Archive: August, 2012

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Friday, August 31st, 2012

Going to dConstruct? Help test our latest feature | The Lanyrd Blog

If you’re coming to dConstruct, make sure to add yourself as “attending” on Lanyrd so you can make use of all the nifty new stalking features they’ll be launching for their mobile app.

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Brighton: South by South East?

Honor compares next week in Brighton to Austin in March.

Citrix Systems » Most Americans Confused By Cloud Computing According to National Survey

See‽ See‽

The cloud is not only a lie, it’s a lie that everyone pretends to understand.

When asked what “the cloud” is, a majority responded it’s either an actual cloud (specifically a “fluffy white thing”), the sky or something related to the weather (29 percent).

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Complex Navigation Patterns for Responsive Design | Brad Frost Web

Another great in-depth round-up from Brad, this time looking at your options for complex navigation patterns in responsive designs.

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Meet the new-look Channel 4 News website - YouTube

Clearleft have been working with Channel 4 News on their new redesign. Here’s Jon Snow explaining responsive design.

LukeW | An Event Apart: Spirit of the Web

Luke’s notes from my talk at An Event Apart in Chicago.

Monday, August 27th, 2012

heather powazek champ - Message in a bottle: The Mirror Project

The Mirror Project is back! The Mirror Project is back!

This warms the cockles of my nostalgic little heart.

Tweetpolice

A recent post on the Twitter developer blog called Changes coming in Version 1.1 of the Twitter API has been causing a lot of consternation amongst developers of Twitter apps (and users of said apps). Now it may well be that a lot of this consternation may be caused by some misunderstandings—the post is not very clearly written.

For example, in the section headed Display Guidelines will be Display Requirements, the following dictum is issued:

We will require all applications that display Tweets to adhere to these. Among them: linking @usernames to the appropriate Twitter profile, displaying appropriate Tweet actions (e.g. Retweet, reply and favorite) and scaling display of Tweets appropriately based on the device. If your application displays Tweets to users, and it doesn’t adhere to our Display Requirements, we reserve the right to revoke your application key.

As it happens, I’ve started recently embedding tweets on my site here using the embed code provided by Twitter. But it seemed pretty clear to me that the new proclamation wouldn’t apply to me: the blog post is talking about usage of the Twitter API. So if you retrieve a tweet using the API, you must display it according to the display guideli—er, requirements. Fair enough.

Just to double-check, I asked one of my (many) friends who work at Twitter. “These display requirements …they don’t apply to me quoting a tweet on my blog, right?”

The answer I got surprised me. Apparently the display guidel… requirements do apply to me. If I want to quote a tweet on my website, I’m supposed to use the embed code to make sure that people can favourite/retweet/follow, etc.

Fuck. That. Shit.

If I want to quote something from another URL, I will do it. I’ll use a blockquote element of course, but I will not be told what markup and JavaScript I must include on my site.

This reminds of those companies that don’t get the web, that have rules in their terms and conditions about how you’re supposed to link back to their website. Twitter’s hammerheaded approach seems remarkably clueless for such a hitherto clued-up company.

I’ve gone back through my previous blog posts where I was using the official embed code and I’ve stripped it out of each and every one. If you are quoting a tweet on your site, I strongly encourage you not to use the offical embed code. I strongly encourage Twitter to stick their display requirements where the sun don’t shine.

Here’s something Jason Kottke said:

I love Twitter the service and I am starting to really dislike Twitter the company.

That’s a tweet. I’m quoting it. I’m not using Twitter’s embed code. I’m not adhering to the display requirements.

Come at me, bird.

Update: So, according to Ryan Sarver the new display gui…requirements only apply to API-retrieved tweets after all (as I first thought). I told him that wasn’t what I heard from a Twitter employee and he said:

We need to be clearer, internally as well.

He went on to say:

We don’t expect every reporter/blogger to do the full thing. However, we do want them to link back to author, attribute, etc.

I said a guideline to that effect would be just fine, but a requirement would not. He agreed, comparing it to journalistic standards and ethics.

I could have linked to those tweets I just quoted from. I chose not to.

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

rekall

The not-so-new-but-hella-fun aesthetic.

Space Elevator Science - Climb to the Sky - A Tethered Tower by Michael Laine — Kickstarter

A Kickstarter project for space elevator research? Oh, hell yes!

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Made In Brighton: Games Gone Global - 06.09.12

A mini conference on gaming taking place in Brighton the day before dConstruct. The events just keep on coming, don’t they?

dConstruct 2012 discounts on Map Tales

If you’re coming to Brighton for dConstruct, make a note of these eating places where your attendee badge will get you a discount.

Your own words

There has been a minor outbreak of handwringing and soul-searching amongst bloggers recently. Jon Udell asked Where have all the bloggers gone? Tim Bray responded with his own thoughts on the Blogodammerung. Paul Ford rallied with some straight-up old-fashioned blogging about the rotary dial.

For quite a while now, people have been pointing the finger at Twitter and Facebook, lamenting that these short-form services are time-sucking all their writing energy. There’s probably some truth to that but as harbingers of blogging doom go, they’re pretty weak. Some of us manage to both blog and tweet (I know, right‽).

If your craving to write is satiated by a service that limits you to 140 characters, then maybe blogging was never the right medium for you in the first place. Although, that said, most of the early blogs (or link-logs) tended to have short, snappy updates.

But there’s a more fundamental difference between posting to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Google+, and posting to your own blog. Unless you’re using a hosted service, your blog belongs to you. I’m not talking about ownership in the sense of copyright—I’m sure all those other services have T and Cs that make sure you retain to the rights to what you write. I’m talking about owning the URLs.

Scott puts it best when he writes Your words are wasted:

You are pouring your words into increasingly closed and often walled gardens. You are giving control - and sometimes ownership - of your content to social media companies that will SURELY fail.

He’s absolutely right. Over a long enough time period, all third-party services will let you down. There was a time when Friendster was too big to fail. There was a time when it wasn’t possible to imagine a web without Geocities. I’ve been burned by Pownce. Magnolia.

When Delicious was going to be “sunsetted” by Yahoo, a lot of people moved to Pinboard, a service that distinguishes itself by having the shocking business model of actually charging for use. That’s good, and it certainly increases its longevity, but it’s still somebody else’s domain. I decided to move my bookmarks over to my own site.

Now that there is much discontent around Twitter’s ongoing metamorphosis into yet another ad-driven media company, people are moving to App.net, a platform that you pay for and whose Alpha service looks a lot like Twitter without the bad parts. But it’s. Still. Somebody. Else’s. Domain.

I suspect that some of the recent blog-handwringing and blog-soul-searching was prompted by the launch of Medium, an intriguing service that seems to be making lack of ownership into a feature rather than a bug. Instead of your words being defined by you, the author, they are subsumed into the collective and defined by their subject matter instead.

That doesn’t appeal to me, but if this feature request from Dave Winer were implemented, I could get behind Medium 100%:

Let me enter the URL of something I write in my own space, and have it appear here as a first class citizen. Indistinguishable to readers from something written here.

I’m a card-carrying Pembertonian. I have no problem with other services syndicating my words but I want to host the canonical copy. That’s what I’m doing with my journal. That’s I’m doing with my links. I’m not doing it with my tweets (unlike Tantek). I’m not doing it with my photos.

That’s the one that worries me the most. I have over 14,000 pictures on Flickr (I keep offline backups, of course). I pay Flickr and that’s a good thing. But it’s still only a matter of time before Flickr goes the way of other Yahoo properties.

Last year I went to IndieWebCamp in Portland to brainstorm and hack with like-minded people who want to be homesteaders instead of sharecroppers. It was an excellent gathering. And now it’s going to happen again, but this time it’s happening in Brighton.

