Five Four Club Discount Code

The other week I got my 1st delivery from the Five Four Club – a men’s clothing club that ships you 2-3 clothing items a month for $60 – here’s that discount code which will cut your first month down to $45:

Five Four Club $15 Off Your First Month: RE173432

matt-five-fourSo far I’m pleased – the items were of good value for the money. I received a shirt and sweater. They fit well and the items seemed to match the info I gave them on my style preferences and sizes. I look forward to seeing what they send next month – what’s your experience been?

 

Initial Coda 2 Review

This is for Panic’s Coda, V2.0. I originally left this same review in the app store, but it seems to appear and disappear, so here it is.

Update: some of the things I gripe about can be resolved now that the plugin page is up and working: http://www.panic.com/coda/plugins.php

And for php validation: http://www.chipwreck.de/blog/software/coda-php/

Disclaimer: I’m a TextMate user, yet I’ve always liked the Coda philosophy of a single app to do mutliple things and I think Panic is really onto something here. I never liked version 1, but this is getting there.

I’ve spent a lot of today just using V2, the interface took me some getting used to, but I feel pretty good with it now. The documentation is lacking, complete with links to dead support pages on their website. I would like to see more keyboard shortcuts as I’m not much of a mouse guy, but they either aren’t there or I don’t know what they are (some are shown in the menu system, but there must be more).

I had high hopes for the code completion, espeically in PHP, which I do most of my work in. It’ll help you find the function, but then it won’t fill in the function’s signature for you. Oh, but wait! There’s a hints panel. If you have that open, you can at least see a little info and what the signature should be. But wait again, not all php functions are in there, including some basic loops like foreach and while. How can you not have those? So unless there’s some magic plugin to do this, you’re left creating a bunch of custom clips on your own to fill in the blanks. Waste time to save time I guess.

It’s crashed a number of times on my 1 year old, 8 gig RAM iMac during normal use, no rhyme or reason yet. Then for kicks I opened a 31mb sql file to try and do some find/replace on it. It crashed the first time soon after opening it, but then survived the second tiime. TextMate doesn’t even hiccup on this stuff, and even adds in syntax highlighting, which Coda turns off on large files (or at leat “doesn’t recommend”).

Source control is promising if a bit slow. The ftp publisher feature is pretty killer – very nice how it keeps track of what’s changed and offers to ftp it for you with the click of a button – you can even uncheck the files you don’t want uploaded (must have a local site defined, fyi). This can be a huge time saver and a great feature for some basic deployment.

The database interface is very basic, nothing to actually help you build a query, but I bet it will prove handy.

You can block edit a group of lines, but unlike TextMate, you can’t wrap each line in a selection (like select multiple lines and wrap each in an <li> tag, it’s not smart enough to know where the end of each line is). Coda 2 does have some other text manipulation similar to TextMate, but it’s not there yet. And if you’re used to TMs hyperlink helper, you’ll be disappointed in Coda’s counterpart. There’s enough to get the job done though, and maybe I’ll have some happy dicoveries as I use it and future versions are released. Until then this won’t be my full time editor. I also wonder how much I might be missing because of the poor documentation and lack of training resources that 1.0 had, but are no longer there. Another reason this feels a bit rushed.

Overall, I’m glad I plopped down the $50 on opening day. There’s a lot of promise here and I want to support Panic’s efforts to put together a truly great editor, I’d just like to see more functionality, documentation, and things that “power users” hanker for (true code hinting/completion, more keyboard shortcuts, better text manipulating, etc.). If I’d paid full price I might be a bit grumpy. Hope that helps some – cheers!

Dedicated Servers – What You Might Not Know

Five years ago I happily procured a dedicated Red Hat server from a very popular managed hosting company (if not “the” company). I did this mostly out of convenience for my clients, who would always call me with hosting issue this or that, and there would be little I could do for them other then help create a support ticket for their existing host. It got to be a pain, especially after a major Dreamhost outage way back when, and a lot of my clients were on Dreamhost. I figured this would be a good time to look at getting my own server and selling space to my clients on it.

A lot of my clients expressed interest in more reliable hosting even if it mean more money, so I figured it was time to pounce. Soon I had my own dedicated box, and soon enough I was turning a little profit, not much, but better than nothing. Better yet it never went down (well, once, but that was a freak accident and they rebounded quickly). Better yet, the phone support was amazing, and I could easily install stuff on it and do things that made my life as a developer easier.

Life was pretty good for 5 years. Some headaches, but nothing outside the normal.

Then my 5 year contract was up. The server was ending it’s life cycle, and with that, so was support for the server. It was time to upgrade ol’ betsy before things got ugly.

I was floored to learn that costs had more than doubled since I signed my original contract. When I expressed my dismay, they wanted to push me into the cloud, but while that seemed to make their life easier I didn’t think it would make my life easier. And it was still going to be way more expensive than ol’ betsy. Upgrading betsy seemed it would cause more headache than it would solve, and she couldn’t even run the latest Red Hat anyways.

On top of that, I was going to be responsible for migrating everything myself. Websites, settings, email, databases. The works. No way I had the time or inclination to do that, so I’d have to hire a 3rd party – costing yet more money.

But the really kicker is that I was not about to tell my clients that their hosting cost was more than doubling. If they bailed, I’d be stuck with a huge bill every month.

I investigated other hosts, but in the end, decided this was a headache and time suck that I never wanted to deal with again. What I needed to do was to sell the server, and ideally to a company that had phone support as I know some of my clients would really need that. And guess what? I found such a company. And a good one at that. Migrations have been going through well, clients are happy, and guess what? They are doing the migrations, not me – the weight on my shoulders is gone. And also guess what? If my clients have any issues, they pick up the phone and call this other other company, not me. I’m sure I’ll still get some questions, but hey, this is a huge improvement.

So there’s the scoop. If you get a dedicated server, just know time’s a tickin’.

The Evil of All Image Newsletters

I sometimes have designers give me a newsletter that’s about impossible to render well as html, other than slicing the entire thing up as images and putting it in a table. This often happens with print designers trying to do web stuff.

What’s wrong with that? Everything. Consider the following, which I just got from a major retailer (sensitive text blurred out):

newsletter with images off

Why should I care about this? I should be able to get at least something that entices me to click the “download images” button in my email program. Unless you have a stellar subject line, chances are that won’t happen. And what about people using some sort of screen reader/assistive device? They’re totally out of luck.

OK, so in this case the subject line promised 20% off my next order, that’s a good incentive to see what this is all about, so I downloaded the images, and here’s what I saw:

This is supposed to have images displayed, but not

Still nothing – either the newsletter server is slow delivering those images, or my connection is slow, or whatever. Is this how you want to present your brand?

So please, if you’re doing an HTML newsletter, put some good old text in there, and use images like the frosting on the cake. Cheers.

Finally, A Great HTML Parser for PHP

I’m blown away by the PHP Simple HTML DOM Parser. It’s like Beautiful Soup, the Python HTML/XML parser, but for PHP and has some nice jQuery-like syntax. It also seems just incredibly fast, but maybe that’s also because I’m better at PHP than Python, no longer using any templating engine (was using Cheetah), and it also could be my new blazingly fast web host. I highly, highly recommend this tool if you need to do any web-scraping type stuff.

I redid the entire TWOP One-Pager using this (which also reminded of how badly this site needs a redesign). For more on that, check out this post. I added in some jQuery/ajax goodness this time around to make the page feel more responsive.