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Several months ago I transitioned from using Firefox as my primary browser to Chrome. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make the switch, or if there was any point in changing, but I did. Among the reasons for my switch was the fact that Firefox has always been, and continues to be, an enormous memory hog. No matter how many time Mozilla announces that the latest version of Firefox is less memory hungry it doesn’t seem to matter on any PC I use. Firefox routinely gobbles up anywhere from half a gig to a gig and half of memory. The nail in the coffin was when Google killed off support for their toolbar (which I used all the time) so it was then that I decided I’d have a go at using Chrome full time.

My biggest requirement was that I needed a tool similar to the excellent Firebug add-in to do development work. Being that Chrome has a developer console built-in without the need for an extension was a big plus and it was quite easy to make the jump after that. Plus, Chrome is very fast at everything it does.

My two biggest gripes with Chrome are a) no print icon (still!) and b) no basic way to get a list of the sites I most recently visited. For example, on Firefox you can click the down arrow at the end of the address bar and see a quick list of recently and frequently visited sites. On Chrome you have to either open a new tab or start typing to do this.

However, there is a new feature in Firefox that I like and hope to see in all other browsers soon: Responsive Design View. Responsive Design View (RDF) has been in Firefox since version 15 arrived a few months ago. Basically what RDF allows you to do is easily re-size your browser to see how a site looks at different sizes without having to re-size the window and messing up all your other open tabs. In Mozilla’s words, “With the Responsive Design View, you can work on your designs without constantly pulling out your mobile phone to see how it looks. And, you can try out your designs without shrinking your browser’s tools, toolbars and other tabs.” This is a great little tool for developers and designers. My only suggestion is that they allow you to edit the profiles they’ve included, instead of just listing the resolutions. For example, instead of just “960×720”, I’d like to name that “iPod Touch”. That and the ability to save specific resolutions instead of having to drag the side of the window every time I need a resolution that isn’t listed in the drop down menu. Now I have yet to do much in the way of responsive design, however I can see this being a very valuable tool to have when the time comes. Worth checking out.

Long time no see

Wow, I can’t believe the last post I made was way back before summer. While I intended to take a little time off, I didn’t think that I had that that much time slide by. I guess my workload has gotten the better of me. But not to fear, there’s always plenty to talk about. One topic I’ve been trying to get more into is Git. Slowly over the past few weeks I’ve been building a document that will act as a series of posts to introduce novices and newbies to the world of versioning. If you’re like me, you’re extremely used to doing most of your work via a GUI and having to deal with the command line feels like stepping back in time. My tutorial on Git will help get you through that fear and show you how valuable it can be for just about any coding you do.

Next up I plan to update some of the older plugins here and re-factor the code to make them leaner and friendlier across more devices while retiring some others. And as always I’ll be sure to post my impressions on stupid web trends (can we stop vertical parallax scrolling please?), my impressions of stackoverflow, and interesting videos. And feel free to contact me if you would like me to cover any specific topics.

Microsoft recently announced that they were dropping the Aero UI from their next version of Windows. Add to this the fact that Windows 8 seems squarely targeted at tablets over desktops and laptops with its Metro UI, and that Windows 7, a worthy successor to Windows XP (suck it Vista), is still what I would consider new and very usable OS; I predict that most consumers and businesses will ignore Windows 8. You can count on Microsoft touting sales figures when it does come out, which (if you look closely enough) will come primarily from sales of new PCs that will have Windows 8 forced onto it. XP was good. 7 is good. 8 looks like a mess. Need more proof? Read this.

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Most of the time the saying “you get what you pay for” applies, but every once in awhile sometimes you do get a free lunch. Whether it’s testing jQuery code, checking to see how a site looks in different browsers, or coming up with a color scheme, the following free tools have been extremely valuable in helping me get my work done.

VirtualBox

Originally developed by Sun, Oracle’s VirtualBox is a great piece of free software.Let me repeat that. Great piece of free software. It’s so good they should charge for it. Really.  In case you’re unfamiliar with VirtualBox or virtualization in general, what VirtualBox does is allows you to turn one computer into as many different computers as you like by giving you the ability to run almost any operating system as if it were an application. No dual booting, no partitioning, no reformatting. You can create and destroy virtual machines at will.

So why is this great? Continue Reading »

jQuery has about a half dozen methods for retrieving AJAX data (XML, JSON, JSONP, script, HTML, or text). Most of these methods are shorthand for jQuery’s all-singing, all-dancing .ajax() method. So how is a developer supposed to know when to use one of the more basic higher-level methods versus when to use .ajax()? Continue Reading »

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