Terrence Dorsey Writer. Editor. Nerd.

Toolbox: Accessibility Tools

Here’s an interesting statistic: according to Blindness Statistics from the American Foundation for the Blind

findings from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Preliminary Report established that an estimated 20.6 million adult Americans (or nearly 10% of all adult Americans) reported they either “have trouble” seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, or that they are blind or unable to see at all.

That’s a lot of people who may need a little help when computing. Even my aging eyes need a little extra help from time to time.

In my February 2016 column for Visual Studio Magazine, Tips and Tools for Making Accessibility a Developer Priority, I looked into some of the best tools and techniques for developing and testing accessibility in applications and web sites. The tooling has become much better in recent years, and Windows-based development is starting to catch up with what’s been available on OS X and iOS for years.

Make accessibility for all users a priority. It’s the right thing to do.

Toolbox: Rich Text Editors

For my January 2016 Visual Studio Magazine column, I dove into a subject that I’d been putting off for a while because I thought it would be a complicated rabbit hole. Turns out to be quite interesting. 8 Rich Text Editors for Interactive Web Content mostly covers web-based rich text editors that harness the power of contentEditable… and a few that don’t for when your web development project has more constraints.

I don’t think the article itself is editable, however.

Toolbox: Cross-Platform Dev Tools For Visual Studio

My December 2015 column for Visual Studio Magazine covers 7 Tools That Bring Cross-Platform Languages into Visual Studio. It’s a grab bag of tools and extensions that make Visual Studio really useful for coding with languages and frameworks beyond .NET. The article covers extensions like VS Tools for Python, Node.js, and Unity, as well as NLog, RestSharp, and more.

2015 Reading and Listening Updates

2015 was a busy year with lots of time spent on the road and not enough spent at home with my family or relaxing with a good book. Nonetheless, I did stumble across a few excellent books in the last 12 and updated my reading list accordingly.

Two books stood out. Let me tell you about them briefly.

If you’ve heard about the recent Jessica Jones series on Netflix, you might be interested in some background reading. Alias Omnibus, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, collects Jones’ background in the Alias stories for Marvel by Bendis and Gaydos, along with some related storylines from other series (as I understand it). The Netflix and Marvel stories differ enough while tackling the same tough material to make both worthwhile reading/watching.

I also received Von Dutch: The Art, The Myth, The Legend, by Pat Ganahl, as a gift and frankly couldn’t put it down. Ignore for a second the recent “Von Dutch” fashion marketing phenomenon, which has nothing at all to do with the man. Dutch was arguably the inventor and master of modern decorative hot-rod pinstriping. Ganahl, a talented, long-time automotive journalist working mostly in the hot rod scene, created a fascinating portrait of the reclusive, eccentric Von Dutch, told mostly through the recollections of people who knew him. The discrepancies in the stories say as much about the fans, friends, and hot rod scene as they do about Dutch. A fascinating and finely told bit of history.

As for all that traveling… while I haven’t acquired a taste for audiobooks yet, I have been listening to hours and hours of podcasts. Two I particularly enjoy are:

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History features some great, in-depth, wide-ranging narrative overviews of historical people and events. I particularly enjoyed Wrath of the Khans, a five-episode history of Genghis Khan and his hordes, and Blueprint for Armageddon, a six-episode history of World War I as told through personal accounts and diaries.

Beware: these are long-haul listening, and a single episode can go on for hours. On the other hand, I love Carlin’s ability to bring characters to life though quoted excerpts from source materials, as well as his tangent thoughts on those sources and the historians behind them.

My other favorite podcast is Nerds on Draft by my friends Gabe and Jeff. They talk about craft beer and nerdy stuff. You should also check out their excellent beer journal app TapCellar.

Cheers!

Toolbox: Autumn Column Catch-up

Time for some catch-up with my recent columns over at Visual Studio Magazine.

From August, 15 Visual Studio Project Templates To Jump Start Your Code, an overview of Visual Studio project templates and development scaffolds that go a bit beyond — or even more bare-bones, in the case of TruelyBlank — the default Visual Studio project templates.

In September I put together a round-up of the 9 Top .NET UI Component Collections, a long-standing request from my patient editor. If you ever wanted to know how the different control collections out there stack up against each other, check this out.

And in November, 10 ORM and Data Tier Management Tools for Visual Studio, which takes a slightly different approach than my previous columns on data access, this time focusing on tools and extensions that integrate directly with Visual Studio.