Archive: On this day

May 19th, 2021

Google AMP is dead! AMP pages no longer get preferential treatment in Google search

I don’t know if AMP is quite dead yet, but it feels like it would be a mercy to press a pillow down on its face.

Google’s stated intention was to rank sites that load faster but they ended up ranking sites that use AMP instead. And the largest advertising company in the world dictating how websites can be built is not a way to a healthier and more open web.

Learn CSS

This is a great (free!) course on learning CSS from the basics up. Nicely-pitched explanations with plenty of examples.

May 19th, 2020

Playing The Drunken Gauger (set dance) on mandolin:

The Drunken Gauger (set dance) on mandolin

Five Key Milestones in the Life of a Design System -

Five moments in the lifecycle of a design system. They grow up so fast!

  1. Formation of the Design System Team
  2. First Page Shipped
  3. Consumable Outside the Main Product
  4. First Non-System Team Consumer
  5. First Breaking Change

Dave makes the observation that design systems are less like open source software and more like enterprise software—software you didn’t choose to use:

Often, in my experience, for an internal Design System to have widespread adoption it requires a literal executive mandate from the top floor of the building.

Also: apparently design systems have achieved personhood now and we’re capitalising them as proper names. First name Design, last name System.

“Please, call me Design. Mr. System was my father.”

Measuring Performance behind consent popups – Simon Hearne

  • Opted out experiences are ~35% faster
  • Opting in downloads 2.5MB of additional JavaScript
  • Opted in repeat views are twice as slow as opted out

Replying to a tweet from @JoshWComeau

It is supported in Safari (although I think I may have uncovered a bug in Safari with my particular use case).

May 19th, 2019

Replying to a tweet from @iceMagic

You’re too kind—thank you very much!


Checked in at The Bugle Inn. Tunes — with Jessica


Checked in at British Airways Galleries Lounge. Homeward bound.

May 19th, 2018

Acephalic Agile—worse than Waterfall? - Oliver Wyman Labs: Technical

Agile itself provides us with the ability and opportunity to correct course, it allows us to steer, but it does nothing as such to help us steer correctly.

This observation about (some) agile projects is worryingly familiar:

I was suddenly seized by a horrible thought: what if this new-found agility was used, not teleologically to approach the right outcome over the course of a project, but simply to enshrine the right of middle management to change their minds, to provide a methodological license for arbitrary management? At least under a Waterfall regime they had to apologise when they departed from the plan. With Agile they are allowed, in principle, to make as many changes of direction as they like. But what if Agile was used merely as a license to justify keeping the team in the office night after night in a never-ending saga of rapidly accumulating requirements and dizzying changes of direction? And what if the talk of developer ‘agility’ was just a way of softening up developers for a life of methodologically sanctioned pliability? In short, what if Agile turned out to be worse than Waterfall?

The Slow Death of Internet Explorer and the Future of Progressive Enhancement · An A List Apart Article

Oliver Williams makes the case—and shows the code—for delivering only HTML to old versions of Internet Explorer, sparing them from the kind of CSS and JavaScript that they can’t deal with it. Seems like a sensible approach to me (assuming you’re correctly building in a layered way so that your core content is delivered in markup).

Rather than transpiling and polyfilling and hoping for the best, we can deliver what the person came for, in the most resilient, performant, and robust form possible: unadulterated HTML. No company has the resources to actively test their site on every old version of every browser. Malfunctioning JavaScript can ruin a web experience and make a simple page unusable. Rather than leaving users to a mass of polyfills and potential JavaScript errors, we give them a basic but functional experience.

Super-powered layouts with CSS Variables + CSS Grid by Michelle Barker on CodePen

This article is about using custom properties and CSS grid together, but I think my favourite part is this description of how custom properties differ from the kind of variables you get from a preprocessor:

If you’re familiar with Javascript, I like to think of the difference between preprocessor variables and CSS Variables as similar to the difference between const and let - they both serve different purposes.

Building and maintaining a design system | susan jean robertson

Susan writes about the challenges when trying to get widespread adoption of a design system. Spoiler: the challenges aren’t technical.

Change is hard. Communication and collaboration are absolutely necessary to make a system work. And the more people you can get involved from various disciplines the better chance you have of maintaining your system.

