Oct 01

My Favorite Geek Books of 2008

The above photo is my stack of geek books from last Christmas. Yes, I love books — I love the way they smell, thumbing through the pages and oh yes, the wisdom they bestow. I admit, often times I don’t make it through the entire book. Sometimes just a handful of chapters. But every now and then you come across some great books that are gems. So I thought I would share a few of my favorite books from this year.

Head First C#

Head First C#

Each morning before work I stop and enjoy a latte or cappuccino. This is my book of choice to read while sipping down my caffeine kick-start. That’s because it’s not like your typical code book which can be pretty dry. This book is very visual, full of pictures and diagrams that help to illustrate and drive home key points. Often times it finishes the chapter with a crossword puzzle helping you to retain the points of the chapter. In fact those crossword puzzles inspired this post. It’s a great read for beginners and advanced users alike.

Object-Oriented ActionScript 3.0

Object-Oriented ActionScript 3.0

If you are just starting to learn Flash or Flex or ActionScript then this is the book for you. Actually, even if you are a seasoned pro this is still the book for you. Why? Because it teaches you the correct way to do things. It teaches you true object oriented programming in ActionScript. With topics like: Encapsulation, Classes, Inheritance, Polymorphism, Interfaces, and Design Patterns you will not only learn ActionScript, but also principles of OOP. If you wish to learn proper Flash/Flex development then this book is for you.

The ASP.NET Anthology

The ASP.NET Anthology

This book takes a problem solving approach to a handful of common everyday ASP.NET developer needs. Things like: form validation, membership and access control, working with email, rendering binary content, Ajax, handling errors and more. Sitepoint says this about the book, which I agree with: “Solve specific ASP.NET problems fast — without wading through mountains of reference material — and rest assured your code follows current best practices. For the serious ASP.NET coder, this book is a must-have.”

The Ultimate CSS Reference

The Ultimate CSS Reference

Perhaps the last CSS book you’ll ever need. Written by our very own Paul O’Brien whom regulars to Search-This will know does an amazing job making sense of often tricky, finicky or strange CSS behaviors. Almost every web site created today is built using CSS, which is why a thorough knowledge of this technology is mandatory for every web designer. There are plenty of good resources to help you learn the basics, but if you’re ready to truly master the intricacies of CSS, this is the book you need.

ASP.NET 3.5 Unleashed

ASP.NET 3.5 Unleashed

Make no mistake about it, this is a reference book at almost 2,000 pages. But it may be the best ASP.NET reference book on the market. It covers everything: LINQ to SQL, ASP.NET AJAX, ListView and DataPager data access controls and all the rest. What’s especially nice is that you can tell the author, Stephen Walther, has spent time in the trenches. He knows best practices, like using CSS for all his layout work and having well-formed cross-browser friendly code all the while teaching you ASP.NET 3.5. This is a must-have book for all ASP.NET developers.

Well there you have it, five of my favorite geek books of 2008. Do you have a book that you read this year that you thought was a gem?

Sep 27

Links for the Weekend, 9-26-2008

Sep 21

Esquire October 2008 E-Ink Cover

The October issue of Esquire, only a 100,000 issues released, features the world’s first E-Ink magazine cover. The E-Ink display is the same technology used in the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader. This is the first time it’s been used in a magazine cover and I must say it’s very impressive!

Are we moving ever closer to that promised paperless utopia?

Sep 13

Links for the Weekend, 9-13-2008

Sep 10

Online Job Searching (For Web Developers)

I’ve been in the job market twice this year and thought I would share with you some of the sites that I have found useful when looking for a job. Perhaps you know of some good sites that you would like to share too?

Smashing Magazine Jobs
This site has a small selection of web design/development jobs. Most are looking for front-end work like: XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, Flash and ActionScript. You can sort by fulltime or freelance positions. Most of the listings are from the companies and not recruiters.

Authentic Jobs
Authentic Jobs is another site that features a short selection (maybe 100 listings is all) of web jobs. Authentic Jobs is a targeted destination for standards-aware designers and developers and the companies seeking to hire them.

A pretty good selection of design and tech jobs, but the Ajax enabled search on this site really isn’t working for me.

Dice is a huge collection of tech jobs. It’s certainly a place to use when looking for a job. Do note that most of the jobs are posted by recruiters though.

I think Craigslist is actually one of the best places to look for jobs. It has a good selection and most of the post are from the IT directors and not technical recruiters.

Good luck and happy job hunting.

Aug 30

Links for the Weekend, 8-30-2008

Aug 28

Let’s All Get Inline (In a Block, In a Block)


One of the values for the display property is inline-block and although it has been around for quite a while now browsers have been slow on the uptake which is a shame because it’s just the sort of thing that can be very useful. In this article we will investigate ways to implement display:inline-block in a number of browsers.

If you are unfamiliar with inline-block then its use is defined as follows: “an inline-block makes the element generate a block box that’s laid out as if it were an inline box“.

What this means is that a “block level box” can retain most of its block level capabilities but in an inline environment. This would allow you to align a number of boxes on the same line all with their own width and height much in the same way as floating the elements but having the benefit of allowing inline rules to be applied to them unlike floats.

For example, three or four inline-block elements could be aligned horizontally and centered by using the text-align:center property on the parent. This would automatically center the elements within the available width. We could also apply the vertical-align:property to align their top or bottom edges with each other.

Perhaps it’s best to start with the finished example so you can see what we are talking about. The result is also shown in the screenshot below.

Figure 1

As you can see in the above we have achieved three (apparently) block elements all aligned nicely in the same row. The elements are perfectly centred and they all have their bottom borders aligned with each other. Imagine trying to do this with floats.

The truth is you could not do this automatically with floats at all as you could never align the bottom borders unless you were using fixed heights and then could calculate the margins for each. It is also very difficult to center floats also. With very little code we have achieved this effect so now we will get down to specific details.

Click to continue reading »

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