- Installable Web Apps and Add to Home screen released this week in Opera 32 for Android. Also in Chrome.
- lessons from the ad blocker trenches by Yan Zhou of W3C TAG
- CSS stacking contexts: What they are and how they work by Tiffany Brown, who’s one of my favourite tech authors because she explains very clearly. And also because she rocks.
- Use Only One <main> on a Page – Adrian Roselli lists the reasons why. Number 2 will make you cry!
- Back to the :roots – “I’ll try to show a few ways how you can make the cascade be your friend and maybe reduce the need of overriding and thus encounter less fighting with specificity.”
- How to display threaded discussions on the web by Rian Van Der Merwe
- What forces layout / reflow – JS properties or methods, that trigger the browser to synchronously calculate the style and layout, a common performance bottleneck” by Paul Irish
- Creating Cel Animations With SVG By Heydon Pickering
- This single mom is fighting to protect Pakistani women from cyberbullying – Tech in Asia profile of Nighat Dad
- Graphic Presentation – Willard Cope Brinton’s 1939 book (a sort of proto-Edward Tufte) free to download
- A New Caption That Works for Every New Yorker Cartoon
The last vanity song for a while, I promise — and this one’s definitely not punk. In my defence, it started life as fucked-folk, like “Femme Fatale” by the Velvet Underground. But as the lyrics firmed up, I started thinking about a serenade (“a musical greeting performed for a lover… an evening piece, one to be performed on a quiet and pleasant evening”) as that’s what the lyrics are about, albeit with a bittersweetness not reflected in the arrangement.
It was written in Cambodia and Barcelona. I wrote an alternate third verse which I don’t remember, and I don’t have the handwritten draft any more. If I do remember, I’ll record it in fucked-folk style.
Footage of the girl is from “Weg zum Nachbarn” by Lutz Mommartz, 1968.
The girl in the room
talks at dusk of musk and sandalwood
Of warm winter mornings
and cool summer nights.
Telling tales without tomorrows
of her yesterdays and ancient times;
of a castle in the birch trees
in the calmness of twilight.
The girl in the room
is thunder-lightning: fiercely beautiful;
weighed down with words, then musical,
with her faces in her moon.
She asks if you could love her
and before you can recover
she needs to be somewhere or other.
Through the trees, the breeze sings tunes.
The girl in the room
talks at sunset in her box of text,
of monsoon rain and games and sex
and the ruins where bluebells bloom.
Lost in feelings like a forest,
there are no certain maps to happiness;
She spills wine on her Chinese dress,
and the breeze brings you tunes.
Words and music © Bruce Lawson, 2015
- Dark corners of Unicode – “Yes, it turns out that Unicode decomposition also decomposes Hangul (the alphabet used to write Korean) into its sub-components” (but you probably knew that already)
- CSS Font Rendering Controls Module Level 1 Unofficial Proposal Draft – featuring
font-display:optional– use the font if it’s cached, else use a fallback & cache it for next time
- The Performance of Houdini Paint by Ian Kilpatrick (Google)
- WebKit start implementing Shadow DOM – “The feature will be enabled by default without prefix on trunk on Mac and iOS ports and disabled elsewhere by default.”
- WordPress Patches Serious Shortcodes Core Engine Vulnerability
- Facebook “likes” will be used to serve ads. I assumed they always had been, actually. They’re already used by police in Thailand to monitor “subversives”.
- The toxic side of free. Or: how I lost the love for my side project (part 1/5) < important stuff by Remington Sharp
- Xerox scanners/photocopiers randomly alter numbers in scanned documents – “Because of a software bug, loss of information was introduced where none should have been … For PDFs that were scanned with the named Xerox devices during the last 8 years, it cannot be proven what characters were on the original sheet of paper”. According to a BBC report, Xerox Vice President Rick Dastin “said that oil rigs, the military … were among the owners most likely to have switched their copiers to the setting”
- Fuck the Internet of Things – Tim Severien
[The stage is bare. A single spotlight snaps on. Into it walks Bruce, in a black turtleneck top]
Are you ready, folks? [Apple WWDC-style whoops and squeaks]
Are you READY folks? [Shouts of “Yeah!” and “Righteous!”]
Do you want your websites to work EVERYWHERE? [people faint with excitement]
Are you ready to have your PARADIGMS SHIFTED? [Not a dry seat in the house now]
Today, we’re introducing a brand-new paradigm-shifting design methodology called…
Logo: “Beard” By iconsmind.com
What is “Anachronistic Beard”?
