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Perils of automatic invisible software updates

A couple of days ago I noticed my Google Fiber uplink was only 100Mbps instead of 1Gbps. While debugging with the tech via phone, it seemed as though any time I had something connected to port 4 on the network box, the speed dropped. I moved cables around until the speed was back to normal, and they scheduled a tech to come swap out the box. Today the tech arrived and was unable to reproduce the problem.…

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XPages, Bootstrap, and form validation

I’ve recently been experimenting with Bootstrap for page layout, now that it’s an official part of the XPages Extension Library for Domino. After some simple test pages, I decided to put together a standard data entry form to see how painful that was. A typical Bootstrap form’s HTML for a single field looks like this: <div class="form-group"> <label for="email1">Email address</label> <input type="email" class="form-control" id="email1" placeholder="yourid@example.com"> <span class="help-block">Your Internet e-mail address</span> </div> If you have a validation error to display, and want to show a feedback icon, the HTML balloons up to something like this:…

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User friendly edit buttons with XPages

I wrote my first full application using XPages, the new IBM Domino web development environment based on Java Server Faces (JSF). It’s been quite a brutal learning curve, even given that I already knew both Java and JavaScript in some depth. Some things that are trivial ‘the old way’ (in Notes) are harder on the web with XPages. For example, when you try to edit a document and don’t have permission, the Notes client will give you an error message.…

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Wolfram Alpha

When Wolfram Alpha was made public, like everyone else I went to the site to see what it could do. The demonstration queries produced pages which looked really useful. I could instantly imagine how I might find the site invaluable. Then I hit a wall. I thought of things I would like to see displayed by Wolfram Alpha, and for each, I wondered: how would I persuade it to show such a thing?…

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Form design: You're doing it wrong

One of the most valuable qualities for a software developer is an ability to recognize and admit when they have been doing something wrong. Yesterday I discovered an excellent summary of HCI research regarding online form design, and discovered that I’ve been designing forms incorrectly for years. In summary, the best way to lay out a form is with labels above the fields, left-aligned. The labels should be in smaller regular text, not bold.…

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