one I got (for work, Aug 2016) was $23.
Whenever it's time to replace a trackball I look to see if there's anything new that I want to try. Kensington has a nice selection, but the ergonomics don't work well with my hand placement. I could swear I've tried others but nothing else comes to mind just yet.
The latest flakey button induced search brought me to the ELECOM M-HT1URBK Wired Trackball Mouse. This one caught my eye because
After watching the inventory go from low to out-of-stock and back to low, I ordered one to try out. Sure, it was $60 instead of $23, but given the number of hours per day I would use the blasted thing if it was even a marginal improvement over the Logitech series I'd been using for at least a decade then it would be worth it.
After 4 days of using the one that came in, I like it enough I've ordered another one to use at work. The size is perfect for my hand. All the buttons are naturally located for where my fingers want to fall. The scrollwheel is quickly my favorite part. The buttons are a little soft when they click, but only because I've been paying attention to all the little details. When I press naturally those buttons act like they should.
Now, the funniest part to a boonie hick like me was that the package didn't have a bit of English on it. Elecom is a Japanese company, so I'm going to guess all those characters I couldn't read were Japanese.
Except "HUGE trackball". I could read that one.
Today I have been at DealNews for 1 year. I'm not sure I've ever been as happy to work some place as I have here. That's in large part due to working on government funded contracts for so long and needing a change, but it's also due to the environment at DealNews. I like it.
The balloon filled office above is mine. It wasn't like that today, that was how it looked on the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Why? I wasn't there while everybody else was watching Ant-Man. Oh, there's more of a reason than that, but that was good enough for most of the people there to blow up a couple of the 280 balloons that found their way to my office. It wasn't something done out of spite or meanness, just a fun little prank.
The work is fun, but often frustrating. I'm still learning how to change my coding style to the current company style. It's not easy as I've spent a very long time doing things my way/whatever works now/just get it done. That is a very hard mindset not to revert to. Often I do things the hard way because that's the first (and often second) way of getting something done that pops into my head. But I'm learning. They haven't gotten rid of me yet, and I hope they don't. But even after a year that's still something (a fear maybe?) that motivates me to keep trying.
Now to make some progress to writing DealYear #2.
It's also responsible for a good chunk of the "mental" in "fundamental" too.
The above is a by-product, I think, of modern programming separating the code from the design. Adding those embedded events meant that I knew, from a code standpoint, that certain things were fairly certain to happen. With listeners, it's not imperative for those things to happen and they (I think) handle things better when stuff's missing.
But I still make code and design. I don't hand off the logic to somebody and say "go lay this out and display it properly". I'm still in 1997 when there was 1 guy that did everything for a website. Knowing what a pain it was to be that one guy, I should be better accepting of how code/design is at least trying to evolve.
But then I look at the file I worked on last week. It was an HTML table that had 3 columns on each row that you could click on and it would either toggle Yes/No text that was displayed, or edit a number that was present (without turning into a textbox). It took 2½ days for me to make, and it even has a spiffy green background that would fade in to show you had successfully edited a field thanks to a 2 minute Google search-copy-paste. The problem was that the 1 new file and 1 edited file I used was implementing the old, pseudo 1997 way of things. I had to convert it to the new, hot 2015 way.
But I learned. I learned the hard way, the painful way, which means it should stick.
And then when I was done, I learned there was a 2nd set of things to do that nobody told me.
Until I switched away from Chrome. There was no innerText. There was no innerHTML.
The cross-browser friendly field turns out to be textContent. I think there's a library call I should have been making that would have grabbed the right property for me. Maybe after 20 years of making websites I should know textContent is the right property to use. But I didn't. Until now.
textContent. That's the ticket.
For the better of the last month I've been working on 1 chunk of code at work. Normally work has 2-3 days chunks at best. Why is this such a big chunk? Basically because it took over 2 weeks for me to figure out what the hell I was doing.
Users have the option to create alerts and get notified when a matching deal occurs. Right now they type in a keyword and behind the scenes magic figures out if that keyword maps to a store, a brand, one of our categories, and/or other stuff. It's magic. It's great when it works (and when I've looked at it, it's worked more than it hasn't. When it doesn't work... well, it doesn't.
Along from their came my task. Remake the alert notification. There was a nice little mock up of what all it should have. Fields for category, store, brand, and some other stuff that's pretty straight forward. We've got tools so that if someone starts typing in the name of a store or brand the autocomplete kicks in and shows options. That was all great until i got to the Category.
Who is going to know the way our Categories are set up? My first pass had a list of all the categories and their path, so that if you wanted iPhone cases you would scroll down a list to:
Electronics > Phones & Cell Phones > Apple iPhones > iPhone Accessories > iPhone Cases
Obviously that wasn't going to work.
The existing autocomplete functionality only matches at the beginning of what's typed. Typing "iPhone" gets no matches because nothing starts with "iPhone" (it's under "Electronics", and then down 4 more levels).
After more miss-starts than I want to count, I saw down with Keith and Matt (seperately) at work and made up something that might work. An old fashioned MicroSoft ComboBox. It's starts out as a drop down list with the top level of categories, and each selection re-populates the list with the next level underneath. Alternately, you can start typing in the field and anything that matches (not just at the beginning of the text) will populate the list. For both, as you select your category a little breadcrumb trail of the path you've made is shown so that you can back out or pick back up in the middle.
It sounded good. I liked the idea. I knew how to make about 20% of it.
Break this down into functional parts with dummy data, then fill it with the right data. That's how I used to make web pages, why did I stop?
After nearly 3 months of nothing going on, the new and improved Russellmania is now available with less content!
Why less content? The last version of the site had been live for almost 6 years. There was a lot of bloated content. I had made my own content management system. Over the course of those 6 years I both forgot a lot of what was going on in my head when I wrote that code - to the point it was a pain to add anything new - as well as learned better ways to write that old code. The problem there was the code was so twisted about to make the site properly work, I knew trying to tweak anything would probably break the whole site. For the past year I've been meaning to start over. So I did.
Instead of making everything from scratch I based the layout on a responsive template. For once, I'm using a white background - that freaks me out a little. I went back and had to tweak old blog entries to make them layout properly in HTML5. There will still be some weird styling issues with old posts, but everything should be readable. Old links may be broken (well, that's always the case). Internal links to gaming stuff won't work unless it's a Zombie Mall post. I'm not hand-writing HTML in my blog post entries anymore. Instead I'm using an editor that's smarter than I am and converts all of this plain text properly. No more fancy layouts in my blog posts! This also affects the old posts, as the pop up gallery viewer I was using is no more.
Enjoy the new Russellmania. Don't be surprised as little things change as I notice them, probably right after you, the public, get annoyed by something and have a deep desire to bring it to my attention.
As always, correct spelling is optional in any blog entry. Keep in mind that any links more than a year old may not be active, especially the ones pointing back to Russellmania (I like to move things around!).
Tags have been added to posts back to 2005. There may be an occasional old blog that gets added to the tag list, but in reality what could be noteworthy from that far back?
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