Eightface

by Dave Kellam

Acceptable in the 90s

The folks who’ve made things on the Internet since the 1990′s have had a kick out Zach Holman’s piece Only 90s Web Developers Remember This. For me, it was the 1×1.gif:

1×1.gif should have won a fucking Grammy. Or a Pulitzer. Or Most Improved, Third Grade Gym Class or something. It’s the most important achievement in computer science since the linked list. It’s not the future we deserved, but it’s the future we needed (until the box model fucked it all up).

All the things I’ve forgotten. Blink, deal with it.

Landmarks in time

Matt Connor wrote an article about Netflix killing discussions, which has an interesting quote from a book I hadn’t heard of before; Moonwalking with Einstein by Michael Siffre.

Monotony collapses time. Novelty unfolds it. You can exercise daily and eat healthy and live a long life while experiencing a short one. If you spend your life sitting in a cubicle and passing papers, one day is bound to blend unmemorably into the next — and disappear. That’s why it’s important to… have as many new experiences as possible… Creating new memories stretches out psychological time, and lengthens our perceptions of our lives.

When I arrive in a new city and start exploring, one of the first things I do is pick out some landmarks to orient myself and avoid getting lost. Similarly, events in life can serve as a landmark in time. When you’re young and in school, it’s easy… the semesters and various breaks serve to chunk things up. As you get older, it becomes harder, the days begin to bleed into each other. Getting out and doing something different allows you to break up any monotony and slow down the passage of time.

Rethinking blogs at the New York Times

The New York Times website was redesigned recently. You can read about the technology behind it. Personally, I’ve been waiting for a behind-the-scenes about the WordPress at the core of their blogging operations. Scott Taylor delivers with an article entitled Rethinking Blogs at the New York Times.

Because we are turning WP content into Module content, we no longer want our themes to produce complete HTML documents: we only to produce the “content” of the page. Our Madison page layout gives us a wrapper and loads our app-specific scripts and styles. We have enough opportunities to override default template stubs to inject Blog-specific content where necessary.

Overall, it’s less about a visual redesign and more about an architectural redesign. The NYT’s legacy system seems like it was an absolute nightmare. I tried to condense Scott’s article into a short blurb, but I can’t. So, if you’re remotely interested in the structure of large scale online publishing systems go read it (regardless of your opinion about WordPress). If you are a WordPress developer, there’s some cool stuff going on, like abstracting the away the visual structure.

The period of anger

The period is pissed. It seems that using the period at the end of text messages is starting to be seen as passive aggressive.

The period was always the humblest of punctuation marks. Recently, however, it’s started getting angry. I’ve noticed it in my text messages and online chats, where people use the period not simply to conclude a sentence, but to announce “I am not happy about the sentence I just concluded.”

Overthinking things

I was chatting with Zach the other night and mentioned that I have a tendency to overthink things and never follow through on projects and whatnot. His reply was spot on, “You… overthink? Never”. It bothered me a bit, but the truth can hurt.

When I was younger, I had a tendency to put everything I did online… just didn’t think about it and posted whatever. As I aged, I started to worry more about my posting (relevancy, career suicide, whatever). I got older. And older. And I’ve reached the point where I’ve stopped giving a fuck.

This is my personal site, you don’t have to be here. If I feel like posting a ton of articles on some particular day and lose subscribers or hits or whatever, that’s fine. Don’t worry, this isn’t a crazy rant, just a pre-cursor to more regular content posting. Cheers!

The story of an old-timey programming hack

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Tom Moertel’s tale of a great old-timey game-programming hack, it reminded me of my computer science days and assembly programming.

A long time ago, when I was a college undergrad, I spent some time working on computer video games. This was in the 8-bit PC era, so the gaming hardware was almost impossibly slow by today’s standards.

It might not surprise you, then, to learn that, back then, game programmers did all sorts of crazy things to make their games run at playable speeds. Crazy, crazy things.

This is a story about one of those things.

Antitext

TELEPHONE ONLY TELEPHONE ONLY by Eric Boucheron

Eric Boucheron is an old internet friend of mine. We made things together at the turn of the century (too early?), as members of an art collective called Suffocate. He has started posting artwork on his website again. It’s awesome, you should go check it out.

I’ve always loved his work, it was a big influence on my early grunge aesthetic. He also takes pictures of banana peels.

Educate don’t humiliate

From Dan Edwards in response to overly harsh design critics dickheads, Educate don’t humiliate:

As a general rule we should try better to understand why the designer has made the decisions they’ve made and think about their experience and how we can help, not just humiliate them. Take the time to provide newbies with the resources and answers that they need. That’s education.

Especially pointed given how easy it is to offer a knee-jerk reaction on the internet. Of course, I’ve never done anything like that.

The same notes could be applied to developers too. It’s easy to become dismissive of someone’s work because they did it in an unfashionable language, or a different coding style, or used some sort of kludgy hack. There was likely a reason behind the decision, which may be worth examining before picking up the pitchfork.

Updated: Upon further reflection, they should not be called design critics (we’ll go with Dan’s original intent). Also, forgot to link to actual article.