Two days after dConstruct—and one day after Brighton Mini Maker Faire—we’ll gather at The Skiff for a mishmash of BarCamping and Hackdaying.

You should come. Add yourself to the guest list and the Lanyrd page.

I’ll see you there.

ntlk’s blog: South by South East

Natalia is as excited as I am about the first week of September in Brighton: Reasons To Be Creative, dConstruct, Improving Reality, BrightonSF, and Maker Faire, now with added speakers.

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

JoshEmerson.co.uk · Blog · Using Fonts for Resolution Independent Assets

Josh gives a blow-by-blow account of he created a custom icon font for an upcoming redesign of the Clearleft website: completely scalable and resolution-independent.

I truly believe it won’t be all that long until bitmap image formats will be the exception rather than the rule on the web.

Platforming Books — by Craig Mod

Craig describes the many different ways he’s publishing his book, including putting the whole thing on the web for free:

Why do this? I strongly believe digital books benefit from public endpoints. The current generation of readers (human, not electronic) have formed expectations about sharing text, and if you obstruct their ability to share — to touch — digital text, then your content is as good as non-existent. Or, in the least, it’s less likely to be engaged.

I also believe that we will sell more digital and physical copies of Art Space Tokyo by having all of the content available online.

greg.org: the making of: The Satelloons Of Project Echo: Must. Find. Satelloons.

Bomp. bomp. bomp. Satelloon of love. Bomp. bomp. bomp. Satelloon of love.

Monday, August 20th, 2012

RayFish Footwear - Grow your own sneaker

I’m trying to figure out which forthcoming sci-fi work this guerrilla marketing site is promoting—featuring customised shoes from bio-engineered stingray—but I’m not having any luck.

LukeW | Data Monday: Mobile Browser Use

Luke collates some useful mobile browsing statistics once again. Most of it is quite US-centric, but this closing point is a whopper:

36 countries more than doubled their Opera Mini user bases in one year.

ServerSky - Server Sky

Orbiting data centers. Fuck yeah!

Earth can return to what it is good at – green and growing things – while space can be filled with gray and computing things.

Helsinki Open Device Lab

Helsinki now has a communal device lab. It looks great!

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

URIslands in the stream

For over a decade the home page of this website has effectively been a splash screen.

Well …not exactly. I mean, it’s not as if it contained an animation and a “skip intro” link. But it has been very minimalist: a brief one-sentence explanation of what this website is and a brief one-sentence description of the latest post I’ve published.

Most blogs are standalone sites—i.e. the blog isn’t part of a larger site—so the home page and the latest blog posts are one and the same. My site is a bit different. The blog part—my journal—is just one piece. There’s also the links section and the articles section. That raises an interesting question: exactly what should the homepage contain?

I’m a great believer in well-designed URLs but oftentimes the home page is something of an exception (one of the reasons I advocate designing the home page last). The URL / doesn’t tell you anything about the resource. There’s basically two different ways to go: keep it really, really minimal (like I’ve been doing for ten years) or make it a patchwork containing a little bit of everything (the way that most news websites work).

For the past few months I’ve been contemplating making the switch from the minimalist to the maximalist approach for the home page of this site. On the one hand, I think it’s RESTfully correct to have the URL adactio.com/ return a terse description of what the site is, with links to further resources. On the other hand …it’s a splash screen.

After much deliberation, I’ve decided to flip the switch.

It’s a bit of a shame. I quite enjoyed being one of the last people I know to have a quirky intro page. But the new home page alleviates a concern I’ve had for a while. I get the feeling that a lot of people have only been paying attention to what’s written in my journal without realising that I post multiple times a day to the links section. The new homepage shows everything—journal entries, links, and articles—grouped by date. It is, if you like, a stream.

