In early March my wife and I ventured down to the southern tip of Baja, Mexico to a town called Todos Santos on our first kid-free excursion since… well.. since the kids arrived five and a half years ago. The Pacific coastline was remote enough you could look and see nothing for miles. Listening to the ocean crash, we sat poolside at our fancy hotel, drank mezcal, and read fantasy novels. I bathed in the sun’s rays under an immense towel to protect my translucent Irish skin. We ate the best ceviche of our life under a palapa in someone’s backyard restaurant.
Returning to work was abrupt to say the least. I’ll spare the details but it has been a small mountian of stress since mid-March. Which for me translates into weeks of eating shitty foods, getting shitty sleep, not excercising, and my back going out. It’ll take some effort to undo, but I’ve been working on digging out.
Good news though, this week I may have stumbled into a new non-computer hobby! Recently a group of friends have started riding gravel bikes. Also some of my coworkers ride gravel bikes. Also my kids got bikes for Christmas (my 3.5yo daughter is very good at biking). Buying a bike is extremely stressful. So may makes, models, components, and options. After much searching, a real nice gravel bike showed up on Facebook Marketplace and I snatched it up. I don’t know where I’ll find the time to bike, but I’m hoping to force myself to leave the compound for some mid-day rides.
Beyond work and acquiring new hobbies, I’ve been indulging my normal hobbies. Overwatch, some Apex, and that new Tetris 99 game provokes visceral utterances. I’ve had a small burst of blog posts. And, as you’ll see below, I cleared out nearly 1000+ unread items in my RSS reader. It could be some pent up frustrations from work, but I find good escape in clearing out unread queues.
This is an incredibly overdue list of Web-findings. Since this is an overwhelming amount of links (even for me), I’ve grouped the links up by interest.
The first lump of links is about the current state of Accessibility. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts but if you work on the Web please read these posts.
- The WebAIM Million (WebAIM)
There was a damning study issued by WebAIM. In an audit of the top 1,000,000 sites, 97.8% of sites had detectable WCAG 2 failures. On one hand, this is entirely unacceptable and on the other, I’m guilty as well. We’ve got to do better.
- Fighting uphill (Eric W. Bailey)
I empathize a lot with Eric Bailey’s response. As someone who cares about accessibility, this study is soul-crushing and I’d love to find way out of it.
- The web we broke (Ethan Marcotte)
Ethan’s response to WebAIM’s post offers a great first stepping stone “What’s one thing I wish I understood better about accessibility?”
- Fighting uphill (Eric W. Bailey)
Here’s a collection of neat web development centric reads I encountered.
- Rendering on the Web (Jason Miller and Addy Osmani)
- Google AMP lowered our page speed, and there’s no choice but to use it (Walid Halabi)
“AMP isn’t about speed. It’s about control.” Walid Halabi sums up my thoughts exactly.
- HTML, CSS and JS in an ADD, OCD, Bi-Polar, Dyslexic and Autistic World (Timothy Smith)
This was a fascinating read over on CSS-Tricks. Timothy Smith bravely shares with us his perspective and struggles on learning web development and how it all fits together in his unique mind.
- Blobs! (Chris Coyier)
I’m a sucker for cheap but fun tricks and this fits the bill. I’d love to start experimenting with something other than rectangles.
- Animate a Blob of Text with SVG and Text Clipping (Zach Saucier)
Building off of the previous post, let’s animate these cool shapes and start playing with text!
- SVG Filter Effects: Conforming Text to Surface Texture with <feDisplacementMap> (Sara Soueidan)
I don’t know how to make a Displacement Map in photoshop, but Sara makes it look easy in SVG. Another tool I’m excited to play with.
- SVG Filter Effects: Duotone Images with <feComponentTransfer> (Sara Soueidan)
Another post from the indominable Sara Soueidan about SVG. Usually I’d do duotone images in photoshop (you save bandwidth with better compression) but if you had user generated content or wanted to do some animations, this is a great trick.
- Sophisticated Partitioning with CSS Grid (Rob Weychert)
Rob’s combinatorial wizardy is beautiful and on display here. He’s beautifully broken down nearly all of the common page layout configurations of three- and four-column grids.
- The Elements of UI Engineering (Dan Abramov)
Dan Abramov does a great job breaking down the concerns of a UI Engineer.
- The hardest thing about design systems (Robin Rendle)
Robin Rendle is really mad about drop shadows 😄 I kid, but I like the idea Robin is getting at. A lot of big design system work is done in spreadsheets.
I’m a sucker for pop-sci and welcome more recommendations. Here’s some interesting bits I came across.
- Kevin Lynch and the GPS: Predicting the Culture of Navigation in 1960 (Maarten Overdijk)
The most fascinating part of the story about the creating of GPS is that Kevin Lynch anticipated that we’d become overly dependent on our navigation devices to the point where we can’t navigate without them. Wow! Reminds of a quote about good science fiction predicts not only the automobile, but the traffic jam as well. /via Adactio
- An electric plane with no moving parts has made its first flight (Erin Winick)
To me, this looks like the beginnings of a warp drive.
