Stop complaining and make a list

2011-12-14 11:39:18 +0000

Right Web Dev Community, shut your moaning bitching mouth. People disagree all the time, there is not a time I haven’t disagreed with people over a talk, someone’s methodology, or their attitude. But what I will say is that moaning and saying “I’m leaving this industry, you’re all bullies” is bullshit, you should grow a set. All I want to say is the good far out weighs the bad.

And to prove this, here is a list of random acts of kindness I have experienced, both for me personally and things I have been involved in for the community. And a list of just awesome people all over.

UPDATE: Because I have constantly been reminded of people that have been so kind to me and the community, I shall try and keep maintaining this list for the unforeseeable future, although you might not all agree with the names on the list – I really have taken something for nothing from every single person named. Keep it up!

  1. Before I even knew what PHP was, Douglas Gresham taught me how to submit a form using PHP despite we’d met only once at a totally unconnected to web event.
  2. Edd for turning into a cycle nerd friend as well as geeky event mate.
  3. Everyone on Stack Overflow, for answering people’s questions.
  4. Ross Bruniges, for generally being an excellent beer hound (add Ben and everyone from @pubstandards to this item, as a matter of fact)
  5. Paul Stanton and Ryan Taylor for being extra friendly fellow northerners whenever we happen to be in the same place
  6. Paul Stanton and Ryan Taylor (yes, AGAIN!) and Anna Debenham for volunteering on the BoagWorld podcast, helping me out quite a bit in the early days.
  7. Kris Noble for being a random traveling buddy (or is he actually stalking me?) and general friendly face at all manner of events. And for not whinging after accidentally stealing his idea.
  8. Gareth Thompson for offering business advice in running your own web stuff. And being a bloody good bloke to boot.
  9. Dave Smith for feeding work and excellent advice constantly. And letting me loose on his RackSpace hosting.
  10. Jake Archibald for agreeing with my views on homeopathy (and providing good web advice!). He does bloody good talks too. And is sometimes funny.
  11. AlunR for organising Geek Karting (although the £1.70 profit on the last event may mean he’s not as kind hearted as I though – PS, that’s a joke…)
  12. John O’Nolan for being thoroughly offensive and wrong (read as challenging my HTML structure and semantics, which is good!)
  13. Rob Hawkes for Rawkets, and that book and sound advice.
  14. Syd Lawrence for letting me bug him in his own house while he showed me some HTML5 Mobile App stuff.
  15. Dan Knell and Kornel for always being available to drink while teaching me clever stuff.
  16. Paul Adam Davis for reminding me of something I already knew, then virtually apologising for the good point he made!!
  17. Antony Killeen, who organises Croydon Creatives. PS – I can’t believe he isn’t even a full time web dude yet!
  18. Katskii for being everything I would expect from a Geordie lass! That *is* a good thing, honest.
  19. Luke and uBelly for pointing me at interesting things that I should do and always being willing to pay for my beer!
  20. Drew and Rachel for 24ways.org and providing just awesome advice and support for Perch. Rachel also posted a much more coherent post on this topic than I ever will on her own blog.
  21. Chris David Mills for not only being very metal and introducing me to Steel Panther, but also giving up his time to speak at the awesome Speak the Web
  22. Dan Donald and Rich Clark gave up their valuable time to organise the aforementioned Speak the Web, so they definitely need a mention.
  23. Myself (!!) for volunteering at some events, manning doors and setting up chairs etc. And buying a wooden spoon prize to try and make Geek Karters smile. I know, I am too humble…
  24. A thousand (literally) other people who have all become friends, colleagues or complete strangers that have helped me on my way in the web world. And long may it continue.

and finally, thanks to @arranrp, who for his sins does organise a lot of events and through him I have met many interesting and good people (some included in the above list). And he’s a mate.

So why focus on the bad. What I would like to see is a similar list for each and everyone that is currently unhappy with the industry – you never know, it might restore some faith in your friends, colleagues and complete strangers.

