My plans for 2014

One of the last things I had planned to do this year was to read N Ways To Be A Better Developer by Lorna Mitchell and Ivo Jansch, on recommendation by a colleague. It’s only a short book and doesn’t cost much, and I would recommend it to any developer who hasn’t read it. I decided that I am going to take some actions from it, along with some of my own introspections, that I feel would serve me well to take into 2014. It seems appropriate to write these down in a blog post I can refer back to and to give me further incentive to actually follow them up.

Expand my comfort zone

I’ve had a think abut this one and have concluded that I spend too much time in my comfort zone. I work with technologies that I’m familiar with, and approach tasks and problems in ways that I’ve learned they are best approached. While I do think that this has many advantages and is generally a good approach when faced with tight time constraints on a project, I feel that if I am not careful I could become set in my ways, which will stunt my personal development. I plan to actively seek out tasks, projects and challenges that will provide me with new stimulation, and force me out of my comfort zone.

Attend more user groups

I live in the glorious city of Manchester, which is home to a lively community of technical meet-ups and user groups. I have gone to a few of these in the past and had a little fun, but I don’t often stick around as long as I should before allowing other aspects of daily life to push them out of my schedule. It’s a shame to work and live so close to the city and not be taking advantage of the ease by which I can attend these events and I plan to make more effort to do this.

Use an RSS reader again

Since the death of Google Reader my passion for syndication feeds has dwindled, which is a shame. Recently I have come across some good feed readers such as Feedly which, along with Pocket or Readability could improve the flow of information from the internets into my brain. Looking at my current feeds list as exported from the late Google Reader, I think it’s also going to help me to trim some of the feeds which are generating too much noise or subcategorise into smaller, topic-specific lists. I think my feeds lists deserve a page on this blog when I’ve finished carving them up. Watch this space.

Show my appreciation

I work with some excellent people, and there are probably a lot of people in my life that don’t realise how much I appreciate them because I don’t show it enough. At risk of sounding like an emotional teenager, I’m not going to go into any more detail on this point apart from to say that I’m going to make effort to be more vocal in my appreciation of the people I surround myself with.

Reflect. Write. Meditate.

At the end of a hard days work or as a tough project comes to a close, it’s often difficult to make time to reflect on it. I think conscious reflection is as important as the memory consolidation that happens during sleep. I also think it’s equally important to stop thinking about things altogether for a while. I don’t do either of these things enough. Also, I should write on this blog more, and I’m going to try to do that.

Have fun

And finally I want to take my free time seriously. That is, I would like to have more fun, or to at least carry on having the same amount of fun I’m having in general. To 2014; cheers.

Handling colons in ID names in Magento

For some reason, Magento uses colons inside the ID names of some elements in the checkout:

Prototype handles this fine, but if you want to use the ID as a selector in your stylesheet, or perform some action on it using jQuery, it causes problems. You must use escape methods of different kinds.

In CSS files, you could escape the colon with a backslash, and that would work in most browsers. To support IE7 and below though, it is necessary to use the hexadecimal code for a colon, which is /3A:

If jQuery’s your thing, escape with two backslashes:

Not exactly the most elegant solutions. Particularly the CSS one, as it makes for a selector that is unnatural and difficult to read, but c’est la vie.

Why I switched from Firefox’s Firebug to Chrome’s Developer Tools

For a very long time I used Firefox as my primary development browser because of the excellent add-on, Firebug. There is no denying that Firebug has long been an essential component in a web developer’s toolkit. It’s kind of like a mobile phone – once you’ve used it for a while, it becomes hard to envisage how you managed before it.

More recently though, I have started to instead use the Developer Tools built into Chrome (they are very largely derived from WebKit’s, and as such most of them are also available in Chromium and Safari). I like Firefox and Mozilla’s open-source philosophy but I have to admit that I think Chrome now beats it hands-down in regard to developer tools as well as load speed, memory footprint and overall aesthetics.

Here are some things about Chrome Developer Tools that I like: