Because we can

A few days ago, my next desk neighbour, Joe, put together a neat little Chrome extension which adds keyboard shortcuts for use in NeoGAF. It looked like fun, so I wanted to make one too, and, over the course of a smoking break, decided that it should tell me how many days are left until next St. Patrick’s day. Because hey, beer.


Version 0.1 of the plugin can be installed from its own page in the Chrome extensions repository. Enjoy!
The icons used in the plugin are from the Windows Beer Set from

Build even less (or incredibly more) useful stuff. Check out The Little Book of JavaScript!

An Up/Down control in jQuery

Make machines do your bidding with JavaScript. Check out The Little Book of JavaScript!

Recently, I needed to write an up/down selector – you know the sort, it’s where you select a number by clicking on an up or down arrow. Since they can be useful for other things besides numbers, I gave it the plugin treatment.

Most of the information about the plugin can be found in its documentation page.

Also available is a slightly beefier styled and animated demo of the plugin.

If you’re just interested in the plugin itself, you can find it here.

In the beginning were the words, and the words were "It sucks"

In his Tech-Ed session “Why software sucks”, David Platt was explaining why, in fact, software sucks. The reasons were not some mystical ramblings, or some pseudo-scientific best guesses. It was all solid common sense; problem being that, since designers and developers often know the conventions too well, we will often assume, without a second’s thought, that our users know the same conventions. I was sufficiently impressed by the session (Delivered in an hour long chunk of what can be called good stand-up comedy entertainment. Reminded me a little of George Carlin, really 🙂 ), to buy his book.

Do you really want to delete this file? Hmm, no, what I really wanted to do was give it a back massage…

To take one of the examples from “Why software sucks” and give it shape: consider a confirmation box. You know the kind… “Do you really want to …?”. Can’t stand the damn things myself. Platt makes a few well considered arguments against them; the main ones being:

1. If a user clicked the button, he or she REALLY wants to do that action.

2. Unless the button was clicked accidentally, in which case, your user interface design sucks.

I’ve been working on a WordPress contact management plugin recently, and decided to slip this idea in. The delete button for each contact starts off disabled, and it is only enabled while the user holds down the CTRL+D key combination:


And that’s that, once you’ve clicked, it’s deleted with no further confirmation. Once this gets tested for a while, I’ll post any further observations here.

I’ll probably change the delete icon to a more conventional x, since the little guy with a stop sign doesn’t strike me as being an obvious “delete” indicator. Then again, I guess I’ll wait to see what comes out of the test. I’m not my user, so I’ll see what they think first.