Welcome Laszlo

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Laszlo, two days after being born

TL;DR: Today we welcome Laszlo Smith Boston into this crazy world. Born on August 16, 2014 at 4:59am and weighing in at a monstrous 10 pounds, 8 ounces. Our little giant is 21.75 inches tall.

She's got the look

Heath woke me up at 2am, naked and soaking wet: I think I'm really gonna need your help now babe. She had that look in her eyes—the I'm Going To Have This Baby On The Floor Right Now look. She headed back to the shower while I tried to convince my body to move.

The shower curtain was wide open, water all over the floor, and an explosion of clothing littered the bathroom. Through the steam she moaned something about water breaking for real this time and contractions.

How far apart are they? How long? She produced her phone from somewhere within the shower, pushed it toward me, and slurred a look on this. Her contraction timer app was on the screen with about two hours of logs.

After looking at it for a moment I realized (in my outside-of-my-head voice): These contractions are about two minutes long and four minutes apart! For about an hour now. Shit babe, we gotta go or you're gonna have this kid on the floor!

Triage One

We're at the hospital by 2:45. First words out of my mouth are She's in active labor, two minutes long, four minutes apart. This is our second kid, first one came fast. Let's do this. The doors swung open and we headed right to Triage One.

About as soon as we got to Triage One (30 steps or so) Heath went into the Sweating and Standing phase. That's when Nurse One showed up. Nurse One did not understand the hurry we were in, even after I clearly informed her. As per protocol she insisted Heath lay down to be monitored. Heath did not comply. She attempted the intake questions. Heath did not comply. She finally gave up and asked if she should check to see how far along Heath was. Heath complied... but only long enough to get a quick fist to the cervix and a stealthy fetal monitor hook up.

Ha ha. As soon as Nurse One left to go do stuff Heath jumped out of the bed, ripped the cables out of the monitor and proclaimed I have to go pee! I protested, pointing out that she had not fully disconnected herself, but it was clear she was going regardless, so I finished the job. And that took us right into the Sweating More and Still Standing But Now It's Time For an Epideral and Moaning phase.

Exorcism Logistics

Girl is clippin' along pretty quick and began to make it clear that she needed an epidural stat. The reality, however, is that this is sort of a logistical nightmare. For one, epidurals require an IV. Getting an IV requires being still for a moment and/or laying in bed to make things easier. Heath is in active labor and she is not one who likes to sit around during this process. Two, it's damn near impossible to hop into bed so someone can stab you with a needle when your contractions won't stop.

Nurse One was soon assisted by and eventually replaced by Nurse Two, who did eventually manage to get the IV going, albeit barely.

Anyway, from my perspective it looked more like an exorcism. Shit was hitting the fan as we headed straight into God Dammit Give Me An Epi-fucking-deral and Screaming phase.

Delivery room

Hooray for Nurse Three, who shall henceforth be known as Hero Nurse. Hero Nurse calmed us down, got us to the delivery room, set up a new IV, and manually ensured its quick and complete delivery into the bloodstream.

And then we met our new best friend, The Anesthesiologist. Yay. His job is to see us through the God Dammit Give Me An Epi-fucking-deral and Screaming phase by actually pumping Heath full of happy juice.

First step: get her on the edge of the bed and hoist her into the air (because he's tall, and this is precision shit). Step two: get her all cleaned up and ready to receive the Gift of Calm and Tinglies. Step three: oh god she's having a contraction and throwing herself forward onto me.

And then it happens. She makes solid eye contact with Random Helpful Nurse and screams out I have to push! I'm going to push right now! Shit just got real.

Time to push

Let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we? I am supporting the full weight of my pregnant screamimg spouse while Our Best Friend the Anesthesiologist is doing everything he can to stab her with happy juice and fix this shit when it becomes Time To Push. You cannot make this shit up.

Our Best Friend the Anesthesiologist performs magic and places the epidural. The nurses get her on her back. We lose the epidural thingy and can't find it. We search and find it under her. Then finally, the Gift of Calm and Tinglies is on its way. That's when hero nurse let's me know we are really for realz at 10cm and the baby really actually is ready to come out. Neat.

Over the next 10 minutes the epidural takes the edge off a bit and Heath calms down. I go pee and put on some music, then take a quick video. The doctor shows up, says let's push! and we're done at 4:59am. Two hours and 15 minutes from when we arrived.

