Archive: January, 2010


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Saturday, January 30th, 2010

The iPad and the web

Before Apple launched the , I managed to refrain from adding to the deluge of speculation and rumour. Now that the much-anticipated tablet has been unveiled, I can’t resist jotting down my thoughts.

Now, this is just my reaction to a piece of technology. I feel a need to clarify that because discourse on the internet has a strange way of getting warped. Someone says I like Italian food, and someone else responds with Why do you hate Mexican food? Someone says I enjoyed watching Avatar, and someone else hears Everyone should enjoy watching Avatar. So bear in mind that this is just my personal reaction. I’m not saying that everyone should share my feelings. ‘Twould be a very dull world indeed in which we all felt the same.

I didn’t watch Steve Jobs unveiling the iPad—I was busy learning at a Skillswap event—but when I was reading up about it afterwards, I thought to myself I’m probably going to get an iPad…

Actually, at this point I need to take care of something:

Mum, if you’re reading this, could you stop now please? Thanks. Love you.

Anyway, as I was saying, I thought to myself I’m probably going to get an iPad …for my mother.

Honestly, there isn’t much on offer in the iPad that I don’t already have in my Macbook. I don’t think it is the device for me. But it is most definitely the device for my mother. I don’t mean “a theoretical persona such as one’s mother,” I mean my mother.

My mother is currently using a that used to belong to me. When she started using this machine, she had never used a keyboard, much less a computer. I am very, very glad that her first computer was a Mac and that she’s never had to deal with the world of pain that is Windows, but even a Mac has a learning curve for someone who’s never used a computer before.

I remember explaining what the cursor was and how the mouse controlled it. When I said “move it up”, she lifted up the mouse off the table. Thinking about it, the mouse isn’t as straightforward as we think: moving the mouse left and right does map to moving the cursor left and right, but moving the mouse forward and backward maps to moving the cursor up and down. Both the cursor and the mouse move on two-dimensional surfaces but only half the movements of the mouse correspond directly to movements of the cursor.

In computer years, a G3 iMac is ancient. It’s amazing that it still runs at all. I’ve been thinking for a while now about what would make a suitable replacement. A newer iMac would be good but they’re a little pricey for something that’s going to be used for web surfing, email, some digital photography and little else. A laptop would be nice. Now that my mother has WiFi, there’s no need for her to have to remain in one place to use her computer. But laptops are fiddly things with fiddly trackpads.

The iPad strikes me as the Goldilocks solution. It’s just right. If the European pricing follows the general Apple conversion rate, the iPad should be pretty darn affordable. It would be nice if it came with an iSight for iChatting; that might well get added in a later version. Web surfing, email and photo browsing are all not just possible, but likely to be pleasurable. That’s because the multitouch control mechanism is likely to feel far more intuitive than either a mouse or a trackpad. (Caveat: I haven’t used an iPad. Take my opinion, and the opinions of anyone else who hasn’t actually used one, with a heaped tablespoon of salt.)

So I’m probably going to get an iPad, but for someone else. If it came with nothing more than a WiFi connection and a web browser, it would still be a worthwhile device for my mother. In fact, the idea of using a computing device based around a browser is what’s driving the . Google’s vision is one wherein the file system and the hard drive are far less important than the web browser and the web server.

That’s why I’m slightly mystified about the App Store grumblings. Yes, it’s a closed system that Apple controls completely. But the same devices that support the App Store also come with a very advanced web browser. Personally, I think that if a device is capable of running HTML, CSS and JavaScript, I don’t think it can be described as “closed”.

Don’t like the closed nature of the App Store? Don’t use it. Use the web instead. That’s the point that PPK was making, albeit a bit stridently. Admittedly, if you want to make money directly from an app, you might have a harder time of it on the web than on the App Store. Make your app distribution bed and lie in it.

I’ve already seen people on Twitter sharing some ideas for the uses to which the iPad could be put:

  • displaying sheet music on a music stand,
  • showing recipes on a kitchen worktop,
  • playing scrabble, sudoku and crosswords,
  • reading comics,
  • reading magazines a la Mag+,
  • reading books in a way that doesn’t involve the silly page-turning visual metaphor built into the iBooks app.

