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7 Things

December 29, 2005

Well, I suppose if everyone else is doing it, I’d better join the fray with a year-end introspective of my own. Here are 7 randomly-selected things that made me happy in 2005, in no particular order.


New to me this year: the command line. (Or at least, the Unix command line… we won’t mention that sordid episode with MS-DOS back in the 80’s and 90’s.) Without hands-on experience, it’s easy to look at keyboard interaction as primitive and outdated, but the simple elegance and power of text-only mode is really growing on me. With tools like rsync and ssh at my disposal, I can do insanely great things like back up my entire web server automatically. And of course, OS X offers the best off both worlds: Unix, with a top-notch GUI and all my design tools in one place.


No really. XHTML, with an intentional X. All debates aside, the fact that as many pages on this site as are humanly possible are stored as valid, well-formed XML meant I was able to use one of the many existing open source XML parsing libraries to extract a bunch of hard-coded information and do something I wasn’t entirely sure was possible.


It was the year of the script. Sites like Flickr and Google Maps kicked off a major renewed interest in the humble curly brackets, and folks like Jeremy Keith and the DOM Scripting Task Force have made sure to keep our code in check. If/when a redesign happens around these parts during 2006, it’s a safe bet to expect the odd bit of unobtrusive script.

Google Maps

Hey, and speaking of Google Maps, I fell in love in an instant when it first launched earlier this year. I’ve been interested in maps and satellite imagery since forever, so Google bringing it to the web with such a simple, intuitive interface and an extensible API was a master-stroke. GMaps on a Treo? I’m so there.

And credit where it’s due: have you seen Microsoft’s answer? Bird’s-Eye View is enough to make me forget about Google Maps. If only they covered Canada too… (Goal for all mapping services in 2006: extra-US data, please.)

Digital SLR
Mossy Tree

The difference between a digital SLR and a consumer point and shoot is the difference between Chef Boyardee and a four star Italian restaurant. Though I’m no pro, this camera makes me feel like I’m a way better photographer than I really am. Check out the image linked through the thumbnail — it’s straight off the camera. (Careful though, your browser might not like 3504x2336)

CBC Radio 3 & Ricky Gervais Podcasts

This time last year, I’d barely heard of podcasting. This year, it’s the New Oxford American Dictionary’s word of the year. The only two I’ve found to be must-listens are the CBC’s “best of” Canadian indie music podcast, and the relatively new, short-running Ricky Gervais Show. The former gets me hooked on tunes I can actually feel good about buying, the latter has me on the floor weekly.

Katamari Damacy

I’m glad it’s still cool to like this game, because I love it. From the quirky humour to the zany music to the obsessive-compulsive gratification of the game-play to the take-no-crap attitude of the creator, it’s Great. End of story. Now get the T-Shirt.

December 29, 16h

How about satellite radio moving into Canada? Any interest? Might be one of your year-end faves in 2006.

December 29, 16h

That photo is amazing. I’m really jealous.

Dave S. says:
December 29, 16h

Yeah, I’ve been having the should I/shouldn’t I debate with myself since it was announced. There are a lot of compelling reasons to do it – I’d likely go Sirius – just haven’t quite pushed myself over that edge yet. Possibly for the same reason I killed my TV a few years ago, unfettered access to continual content being too much of a time-suck. Radio much less so, obviously, so maybe it’s an imagined problem.

Jérémie says:
December 29, 16h

Ok, let’s bring the clumsy intellect online : what’s a “Digital SLR” ? A model, type of camera ? A different tech ?

Google doesn’t offer clear answer when - like me - you have no photographic skills or knowledges.

Eoghan says:
December 29, 17h

Dave, if you enjoy that Gervais podcast, check out their previous work on Xfm!

Dave S. says:
December 29, 17h

Jérémie - no worries, I was there once too. SLR stands for “Single Lens Reflex”, it’s a camera type, and you can read up on it on Wikipedia (which really should have been #8 on this list):

December 29, 17h

Curious why you’d go with Sirius, Dave. Fewer subscribers, clunkier hardware, and they’re losing the NHL contract to XM.

@Jeremie: A Digital SLR is a pro-level digital single-lens reflex camera. Basically a digital version of a high-end 35mm camera.

brian says:
December 29, 17h

How do you play Katamari if you killed your TV? Kidding of course.

What a year it’s been! Google maps was certainly high on my list. As is Javascript. It’s been a good year for the web in general. The little guy is really starting to show some promise.

Tony says:
December 29, 18h

I’ve had Sirius since the summer, and I absolutely love it. I’m not sure you could go wrong with either Sirius or XM (though I don’t really know what the Canadian coverage plans are). As a football (the American kind) fan, there is no other choice than Sirius, as they have the exclusive rights to the NFL.

John says:
December 29, 19h

Dale, I can answer the Sirius question.

CBC Radio 3, one of the items on Dave’s list, is on Sirius 24 hours a day. Its one of the main reasons why I chose Sirius as well.

Johnny says:
December 30, 01h

Awesome picture. Just curious, what kind of camera is it, brand, model and mp?

Johnny says:
December 30, 01h

Sorry Dave, I found it. For those interested:
Make: Canon
Model: EOS 20D
MP: 8 MP
Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec
Exposure: Aperture
F-Stop: f/3.5
Taken on: Sunday, Sept 4th 2005

BOK says:
December 30, 01h

Nice line-up, Dave!

