Monday, October 29th, 2012
Saturday, October 27th, 2012
There is an elephant in the Microsoft store.
Friday, October 26th, 2012
Jason goes into detail describing the File Format problem that he and others are going to tackle in the effort known as Just Solve The Problem.
Thursday, October 25th, 2012
Another responsive design case study. This one’s got numbers too.
I love seeing the process behind responsive projects. This one is particularly nice.
You’ve probably seen this already, but it’s really worth bearing in mind: when you’re scaling up JPGs for retina display you can safely reduce the image quality by quite a lot—to the point of getting the exact same file size as a higher quality image that’s half the size.
A really terrific piece about wireframing for responsive designs. Again, it’s all about the prototypes.
Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
Craig writes about the hologram of his quantified self.
A step-by-step guide to unDRMing your Kindle books—a prudent course of action given Amazon’s recent unilateral wiping of Kindles.
It’s all about the signalling.
Interaction dissolving into the environment.
The state of the art in animated gifs: full-screen and scrubbable. Kiss your productivity goodbye.
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
Design Fiction at work, imagining a possible future city.
Less wireframing, more prototyping.
A worrying look at how modern web developers approach accessibility. In short, they don’t.
The low-hanging fruit of accessibility fixes; it’s worth bearing these in mind.
Monday, October 22nd, 2012
Why George Lucas Is the Greatest Artist of Our Time - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Camille Paglia is apparently a Lucas apologist like me.
A treat grows in Brooklyn
I hesitate to call it a conference. I guess it is a conference, but it’s a very different kind of conference. Yes, there are talks but the schedule is geared around getting people together to talk and hang out: the breaks are as long as the sessions. This year, there was also live music every day, including a performance from Ted Leo.
So it’s not really about the talks. But that said, there were some great talks.
Icon designer extraordinaire Aaron Draplin kicked things off with a rollercoaster ride of laughter and tears. Cory Booker, superhero mayor of Newark, made an appearance, as did Seth Godin. Rob—or should I say Windhammer—introduced us to the world of air guitar championships and snuck in some life lessons while he was at it. And, yes, Baratunde Thurston organised a Whiskey Friday for his hilarious presentation. The event closed with a theme song by Jonathan Mann and we all sang along.
Of course I was a complete fanboy with Ted Nelson. I could hardly believe it when I saw he was there; I made sure to shake his hand. But I was equally fanboyish with Kyle Kneath; I’ve admired his writing—particularly on URL design—for quite a while.
But I think the highlight for me was getting to hear Maciej Cegłowski give his talk. Idle Words is probably my favourite single collection of writings on the internet, and Maciej was equally brilliant in real life. Even though his talk (all about how Pinboard came to be) was in some ways the most cynical of all, I found it to be very inspiring; a refreshing antitode to the excesses of the cult of startup.
There was a thread running between Rob’s talk, Maciej’s story, and Chris’s lessons. That thread was about taking time. “Fail slowly,” said Maciej, in contrast to every other startup story you’ve ever heard. Rob made reference to the slow web by Jack Cheng (who was also there). And Chris told us, “It’s okay to miss out.”
I like that.
So if you missed out on this year’s Brooklyn Beta, don’t worry. It’s okay to miss out …but I’m glad I was able to make it.
Thanks, Chris and Cameron. I had a blast.
Mark gets to the heart of the issue with making responsive designs work with legacy Content Management Systems …or, more accurately, Web Publishing Tools. There’s a difference. A very important difference.
A good overview of making Huffduffer play nicely with podcasting software on iOS.
Huffduffer is a niche tool that, for me, solves a recurring problem. I can now save episodes from any device without having to subscribe to an entire show if I’m just interested in a a single episode.
Sunday, October 21st, 2012
My last shipment from the Quaterly contained everything I need to get a sourdough starter going (thanks to Alexis Madrigal). I think I might have to get me one of these cute sourdough globes: “It’s like a Tamagotchi, but actually alive.”
Be sure to check out the the blog documenting the design and development.
In 2005 I went to South by Southwest for the first time. It was quite an experience. Not only did I get to meet lots of people with whom I had previously only interacted with online, but I also got to meet lots of lots of new people. Many of my strongest friendships today started in Austin that year.
Back before it got completely unmanageable, Southby was a great opportunity to mix up planned gatherings with serendipitous encounters. Lunchtime, for example, was often a chaotic event filled with happenstance: you could try to organise a small group to go to a specific place, but it would inevitably spiral into a much larger group going to wherever could seat that many people.
One lunchtime I found myself sitting next to a very nice gentleman and we got on to the subject of network theory. Back then I was very obsessed with small-world networks, the strength of weak ties, and all that stuff. I’m still obsessed with all that stuff today, but I managed to exorcise a lot my thoughts when I gave my 2008 dConstruct talk, The System Of The World. After giving that magnum opus, I felt like I had got a lot of network-related stuff off my chest (and off my brain).
Anyway, back in 2005 I was still voraciously reading books on the subject and I remember recommending a book to that nice man at that lunchtime gathering. I can’t even remember which book it was now—maybe Nexus by Mark Buchanan or Critical Mass by Philip Ball. In any case, I remember this guy making a note of the book for future reference.