All of those are great ideas and all of them can be implemented on the web. Remember that Mobile Safari already has excellent support for canvas, audio, video and offline storage. No App Store required. As Simon St. Laurent puts it, web developers can rule the iPad.

I understand the concerns of my fellow geeks who see the read-only nature of the iPad as restrictive compared to the read-write nature of laptop and desktop computers. Rafe Colburn asks Is the iPad the harbinger of doom for personal computing?:

I think that it’s a real possibility that in 10 years, general purpose computers will be seen as being strictly for developers and hobbyists.

Alex Payne foresees a tinkerer’s sunset:

The thing that bothers me most about the iPad is this: if I had an iPad rather than a real computer as a kid, I’d never be a programmer today.

While I understand and to a certain extent, share these forebodings, I’m cautiously optimistic that these fears won’t be realised. The iPad isn’t going to replace laptop or desktop computers; it’s a different kind of machine for a different kind of user.

Frasier Spiers welcomes the glimpse that the iPad offers us of information processing dissolving into behaviour when he writes:

If the iPad and its successor devices free these people to focus on what they do best, it will dramatically change people’s perceptions of computing from something to fear to something to engage enthusiastically with. I find it hard to believe that the loss of background processing isn’t a price worth paying to have a computer that isn’t frightening anymore.

Nik agrees:

Yes, it’s an entirely prescriptive way of computing - one that the hackers, tinkerers and geeks will find alien and protest about its lack of openness. But here’s the thing: for the people who the iPad is aimed at it really doesn’t matter that this experience is prescriptive.

I think he’s right. The iPad isn’t for geeks but I can foresee geeks, like me, buying iPads for members of their family …if for no other reason than to reverse the trend of the holiday season becoming the tech support season.

I’m not usually one for predictions, but I think I’ll try my hand at one now. The iPad will be the best-selling device to be purchased as a gift for Christmas 2010.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Web-safe Fonts | Web Typography | Speaking In Styles

A very handy list of fonts ranked from "less likely" to "almost certain" to be installed.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Román Cortés » Pure CSS Coke Can

A nifty little CSS experiment.


Because sometimes a sad trombone just won't do.

This is the title of a typical incendiary blog post - Coyote Crossing

This is a pithy one-sentence description of a blog post, praising the author's insight.

Monday, January 25th, 2010


This is the last week during which you can grab a ticket for UX London at the early bird price. From February 1st, the price goes up by a hundred squid (and from April 1st, the price goes up by another hundred squid—no joke).

In case you’re wondering whether or not you should go, wonder no more. Just check out the line-up of speakers and imagine three solid days of inspirational talks and hands-on workshops in their company. If attended last year’s event, you know what a great gathering it is. If you didn’t attend last year, talk to someone who did.

Of course, it could be that even if you want to go, you still need to convince somebody in your company to send you. Let’s face it, UX London is a very different beast from dConstruct.

dConstruct is deliberately low in price and a more rough’n’ready one-day affair. One of the reasons why we try to keep the price of dConstruct down is so that just about anybody can afford to come: freelancers, students, whatever. If that means we can’t afford to feed everyone or hand out goodies, then so be it—everyone fends for themselves at lunchtime and there’s no schwag.

The audience for UX London is a bit different. It’s almost exclusively attended by people who have been sent by their company. With one day of presentations and two full days of workshops, and all three days fully catered, the price is, of course, far higher than dConstruct …although if you go to dConstruct and attend both days of workshops beforehand, then it works out at much the same price as UX London’s early bird ticket.

Anyway, if you are in that situation—working at a company where you have to convince someone to send you to training events like UX London—Kimberly Blessing has written a guide to getting your conference or training request approved. She shares her three-step strategy:

  1. Build a strong case.
  2. Request funding.
  3. Negotiate!
    • Try before you buy.
    • Strength in numbers.
    • Volunteer.
    • Ask for partial funding.
    • Finally, if you must: send yourself.

If you’ve got any other techniques, share them in the comments to Kimberly’s post.

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

ignore the code: Realism in UI Design

Finding the sweet spot between realism and abstraction in interface elements.

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Twitpic - Share photos on Twitter

This thread was supposed to be about dragons!

