- Research with blind users on mobile devices by gov.uk
- Responsive images: Smaller page sizes with the picture element and WebP – stats on how Mike Babb reduced page weight by 70% for smaller devices, using responsive images
- Apple Pay on the Web – Apple to W3C: “I anticipate that we as a Working Group can and will make the Payment Request API into a solid, cross-browser framework for payments”
- Serverless Data Sync in Web Apps with Bit Torrent – cool article by Paul Kinlan
- Progressive Web Apps in Nigeria and Kenya: a Double Interview – lots of stats about how much data costs, and how much is saved by PWAs
- Making progressive web apps even better: ambient badging and “pop into browser” – Opera Labs build shows you when a site is a PWA, and a mechanism to expose the current URL
- The Web App “Discovery Problem” by Remy Sharp
- The Progress of Web Apps – PWAs on Windows, by Jacob Rossi
- PWAify – “Experimental project to convert your PWA (Progressive Web App) into a cross-platform Electron app. Brings PWAs to your desktop.”
- The Right Way To Ask Users For iOS Permissions (or any permissions, really)
- Using the HTML lang attribute by Léonie Watson. Here’s a 7 second demo by Patrick Lauke of a screenreader reading French text without, then with, the correct lang attribute.
- Over the edge? – Opera’s power saver mode extends battery life 43 mins longer than Microsoft Edge and 1 hr 1 min longer than Chrome
- Ad blocking, web push notifications, site settings come to Opera for Android (the Chromium-based full browser)
- Velocity Conference talk about Opera and ad blocking – my talk with video and slides
- Some Advice for Companies Fighting Ad Blockers
- Free Wi-Fi has Soweto surfing in the streets – “Our aim is to make the internet available to everyone, regardless of their background”
- Meanwhile… China’s Great Firewall is Harming Innovation, [Chinese] Scholars Say ““Our nation’s mind is caged,” say Hu Xingdou, an economics professor”
- The Best and Worst Internet Experience in the World – MIT Tech Review report on the Web in China. “Among the country’s roughly 690 million Internet users, 620 million now go online using a mobile device. “
- The Philippines is Now the Fastest Growing Smartphone Market in ASEAN – 20% YoY growth; local vendors dominant
- ways ASEAN can accelerate its digital revolution
- Myanmar’s digital revolution BBC radio’s vignette on smartphone use in Myanmar, where SIM costs went from $2000 to $1.50
- Why mobile money is a game-changer for African entrepreneurs – “mobile money is slowly moving beyond the person-to-person arena into the business-to-business and business-to-consumer spaces”
- Pornhub launches explicit audio for the visually impaired
- The Web is for everyone – new documentary on its invention
- Heavy Metal and Natural Language Processing – What are the “most metal” words to use in songs?
I’ve been wondering why I feel so personally affronted by the recent UK referendum result that means we’ll leave the EU. Of course, it’ll make my job harder; by the end of this year, I will have had easy, visa-free access to France, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Romania, Netherlands, Spain, Greece and Norway. That could end. (Or not — who knows? There is no plan, just uncertainty).
I’m unhappy that the pressing matters of government will take a backseat to rewriting laws, treaties and standards that we’ll abandon. I’m angry that friends of mine who live and work here now find their status uncertain: the front-runner for Tory PM, Theresa May, refused to guarantee the right to remain for EU people who came before the vote. I’m furious that my daughter’s plans to go to an overseas university are now thwarted.
But mostly, I want to take my country back. I believed that I lived in a country that was a bit weird, detached geographically from continental Europe and therefore a little aloof, but by-and-large liberal and tolerant; a nation of sea-farers who, almost by definition, tended to think internationally; a nation of pragmatists who wouldn’t shoot their own economy down in flames for a dogma of immigrantphobia (the babysteps of the dogma that our grandparents fought against).
It seems I don’t live in that country.
If the vote had been more overwhelmingly in favour of exit, I’d conclude that the country I thought I lived in was a fiction, mutually constructed by the liberal, border-hopping people I call colleagues and friends. But the vote was so close (48% to 52%) that I realise the country I believed in was shared by almost half the population of the UK. It really feels that we live in a divided nation.