It’s exactly the kind of stream that Anil Dash writes about in Stop Publishing Web Pages:

Most users on the web spend most of their time in apps. The most popular of those apps, like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Tumblr and others, are primarily focused on a single, simple stream that offers a river of news which users can easily scroll through, skim over, and click on to read in more depth.

Glossing over the lack of definition for “app”, there’s a good point here. The “stream” idea makes a lot of sense …in the right situation. That situation is the list view. If you think about the situations where the never-ending stream has been employed—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest—they are views of lists, usually reverse-chronologically ordered lists.

Going back to URL design, these kinds of list views are the ones that often have a single URL filtered with a query string. You’re much more likely to see /newest?page=2 or /popular?start=10 than you are to see /newest/page2 or /popular/10-20. There’s a good reason for that. While the kind of resource located at the URL remains unchanged—a list of items—the specifics are likely to change every day or hour or even minute—which items are in the list.

So traditionally list views have been paginated using query strings. The streams that Anil is talking about are an alternate way of navigating list views that does away with pagination and query strings. I think that this way of navigating a list view can work well but, as always, the devil is in the details.

First of all, there’s the issue of when to append to the stream. This could be triggered by the user with a link—“load more”—or you could assume that when the user gets to the current end of the list that they’ll automatically want to load more …the dreaded infinite scroll.

As Frank put it:

Quite apart from any psychological implications, there’s a usability issue here. Interpreting one action by a user—scrolling down the screen—as implicit permission to carry out another action—load more items—is a dangerous assumption. It’s similar to the tyranny of mouseover:

If I click on a link, I am initiating an action. If I fill in a form and press a submit button, I am initiating an action. But if I move my mouse over a page element, I am not initiating an action.

Oh, and if your site has footer, please do not use infinite scroll. Think about it.

In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m a big proponent of allowing the user to explicitly request more items to be appended to a stream rather than using the infinite-scroll pattern.

That said, you could introduce a nice compromise. What if, when the user scrolls down the screen, you begin pre-fetching the next items in the list? That way, when the user explicitly requests more items they’ll load lickety-split.

Anyway, you’ll notice that the new home page of adactio.com is still using pagination. That’s related to another issue and I suspect that this is the same reason that we haven’t seen search engines like Google introduce stream-like behaviour instead of pagination for search results: what happens when you’ve left a stream but you use the browser’s back button to return to it?

In all likelihood you won’t be returned to the same spot in the stream that were in before. Instead you’re more likely to be dumped back at the default list view (the first ten or twenty items).

If your stream is self-contained—like Instagram or Pinterest—then there’s no problem. Twitter attempts to get around the problem by showing you the linked content inline where possible (with some judicious use of oEmbed) and by opening external links in a new window or tab—not so much the cure that kills the patient as the cure that ignores the problem.

In my case, my home page stream is crammed full of hyperlinks. Until there’s a way to make unpaginated streams work nicely with the back button, I’ll stick with pagination.

Anyway, I hope you like the new home page. If you do, you may want to subscribe to the RSS equivalent of the combined stream of my journal, my links, and my articles.

Your words are wasted - Scott Hanselman

Amen, Scott, A-MEN:

You are not blogging enough. You are pouring your words into increasingly closed and often walled gardens. You are giving control - and sometimes ownership - of your content to social media companies that will SURELY fail.

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

Graffiti from Pompeii

Updates from the walls of Pompeii in 140 characters or fewer:

O walls, you have held up so much tedious graffiti that I am amazed that you have not already collapsed in ruin.

Infovore » ghostcar

Tom describes his Foursquare ghost.

Kosmograd: The death of Kosmograd

The Ballardian beauty of a dying Baikonour.

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Crazy Walls

Perfectly offset with red string.

Stories and Tools - Anil Dash

This post is ten years old, but I think it might still be the best attempt to demarcate a difference between web “sites” and web “apps”: think of them as stories and tools.

