il gatto

my wife and i are getting a cat in the new year. its taken years of gentle persuasion (she’s a dog person) but oddly enough, just before xmas, she suggested it herself (i think mostly after seeing one of our friend’s kittens, and visiting their ‘non smelly’ house). so, in early january we will be getting ourselves a cat. no idea what type of cat just yet – we’ll be visiting an animal shelter to find the addition to our family, but we’re both really excited about it.

excited, and a bit scared. i’ve never had a pet before, apart from the goldfish from Goose Fair some years back – which lasted about a week before it chose to spend most of its time sleeping on its side near the top of the bowl. oh, and apart from the three fish i had at work for a while, until the office cleaner managed to kill them (long story). oh, and the aibo. but they don’t really count – i think a cat is far more ‘real’ as a pet, and actually requires looking after.

still, it’ll be a learning experience, and our first task (just after making the house catproof) is choosing a name. do cats need 2.0 style names these days? tigr?

Happy Christmas

Photo Credit: http://flickr.com/photos/dlemieux/ under a CC license.

“It was more than half a century ago, on Christmas Eve in 1955, that a Sears Roebuck & Co. store in Colorado Springs advertised a special hotline number for kids to call Santa. What the company didn’t know at the time was that they had inadvertently misprinted the telephone number. Instead of Santa’s workshop, the phone number put kids through to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the bi-national U.S.-Canadian military organization responsible for the aerospace defense of the U. S. and Canada. Worse, it wasn’t just any number at NORAD: it was the commander-in-chief’s operations hotline. In the spirit of the season, Colonel Harry Shoup, the director of operations at the time, had his staff check radar data for any indication of a sleigh making its way south from the North Pole. They found that indeed there were signs of Santa, and merrily gave the children who called an update on his location. Thus, a tradition was born, and NORAD has continued to help children track Santa on Christmas Eve ever since.”

What a great story. Happy Christmas everyone.
From googleblog

Ajax is not Web.20

I wrote this internally for our studio at work to make sure they’re not incorrectly using all these new fangled terms. Thought I’d replicate it here for the sake of posterity (and so i can find it again in the future).

Ah sweet Ajax, that oft mis-used term.

I thought it would be useful for you all to understand just what Ajax is, so you’re able to use it in the correct context. Being a digital agency, we should pride ourselves on being able to seperate bullshit terms dropped into conversation and actually meaning what we say.

This is a non-technical explanation of what Ajax is, so you understand the terminology. If you’d like a more indepth explanation, please ask any member of the webteam!

Ajax stands for ‘Asyncronous Javascript and XML’ (so should probably even be uppercase AJAX, as it is an acronym). It is the process of using Javascript to connect to a data source of some kind, send datato and load data from that source, and then often displaying it back to the user, without having to reload the page. It is commonly used in ‘web 2.0′ style sites, and can give a page more of a feeling of an ‘application’, rather than a sequence of pages. Tools like GMail use Ajax to a great extent, and it helps you reduce how much you’re loading from the server each time, updating just small amounts of relevant data, rather than the whole page.

It has its benefits and disadvantages, which I won’t go into here. It is also worth noting that AJAX as a method of getting data isn’t even new, its been around in various guises for about 10 years, so feel free to chuckle and say “that ol’ thing?” when people tell you its the latest thing in webtech.

Ajax is NOT animated HTML, Ajax is not a slideshow where images swap in and out without reloading a page, or tabs, or scrolling divs, or anything like that. Ajax is often USED to help create those effects, ie. loading in an image from a database query, or update a block of text based upon a search, etc. etc., but Ajax itself is not creating the animation or the engaging HTML experience.

When clients say “ah yes, i want it built with ajax”, they’re usually meaning i’d like the site built in HTML, utilising javascript to animate the page, load content in and out, but quite often this has nothing to do with Ajax itself.

When we build these sorts of pages, we just use HTML, CSS and Javascript, as we have done for years, the Ajax part is usually only concerned with the sending and retrieving of data from another script.

Whilst many people say ‘ajax’ to be a catchall term to describe the things i’ve mentioned above, web2.0 fancy shizzle, etc, they are often wrong, and we should be aware of that. We don’t need to be pedants, laugh at them and say “ha! i think you’ll find you’re incorrect there, mr client”, but we can help educate our clients, and at the very least use correct terminology internally when describing our work.

Wikipedia (as ever) has a great page with more detail on Ajax (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajax_%28programming%29), not to mention the dozen other things which the Trojan war hero has lent his name to.