Bookbook - Bookbook - Twelve South

Cute covers for Macbooks to give them that bookish look.

Dewey Music

A treasure trove of music from

Internet Online Website!

This is a work of genius. This... this is a joke ...right?

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

My favourite fonts of 2009 | i love typography, the typography and fonts blog

Some beautiful typefaces here, gathered together for your enjoyment.

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Happy Cog Studios: A Book Apart

Coming soon to a bookshelf near you.

Open Letter From OK Go - OK Go

I believe it was the philosopher Conflicticus who said, "Only stupid bastards help EMI."


Beatles infographics.

Monday, January 18th, 2010

French Anti-Piracy Organisation Hadopi Uses Pirated Font In Own Logo | The FontFeed

Oh, the irony! Unconstitutionally draconian French "anti-piracy" organisation uses a pirated font in its logo.

Saturday, January 16th, 2010


Dan came down to Brighton for a visit, so naturally a bunch of us ended up singing in a karaoke pod together.

I think Brian Eno is on to something; getting together with a group of friends to holler your lungs out is quite life-affirming. Of course Dan had to ruin it all by being really, really good. The bastard.

There was a preponderance of songs with “love” in the title because Andy insisted that every instance of that word be substituted for “lunch”: Addicted to Lunch, It Must Be Lunch and, best of all, Tainted Lunch—dedicated to Paul who couldn’t be with us due to probable food poisoning.

One of the non-lunch related songs that somebody queued up was The Final Countdown by Europe. This is a crap karaoke song for two reasons:

  1. it’s crap and
  2. the catchiest part of the song is the bit where no-one is singing.

However, it is one of the few songs written about leaving a dying Earth. The only other such song I can think of offhand is After The Goldrush by Neil Young: flying mother nature’s silver seed to a new home in the sun …and let us hope that this is the last time that Neil Young and Europe are ever mentioned together in any kind of context.

Something bothered me about the lyrics of The Final Countdown that confronted me on the karaoke screen. Presumably the is heading out of the solar system and yet the narrator tells us this about the plotted course: We’re heading for Venus.

Really? Surely that’s in the completely wrong direction—towards the sun. But then I realised that, although it remains unsaid in the song, the craft is probably going to carry out a around our star.

Knowing that, I can rest easy …or at least, I would be able to rest easy if I didn’t have that damn song stuck in my head.

Friday, January 15th, 2010

code · Video for Everybody!

Encode your video twice (mp4 and ogg) and you can then serve it up in 4 different ways: 2 HTML5 video sources, 1 quicktime player, and 1 Flash player.

First-Person Tetris

It sounds like a gimmick but there's something very cool about this. In Soviet Russia, keyboard rotates you!

The audio of place

Last year, the good people at Web Directions asked me if I would like to write an article for the second issue of their Scroll magazine—an honest-to-goodness dead-tree publication. I told them I would be delighted.

The theme of the issue was “place.” I took the word and ran with it, delivering an over-the-top pretentious piece about language, wormholes and virtual worlds. An edited version appeared in the magazine as Disrupting the conceptual metaphors of the web.

I’ve published the raw, unedited version here in the articles section under its original title of There Is No “There” There. I also recorded an audio version, which clocks in at just over eight and a half minutes.

There Is No “There” There on Huffduffer

Feel free to huffduff it. Feel free to anything you like with it: it’s licenced under a Creative Commons attribution license.

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

There Is No “There” There

This article appeared in the second issue of Scroll magazine. The theme of the issue was “place.”

Digital Podge 2009 - Measurable Fun | 17th December 2009

This is a gorgeous-looking website. I have no idea what it's about.

jQuery 1.4 iPhone reference app - O! Mr Speaker!

A great portable jQuery reference. No app store required — this uses offline storage.

Making Workshops for the Web

The latest Clearleft offering is Workshops for the Web. It made sense to move our workshop offerings out of the Clearleft site—where they were kind of distracting from the main message of the company—and give them their own home, just like our other events, dConstruct and UX London.