- AR Will Spark the Next Big Tech Platform—Call It Mirrorworld (Kevin Kelly)
Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired, chiming in on a subject of Augmented Reality. /via Adactio
- Death of the Calorie (Peter Wilson)
The calorie as we know it is a pseudo science. This was an enlightening read and somewhat comforting to know that the packaging labels don’t tell the whole story when it comes to nutrition.
This year I’m trying to look into how we work and how I can work better, both from a productivity standpoint but also an ethical standpoint.
- Trainers. (Ethan Marcotte)
Ethan Marcotte wrote a beautiful piece on the ethics surrounding AI and where we source our machine learning models. Bonus: I get a mention in the post.
- Why Big Tech pays poor Kenyans to teach self-driving cars
Linked inside Ethan’s post is a story about Kenyans making $9/day training AI for self-driving cars. I think this is imperialism.
- Why Big Tech pays poor Kenyans to teach self-driving cars
- Split (Jeremy Keith)
Jeremy Keith weighs in on The Great Divide from his perspective of excitement for “materials” over “tools”. I agree with Jeremy on most accounts here.
- John Maeda: “In reality, design is not that important”
The article is not nearly as salacious as the title. The tl;dr is that designers and developers need to collaborate together, which I certainly resonated with.
- This One Technology Will Solve All of Your Problems (Kelly Sutton)
Kelly Sutton finds catharsis about making technical decisions in an unlikely source: H.G. Rickover’s 1953 commentary on Nuclear Reactors. /via Robin Rendle
- The Power of Prototypes in the Creative Process (Jim Nielsen)
Jim Nielsen shared with me some continuing thoughts of his book review of “Creative Selection” by Ken Kocienda about the “Power of Prototypes”. It eloquently outlines some of my own feelings on the subject of prototypes and how they inform the product through repeated use and refinement. Maybe I should write a book one day!
- Introducing Constraints to Your Product Can Help You Find New Lines of Business (Joshua Blakenship)
Joshua Blankenship has started a LogoLand, a 1-week logo company, and shares the constraints he’s embracing to make his idea a success.
- Workism is Making Americans Miserable (Derek Thompson)
Guilty of “Workism” myself, this article made me think we’ve built a broken system when “a staggering 87 percent of employees are not engaged at their job, according to Gallup.” Lord have mercy.
- How Slavery Inspired Modern Business Management (Caitlin C. Rosenthal)
Taylorism, the system modern day capitalism is built on, was heavily influenced by slave-owning plantations. Instead of a whip, it holds the stopwatch. This article fills me with both insight and disgust at how our modern workdays are scheduled. /via Ethan Marcotte who I think still uses MetaFilter
- Bradshaw’s Guide for Tourists in Great Britain and Ireland (1886 Edition) (Paul Robert Lloyd)
Paul Robert Lloyd is recreating a 1886 tourism guide on the web and that makes me very happy. It’s also beautiful and filled with vintage illustrations. Reminds me of DayTrip but from 1886.
- Prospiracy Theories (Scott Alexander)
I love these “prospiracy” concoctions. Making regular ol’ facts sound like salacious Nazi-UFO Ancient Jesus Illuminati Astronauts is very much in the vein of what I find entertaining. /via Chris Coyier
- Accessibility Posters
Nice initiative from the UK Home Office to create a little cheat sheet for how to create web content for people of various disabilities (not just vision impairment).
- How to write a video game story (Colin Campbell)
Colin Campbell takes a course on writing video games. There are a lot of interesting constraints about writing for games, namely non-linear narrative. I found this very helpful as I daydream about making my own games. It’s not as simple as it would appear from the outside. WARNING: The comments on this story are weird, vindictive, and jealous-sounding as numerous people show up to talk shit about Colin’s instructor who has never actually shipped a video game.
HONDA e Prototype (Fully Charged)
This Honda e Prototype gives me hope that electric vehicles can be ubiquitous and radical. Also some prototyping lessons in here.
How Animators Created the Spider-Verse (WIRED)
This behind the scenes look into how Into the Spider-Verse warms my soul. It’s got everything from carrying out a visual design language, prototyping, and even touches on how AI and Machine Learning can help improve and speed up the artistic process.
React Performance: Identifying Wasted Renders (Anastasia Lanz)
Anastasia Lanz shows off a simple trick in a 3min video on how to reduce render calls in a React App. I love the brevity and practicality of this quick tip.
I did quite a few podcasts and sadly lost an episode of Aside Quest in a recording malfunction. Don’t worry it’ll be back. You should listen to all the Shop Talks, but these two particular episodes keep rattling around in my head…
- Maintaining Vue.js with Evan You (ShopTalk)
It’s not every day you get to interview the maintainer of the JS library you’re using. Vue ticks a lot of boxes for me and after this episode I think I’m more and more infatuated with Vue.
- Blocks and Browsers (ShopTalk)
With the advent of Chromium Edge, Chris and I get into a heavy conversation about “Browser Diversity”, how browsers will compete going forward, what about Mozilla, and Opera is now advertising this new thing called “Web 3” 🤔