And then we all have a good laugh when we find out that Laszlo Smith Boston is 10 and a half pounds. Heath is one tough cookie.


Blueprint CSS Architect is gone

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Blueprint CSS Architect was a drag and drop website layout generator that used a semantic approach to Blueprint CSS grids. I released it in January of 2008 and continued to hack on it into 2009. It was featured on Smashing Magazine, and has been on the list of Blueprint Tools and Resources since at least 2010. It was a really cool app at the time.

As SASS (and other tools) started growing in popularity it became a ton easier to use semantic grids. Eventually I quit working on the project and it slowly went away. Except that I never really mentioned that to anyone. I suppose I didn't really think many people were using it. Oddly, it still generates a lot of traffic here, so I thought I'd clear it up. Blueprint CSS Architect is gone.

I don't use Blueprint CSS anymore but it has been super influential on my approach to CSS. The number one thing it ingrained in me, and the thing it did best1 was the typographical/vertical grid. Everyone focuses on the left to right stuff, but hardly anyone touches the up and down stuff. IMO when you nail the vertical rhythm your design immediately benefits. I've never stopped using that approach. :clap:


  1. In my mind, apart from horizontal columns/grids 


Blogs are anthologies

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I was reading Mandy Brown's thoughts on the anthology1 when it occurred to me that blogs are essentially anthologies:

A better comparison would be to align reading on screen with reading an anthology. Both involve a selection of readings—not one text, but many. Both envision a connection among the texts...And both revel in the excerpt.

Here she's making an argument about comparing novel-reading to screen-reading, but I think that her point is just as applicable to blogs specifically.

In fact, even the actual definition of anthologyA collection of selected literary pieces or passages or works of art or music.—is inline with this idea.

Blogs are of course presented differently: they are more emergent than curated—meaning blogs almost universally arrange content in reverse chronological order, and the next text to appear may have no connection at all with the previous text. However, the blog-as-anthology idea really starts to show up in other ways.

Take, for example, categories. Categories are also almost universal among blogs. Typically, a category is hand-selected by the author for a given work. From a different angle, a selected work is specifically chosen to appear in a collection of works which all have a related topic. Sounds a lot like an anthology to me.

Many times posts themselves are the anthology, where the relationships between works unfold throughout the post (and even play into an even bigger anthology). For example, a post about the wonderful places the author has hiked, each of which are a link to a post about hiking that location, all of which are contained within the larger anthology (the blog itself) about the great outdoors.

When you start to think about it that way, blogs have a huge advantage over the traditional collections: they don't have to end. The author can choose to expand the collection at any time, increasing the depth and meaning of the grander story with each new post. And in time, that story may take on an incredibly new and different life of its own.

Since The Revival I've had the thought that I would take things in this direction. All of the fun stories, bigoted statements, controversial thoughts, and proud moments are all there waiting to be explained, re-interpreted, and remixed into the bigger story. Can't wait to see where things go!


  1. By way of Gardens not Graves 


Opinions and meritocracy

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I like Patrick Stoke's take on being entitled to an opinion:

So what does it mean to be “entitled” to an opinion?

If “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion” just means no-one has the right to stop people thinking and saying whatever they want, then the statement is true, but fairly trivial. No one can stop you saying that vaccines cause autism, no matter how many times that claim has been disproven.

But if ‘entitled to an opinion’ means ‘entitled to have your views treated as serious candidates for the truth’ then it’s pretty clearly false. And this too is a distinction that tends to get blurred.

So how do we decide whose views to give credence? I vote for meritocracy.1 In other words: a person's level of knowledge or experience in a given area is proportional to how much consideration their opinion should be given in that area.

But what do I know?


  1. You can see where this is going: I'm no expert so my opinion on this topic should be given a sum total of ZERO consideration. 


The revival

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In late 2009 I killed dBlogIt. The domain stayed up but all 650+ posts were mowed to the ground as I buckled under the heavy load of separation and divorce. I made a hasty backup, capturing the database only, but left the rest to rot. I dealt the final blow when I deleted the images and files forever.

I had lived my life online for over a decade, but when shit hit the fan I felt like I needed to bury that life. And I did bury it. And I had unknowingly buried my most treasured form of self-expression with it.