’Twas lovely to see @qwertykate representing @unbounders in @BrightonOpenMkt today.

’Twas lovely to see @qwertykate representing @unbounders in @BrightonOpenMkt today.

Brighton has an equal mixture of Morris dancers and @TheGreatEscape hipsters enjoying the sunshine today—it’s great!

May 19th, 2017

Notes From An Emergency

But real problems are messy. Tech culture prefers to solve harder, more abstract problems that haven’t been sullied by contact with reality. So they worry about how to give Mars an earth-like climate, rather than how to give Earth an earth-like climate. They debate how to make a morally benevolent God-like AI, rather than figuring out how to put ethical guard rails around the more pedestrian AI they are introducing into every area of people’s lives.

Further notes on scenius

Austin Kleon expands on Brian Eno’s neologism “scenius”:

Genius is an egosystem, scenius is an ecosystem.

Presentation: Accessibility in a Responsive World, A11Y Days 2017

There are some great hands-on accessibility patterns in this talk transcript from Scott.

Checked in at Rösttrommel Kaffeerösterei

Checked in at Kaulbach. with Jessica

May 19th, 2016

Hanging out at Harvard: @wordridden, @beep and @drinkerthinker.

Hanging out at Harvard: @wordridden, @beep and @drinkerthinker.

Clearleft sighting in Net magazine—two Bens and a Clare.

Clearleft sighting in Net magazine—two Bens and a Clare.

This stone.

This stone.

Stone ligature.

Stone ligature.

Cape Cod clams.

Cape Cod clams.

Doing Cambridge with @beep and @drinkerthinker.

Doing Cambridge with @beep and @drinkerthinker.

Publishing Your Content Online and Syndicating it Elsewhere | W. Ian O’Byrne

A good introduction to the Indie Web approach:

This post was primarily directed at friends and colleagues that already blog in other spaces, and wonder why/how they would re-post content to Medium or elsewhere.

Owning my words

When I wrote a few words about progressive enhancement recently, I linked to Karolina’s great article The Web Isn’t Uniform. I was a little reluctant to link to it, not because of the content—which is great—but because of its location on Ev’s blog. I much prefer to link directly to people’s own websites (I have a hunch that those resources tend to last longer too) but I understand that Medium offers a nice low barrier to publishing.

That low barrier comes at a price. It means you have to put up with anyone and everyone weighing in with their own hot takes. The way the site works is that anyone who writes a comment on your article is effectively writing their own article—you don’t get to have any editorial control over what kind of stuff appears together with your words. There is very little in the way of community management once a piece is published.

Karolina’s piece attracted some particularly unsavoury snark—tech bros disagreeing in their brash bullying way. I linked to a few comments, leaving out the worst of the snark, but I couldn’t resist editorialising:

Ah, Medium! Where the opinions of self-entitled dudes flow like rain from the tech heavens.

I knew even when I was writing it that it was unproductive, itself a snarky remark. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But I wanted to acknowledge that not only was bad behaviour happening, but that I was seeing it, and I wasn’t ignoring it. I guess it was mostly intended for Karolina—I wanted to extend some kind of acknowledgment that the cumulative weight of those sneering drive-by reckons is a burden that no one should have to put up with.

I knew that when I wrote about Medium being “where the opinions of self-entitled dudes flow like rain from the tech heavens” that I would (rightly) get pushback, and sure enough, I did …on Medium. Not on Twitter or anywhere else, just Medium.

I syndicate my posts to Ev’s blog, so the free-for-all approach to commenting doesn’t bother me that much. The canonical URL for my words remains on my site under my control. But for people posting directly to Medium and then having to put up with other people casually shitting all over their words, it must feel quite disempowering.

I have a similar feeling with Twitter. I syndicate my notes there and if the service disappeared tomorrow, I wouldn’t shed any tears. There’s something very comforting in knowing that any snarky nasty responses to my words are only being thrown at copies. I know a lot of my friends are disheartened about the way that Twitter has changed in recent years. I wish I could articulate how much better it feels to only use Twitter (or Medium or Facebook) as a syndication tool, like RSS.

