fuzzy notepad

Tagged: web

[blog] Attribution on the web

The web is a great thing that’s come a long way, yadda yadda. It used to be an obscure nerd thing where you could read black Times New Roman text on a gray background. Now, it’s a hyper popular nerd thing where you can read black Helvetica Neue text on a white background. I hear it can do other stuff, too.

That said, I occasionally see little nagging reminders that the web is still quite primitive in some ways. One such nag: it has almost no way to preserve attribution, and sometimes actively strips it.

As a programmer, I’m here to propose some technical solutions to this social problem. It’s so easy! Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?

[blog] Maybe we could tone down the JavaScript

I’m having a really weird browser issue, where scripts on some pages just won’t run until about 20 seconds have passed.

Whatever you’re about to suggest, yes, I’ve thought of it, and no, it’s not the problem. I mention this not in the hope that someone will help me debug it, but because it’s made me acutely aware of a few… quirks… of frontend Web development.

(No, really, do not try to diagnose this problem from one sentence, I have heard and tried almost everything you could imagine.)

[blog] Dark corners of Unicode

I’m assuming, if you are on the Internet and reading kind of a nerdy blog, that you know what Unicode is. At the very least, you have a very general understanding of it — maybe “it’s what gives us emoji”.

That’s about as far as most people’s understanding extends, in my experience, even among programmers. And that’s a tragedy, because Unicode has a lot of… ah, depth to it. Not to say that Unicode is a terrible disaster — more that human language is a terrible disaster, and anything with the lofty goals of representing all of it is going to have some wrinkles.

So here is a collection of curiosities I’ve encountered in dealing with Unicode that you generally only find out about through experience. Enjoy.

Also, I strongly recommend you install the Symbola font, which contains basic glyphs for a vast number of characters. They may not be pretty, but they’re better than seeing the infamous Unicode lego.

[blog] A new use for StackOverflow

It’s hard to get a feel for a new tool. Is it any good? Does it do anything I can’t already do? What’s the community like? Tough questions to answer without diving in and using it for a significant amount of time—and then you risk not liking the answers you get.

But fear not! I have discovered a new and brilliant way to discern the novel features of a tool, the vibrance of its community, and its range of users all at once. In mere minutes.

Look at its ten highest-voted questions on StackOverflow.

I’m totally serious. Watch.

[blog] Quick doesn’t have to mean dirty

From TechCrunch:

Anyway, my sympathy for PHP’s deviltry is because I appreciate its ethos. Its just-get-it-done attitude. Or, as Melvin Tercan put it in his recent blog post, “here’s to the PHP Misfits. The pragmatic ones who would pick up anything – even double-clawed hammers – to build their own future. Often ridiculed and belittled by the hip guys in class who write cool code in Ruby or Python, but always the ones who just get shit done.”

He’s on to something there. The best is the enemy of the good, and shipping some working PHP code is approximately a million times better than designing something mindblowing in Haskell that never actually ships. I fully support Jeff Atwood’s call to replace PHP once and for all–but I hope that everyone realizes that eliminating its many, many, multitudinous flaws won’t be enough; they’ll have to somehow duplicate its just-make-it-work ethos, too.

This is a recurring sentiment: developers telling me, well, yeah, Python may be all cool in your ivory tower, man, but like, I just want to write some programs.

To which I say: what the fuck are you people smoking? Whence comes this belief that anything claimed to be a better tool must be some hellacious academic-only monstrosity which actively resists real-world use?

But, hey, I’m sick of talking about PHP. So let’s talk about Python. In honor of the 90s, let’s make a guestbook.

[blog] How to drive your new project into irrelevance

Here’s a question that should be really easy to answer: what is Diaspora?

Okay, well, I know what Diaspora is. It’s an attempt to make a decentralized social networking service. But my knowledge ends around there. What kinds of things does it share? What useful functionality does it provide for me? How does its concept of identity work? And the million dollar question, how does the decentralized bit actually work? Do I show up as eevee@diaspora.com on other sites, or do I auto-get a local account, or do I manually sign in with OpenID, or is there a central registration server, or do nodes sync their account lists… or what?

[blog] Status, 2011 February wk 3

Mel lives here now, and I want to spend time with her whenever I can, naturally. This is something I’ve never had in my life before, and it presents something of a complication.

Weeknights consist of an eight-hour solid block of free time. I’d usually spend half of that doing absolutely nothing, another hour or two trying to pick up my last-known-state for whatever I wanted to work on, and then finally get a couple hours of actual “work” done. It was hardly efficient, but it kinda worked. And this was all a single workflow, to me; the hours of time-passing made for some irrational mental preparation for sitting down and doing something.

Now, though, I don’t have solid eight-hour blocks; I’m instead affected by a regular human being’s schedule, which includes going out or talking or eating or what-have-you in the middle of the evening. That free time is now carved into multiple smaller chunks of a few hours each. For most people, that wouldn’t make any difference, but for me those chunks are almost entirely consumed by the time-wasting that would lead up to a context switch.

So, I’m having to learn very quickly to knock this crap off, or I just won’t get any work done on anything. Frustrating in the short term, but certainly beats the… system I had going before.