As well as the range of workshops that can be booked privately at any time, there’s a schedule of upcoming public workshops for 2010:

  1. CSS3 Wizardry on January 29th,
  2. Copywriting for the Web on March 5th,
  3. HTML5 for Web Designers on April 23rd,
  4. UX Fundamentals on June 11th and
  5. Usability Testing on July 16th.

The next workshop, CSS3 Wizardry with Rich and Nat, promises to be packed full of cutting-edge front-end techniques. Book a place if you want to have CSS3 kung-fu injected into your brainstem.

Visual Design

I’m pretty pleased with how the site turned out. When I began designing it initially, I thought I would give it a sort of Russian constructivist feeling: the title Workshops for the Web made me think of an international workers movement. I started researching political propaganda posters, beginning with the book Revolutionary Tides.

Revolutionary Tides

There’s also some fantastic propaganda material in The National Archives (and I just love the modern twist of World War Three propaganda posters). I found a treasure trove of images of American working life in the Flickr Commons collection from The Library of Congress. I started gathering these sources together and distilling some of the common components such as bold colours and diagonal lines.

Workers of the web: unite!

This was when Jon was working as an intern at Clearleft. I enlisted his help in brainstorming some ideas and he came up with some great stuff—like using Soviet space-race imagery—and we played around with proof-of-concept ideas for creating diagonal backgrounds using CSS3 transforms.

But it never really came together for me. Much as I loved the Russian constructivist propaganda angle, I ditched it and started from scratch.


I scribbled down a page description diagram describing what the site needed to communicate in order of importance:

  1. The name of the site.
  2. A positioning statement.
  3. The next workshop.
  4. Other upcoming workshops.
  5. A list of all workshops available.
  6. A way of getting in touch.

The hierarchy for an individual workshop page looked pretty similar:

  1. The title of the workshop.
  2. The date of the workshop.
  3. The location of the workshop.
  4. The price of the workshop.
  5. Details of the workshop.

It was clear that the page needed to quickly answer some basic questions: what? where? how much?

I started marking up the answers to those questions from top to bottom. That’s when it started to come together. Working with markup and CSS in the browser felt more productive than any of the sketching I had done in Photoshop. I started really sweating the typography …to the extent that I decided that even the logotype should be created with “live” text rather than an image.


From the start, I knew that I wanted the site to be a self-describing example of the technologies taught in the workshops. The site is built in HTML5, making good use of the new structural elements and the powerful outline algorithm. Marking up an events site with the hCalendar microformat was a no-brainer. There are hCards a-plenty too.

CSS3 nth-child selectors came in very handy and media queries are, quite simply, the bee’s knees when it comes to building a flexible site: just a few declarations allowed me to make sure the liquid layout could be optimised for different ranges of viewport size.

Workshops for the Web homepage Workshops for the Web homepage

Given the audience of the site, I could be fairly certain that Internet Explorer 6 wouldn’t be much of a hindrance. As it turns out, everything looks more or less okay even in that crappy browser. It looks different, of course, but then do websites need to look exactly the same in every browser?

Right before launch, Paul took a shot at tweaking the visual design, adding a bit more contrast and separation on the homepage with some horizontal banding. That’s a visual element that I had been subconsciously avoiding, probably because it’s already used on some of our other sites, but once it was added, it helped to emphasise the next upcoming workshop—the main purpose of the homepage.

Just because the site is live now doesn’t mean that I’ll stop working on it. I’d like to keep tweaking and evolving it. Maybe I’ll finally figure out a way of incorporating some elements of those great propaganda posters.


Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Assorted GARbage» Blog Archive » The Secret to Transparency with PNG8’s and IE6

I'm kicking myself that I didn't know about this little Fireworks trick.

HTML5 business as usual

It’s been a strange week in HTML5. The web—and Twitter in particular—has been awash with wailing and gnashing of teeth as various people weigh in with their opinions on either the W3C or the WHATWG—depending on which camp they’re in—being irreversibly broken …exactly the kind of ludicrous over-reaction at which the internet excels.

This particular round of chicken-littling was caused by the shuffling of some spec components. The W3C HTML Working Group recently decided to split microdata into a separate specification (which I think is fair enough given RDFa’s similar status). Hixie then removed some other parts of HTML5; a move which was seen as a somewhat petulant reaction to the microdata splittage. Cue outfreakage. Before too long, most of the changes were rolled back.

