Archive: August, 2013

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Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Is HTML Relevant in the Age of Web Apps? by John Allsopp

John addresses the price of increasing complexity in front-end development.

Yes, tooling can make our life easier. We type fewer keystrokes, and commit more code. But as software engineers learned a long time ago, most of the life of an applications is not in its initial development. It’s in maintaining it. This is something we on the web have had the luxury of being able to largely ignore up to now. After all, how many of the things you build will last years, decades?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Blogging Ourselves to Live

The internet never forgets? Bollocks!

We were told — warned, even — that what we put on the internet would be forever; that we should think very carefully about what we commit to the digital page. And a lot of us did. We put thought into it, we put heart into, we wrote our truths. We let our real lives bleed onto the page, onto the internet, onto the blog. We were told, “Once you put this here, it will remain forever.” And we acted accordingly.

This is a beautiful love-letter to the archival web, and a horrifying description of its betrayal:

When they’re erased by a company abruptly and without warning, it’s something of a new-age arson.

Should JavaScript devs build real things?

This post is about the pros and cons of using JavaScript to programme hardware, but within it is a great summation of what makes JavaScript so powerful:

In my opinion the greatest strengths of JavaScript are its immediacy and its accessibility. It has plenty of weakness (insanely weak typing, implicit casting for comparison, terrible problems with numbers, fluid syntax, I could go on…). Regardless, these weaknesses are entirely overcome by those two points above.

Having taught quite a few people to code, the benefit of being able to open a text editor or a browser console and type code that can immediately and reliably be executed is incredible. The power this brings to the learner is unmatched. When trying to learn new things it’s important to get positive reinforcement very quickly and JavaScript has this ability in spades.

Executing console.log(“hello world”) or window.alert(2+5-20) brings immediate feedback, makes you feel as though you’re getting somewhere and that you are interacting directly with the computer as a programmer. For those of you old enough to own a Spectrum, C64 or Vic20 – BASIC (itself heavily derided) had the same benefit.

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

My Metaphorical Job Title - That Emil

Get out my head, Emil! This is pretty much exactly how I feel about my work, especially this bit:

In trying to be the best web developer I can, I feel a need to understand the web. That involves a lot of what some of my friends who are not in the web business think my job is about, i.e. “clicking on funny links all day”. I read copiously about new and old technologies. I bookmark them, I try to classify them, see them in the light of history as well as projected future. Follow up on them. Try them out. Even if they’re not specifically about what I do for a living, the nature of them might have a bearing on my understanding of how other people use the web.

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

When politicians get the internet wrong, the internet can be ruthless by Caroline Criado-Perez

Oh, dear. An otherwise perfectly well-reasoned article makes this claim:

But the internet is peculiarly adapted to deftly pricking pomposity. This is partly because nothing dies online, meaning your past indiscretions are never yesterday’s news, wrapped round the proverbial fish and chips.

Bollocks. Show me the data to back up this claim.

The insidious truism that “the internet never forgets” is extremely harmful. The true problem is the opposite: the internet forgets all the time.

Geocities, Pownce, Posterous, Vox, and thousands more sites are very much yesterday’s news, wrapped round the proverbial fish and chips.

Friday, August 16th, 2013

The Killing Machines by Mark Bowden in The Atlantic

How to think about drones—an in-depth and fairly balanced article by Mark Bowden on drone strikes and the politics behind them.

In the long run, careful adherence to the law matters more than eliminating another bad actor. Greater prudence and transparency are not just morally and legally essential, they are in our long-term interest, because the strikes themselves feed the anti-drone narrative, and inspire the kind of random, small-scale terror attacks that are bin Laden’s despicable legacy.

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Ooh, Yay!

This is a great idea—the Brighton Cookbook Club:

You know when you get a new cookbook, but you only ever end up using two or three recipes from it? Coming along to Cookbook Club means that you’ll get to try a whole range of recipes from one book to see what you fancy, maybe broaden your palate, and have a jolly fun evening meeting others while you’re at it!

JS Bin’s 5th birthday and news

Happy birthday, JS Bin!

