Monday, September 19, 2022

happy 40th birthday of the smiley

Happy 40th Birthday of the Smiley!!!


Of course the classic punctuation smiley has been supplanted by cartoon-ish emoji. I admit the cartoons are more expressive and flexible (though sometimes you have to brace yourself for how they will have a different vibe on different devices) but I miss the old visual puns.

These are said to be the Top Five Favorite Emoji in the United States

But...bleh, I kind of hate both of the "laugh crying" emoji. It's just... I don't know, too much, it overdoes the thing. I use plenty 😃 to round off the edges of my casual writing, but the laugh-crying ones are trying to hard, like they seem dishonest, the LOL of the emoji world...

More on the history of the smiley at Lunduke

Friday, September 16, 2022

blue letter-y thing on white icons are so tired!

I saw this on the "this date" feature of my blog with the caption "Oh Shazam, you too?"

I was startled to see that was six years ago. And also, the one that causes me the most havoc in terms of quick recognition is "VS Code" on my Mac:

Though Outlook doesn't help:

Blue letter-y thing on white is so tired!

It's worse on Mac, actually... I see all the icons lined up on my switcher app, but the order is variable, unlike on the iPhone where I tend to develop muscle memory about where icons live.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

chilling out on the iceberg of languages

Great video about the languages out there...

After watching it, and it's reference to "Jr" programmers, I feel a little better as a senior, seeing just how many of these I've used. (BASIC, JS, SQL, Java, C... even ASM for my Atari 2600 project.) 

A few personal historical notes from the 90s (and from the 80s):

  • They missed out on Logo, huge in the 80s, which was lowkey a (kid friendly!) version of Lisp and featured turtle graphics, helping kids think about geometry via a drawing "turtle"
  • I feel like Java hit me at my peak learnability so I'm always surprised when it's considered so daunting. (Admittedly I kept using it in its friendly "Processing" form, and ducked out when the syntax started getting weird and Template-y)
  • It took a weirdly long time for C++ to standardize its libraries for even basic input and output.
  • I think they skipped over Perl? Probably its obliquely referenced in the "Historically Important Row" with the O'Reilly Camel. For me it was critical for learning things like maps and regexes when all I had had was BASIC and C... then it became my goto for dynamic stuff on websites I made, til PHP came around. (And I was started to learn that Perl was actually a wrapper script for all this Unix-C stuff... really weird given how smoothly it handled memory and strings and how its hodge podge syntax was the only hint to its frankenstein nature...)

Still, I don't have a love of learning a language for its own sake, like for keeping the brain flexible about syntax, say. I just want to build interactions and so there are more important problems at hand!

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

the dataLayer, and using local storage for cross-tab communication

 Just the other week I started looking more closely at the "dataLayer" - it's a standard variable off of window that Google Analytics uses to let processes record analytics events.

It seems like a strange way to do an API, especially since the data doesn't need to have identical structures, and it's just a big array like object you push on to. But it seems to be kinda standard in the industry thanks to the prevalence of Google Analytics.

In other learnings, I was impressed by the results my company was getting using localStorage to communicate some state across tabs/windows, in React the setup was something like 

  useEffect(() => {


    const storageListener = (e: StorageEvent) => {

      if (e.key === KEY_FOR_DATA) {




    window.addEventListener('storage', storageListener);

    // deregister event listener on re-render

    return () => {

      window.removeEventListener('storage', storageListener);


  }, []);

using shortcuts to open google doc in app right from ios homescreen

Melissa was psyched to figure find this out on her own - we use a shared google doc for a shopping list, and she wanted a link right it from her iPhone homescreen.

The steps, taken from, are:

  • Open the document in GoogleDocs app on your iPhone.
  • Tap the three dots in the top corner
  • Share & export
  • Copy link
  • Leave the GoogleDocs app and open Shortcuts app
  • Create Shortcut
  • Add Action
  • Search for Safari
  • Open URLs
  • Tap the little gray field that says URL
  • Type googledocs://
  • Tap and paste (the link you copied from GoogleDocs). The result will look something like http://googledocs://
  • Tap where it says “New Shortcut” at the top in big bold letters and name the shortcut
  • Tap the three dots
  • You can change the icon (the gray square with the magic wand in it) to what you want and give it a shortcut name.
  • Tap Add to Home Screen
  • Add
  • Done
  • Done/Next
Pretty keen!

The Daring Fireball's The Talk Show had Rosemary Orchard on talking about her book Take Control of Shortcuts, and she says there are tons of things to automate. I'm not sure if it's my lack of imagination, the way I am pretty good at building tools for my own workflows, or a distrust of formalizing activities that sometimes ned flexibility, but I have trouble thinking of more I'd like to do for myself, on either phone or laptop...