It was only later that I realised that that “guy” was David Isenberg. Yes, that David Isenberg, author of the seminal Rise of the Stupid Network, one of the most important papers ever published about telecommunications networks in the twentieth century (you can watch—and huffduff—a talk he gave called Who will run the Internet? at the Oxford Internet Institute a few years back).
I was reminded of that lunchtime encounter from seven years ago when I was putting together a readlist of visionary articles today. The list contains:
- As We May Think by Vannevar Bush
- Information Management: A Proposal by Tim Berners-Lee (vague but exciting!)
- Rise of the Stupid Network by David Isenberg
- There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom by Richard Feynman
- The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era by Vernor Vinge
There are others that should be included on that list but there’s are the ones I could find in plain text or HTML rather than PDF.
Peter Saville talks about the enduring appeal of his cover for Unknown Pleasures.
I like to think of all the variations and mashups as not just tributes to Joy Division, but tributes to Jocelyn Bell Burnell too.
These three talks are worth your time.
A really nicely designed site to help you catch up on some good conference talks you might have missed.
Celebrating the work of the tireless men and women who shorten headlines so they’ll fit on your iPhone.
Saturday, October 20th, 2012
There Is No Mobile Web
The opening keynote from the Breaking Development conference held in Nashville, Tennessee in September 2011.
Some of these are pure chindogu but others are pure genius.
Friday, October 19th, 2012
A peak behind the scenes at the responsive design and development workflow at Bearded. It makes a lot of sense.
CAPTHCAs are a terrible, terrible solution to a technological problem. But at least these CAPTCHAs acknowledge that the person typing is not only not-a-bot, but a human being.
A lovely piece from Joanne on storytelling, identity and the internet.
Does Zed Shaw look like a bitch to you?
I said does Zed Shaw look like a bitch to you?
Thursday, October 18th, 2012
In mobile-centric Africa, Responsive Web Design just makes business sense!Moses Kemibaro | Moses Kemibaro
Therefore, from a business perspective, and my excitement in doing this blog post is that RWD is especially important for mobile-centric markets such as Africa.
Remember when I linked to the Github repository of The Guardian’s front-end team? Well, now—if you’ll pardon the mixing of metaphors—you can start to kick the tyres of the fruits of their labour. This beta site shows where their experiments with responsive design might lead.
This is quite an astounding piece of writing. Robert Lucky imagines the internet of things mashed up with online social networking …but this was published in 1999!
Smashing Magazine are publishing a book on mobile and the web. I’m writing the foreword. I should really get on that.
Useful advice from Tim on preparing your responsive site for IE10’s new “snap mode”. Don’t worry: it doesn’t involve adding any proprietary crap …quite the opposite, in fact.
Chloe uses interactive text in an attempt to explain what lexical-gustatory synesthesia is like.
Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
This looks like a handy way of enhancing forms to have input masks (Luke W. would approve). Right now it’s a jQuery plug-in but I’m sure someone as smart as you would be able to create a standalone version, right?
We’re also assigning some homework: reading material for the Shopbop gang to read at their leisure after we have departed Madison. Aaron created a readlist called Adaptive Web Design and I’ve made a readlist called Responsive Enhancement.
This is the talk I gave at the Webdagene conference in Norway a few weeks back. I called it Responsive Enhancement but I think the Norwegian title translates as “Improvements Through Responsive Design.”
Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
Ooh, these look nice! Smaller, more manageable newspapers from Newspaper Club.
Thoughtful points from Chris, delivered on the closing day of this year’s Brooklyn Beta.
So, the next time you feel like you’re missing out, stop it. Zoom out a little bit and give yourself some space and some perspective, so you can focus on what matters.
Song-a-day Mann closed out this year’s Brooklyn Beta by singing this song (number #1381 in his ongoing series). We all sang along. It was pretty damn great.
Friday, October 12th, 2012
This is an excellent resource from Anna. She’s documenting the browser capabilities of games consoles.
A nice look at some possible ways to approach workflow on a responsive project.
This looks like an excellent deal: buy eight sci-fi books for as much money as you think is fair. Lauren Beukes, Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow …all good stuff.
Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
A one-stop-shop for browser-compatibility information. This is MDN, HTML5 Rocks, and Quirksmode all rolled into one.
Saturday, October 6th, 2012
A lovely bit of hypertext.
Friday, October 5th, 2012
iOS Six Fix
When the meta viewport tag is set to content=”width=device-width,initial-scale=1”, or any value that allows user-scaling, changing the device to landscape orientation causes the page to scale larger than 1.0. As a result, a portion of the page is cropped off the right, and the user must double-tap (sometimes more than once) to get the page to zoom properly into view.
Yes, it’s the old orientation and scale bug in Mobile Safari.
I’m pleased to report that as of iOS version 6, this bug seems to have finally been squashed. Hallelujah!
Stand down, hackers, stand down. This bug has been taken care of.
A communal device lab in Stockholm.
Thursday, October 4th, 2012
A well-executed sci-fi short film on augmented reality and gamification.
