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About the web and other things.
Usually a few links per week, a couple articles per year.

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  1. Workers Durable Objects Beta: A New Approach to Stateful Serverless
    blog.cloudflare.com

    Super interesting new stuff from Cloudflare:

    Durable Objects provide a truly serverless approach to storage and state: consistent, low-latency, distributed, yet effortless to maintain and scale. They also provide an easy way to coordinate between clients, whether it be users in a particular chat room, editors of a particular document, or IoT devices in a particular smart home. Durable Objects are the missing piece in the Workers stack that makes it possible for whole applications to run entirely on the edge, with no centralized “origin” server at all.

  2. Google blew a ten-year lead.
    secondbreakfast.co

    Will Schreiber:

    I haven’t installed MSFT Office on a machine since 2009. Sheets and Docs have been good enough for me. The theoretical unlimited computing power and collaboration features meant Google Docs was better than Office (and free!).

    Then something happened at Google. I’m not sure what. But they stopped innovating on cloud software.

    Docs and Sheets haven’t changed in a decade. Google Drive remains impossible to navigate. Sharing is complicated. Sheets freezes up. I can’t easily interact with a Sheets API (I’ve tried!). Docs still shows page breaks by default! WTF!

  3. The UX of LEGO Interface Panels
    designedbycave.co.uk

    George Cave:

    Piloting an ocean exploration ship or Martian research shuttle is serious business. Let’s hope the control panel is up to scratch. Two studs wide and angled at 45°, the ubiquitous “2x2 decorated slope” is a LEGO minifigure’s interface to the world.

    These iconic, low-resolution designs are the perfect tool to learn the basics of physical interface design. Armed with 52 different bricks, let’s see what they can teach us about the design, layout and organisation of complex interfaces.

    Welcome to the world of LEGO UX design.

  4. Google’s Top Search Result? Surprise! It’s Google
    themarkup.org

    Adrianne Jeffries and Leon Yin look into how Google search gives preferential treatment to Google’s own results:

    In Google’s early years, users would type in a query and get back a page of 10 “blue links” that led to different websites. “We want to get you out of Google and to the right place as fast as possible,” co-founder Larry Page said in 2004.

    Today, Google often considers that “right place” to be Google, an investigation by The Markup has found.

    We examined more than 15,000 recent popular queries and found that Google devoted 41 percent of the first page of search results on mobile devices to its own properties and what it calls “direct answers,” which are populated with information copied from other sources, sometimes without their knowledge or consent.

    When we examined the top 15 percent of the page, the equivalent of the first screen on an iPhone X, that figure jumped to 63 percent. For one in five searches in our sample, links to external websites did not appear on the first screen at all.

  5. Don’t forget: disasters and crises bring out the best in people
    thecorrespondent.com

    Some welcome positivity from Rutger Bregman:

    For every antisocial jerk out there, there are thousands of doctors, cleaners and nurses working around the clock on our behalf. For every panicky hoarder shoving entire supermarket shelves into their cart, there are 10,000 people doing their best to prevent the virus from spreading further. In actual fact, we’re now seeing reports from China and Italy about how the crisis is bringing people closer together.

  6. Casino Royale — How Action Reveals Character
    youtube.com

    Lessons from the Screeplay:

    An action scene, just like any other scene, should help expose a character’s true self. But in the case of “Casino Royale,” the opening action sequence needed to do even more than that. It needed to introduce the world to a whole new James Bond.

    So today, I want to dissect the film’s freerunning chase sequence to see how it uses action to develop the characters, to examine how it forces the protagonist to make choices which reveal his key characteristics, and to demonstrate how its underlying structure brings Bond’s deepest flaw to the surface.

    Casino Royale is the best.

  7. Frustration grows in China as face masks compromise facial recognition
    qz.com

    Ah, the irony. Anne Quito:

    Face masks are mandatory in at least two provinces in China, including the city of Wuhan. In an effort to contain the coronavirus strain that has caused nearly 500 deaths, the government is insisting that millions of residents wear protective face covering when they go out in public.

    As millions don masks across the country, the Chinese are discovering an unexpected consequence to covering their faces. It turns out that face masks trip up facial recognition-based functions, a technology necessary for many routine transactions in China. Suddenly, certain mobile phones, condominium doors, and bank accounts won’t unlock with a glance.

    And beyond quotidian transactions, the technology is a linchpin in the Chinese government’s scheme to police its 1.4 billion citizens.

  8. The Raccoon King of Garbage Mountain
    frankchimero.com

    Frank Chimero writes about the design process for the header navigation on his personal site:

    You’d imagine that a seasoned and soured designer would side-step all of these complications whenever they could. And indeed, most do. Visit many designers’ websites and you will see two links in the navigation: Work and Info. Bully for them. I am, on the other hand, an unsympathetic and frustrated creative. I have a sprawling empire of conflicted uselessness locked into the coordinates of www dot frankchimero dot com. Welcome to my personal website, my empire of shit.

    Oh how I understand Frank’s plight.

  9. Wuhan: The Truth About “Dramatic Action”
    chinamediaproject.org

    Da Shiji (达史纪) reports on the the Chinese government’s handling of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, and the current situation in Wuhan:

    Politics first. Stability preservation first. In such an environment, science can only sit by and watch. The scientific results could not be clearer, and the authorities likely had a decent grasp of the real situation. But nevertheless they could not speak the truth, and they spared no effort in keeping the outbreak under wraps. Front-line doctors who spoke up about the outbreak were taken in for questioning. Eight Wuhan citizens who dared to post about the outbreak online were summoned by the police and singled out in public announcements through official media in order to terrify the public and force people to remain quiet.

    The focus of restrictions was to prevent the truth of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus from getting out.

  10. Shopping Sucks Now
    vice.com

    Casey Johnston tries to come to terms with a problem that I, too, suffer from — if you’re trying to buy the right thing, there’s no longer any limit to the amount of work you can put into research:

    For a long time, our problem was there were not enough things to choose from. Then with big box stores, followed by the internet, there were too many things to choose from. Now there are still too many things to choose from, but also a seemingly infinite number of ways to choose, or seemingly infinite steps to figuring out how to choose. The longer I spend trying to choose, the higher the premium becomes on choosing correctly, which means I go on not choosing something I need pretty badly, coping with the lack of it or an awful hacked-together solution (in the case of gloves, it’s “trying to pull my sleeves over my hands but they are too short for this”) for way, way too long, and sometimes forever.

    The degree to which you feel this problem definitely depends on your income, or at least, being in the privileged position of not having to make do with the only thing you can afford. But for people with even a limited ability to make an investment purchase, if it’s worth it, there’s even more pressure to get it right. Knowing you wasted a big chunk of money on a cheaper, worse thing that falls apart when you could have spent a little more money on a thing that is good and lasts feels like failure. You’ve then wasted your money, wasted your time, you’ve contributed to global warming, and now you have to start the entire thing over again and hope you don’t somehow end up making the exact same mistake.