It’s a revolutionary way of making websites so they look good in iOS 9 with external fonts turned off, work well for Opera Mini’s 250+ million users, and in Chrome, Opera, Firefox, IE, Edge, whether you’re using a computer, a phone, a tablet, a phablet (you’re not, are you?), with or without assistive technology.
How can I leverage these game-changing synergies, going forward?
Glad you asked! Here are the technical details.
Why is it called “Anachronistic Beard”?
A previous version of Anachronistic Beard has been available, built into the very design of the web, for decades. But it was called “Progressive Enhancement”, which is boring, and it didn’t have a logo.
So, encouraged by the success of things like Moustache, it’s been rebranded by a team of expensive Birmingham-based Consumer Insight Engineers. With this new name, those of us who are too old to be hipsters can legitimately claim that we were doing Progressive Enhancement, before it was cool.
Join our revolution, before everyone else hears about it. Happy Bearding!
My conference season kicked off with State of the Browser 5. I’d been accepted after a blind call for papers to present the snappily-titled Ensuring a performant web for the next billion people.
The venue was Conway Hall, which I’d heard of but couldn’t remember the context. It turned out to be the HQ of the Conway Hall Ethical Society, “the oldest surviving freethought organisation in the world”. So a historic venue (for bleeding-heart Guardianistas like me) with great acoustics and “To thine own self be true” inscribed above the stage.
State of the Browser this year had a wide variety of talks; from Seb Lee-Delisle amiably talking about lasers to Martin Jakl talking about WebKit’s garbage collection bugs on Raspberry Pi, with animation jank, keeping learning and modular design in between.
I enjoyed all the talks, but there were some standouts for me (not because any talks were “better” but some were more immediately useful to me in my browser geek-end of the spectrum). I want to congratulate Laura Elizabeth, who did her first ever public speaking with assurance and aplomb that suggested much more experience. There were shocks, too: for example, non-Jake Archibald people talking about Service Worker.
I was particularly agog/ aghast at Edd Sowden’s talk on what makes a <table> not a <table> in assistive technologies. There are lots if heuristics baked into browsers to guess which are data and which are layout tables.
background-color makes it a table,
border-collapse stops it being a table,
display:block stops it being one (except in IE…). More than 20 rows, or zebra striping in CSS makes it a table, etcetera.
Here’s the video (and here are his slides):
Isn’t it tremendous that the UK government cares about assistive tech users on its new web properties?
I also learned a lot from Ada Rose Edwards who surprised me by explaining that reflowing text, if you animate widths of things that cause the browser to re-layout lots of words, is really slow – because of kerning, hinting etc. See her slides for more (video coming soon). I’d assumed because text is small (eg, 1024 letters of Latin text is 1K) that there’s no performance hit. But laying it out isn’t trivial. Throw justification into the mix, too (but please don’t) and you have a recipe for a hot phone battery.
There were lots of old chums in the audience, and new chums like Seren Davis and Claudia. Synergies were leveraged, too – I’ve got an Opera bug moving after being gently prompted by an attendee. There was even a party afterwards, with a free bar, and all for £30. So go next year!
State of the Browser is organised for love by the London Web Standards crew: Morena Fiore, Nick Smith, Dave Letorey, Ginestra Ferraro, Steve Workman, Rupert Bowater and Marco Cedaro. Morena wrote up the day too. Thanks very much to all of them, and all who came to listen.
- Opera Mini 11/Android’s new compression mode – what devs need to know, some secrets of Snowdoo and a fun fact
- Up Front Mini conference – 6 Oct, Manchester, only £35
- Please complete the 8 question Front-end Development Tooling and Frameworks Survey (Interim results)
- Mobile-friendly web pages using app banners Google: “After November 1, mobile web pages that show an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page will no longer be considered mobile-friendly.”
- European Advertiser Mobile Audit Report – “Over half of retail brands have a transactional mobile site, however just a quarter have a transactional mobile or tablet app.” (from the linked PDF)
- The future of layout with CSS: Grid Layouts but remember that Adrian Roselli told you that Source Order Matters.
- Announcing VP9 support coming to Microsoft Edge
- 20 Lessons from Making an API at NewsCorp
- The “Psychological” Speed of Mobile Interfaces
- Idealism and what successful open source looks like – lots of good stuff in this short essay/ talk by Jeffrey A. “jam” McGuire
- Is the web platform getting too big? by Nicholas Zakis. Another post inspired by PPK’s “moratorium” suggestion, this one supporting the wish.
- Porn app took secret photos of users then locked device & displayed a demand for $500. As Ed Everett said, “I guess this settles the app vs web debate then.”
