Archive: September, 2014

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Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Introducing Universal SSL

Great news from Cloudflare—https endpoints by default!

This means that if you’re planning on switching on TLS for your site, but you’re using Cloudflare as a CDN, you’ve got one less thing to change (and goodness knows you’re going to have enough to do already).

I really like their reasoning for doing this, despite the fact that it might mean that they take a financial hit:

Having cutting-edge encryption may not seem important to a small blog, but it is critical to advancing the encrypted-by-default future of the Internet. Every byte, however seemingly mundane, that flows encrypted across the Internet makes it more difficult for those who wish to intercept, throttle, or censor the web. In other words, ensuring your personal blog is available over HTTPS makes it more likely that a human rights organization or social media service or independent journalist will be accessible around the world. Together we can do great things.

Keep ’em Separated — ericportis.com

I share the concerns expressed here about the “sizes” attribute that’s part of the new turbo-powered img element (or “the picture element and its associates”, if you prefer). Putting style or layout information into HTML smells bad.

This is a concern that Matt Wilcox has raised:

Change the design and those breakpoints are likely to be wrong. So you’ll need to change all of the client-side mark-up that references images.

I can give you a current use-case: right here on adactio.com, you can change the stylesheet …so I can’t embed breakpoints or sizes into my img elements because—quite rightly—there’s a separation between the structural HTML layer and the presentational CSS layer.

Responsive Images: If you’re just changing resolutions, use srcset. | CSS-Tricks

Following on from that post of Jason’s I linked to, Chris also emphasises that, for most use cases, you probably only need to use srcset (and maybe sizes), but not the picture element with explicit sources.

It’s really, really great that people are writing about this, because it can be quite a confusing topic to wrap your head around at first.

Monday, September 29th, 2014

15 Lessons from 15 Years of Blogging - Anil Dash

I’d go along with pretty much everything Anil says here. Wise words from someone who’s been writing on their own website for fifteen years (congratulations!).

Link to everything you create elsewhere on the web. And if possible, save a copy of it on your own blog. Things disappear so quickly, and even important work can slip your mind months or years later when you want to recall it. If it’s in one, definitive place, you’ll be glad for it.

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Tech’s tunnel vision (Phil Gyford’s website)

I really like Phil’s braindump of conference ideas. Frankly, many of these ideas work just as well as watchwords for building on the web:

  • Different models for start-ups. Co-operatives. Employee ownership. Normal, slowly-growing, profit-making businesses.
  • Technology for people who don’t live in the first world. (There’s a lot of them and they have a lot of technology, but most of us know nothing about it.)
  • Websites that make the whole Web better.
  • New services that work fine on technology that’s been around for years.
  • Services designed for people who have little money.
  • Services designed for people who aren’t fully able.
  • Models for keeping services running over the long-term. (What happens when your company closes, or to your personal projects when you die?)

Lillian Karabaic: The Indie Web is the new Zines

I really like this comparison:

As a zinester and zine librarian, I see the Indie Web as a pretty direct correlation to 1980’s and 1990’s zine culture. The method of production may be completely different (photocopiers and direct mail vs web posts and servers) but the goals are almost identical – controlling the way in which your message and identity are displayed, crafted, and stored while avoiding censorship that corporate media might impose. The end goal of both zine and indieweb technologies is ownership of your own identity without a filter.

But there also challenges:

The key issue right now for diverse populations utilizing the Indie Web is accessibility. As long as the tools for creating & controlling your own identity online are still relatively obtuse & technical to implement, we won’t have great diversity within the Indie Web.

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Using ServiceWorker in Chrome today - JakeArchibald.com

It’s very early days for ServiceWorker, but Jake is on hand with documentation and instructions on its use. To be honest, most of this is over my head and I suspect it won’t really “click” until I try using it for myself.

Where it gets really interesting is in the comments. Stuart asks “What about progressive enhancement?” And Jake points out that because a ServiceWorker won’t be installed on a first visit, you pretty much have to treat it as an enhancement. In fact, you’d have to go out of your way to make it a requirement:

You could, of course, throw up a splash screen and wait for the ServiceWorker to install, creating a ServiceWorker-dependant experience. I will hunt those people down.

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Perennial Design, by Wilson Miner · Issue 4 · The Manual

A deeply thoughtful piece (as always) by Wilson, on the mindset needed for a sustainable way of working.

When we start with the assumption that optimizing for rapid, unbounded growth is a goal, we immediately narrow the possibility space. There are only so many choices we can make that will get us there. The same choices that made annual monoculture and the shopping mall the most efficient engines for short-term growth and profit are the same qualities that made them unsustainable in the long term.