It’s also remarkably prescient about the need for an effort exactly like HTML5:

A widely-distributed, standards-compliant, browser and platform-independent library of functions that would perform the basic user interface functions for a web-based tool, relying on the server side only for the logic and data sourcing.

We could make history — I.M.H.O. — Medium

I quite the look of Medium, but Dave Winer absolutely nails it with this feature request:

Let me enter the URL of something I write in my own space, and have it appear here as a first class citizen. Indistinguishable to readers from something written here.

I think it might get a tattoo of this:

There’s art in each individual system, but there’s a much greater art in the union of all the systems we create.

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Mobile Navigation Icons | TimKadlec.com

Tim shows how to make a scalable three-line navicon in CSS.

Work is being done here on Vimeo

A short piece on the experiment that James conducted with Lighthouse in the foyer of the Cleareft office building, trying to show some kind of physical representation of coding.

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Why the Little Printer is good – aka, someone on the internet is wrong, a response. |

Dan makes a very good point about Little Printer: it’s not the “printer” part that matters; it’s the “little”.

Help me raise money to buy Nikola Tesla’s old laboratory - The Oatmeal

This is so crazy, it just might work. Matt wants the internet to buy Wardenclyffe and turn it into a Tesla museum.

Sponsorfied | Science Hack Day SF

The next Science Hack Day in San Francisco will be at the start of November. It would undoubtedly be a great event …but it needs sponsorship.

Do you know anyone who could help out?

Fontello - easy iconic fonts composer

A nifty service for creating a custom font with just the icons you need.

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

The 64 Digital Super dooper device testing station

There’s a communal testing lab just outside London and they’ve got a very nifty set-up for their devices.

A List Apart: Articles: Everything in its Right Pace

A great article by Hannah, focusing on the Long Web—it isn’t about the quantity of data you’re publishing; it’s the quality. This builds nicely on the article I linked to recently about digital scarcity.

Navicon

Daniel recently asked a question on Twitter:

It was this article by Malarkey that he was looking for. Andy did a great job of comparing the iconography used for navigation in mobile apps and responsive sites. His conclusion:

Unless our navigation’s arranged in a grid (and so we should use a grid icon), I’m putting my weight behind three lines because I think it’s most recognisable as navigation to the average person.

The three-lines icon is certainly very popular, as can be seen in this collection of mobile navigation icons I gathered together on Dribbble.

But Tom has some reservations:

Andy Davies points out another potential issue:

I noticed this in the more recent versions of Android too. It does indeed look a little odd to see the same icon used in the browser chrome and in the document within the browser.

Double navigation (BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN!?!?)

But I still think it’s a good shorthand for revealing a list of items.

The unicode character ☰ ☰ (U+2630) is the Chinese trigram for sky (or heaven)—one of the eight bagua. It consists of three horizontal lines. Now that could be a handy resolution-independent way of representing navigation.

Dribbble — Mobile First

Alas, when I tested this on a range of mobile devices, some of them just showed the square box of unicode disappointment. I had much better luck with the unicode symbol for black down-pointing triangle▼ (U+25BC).

Dribbble — Navigation link

Mind you, with a combination of @font-face and sub-setting we’re not limited to what the browser ships with—we can provide our own icons in a font file, like what Pictos is doing.

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Distant Shape: 10 Years of Daring Fireball

A nice visualisation of Apple’s transition From desktop to mobile over ten years, one Daring Fireball article at a time.

Oh, and happy birthday, Daring Fireball.

Terms of Service; Didn’t Read

This is a great idea: a community of volunteers distilling the Terms of Service agreements from websites into understandable terms.

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Generating placeholders from datalists

Here’s a cute little markup pattern for ya.

