Friday, September 14, 2018

using cgi for good

Fantastic use of greenscreen to warn people about why storm surges are not to be trifled with, and behind the scenes....

jawdropper - every id'd DOM element is a variable?

I had no idea, or had utterly forgotten, that every DOM element with an id attribute is available as a variable, seemingly plucked from global space and I guess rendering document.getElementById() almost useless- here's the jsbin link from that tweet.

I forget just how "scripty" Javascript is sometimes, and understand its detractors a bit more (though I am not one of them)

Monday, September 3, 2018

kirk's ui-gripe/hall of shame

It is completely daft that Apple does not let you "nickname" cards or pick alternate looks for for a card that is added to the Apple Pay Wallet. "oh, but doesn't everybody just memorize the last 4 digits of all their credit cards?" is the new "you're holding it wrong".

happy tenth birthday chrome

Google's Chrome browser turned 10 the other day.

This Gizmodo piece mentions that, and about how it's kind of weirdly hard to switch, even when other browsers have caught up on most fronts, and it so clearly puts you in a part of Google's fiefdom.

Some of it's just UI laziness. I've been using Safari more often, trying to push just a bit beyond the monoculture, and because it's said to be easier on the laptop battery, but even the way it does UI tabs feels off. And Chrome's developer tools are even tougher to give up; I don't know if they are better or I'm just extremely used to them.

I remember when IE3 + 4 came out, how much better they felt than Netscape of the time, but it's hard to say exactly why. And Chrome still feels a bit like that now, there's a tough to poinpoint "roundness" in its UI.

Still, the popularity of the browser combined with how "chromebooks" and not tablets have supplanted netbooks or whatever came before for low-cost computing, especially in schools, is a troubling monoculture even without Google's sense of tracking you for the sake of its advertisers.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

lifehack: browser or mac voice synth as PT coach timer

Giving computers a voice has been since the 80s - I remember S.A.M. (Software Automatic Mouth) on my Commodore 64, SBTalker on PCs, and Macs have had it for a while - in OSX you can open up a terminal and type "say whatever".  (Plus there's a variety of voices and accents you can download and have fun with)

It turns out most browsers, including on iPhone, have the same ability:

I thought of this when thinking I'd like a soundtrack to do some Physical Therapy exercises against - a simple, flexible, countdown timer, so I can do the simple reps of "do this, hold for ten seconds, repeat" and not lose track.

I started developing this idea on the Mac using the "say" command - that had the option to insert "[[slnc 1000]]" commands to pause for one second (1000 ms), but it turns out that special command wasn't universal across browsers on different OSes, so I ended up having to build a better UI and managing the time gaps manually - you can see the results here at my Customizable PT Reps Vocalizer

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

organic "is this what you were looking for?" by google lyrics

It's a little sketchy (in a "is this a monopoly abusing its power" kind of way) that Google made song lyric lookup a built-in, don't-have-to-go-the-site-providing-the-information. One thing I noticed as a little irritating is that it always shows you like a lot of lyrics, 1/3 to 1/2 but makes you click to see it all. I guess this has two advantages: one is you can still see the actual web results beneath when the page loads, but more importantly, if someone expands the preview it is a confirmation that the result was a good hit for the search terms used. (I understand this is UI/UX/SEO 101 stuff, but still I hadn't framed it that way for myself before.)

Monday, August 20, 2018

10:1 rule

I've often wondered why programmers are so bad at estimating the time and effort needed for a task. (An old Product Manager friend of mine used to say "ask a programmer for a pessimistic estimate and then multiply that time by two.) Yevgeniy Brikman offers one possible explanation: The 10:1 rule of writing and programming. Looking at git checkins for both his books and some popular software projects, he sees each line being rewritten at least 10 times, statistically speaking! And an update at the bottom of the article points out forum talk saying similar guesstimates of 10:1 apply in film, journalism, music, and photography.