For the camera-info - try a Firefox-plugin called “FxIF” to show the so called EXIF-data by right clickin on a JPEG-image in the browser:

WillB says:
December 30, 02h

The Ricky Gervais podcast is brilliant. You might also want to check out his BBC Radio 2 shows this Christmas - available online live or via the ‘listen again’ section.

December 30, 10h

I think that JavaScript has been near the top of many people’s lists this year for a good reason. It’s almost like a gold mine that has been hiding in our browsers for years that we had never really seen until recently. Sure, we have explored the caves in the past, but none of the gold was apparent. Gmail really turned on the lights and opened our eyes.

December 30, 11h

Agree about the Ricky Gervais podcast - hilarious! If you’re interested in finding more good podcasts I posted a list of my top 5 favorites (

Kelson says:
December 30, 12h

*sigh* That is a very nice picture. There are two things I don’t like about my current digital camera. (Well, three, once you throw in the shutter delay.) One would be solved by going SLR. The other would be solved by going for a tinier point-and-shoot.

I think maybe I need two cameras, one I can carry in my pocket for random photos and one good SLR that I can take on vacations and stuff.

Boby says:
December 30, 16h


The photo is very good and I think you have a lot other good photos. Why don’t you create a gallery and share these?

Sywan says:
December 30, 19h

Katamari is so awesome. So how many _________ did you roll up during the ending Dave? You should check out We Love Katamari, it feels like the first all over again but with totally new levels.

Left the _________ intentionally so I wouldn’t spoil anything for the other readers who haven’t played Katamari yet.

December 31, 14h

I was graced with a digital rebel xt for christmas, having that power is amazing. Now I just need to learn how to control it. The tree shot is great.

Tony says:
January 01, 15h

I also made the jump to Digital SLR this year (Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D) and haven’t looked back. Not sure what format you’re shooting in, but I HIGHLY recommend RAW (or RAW+JPG.) You won’t believe the extra information you’ll be capturing, and the amazing amount of control you’ll have in the editing process. The difference between RAW and JPG is the difference between a full-featured XHTML text editor and MS FrontPage. (Ok, maybe that’s not the best example, but I think you get my drift…) To learn more about working with RAW, check out “Photoshop CS2 Workflow” by Tim Grey, and “Adobe Camera RAW for Digital Photographers Only” by Rob Sheppard.

Birgit says:
January 02, 04h

Purchasing a 20D is also one of my goals for 2006. You see so many good photos shot with this camera, and what I like very much about it is the speed at which you can take multiple frames (amongst many other things).
I got a Konica Minolta 7D for evaluation these days, because my Dimage 7i is being fixed because of this:
(sorry for the long link). There’s one thing that I took notice of, that the shutter is quite noisy. Is this also the case for the 20D?
What kind of lens did you use for the tree shot?

Dave S. says:
January 02, 09h

“There’s one thing that I took notice of, that the shutter is quite noisy. Is this also the case for the 20D?”

I think you mean the physical sound of the shutter clicking, and not image noise. In which case, yes, that’s one of the 20D’s main problems, it’s a very loud camera. As far as image noise though, there’s nothing to worry about - the 20D shoots all the way up to ISO1600 with remarkably low noise, but I haven’t tried out its ISO3200 mode yet.

Lens – Canon’s f1.8 50mm prime. It’s a quarter of the price of the f1.4 50mm prime, and from what I’ve seen of side-by-side test shots, so amazingly close in quality that it’s hard to justify paying for the more expensive, heavier lens. f1.8 combined with the 20D’s low noise ISO1600 mode means I can almost shoot in candle light without a flash. It’s my favourite lens so far.

Birgit says:
January 02, 14h

Yes, that’s exactly what I meant. Maybe it’s just common for SLRs. What concerns the sensor, I think there’s hardly any camera of this price class that beats the 20D for low image noise.
Sorry for my inadequate English :)

P.S.: Just finished reading your book - great reading!

Sean says:
January 02, 14h

I like your selections - a lot more thought-provoking than the designation “random” might imply ;)

I know if I were to throw a list together like this, your book and “Bulletproof Web Design” would be on it.

Ryan says:
January 05, 08h

I myself am partial to the Nikon series of fine SLRs. What makes them so great are the super sharp imaging chips and the *amazing* Nikor lenses.

Anyway, in regards to Unix, I’m a believer as well. In making the jump to dynamic web development on my G5, I’ve reluctantly had to delve into the dreaded Terminal, and you know what? It’s really not that bad. I just wish the shortkeys were more intuitive.

And Google Maps is the best. True dat. Double true.

Robert says:
January 20, 06h

“The difference between a digital SLR and a consumer point and shoot is the difference between Chef Boyardee and a four star Italian restaurant.”

Nice photo of the tree - sure, a digital SLR is more than just a step above the digital point and shoot, maybe your analogy is a bit exaggerated, but let’s not forget that point and shoot tools can provide very satisfying images if you take the time to utilize the features found on many of the mid-range models and use photoshop when needed. Having said that, I’m looking very much forward to my first SLR
- see: as an example.

deji says:
February 21, 03h

u talked about javascript being one of the coolest things this year…well i’m just picking up the language and i think is cool 2.
but the question i want to ask is how do i hide my javascript/source codes from not being seen when the view source is clicked on the browser.
i know flckr uses javascript and i noticed that all i got was a blank notepad when i tried viewing the source, how do i do that.