Suppose you’ve got an input element that has—by means of a list attribute—an associated datalist. Here’s the example I used in HTML5 For Web Designers:

<label for="homeworld">Your home planet</label>
<input type="text" name="homeworld" id="homeworld" list="planets">
<datalist id="planets">
 <option value="Mercury">
 <option value="Venus">
 <option value="Earth">
 <option value="Mars">
 <option value="Jupiter">
 <option value="Saturn">
 <option value="Uranus">
 <option value="Neptune">
</datalist>

That results in a combo-box control in supporting browsers: as you type in the text field, you are presented with a subset of the options in the datalist that match what you are typing. It’s more powerful than a regular select, because you aren’t limited by the list of options: you’re free to type something that isn’t in the list (like, say, “Pluto”).

I’ve already written about the design of datalist and how you can use a combination of select and input using the same markup to be backward-compatible. I like datalist.

I also like the placeholder attribute. Another recent addition to HTML, this allows you to show an example of the kind of content you’d like the user to enter (note: this is not the same as a label).

It struck me recently that all the options in a datalist are perfectly good candidates for placeholder text. In the example above, I could update the input element to include:

<input type="text" name="homeworld" id="homeworld" list="planets" placeholder="Mars">

or:

<input type="text" name="homeworld" id="homeworld" list="planets" placeholder="Saturn">

I wrote a little piece of JavaScript to do this:

  1. Loop through all the input elements that have a list attribute.
  2. Find the corresponding datalist element (its ID will match the list attribute).
  3. Pick a random option element from that datalist.
  4. Set the placeholder value of the input to that option value.

Put that JavaScript at the end of your document (or link to it from the end of your document) and you’re all set. You might want to tweak it a little: I find it helps to preface placeholder values with “e.g.” to make it clear that this is an example value. You can do that by changing the last line of the script:

input.setAttribute('placeholder','e.g. '+value);

You also might want to show more than one possible value. You might want the placeholder value to read “e.g. Mercury, Venus, Earth, etc.” …I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Digital Scarcity | Tuhin Kumar

This starts out a bit hand-wavy with analogue nostalgia, but it wraps up with some genuinely good ideas for social software.

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Laboratory conditions

Whenever I mention the communal Brighton device lab on Twitter, or post pictures of the devices, I always get questions about it. So here’s a quick rundown of how things are set up.

Most of the devices are plugged in to two 10-port powered USB hubs made by Trust.

Powered USB hub

I tend to clump the devices by operating system: a bunch of Android devices here, a bunch of Windows Phones there. That might just be my mild OCD; there isn’t really any particular advantage to doing that.

I’ve also rearranged the home screens to be consistent. All the Android devices have these icons, in this order:

Adobe Shadow is a very handy way of avoiding manual refreshes on Android and iOS devices. It has a lot of moving parts, but it’s worth setting it up. As well as installing the Adobe Shadow app on each device, you’ll need to download and run the desktop app on the computer you’re “driving” with and you’ll need to install a Google Chrome plug-in. It’s worth taking the time to do it though: you’d spent a lot more time manually refreshing each and every device.

Running Adobe Shadow on eleven devices

More often than not, you’ll want to test websites before they launch so you’ll need some way of looking at locally-hosted sites. Localtunnel and showoff.io are just two ways of doing that—I’m sure there are many more. Personally, I use showoff.io for $5 a month and it works well for me.

Testing

Finally, there’s the question I get asked more than any other…

The stands are from The Iron Mill just outside Ballymena in County Antrim. The iPhone stands are nice and sturdy, they work for other models just fine, and delivery is free within the UK and Northern Ireland.

And now, here’s Remy conducting mad experiments with JSbin at the device lab:

Cole Valley Cell Tower Authorization Approved By Planning Commission - Tantek

Tantek’s adventure in participatory civic governance.

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Creative JavaScript Training on Vimeo

I’m going to be attending Seb’s CreativeJS and HTML5 course in Brighton on September 13th and 14th …and I strongly suspect that it’s going to be great.

This is now!

A thoroughly addictive use of the Instagram API (along with Node.js and Socket.io): see a montage of images being taken in a city right now.