So all of the shouting and arguing was more about politics and procedure than about features or semantics. That’s par for the course when it comes to the HTML Working Group at the W3C; the technical discussions are outweighed by the political and procedural wranglings. But that’s the nature of the beast. Hammering out a standard is hard. Building consensus is really hard. The chairs of the working group face an uphill struggle every single day. Still, that’s a far cry from declaring the whole thing a waste of time.

As Tantek points out, if the HTML5 shenanigans seem particularly crazy, that’s only because they are that much more public than most other processes:

The previous several revisions of HTML (including XHTML) were largely developed in W3C Members-Only mailing lists (and face-to-face meetings) which contained a lot of similar “corporate politics, egotism, squabbles and petty disagreements” - however such tussles were invisible to search engines, the general public, and of course all the professional web developers and designers (like yourself) - you never saw how the sausage was made as it were.

Tantek was responding to a post by Malarkey who advises us to keep calm and carry on. That’s sensible advice, although he gets some push-back in the comments from people concerned about a market-led approach to web standards, wherein we only care about what browsers are implementing, not what’s enshrined into a standard.

It’s easy to polarise this issue into a black and white dichotomy: implementation first vs. specifications first. The truth, as always, is much more nuanced than that, as beautifully summed up by Rob O’Callahan:

Implementations and specifications have to do a delicate dance together. You don’t want implementations to happen before the specification is finished, because people start depending on the details of implementations and that constrains the specification. However, you also don’t want the specification to be finished before there are implementations and author experience with those implementations, because you need the feedback. There is unavoidable tension here, but we just have to muddle on through … I think we’re doing OK.

I think we’re doing OK too.

Not that I’m not immune to HTML5-related temper loss. Most recently, I was miffed with the WHATWG rather than the W3C but once again, it was entirely to do with specification organisation rather than specification contents.

The WHATWG have never been comfortable with the term HTML5 to describe the work they’re doing, which began life as Web Apps 1.0. The very idea of version numbers is anathema to their philosophy so they’re quite happy for the W3C to own the term HTML5 to describe a particular set-in-stone markup spec. But they still need a word to describe the monolithic ongoing WHATWG spec.

Historically, the term HTML5 was a pretty good fit for the WHATWG spec and it corresponded exactly with the W3C spec (in fact, the W3C spec is generated from the WHATWG spec). But Hixie declared Last Call for the WHATWG HTML5 spec a while back. That means that the specification at the WHATWG and the specification at the W3C can now diverge—the WHATWG spec contains everything in HTML5 and then some. To continue to label this WHATWG spec as simply HTML5 would be misleading. So a few weeks ago, the name of the spec changed from HTML5 to WHATWG HTML (including HTML5).

Accurate as that designation may be, I became very concerned about the potential confusion it would cause. Any front-end developer reading a document titled WHATWG HTML (including HTML5) might reasonably ask Oh, which bits are HTML5? …a question to which there’s no easy answer because at the WHATWG, the term HTML5 is seen as little more than a buzzword. In that sense, they share PPK’s assertion that HTML5 means whatever you want it to mean.

I was particularly concerned that the short URL would redirect to a document that wasn’t called HTML5. I could point developers at this diagram but I’m not sure that it would make things any clearer.

Things got fairly heated in the IRC channel as I argued for either a different redirect or a better document title. I understand why the WHATWG need to transition from using the term HTML5 to simply using the term HTML to describe their all-encompassing ongoing work, but flipping that switch too soon could cause a lot pain and confusion. A gradual evolution of titles reflecting the evolution of the contents seems better to me:

  1. HTML5
  2. HTML5 (including next generation additions still in development)
  3. WHATWG HTML (including HTML5)

Hixie made the change. The title of the WHATWG specification is currently at step 2. I think this will make things a lot clearer for authors.

  • Anyone looking for the specification that will become a W3C candidate recommendation called HTML5 should look at the W3C site:
  • Anyone looking for the ongoing evolving specification that HTML5 is a part of should look at the WHATWG site:

I’m happy that this has been cleared up and yet I hope that smart, savvy front-end developers who have read this far will think that I’ve just wasted their time. That would be a healthy reaction to reading a bunch of irrelevant guff about what specifications are called and how they are organised. Your time would be far better spent implementing the specifications and providing feedback.

