Archive: November, 2008


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Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Addictionary :: What's your word?

It's The Meaning Of Liff all over again. Creating and rating neologisms.

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Hack Day – Group at

The first ever hack day is taking place in London on December 14th. I'll be there.


Jon's helvetican theme for Google Reader.

The Septic's Companion - A mercifully brief guide to British culture and slang

British English slang dictionary with translations into American English.

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

?C ?V Character

A very useful tool for getting character entities (use the "as HTML" option) in one click.

SNIF :: Welcome

Social networking for dogs through RFID. Spimy animals FTW!

Ztamp:s - RFID stamps that makes your objects come alive - Violet •• Let All Things Be Connected

Reading through some of the things that peope have made with these RFID tags is making me itchy to hack something tangible.

Change blindness and the role of the grey flicker- 90 Percent of Everything

An interesting look at the way our brains responds to changes in our environment ...with video.


This looks wonderful: "a directory of ways to participate in space exploration." I'll be keeping my eye on the Elevator:2010 project.

Monday, November 24th, 2008

malevole - Text Generator

An excellent alternative to Lorem Ipsum ...possibly even better than Anguish Languish.

The Skiff - An intrepid little office in the heart of Brighton

Brighton has a new co-working space right 'round the corner from the Clearleft office: The Skiff.

The Screens Issue - If You Liked This, Sure to Love That - Winning the Netflix Prize -

The Napoleon Dynamite problem at Netflix: basement hackers and amateur mathematicians are competing to improve the program that Netflix uses to recommend DVDs — and to win $1 million in the process.

W3C Validator, now with HTML5 flavour - W3C Q&A Weblog

Henri Sivonen's HTML5 validator has now been integrated into the W3C validator.

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008


Cameron made a drum machine in JavaScript. This is further proof that the man in blue is possibly even more insane than John Resig. Nuts! Nuts, I tell you!

Interview @MarsPhoenix - Universe

An interview with Veronica McGregor, the human being behind the wonderful MarsPhoenix Twitter account.


A brilliant take on Space Invaders where gravity does its thing.

Locus Online Features: Cory Doctorow: Why I Copyfight

This is a brilliant and inspiring essay by Cory on the why the copyists—avid consumers who are branded as criminals—are not our enemy. Please read this; it is important for the survival of our culture.

Podcasts from the University of Oxford

A treasure trove of podcasts from the University of Oxford. Some of this stuff is crying out to be huffduffed.

Preservation and design

Stan is baring his soul and showing his first website. He explains his actions thusly:

As embarrassing as it might be, I’m putting that old version (as well as my second site) online because I believe in trying to preserve the things we make.

He also says:

There are organizations like Machine that are doing a good job of capturing the web, but it’s still not quite there yet. For now, I don’t think it’s a bad idea for us to keep our own archives.

That echoes something I said in my talk, The Long Web:

Brewster Kahle’s Internet Archive is a magnificent undertaking. But the scale of the endeavour is monumental. Saving our culture is a task that will probably need to be crowdsourced if it is to succeed.

You can read the whole thing if you’re interested in more of my thoughts on digital preservation but for now I’m going to follow Jason’s lead and show the first two versions of this site:

As you’ll see, I was doing superfluous bloated JavaScript effects before they were fashionable. I’m very, very glad that I switched my site over its current shape seven years ago. As Jason says:

We all have the urge to redesign our websites every other month, but it’s heartbreaking to see old designs just vanish forever.

But in my case I’m trying to have my cake and eat it too. Of course I get the urge to redesign my site but instead of replacing the existing design, I add the new design to the list of options. This approach is at once completely in agreement and utterly at odds with Jason’s claim:

The things we write are published with a specific design and context. When we change that, we break the context and alter the original qualities of that piece of work.

I’m finding that on today’s web, content and design no longer have a one-to-one relationship. One piece of data can exist in many different contexts: a one-to-many relationship. A blog post appearing at a website URL or in an RSS reader is a fairly simplistic example. But think about, say, all the photos on Flickr and the myriad places where they might be viewed. Then there are services like Fire Eagle and AMEE where the content has no visible home. It’s the data that matters.

That’s not to say that design is no longer important. Far from it. With the proliferation of all this data, it’s more important than ever to present it in a way that makes sense and, in a best-case scenario, in a way that has an emotional impact. The difference with the web as the delivery mechanism is that the design can be tailored to the person consuming the data. That is both immensely liberating and unbelievably challenging.

This is the kind of stuff that Jeff Veen has been talking about lately as Designing Our Way Through Data.

United States Patent Application: 0080209234

A patent filed by Google for offshore server farms cooled by sea water.


