• Everything Easy is Hard Again

    Frank Chimero really nails something I’ve been feeling for a while now but have been unable to put into words (emphasis mine).

    Illegibility comes from complexity without clarity. I believe that the legibility of the source is one of the most important properties of the web. It’s the main thing that keeps the door open to independent, unmediated contributions to the network. If you can write markup, you don’t need Medium or Twitter or Instagram (though they’re nice to have). And the best way to help someone write markup is to make sure they can read markup.

    Learning to code through reading source was how I get started. The first site I ever built is still out there thanks to archive.org, and I delight in showing the ramshackle beginnings of my career to new students at Codebar and Code First:Girls.

    Frank continues (again, emphasis mine).

    As someone who has decades of experience on the web, I hate to compare myself to the tortoise, but hey, if it fits, it fits. Let’s be more like that tortoise: diligent, direct, and purposeful. The web needs pockets of slowness and thoughtfulness as its reach and power continues to increase. What we depend upon must be properly built and intelligently formed. We need to create space for complexity’s important sibling: nuance.


    As Jeremy has said in Resilient Web Design:

    Here’s a three‐step approach I take to web design:

    1. Identify core functionality.
    2. Make that functionality available using the simplest possible technology.
    3. Enhance!

    I continually go back to these three rules. I want to build things that others can learn from.

  • Ballet

    Last night I watched SpaceX launch Falcon Heavy and put their test payload (Elon Musk’s Tesla) into orbit. There were many highlights, not least the “Don’t Panic” on the Tesla’s dashboard, and the shot of a car in orbit around the earth, but for me, the synchronised landing of the outboard boosters sent a shiver up my spine. This was like something from the cover of the 70s science fiction novels I grew up with. It was balletic.

    Spacex falcon heavy landing

    You can watch the full launch, deployment, and landing here.

  • 10 New Principles of Design

    Suzanne LaBarre of Co.Design has come up with an update of Dieter Rams Ten Principles for Good Design list for 2018: 10 New Principles Of Good Design.

    Good Design Is Honest

    This is one of Rams’s tenets, but it bears repeating at a time when dark patterns abound and corporations treat UX like a weapon. Uber is the most flagrant example. The company built its business on a seamless front-end user experience (hail a ride, without ever pulling out your wallet!) while playing puppet master with both users and drivers. The company’s fall from grace–culminating in CEO Travis Kalanick’s ousting last year–underscores the shortsightedness of this approach.

    Good design “does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is,” Rams writes. “It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.”

    Lots to think about and absorb going into 2018.

    (via kottke.org)

  • Top albums and films of 2017

    Around this time last year I foolishly said

    Well, the less said about the state of 2016 in general, the better.

    … little did I know.

    Thankfully it was another cracking year for music and cinema. So here are my top ten albums and films of 2017. Film was especially difficult to narrow down to ten.



    (my full stats for 2017 can be seen on Letterboxd)

  • The origins of the Web

    The web is like the ship of Theseus—so much of it has been changed and added to over time. That doesn’t mean its initial design was flawed—just the opposite. It means that its initial design wasn’t unnecessarily rigid. The simplicity of the early web wasn’t a bug, it was a feature.

    Jeremy Keith on the origins of the web and the false idea that it was designed solely for sharing documents.

  • Devices

    Your website’s only as strong as the weakest device you’ve tested it on.

    Ethan Marcotte

  • If you deploy bad decisions, you break people

  • The punniness of Michael Giacchino

    I’ve been on a bit of a soundtrack binge recently. They’re great to work to (and at the same time pretending you’re a spaceship/dinosaur/shark). While listening to Michael Giacchino’s soundtrack for The Incredibles, I spotted the title of the last track: “The Incredits”.

    Heh, punny.

    Then I looked at a couple of his other albums.

    • Inside Out: “The Joy of Credits”.
    • Ratatouille: “End Creditouilles”

    Wait, is this a thing?

    It is a thing. In fact if you search for “michael giacchino puns” you get over 62k results back. My favourite has to be the alternate titles for Rogue One.

  • Performance matters

    Caring about performance isn’t only a business goal […]. It’s about fundamental empathy and putting the best interest of the users first.

    As technologists, it’s our responsibility not to hijack attention and time people could be happily spending elsewhere. Our objective is to build tools that are conscious of time and human focus.

    The State of the Web by Karolina Szczur

  • The Cellar

    If you are in any way linked to Oxford, you may have heard that The Cellar, one of our most beloved music venues, is under threat of closure.

    It’s been gratifying to see everyone mobilise so quickly, and after heartfelt posts by Richard Brabin and Sarah Tipper, I wanted to tell the story about my relationship with The Cellar.

    My first exposure to The Cellar was before I moved to Oxford, or even thought of doing so, back in 1995.

    I was living in Coventry, and helping out my friend’s bands where I could. One of the bands I crewed for booked a gig in at The Cellar, so we loaded the gear in the back of the van, and after a trip down the motorway, the doors opened.

    “Oh, McDonalds”

    It wasn’t quite the Oxford I’d heard of, the home of Radiohead and Supergrass, the Dreaming Spires. There we were, on Cornmarket, hungry, tired, trying to work out where the gig was. We found the alley

    “Fuck, that’s a lot of stairs” 1

    The Immaculate Assassins played to a couple of people, but it was a fun gig, and I remember the bar staff being lovely.

    Cut to 2003, I’d been in Oxford six years now (that’s another story), and The Cellar had become part of my life. At least once a week I’d find myself there, discovering a new band, meeting new people, a lot of whom are friends to this day.

    I wasn’t from here, but this had become my home. This was my Oxford.

    I was playing guitar in a band 2 with some friends (I say “playing”… I was trying to find interesting ways to get effects pedals to cover up for my lack of talent) and we’d been having fun rehearsing at Glasshouse. We’d started to get a set together, and we’d invite friends to rehearsals to hear what we were doing. They’d bring beer, we’d swap instruments, play some covers, arse around, but we kept coming back to the set. And we got tighter.

    I can’t exactly remember how it came about, but talk turned to actually playing the set in front of people. An actual gig.

    Then we got a gig, and it was at The Cellar. Playing support… but it was an actual fucking gig.

    I remember panicking slightly.

    (…it’s the Cellar…)

    Then I panicked a lot.

    The Cellar!

    (…we can’t play there, that’s where… proper bands play…)

    The day of the gig I was a wreck, I was so nervous I could barely speak. My partner was an absolute rock, we sat in my flat watching films, and she held my hand the whole time and told me it would be okay.

    We set up, we sound checked, I had a confusing conversation with the sound engineer about the amount of feedback I was producing (“…I’m going for Jesus & Mary Chain, I’ve got this… I think”), we got a round of applause from the bar staff (I told you they were lovely), and then we waited.

    Next thing I remember is seeing my band mates on the stage, and my partner saying “shouldn’t you be up there?”, I panicked, ran round the back of the artist area, up on to the stage smacking my head on the lintel on the way (if you’ve played The Cellar, you’ll know the bit of architecture I mean), plugging my guitar in, and thinking “this is it, I’m on stage at The Cellar, and I’ve given myself concussion, I’m about to pass out. Good work Garrett”.

    Polytechnic - Garrett

    I didn’t pass out, and by all accounts we played a good gig. I don’t remember much of it. At the bar after the gig a friend said that I had an “unconventional” style of guitar playing. I took that as a compliment.

    The Cellar is an important part of my life, and it’s an important part of countless other lives.

    The Cellar is one of those place where memories are formed.

    1. The plaintive cry of roadies everywhere. 

    2. We were called Polytechnic, for some reason I’ve forgotten, hence the domain. 

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