Hckd .

Chrome OS has stalled out

From Android Police
Chrome's problems really became apparent to me when Android app compatibility was introduced
It’s sad but true. I really love Chrome OS as it has so much promise but it’s mostly unrealised. Android apps and even a Linux VM with GUI apps is not a solution. If anything it stops you reaching for or trying to find a real solution. 

Just give me Chrome OS with tight Electron integration and the ability to install packages directly in the Linux I’m already running and it would be the most exciting desktop operating system available. 

1st Milestone reached

It's been about 2 weeks and I have the basic functionality that I was looking for from this blog.
  1. Add and edit pages with javascript editor
  2. Cross post to Twitter
  3. Image upload
I've also made some adjustments to the typography and layout and I'm pretty happy with it.  I'll probably still add a dark mode and make font size adjustable.

The plan when I started was to make it available for people to run their own but there's still a lot to do if I want to do that.  I also haven't really figured out a way for people to run it that is easy enough for non-technical people.  If I were to make it available I would want to do at least the following:
  1. Settings page
  2. RSS feed generation
  3. Make it optional whether to show an excerpt (current way) or the full post on the main page
  4. Export
That's just a minimal list off the top of my head.

Something is broken

When one of the largest and most well known and respected newspapers in the world looks like this online... Something is broken.

From Wikipedia 
The New York Times (sometimes abbreviated as the NYT and NYTimes) is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership.[5][6][7] Founded in 1851, the paper has won 130 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper.[8][9] The Times is ranked 18th in the world by circulation and 3rd in the U.S.[10]
This is the non-subscriber non-logged-in view when clicking through to read an article.  It doesn't convey quality or make you want to sign-up or subscribe.  So why do it?  Has online hurt the New York Times so much that they need that ad revenue to survive?

The internet is for ads and it makes me sad. 

Facebook Said to Consider Banning Political Ads

From the New York Times
Last year, Twitter said it would ban all political ads because the viral spread of misinformation presented challenges to civic discourse.
I didn't know that Twitter had already decided to ban political ads.  Banning rather than policing seems like a better idea to me.  Trying to police misinformation is an impossible task.  Although not everyone agrees.
A spokesman for the D.N.C. referred questions to a tweet from Nellwyn Thomas, the D.N.C.’s chief technology officer, who wrote on Friday: “We said it seven months ago to @Google and we will say it again to @Facebook: a blunt ads ban is not a real solution to disinformation on your platform.”
As a technologist I wouldn't want the job of fact checking and deciding what was true and what wasn't.  There's going to be clear cut cases but most are going to be in a grey area and then a technology company is going to be responsible for telling us all what is misinformation and what isn't.

Perhaps there needs to be an independent third party that fact checks before ads are accepted by Facebook and Twitter.  They could agree to use the same third party and campaigns wouldn't have a choice.

Does the world need another RSS reader?

I started working on this recently but I'm not sure that it's going to become much more than the screenshot.  There are a LOT of RSS readers, so unless I can think of something really different or interesting to do with it it may die a quiet death.

The difference between em and rem

Em and rem are both ways to use relative font sizes on your website.  This is a good idea so that your fonts scale automatically to different screen sizes.  So rather than using pixels, which will stay the same when viewed on mobile, em's will scale relative to the browser default.

I've always used em to achieve this but have seen rem used as well.  I never really took the time to understand the difference until today.  Mozilla developer network has a good article with examples here but I'll try to summarise.

Rem is relative to the root HTML element whereas em is relative to the parent.  The potentially problem of being relative to the parent is what Mozilla calls compounding. That is, if you have a span set at 1.2em and then have another span inside of that the size will be relative to the already larger 1.2em so things will keep getting bigger.

Pretoria, South Africa

PPE hangs outside tents where Covid-19 patients are being treated.
Photograph: Jérôme Delay/AP
Newborn lion cubs and Milky Way gazing, from The Guardian

Modals on Mobile

After my last post about removing modals from this site because they don’t work well on mobile (now lost)  it got me wondering if there’s a good way to implement modals on mobile.
My search found this Mobile App Modal Windows which has examples from Gmail and YouTube and of course native mobile dialogs which are also modals. They all have one thing in common, they’re all really confirmation dialogs. Which is very different than having inputs in modals, which is what I was doing. The glaring problem with inputs in modals is that, on mobile, the onscreen keyboard pops up and takes over a large part of the screen. So I’ve decided to follow this basic rule. If it has inputs it gets it’s own page. I’m also going to do a couple of other configurations if I use modals. 
  1. Disable scrolling
  2. Remove the class which causes the modal to close if you touch the overlay
I feel like these two things should be the default. To me the idea of a modal is you're creating the illusion of something popping up on top of the page so it doesn't make sense to allow the page contents to scroll beneath it. It also doesn't make sense (to me) to have a close button and other action buttons on the modal but then to dismiss it if the overlay is touched. I'm not a UX designer but these things are fun to think about. 

About the new macOS design

Lars Augustin writing about The Design of macOS Big Sur
These changes make the UI feel more modern, sometimes at the expense of usability. 
I've been using it since the day it became available, and while I like it, I agree with the above statement and hope that the usability issues are addressed over the next few months.

Ditching Bootstrap

I nearly wrote Giving Bootstrap the boot! but stopped myself. Regardless I'm not using Bootstrap here any more. 
Initially I was using Bootstraps grid to get some quick and easy responsiveness to different screen sizes but I find the padding to be annoyingly fiddly. Instead I'm using semantic HTML (bye bye Bootstrap divs) and just a few lines of CSS to set the content width to 50% with auto margins. I have one breakpoint at 768px so it adapts to smaller screens and that's it. 😉

A simple Sinatra app

I gave up on my previous app that let me host a static site on Dropbox. Instead now I've just started a basic Sinatra app that I can keep adding bits and pieces too as I go.
As of this writing it is very basic. Just a front page and a dedicated page for single posts. I plan on adding an editor, images, edit, Twitter integration, and whatever else is interesting. That's really why I threw the old site out, this way I can add integrations and features that I think are interesting. The layout is using Bootstrap's grid so that it adapts to different screen sizes but otherwise it's deliberately sparse and 1997 looking. Here's the tech being used so far: 

Is Twitter really microblogging?

I think for most people it's a giant chat app. Maybe for bloggers, news orgs, brands, it's microblogging.
But it makes me wonder if there's any true microblogging application? I can't think of one but maybe it's because that on its own wouldn't be very successful, so microblogging can only exist within a giant public chat app.