Here’s an interview with the makers of the game Geometry Wars, a game I find utterly fascinating for the way its very simple rule base quickly results in complex hallucinatory visions of beauty that are simultaneously mesmerising and baffling to watch.

After reading the interview, I moved on to the next tab I had open in my browser courtesy of Tom’s always excellent links. This was a post by Simon Wistow describing the iPhone version of the game rRootage. There I came across the word 弾幕 or meaning :

…a sub-genre of shoot ‘em up video games in which the entire screen is often almost completely filled with enemy bullets.

Next time I’m trying to describe Geometry Wars I think I’ll just say It’s kind of danmaku.


Turf Bombing is a device-agnostic location-based game. Could be fun. I've already claimed my neighbourhood.

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Brighton Wifi Hotspots (and WEP/WPA passwords)

WiFi hotspots in Brighton (including passwords where required) courtesy of Josh.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Online time 'is good for teens'

Mimi Ito talks to the BBC about the findings of a report into teens geeking out online.

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Coworking / BrightonCoworkingCafeBar

It looks like Brighton is getting its own dedicated geek coffee bar thanks to Josh.

Rating and launching

Rate My Area describes itself as:

…the new and easy way to find, review, share and discuss all that’s good (and not so good!) in your area.

The name is a little bit confusing. You don’t actually rate your area as such, you rate the businesses in your area. But Rate My Cafés, Pubs, Takeaways and Everything Else would be a very long-winded name.

Anyway, the reason I mention the site is that Clearleft had a hand in it: information architecture, visual design, and front-end build. That last part was where I was involved; markup, CSS and JavaScript. Although the site launched just this week, we finished our work on it finished quite a while back. We were beginning to wonder if it would ever see the light of day. Now that the site has finally launched, I can see where the time has gone: they’ve been seeding the site with oodles and oodles of good data. It makes quite a difference: instead of launching a ghost town, it feels like a vibrant, active place.

I had another concern with the launch of Rate My Area: after all this time, would any of my markup have survived intact? I needn’t have worried. Although there’s been plenty of extra work done on top of the templates we provided, the attention to detail has remained consistently high. As most front-end developers will agree, it’s not often that you can proudly point to a final site without having to add disclaimers about late additions that messed with your nice, pristine markup. Rate My Area looks like being an exception. As well as maintaining Paul’s beautiful and daring visual design, the site has a solid foundation of semantic markup stuffed full of microformats and enhanced with unobtrusive JavaScript.

My congratulations (and thanks) go out to Mike and Rory, the lads with the Rate My Area vision. Right now the site is confined to areas in Dublin but it will expand; the rest of Ireland, then the UK, and then …the world. Mwuhahaha!

Oh, one more thing: the site has an iPod version (not Clearleft’s work). Alas, you are directed automatically if you visit on your iPhone/iPod. I much prefer a separate subdomain like and Still, it’s one of the nicest iPhone sites I’ve seen.

Designing for hyper-connectivity - SlideShare

This talk that James gave in Bristol last week is chock full of great stuff. Well worth a read/look.

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Kvetch! Let it out, baby.

Kvetch is back, reborn as a Twitter barnacle app. Let it out, baby.

Five Simple Steps | Books

Mark's book is almost ready. Really. It's got its own site and everything so it must be true.

NASA - NASA Successfully Tests First Deep Space Internet

We have a new network protocol, courtesy of Vint Cerf and NASA. Move over TCP/IP, here comes DTN: Disruption-Tolerant Networking.

Obama’s FCC Transition Team Co-chair a WoW Player - GigaOM

This bodes well: "President-elect Obama appointed Kevin Werbach, assistant professor of legal studies and business ethics at Wharton, and Susan Crawford, who teaches communications and Internet law at the University of Michigan, to co-chair his FC…

YouTube - MontyPython's Channel

There is now a dedicated Monty Python channel on YouTube, all legit like. Hurrah!

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

A List Apart: Articles: This is How the Web Gets Regulated

Joe has written a rousing call to arms on the state of online captioning. It's a lengthy article but well worth reading.


John Resig offers an alternative user interface for selecting a time.

Big in Japan

I’m back from Japan. Thank you to everyone who took the time to give me some sightseeing tips. I had a a great trip.

Web Directions East was really well organised. John and his team took really good care of me and all the other speakers. The only glitch was on my part and it was medical in nature.

Maybe it was the long flight over, maybe it was lack of sleep, but my body protested its new-found surroundings by rebelling in the vocal department. As I was wrapping up my presentation on stage on the morning of the conference, I could feel my throat becoming raspier. An hour or two later, my voice was on its way out. I attempted some damage control by ducking back to the hotel for the afternoon which meant that sadly, I missed a whole bunch of undoubtedly excellent presentation while I tried resting up my body and throat. I still had a whole day of workshopping to do two days after the conference proper and I needed my voice for that.