Feel free to ping me – I’ll always help wherever I can, and why don’t we all try it, I actually enjoy being nice. Unless you’re Julia Hartley-Brewer, of course.

 

Today I Should…

2011-09-14 14:39:24 +0000

…start a company.

That’s what I though a few months ago and I have.  I am now full blown freelancing and contracting and generally working 15 hours a day until I get settled into a regular schedule.  Today I Should Ltd should see me good for a while. Unless other things come along (not that a pretty damn good company/start up site has been in touch to see if I am interested, well, one has which boosted my ego quite a bit last night) I see this suiting me quite well once I get evenings back to myself.

So far its going very well, aside from working far too hard and not seeing enough of anyone that I should be spending time with – but its all going to work out in the long run!

Anyway – as soon as I get the branding and such started, I’ll get a web development blog started on todayishould.com where I can keep professional head on and open this blog up to blatant whinging and bitching!

Sometimes you should keep opinions to yourself

2011-07-15 08:55:00 +0000

Before I start this rant, I will add the disclaimer that I should take heed of the title myself, I am under no illusions about this. Not following this advice started the whole thing.

However I was annoyed at the time and still stand by my opinions. I am referring to a twitter slanging match (there’s no other way to describe it) regarding, to put it bluntly, respect for the dead.

The offending opinion was: “There are fresh flowers outside Kensington Palace for Princess’s Di. WTF! She’s been dead for over a decade people! Time to move on!”

Wrong.

Now I must admit that I probably shouldn’t have used the “T” word in a reply, but I was angry. Why can’t people leave flowers at any location to remember someone. Especially someone that did change so many people’s lives be it from land mine charity work, AIDS and HIV awareness efforts or just being a public figure.

Fair enough, maybe there are better places for remembrance offerings, but is there any need to tell people to move on. When walking past flowers, my immediate response is a thought that it is good that people are being remembered, not that they were doing it wrong or should get over it.

In my opinion, that is just being a twat.

“Look! A Bandwagon, I better jump on it!” says Sebastian Shakespeare

2011-04-18 10:00:38 +0000

Shakespeare was an excellent author of fiction. I fear Sebastian Shakespeare of the Evening Standard columnist of the same name is following in his namesakes footsteps.

Following the introduction of a death by dangerous cycling bill, Julia Hartley-Brewer gave typically misinformed and biased bullshit on her sad excuse for a radio programme and now it seems everypone has to have a go at Cyclists.

Well done for jumping on the cyclist bashing bandwagon with your article “Cyclists have had an easy ride too long” Sebastian Shakespeare, however as commented on your article, here’s my response to your drivel:

You say that cyclists should have insurance (I do have third party insurance, FYI) but try having a look at the uninsured drivers stats first. When that problem is resolved try bringing in another rule for the contraptions that will do minimal damage (in most cases) to a person or other road user.

We haven’t had it easy, how you would call being hit (side swiped on a straight road) by a HGV and hospitalised easy (myself, July 2010) I don’t know.

A minority will flount the rules, and I try to tell the law breaking fellow cyclists of the reputation they give us. But you say we run red lights, in the eyes of the law I could give you hundreds of car (and motorcycle) registrations each week that are all positioned in the cyclists area at junctions, ignoring the ASL (Advanced Stop Line) making life much harder for cyclists to be safe.

How about the traffic wardens look at them too, or is that victimising the car drivers too much?

I could go on, and I’d like to have a conversation with Sebastian, but (as he pointed out in his article) he’d rather speak to someone who has poor English language skills than hear my northern twang. My money is actually on the fact that he has some form of regional accent. Or maybe he is too focused on writing shit that he never speaks.  Maybe I should give him a Glasgow kiss to justify his apparent lack of respect for anyone.

I am fucking furious. Julia Hartley-Brewer is an idiot typically ill informed.

2011-04-11 15:30:46 +0000

This afternoon I saw on twitter that LBC were doing a bit of cycling bashing. So I thought I would listen in, at no point would I have thought that I would get this angry about the presenter, callers or even the cyclist that phoned in.

