All posts by sole

Art prompts

When friends and relatives learn that you like drawing, you inevitably get art presents. This adds up to the irresistible attraction that stationery and arts and crafts shops exert on me and results in a lot of unused art supplies.

I decided I’d make a drawing using a different kind of supply every day in order to put an end to this situation. Of course being a software developer I wrote a randomiser to choose two or more supplies from the list. And of course once you randomise a thing you can randomise more so I added “extras” and subject ideas.

So here’s my art prompts generator which will possibly only work for me as you don’t have the same supplies as I do. But… the source is here—fork away if you want to finish with your unused art supplies! Or just press the ‘Get another prompt’ button! Eventually you’ll get something you can use.

I’m tracking the progress of my project in my new insta account: @artbysole

The best thing about this project is getting to use supplies I generally don’t gravitate to, and which I’m unfamiliar with. Which might result in “accidents”, as I do not know how to use them, be it on their own or combined with other potentially weird pairings. So far I have had just one fun accident–when I tried to apply fixative to a pastel and ball pen drawing and the fixative started dissolving the ball pen ink. Fun times!

Looking back at 2016

I didn’t write this before 2016 finished because, well, I was just so busy with celebrations and visits! But I figured it would be a good idea to look back and consider the achievements from last year before I get carried away by the new year.

Personal wise:

  • I’m very happy—I have a wonderful partner who’s kind, understanding, compassionate, clever, funny, and intelligent. We ‘get’ and care for each other. It’s great!
  • I’ve also taken up a martial art. I had started judo and aikido in the past but never continued because I kept getting hurt. This time it seems to stick as the gym is super welcoming and encouraging to women and people of all sorts. I’m still such a noob, but compared to myself a year ago I’m way stronger and flexible now, and my back aches are all gone. Also: there’s nothing like a punching bag to let steam off. I bet if more developers did it, we would have less debates on tabs vs spaces or any other irrelevant trivia 😏
  • I’ve biked and ran less—partly because I was close enough that I could walk to the office, and partly because I was tired the day after the gym! Also after the office move it takes a bit to find the new optimum routes, so I’ve taken the tube a few times…
  • I have also started to do meditation. I was curious about this for a long time, although I thought it would not work and often while doing it I think “this isn’t working” but I can tell you there is a difference between the days I do and do not do it (I am using a service called Headspace).
  • I learnt the basics of Italian! I now know enough to shyly order food and very slowly read normal books. Very exciting!
  • Finished a sketchbook I had started in October 2015. A good improvement from the previous sketchbook that took 3 years to finish! And I am back to drawing daily again.
  • I haven’t drank a Coke since June and… I really don’t miss it. As experiments I also stopped drinking coffee and alcohol for a month, but I do really like coffee, and the occasional good quality alcoholic drink. I’ve also learnt a bit more about alcoholic drinks, though not enough to be a total snob (yet), but I know more of what I like and why.

Work wise:

  • I worked on a lot of different topics: MediaRecorder, Let’s Encrypt, DevTools, Web Audio, the past and future of the Web, Servo… wrote lots of articles, and gave a lot of talks in many different countries. I also went to the Southern Hemisphere twice in different continents, which I didn’t expect to do at the beginning of the year. This was very gratifying but also very exhausting. I was glad that I…
  • moved to a different team, in a new role, and with a more “sedentary” profile. I’ve only been 3 months on this and I was still finishing tasks from the previous team, so I can’t talk much about it yet, but I’m very happy so far.
  • Also recorded a few podcasts and tutorials. These are fun—please contact me if you want to feature me!
  • And put in words what many women-colleagues and friends were thinking each time you asked us to talk at your conference, and Quartz asked for permission to republish, which I never anticipated.

Things I did for the first time:

  • Visited: Greece, Uruguay, Norway, Denmark (twice!), Thailand, Singapore
  • Drank Greek coffee (not my thing) and ginger tea (definitely my new favourite thing)
  • Tried orange wine (quite a strange thing), also sherry and port—I decided I like the sweetest varieties
  • Tried carne cruda in Italy (not my thing) and Uruguayan beef (truly my thing)
  • Used a lounge shower. It felt like absolute heaven after a long flight in which I was also cramping like there was no tomorrow. Oh, the joys of womanhood!
  • Tasted and learnt about proper balsamic vinegar in Modena.
  • Went to the opera in La Scala in Milan… dressed in heels! (!)
  • Tai chi, yoga and pilates… at 7 AM (!!!)
  • Experienced the English Christmas dinner with turkey and everything. Very yummy although I did miss the Spanish sweets. Mince pies are so not my thing.

Other highlights:

  • Walking on a low tide beach in Thailand and looking at all the lurking small animals and the distinctive vegetation
    • I saw a sea urchin!
    • Also: all things coconut while there. Coconut water, coconut soup, coconut dessert…!
  • The Pet Shop Boys concert in the Royal Opera House. Such a beautifully designed concert! So many hits! It was a party from beginning to end.
  • A visit to the Down Street disused tube station. Eerie!
  • The two trips to Italy, for pleasure, not work!
    • and there: the disused FIAT test/race track on top of the Lingotto building in Torino.
  • Visiting a fountain pen shop in Singapore where the very knowledgeable owners confided me with All The Tricks to using fountain pens while flying, All The Secrets about flexible nibs and also insisted on thoroughly cleaning my Lamy Safari which had almost exploded on my way to Singapore. Such nice people.
  • Wandering around Melbourne’s Fitzroy area when it was hot, finding an edgy indie boutique and having a nice talk with the designer-owner of the shop.

All in all it has been a very good year for me: I’m doing more of what I like and identifying things I do not like (in order to stop doing them) and discovering new things I like (but didn’t know about). So I’m… READY FOR 2017!!

