Right Now 0.5

Posted by Elf Sternberg as javascript, jquery, programming

I’m really itching to get to one of two other projects currently in my personal queue, code-named Ptah or Magnets (you’ll see what they are eventually), but bug reports for Right Now have been coming in fairly quickly, and there have been some quite obvious problems in the code.  The whole “release early, release often” and “your users will remind you of what needs fixing” mantras are really working for it.

First, some people have complained that the download is really hard to find, since I don’t recommend you use the copy off my site.  It’s here: Right Now on Github.  That’s guaranteed to be the latest, greatest, up-to-date reminder.

Secondly, the “Here’s how to use it” feature obscured the buttons on pages less that 1200pixels wide (so much for responsive design; this was a learning experience), so I’ve provided a control allowing you to delete the help panel.  It’s at the bottom of the panel.

And finally, it didn’t work under IE8.  Too many people still use IE for me to ignore it (18.86% of the world uses IE8 as of January 2012), and to make it work I had to replace Zepto with jQuery.  Zepto doesn’t provide some of the CSS read capabilities that I used.  That raises the post-UglifyJS size from 45K to 101K (approximately), which is still small, but doubling in size is just not attractive.

To test with IE8, I had to install a really old copy of Windows95 (which I had the CD for) into VirtualBox on my Gentoo Linux laptop, then upgrade it to XP SP2 (which, again, I had the CD for), then upgrade to IE8.  Oddly enough, this works really well.  For the longest time, I had an ancient box under my desk that I would turn on and VNC into whenever I wanted to do IE testing.  Now, I can do it anywhere, and can even fork and automate the process, and once I’ve got an establishement that I like I can snapshot it, and reset it should it ever become infested.  This is a major win, since IE testing is always a pain.

Right Now is meant for modern(ish) browsers; it obviously doesn’t push the envelope the way HTML5 Tones or the Arc Experiments did, but it is supposed to be useful for 95% of the world (those above IE6 and Firefox 3.6) and IE8 compatibility almost makes that happen.   If I were developing for a customer in the real world, I’d use Express.js and have both client-side and server-side rendering, as was possible, but this isn’t a server-based application, and it does its jobs well.

Right Now is also supposed to be a reminder tool.  It doesn’t need bells and whistles.  Someone suggested, and I understand the wish, that it had a search bar in it, so that instead of replacing “The Google” as your home page, it only supplements it.  This is an admirable suggestion, but Right Now‘s purpose is to prevent you from immediately haring off on whatever idea distracted you in the first place.   It’s an anti-procrastination device, and adding procrastination-enhancing distractions to it would be contrary to its purpose.


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March 2012
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