Archive for the ‘Tidbits’ Category

Squirrelcon: The First Ever Squoose Squeetup

Friday, March 29th, 2013
Squirrelcon: The First Ever Squoose Squeetup

If you’re in Seattle on April 1st, either as a local or an attendee at AEA: Seattle, then might I politely ask you to swing past Rob Roy sometime that evening to meet up with Dylan, myself, and several other web geeks? Neither of us could attend An Event Apart this year (which is bound to be an amazing if it’s anything like every other AEA has been), but we’ll be in the neighborhood, having some drinks, eats, and incredibly geeky conversations.

We’ll be there starting at 7pm. It’s right across the street from the AEA Opening Night Party, but here’s directions just in case.

Those of you on Facebook can let us know you’re coming and ask any event-related questions over here at the event’s page.

Comments Versus Conversation

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

I finally followed up on an idea I’ve been considering for some time now, and disabled comments on the blog.

It started as a temporary response to the typical spambot uprising that occasionally overwhelms spam filters and defeats CAPTCHAs. Then, after I had fixed the underlying problems, I chose to leave them off. Possibly for good.

I’m no trailblazer. Jeremy Keith’s Adactio has virtually never had comments enabled. Happy Cog’s Cognition blog’s comment system is a combination of Twitter and blog replies. There’s plenty of other examples out there.

There’s a place for blog commentary in 2012. But more increasingly, I feel like the level of social engagement we have on the Internet has reduced the need to rely on such a system for a conversation. Because that’s what comments are. Conversation.

I’m talking on Twitter every day, for example, where I see people constantly discussing blog posts that are relevant to their interests. In fact, that’s the main method by which I discover interesting blog posts to read. (All of which makes the recently-announced Twitter API changes a bit alarming for me.) Many of those blog posts that I end up reading are written in response to other blog posts, long-form, well considered replies to other people’s words on other sites.

It doesn’t help my opinion of blog comments systems that they seem to be home to a particularly vitriolic breed of Internet nastiness. Look at YouTube or any contentions tech blog post’s comments to see perfect examples of what I’m discussing. Even with some form of registration system, on-site comments provide a great deal of anonymity.

Anonymity + opinion = jerk.

And although I support anonymity in general, I really don’t care for it much when it’s used as a cover for juvenile hostility.

By forcing the conversation off the comments section and into people’s own social networks or blogs, you’re attaching an identity to the voice. And I’ve found, in general, when people are having to stand by their words then the quality of those words improve.

Finally, when it comes to my daily patterns, the fact is that I don’t spend a lot of time checking on my published posts to see if a comment has arrived. I do, however, check Twitter and Facebook on a regular basis. Even if I didn’t, my smartphone’s apps will dutifully push any mentions to my attention. As an online communicator I have specific channels that I favor over others, and as a result they see more of my focus and time than others. In this world of attention span issues it’s probably best to play to one’s strengths.

For now, and for the foreseeable future, the comments are going to stay off. I don’t think in 2012 that this is particularly shocking or contentious of a choice. But I have made sure to replace that communication channel with other ways to get into a conversation with me if you want to talk about anything I’ve said.

I’ve built a little form for sending me tweets related to the post you’re reading (when you click the button it will direct you to Twitter, where you can further modify the tweet or choose to send it through), as well as providing post-specific links for sending a post to the newly launched CSSquirrel Facebook page, and lastly I’ve provided a permalink to each post in case you want to write your own blog post for a long-form reply to what I’ve said.

There’s been a lot of good conversations on this blog in the comment section. Some, like this thread of comments in response to a comic where I criticized a tweet of Divya Manian’s, were highly critical of what I’d said, giving me some insight to consider whether I’d been right in the first place. (To be honest, I’m still mulling over what I said and if I made a major overstep when trying to make my point.) At other times, the site has played host to lively debates, such as this thread about [insert W3C-related hijink here].

Those were good discussions. And I want to be part of more. I just think that the time has come to change the space in which part of those conversations appear.

Speaking of which, do you have any thoughts about what I’ve discussed? Check out the response options I’ve got listed below, and get back to me. I’d love to hear about other ways people have replaced comments with different social mechanisms, and what those experiences have been like.

Elsewhere: A better Photoshop grid for responsive web design

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

I’ve been coding for over twenty years now, and I still hate math. With responsive designs, you end up with a lot of awkward numbers. Thankfully, Elliot Jay Stocks has provided a handy little PSD for designing for responsive grids in Photoshop.

Compare that to a container that has a width of 1000px. 1000 is a nice, easy, round number. Dividing by 1000 results in clean percentages and better still, dividing by 1000 is something we can do in our heads: just remove the zero. A 140px column inside a 1000px container is 14%. A 500px column in a 1000px container is 50%. 320px is 32%. Easy!

Check it out.


Elsewhere: Making the Grade – A Primer on Linear Gradients

Friday, February 26th, 2010

I’ve finally (albeit weeks later than intended) created a primer on linear gradients with CSS. It’s a shallow dip into the deep pool of CSS gradients, but it’ll help get you started on taking advantage of gradients with Webkit, Firefox and even Internet Explorer! (Yes, really.)

It’s posted over here at Mindfly Web Design Studio. If you’re curious about gradients but scared of the syntax, check it out.

Elsewhere: Mark Pilgrim’s “Tinkerer’s Sunset”

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Usually when I mention Mark Pilgrim, it is with a dismayed tone that is meant to paint him as a dastardly villain who is elbow-deep in foul rituals meant to permanently stain the reputation of the HTML5 effort; an implication is made that he is resurrecting some great beast that will swallow the earth whole and enslave our souls.

What I’m saying is that, on average, I’m not a fan of his work.

However, his recent blog post “Tinkerer’s Sunset” clearly states the case of why the direction the iPad is moving the market is a sad affair. A man who learned his craft on an Apple IIe, he’s dismayed at the thought of the next generation of tinkerers, who will have to pay a fee or commit crimes in order to look under the hood of their own computers.

Many claim the iPad represents what the future of computing will look like: tailored, “safe” devices with little room for modification or customization (unless you plan on spending some time in court). Maybe that’s how it’ll be, and there’s little to be said or done. But Mark helps illustrate why that future will be a sad one. Go read his post.