There is an equal and opposite reaction too. I think it’s easier to fling off some thoughtless remarks when you’re doing it on someone else’s site. I bet you that the discourse on Ev’s blog would be of a much higher quality if you could only respond from your own site. I find I’m more careful with my words when I publish here on I’m taking ownership of what I say.

And when I do lapse and write snarky words like “Ah, Medium! Where the opinions of self-entitled dudes flow like rain from the tech heavens.”, at least I’m owning my own snark. Still, I will endeavour to keep my snark levels down …but that doesn’t mean I’m going to turn a blind eye to bad behaviour.

Everything is a Remix: The Force Awakens on Vimeo

The newest Kirby Ferguson video looks at remixing through the lens of the newest Star Wars film.


Nudibranchia or other opisthobranchia compared to the various looks of David Bowie.

I met Zero! Yay! Thanks, @wilto.

I met Zero! Yay! Thanks, @wilto.

May 19th, 2015

In the cinema for Fury Road: Too Mad, Max Furiosa.





Going out on a date with @WordRidden: pizza and a movie.

(’cause I hear that Mad Max: Fury Road is a great date movie)

Getting a sneak peak of @lottejackson’s presentation for @TalkWebDesign—it’s going to be great!

Getting a sneak peak of @lottejackson’s presentation for @TalkWebDesign—it’s going to be great!

100 words 058

PPK writes of modern web development:

Tools don’t solve problems any more, they have become the problem.

I think he’s mostly correct, but I think there is some clarification required.

Web development tools fall into two broad categories:

  1. Local tools like preprocessors, task managers, and version control systems that help the developer output their own HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  2. Tools written in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that the end user has to download for the developer to gain benefit.

It’s that second category that contain a tax on the end user. Stop solving problems you don’t yet have.

May 19th, 2014

Roll Your Own Podcast Feed with Huffduffer by Adam Stahr

A quick little introduction to Huffduffer.

May 19th, 2013

The irregular musings of Lou Montulli: The reasoning behind Web Cookies

A fascinating look at the history of cookies …from the inventor of cookies.

May 19th, 2011

LukeW | Mobile Context Revisited

Yes! Luke nails the fallacy of the mythical mobile user. Instead of trying to mind-read intent, play to the strengths of mobile devices instead.

Douché!  ¶  Personal Weblog of Joe Clark, Toronto

when you have to concede that someone has made a good counterargument, but they’re being a jerk about it.

I have to remember this one.

Mobilism Coverage

A comprehensive list of links to videos, blog posts and slides from the Mobilism conference.

susan jean robertson » We are the minority

Another great post from Susan. Not only are we making unwarranted assumptions about what the mythical mobile user wants, we’re basing those assumptions on the worst possible user base: ourselves.

May 19th, 2010

Minimal Competence: Data Access, Data Ownership, and Sharecropping. - Laughing Meme

Kellan outlines the bare minimum you should expect from any service that you are putting data into.

May 19th, 2009

Classics in Lego - a set on Flickr

Classic photographs recreated in Lego.

Lunch Atop a Skyscraper - Widescreen

Racist Camera! No, I did not blink... I'm just Asian! on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

"Nikon, the racist camera" (sing it to the tune of Flight of the Concords' "Albi, the racist dragon").

Racist Camera! No, I did not blink... I'm just Asian!

Redesign Mozilla

Follow along as Happy Cog document the process of redesigning the Mozilla website.

May 19th, 2008

Webmonkey: the Web Developers Resource

Hey, look what's back: Webmonkey! Ah, memories.

Dave Veloz's Mac Mini Mod, Monitor, & Keyboard | The Steampunk Workshop

I would kill to get hold of this Steampunk Mac mini, flat panel monitor and brass keyboard.

Twitter / MarsPhoenix

The Mars Phoenix probe is twittering its journey to the red planet.

May 19th, 2007

Color Oracle

A very handy little app that sits in your menu bar on OS X and can instantly show you how your screen would look if you were colour blind.

R2D2 Projector :: Scene It :: RED5

This is the ultimate geek gadget: a projector in the shape of R2D2. I want one!

The Implications of OpenID

Pausing for breath is for pussies. Simon's slides illustrate how to pack everything including the OpenID kitchen sink into 45 minutes.

StarCraft II

Whoosh! That's the sound of productivity being left behind. After ten years, Starcraft 2 is finally here. Simultaneous release for Mac and PC.