Soon, it will really divide. Scotland will leave; why would they stay? The Scots overwhelmingly rejected Westminster Tories and Brexit. To “save the UK”, the Brexiters are breaking it up, and leaving a rump state with a faltering economy and a great schism in the population. I want to take my country back, and I see no way to do it.
There’s been lots of weird nationalist stuff circulating around the media about “Proud to be British. Vote Leave”, as if wanting to remain in Europe is somehow unpatriotic.
So I’ll clearly say: I’m proud to be British, and thus sent in my postal vote to Remain. I don’t want the economic turmoil that an exit would cause, especially as we’re teetering on the edge of another recession. I’d probably be OK, but I fear for the livelihoods of friends of mine.
Sure, the stockbrokers and millionaires and directors who are leading the exit campaign tell you that it’s all about sovereignty and “controlling our borders” (whatever either of those mean). But really, they want to abolish the workers protection that we get from EU. They’d like us to leave European Court of Human Rights (which was the only way the ordinary families in Liverpool got any justice for Hillsborough).
Sure, the Brexit leaders tell you that “not paying the EU levy would free up resources to put into the NHS”, but many of them have had years in Parliament, quietly demolishing the NHS instead of protecting it.
They want to leave the EU so they can be more aggressively right-wing, make workers’ lives harder instead of better, and use the economic problems that would inevitably ensue as an excuse to implement even more ideologically-driven “austerity”.
I don’t want that; I love my country. So I voted ‘Remain’.
Lots of tasty web/ apps links here, Reading List Fans!
- New data shows losing 80% of mobile users is normal, and why the best apps do better by Andrew Chen (Uber). TL;DR: the average Android app gets uninstalled by 77% of users in 24 hrs. By day 90, install retention is down to 3.97%.
- The app boom is over “Last month, the top 15 app publishers saw downloads drop an average of 20 percent in the U.S.”
- Meanwhile, in web land… The Crisis Facing the Web Platform in which Peter Gasston plays Boswell to Alex Russell’s Dr Johnson
- PWA Discovery: You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet by Alex Russell
- Progressively less progressive Andrew Betts on mobile-only, JS-required PWAs. I particularly agree with him about AMP.
- Don’t use iOS meta tags irresponsibly in your Progressive Web Apps by Maximiliano Firtman
- Progressive Web Apps isn’t a Google-only thing – absolutely! The amount of time I’ve spent with Andreas Bovens and the Opera for Android team is huge!
- Android Instant Apps, Progressive Web Apps and the Future of the Web by Jason Grigsby
- Why UK’s Government Digital Service Decided To Ditch Apps
- The fucking open web – a discouraging essay by a software CEO, which is important to address as browser makers, standardisers & devs.
- Surveying the landscape by Peter Gasston; a less gloomy assessment of the web, by @stopsatgreen. Long, but deffo worth reading.
- Opera 38 goes final with new battery saver – 49% longer battery life than using Chrome. Because PCs don’t live on your desk, plugged in all the time.
- A list of everything that could go in the <head> of your document – it’s a LOT
- [Proposal] API to Control User Gesture Navigation – CSS
overscroll-actionproperty to control user gesture navigation
- Typosquatting programming language package managers – “17000 computers were forced to execute arbitrary code by typosquatting programming language packages/libraries” of which 50% had admin rights, including .mil and .gov domains. Fiendishly brilliant.
- chinese text displays in different sizes and fonts: troubleshooting chinese font problems
- Decoding Culture on the Chinternet – collecting and preserving memes on the Chinese internet
- Open Open Source – Charlotte Spencer on getting more diverse participants in projects
Oh, and if you’re in the London area and looking to hire someone to do Content Marketing and Content Strategy, contact my cousin Simon Migliano, even though as a kid he used to cry in fear at The Magic Roundabout.
Today would have been my dad’s birthday, so it’s as appropriate a time as any to publish this blog post about how and when he came out to my brother and me as a gay man. I wasn’t going to write a blog post about it, to be honest – it’s personal. But my mum recently showed me an article about a support group for kids whose parents came out (to my incredulity) so I figured that writing this might prove useful to somebody. (I’ve also talked to my mum and brother to make sure it’s OK to publish this, as it’s their story too.)
My parents separated when I was about 18 – between completing my A-levels and going up to university. Dad moved to London (where he’d been working Monday – Friday for a while) and it was amicable; they didn’t divorce until years later, when mum wanted to remarry.
