I joined a prestigious club today

Posted in development by Kris Gray on June 24th, 2008

Thats right, the 4 monitor club.

I’ve heard it talked about a lot and based on the amount of multi-tasking I do, and the amount of screens I use on a consistent basis I knew I had to grow beyond the 2 I had previously.

I will be downgrading to 3 after today as 4 leaves me with no desk space and just isn’t efficient. Plus nobody here has 3 and I figure if I go around with 4, people will get jealous.

Hardware

I originally wanted to do this because we had an old PCI NVidia card laying around, and recently some new monitors became free. So it seemed like a simple process. But when I went to put it all together, it turns out an NVidia card and an ATI card won’t co-exist peacefully.

So off to NewEgg.com I go (my goto site for new hardware) and ordered up a new Video Card. Today I got it in the mail, and slapped it in.

I was absolutely amazed at this point, the computer booted up, the monitors did some turning on and off, and then all the monitors were working just as expected. I still needed to change the resolution and placement of the monitors, but I was just boggled that it took 0 setup after I plugged the card in.

Anyway

I’m stoked.

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Retrospective Method.com

Posted in development by Kris Gray on June 6th, 2008

So the biggest project I’ve had at Method is the company website. It was essentially the first project I was handed when I arrived, and so I’ve basically been working on it from when I’ve moved down from Seattle till when I went to Hawaii for vacation with some small breaks for other little projects.

This site was an ultimate team project, with people taking up any responsibility that was necessary. Lots of times, each of us would be the only person on the project that day/week. The reason for the quality of this site is the talent of the team. For sure.

So this is the site, some of the cooler things out there.

The modules re-order as you resize the window. The idea is to not have any scroll bars, if you don’t have enough space for all the modules, you get several pages of them.

I really like the the case study profiles, which show up once you click one of the case study modules. They give you an impressive flash slideshow. This actually uses some ActionScript / JavaScript integration. Fun stuff.

In the overlays with large blocks of text, it is automatically divided into 2 columns and then paged. This is just insanely hard, but eventually Brian Ross got it to work. He was very vigilant and it was a great last minute fix.

The site is almost 100% one page. There are some special pages we did as one offs because of time limitations, but the modules, and overlays all exist on one page that reloads data from the server as needed. This was my first project doing something so complex. Typically we didn’t worry about back button issues in our ajax applications at Daptiv, but here being one page it was critical.

This site wasn’t the epitome of Technical brilliance, it was more a lesson on what not to do in a lot of situations, but its not really appropriate of me to be so critical. Though here are some of the more high level criticisms.

* PHP isn’t the language I would choose for something this complex. It interfaced well with the CMS, but its not something thats easily testable, or object oriented, which I would think is pretty important for a project of this site.

* I have to do a better job of managing large js code bases. The file just kept growing and growing, culminating in a rather large complex js file. There was a lot of rush rush coding here, and thus Refactoring went out the window. But I’m still not sure what the best solution is to this.

* For projects this big, a strong development process is not optional. 3 weeks, thats something you can keep in your head, 3 months, you gotta have something there for that.

Since this project, a lot of positive changes have occurred in the development team, its apparent the added experience from these large projects really are advancing our skills.

In the mean time, check out the site, its really cool!

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Something nobody would have guessed

Posted in development by Kris Gray on June 5th, 2008

A critique I received today.

You are just 1 prozac away from being a great programmer.

Those who know me are either completely agreeing with that statement, or are wondering what drugs he’s taking.

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