Talk Like a Pilot on 19 May

I say, bally jerry pranged his cabbage crate right in my how's your father into the drink.

Microformats 1:01—Exporting microformats via bluetooth

On the last day of XTech 2007 I abducted Ian and forced him to shoot a quick video of a microformats demo that I didn’t have a chance to include in my presentation.

The video is one minute and one second long. It’s a quick demo of John McKerrell’s bluetooth version of the Tails plugin.


Here’s a transcript of the 1:01 minutes of video:

This is my website. This is my mobile phone. My website has microformats. This is a version of the Tails plugin for Firefox. It exposes all the microformats I have on my website. I can convert and export those microformats as vcard, iCal, whatever I want. With this version of the plugin I can also export to bluetooth. So let’s take an event for example. I click on bluetooth. My computer asks me which device to export to. I have previously paired up my phone. So now I’m going to send the event to that device. And there we go. I have now exported from the World Wide Web onto my mobile phone. Easy!

The video is released under a Creative Commons attribution license. You are free to share, remix, caption and translate this video (as long as you provide attribution).

XTech 2007, day three

The last day of Xtech rolled around and… whaddya mean “what happened to day two?” They can’t have a conference in Paris and not expect me to take at least one day off to explore the city.

So I skipped the second day of XTech and I’m sure I missed some good presentations but I spent a lovely day with Jessica exploring the streets and brasseries of Paris.

Ah, Paris! (uttering this phrase must always be accompanied by the gesture of flinging one arm into the air with abandon)

The conference closed today with a keynote from Matt Webb. It was great: thought-provoking and funny. It really drove home the big take-away message from XTech for me this year which is that hacking on hardware now is as easy as software.

I can has Arduino?

May 19th, 2006


From Dan Cederholm and Dan Benjamin: a lovely looking piece of social software all about wine. I've been trying it in pre-release and it's really, really nice. This is my kind of website.

May 19th, 2005

First impressions of Revenge Of The Sith

There are certain things that figure heavily in the psyche of any self-respecting geek: a history of role-playing games, the ability to channel Monty Python, an encyclopedic knowledge of Tolkien and, of course, Star Wars.

Every time I get together with my fellow members of the Brit Pack, the conversation inevitably turns to the prequels. I think they do it just to goad me on. Y’see, I’m seen as something of a Lucas apologist. The truth is that I happen to think that the prequels are good fun.

In the interests of full disclosure, let me also state that I really liked the Matrix sequels. I also happen to think that The Village is a damn fine film. With that in mind, you may wish to take everything I say with a large pinch of salt.

Still, I’m glad that I can get so much enjoyment where others find only frustration and disappointment. I think many people, especially die-hard Star Wars fans, bring a lot of baggage with them into the cinema. You’ve got to meet these films half-way.

Sure, The Phantom Menace is unforgivably slow and unengaging. But it’s not the turkey that most people now say it is. It’s a flawed kid’s movie.

As for Attack Of The Clones, I think it’s downright good. Yes, the love story is heavy handed but that’s just one part of the bigger picture. I found the overall story to be a real humdinger.

So, for me, Revenge Of The Sith didn’t have to do much to win me over. If it’s as good as Attack Of The Clones, I’m happy. As it turns it, it surpasses that film in just about every respect.

The overall impression I got from watching Revenge Of The Sith was just how frenetic it seemed. There’s barely a pause for breath. Wham, bam, thank you Obi-Wan. In that sense, it’s a return in spirit to the original Star Wars.

When A New Hope was released, its overall effect was quite overwhelming. The story never stopped to explain any of the technology. Every spectacle was simply taken for granted. Looking at the film today, it almost seems sedate in its pacing. That’s because the locations and technologies are now so familiar to us.

Watching Revenge Of The Sith, I had the same feeling of being clobbered over the head that I received from the first film. My first thought once the film was over was also a familiar one: "I can’t wait to see that again".

It’s always weird seeing a new Star Wars movie for the first time. For the past three years I’ve been following the filming on the website. Every Star Wars fan has a film in their head of how they imagine things should be. I think a lot of the disappointment that people feel results from comparing this internal idea to the celluloid reality.