My brother and I strongly suspected that Dad was gay; when we’d visit him, we’d always meet up with his bachelor friend who lived nearby. We weren’t fazed by it; we both had gay friends (the 80s was a time when UK society was changing for the better; my generation was much more tolerant than our antecedents).
One day, my brother and I were having a beer with our mum, and one of us asked her directly if Dad was gay. (This sounds weirder than it was; my parents had always encouraged us to speak openly with them.) She fobbed us off with “you’d better ask him” but phoned him up later and suggested that he tell us, so he soon invited himself up to Birmingham for one of his royal visits.
We could see he was nervous, and he said “I have something to tell you, and I hope it’ll be OK and you won’t decide you never want to speak to me again. I’m gay”. My brother and I said, “yeah, we know, and it makes no difference. Another pint?” and that was that.
I don’t know whether he really thought we might disown him; I used to wear eyeliner and black nail polish and was in an acting group with a very out, very camp friend. But his background probably meant that he expected disapproval; he grew up in a very traditional Northern coal-mining town (and was the first Lawson never to go down the Pit) and was an adult before the repeal of the law which made male homosexuality an imprisonable offence.
But nothing changed, and everything was fine. When I lived in London, I’d go out with my dad and his husband to the gay-friendly bars. The two of them were at the top table, with my mum and stepdad, at family weddings; my mum was at his funeral.
The hardest bit was when I drafted the eulogy to read at the funeral. I knew he hadn’t told many of his friends at the amateur theatre club he was in, or at the hospice where he was a volunteer grief counsellor (because he believed it was, fundamentally, a private matter) so I didn’t want to posthumously “out” him at his own funeral. But, equally, there were lots of gay friends attending, and I didn’t want to pretend that part of his life didn’t happen or make them think that I was in any way ashamed of it. My brother and I discussed it, and I simply said “After he and my mum amicably separated, he moved to London with his new partner, David …” and continued.
I think everybody guessed when his coffin slipped away to the sound of Abba’s “Dancing Queen”, though.
Happy birthday, Dad.
- Golden link: The best way to beat ad blockers? Let them win by the Deputy Editor for Digital News @ChicagoTribune.
- Rise of Ad-Blocking Software Threatens Online Revenue – In India and Indonesia, two-thirds of smartphone users have ad blockers
- Hire my cousin, Simon Migliano, for Content Marketing and Content Strategy, even though he was a right nob when I used to babysit him.
- 2016 Internet Trends Report – a LOT of information in here!
- State of the gap – My glamorous pouting co-author, @rem being right about PhoneGap, Web and Progressive Web Apps
- Yet another blog about the state and future of Progressive Web App by Ada Rose, who is (as usual) righteous.
- X-Web: Days of Future Past by Brian “X-tensible” Kardell
- Samsung’s ultra data saving mode powered by Opera Max debuts in Indonesia
- The Law is an Ass – German #Joomla community needs your help (A Joomla conference loses its “not for profit” status and gets clobbered with higher taxes
- North Korea made a Facebook clone and it was immediately hacked – username & password: “admin”, “password”
- People are turning on ad blockers because of data-consuming ad tech – “Ads take up just 9% of the space on a web page, but are accountable for 54% of the load time”.
- 1 in 4 online adults have used a VPN – especially high use in Indonesia, UAE, Thailand, Saudi, Taiwan
- Washington Post introduces new Progressive Web App .. or does it?
- Related: Regressive Web Apps – by Jeremy Keith. “”What does it profit a website to gain app-like features if it loses its soul?”
- Web Progressions videos from the day-long Web Progressions conference I co-organised with Appelquist and Natasha Rooney
- Proposal: Promote SVG Viewbox to a CSS propery, extend to all transformable elements
- LRNZ SNGLRT “is a minimalist and energetic entry for JS1k 2016 showing twisted Lorenz attractors with ambient occlusion, soft shadows, a strong beat & clean design.” By Opera’s p01.
- Take the GOV.UK 2016 assistive technology survey
- Smartphone by default – OFCOM qualitative report on 16% UK population (up from 6% in ’14) whose majority net use is on devices
- Ad blocking and site settings come to Opera for Android beta – so that’s built-in ad blocking in Opera Desktop, Opera Mini and (soon) Chromium-based Opera for Android.