When they started by stating numerous times (the ill-informed Julia Hartley Brewer and callers alike) that car drivers pay to use the roads so should have exclusive use of them, I was hoping for ANYONE to point out that Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) does not pay for the roads, but roads are paid for by regular taxation, so I do pay for the roads, even if I don’t have a car or a bike. Check ipayroadtax.com for more details on that, but safe to say they are wrong. I did call in but unfortunately LBC didn’t call me back.

And MOTs, licenses and registration plates for cyclists is a useless suggestion, considering the police struggle and pretty much fight a losing battle against motorists who drive without insurance, how the hell do you expect this to be enforced. If anyone has any ideas I’d love to know.  Before anyone mentions insurance, I have third party insurance on my bike, although I would never expect to use it.

Next, callers were virtually threatening cyclists. I don’t remember his name but the driver that said of cyclists “I’ve hit one before and would do it again. If they’re in my way I’ll run them down.” WHAT THE FUCK. I guess it says something that the caller drives a BMW but I wish he had given his number plate so I can avoid him altogether. And report him to the police if he tries to use his car as a weapon.

Cyclists that “wear lycra and think they’re professional cyclists” should dismount and use a footbridge (as suggested by a caller) is bollocks. We have a right to use the road and when we are traveling at a fair speed, why should we sacrifice journey time by minutes when we would only hold up cars for a few seconds, most of the time.

To the cyclist who is the only one who doesn’t break the highway code and thinks other cyclists (and I think he included the LCC in the statement) are arrogant scum is living in his own little world, I see hundreds of cyclists every year that are fine cyclists and don’t jump lights and so on.

And as for the presenter I don’t remember the complete build up, but saying that if you kill a cyclist you should be the one people feel for is pathetic, you come across as a selfish cow. You have no more right to use the road than a cyclist, and while I can’t remember the incident as you described it, I do remember thinking you did not have right of way, so it would have been your fault. Maybe you can email me at matt@mattbee.co.uk to explain it again, because I now simply believe you to be a danger to myself and other cyclists for not even knowing the highway code.

I am very sorry that LBC couldn’t call me back so that I could defend cyclists and point out their errors, ask why they think the aggressive behaviour of some motorists is acceptable and why a 4 year old case has brought the fact that a cyclist could kill a pedestrian into the media spotlight when hundreds (or thousands) of cyclists AND pedestrians are seriously injured by motor vehicles all the time (no pedestrian deaths in the last 4 years involving a cyclist hitting a pedestrian, there have been 3 people killed by cars or lorries in the past 2 weeks!).

And don’t get me started on Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs)… when will drivers/motorcyclists get punished for entering those I wonder.

London HTML5 User Group – Extreme WebSockets

2011-03-02 17:20:17 +0000

Last night was pretty enjoyable, had a nice London HTML5 User Group talk, entitled “EXTREME WEBSOCKETS TAKING YOUR WEB APPS INTO NEW, UNCHARTED TERRITORY” (couldn’t be arsed to fix the capitalisation, sorry!).

The talk focussed on what WebSockets are, how they work, and some real life cases for use. Replacing technologies like COMET and long-polling and streaming is the goal. Examples of real life use that Peter Lubbers (@peterlubbers) highlighted were things such as stock tickers, news feeds, games and many more. Some of the demos are on the Kaazing website at kaazing.me.

Then some real demos showed the possibilities of WebSockets, who knew that using HTML5 Canvas and WebSockets (plus a couple VNC servers) remotely controlling another machine would be possible. Github has given me some example code, but not tested or used this. There was of course one of my favourite canvas and WebSockets examples, Rawkets, the asteroids style massively multiplayer game. Which I am getting quite good at.

While a lot of the technologies people asked about, and some of the technical details of server stuff, were well over my head, I definitely think I can and will use websockets eventually. Probably going to continue on my learn JavaScript properly first, but looking forward to WebSockets and Canvas after that!