I spent the day before the workshop being somewhat antisocial by not speaking at all. That helped somewhat but on the day of the workshop itself, I still sounded like Tom Waits. From a medical standpoint, I probably shouldn’t have attempted to spend a whole day talking about Ajax but from a professional standpoint, I was determined to deliver what I had promised. I made it through …just. There were times when I thought I really wouldn’t be able to reach the end of the workshop but it somehow worked out. On the positive side, I really only had to make sure I was audible to one person: the simultaneous interpreter. The interpreters’ voices were all working just fine so the workshop attendees received a translation of my words without an accompanying translation of my laryngitis.

On reflection, it probably wasn’t the best idea to celebrate the successful conclusion of the workshop with an evening of merriment that culminated with karaoke. But hey, when in Japan, right?

The rest of my time in Japan was spent soaking up as many sights, sounds and—most importantly—tastes as I possibly could. In brief…

  • Everybody I met in Japan was friendly and helpful. This is a country where people don’t get into fights when they get drunk, they just get even more polite and friendly.
  • Every subway stop in Tokyo has its own jingle. This is, quite simply, awesome.
  • Advertisements eschew telling you a domain name in favour of showing you what to search for. They must be very confident of their search engine rankings.
  • is a great part of Tokyo. Personally, I think it’s even cooler than .
  • A trip to proved fruitful. I successfully acquired a .
  • Getting up early to visit was totally worth it. It’s a huge chaotic cathedral of seafood.
  • Visiting the on a weekend was fortuitous. There was more than one wedding party to observe.
  • is a beautiful place, perhaps one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Staying in a heightened the experience.
  • —or at least the — is crazier than Shinjuku and Shibuya combined. It’s an unimaginative cliché to say this but it really was like Bladerunner.

Then there was the : , and in Tokyo, , and in Osaka …it was all wonderful.

Diligent tourist that I am, I had my camera with me at all times. For your viewing pleasure I give you:

Lorem 2: An all-around better Lorem experience.

Lorem 2 is a simple and better way to grab Lorem Ipsum text content. I still like using Anguish Languish.

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Rate My Area | Review and share your favourite places!

Clearleft worked on this project; information architecture, visual design, and front-end (that was my part: markup, CSS and JavaScript). I'm very, very happy to see that it's finally launched and even happier to see the level of appreciation for g… Wiki 2.0 · Microformats Wiki

Ben has been working hard to upgrade the microformats wiki. His hard work has paid off: it looks great!

Friday, November 14th, 2008

HTML: The Markup Language

Mike Smith has extracted all the parts of the HTML5 spec related to authoring (as opposed to error handling, DOM and other user-agent instructions) to create a pure markup spec. Very handy.

Watchmen Feature Trailer - Trailer Addict

The new trailer for Watchmen is out. It's still looking good. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

End of a snarky era: Gawker shuts down Valleywag | The Social - CNET News

Excellent news: Valleywag is being shut down. If enough people shout "fuck off" together, miracles like this can happen. The web is a better place without Owen Thomas and his bilious spume.


A completely addictive platform game tie-in with current affairs.

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0

WCAG 2.0 has just entered proposed recommendation status. What a long strange trip it's been.


I’ve been doing a lot of travelling this year. I intend to cut back (or attend more virtual conferences like Aral’s). I’m worried that my carbon footprint will require a few forests to offset. I mean, I’ve got the velocity of a squirrel, for crying out loud.

That said, there are certain opportunities that are just too good to pass up. Like, for example, when John asked me if I would speak at Web Directions East in Tokyo next weekend. Yes; Tokyo. A place I’ve always dreamt of visiting.

Tomorrow I’ll fly from Heathrow to Narita and I still can hardly believe it’s really happening. While I’m extremely nervous about my presentation and workshop, I’m also unbelievably excited about visiting the land of sushi and manga. Even better, Jessica is coming with me and, if anything, she’s even more excited.

We’ll be in Tokyo for the best part of a week before heading on for a couple of days in Kyoto and a couple of days in Osaka. We don’t have much of an agenda apart from soaking up the atmosphere and—being the foodies that we are—eating everything in sight.

If you have any hints or tips on what do in Japan, please share them. For my part, I can only promise lots of photographic documentation and maybe even a bit of blogging.

DSC_2672_1 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

This photograph is the 3,000,000,000th to be uploaded to Flickr.


Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Fray Issue 2: Geek - Windhammer by Rob Weychert

Rob's story of Air Guitar Championhood is in issue no. 2 of Fray magazine: Geek.

floor [Dirk]

Dirk is back. The interconnectedness of all things returns as in App Engine form.

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Roo Reynolds - Playful

Notes by Roo Reynolds from yesterday's Playful conference in London.