Once upon a time (1966 was the first time), I'd learn a programming language and then apply this knowledge to whatever problems were chucked my way. As I've got older, I decide what I want, then go online for help in doing it. Okay, it doesn't make me a professional coder but I learn plenty along the way and end up with a website that I'm in charge of and can change at the drop of a hat.
Without Google and the World Wide Web, Lord knows what I'd have done. But, thanks to them and all the places they led me to, I have a site which, while falling short of elegant, does what I want. More importantly, I hope it gives its visitors an enjoyable and useful experience.
Here they are, in order of the number of hits I recorded in my Firefox History file. First the top ten (the first three were on tap continuously):
??? Microsoft ExpressionWeb4 was an invaluable website development environment.
??? W3C's Markup Validation Service. As the name suggests, it checks the validity of web pages.
??? Firefox Web Developer tools – especially Web console and Debugger.
101 JQuery Radar Plus Mehdi Tazi adapted Ryan Allred's Radar Chart. I adapted Mehdi's. Figuring out how it worked was like solving a giant puzzle.
55 The PHP Manual and source of everything.
51 Radar Chart JQuery Plugin Ryan Allred's original code.
29 Plusnet's 'friendly' area. I used it for CGI and PHP hosting stuff.
Now for the rest of the top 20. They may be lower in hit count but they were no less valuable – a single hit would often point me in the right direction:
19 Mario Lurig's PHP code checker came in handy when the PHP would stall.
7 Maths Is Fun took me back to schooldays to remind me about radians, sines and cosine. I could remember 'sohcahtoa' but couldn't remember what practical use to put it to.
6 tuts+ explained the 960 grid system, but also explained other things, including HTML Forms.
5 The jquery learning center does what it says on the tin. I used it as a reference for scopes, arrays and operators.
5 960 grid system. I found the 960 24 grid system perfect for laying out the web pages (and, often, changing them quickly.)
4 Six Revisions is a website hints and tips site. I used it to read about the 960-grid-system and HTML5's canvas (on which the charts appear).
4 Chris Pietschmann kindly explained how to colour dropdown items in an HTML form.
3 Chris Wiegman showed how to dig out the correct IP address for a visitor. (If you're with a hosting organisation, you're still fairly anonymous though.)
2 Home & Learn helped me a lot with understanding how to work with the HTML5 canvas.
Other honourable mentions should go to:
Google Analytics – which keeps an eye on visitor behaviour.
The many people who looked and commented as we went through. I guess some would prefer not to be named, but you'll know if you were one of them. A big thank you to you. I learnt something new from every single discussion.
Finally, my partners in crime Dr. Bill Nichols and Martin Banks.
It's been a blast. It made me remember why I loved programming. But also taught me that I could never make a living at it these days.
Thank you all for five very interesting months.