An open letter to Middlesbrough Football Club Official Direct Store

2011-01-24 15:01:13 +0000

After visiting the Middlesbrough Football Club site and MFC Official Direct shop (http://www.mfcofficialdirect.co.uk) today, I was left embarrassed as a Boro fan at the state of both web sites. Below are open letters which I hope representatives of both will see and respond to.

Dear MFC Official Direct

When seeing an advert for the 30% off sale and Boro replica kits for only £15 I was very happy and ran straight over to the store to get myself a replica home kit.

However the experience I had left me shocked, disappointed and embarrassed. Now let me say that I am a Boro fan and a front end developer (so I can understand when things aren’t perfect), but still feel the need to expose the pitfalls of this site in public.

My first issue was when I tried to update my delivery address, having moved jobs and so I couldn’t have the parcel delivered to my old place of work. However it appears I am not allowed to move companies, the company name could not be edited. ANYWHERE. Not on that form, not on my account page, not on mange addresses through my account page, nowhere. The company isn’t even called Gyro International anymore!

Following that annoyance, I thought “Fine, I’ll just add a new address. But then I couldn’t add a company name to go with that, and being in a shared building with many other companies and nowhere to add a company name and few form fields for address I thought I would have it delivered home.

Delivery details on MFC Official Direct Store

I thought that would be fine, but alas no. Following selection of delivery type in step 2 I was thrown to the confirm order page. Step 4. Hold on. That’s missed step 3, and I haven’t entered my payment details yet? But I’m on the last step? Oh well. I guess this really is a good shop! That was confirmed by a nice page telling my my order has been successfully placed! Excellent, I don’t have to pay it seems. Maybe now Mido is back he is funding a shirt giveaway to try and make someone love him!

Alas no, after a second or two I was delivered and Sage Pay (formerly Protx) payment page. Now this possibly isn’t MFC Official Direct’s fault, however it is still part of a flawed process. And anyone that spends £12.7m on Alfonso Alves must have some cash somewhere to invest in a seamless checkout process. Or at least one that allows the checkout page to be on brand, not hideous and at least not be included as step 5 of 4.

The hideous Sage Pay checkout screen.

So after all that and finally getting my payment details in, I notice that Sage Pay have thankfully printed my delivery address so I know its right:

**Flat E

London**

(They printed my postcode too, but that’s private!)

Now I know the postcode will probably mean that as a delivery address might just make it, and maybe the full address has been stored, but why print only part of the address. Thinking about it, there are quite a few flats in my area so Flat E, Putney might not make it. My address is a required 2 lines before the town and postcode so why not just show me the details so I don’t think you’ve lost half my address along the way. Same goes for invoice address. Just show it all or people (including myself) might not be confident you have managed to pass the correct delivery information and that we may never see our goods, many of which are quite expensive on the MFC Official Direct store.

Anyway, after this traumatic experience it’ll be a while before I use the MFC Official Direct store again, however I also have some gripes with the Middlesbrough Football Club website itself, so this probably isn’t the last you’ll hear from me. Thankfully however, at least the agency that built the site are linked to in the footer, so it can act as a reminder to never, ever recommend Black Magic Digital of Glasgow as a digital agency. They apparently missed out on the user experience chapter of every book they ever picked up.

Yours,

Matt Bee

Boro Fan and Front End Developer

When a friend is taken hostage, it puts things into perspective

2010-11-11 17:47:21 +0000

Today the “Road to Hope” convoy bound to deliver aid to Gaza, Palestine has been taken hostage by a Greek ship owner, who was due to transport them from the Lybia/Egypt border following the Egyptian government denying access by land. Among the group being held hostage are 3 Libyans, 6 UK nationals, 2 Irish, 1 Morrocan and 1 Algerian. Interestingly 2 of the Lybians are Port Officials. Among the UK nationals is my friend Kieran, someone I have respected and admired for many many years.

