Roger Vandawalker

About Roger Vandawalker

Roger is Matrix Group's resident Yankees fanatic, hailing from Upstate New York. When he's not making beautiful and functional web pages, you may find him getting his face melted by his favorite rock bands or constructing roofs on the volleyball court. On a softer note, he owns two adorable kittens that will one day be Internet famous.

The Stately Font

StatelySo this is pretty cool.  Intridea’s Ben Markowitz (@bpmarkowitz) came up with this glyph font, Stately, that displays US states instead of letters when you type.  You may have seen it, but it’s worth seeing again.

UX designers and fans are pretty excited about it, especially if they have to make infographics based around or using maps.  This pretty basic idea – a glyph font – can become a powerful tool when you’re visually trying to get an idea across to a viewer.

How would you put Stately to use on your site?

How to Remove Broken Placeholders When Images Don’t Load

Images that don’t load can sometimes leave an ugly red [X] placeholder. This jQuery snippet will remove all instances of images that don’t load. It even takes into account that IE will only produce a single error for each unique src attribute.


It’s safer to completely remove the broken image from the DOM as the display and visibility CSS properties work inconsistently across browsers.

What other tips or tricks for graceful erroring out can you share?

Get yourself a standing desk for free

It seems like standing desks are all the rage here at Matrix Group. I never quite understood the appeal of being forced to stand all day, but I do appreciate a good standing break every once in a while. In a completely ideal world, I would have an adjustable desk that could fit whatever mood I’m in at the flip of a switch. It should also be affordable, which unfortunately isn’t the norm in this real world that I’m constrained to. I need a solution that lets me sit the majority of the time but also lets me comfortably work if I want to stand. So here’s what I came up with and it literally cost me zero dollars.

Yes, that is a run of the mill shipping box. That is also a laptop sitting on top of it. Take that combination and place it atop your desk and voila, instant standing desk.

To be completely fair, I admit I’m cheating a little. I’m volunteering to use my personal laptop when I want to stand so it’s not a completely seamless transition. Fortunately at the office we have WiFi and VPN access so I can get to all of the local networks and development servers without too much of a problem. When my legs ultimately get tired, I close my laptop, move the box out of sight and get back on my desktop right where I left off. It’s not the most elegant solution but hey, for $0, I could do a lot worse. The important thing is this setup accomplishes everything that I want it to.

How have you been clever/crafty with your work area?

Windows 8 isn’t as scary as the Internet would lead you to believe

I’m a fan of Windows 7, as are many others. If you share this opinion then you’ll be happy to know that Windows 8 (which will be available October 26th for a $40 upgrade) offers you just as good of an experience with some increased performance. It ran buttery-smooth on a 6-year-old laptop! The interface has been tweaked a bit and this is where all the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) stems. In reality, things aren’t all that different.

Windows 8 Start Screen

Here’s an example of the Windows 8 Start Screen. Looks different, functions the same.

It’s true: Windows 8 doesn’t have the Start Button or Start Menu that you’ve known since the days of Windows 95. The Start Menu has been replaced (and enhanced) by the Start Screen; a full-screen menu that features app icons and widgets (aka Live Tiles). Everything is all laid out like goodies on a dessert tray – not nested in folders. You can browse by scrolling left-to-right or by typing the name of the application you want. You get to this menu/screen the same way you always have: click the bottom-left corner of the taskbar (where the Start Button used to be) or pressing the Windows key on your keyboard. I prefer the latter.

The Start Screen has produced a lot of noise on the Web. I’ve found that the majority of this noise is coming from folks who just haven’t had much (if any) experience with it. I’ve used this interface through various iterations over the past year and the changes to my workflow from Windows 7 have been very minimal. Getting used to the Start Screen took all of 5 minutes and it’s fantastic once you customize it to your liking. I still use the traditional Windows desktop the majority of the time, though.

There are very few differences between the way I use Windows 7 and the way I use Windows 8. Scott Hanselman wrote a great article summarizing any discrepancies you might come across. Ultimately I think you’ll find they are minimal and Windows 8 isn’t all that scary, despite what the Internet may yell about.

What’s your biggest concern about Windows 8?

Quick Tool Rec: Sticky Positioning Lands in Webkit

Not yet widely supported, but still cool and maybe one day useful.  “Sticky” navigation is quite popular and getting even more prevalent (via JavaScript tweaks).

Are you trying new ways to position elements? How are you getting it done?