- Uber knows customers with dying batteries are more likely to accept surge pricing – “Uber can detect when a user’s smartphone is low on battery, and therefore willing to pay more to book a ride”
- Is the Tech Bubble Popping? Ping Pong Offers an Answer – “Sales of tables rise and fall with the startups that love them”
I’m writing this as a short commentary on Stuart Langridge’s post The Importance of URLs which you should read (he’s surprisingly clever, although he looks like the antichrist in that lewd hat).
I approve of the Lighthouse team’s idea that you don’t qualify as an add-to-home-screen-able app if you want a URL bar
Opera’s implementation of Progressive Web Apps differs from Chrome’s here (we only take the content layer of Chromium; we implement all the UI ourselves, precisely so we can do our own thing). Regardless of whether the developer has chosen
display: standalone or
display: fullscreen in order to hide the URL bar, Opera will display it if the app is served over HTTP because we think that the user should know exactly where she is if the app is served over an insecure connection. Similarly, if the user follows a link from your app that goes outside its domain, Opera spawns a new tab and forces
display: browser so the URL bar is shown.
But I take Jeremy Keith’s point:
I want people to be able to copy URLs. I want people to be able to hack URLs. I’m not ashamed of my URLs …I’m downright proud.
One of the superpowers of the Web is URLs, and fullscreen progressive web apps hide them (deliberately). After our last PWA meeting with the Chrome team in early February, I was talking about just this with Andreas Bovens, the PM for Opera for Android. We mused about some mechanism (a new gesture?) that would allow the user to see and copy (if they want) the URL of the current page. I’ve already heard of examples when developers are making their own “share this” buttons — and devs re-implementing browser functionality is often a klaxon signalling something is missing from the platform.
When I mentioned our musings on Twitter this morning, Alex Russell said “we’ve been discussing the same.” It is, as Chrome chappie Owen Campbell-Moore said “a difficult UX problem indeed”, which is one reason that Andreas and I parked our discussion. One of Andreas’ ideas is long press on the current page, and then get an option to copy/share the URL of the page you’re currently viewing (this means that a long press is not available as an action for site owners to use on their sites. Probably not a big deal?)
What do you think? How can we best allow the user to see the current URL in a discoverable way?
- Golden link: I’m a fucking webmaster – “We need to remember that at its core a web page is simple. That’s the beauty of it.”
- Delivering Octicons with SVG – Github replaced its icon fonts with SVG, referencing Seren Davies’ slide deck about dyslexia Death to icon fonts. If you want to do the same, read Sara Souiedan’s article Converting Font Icons to SVG.
- Optimizing for the Next Billion Users by World Bank CGAP (the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor)
- Job: Product Management Director – Opera Mini Tell ’em I sent you so I get brownie points.
- We know where you live – “From location data alone, even low-tech snoopers can identify Twitter users’ homes, workplaces.”
- Houdini – Demystifying CSS – Interesting intro article by Surma
- Google : End Of The Online Advertising Bubble – “a big chunk of ad spending is being stolen, plain and simple … The whole ecosystem is at risk of turning from growth to decline, overnight, in a rerun of what happened in 2000-2001.” long report by Kalkis Research.
- An Open Letter to Members of the W3C Advisory Committee on DRM, and “a compromise that both DRM advocates and opponents should be able to live with”
- Arduino-powered gloves that translate sign language into spoken English
- Women of colour in tech – stock photography you can use, e.g. in presentations, with a CC-BY license.
- Achieving Diversity in Tech – a monthly London meet-up to discuss improving diversity in the technology industry
- First Africa Summit on Women and Girls in Technology – Accra, Ghana Sept 13-14
Here’s the keynote talk I did at Render Conference, Oxford in April. (Slides.)
All the other talks are available. Yay!
I told the nice organising types that I wouldn’t accept the speaker fee because public speaking is my job. Rather than just pocket the money, they suggested we donate it to a worthy cause, which is very good of them.
So I asked them to send it to a rural school in Cambodia, where a friend of mine has been volunteering. They’re building a computer lab to train kids and the local people. In one of the poorest countries on earth (average salary is $80/ month) a second hand laptop at $250 is still a luxury. As someone who was a primary teacher in Bangkok, this ticks all my personal boxes: education, S.E. Asia and the web.
Thank you, Ruth and all at Render Conference.