Sunday, October 5th, 2014

LHC Map

A lovely hack from Science Hack Day San Francisco: get an idea of the size of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider by seeing it superimposed over your town.

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Science Hack Day: Serious Fun in the Making

It’s impossible to predict the creations that will spring forth when people gather in the spirit of participation, collaboration, and benign anarchy at the next Science Hack Day, but the results are certain to be inspired, and inspiring.

Blogging Known Style

Companies go out of business, get bought and change policies, so what if you had one place to originate all of your content then publish it out to those great social services? And hey, why not pull comments from those services back to your original post?

That’s the idea behind Indie Web Camp: have your own website be the canonical source of what your publish. But right now, getting all of the moving parts up and running requires a fair dollop of tech-savviness. That’s where Known comes in:

It’s similar to the WordPress model: you can create a blog on their servers, or you can download the software and host it on your own.

This post is a good run-down of what’s working well with Known, and what needs more work.

The Hummingbird Effect — How We Got to Now

How the printing press led to the microscope, and chlorination transformed women’s fashion—Steven Johnson channels James Burke.

Tabletop Whale

Beautiful visualisations of science and nature.

Made with love by a designer with a molecular biology degree.

ntlk’s blog: Why can’t you track periods in Apple’s Health app?

Good question.

JS Parse and Execution Time - TimKadlec.com

Tim’s been running the numbers on how long it takes various browsers on various devices to parse JavaScript—in this case, jQuery. The time varies enormously depending on the device hardware.

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

How We Could Actually Build a Space Colony - Popular Mechanics

This is basically porn for me.

Bernal spheres, Stanford tori, and O’Neill cylinders, oh my!

56 Experts reveal 3 beloved front-end development tools

Turns out that Brian LeRoux and I gave the same answer to this question:

  1. HTML
  2. CSS
  3. JavaScript

I think I just saved you a click.

Physical Web by google

This is what Scott Jenson has been working on—a first stab at just-in-time interactions by having physical devices broadcasting URLs.

Walk up and use anything

if(version,startswith(“windows 9”) | source code search engine

This is fascinating—it looks like there might be an entirely practical reason for Microsoft to skip having a version 9 of Windows …and it’s down to crappy pattern-matching code that’s supposed to target Windows 95 and 98.

This is exactly like the crappy user-agent sniffing that forced browsers to lie in their user-agent strings.

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

OS X bash Update 1.0 – OS X Mavericks

Incredibly, you have to manually download and run this patch for Shellshock on OS X: it’s not being pushed as a security update.

But the new U2 album? That’s being pushed to everyone.

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Y Combinator and the negative externalities of Hacker News | Danilo Campos

When I wrote about Reddit and Hacker News, criticising their lack of moderation, civility, and basic decency, many people (invariably men) responded in defence of Reddit. Nobody defended Hacker News. Nobody.

Oh, and all of you people (men) defending Reddit? Here’s your party line …I find it abhorrent.

Introducing Universal SSL

Great news from Cloudflare—https endpoints by default!

This means that if you’re planning on switching on TLS for your site, but you’re using Cloudflare as a CDN, you’ve got one less thing to change (and goodness knows you’re going to have enough to do already).

I really like their reasoning for doing this, despite the fact that it might mean that they take a financial hit:

Having cutting-edge encryption may not seem important to a small blog, but it is critical to advancing the encrypted-by-default future of the Internet. Every byte, however seemingly mundane, that flows encrypted across the Internet makes it more difficult for those who wish to intercept, throttle, or censor the web. In other words, ensuring your personal blog is available over HTTPS makes it more likely that a human rights organization or social media service or independent journalist will be accessible around the world. Together we can do great things.

Keep ’em Separated — ericportis.com

I share the concerns expressed here about the “sizes” attribute that’s part of the new turbo-powered img element (or “the picture element and its associates”, if you prefer). Putting style or layout information into HTML smells bad.

This is a concern that Matt Wilcox has raised:

Change the design and those breakpoints are likely to be wrong. So you’ll need to change all of the client-side mark-up that references images.

I can give you a current use-case: right here on adactio.com, you can change the stylesheet …so I can’t embed breakpoints or sizes into my img elements because—quite rightly—there’s a separation between the structural HTML layer and the presentational CSS layer.

Responsive Images: If you’re just changing resolutions, use srcset. | CSS-Tricks

Following on from that post of Jason’s I linked to, Chris also emphasises that, for most use cases, you probably only need to use srcset (and maybe sizes), but not the picture element with explicit sources.

It’s really, really great that people are writing about this, because it can be quite a confusing topic to wrap your head around at first.

Monday, September 29th, 2014

15 Lessons from 15 Years of Blogging - Anil Dash

I’d go along with pretty much everything Anil says here. Wise words from someone who’s been writing on their own website for fifteen years (congratulations!).

Link to everything you create elsewhere on the web. And if possible, save a copy of it on your own blog. Things disappear so quickly, and even important work can slip your mind months or years later when you want to recall it. If it’s in one, definitive place, you’ll be glad for it.

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Tech’s tunnel vision (Phil Gyford’s website)

I really like Phil’s braindump of conference ideas. Frankly, many of these ideas work just as well as watchwords for building on the web:

  • Different models for start-ups. Co-operatives. Employee ownership. Normal, slowly-growing, profit-making businesses.
  • Technology for people who don’t live in the first world. (There’s a lot of them and they have a lot of technology, but most of us know nothing about it.)
  • Websites that make the whole Web better.
  • New services that work fine on technology that’s been around for years.
  • Services designed for people who have little money.
  • Services designed for people who aren’t fully able.
  • Models for keeping services running over the long-term. (What happens when your company closes, or to your personal projects when you die?)

Lillian Karabaic: The Indie Web is the new Zines

I really like this comparison:

As a zinester and zine librarian, I see the Indie Web as a pretty direct correlation to 1980’s and 1990’s zine culture. The method of production may be completely different (photocopiers and direct mail vs web posts and servers) but the goals are almost identical – controlling the way in which your message and identity are displayed, crafted, and stored while avoiding censorship that corporate media might impose. The end goal of both zine and indieweb technologies is ownership of your own identity without a filter.

But there also challenges:

The key issue right now for diverse populations utilizing the Indie Web is accessibility. As long as the tools for creating & controlling your own identity online are still relatively obtuse & technical to implement, we won’t have great diversity within the Indie Web.

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Using ServiceWorker in Chrome today - JakeArchibald.com

It’s very early days for ServiceWorker, but Jake is on hand with documentation and instructions on its use. To be honest, most of this is over my head and I suspect it won’t really “click” until I try using it for myself.

Where it gets really interesting is in the comments. Stuart asks “What about progressive enhancement?” And Jake points out that because a ServiceWorker won’t be installed on a first visit, you pretty much have to treat it as an enhancement. In fact, you’d have to go out of your way to make it a requirement:

You could, of course, throw up a splash screen and wait for the ServiceWorker to install, creating a ServiceWorker-dependant experience. I will hunt those people down.