That’s certainly a far better use of your time than simply shouting FAIL!

Update: And, right on cue, Mark Pilgrim updates the WHATWG blog to explain the spec name change.

A Democracy of Netbooks

The bottom-up appeal of netbooks in all their cheap, crappy glory.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Media: A world of hits | The Economist

The challenges of the long tail.

Sunday, January 10th, 2010


Tony recently remarked on Twitter:

Readwriteweb write the most thoughtful intelligent pieces around, and it’s worryingly indicative of our culture that they aren’t read more

I have my own, somewhat selfish, reason to praise this particular tech site. ReadWriteWeb’s lead writer, Marshall Kirkpatrick, is a big fan of Huffduffer. What an astute young man! He even made a screencast for Read Write Web.

Huffduffer Screencast

Seriously, I’m pleased as punch with this. Marshall totally gets it. When he mentioned on Twitter:

Every time I find a need to use @huffduffer I am happy happy happy…

…I thanked him and said:

Increasing happiness is the goal of that site.

…which is true. If only happiness weren’t such a damned difficult metric to track. But seeing someone else make a top quality screencast explaining the site is a pretty great indication that I’m doing something right.

Mind you, it does prompt me to slap my forehead and ask why didn’t I think of making a screencast?

Typotheque: Gore’s choice

Changing a numeral in a typeface Al Gore's request.

Flickr: Discussing Personal connections in the Commons in Flickr Commons

Great stories of the Flickr Commons as people identify their relatives in photographs.

Friday, January 8th, 2010

52 Weeks of UX

Joshua Porter and Joshua Brewer will write one post a week, kickstarting a discussion on user experience.

Thursday, January 7th, 2010


This is an interesting idea: paste in some markup and this will automatically generate CSS selectors based on your classes and IDs.

Safari askew

I rolled out a new addition to the Huffduffer home page earlier this week. If you aren’t logged in, everything looks the same as before: under the heading Create a podcast of found sounds, there’s a short list giving the low-down on what you can do:

  1. Find links to audio files on the Web.
  2. Huffduff the links—add them to your podcast.
  3. Subscribe to podcasts of other found sounds.

But if you are logged in, then a different list appears, this one showing the activity since you last logged in:

  1. How much has been huffduffed.
  2. How much huffduffing your collective has done.
  3. How many people have joined.

Programming this was pretty straightforward. Every time a new session is started—either because you log in or because you return to the site with a “remember me” cookie—a timestamp is recorded. I just need to select the activity since the previous timestamp. Easy peasy.

Except it wasn’t working for me.

I went through all the usual debugging procedures, poring over my code, but I couldn’t find anything wrong. Finally, after plenty of observation, I spotted the pattern that was causing the problem. Bizarrely, every time I opened my browser, a new timestamp was being recorded for my Huffduffer account.

Here’s the problem:

  1. I visit Huffduffer a lot.
  2. I use Safari as my web browser.

One of the new features in Safari 4 is the “Top Sites” view:

Thanks to Top Sites, you can enjoy a stunning, at-a-glance preview of your favorite websites without lifting a finger. Safari 4 tracks the sites you browse and ranks your favorites, presenting up to 24 thumbnails on a single page.

It does indeed look very pretty (if not quite stunning). But here’s the kicker:

Wonder which sites have changed since your last visit? Sites with a star in the upper-right corner have new content.

How does Safari know which sites have changed? It effectively “visits” the site, screwing up your stats in the process. If you have a cookie stored for that site, Safari will use it. This has led to some skewing of Stack Overflow’s ranking system. It’s also the root of my problem with Huffduffer.

As far as I can tell, I just have to suck it up. Safari reports the same user-agent string regardless of whether it’s fetching a URL for the Top Sites list or fetching a URL to render for an end user.

Oh, well. At least this is a problem that will only affect people who visit Huffduffer a lot (and use Safari as their browser). The new homepage feature will work just fine for everyone else.

Hmmm… that new version of Camino looks mighty tempting.