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Noon

Just when I thought the first week of September couldn’t get any better, Brighton SF has ramped up: there will now be three world-class science fiction authors for me to be fanboyishly nervous around. Adopted Brightonian Jeff Noon is going to be there!

So for the princely sum of seven British pounds, you can spend an hour and a half in the company of these SF luminaries:

Blow me down with a psychedelic feather!

Countdown to September

It’s less than a month until the Brighton Digital Festival and I’m already ludicrously excited …and somewhat nervous.

The festival will kick off on September 2nd with fireworks …digital fireworks, courtesy of Seb.

The 2nd of September is also the first Sunday of the month, which means it’ll be time for The Geekest Link pub quiz at The Caroline Of Brunswick. And yes, this will be an official Brighton Digital Festival event. If you want to start swotting now, the rounds will be:

  • Artificial Intelligences,
  • Simulated Realities,
  • PC Games,
  • CGI picture round and, of course,
  • General Nerdage.

I’ll be there, hoping to improve on last night’s performance when our team—Quidditch Pro Quo, Clarice—pulled ahead from a very shaky start to come in second. Second! If you’ve been to the Geekest Link before, and you know how hardcore it can be, you’ll understand why we were so pleased with that result.

The next day, the internet geekery gets in to full swing with Reasons To Be Creative—formerly Flash On The Beach—running from Monday, September 3rd to Wednesday, September 5th.

Wednesday, September 5th is also when the dConstruct workshops kick off. The two workshops going on that day—Ethan’s and Remy’s—are already sold out, but there are still some spaces available for the workshops on Thursday, September 5th from Lyza and Jonathan. They will kick ass, so I highly recommend grabbing a workshop ticket, which comes with a free pass to the dConstruct conference day.

On the same afternoon, Improving Reality will be taking place over at the Pavilion theatre, featuring Warren Ellis amongst others. Once that wraps up, there’ll be a break—time for a drink at the bar—and then, from 6pm it’s time for Brighton SF.

This is what I’m nervous about. I think it’s going to be great—in fact, I know it’s going to be great because it features the great Lauren Beukes and the great Brian Aldiss—but I’m going to be playing the part of the evening’s chat show host. I’ve always enjoyed moderating panels at conferences like @media, South by Southwest, and Mobilism, so I’m hoping my nervousness will evaporate and I can enjoy it.

Seriously, it’s going to be pretty damn great so if you have any interest in speculative fiction, grab a ticket for just £7. Better yet, grab a combination ticket for Improving Reality and Brighton SF together for just £20.

All of those great events will be happening in the lead-up to the big one: dConstruct on Friday, September 7th. I still can’t quite believe the fantastic line-up we’ve got, and I’m looking forward to every single talk. I’ll be introducing the speakers on the day so I hope I don’t make too much of an idiot of myself.

Amazingly, there are still a few tickets left for dConstruct! When I say “a few”, I really mean a few …a handful might be more accurate. But if you’ve been thinking about going, you’ve still got a chance to get in there and snap up a ticket.

If you’re thinking of coming en masse from a single company, check out the sponsorship options. The magnificent Mailchimp and Heart Internet are already on board. As well as our gratitude, you will get your logo on the website and badges, a number of free passes, and a stand at the conference to show off your wares.

If you’re not into the stand idea, another option is to sponsor the pre-party or after-party—always a big hit with the attendees. Or you could sponsor a coffee cart at the event; the coffee from the Brighton Dome is notoriously crap, so any company that sponsors a Small Batch coffee cart will earn the undying gratitude of the multitudinous geeks. Drop me an email or give me a call if you or someone you know wants to be the hero of the hour.

Just one month until dConstruct …I can’t wait!

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

SkyCube: The First Satellite Launched by You! by Tim DeBenedictis — Kickstarter

If this Kickstarter project gets launched, it will literally get launched.