It might seem like an obvious point, but what Tim is talking about here happens over and over again: a technique is dismissed based on bad implementation.
To CERN with love
I went to Switzerland yesterday. More specifically, Geneva. More specifically, CERN. More specifically, ATLAS. Tireless Communications Officer Claudia Marcelloni went out of her way to make sure that I had a truly grand tour of life at CERN.
CERN is the ultimate area of overlap in the Venn diagram of geek interests: the place where the World Wide Web was invented while people were working on cracking the secrets of the universe.
I saw the world’s first web server—Tim Berners-Lee’s NeXT machine. I saw the original proposal for the World Wide Web, complete with the note scribbled across the top “vague but exciting.”
Because, you know the web is cool and all, but when you’re trying to understand the fundamental building blocks of the universe and constructing the single greatest scientific instrument of ours and perhaps any civilisation, the whole modern internet is a happy side effect, it is a nice to have.
The highlight of my day was listening to Christoph Rembser geek out about his work: hunting for signs of elusive dark matter by measuring missing momentum when smashing particles together near the speed of light in a 27 kilometre wide massive structure 100 metres underneath France and Switzerland, resulting in incredible amounts of data being captured and stored within an unimaginably short timescale. Awesome. Literally, awesome.
But what really surprised me at CERN wasn’t learning about the creation of the web or learning about the incredible scientific work being done there. As a true-blooded web/science nerd, I had already read plenty about both. No, what really took me by surprise was the social structure at CERN.
According to most established social and economic theory, nothing should ever get done at CERN. It’s a collection of thousands of physics nerds—a mixture of theorists (the ones with blackboards) and experimentalists (the ones with computers). When someone wants to get something done, they present their ideas and ask for help from anyone with specific fields of expertise. Those people, if they like the sound of the idea, say “Okay” and a new collaboration is born.
That’s it. That’s how stuff gets done. It’s like a massive multiplayer hackday. It’s like the ultimate open source project (and yes, everything, absolutely everything, done at CERN is realised publicly). It is the cathedral and it is the bazaar. It is also the tower of Babel: people from everywhere in the world come to this place and collaborate, communicating any way they can. In the canteen, where Nobel prize winners sit with students, you can hear a multitude of accents and languages.
CERN is an amazing place. These thousands of people might be working on completely different projects, but there’s a shared understanding and a shared ethos amongst every one of them. That might sound like a flimsy basis for any undertaking, but it works. It works really, really well. And this isn’t just any old undertaking—they’re not making apps or shipping consumer products—they’re working on the most important questions that humans have ever attempted to answer. And they’re doing it all within a framework that, according to conventional wisdom, just shouldn’t work. But it does work. And that, in its own way, is also literally awesome.
Christoph described what it was like for him to come to CERN from Bonn, the then-capital of West Germany. It was 1989, a momentous year (and not just because Tim Berners-Lee wrote Information Management: A Proposal). Students were demonstrating and dying in Tiananmen Square. The Berlin wall was coming down (only later did I realise that my visit to CERN took place on October 3rd, Tag der Deutschen Einheit). At CERN, Christoph met Chinese students, Russian scientists, people from all over the world transcending their political differences to collaborate on truly fundamental questions. And he said that when people returned to their own countries, they surely carried with them some of that spirit that they had experienced together at CERN.
Compared to the actual work going on at CERN, that idea is a small one. It may not be literally awesome …but it really resonated with me.
I think I understand a little better now where the web comes from.
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
Amen, Lyza, Amen. Instead of treating web development for the multitude of devices out there as an overwhelming nigh-on-impossible task, let’s accept the fact that there are certain things that are beyond our control. And that’s okay.
Let’s build on the commonality core to the web where we can. To do this, I think we need to let go of a few things, to lay down our burdens.
Related: do websites need to look the same in every browser? NO!
Live in or near San Francisco? Interested in preserving computer history? Then you should meet up with Jason this Friday:
This Friday, October 5th, the Internet Archive has an open lunch where there’s tours of the place, including the scanning room, and people get up and talk about what they’re up to. The Internet Archive is at 300 Funston Street. I’m here all week and into next.
A great in-depth explanation by Aarron on why Mailchimp dropped their Facebook and Twitter log-in options. Partly it was the NASCAR problem, but the data (provided by user testing with Silverback) also brought up some interesting issues.
Nishant gives a great overview of the responsive redesign of the Microsoft home page, ably abetted by the Paravel gang.
Scrollin’, scrollin’, scrollin’
A few weeks ago, when I changed how the front page of this site works, I wrote about “streams”, infinite scrolling, and the back button:
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).
That’s exactly what Kyle Kneath is trying to solve with this nifty experiment with infinite scroll and the HTML5 History API. I should investigate this further. Although, like I said in my post, I would probably replace automatic infinite scrolling with an explicit user-initiated action:
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.
Kyle’s code is available from GitHub (of course). As written, it relies on some library support—like jQuery—but with a little bit of tweaking, I’m sure it could be rewritten to remove any dependencies (hint, hint, lazy web).
Monday, October 1st, 2012
CSSquirrel shares my feelings on the email notification anti-pattern.