- Talking of pr0n: One lawyer’s crusade to defend extreme pornography – “Pornography is the canary in the coal mine of free speech”. You might disagree, but the piece is brilliantly written and worth it for the LOL at the end if the tiger-sex anecdote.
The noisiest song I’ve writen for ages. Drums! A weedy trebly riff and five (count ’em!) dirty, dirty guitar lines. And no girly cello or mincing harpsichords, just a snakey riff with a good groove around a Gm chord, and a stonking chorus (though I immodestly say so myself). The chords in the chorus are a reasonably conventional Bb, F, Ab, Gm. But then it wanders down to Gb before returning to Gm, which is probably illegal in territories signed up to the Geneva musical convention. Check with a music lawyer before listening.
This was written in Cambodia and UK. An Apsara is a “beautiful, supernatural female being. They are youthful and elegant, and superb in the art of dancing .. often depicted taking flight”. The line about “dust and semen” is purloined from Auden’s poem September 1, 1939: “I, composed like them/ Of Eros and of dust”. “I was happy, I was sad” is borrowed from Beethoven’s letter to his Immortal Beloved “Your love makes me at once most happy and most unhappy”.
I once heard the thunder
and the love songs that the storm screams.
I’m dumb-struck with wonder
at how you plunder and invade and occupy my dreams.
I ask no questions;
I won’t understand the answers they bring.
I do not hope
for I dare not hope for anything.
your dance was much too beautiful to bear.
I watched you wash your hair;
I was happy, I was sad and I was scared-not-scared.
You don’t care; nobody’s there.
I can find no meaning
in the minutes that limit and diminish my soul.
I’m just made of dust and semen;
I was dying, I was dead, and I want to be whole.
I ask for nothing
nothing comes from nothing and I’d always want more.
I’d forgotten loving
and you’ve got jasmine in your hair, you’ve got a world to explore.
Fly now, Apsara:
your dance was much too beautiful to bear.
between future and the past I dared not dare.
You’re not there. There’s nothing to share.
Words and music © Bruce Lawson 2015
(Here’s a totally different song called Apsara by Roger Doyle which is all new age and trancey. Good stuff.)
- Screen Reader User Survey #6 Results by my chums at WebAim. Highlights: the screenreader market is more dynamic than ever; longdesc is “a very unpopular option” to get more info about a complex image (as with all things longdesc, this is contentious, whereas the most popular “optional text, available on the same page but only if I request it” smells like HTML5 <details> to me if you rephrase “follow a link” to “activate a control”); 63% of screenreader users sometimes/ often/ always use landmarks/ regions (so add them, or I’ll spank you).
- upup – a teeny weeny script to add Service Worker shizzle to your site
- The Visual ARIA Bookmarklet “allows any sighted person to physically see the use of ARIA upon any public website”
- CSS Grid and The Box Alignment Module – “The Box Alignment module will allow us to centre all of the things with CSS” says Rachel Andrew
- Update: Responsive Image Support for Core – WordPress
- Feeling Like An Unwelcome Guest on medium.com – “I made the choice to visit your website, and you not respecting that choice leaves me feeling like a very unwelcome guest” by Peter “Not ‘Alf!” Gasston. And a reply from a Medium product manager.
- Alliance for Open Media to “pursue a new, open royalty-free video codec specification and open-source implementation … Day one founding members are Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel Corporation, Microsoft, Mozilla and Netflix.”
- Talking of which, Microsoft Edge to support .webm video
(so, presumably, Ogg Vorbis audio too?)but no Ogg Vorbis, just Opus (hat tip @stopsatgreen) so I’m not sure how many current .webm files Edge will actually be able to play – but it’s excellent news, nevertheless.
- ARIA in HTML – Living Document by Steve “Living Doll” Faulkner
- Chrome improvements for a faster and more efficient web by co-ordinator of Project Trim (of which Opera is a member)
- Houdini Task Force meeting report by Yours Truly (Paris, last weekend)
- jQuery Foundation and Dojo Foundation to Merge
- Doing Science On The Web – sinister mastermind Alex Russell on Prefixpocalypse and how to enable authors to test experiments without pollution
- Post Mortem: #100DaysOfSpec – Melanie Richards is a graphic designer who decided to read and take notes on the HTML specs for 100 days.
