MooTools 1.2 & Opera 9.5 released, FF3 coming soon

Some quick development news:

  • MooTools 1.2 has finally been released. MooTools is really great, I hope more people start using it.
  • Firefox 3 should be officially released this Tuesday (June 17). Party on.
  • Oh, while I’m at it, I guess I should mention Opera 9.5 was just released, too. I’m not a big Opera fan, but v9.5 includes some important advances in CSS3 support, which hopefully will help other browser developers to make some progress with their own CSS3 implementations.

Just the Macs, ma’am

The transition is almost complete: I have ditched my Windows-based PC for a MacBook Pro.

My reasons?  Well, I could write a whole bunch of fluff about how as a developer I need to be able to test my work on multiple operating systems, and a Mac (with BootCamp and/or Parallels) allows me to do that.  

Or maybe I can tell you that when I attended the Google I/O conference a week or two ago, I felt completely un-cool because I wasn’t slinging around a MacBook Pro, unlike (at quick glance) half of the attendees at the conference.

(Side note: second most popular laptop?  IBM/Lenovo ThinkPads.  They were all over the place, too.)

Maybe I can say it’s because I finally watched An Inconvenient Truth the other day, which — unintentionally — pointed out yet another inconvenient truth: Keynote is way better than PowerPoint.  (Al Gore’s famous slide presentation was done in Keynote.)

I could say that using a Mac will make me more creative, or that a Mac’s built-in accessibility tools can help me design web sites and courseware that work for people with disabilities.

Perhaps I could tell you that I simply wanted to return to my roots: I was a die-hard Mac user for a solid decade before turning to the Dark Side.

In reality, I had no single reason to switch from Windows to a Mac, but have felt the urge bubbling for quite some time, for all of the reasons above and more.  One of the best reasons was: I wanted a lightweight but powerful laptop.  Simple enough, eh?  But the tipping point was something even simpler (and IMHO) funnier: Apple has a back-to-school sale going, which meant a free iPod Touch if I bought the MacBook Pro.  Sweet.

So now I have a MacBook Pro AND an iPod Touch.  I feel like such a hipster, only without the cool hair, cool clothes and bad attitude. I suppose a real hipster would scoff at the iPod Touch and say I should have gotten an iPhone. I’m not ready for that commitment yet… Apple needs to ditch AT&T before I get that particular toy.  😉

Anyway, now that I’ve been playing with my new Apple goodies for a few days, I’m really appreciating (rediscovering?) the excellent user interface design, where it’s apparent that a lot of thought went into every aspect of the the UI.  And, of course, the MacBook Pro “just worked” from the start.

(Side note #2: Ubuntu also runs great out-of-the-box if you ever want to give Linux a shot.)

I’m also really enjoying the software that comes with a Mac. I don’t know if it’s a fair knock against Windows, but the software that comes with OS X feels more useful, and is certainly easier to look at! Apple’s iWork suite is cool, too; I already mentioned Keynote, and “Pages” is much slicker and easier to use than Word. Too bad I can’t use iWork applications at the office since none of my coworkers have Macs.

The iPod Touch has been a lot of fun, especially using Safari with the built-in WiFi.  I’m definitely going to start paying closer attention to how my websites and courseware fare in small-screen mobile environments.

Are YOU a Mac user?

Are you a Mac user?  Have any tips or recommendations?  I’m using Parallels to run Windows XP, so I still have access to my Windows-only stuff.  However, when it comes to Mac software, I’m starting over and need to figure out what’s hot and what’s not. I have iWork 08 and Adobe CS3, but not much else.

Anything else I should be using?  🙂

Link: Opening Up the IMS

Good post from Michael Feldstein at e-Literate:

There’s something fundamentally contradictory about open standards being developed behind closed doors.

Over the past 18 months, I have had the privilege of participating in the IMS work on a regular basis. During that time, I have mostly kept my mouth shut about the openness issue. Out of respect for the staff and the board, I wanted to experience the process from the inside and see how it works today before advocating change. But at the Learning Impact conference last month, I decided to speak out.

At one point I said, “I know plenty of people in the ed tech community-good people, exactly the kind of people that we need to participate-who think that the IMS is some kind of secret society.” I got a fair few “amens” from other participants, both publicly and privately.

Amen, indeed, brother!

Read the entire post at e-Literate

Link: Web Accessibility Checklist

The talented Cameron Moll has posted a link to a Web Accessibility Checklist prepared by Aaron Cannon, a (blind) member of his web development team.

Aaron’s checklist is an easy-to-understand list of accessibility dos and don’ts. Most of these are so simple and easy to implement that there’s really no excuse to NOT use them in your work!

Kudos to Aaron and Cameron for sharing this with the community!

Link: Hardware tips for screencasting

Ran across this short but useful blog entry from Layers Magazine.

I know many people who use assorted ‘screencasting’ tools (Captivate, Camtasia, Firefly, etc.), and my guess is that very few of these people give much thought to the hardware they use for their projects. Hardware has a huge impact, and can be the difference between a successful screencast session and a computer that keeps crashing.

This author gives a nice simple overview of the topic, and also gives some practical tips about creating screencasts. Read “Screencast Success