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User Journal

Journal Journal: Of Web Browsers, Keyboard Shortcuts, and Extensibility

Nothing is perfect.

I've been finding myself hard to accept this as of late, at least as it relates to computer programs and technology.

It seems like everywhere that I turn in the Mac web community, all I read is about how awesome Safari is compared to Firefox. It's a more Mac-like program. It's JavaScript engine runs circles around Firefox (well, if it doesn't today, maybe that's in the next version). It's just all around better.

Whenever I try to use Safari, I just can't do it. I'm sure part of it is that I've been using Firefox for so long now that I'm used to it, and Safari does do some things differently (for better or for worse). But even still - there is just something about it that causes a mental block that I just can't get over.

I think it must be the extensibility of Firefox that does it. Granted, I don't run a ton of extensions, but the idea of actually being able to greatly modify my browser is quite powerful. While Safari kind of has that option (using Input Manager hacks, which (as I understand it) calling them hacks is being generous), in Firefox extensibility is a baked in feature, fully documented and supported. How can I turn down that power?

Then I type Control + Shift + E to select all of the text in the current Firefox text box from the insertion point to the end of the line, and nothing happens. close, yet so far. Maybe it's a compliment to Firefox that it has fooled me into thinking that it is a "real" Mac program, when clearly it isn't. Don't get me wrong - Firefox 3 is greatly improved over Firefox 2 in this department. Still, clearly there is work to be done.

Why can't there be a web browser for the Mac that is a real, full-fledged Mac program yet fully extensible at the same time? Is that too much to ask?

Apparently so.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Where to go next?

Lately I've found myself unsure of how to proceed regarding my development career.

My current job has me coding in C++ mostly (using MFC, ugh), with some C# occasionally. Quite frequently I've found myself growing more and more tired of using C++, and looking for the next thing to concentrate on and get good at. The problem is that I have no idea what that next thing is, or should be.

Since I'm a Windows developer, the obvious choice would be to make the jump to .NET. I've done quite a bit with C# on my own over the last few years, and I could probably get hired to a job working on it full time if I wanted to. However, I mostly focused on WinForms development, and it seems like the vast majority of .NET jobs out there are for web development.

So, I could start learning web development technologies then. Well, that's great, except for the fact that I can never seem to make any headway in this department. I've done some tinkering with HTML, CSS, and PHP on my own, but no where near enough that I would consider myself for such a job. All attempts that I've made to get into ASP.NET never really went anywhere - I'd start to read a book on it, but never go back to it because it just didn't hold my interest.

Over the last few months I've tried to get back into PHP, however I quite frequently run into a wall where I write something that should work, but doesn't (generally with CSS layouts, or something in Javascript; admittedly not directly PHP's fault). Whenever I do this I get rather frustrated, throw my arms in the air, and move on to something else.

I do have a MacBook at home as my primary computer, and I have done some stuff on it using Objective-C and Cocoa (which seems like a pretty good framework), however currently there doesn't seem to be much of a market for professional Mac development. Granted, if Apple continues increasing their market share as they have for the past few years, that could change, but that isn't the case today.

Where does that leave me? Honestly, I have no idea. I'm somewhat hessitant to invest more time into Microsoft-specific technologies, since over the last few years they really haven't been doing that well. Yeah, they still have their large, dominant position, but if Windows 7 is as much of a bomb as Vista, I could easily see that changing. Is it really worth investing time into a platform that could potentially go away in 5+ years time?

But then again...that's 5+ years, an eternity in the technology world. Maybe the right answer is to get better at Microsoft technologies for writing Windows apps, and hope for the best.

The problem there is that my main machine at home is a MacBook. While I do have a Windows PC as well (yay Dell), I rarely use it, since I prefer the OS X experience much more than the Windows one.

But if it's for the good of my future employment, I may have no other choice.

I guess I'm hoping that I could somehow convince myself of the viability of focusing on Objective-C, and somehow magically get a job doing Mac development. Given that I'd like to make it as easy as possible for me to get going on something (i.e. not force myself to use Windows), the only options left to me are web and Mac development. Given that web development annoys me to no end whenever I try it....yeah, that leaves Mac development.

Sigh. Things are so confusing, I still have no idea what I should do. :(

I guess I could spring for Parallels + a Windows license to do Windows development on my laptop, however I can't really see spending something like $400 to get this set up when I have a perfectly good Windows PC sitting under my desk already. Not to mention that would require that I get Vista. *shudder*

Although Vista is the future of Windows, so I will have to get it and learn it someday. Blah.

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