The Personal Blog

Fred Wilson on the personal blog:

There is something about the personal blog, yourname.com, where you control everything and get to do whatever the hell pleases you. There is something about linking to one of those blogs and then saying something. It’s like having a conversation in public with each other. This is how blogging was in the early days. And this is how blogging is today, if you want it to be.


Feature Misuse

Karl Groves in a post about HTML5, Longdesc and accessibility:

For nearly a dozen years now, I’ve been employed in a capacity which gives me a day-to-day glimpse of how professional web developers are using markup. I see HTML abuse on a daily basis. Bad HTML permeates the web due to ignorant developers and is exacerbated by shitty UI frameworks and terrible “tutorials” by popular bloggers. In my years as an accessibility consultant I’ve reviewed work on Fortune 100 websites and many of the Alexa top 1000. I’ve reviewed web-based applications of the largest software companies in the world. The abuse of markup is ubiquitous.

You should read the whole thing.

IndieWeb Member

I’ve tinkered with my site a lot over the past weekend to make it more IndieWeb-friendly.

What does that mean? You can learn more about the IndieWeb movement on the site and read about its principles. Basically, you want:

  • Your content to be yours
  • To be better connected to all services
  • To  control how things work

These are novel concepts only because we’ve grown use to social networks and tech giants running the web. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I’ve tackled a number of things on the Getting Started page of IndieWeb Camp. I:

  • Joined the IRC channel.
  • Already had a personal domain and hosting. :)
  • Set up web sign-in.
  • Already had WordPress ready to go for content publishing. :)
  • Installed a link shortener plugin.
  • Started: Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere and automating it with IFTTT.
  • Already had a WordPress theme that supported basic Microformats.
  • Ported some photos from a photo blog to my own site.
  • Set up webmentions and semantic-linkbacks via the IndieWeb plugin. I’m pulling in mentions from Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus thanks to Brid.gy.
  • Cleaned things up a bit by removing custom post types on the site, adding a new favicon and fixing a few bugs.

The WordPress page was a great place to start.

Doing this wasn’t that hard, especially after listening to a recent talk on the IndieWeb by Tantek Çelik. I don’t know yet if I’ll keep all this going as some of it may not suit my needs. This may just be an experiment, however, I do know one thing: I’m going to keep publishing on my own site.

Constant, Intelligent Pressure

Five years ago I started in Elon’s interactive media master’s program.

I’ve learned a lot since then. However, one quote has stuck with me more  than anything else since then. Ken Calhoun, one of my professors said it while giving us advice about problem-solving for our flyovers, short one-week trips where we would gather multimedia material to build web projects for nonprofits.

I don’t remember the full quote, just this turn-of-phrase about how to approach problems:

Just apply constant, intelligent pressure.

That’s it.

It has popped into my head over and over as I’ve worked to solve problems on the web and in life.


Microsoft’s First Web Page

Christian Heilmann on Microsoft’s first web page and what it can teach us:

And this, to me, is the most interesting part here: one of the first web sites created by a large corporation makes the most basic mistake in web design – starting with a fixed design created in a graphical tool and trying to create the HTML to make it work. In other words: putting print on the web.

The web was meant to be consumed on any device capable of HTTP and text display (or voice, or whatever you want to turn the incoming text into). Text browsers like Lynx were not uncommon back then. And here is Microsoft creating a web page that is a big image with no text alternative. Also interesting to mention is that the image is 767px × 513px big. Back then I had a computer capable of 640 × 480 pixels resolution and browsers didn’t scale pictures automatically. This means that I would have had quite horrible scrollbars.

View the page or the readme explaining it. It’s neat to read. Neater is what Christian points out later in his post:

One thing, however, is very cool: this page is 20 years old, the technology it is recreated in is the same age. Yet I can consume the page right now on the newest technology, in browsers Microsoft never dreamed of existing…

Living in a Developer’s Utopia

Yes, working on the web can challenge even the most seasoned web worker these days. Developing for the web means juggling new technologies, changing best practices and the will to keep up with it all. Several have expressed similar opinions in recent blog posts.

I think about how I used to fill my time with coding. So much coding. I was willing to dive so deep into a library or framework or technology to learn it.

My tolerance for learning curves grows smaller every day. New technologies, once exciting for the sake of newness, now seem like hassles. I’m less and less tolerant of hokey marketing filled with superlatives. I value stability and clarity.

Ed Finkler in The Developer’s Dystopian Future.

I feel the same way, and it’s one of the reasons I’ve lost almost all interest in being a web developer. The client-side app world is much more stable, favoring deep knowledge of infrequent changes over the constant barrage of new, not necessarily better but at least different technologies, libraries, frameworks, techniques, and methodologies that burden professional web development.

Marco Arment in response to Ed’s piece.

I’m in an intriguing position on this subject, because I’m not a developer anymore. I haven’t launched Xcode since last December. Every time I’m out socially with software developers (which is often; I’ve made many good friends in that line of work, and I have no desire to lose them), at least one person asks me if I miss the job.

My answer is always the same: not really. The actual truth of the matter, as ever, is more nuanced.

Matt Gemmell in Confessions of an Ex-Developer, in response to Ed’s piece and Marco’s piece.

I think about it a bit differently. I like the Web’s uncertainty. I don’t mind that it splinters off into a million different directions, often with new ones every day. I work on the Web because of its universality.

That universality leads to a lot of choices. That’s all. Learning something new, integrating it into your project and choosing what you think is a “stable” work environment is up to you. It’s your choice.

Bastian Allgeier writes about that choice, one he made recently:

Creativity is within you and all you need is a fast way to let it out. The more direct, the better.

For a web developer the editor is the pen and the browser is a piece of paper.

The longer I look at boilerplates, build tools, frameworks and ways to make my life as a developer easier, the more I long for the basics.

In the last two months I moved away from SASS for all new projects, though I know how helpful it can be in many places. I moved away from inuit.css, which I really liked as a CSS toolkit and went back to better structure my own CSS. I ditched Angular for Kirby 2 and went for a very reduced and tiny combination of loosely coupled js components.

Bastian Allgeier in Simplicity.

Having all this choice makes me feel like I’m living in a developer’s utopia.