This feeling is similar to watching a Lord Of The Rings film for the first time. If you’re a fan, you’re going to spend the whole time comparing the movie to the book. It’s not until the second viewing that you get to enjoy the film on its own merits.

Watching Revenge Of The Sith for the first time, I felt like I should have had a clipboard. I could have ticked off all the things I knew had to be crammed into this movie. Wookies: check, the purge of the Jedi: check, Anakin becomes Darth Vader: check, Yoda goes into exile: check, the birth of the twins: check.I really need to see this film again without the button-counting mentality.

There’s another reason why I want to see it again: it’s really good fun. That may seem like an odd thing to say about an overwhelmingly dark plot but it’s true. The galaxy goes to hell in a hand-basket and just everybody loses either their lives, their limbs or their liberty. But it’s still a rip-roaring ride.

Revenge Of The Sith is exactly the kind of over-the-top space opera that made the original Star Wars so great. People may find issue with the dialogue and the acting. Those same people should take a long hard look at the original trilogy. The Star Wars films have never been noted for their prose. They work like silent movies. Actions (and music) speak louder than words.

It’s true that if you quote the dialogue in print, it sounds ridiculous. Reviewers relish in quoting Harrison Ford’s infamous, "you can type this shit, George, but you can’t say it". But in the context of the film’s over-the-top action, the script works just fine.

That’s not to say that the performances aren’t good. I think everyone rises to occasion. But this isn’t the kind of film that rests on any one person’s acting abilities. These figures are larger than life.

As well as a sense of fun, there’s a delicious feeling of frustration to the film. The fall of Anakin is handled in a believable way that allows plenty of moral ambiguity.

As Obi-Wan and Anakin prepared for their final duel - a fight I had been anticipating since I was a child - I found myself willing them to stop. I thought I would be rearing to go, excited by the promise of the mother of all lightsaber battles. In truth, I felt more like crying than cheering. I didn’t want it to happen. I knew how it would end. We’ve all known how it’s going to end for decades now. But when the time finally came, I just wanted these people to stop. "Don’t do it!", I wanted to shout, "Have a nice cup of tea and a sit down".

Perhaps that’s the greatest testament to this film. I knew it would be enjoyable. I knew it would be a great spectacle. I didn’t know it would make me care so much.

I hope you can get as much enjoyment out of this film as I did. But if you didn’t like the other prequels, if you think the ewoks are an abomination on par with Al-Qaeda and if you think phrases like "George Lucas raped my childhood" qualify as reasonable discourse, then you may not like Revenge Of The Sith very much.

Of course, if you’re one of those people, you’ll have to decide pretty quickly whether you absolutely love it or completely hate it. There doesn’t seem to be room for nuanced opinions these days. Either something "completely sucks" (see the aforementioned Matrix sequels) or "totally rocks" (see the aforementioned Lord Of The Rings films). It’s interesting to go back and read reviews of The Phantom Menace from six years ago. Opinion was divided but certainly not extreme. It’s only in the intervening time that the consensus emerged that the film’s a stinker.

Every magazine and television channel sports "best one hundred this" and "worst one hundred that". It’s rare to see lists of "pretty darn good" and "not half bad". Maybe that’s why we feel the need to place everything in categories of "best ever" and "worst ever".

Revenge Of The Sith isn’t the best film ever. Revenge Of The Sith isn’t the worst film ever. It’s flawed but it’s fun. It’s hectic but it’s touching. Most of all, it’s just a movie.

I have a feeling that sentence may come back to haunt me at the next Brit Pack gathering.

May 19th, 2002


In case you haven’t seen, I’ve been making some changes over at Jessica’s site. In fact, I’ve rebuilt it completely.

The whole thing is now based around XML files parsed by PHP, much like this site.

Best of all, though, Jessica has officially joined the ranks of the blogger army. Expect thoughtful, well-written posts to be the norm.

I’m still not too sure about the design of the front page, but the articles within the site are definitely more "usable" now. I’ll probably change the front page design over time as it becomes clearer exactly what’s needed.

The nice thing is that, now that the content and design are completely separated, tweaking the design (or even changing it completely) will be quite easy.

If you haven’t read any of the stuff at Jessica’s site, set aside some time and have a nice leisurely browse through some great writing.

Share and enjoy.