- Took two weeks off for Christmas and New Years and it started decently but I'm on day 10 of a winter cold.
- Christmas dinner this year was hosted by a friend and was extremely vegetarian. Mushroom pie, potato pavé, couscous, hummus, fancy labneh, sous vide parsnips, and many other things. Extremely successful.
- Saw Star Wars IX. It's like, actually decent in terms of an entertaining thing to watch for a couple hours. Obviously, you can't think too hard about the details, because a lot of it doesn't make sense (Who built all those ships? Where did the staffing come from? Why did what's-his-face wait until she had all her powers to pick her up, rather than grab her while she was solo-running around junk yards?).
- Relatedly, I read a few extracts from The Princess Diarist which sort of puts a dreamy but sad reality check on the original movies. I hadn't really ever thought about how young Carrie Fisher was then.
- Did nothing for new year's eve (see previous note about cold) but it turns out that if you stand on the very top of our backyard deck shelf thing, you can see the SF fireworks all the way downtown.
- Apparently fireworks are actually super bad for the environment so we should probably stop doing them, generally.
- Doing well on the "do some exercise every day" thing. I've been able to fit in some Switch Fitness Boxing for 18 days in a row (bar one, the election day... I just couldn't bring myself to do something nice).
- I'm very weak but I'm now scoring better on the fitness games, so maybe becoming less so?
- I wrote an article for 24ways about mobile web users. It's actually my second article for 24ways - I wrote another about documentation approximately 1 million years ago.
- From the library, I read The Girl With All The Gifts (yes, I've seen the movie) and Lies, Incorporated. The former is quite good and I've got The Boy On The Bridge, set in the same universe, to follow-up with. The latter, well, I had read The Unteleported Man at some point in the past and didn't realise this was the "complete" version of that story with the mad LSD trip in the middle until after I'd finished it. It's... confusing.
- My boss asked me to read The Advantage which is a bit of a haha business book, but I might learn a thing, so I also snagged that from the library.
In to the home straight of 2019.
It has been 15 weeks since my last week notes and in that time I...
- went to London with Dave Guarino, then Bucharest and Amsterdam with Alex.
- went to a bunch of conferences (Fronteers, JSCampRO, JAMStack San Francisco, Chrome Dev Summit) and generally hung out with more nerds than I have for a while. Probably don’t need to go to anymore for a year or two, tbh.
- hired some very wonderful new folks at work that start in the new year for the front-end team.
- created a “life hack” that consists of using android’s “focus mode” as a way to turn off all work related apps on my phone after 5pm. The mode is supposed to be used to turn off all the fun things you do on your phone, but actually it’s not the fun things that are the problem - it’s mostly Slack chipping slowly away at the last of my sanity that I need to do away with.
- got a library card! I think that means I’m a local now. I don’t know if this exists back home in the UK, but here you can rent e-books from your local library and read them on your kindle for free without ever having to actually go to an actual library. It’s brilliant, but I’m curious about how Amazon is taking advantage of this otherwise very friendly social feature.
- got Switch Ring Adventure, which looks completely stupid, but it’s REALLY hard and I’ve been using muscles that I’ve definitely never used before. It’s much harder than the Switch Fit Boxing that I’ve been doing so far (and this month I’m challenging myself to do one or the other every single day in December).
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and although Alex’s recent slide is a bit full on, it’s not entirely wrong.
I think what he should have said was that Responsive Web Design alone has failed so far in keeping the web at the forefront of users experiences where most users are most of the time -- on mobile. Of course, that’s much more nuanced than he had time for in his talk, but if that is a goal of RWD then it has failed. If the goal of RWD is just to be a practice to making things visually work on different screen sizes, then gold stars all around.
Responsive web design in and of itself is a really smart way to think about developing sites, assuming that you’re taking it from the mobile-first strategy. It’s been a while since I’ve come across a major digital service that hasn’t had a mobile-optimised layout of some nature, so I think on the whole that’s worked. Although, I have to ask where the "so focused on mobile they didn’t bother with a desktop optimisation" crew are - I sort of expected that to happen, but I’ve not yet hit a serious site that has a mobile-only view and presents that to it’s end users on desktop as a fallback. I have, however, seen buckets of splash screens that block me entirely and point me at the native app as the exclusive and only way to access their content and services. That’s scary.
What’s lacking about the responsive web design story is it has always focussed so heavily on the visual, dimensional, aspects of digital design. What are the snap points? How do we scale the images, the text? Can we trim content for some or enhance for others?
As a movement, it’s failed to capture the true otherness of being on a small screen. The fact that CPU, memory, network speed, storage and so many other aspects need to be first-level concerns. I’d argue that for most sites, the compromise for small screen devices has gone about as far as the ever-maligned hamburger menu and largely stopped there.
What I think I, and folks like Alex and Jeremy, who are fearful of the future of the Open Web really want to see is the sort of design work that Jad spoke about at Fronteers. That deep, close, observation of what our users _really_ expect on their devices - given that a majority of their experiences are with native apps and we’re trying very much to slip in our non-native experiences and pass them off as as reliable, integrated and valuable as those. RWD also isn’t taking us into where people find their online experiences (app stores). It could, but it needs to be tightly coupled with a strong PWA game with Trusted Web Activities, for example.
So, in short, RWD didn’t fail so much as it stopped short. Let’s not bicker about the specifics and just focus on getting out of our doom loop, eh?
I spent this weekend at Write/Speak/Code. I'm having a day off today.
Alex got us a robot dog.
I really, really, want a furry pet, but Alex is very allergic to almost everything (including most of the trees and grasses in California) so we're not able to have pets, unless they're behind glass.
The aibo is part 2 of the very nicest thing that Alex has ever done for me.
Part 1 is that he's doing sublingual immunotherapy to hopefully relieve him of his symptoms (I mean, I say it's for me, but honestly his life would be drastically improved dog-or-not), but because the process can take years to be effective, the robo-dog is a placeholder until the day we can maybe a adopt a warm-blooded version.
I'll probably write more about the dog on Sensors and Sensibility in a few weeks once we're more familiar with how it works. He's pretty adorable, though.