Random thoughts on a day off

I didn’t take all my holidays in 2014 (gasp!) and there’s a UK company policy that mandates that you either take the remaining days before the end of March or they are gone. GONE FOREVER. Can you believe that?

In light of this and the fact that I actually need to chill down or then I get burn out, I already took some holidays in February, but there was this float day left… and so here we are, on this random Friday which I have taken off.

What do you do when you have a day off? Some people might have done a 3 day trip, but I am traveling so much lately that my only wish is to remain as moderately stationary as I can. I could have planned some activity in London. But that would go against the whole purpose of chilling down and not having the brain in ‘work’ mode. So I didn’t plan anything other than: I would just do whatever I felt like doing when I woke up.

I had breakfast. Then it was sunny. I went to the park. There are some flowers already! Spring is coming, there’s no denying it: I didn’t need to wear a hat or anything for the first time in mooonths. I even wore my sunglasses. Amazing!

I went to a cafe I hadn’t been before. The coffee was pretty terrible but the place was lovely. I have become a coffee snob and I must live with that now. Agh.

I checked twitter. Tracy was mentioning that her cellphone is smashed and technophiles were looking at her judgmentally in the plane:

As a person who loves to wear her possessions down until the point that they are faded out and scratched and all, I see no problem on that…

And this reminded me of a conversation I had with Jen a while ago, where we talked about this kind of people who, when hearing that you make music, start questioning your instrument of choice:

Wow, you use Reason? How can you get anything good out of it?

Then they would start enumerating all the gear in their home studio and how so much better it is than whatever you use. And then we would interrupt them because we’re dead bored of this attitude already, and ask them:

Yes, and where’s your music? What have you MADE with all that gear?

Blank stares, of course. Cataloguing rather than making.

Don’t catalogue. Go make something! Or go outside! It’s a beautiful day! :-)

Reading list, 1

16-22 March 2015

I used to do some sort of reading list posts a few years ago but then came twitter and the sharing of links there, so I stopped, but then everyone started sharing things in twitter and it’s now impossible to reference links or even remember who linked to what. So–back to the blog it is!

Why? I really enjoy reading Bruce Lawson’s weekly reading list (example). I like this notion of weekly curated posts: it gives me an idea of what’s up in the web through the eyes of a person, not a bunch of random popular links on twitter. Big data is fine and all that jazz, but sometimes it’s too chaotic to make any sense.

I also want to bring more content to my website, if nothing else out of pure egoism, as it makes it easier for me to reference interesting stuff, and I know someone (i.e. me) will take care of it without having to accept a different set of terms of conditions every 6 months ;-)

And maybe other people are interested on my view? We’ll see. Hopefully this time I’ll keep on doing it.
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Superturbocharging Firefox OS app development with node-firefox

Well, that’s funny–I finish writing a few modules for (potentially) node-firefox and then on the same day I discover the recording for my FOSDEM talk on node-firefox is online!

It’s probably not the best recording you’ve ever seen, as it is not recording the output of my laptop, but here are the slides too if you want to see my fabulously curated GIFs (and you know you want to). Here’s also the source of the slides, and the article for Mozilla Hacks that presents node-firefox and which might probably help you more than watching the video with the slides.

If you’re interested in watching the other Mozilla talks at FOSDEM they’re here.

Install to ADB: installing packaged Firefox OS apps to USB connected phones (using ADB)

I abhor repetition, so I’m always looking for opportunities to improve my processes. Spending a bit of time early on can save you so much time on the long run!

If you’re trying to build something that can only run in devices (for example, apps that use WiFi direct), pushing updates gets boring really quickly: with WebIDE you have to select each USB device manually and then initiate the push.

So I decided I would optimise this because I wanted to focus on writing software, not clicking on dropdowns and etc.

And thus after a bit of research I can finally show install-to-adb:

In the video you can see how I’m pushing the same app to two Flame phones, both of them connected with USB to my laptop. The whole process is a node.js script (and a bunch of modules!).
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jQuery UK 2015

I attended jQuery UK past week, sorry about the delay in writing about it :-)

The organisation was as smooth as it could be. They made sure we knew where, how and when to go to places and treated us really well, so it was a pleasure to be a speaker in this conference.

I must admit I was stupidly silly with regards to the conference at the very beginning. My programming bias elitism was yelling on my brain “oh I MIGHT NOT NEED jQUERY! Who needs it these days anyway!?”

But turns out that

  1. there’s lots of people who cannot afford to compromise on customer support, so they have to go the pragmatic way, and
  2. there’s a lot about newest web technologies we can share with them too!

So when they asked me to talk about Web Components I opted to frame it in the most pragmatic way too: how to use them without shooting yourself in the foot, so you can start working in a more modular way and taking in all those advantages.

I asked before starting and from an audience of… 300? 400 people? approximately 20 had heard about Web Components and about 10? had implemented them in a project. So I ran a quick introduction on what they were, why they were developed and how they looked like, before tackling them interoperating with the four main “frameworks”: jQuery, React, Ember and Angular.

A write up on the results of my research is upcoming, but in the meantime you can look at the slides if you’re so inclined. Be aware that something in Nightly was crashing with the slides at the time I presented, so if your browser crashes (including Nightly for Android)… you know why ;-)

The talks I watched:

Addy Osmani gave an excellent talk on the state of Chrome’s developer tools and then explained how their team identified performance issues on Wikipedia, and how to fix them (this was related to Paul Irish advising people to not to use jQuery’s hide() method). Also, Paul is sorry for tweeting that without the proper context.

Natasha Rooney explained what Service Workers were and what problems they were meant to solve, but I am afraid if you had not a bit of background it would be a little bit confusing as the topic is *complex*.

Andy Hume explained various techniques on how to deliver fast experiences specially on mobile.

Alex Sexton infused us with a bit of South-West American culture and told us about don’t mess with Texas, then tried to find an equivalent for the web (don’t mess for the web?) with regards to hacking/building websites that cannot be hacked.

Jenn Schiffer explained all about vart.institute* and how it came to be. Also provided multiple screenshots of Dave Methvin keynoting at various jQuery events, which was quite amusing. And invited us to feel more empathy for people in the industry, which is a good thing if you ask me. *you can read it as fart and feel silly and it would also be totally OK

Estelle Weyl gave a very interesting talk on how to use forms and take advantage of all the cool features that browsers are already providing us but some people opt to rewrite in clumsy ways that go against all accessibility and usability best practices.

Ben Foxall did one of his shows (at this point we should call those a performance rather than giving a talk) where he involved everyone on the audience and elevated our phones from mere “phones” to interactive objects or “things” that transcend the simplest notion of “phone”.

I’m sorry I couldn’t watch the rest of talks, but it was great to meet Alice Bartlett, Rosie Campbell, Anne-Gaelle Colom, Rich Harris, Philip Roberts, David Rousset, and of course, Bodil Stokke!

After the last talk finished, we moved to the larger ‘hall’ style space where there were some snacks and drinks and people could mingle and ask questions if they hadn’t had the chance yet, so that was way better for me than going to a crammed pub, as I could walk between groups and speak to different people and not YELL ALL THE TIME. There were also some stands and also RETRO GAMES but I started talking to people and forgot to check out the games. AAAAH! Funny moment: Mike MacCana getting super excited about how he could help them setup multiplayer in DOOM using IPX.

All in all a very interesting conference for people who build websites and are willing to improve their practices or tooling… or both! I definitely learnt a bunch of things, so highly recommend checking it out next year!