Update: Martin Sutherland writes to tell me the results of his research into this:

The user-agent that Safari reports when it performs a Top Sites call to your server is exactly the same as for a normal call, but a Top Sites request does transmit an additional HTTP header as part of the request: “X-Purpose: preview”.

Excellent! I should be able to sniff for that header and, if I find it, not log the timestamp.

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Andy Budd::Blogography: 7 Ways to Improve your Public Speaking

Excellent advice from Andy on public speaking.

Designing Devices | Controls are Choices

Balancing complexity and control.

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Atheist Ireland Publishes 25 Blasphemous Quotes |

I can't believe how forehead-slappingly stupid my home country can be sometimes.

Techno-utopian fail - The National Newspaper

Don't be too proud of this technological terror you have created.

That's Not Art

Garret Murray turns the snark up to eleven. "People post ridiculous 'art' to Tumblr. These pieces frequently make it into Popular. I reblog them here and call them out for being stupid."

kung fu grippe : Making the Clackity Noise

I want to frame this and mount it on my wall so I will see it every day.

That was the year, that was

Reading through the messages from my friends on Twitter, it sounds like a lot of people didn’t like 2009. At all. I’m feeling a lot of hate for Oh Nine.

Personally, 2009 was perfectly fine for me. Not superb, but not terrible either …kind of like every year, really. Good stuff happens. Bad stuff happens. Whatever.

I don’t like spending my time looking forward or looking back—I prefer to stay in the present. That said, this is the traditional time of year for a retrospective.

This time last year, I carried my resolutions from 2008 forward:

  • Reduce and/or offset your non-renewable energy output.
  • Give blood.
  • Lose some weight, you fat bastard.
  • Play more bouzouki.

Now, at the end of the year, I can say the results have been… mixed.

  • I did a lot less travelling in 2009. That transformed my Dopplr animal from a spritely squirrel into a more sedate butterfly. That trend will undoubtedly reverse in 2010. As well as the annual pilgrimage to Austin for South by Southwest, I’ll be speaking at five different cities for An Event Apart.
  • I gave blood regularly in 2009. I will continue to give blood in 2010. You should too.
  • I remained a fat bastard in 2009. I don’t intend to be a fat bastard in 2010. We’ll see how that works out. I may invest in a Wii Fit.
  • I didn’t play more bouzouki in 2009 but I have been noodling around on the mandolin a lot so that sorta counts.

Now let’s see what I consumed in 2009: some music, some films, some books.


There were some good albums released in 2009. Two Suns by Bat For Lashes is pretty good. There’s some good stuff on The Big Pink’s A Brief History of Violence too. I really like Reservoir by Fanfarlo and Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone is great. But I think my album of the year would have to be The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists, which I’ve written about before.


Despite my aversion to the typical cinema-going experience, I actually ventured out a few times in 2009. I enjoyed some good science fiction with Star Trek, Moon, and Avatar. My most memorable cinema-going experience was probably seeing Let The Right One In in a deserted Duke of York’s.


I’m not sure if I read any books that were published in 2009. As long as the publishing industry insists on first publishing only in hardback, I will continue to wait for the paperback …if I can maintain my enthusiasm that long. Honestly, I don’t know why they do it. It’s as idiotic as region-encoding in DVDs.

Fortunately, the tech-publishing industry, for all its faults, doesn’t adhere to the hardback/paperback time-shifting. That’s good because there were some great books published in 2009. Emily’s Microformats Made Simple and Handcrafted CSS by Dan and Ethan are just two excellent examples.


So that was 2009. I guess I’d better finish with some predictions for 2010. Here goes:

  • Good things will happen.
  • Bad things will happen.
  • There will be some cool music.
  • There will be some crap music.
  • Blogging will die.
  • Blogging will enjoy a resurgence.
  • The publishing industry will die.
  • The publishing industry will enjoy a resurgence.
  • There will be some good films.
  • There will be some bad films.
  • Websites will be created.
  • Websites will be shut down.
  • Celebrities will die.
  • Mike Arrington will be a dick.
  • In December 2010, you will read best of lists.
  • In December 2010, you will read predictions for 2011.

In short, 2010 will be perfectly fine. Just like 2009.

Happy new year!

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