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Советские плакаты по гражданской обороне

This cold-war era soviet manual for post-nuclear life is as fascinating as it is horrifying.

» 4 August 2012, baked by Bruce Lawson @ The Pastry Box Project

Bruce writes about a worrying trend in standards work:

Tossing a specification that you’ve written in-house, in secret and already implemented onto a table at W3C, saying “here, standardise this” as you saunter past isn’t a Get Out of Jail Free card for proprietary misdemeanours. And it isn’t standardisation.

Twitter conversation with ftrain

Lance Arthur uses a tweet from Paul Ford as a starting point for a text adventure.

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

If Hemingway wrote JavaScript by fat xxx

This is a rather lovely way to show that in JavaScript, as in Perl, there’s always more than one way to skin a cat (in whatever idiom you prefer).

A future friendly workflow | Opinion | .net magazine

Some more thoughts on how our workflow needs to adapt to the current ever-changing device landscape.

3D-Printed “Magic Arms” - YouTube

3D printing an exoskeleton for a child with arthrogryposis — technology can be so fricking awesome!

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

House of Cards | Contents Magazine

Maybe HyperCard is an idea whose time has come. Think about it: the size of mobile screens: perfect for a HyperCard stack.

The Internet of Things - Readlists

Those articles about the “Internet of Things” I linked to? Here they are in handy Readlist form.

Things

Put the kettle on, make yourself a cup of tea, and settle down to read a couple of thought-provoking pieces about networked devices.

First up, Scott Jenson writes Of Bears, Bats, and Bees: Making Sense of the Internet of Things:

The Internet of Things is a growing, changing meme. Originally it was meant to invoke a giant swarm of cheap computation across the globe but recently has been morphing and blending, even insinuating, into established product concepts.

Secondly, Charles Stross has published an abridged version of a talk he gave back in June called How low (power) can you go?:

The logical end-point of Moore’s Law and Koomey’s Law is a computer for every square metre of land area on this planet — within our lifetimes. And, speaking as a science fiction writer, trying to get my head around the implications of this technology for our lives is giving me a headache. We’ve lived through the personal computing revolution, and the internet, and now the advent of convergent wireless devices — smartphones and tablets. Ubiquitous programmable sensors will, I think, be the next big step, and I wouldn’t be surprised if their impact is as big as all the earlier computing technologies combined.

And I’ll take this opportunity to once again point to one of my favourite pieces on the “Internet of Things” by Russell Davies:

The problem, though, with the Internet Of Things is that it falls apart when it starts to think about people. When big company Internet Of Things thinkers get involved they tend to spawn creepy videos about sleek people in sleek homes living optimised lives full of smart objects. These videos seem to radiate the belief that the purpose of a well-lived life is efficiency. There’s no magic or joy or silliness in it. Just an optimised, efficient existance. Perhaps that’s why the industry persists in inventing the Internet Fridge. It’s top-down design, not based on what people might fancy, but on what technologies companies are already selling.

Fortunately, though, there’s another group of people thinking about the Internet of Things - enthusiasts and inventors who are building their own internet connected things, adding connectivity and intelligence to the world in their own ways.

You can read it on your networked device or you can listen to it on your networked device …while you’re having your cup of tea …in a non-networked cup …with water from a non-networked kettle.

BBC - Podcasts - Four Thought: Russell M. Davies 21 Sept 2011 on Huffduffer

Scott Jenson | Beyond mobile, beyond web | Mobilism 2012

A little something to whet your appetite for dConstruct: Scott’s superb talk from this year’s Mobilism conference in Amsterdam.

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

» Explaining the iOS and Android mobile browser usage disparity Cloud Four Blog

A really fascinating analysis by Jason into the apparent disparity in web browsing between Android and iOS devices: it turns out that the kind of network connection could be a big factor.

Where is STML?

Any sufficiently advanced Markov chain is indistinguishable from James Bridle.