There are more ways to scale than growth. There are more ways to deepen our impact than just reaching more people. What if we put just as much effort into scaling the impact of our work over time? Can we build digital products around sustainable systems that survive long enough to outlive us, that are purpose-built to thrive without our constant cultivation?

Against Sharing | Jacobin

But under the guise of innovation and progress, companies are stripping away worker protections, pushing down wages, and flouting government regulations. At its core, the sharing economy is a scheme to shift risk from companies to workers, discourage labor organizing, and ensure that capitalists can reap huge profits with low fixed costs.

There’s nothing innovative or new about this business model. Uber is just capitalism, in its most naked form.

Thoughts on Winding Down Ficly and Updates on Its Future — sixtwothree.org

Jason writes about the closing of Ficly. This is a lesson in how to do this right:

We knew as soon as we decided to wind down Ficly that we wanted to provide users with continued access to their work, even if they couldn’t create more. We’re still working on some export tools, but more importantly, we’re guaranteeing that all original work on the site will live on at its current URL far into the future.

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

A Fundamental Disconnect, From the Notebook of Aaron Gustafson

I think Aaron is spot-on here. There’s a tendency to treat web development these days as just the same as any other kind of software development—which is, on the one hand, great because it shows just how far JavaScript and browsers have come …but on the other hand, that attitude is missing a crucial understanding of the fundamental nature of the web’s technology stack (that we should be treating HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as layers; not as one big ball of webby, timey-wimey stuff).

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Extensible Web Summit Berlin 2014: my lightning talk on Web Components | soledad penadés

Soledad Penadés also went to the Extensible Web Summit in Berlin, where she gave a lightning talk. Sounds like it was really good.

This also includes some good advice that, again, Alex might want to consider before denouncing any disagreement on Web Components as “piffle and tosh”:

If the W3C, or any other standardisation organisation wants to attract “normal” developers to get more diverse inputs, they/we should start by being respectful to everyone. Don’t try to show everyone how superclever you are. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t scare people away, because then only the loud ones stay, and the quieter shy people, or people who have more urgent matters to attend (such as, you know, having a working business website even if it’s not using the latest and greatest API) will just leave.

Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : Reflections on Extensible Web Summit, Berlin

Bruce went to the Extensible Web Summit in Berlin and wrote up his notes.

Sounds like he shares my excitement, but also my nervousness.

I’m not yet entirely convinced that we’re not heralding a new era of JavaScript-only web development. I don’t want to see the fossilisation of the declarative web and a new Programmer Priesthood (re-)emerge.

There’s also this important point, that Alex would do well to remember before crying “Piffle and tosh!”:

We need to ensure that all devs who want to can participate by allowing ease of collaboration, courteous discourse.

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

Uncomfortably Excited – Infrequently Noted

Alex’s response to my post about Web Components, in which he ignores my excitement and dismisses my concerns as “piffle and tosh.”

I gotta say: I think cautious optimism and nervous excitement are healthy attitudes to have about any technology. For Alex to dismiss them so summarily makes me even more worried. Apparently you’re either with Web Components or you’re against them. Heaven forbid that you might voice any doubts or suggest any grey areas.

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

Why You Want a Code of Conduct & How We Made One | Incisive.nu

A great piece by Erin on the value of a code of conduct for conferences, filled with practical advice.

Once you decide to create a code and do it thoughtfully, you’ll find the internet overflows with resources to help you accomplish your goals, and good people who’ll offer guidance and advice. From my own experience, I can say that specificity and follow-through will make your code practical and give it teeth; humane language and a strong connection to your community will make it feel real and give it a heart.

Digital Amnesia - YouTube

A documentary on our digital dark age. Remember this the next time someone trots out the tired old lie that “the internet never forgets.”

If we lose the past, we will live in an Orwellian world of the perpetual present, where anybody that controls what’s currently being put out there will be able to say what is true and what is not. This is a dreadful world. We don’t want to live in this world. —Brewster Kahle

It’s a terrible indictment of where our priorities were for the last 20 years that we depend essentially on children and maniacs to save our history of this sort. —Jason Scott

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

BBC World Service - Click, dConstruct Conference

This episode of Click on the BBC World Service does a great job of distilling some of the ideas and themes from this year’s dConstruct.

The Click podcast is available for your huffduffing pleasure.

Two years ago dConstruct’s theme was “Playing with the Future”. Last year it was “Communicating with Machines”. This year’s theme is “Living with the Network”. Click interviews artists, writers, hackers and coders about surveillance, connected devices, big data, and whether the ideals of the internet have been too far corrupted for them ever to be preserved.

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014