Notes on JSConf Australia 2016

I spoke at JSConf Australia in Melbourne at the beginning of this month. Like in CSS Conf Australia, the videos haven’t been published individually yet, but the event was streamed live, and you can watch it again… and again… and again…

My brain got into one of those intensely obsessive focused moments pre-talk so I will admit I could barely pay attention to the talks prior to mine—I’m really sorry, specially because I heard so many good things about them!

These notes will be shorter because of that. Apologies if you were expecting a full conference review… but sometimes you cannot get everything you want! 😔

And now to the talks!

Jessica Lord: “Electron: A Tale of Two Processes”

This one was a really enlightening talk about Electron’s architecture. I had no idea it worked that way, and my assumptions were basically wrong. It was good to be shown the truth in an amicable way—like Jessica’s! I really enjoyed this talk and that’s big, considering it was right before mine!

Ruth John: “How to be a Web A/V Artist”

Ruth explained the secrets behind her “Web VJ*” set-up and also managed to produce an even smaller MIDI controller than the last time I spoke to her. It’s as if she kept getting Bluetooth miniatures!

She introduced some comedic elements into the talk but I’m not quite sure they worked for everyone… I felt some of the “funny samples” (like the Windows 9x error sounds) were lost on parts of the audience… that were younger than expected!

*Web VJ sounds so much like a new and upcoming API. Maybe… maybe… navigator.webvj.... 😏

Michaela Lehr: “An Introduction to WebVR”

She had an slightly different take on WebVR, which was really refreshing. She also mentioned things rarely mentioned such as the fact that VR can cause strong psychological and physiological responses on some people, and we need to be mindful of that when we design the new experiences in the web. If certain things are VR only, are we going to exclude some people this way?

Lena Reinhard: “Debugging the Tech Industry”

I have huge respect for Lena—she’s always delivering these immensely difficult talks. It’s hard to be the bearer of bad news. And there are plenty in tech!

Weeks after the talk, I’m still thinking about the message, and trying to come up with ways in which we can build tech that is not “accidentally” hostile to everyone who is not the creator of said tech.

Live.JS + Karaoke(.js?)

After the talks were done and we took the “family photo” and announcements were done, the room was cleared and Matt McKegg and Ruth John set up shop to have one of their Live.js events, like the one in Singapore.

I challenged Matt to “dubstepify” his act, which sort worked because his music is super improvisational.

Once they were done, an impetuous bunch of karaokers took up the stage and starting singing with lots of energy and heart and soul, but also lots of misplaced notes. I described this as “this is when the bar is closed, the last patrons get out and they really want to keep singing the last song the bar was playing, and so they keep singing it in the streets”…

This is when I left—and I was so tired anyway, I could barely stand on my feet, no energy left to listen to extremely eager karaokers—let alone join in the party 😜

Overall

Like CSS Conf, this was a really chill and enjoyable conference. I had again lots of interesting conversations–more so on this day because people had seen me speak, so they wanted to ask me questions or just discuss ideas they had had!

I also learnt a few things. All good stuff!

If you are ever faced with the possibility of submitting a proposal for this conference, don’t even think about it—do it! It was really lovely and well organised—I’m very glad I was invited to apply and my proposal was accepted!

Also: Melbourne is such an interesting city… lots of things to look at and explore, from street art to museums to neighbourhoods to just buildings, and of course great food and coffee, although I still can’t stop feeling so confused with “Jingle bells” playing on the background while signs for “Happy summer!” and “Merry Christmas” live side by side on the storefronts!

I feel like I’m missing out on the part of Australian culture that has warm reggae Christmas songs instead. If that doesn’t exist—it MUST be invented!

And this is the last installment of “notes on…” for this year, at least!

Notes on CSSConf Australia 2016

I attended CSSConf Australia in Melbourne on the 30th of November. A couple days ago, I wrote some generic notes about my experience in this conference and JSConf. This post covers specifically my notes for CSSConf.

The videos for the talks have not been published individually, but the conference was streamed live via YouTube, so you can watch the archived stream (you will have to “jump” to each talk):

And now, to my notes!
Continue reading Notes on CSSConf Australia 2016

Using the currentColor CSS keyword

I learnt about this CSS keyword via Glen Maddern’s talk at Cold Front in Copenhagen, back in September, and I was super astonished I hadn’t heard about it before! I guess I do too much JavaScript 😏

Anyway, it represents the current inherited color, so you can use it to create borders and backgrounds and things like that, matching the color of the element, but without actually writing it again! This can help in avoiding repetition and keeping the CSS more manageable, or in Glen’s use case, in writing more responsive components.

Given this HTML code:

<p id="thing">hello <span>world</span></p>

and this CSS code:

#thing {
  color: blue;
  font-size: 3rem;
}

#thing span {
  padding: 3px;
  background-color: white;
  box-shadow: 0px 0px 20px currentColor;
}

the color for the box-shadow in the #thing span will be blue, because it uses currentColor, which at that point has inherited blue from #thing. If we change the color of #thing to something else, we do not need to update the code for #thing span. Beautiful!

You could even use CSS variables to set a global colour variable that is used in the document, and currentColor will inherit values set with var. For example:

body {
  --thecolor: red;
}

#thing {
  color: var(--thecolor);
  font-size: 3rem;
}

#thing span {
  padding: 3px;
  background-color: white;
  box-shadow: 0px 0px 20px currentColor;
}

… renders the text red, and the box shadow is red as well.

Fantastic!

Unfortunately it seems like calc() doesn’t accept color units yet, which means we cannot do maths on the color values. Otherwise, we could do things such as what CSS pre-processors do, generating new colours using hsla functions, etc.