Archive: March, 2016

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Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

NPM & left-pad: Have We Forgotten How To Program? | Haney Codes .NET

Not to sound all “Get off my lawn, kids!” but I think there might be something to this. When you’re requiring hundreds of dependencies to do little tasks that you should be able to code yourself, something’s not right.

But, for the love of all that is programming, write your own bloody basic programming functions. Taking on dependencies for these one-liners is just nuts.

That said, you don’t want reinvent hundreds of wheels either (as most of the comments point out). There’s a balance to be had.

Thomas Fuchs proposes a middle ground for JavaScript.

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Saturday, March 26th, 2016

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Angola’s Wikipedia Pirates Are Exposing the Problems With Digital Colonialism | Motherboard

The street finds its own uses for colonial internet practices:

Because the data is completely free, Angolans are hiding large files in Wikipedia articles on the Portuguese Wikipedia site (Angola is a former Portuguese colony)—sometimes concealing movies in JPEG or PDF files. They’re then using a Facebook group to direct people to those files, creating a robust, completely free file sharing network.

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Progressive web apps: the long game

Remy sums up the psychological end goal of progressive apps (HTTPS + Service Worker + manifest JSON file) prompting an add to home screen action:

This high bar of entry will create a new mental model for our users.

If I add this app to my home screen, it will work when I open it.

It’s a shame that this charge to turbo-boast the perception of the web on mobile is a bit one-sided: I would love to see Apple follow Google’s lead here. But if Android succeed in their goal, then I think iOS will have to follow suit just to compete.

Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : One weird trick to get online — designers hate it!

I don’t care about Opera Mini (I’m not its Product Manager). In the same way, I don’t care about walking sticks, wheelchairs, mobility scooters or guide dogs. But I care deeply about people who use enabling technologies — and Opera Mini is an enabling technology. It allows people on feature phones, low-powered smartphones, people in low-bandwidth areas, people with very small data plans, people who are roaming (you?) connect to the web.

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Introducing A11y Toggle

Here’s a bit of convergent evolution: Hugo’s script is similar to what I wrote about recently.

He also raises a point that Kevin mentioned:

I would like to investigate on the details and summary elements as they are basically a native implementation for content toggles.

For some reason details never got much browser love, even though it’s clearly paving a well-trodden cowpath.

Friday, March 11th, 2016

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Why I like the new Met logo (and why you should give it a chance): Design Observer

Michael Bierut on that logo …and graphic design in general.

Graphic designers, whether we admit it or not, are trained for the short term. Most of the things we design have to discharge their function immediately, whether it’s a design for a book or a poster, a website or an infographic, a sign system, or a business card. In school critiques, architecture and industrial design students produce models. Graphic designers produce finished prototypes. As a result, the idea that we create things that are unfinished, that can only accrue value over time, is foreign to us. It’s so easy for us to visualize the future, and so hard to admit that we really can’t. That’s what we face every time we unveil a new logo.

Monday, March 7th, 2016

A Year Without jQuery

In many ways, moving to vanilla JavaScript highlights the ugliness of working with the DOM directly, and the shortcomings of native Element object — shortcomings which Resig solved so incredibly eloquently with the jQuery API.

Having said that, the lessons I’ve learned over the last year have made me a better developer, and the tools built in the process have opened my eyes and given me enough confidence and understanding of vanilla JavaScript that the only scenario where I would personally consider using jQuery again would be a project needing IE8 support.

Infinite Scrolling, Pagination Or “Load More” Buttons? Usability Findings In eCommerce – Smashing Magazine

A good side-by-side comparison of loading techniques, with some clear advice. But pay attention to this note:

While the debate over “Load more” versus infinite scrolling versus pagination has been debated for years, the product loading method shouldn’t be the first thing that most e-commerce vendors spend their development resources on.

Maybe we could tone down the JavaScript / fuzzy notepad

Accept that sometimes, or for some people, your JavaScript will not work. Put some thought into what that means. Err on the side of basing your work on existing HTML mechanisms whenever you can.

If you’re going to override or reimplement something that already exists, do some research on what the existing thing does first. You cannot possibly craft a good replacement without understanding the original.

Remember that for all the power the web affords you, the control is still ultimately in end user’s hands.

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

thoughtbot/design-sprint: Product Design Sprint Material

If you’re intrigued by the kind of design sprints I wrote about recently, here’s a handy collection of resources to get you going.

