The Best of the Internets

Why We Can’t Do Real Responsive Images With CSS or JavaScript

Bruce Lawson, briefly, on why picture, srcset, and sizes are better for adaptive images than CSS or JavaScript any day of the week when it comes to performance:

The only way to beat the preloader is to put all the potential image sources in the HTML and give the browser all the information it needs to make the selection there.

Good stuff, Bruce. I’m sorry I won’t be in Barcelona to see this presentation (and you)!

Front End and Back End

PPK nails it as usual:

Back-enders work with only one environment, their server. They have the option of changing their environment; for instance by installing new software or upgrading the hardware.

Front-enders work with an unknown number of radically different environments, ranging from state-of-the-art desktop computer to three-year-old, crappy phones with limited memory and processor time. They cannot change these environments because they have no power over their users’ browsers. Still, their code should work in all of them.

I shared similar thoughts in my post A Fundamental Disconnect.

Monday, 19 January 2015

This brilliant piece from Eileen Webb discusses her experience as a woman who has been working in tech since her first internship in 1997. In it, she chronicled a number of incredibly inappropriate work-related activities and situations she has endured—that sucks, Eileen, I’m sorry you had to deal with all that crap—but the point of the post is not to dwell on these. Instead Eileen urges us to listen when women (and I have to imagine any underrepresented group) vent about mistreatment and to reflect on it rather than reacting:

Yes, many women are angry, and injured, and our public seething will make you uncomfortable. Sit with that. Let it wash over you, and through you. Breathe, and feel the urge to squirm, and choose to be still instead. For we who have been living with this discomfort our whole careers, you can handle not-reacting for a few minutes.

We need to listen in order to be aware. We need to reflect in order to understand. And when we do that, we can recognize forms of oppression and disrespectful behavior, identify it as such, and stand together in declaring it unacceptable.

The Problem With Angular

In this extensive piece, PPK does a brilliant job voicing the thoughts and feeling I think a lot of us front-enders have when it comes to Angular. You should do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. Seriously. Especially if you are in IT in a large company that is using or thinking of using Angular. Seriously.

Go. Read. It.

Where Cellular Networks Don't Exist, People Are Building Their Own

This is a beautiful account of the struggles of bringing cellular networks to poor, rural areas that are uninteresting (e.g. unprofitable) to the major providers.

Of the world’s 7 billion or so cell phones, a few hundred of them are already in Yaee—they’re just not connected to a network. Kids use them as cameras and mp3 players, and Hernández, like many adults, bought his to use in Oaxaca City, a seven-hour bus ride away. When he’s there, his cell phone can connect to plenty of base stations, which, in turn, link him to his choice of commercial network. But back in Yaee, there are no base stations and therefore no network. Every time Hernández wants to make a call in his hometown, he hikes for 20 minutes to the top of the highest hill around and hopes to catch some signal trickling in from a faraway base station, installed in a place deemed more profitable for telecoms than small towns like Yaee.

Articles like this are a great reminder of how fortunate we are and how our experiences are not universal. They help us empathize with the struggles others must overcome to participate in the “modern world”.

9 of the World's Leading Designers Talk About What Matters Now

A good collection of design-related thinking. Here are some highlights:

Great design often disappears, leaving the user with no more than a simple and intuitive experience.

From Gentry Underwood of Dropbox. Jared Spool has been beating this drum for ages:

When things are going well in a design, we don’t pay attention to them. We only pay attention to things that bother us.

Jack Schulze of Berg offered an interesting perspective on design permenance:

When I was studying graphic design in the late ’90s, there was a dream that as a designer, if you were good enough, you might create an archetype for the age—the sorts of things you see in Mad Men, artifacts and images that characterize an era. But when I graduated, it became abundantly clear that when people looked back on the decade to come, they would not be looking at record covers or chairs. It was going to be glowing rectangles and software. People would remember the aesthetics and noises of operating systems, the first time they pinch-zoomed something, the aesthetics of Google Maps, the Nokia ringtone, and Candy Crush Saga.

Closing out the piece, Alexis Lloyd of the New York Times R+D Lab offered an area of concern (and a challenge to designers everywhere):

We’re seeing new relationships emerging between people and technology. Algorithms influence an ever-increasing number of facets of our lives: the media we consume, what our health insurance knows about our physical condition, whether we’re approved for loans or hired for jobs, and whom we may date or marry. But we don’t have much agency in those interactions. These “smart” systems are black boxes, eschewing transparency in favor of simplicity. But when we can’t interrogate a system, that disenfranchises us. Designers now must facilitate interactions that balance ease of use with transparency.

Personal Histories

This is a bautiful post from Sara that takes a deep dive into the impersonal nature of forms. I could not put it more bautifully and succinctly than her introductory tweet:

Living on the Edge – Our Next Step in Helping the Web Just Work

With the holidays, I completely missed this announcement from IE team. In IE for Windows 10, we’re getting:

  1. All public (i.e. non-intranet) sites will render in “Edge mode” meaning they get the latest standards implementation. Note: It will ignore X-UA-Compatible version targeting.
  2. CSS Preserve-3D
  3. Content Security Policy 1.0 sandboxing
  4. CSS Interaction Media Queries (Level 4) - pointer type & hover testing!
  5. Gamepad API
  6. Selection API
  7. ECMAScript 6 features including classes, promises, iterators, the arrow function, Math utility functions, Number utility functions, Object utility functions, String utility functions, Object literal enhancements, spread, template strings, symbols, proxies, and weak set.

Pretty awesome stuff! What do you want to see in future versions of IE? You can post your thoughts and votes on UserVoice.

If—like me—you’re on a Mac, you can run the latest version of IE via RemoteIE. Haven’t heard of it? Rey Bango has a great write-up of how to set up RemoteIE on Macs, iOS, and even Android.