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Fleeting thoughts, evergreen articles, and links to intersting stuff from around the web. And it’s all here all in one convenient chronological list. You can also browse by topic if you’re looking for something speciific.


Rails Generators & Templates

While it’s difficult to identify one specific piece of Rails Generators that makes them special, Thor’s templating functionality makes a strong case for being that feature. We’re going to see how it works and the how Rails streamlines the process in order to see how handy templates can be.

Take an Easy Step

Big or bold steps aren’t always right. Frequently, they’re clearly wrong. Other times not so much. Choosing the right size for that next step isn’t always easy. But taking the easy step is often a good enough bet.

Live Coding Interviews

In the tech world, live coding interviews are very prevalent but but also terribly inaccurate proxies for assessing potential team members. Fortunately, with additional awareness these practices can be changed to provide better results for everyone involved.

Read-only web apps

Your app should work in a read-only mode without JavaScript. 

Per usual, Jeremy distills things down to simple and unobjectionable points. So many of the arguments against progressive enhancement seem to follow the the thinking from when we collectively believed that sites should look the exact same in every browser.

Progressive enhancement isn’t either/or. It’s a helpful spectrum where the more functionality that can be accessible without JavaScript the better, but just because it may not be pragmatic to have everything accessible without JavaScript all the time, there’s plenty of ways to ensure information can still be accessible without massive engineering efforts.

Stretch 15

A free 15 min daily stretch routine to help desk workers avoid aches and pains 

Getting older and sitting too much has increasingly felt more and more painful. This felt like a great way to remember to take a stretch break and covers most of the stretches I’ve been trying to work into a morning routine. I set it to my home page for new browser windows to see about getting the routine to stick.

Varying Levels of Website Fidelity via Site Settings

I haven’t shared anything about the inner workings of my recent site update, and I’m not planning on it. However, supporting a “Site Fidelity” option inspired by Jim Nielsen is one of the little things I’m more excited about. 

It’s a sort of hybrid “progressive enhancement” demo meets “a perpetual option for CSS Naked” that provides both a handy feature for some visitors and a constant reminder to always keep things as simple and semantic as possible.

The details element is amazing

Some interesting and fun exploration here by Robin. The Details element is one I haven’t built for with my site update, but there’s certainly some good opportunities to use this more in the future. 

To Supercharge Learning, Look to Play

Play is a key component of the arts and aesthetics in myriad ways. Art and play are like two sides of the same coin, with play being a part of artistic expression, imagination, creativity, and curiosity. Though it often gets buried in adulthood, the urge to play exists in all of us. It has been a major part of how we’ve evolved as a species. 

About Those Docs

Daniela Baron writes up some great advice and a thorough list for thinking about documentation on a project.   It’s one of those where you find yourself aggressively nodding along, but there’s one that really stuck out because it feels so often overlooked. So often, people focus on well-written code not needing extensive documentation, and that can be partial true in terms of understanding what the code is doing.

Good names and understandable code can’t, however, explain the why of how a certain section of code is written. We talk about making sure code can be intention-revealing, but it’s never going to be able to communicate the state and context of the project at that specific point in time and how that informed the approach.

Creating Custom Rails Generators

Rails generators can help remove significant friction from the process of spinning up new ideas, but you don’t have to limit yourself to the included generators. You can also create custom generators as long as you’re familiar with the available APIs and know where the speed bumps are.

Steering Attention and Leverage

Automated code review tools are a mixed bag, but if we could get all of the benefits with fewer of the drawbacks, they turn into powerful ways to leverage our limited daily time into significant results.

Movement & Joy

Sit-skiing has let me get moving again and find joy without pain, and it’s truly been life-changing.

A Heat Map Reporter for Minitest

I created a custom reporter for Minitest to try and proactively identify the underlying source of a problem by inspecting and classifying each failure and customizing the information displayed based on the context and type of failure. It also presents a heat map summary to help more quickly identify individual areas that are likely to be causing the other errors.

Thinking Smaller and Locally

This is a personal one, so bear with me. I’m sharing mainly because I can’t imagine giving myself this kind of space ten years ago. So I’m hoping that painting the picture could help other folks who may be in a similar space. Losing a limb kind of…

Thoughts on Trust in Business

The other day, I signed up for Hey without poking around or even thinking about it. I just put in my credit card and set up forwarding for my personal email. After the fact, I thought about how unusual that was and started thinking about what it takes…

Prioritizing Visual Stability on the Web

With any web site or application, speed is important, but it doesn’t live in a vacuum. If you get someone the content sooner, but it’s moving around so much that they can’t read it or interact with it, is it really worth getting it to them a little faster?

Getting Going

The last couple of months have been rough on everyone. While Lauren recovered at lower altitude due to her asthma, I was juggling work and the kids as a single parent–eventually giving up on work for a couple of weeks. Moreover, here in the mountains,…

Visitors, Developers, or Machines

I keep my feet squarely planted in two worlds when it comes to development. One of those is all things front-end, and the other is Ruby (and Rails). With Ruby/Rails, they’re frequently maligned as a not-serious programming language/framework pair…

Marketing for Energy

Over my time running Sifter, I spent a lot of time trying out different marketing tactics. Then, working on Postmark, we tried quite a few additional tactics as well. The FOMO was always overwhelming. Retargeting. Banner ads. Blogging. A/B testing….

Ignorance is Bliss

About 11 years ago, I quit my job to start Sifter. Today, after my knowledge of running it for 8 years, I would have been too hesitant to start it. It’s not that I would be afraid, but I’d overthink it. I’d be at a standstill over-analyzing every single…