15 Ways to Improve Firefox
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If you love Firefox as much as I do, you may find this list of 15 ways to improve firefox, including increasing performance and decreasing memory usage (a big issue for me on my work laptop). And if you don’t use Firefox, it’s time to start!
Read the 15 Coolest Firefox Tricks Ever.

Rails vs Java Video
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Here is the first of four videos produced by Jason Hawkins, using the style of the famous Mac vs PC ads to humorously, and dare I say, oh so accurately, compare Rails to Java.

Note: Ok, its not completely accurate. If it were, there would be another tray full of jars stacked on top of the existing one, supported by the first layers of jars, such that if one were removed the entire stack would collapse.

JAutodoc: Auto JavaDoc Comments in Eclipse
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While comments are certainly an important part of code documentation, and become much appreciated later on during maintenance and support phases of an application, they can be quite tedious to write, particularly in cases where you are documenting the obvious. In some situations you may be able to get away without writing comments for these types of methods, but in some situations your IDE or Javadoc report may still flag those methods as missing Javadoc comments and so it’s best to put them in anyway.

JAutodoc is a super Eclipse plugin for assisting you with writing comments. It comes with customizable method prefix mappings to comment phrases. For example, if your method begins with ‘add’ the phrase ‘Adds the’ will be placed in the comment. Thus, if the method name was ‘addEmployee’ the comment text would be ‘Adds the employee’. If the method were ‘isActive’, the method text becomes ‘Checks if is active’. All of the mappings are customizable from the plugin properties.

It can be set to use the Eclipse comment formatter, to replace the existing Javadoc or to complete it, as well as optionally add a todo annonation to it for future review. It fills out all the parameters passed and return parameters as well.

You can highlight an individual method and right click and choose JAutodoc from the menu, or select the entire source of the class and complete all the javadocs. It saves a lot of time getting the skeleton of your javadoc comments in place, allowing you to focus your commenting time and energy on writing meaningful descriptions where necessary.

To read more about the plugin and download it, see the JAutodoc web site.

Tripbase: Find Travel Locations using Ajax UI
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Tripbase is a travel site with an interesting Ajax interface. The site is designed to help the user find travel destinations according to their preferences and interests. For the Ajax interface, sliders are first provided allowing the user to set the type of destination they are looking for, by weighing their preferences on Nightlife, Dining, Shopping, Nature, and Attractions. After that initial selection is done, a list of top suggestions is presented on the page, and further preference customizations are given, including the dates and duration you want to travel, where you are departing from, your preferred weather, your budget, the type of trip you are looking for, the continents you are interested in, and if you want to travel in a high or low tourist season.

As you adjust the preferences on the left, the suggestions update live on the right side of the screen. In this section, it shows one photo of the suggested destination, and shows the cost per day and the population, with a link for more information.

When you click for more information on any of the suggestions, a window appears over the results with the detail information. The detail window shows the temperature, tourist season and rainfall for the period of travel indicated; has photos, and links to articles; a list of things to do, dining, nightlife, lodging, shopping, nature, and then has links to search for flights or hotels (using a different web site).

The interface is easy to use and was very responsive on my laptop using Firefox 2.

Delivering Focused Features
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I mentioned in my previous post, “The Real World”:

I prefer a short development life-cycle, keeping the requirements for each cycle short and to the point. The smaller the feature set, the shorter every sub-cycle is (design, testing, etc).

37signals recently discussed a great example of this concept with their “Public Contact Cards”. They saw a need, and delivered a solution to it within 48 hours. In order to do it, they kept a very tight focus on the goal of that feature. They solved the problem in the simplest and most direct way possible. They mention several features they could have added and didn’t. Some of them certainly sound like great additions as well, and you may one day see them. But, by keeping the focus on the problem at hand, they can act much quicker to market and consumer needs, keeping their customer base happy, and reducing the risk of implementing new enhancements. They also get a chance to see how their consumers react to the direction of the solution before they have gone to far down the road.

Read more about the Public Contact Cards they added to their new Highrise application.

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