Tuesday, July 16, 2019

making the ipod and the iphone

The Daring Fireball podcast "The Talk Show" briefly mentioned Pixo - they made the OS that all the classic iPods ran. I can't find many videos focusing on the OS in action, alas, but it had such a beautiful look, and was so elegantly merged with the famous iPod clickwheel that it's almost hard to believe it wasn't from Apple itself.

It's easy to forget how amazing "1,000 songs in your pocket" was. Certainly that was something my PalmPilot wasn't doing then! And when the main competitors of the time were a skipping CD-man with like 12-20 tracks, or a linear tape system with the same kind of limitations where you can't skip tracks, really... it's stunning. (Also stunning is how relying on local music storage of any kind indicates you're a bit of an old fogey...)

Researching that, the super-crude prototypes for the first iPhone also make for some interesting reading... both are as astonishingly ugly as the iPod was beautiful!

WAVEing to accessibilty

https://wave.webaim.org/ - WAVE is a useful - and VERY fast - tool, showing possible accessibility issues on the site. You can get a browser plugin for chrome or firefox.

It's a little unfortunate that it doesn't have a sense of relative importance of various transgression - a slight "boy who cried WOLF!" effect is definitely present - but still, it's a great free starting place. (Especially in this age where public companies have a legal responsibility for good a11y, and are at risk for lawsuits when they are out of compliance.)

(Heh, and for one of the first times, I find it easy to empathize with this kind of thing-- my 40-something year old eyes are slowly developing low light contrast issues and losing a bit of the close up focus they used to have...)

Monday, July 15, 2019

not overthinking: block specific AJAX Urls in chrome needs no special tools

Just recording a moment of duh for myself --

at work a page that is broken on my developer box (with an Ajax request failing) pointed out that the way we were displaying Ajax errors might be borked, but I wasn't sure if the error reporting borkage was "my fault" -

I assumed I would need a plugin/extension/app like Postman or Charles "Tamper Chrome or what not to recreate the error state when I was, but actually Chrome's Developer Tools Network tab handles it easily enough - just right click on the specific call and "Block request URL"

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

on blogs

https://kirk.is/2019/07/09/ - a few thoughts on how blogs kind of encapsulate many different types of personal (and public) data recording grew into something sort of interesting. To me. (Which is a pretty low bar to meet)

Sunday, July 7, 2019

run less software

https://www.intercom.com/blog/run-less-software/  as I get older (and so therefore dumber and wiser (hopefully/probably not too much of either) I really appreciate the idea of reducing cognitive load...

Same energy: http://boringtechnology.club/

...see also Joel on Software's old article Fire and Motion, both the parts about how some mornings it's tough to get going, and the importance of not being distracted by Flavor of the Week technologies...

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

note to self: google map's api got expensive and using openlayers as replacement

A while back Google decided it was being too charitable with usage of its Maps API so it cranked up the fees (the most common figure is "by 1400%") to monetize it better.

So I found usage on Porchfest days was costing me a couple hundred bucks for the month. Whoops!

This page has some alternative APIs. Unfortunately, the most obvious candidate to replace it, openlayers doesn't have the friendliest documentation, and gets pretty complex - it's a tool built for serious power-usage, and the examples page is flooded with tons of semi-esoteric things you can do - frustrating when you just want to throw some porch locations on a map and have a little info box pop up when you click one.

The example on https://www.festinosolutions.com/blog/ seems to pretty much cover it (though the way it's the only thing at that URL gives me pause - I posted its working example at https://porchfest.info/temp/festinosolutions/ )

Of course going down this route  will point out the hundred little things I learned to do acceptably well in Google Maps and need to relearn - details like icon sizes and default zoom levels and what not.

FOLLOWUP: Googling a bit more, https://leafletjs.com/ comes up a lot - it seems to cover that "map with marker icons that open informational popups" sweetspot pretty well...

MORE FOLLOWUP: Yeah, Leaflet really is the sweet spot for this kind of thing! The only thing in my usecase that wasn't covered by the first two quick start tutorials is having numbers on the icons... this page on simple numbered markers with leaflet has the solution I like best. I think the only changes might be adding a line-height: 25px; to the CSS - and I might double back and do a 2x icon for it.