Remy has some important news. No, it’s not the competition to recreate animated gifs with canvas; scroll down past that…

Remy will be working on JS Bin full time. To make this possible, JS Bin will have Pro accounts. But don’t worry; all the functionality available today will continue to be available in the future.

But Pro accounts will get a bunch of nifty extra features (and if you’re in education, you get Pro for free).

Sign me up!

The creation of Missile Command and the haunting of its creator, Dave Theurer

The story behind the classic arcade game Missile Command and the toll it took on its creator:

Theurer’s constant strides for perfection left him working his body to the point that Missile Command’s premise started to manifest itself in his subconscious, sneaking into his dreams and turning them to nightmares.

There was something about the sound of those explosions, the feeling of the trackball in your hand, and the realisation that no matter how well you played, you could only delay the inevitable.

THE END

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Google Fiber Continues Awful ISP Tradition of Banning “Servers”

We have lost an ally in the fight to maintain net neutrality. I wonder how Vint Cerf feels about his employer’s backtracking.

The specific issue here is with using a home computer as a server. It’s common for ISPs to ban this activity, but that doesn’t change the fact that it flies in the face of the fundamental nature of the internet as a dumb network.

I think the natural end point to owning your own data is serving your own data—something that Steven Pemberton talked about in his fateful talk.

We must fight these attempts to turn the internet into controlled system of producers and consumers.

Fat pipe. Always on. Get out of the way

Surfin’ Safari - Blog Archive » Improved support for high-resolution displays with the srcset image attribute

WebKit nightlies now have support for srcset. I’m pleased to see that it’s currently constrained to just handling the case of high-density displays; it doesn’t duplicate the media query functionality of picture.

I’ve always maintained that the best solution to responsive images will be some combination of srcset and picture: they each have their strengths and weaknesses. The “art direction” use case is better handled by picture, but the “retina” use case is better handled by srcset.

Federated uncertainty

Stuart nails it: the real problem with delegating identity is not what some new app will do with your identity details, it’s what the identity provider—Twitter, Google, Facebook—will do with the knowledge that you’re now using some new app.

This is why I want to use my own website as my identity provider.

Galaxy Zoo Quench

This is quite remarkable. Now that the Galaxy Zoo project from Zooniverse has successfully classified all its data (already a remarkable achievement), its volunteers are now collaborating on writing a scientific paper.

There’s something going on here. This isn’t just a “cool” or “cute” link—this is the first stirring of something entirely new that is made possible by network technology.

BBC - Blogs - Adam Curtis - BUGGER

Adam Curtis usually just pours forth apopheniac ramblings, but this is a really great collection of pieces from the archive on the history of incompetence in the spying world.

Y’know, the best explanation I’ve heard so far of the NSA and GCHQ’s sinister overreaching powers is simply that they need to come up with bigger and bigger programmes to justify getting bigger and bigger budgets. Hanlon’s Law, Occam’s Razor, and all that.

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Kids can’t use computers… and this is why it should worry you - Coding 2 Learn

This is a really well-written and worrying piece that pokes at that oft-cited truism about kids today being “digital natives”:

The parents seem to have some vague concept that spending hours each evening on Facebook and YouTube will impart, by some sort of cybernetic osmosis, a knowledge of PHP, HTML, JavaScript and Haskell.

The causes of this lack of digital literacy can be traced back to school:

We’ve mirrored corporate networks, preventing kids and teachers access to system settings, the command line and requiring admin rights to do almost anything. They’re sitting at a general purpose computer without the ability to do any general purpose computing.

Also, this article has the best “TL;DR” description ever.

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The Pastry Box Project | 8 August 2013, baked by Viviana Doctorovich

Empathy is for everyone:

No matter how many times I go through this journey, it never stops surprising me how easy it is to lose perspective in the heat of a project and forget that there is no difference between a user, a client and a designer. It shouldn’t be so hard to remember that no matter the title, we’re all just people trying to get things done.

A nice reminder from Viv.

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Crippling the web - TimKadlec.com

A great call-to-arms from Tim, simply asking that we create websites that take advantage of the amazing universality of the web:

The web has the power to go anywhere—any network, any device, any browser. Why not take advantage of that?

Inevitably there is pushback in the comments from developers still in the “denial” stage of coming to terms with what the web is.