EnhanceConf - Stefan Tilkov - How to embrace the browser - YouTube

The videos from EnhanceConf are started to go up already. Stefan’s talk really struck me—all the talks were great but this one had the most unexpected insight for me. It really clarifies a lot of ideas that I’ve been trying to articulate, but which Stefan crystalises by taking the long-zoom view.

Will we ever walk again on the surface of the moon?

A brief history of lunar sci-fi.

No matter how much we want the science fiction dream to come true – and personally I would love it – the reality is that a lunar colony is very unlikely to ever be financially viable. It would be no surprise if we saw more expeditions to the moon, but all those wonderful visions of the high frontier recreated in space are more likely to apply to destinations with a better long-term future, like Mars, rather than the moon.

Manifesto of the Committee to Abolish Outer Space – The New Inquiry

Fear and loathing in Houston.

  1. Humanity will never colonize Mars, never build moon bases, never rearrange the asteroids, never build a sphere around the sun.
  2. There will never be faster-than-light travel. We will not roam across the galaxy. We will not escape our star.
  3. Life is probably an entirely unexceptional phenomenon; the universe probably teems with it. We will never make contact. We will never fuck green-skinned alien babes.
  4. The human race will live and die on this rock, and after we are gone something else will take our place. Maybe it already has, without our even noticing.
  5. All this is good. This is a good thing.

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

Why I Quit Ordering From Uber-for-Food Start-Ups by Robin Sloan in The Atlantic

Something to remember the next time someone describes an experience as “seamless” and means it to be positive:

This is the Amazon move: absolute obfuscation of labor and logistics behind a friendly buy button. The experience for a Sprig customer is super convenient, almost magical; the experience for a chef or courier…? We don’t know. We don’t get to know. We’re just here to press the button.

I feel bad, truly, for Amazon and Sprig and their many peers—SpoonRocket, Postmates, Munchery, and the rest. They build these complicated systems and then they have to hide them, because the way they treat humans is at best mildly depressing and at worst burn-it-down dystopian.

What would it be like if you didn’t have to hide the system?

Journal of Design and Science

A new publication from MIT. It deliberately avoids the jargon that’s often part and parcel of peer-reviewed papers, and all of the articles are published under a Creative Commons attribution licence.

The first issue is dedicated to Marvin Minsky and features these superb articles, all of which are independently excellent but together form an even greater whole…

Design and Science by Joi Ito:

When the cybernetics movement began, the focus of science and engineering was on things like guiding a ballistic missile or controlling the temperature in an office. These problems were squarely in the man-made domain and were simple enough to apply the traditional divide-and-conquer method of scientific inquiry.

Science and engineering today, however, is focused on things like synthetic biology or artificial intelligence, where the problems are massively complex. These problems exceed our ability to stay within the domain of the artificial, and make it nearly impossible for us to divide them into existing disciplines.

Age of Entanglement by Neri Oxman:

This essay proposes a map for four domains of creative exploration—Science, Engineering, Design and Art—in an attempt to represent the antidisciplinary hypothesis: that knowledge can no longer be ascribed to, or produced within, disciplinary boundaries, but is entirely entangled.

Design as Participation by Kevin Slavin:

The designers of complex adaptive systems are not strictly designing systems themselves. They are hinting those systems towards anticipated outcomes, from an array of existing interrelated systems. These are designers that do not understand themselves to be in the center of the system. Rather, they understand themselves to be participants, shaping the systems that interact with other forces, ideas, events and other designers. This essay is an exploration of what it means to participate.

The Enlightenment is Dead, Long Live the Entanglement by Danny Hillis:

As our technological and institutional creations have become more complex, our relationship to them has changed. We now relate to them as we once related to nature. Instead of being masters of our creations, we have learned to bargain with them, cajoling and guiding them in the general direction of our goals. We have built our own jungle, and it has a life of its own.

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Atomic Classification | Trent Walton

There is one truism that has been constant throughout my career on the web, and it’s this: naming things is hard.

Trent talks about the strategies out there for naming things. He makes specific mention of Atomic Design, which as Brad is always at pains to point out, is just one way of naming things: atoms, molecules, organisms, etc.

In some situations, having that pre-made vocabulary is perfect. In other situations, I’ve seen it cause all sorts of problems. It all depends on the project and the people.

Personally, I like the vocabulary to emerge from the domain knowledge of the people on the project. Building a newspaper website? Use journalism-related terms. Making a website about bicycles? Use bike-related terms.

Most importantly, make the naming process a collaborative exercise, as outlined by Alla and Charlotte.

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016