Having been paid $70,000 to carry out the transport the owner and captain apparently then held out for more. With no more funds being given over and the initial funds recovered, the hostage situation came about. Leaving the harbour by force and half closing the drive on ramp with a vehicle still on it I’m sure there might be more to the story than anyone but those aboard know about.

Bit worrying for Kieran, but I know he is well versed in the politics of wherever he goes and has 12 years experience in the aid convoy business, so hoping that everything works out.

Following quite a bit of pressure through social networks from Kieran’s friends on twitter and facebook, it seems we’ve got some action by the press and government agents with the BBC hopefully picking up the story (thank you @KirbyVictoria), earlier featured on CNN. I’ll await news from the media all evening and I expect for a short while yet.

Where’s Jack Bauer when you need him. Or the Expendables, remembering the first scene from that film.

More links on the story:

BBC News

The Independant

Waltham Forest Guardian

Salem News

JavaScript: Failed, solved

2010-09-30 15:13:46 +0000

This error was bugging me for about 2 days, so I though I would post this to a) help me remember to code properly and b) help someone else solve it in the unlikely situation of it happening elsewhere.

Basically, in IE8 and IE8 only, I was getting a helpful error message that said: line 1421 in jquery.js: Failed. Line 1421 was because I had uncompressed jQuery to try and find the problem.

The only other example of this error I could find (also found by Kenneth) was this instance: When jQuery returns “failed” in IE – and how it’s probably resolved which while it helped a bit, we weren’t using any live events.

So to the issue, after much troubleshooting and major investigation work, we resolved that in the (not sure if these are core within Drupal) Drupal installation, jQuery 1.2.6 was used with an old version of jquery.forms.js. We found that some of the forms plugin called methods that only came into jQuery in 1.3 (namely closest() ). Calling these non-existant methods caused the javascript error “Failed”.

The absurdly easy solution following hours of troubleshooting, was upgrade both jquery.js and jquery.forms.js to the latest versions. Bosh. Have that IE8.

So the moral of this story is ALWAYS KEEP YOUR LIBRARIES AND PLUGINS UP TO DATE!! And if you get the IE8 “Failed” javascript error, make sure you are calling methods that exist.

Should designers be able code

2010-02-19 16:22:33 +0000

This has cropped up lately following Elliot Jay Stocks post (and tweet). So here’s my tuppence.

Should designers be able to code their designs?

No.

But then again it isn’t that cut and dry. I think that there are a very small number of designers that might just be able to get away with it, but they are a minority in the geek world. There’s a reason people like Andy Clarke and Elliot himself are respected so well, because they are skilled and motivated enough to keep on top of design and code. For the majority of us we should specialise in design, front end development (HTML and CSS) or back end development. I also still think there’s a place for pure JavaScript developers (reducing the reliance on jQuery and other frameworks to optimise code).

So should designers know how to code?

Yes.

Learn how designs are laid out, learn how positioning works, learn about floats, browser bugs and the deficiencies of Internet Explorer (and Safari, Chrome, Opera and Firefox for that matter). There should be no excuse for providing designs that are an absolute nightmare to build, but it doesn’t mean you have to be able to build them yourself. If you know the limitations of the technology you can both design to their limitations and think about ways to get round that and make your awesome designs work.

Which brings about an interesting point, the best way to learn HTML and CSS is just to do it, so if you ask the question again, the answer might be different.

Should designers be able to code their designs?

Yes. But don’t let them build the production site.

Why not then, if they can? The intricacies and time spent on testing and debugging is a start, but I also spend a lot of time keeping up to speed on how Google looks at my code, mobile development, I’m still getting to grips with HTML5 and CSS3, I’m work hard on optimising code, and if I had to do all of that and design sites I build I would let myself down in one area. Not to mention I am not a designer, I do code, that is my passion and so I’m sticking to it and not learning design or keeping on top of design to be able to do both.

You could well apply the same principle to the difference between a front end developer and a back end developer, but I’ve got work to do!