Getting Started with Grunt.js

For quite some time, I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about Grunt.js: What it does for automating tasks in the development process; how it is so configurable; the fact that it is open source and driven by such a great community of developers; and how much easier it is to configure compared to other build scripts, such as Ant. I even sat through a great session by Ben Alman (the creator) at the 2012 jQuery Conference in San Francisco.

When I initially took a look at the project and what it would take to get up and running, I was a little intimidated and did not really know where to begin. So, as I usually do in those situations, I put it off. Finally, after about a year of hearing so many positive opinions about Grunt, I decided to just sit down for an afternoon and dig into it. I am so glad I did because I absolutely LOVE it!

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Disable the Character Picker in OS X

OS X 10.7 (Lion) introduced a feature called the Character Picker. This allows you to press-and-hold a key on your keyboard, activating a little popup with the different character options associated with that key. This can be a useful feature for some, as it allows you to visually see all of those additional character options and not have to know how to otherwise activate each of them. I, however, found that it was more of a hinderance to my workflow. For example, when I am editing my code in VIM or Vintage Mode in Sublime Text, this feature prevents me from holding down the movement keys (h, j, k, l) to navigate. So I decided to disable it.

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JavaScript and Media Queries

When developing a responsively designed web site, it is likely that you will come across a situation where you will want to selectively execute a JavaScript callback based on a media query comparison. For example, you may want to alter your menu layout for small-screen devices. Or you may wish to load in specific content only on large-screen devices. Luckily, these capabilities are currently available. In this article I will cover a couple methods and show you that this can be done without much trouble at all!

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Adding Spaces To Your OS X Dock

Adding spaces in your Dock on OS X is a nice feature that allows you to bring a little bit of visual organization to your icons. It is really easy to accomplish in just a couple short steps. First, you will want to locate your Terminal application. Terminal can be found at Applications > Utilities > Terminal. Or, for a little shortcut, you can hit Command + Space on your keyboard. This will being up Spotlight and you can then type in Terminal (or the name of any other application you wish to find) and it will show it up in a list below the search input.

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Super Fast Find and Replace with Sed

Sed is a UNIX stream editor that can be used to filter text files. This can be extremely useful if you have to run a Find and Replace on a string of text across a large file. I find this to be much more efficient than using a Find and Replace feature in a text editor. It is much faster (especially on very large files) and you can let it run in a separate Terminal tab without holding up your workflow.

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Viewing Apache Logs with Tail and Grep

As a developer, there may be times when you need to monitor what is happening on an Apache server as live HTTP requests are coming in from a web page. In a UNIX environment, you can actually accomplish this quite painlessly through the command line, using the tail and grep commands. Tail is a command which outputs the last part of a file and the grep utility is used for pattern matching.

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WordPress Post Revisions

As of version 2.6, WordPress introduced a feature which autosaves your posts as revisions while you are editing them in the dashboard. While this functionality can be very useful, it can also be a bit of an annoyance. If a single post ends up going through multiple edits or simply takes a while to get finished, those revisions can add up. I personally don’t see the need to have billions upon billions (ok, slight exaggeration) of revisions saved for every one of my posts. Additionally, that is just extra information that is getting stored in your database, which you may not need. Disabling this feature or limiting the amount of allowed revisions (which is what I opted for) is actually quite simple. It only takes one line of code in your wp-config.php file.

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Must-Have Mac Apps

Recently a few of my friends have made the switch from using a PC to a Mac for their primary workstation. One of the first things people want to know when making that switch is what applications are available that would help them achieve the most optimal user experience on their new operating system. Since this is such a common concern and one of the first things I would want to know as well, I have decided to post a quick list of my current, personal favorites. These are apps that I typically run through and install right away when setting up a new workstation because they have become such a major part of my daily workflow.

Considering that I am a web developer, some of these listed will apply specifically to my craft and may not quite as be useful to someone outside the field. I, however, have also listed many general-purpose apps that any Mac user may find quite useful.

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