- Why You Hate Google’s New Logo or more accurately “Why I hate it” by an Olympic-standard over-thinker
- [whatwg] How to add html5 browser support – Someone wants to implement a browser from scratch; @tabatkins advises
- Interviu cu Bruce Lawson – Open Web Standards Evangelist la Opera (Romanian interview with me)
A song I started writing 17 years ago in Pokhara, Nepal and finished this year in UK. (Actually, the crappy 1st draft lyrics I have were in my ’98 jotter, but I got a message from bassist of my university band who says “I can remember us doing a prototype of ‘bluegreenkiss’ in 1986”, so it’s my oldest new song ever.)
I sat on it for two decades because for years I wasn’t sure if I’d accidentally stolen the melody – the previous song I’d presented to the band turned out to be mostly The Beatles’ “All My Loving”, so I was pretty paranoid about anything I wrote outside my usual “one two three four!” punky genre. For ages I played it on my acoustic guitar to girlfriends, other musicians and the postman (once) to ask them if they recognised it.
The phrase “Look at the way she..” was what I found myself singing when I first wrote it, but the lyrics were written much later in Turkey (where I lived in a fisherman’s cottage near the sea) and Nepal (where I went horse-riding up a mountain, which had trees though it wasn’t a forest). Hence the hippie/huggy lyrics. The line “She sometimes says what she means / I hope I can do this too” is because I tweaked the words to make absolutely sure that the person they’re written for never realises it’s about her. Self-expression’s one thing, but actually telling someone what you think of them is ludicrously risky.
It’s about people who are gone, and trying to record the physical aspects of their presence – colours and activities – to preserve memories of the moments they were with me. To those who inspired it, thank you, wherever you are. (Tennyson, In Memoriam, XXVII)
There are those who would say it’s not sufficiently punk. Of course it’s punk – I fucking wrote it. QED.
Look at the way she
kisses me gently;
Look how this simple act
brings my brain ease.
She’ll never try to please;
She needs the world to see she is free.
I’m proud but I’m sad for this too.
Look at the way she
walks through the forest.
Look how the leaf-light
glows her old white blouse green.
She aways dances and dreams;
she sometimes says what she means;
I hope I can do this too.
Look at the way she
swims in the ocean.
Look how the rivers’ swell
flows into her.
For all her wrecks and her tides,
She’s in love with her life;
I hope she can love me too.
But look at the way she’s
kissing me gently
Words and music © Bruce Lawson, all rights reserved.
Drums, bass and remixing by Shez of the band Silverlake.
More music at soundcloud.com/bruceclawson
- Modern CSS Layout, power and responsibility – Rachel Andrew makes the important point that if CSS Grid Layout loses subgrid, visual tools will produce flat HTML structures so everything is a direct child of the grid, thereby damaging HTML semantic quality (especially important as Grid Layout is the most natural, designer-friendly way to lay out pages)
- Mozilla’s Firefox extensions are changing to be “largely compatible with the model used by Chrome and Opera”, perhaps including some Opera extras like sidebar API. Although they’d “like add-on development to be more like Web development: the same code should run in multiple browsers”, Mozilla will use their own .xpi format and require (unspecfiied) “small changes” to Blink extensions rather than using the vendor-neutral .nex format Opera proposed and uses, because apparently they’re “skeptical of the benefits of standard packaging“.
- Mobile Browsing Around The World by Peteypoo Gasston
- Responsive Images Pt. 2 with Yoav Weiss – Yoav puts on a funny voice and draws really fast in this five-minute video
- Where to Put Your Search Role – by Adrian Roselli. TL;DR, not on a <form> element, as that overrides its native semantics
- Making radio buttons and checkboxes easier to use by UK Government Digital Services
- User Agent Intervention – a discussion document by Dmitri “Web Components” Glazkov on what to when “user experience gets so bad that the User Agent is compelled to intervene”
- Using requestIdleCallback, a “new performance API for scheduling work when the user is idle”, says Paul “Idol” Lewis
- Houdini / CSS Face to Face meeting notes (day 1)
- What Open Data can do for Africa’s growing population
- Opera’s “Web on Wheels” brings free Wi-Fi to 20 Indian cities – to celebrate our 20th birthday, we’re taking a car around 20 cities for 10 months, bringing free, unlimited WiFi
- EU’s new VAT rules forcing thousands out of business article on VATMOSS – mad EU sales tax changes on digital sales
- WordSafety.com checks your product name against swear words & unwanted associations in 19 languages – caveat emptor, though; it didn’t flag up “Boobie Nob” and “TwinkSpank” for me
- Stems: new open file format for music with separate tracks for drums, vocals, bass, harmony, and also the full stereo song for fallback in non-Stem software
- The Slow Web by Cole Henley, is a well-written musing on the rather badly-written article by Hossein Derakhshan. Paul Robert Lloyd wrote and interesting follow-up, too.