Eventually "the thrash" set in. I'd post a thing. Then I'd delete the thing. I'd change direction, redesign, then re-evaluate its purpose with fire. My inner self wanted to come out, yet over and over again I'd drown it. Until finally it lay still and lifeless.

Self-expression

I don't remember how I got interested in blogging. Probably Steve. However it happened, it just happened. Nobody had to convince me. There was no sales pitch. It was new and cool and fun and I loved it. And then it was gone...

There's this great article I read called The power of your writing. Winnie, the author, was all like:

The point of writing is self-expression

And that really got me thinking about how I don't write anymore.

Then she and the commenters started talking about how writing and sharing is honoring yourself and your experiences, and the world around you, and your place in it. I had never thought about that before. At this point I started thinking that one way to honor myself would be to put up all my old blog posts and start writing again.

Shortly thereafter, I learned that self-expression is like a light: when you turn a light off, the whole room gets dark. And so it is with the self: when one part is switched off, the whole self suffers.

Revival

Blogging is one of the truest forms of self-expression I have ever had. When I realized that I had buried such an integral part of me, and acknowledged how much I missed it, something a little bit magical sort of happened: I began to search for that old database backup. And I found it. And then I just started working on getting it back. In fact, I've been obsessed with reclaiming this lost part of me.

Last night I made the whole thing live again. Every post I have ever published since I started blogging on October 22, 2002. It's imperfect, and it shows my imperfections. Some parts of it are badly broken. In time I will bring them back to good health. For now though, I'm just happy they're back.


There's money to be had in letting go

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So there's this trend. I will call it 80's Revival Shit That Makes No Sense. It's fueled by bright, fully saturated colors; fucking keytars, sythesizers and reverb-laden drum beats; people with blown out or chopped off hair, dressed as animals; random shit. They have something to say; I swear they do; some deeper meaning is buried within the flashing images. Maybe there's a message in the madness. Maybe the message is the madness.

Maybe we're all like, "Fuck it." Maybe we're bored of putting the corporate edge on all the same shit: the perfectly legible, yet not too trendy font face; the shades of gray; the vectorized logos which prevent pixelation and unwanted aliasing; the boxes; the heirarchy of content headings and paragraphs; perfectly placed bullet points; copy that is is edited and A/B tested to maximize conversions to pull a higher profit margin.

    cut through the bullshit.
  allow chaos for long enough to get everyone's attention. 
    flood out all the perfectly researched, consumer-tested
          noise.

Maybe the madness is the message.

So we let the words fall off the screen; forget the font; don't perfectly place everything; don't edit ourselves; fight that urge, that need to self correct; forget the rules; the boundaries; the best practices; don't consider the audience; or the legacy. Embrace this craziness; think only about this; these words; right now; this moment.

For a brief moment, maybe I'll put down the camera; stop the video; close the browser; turn off the other screen; put my phone in my pocket; silence it, not just put it on vibrate, but take out the fucking battery; put on headphones but don't play any music; isten to the ringing in my ears; the air conditioner running in the background; the paint on the wall; the faint sound of music in the next room over; the smell of old coffee; the cursor flashing on the screen... and just wait


Permanence

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The breeze gets colder
and rustles dead leaves from trees
404—Not Found


How to convert your CoffeeScript project to Literate style in about 30 minutes

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CoffeeScript 1.5 brings with it the ability to use Literate style programming. This is an incredibly human way to treat code. Not everybody will like it, but those who do will be happy to know that it's relatively simple to convert your existing project to use the literate style in 30 minutes or less. Here's how I did it (in order). BTW , make sure to read through to the end where I outline my assumptions.

Replace existing code blocks with blockquoted code blocks

find . -type f \( -name "*.coffee" \) | xargs sed -i 's/#\s\s\s\s\s/# >    /g'

Add four spaces to the beginning of every coffee file

find . -type f \( -name "*.coffee" \) | xargs sed -i 's/^/    /g'

Remove preceeding spaces and # symbols from single line comments

find . -type f \( -name "*.coffee" \) | xargs sed -i 's/^\s*#\s//g'

Replace lines that are only made up of # symbols with an empty line

find . -type f \( -name "*.coffee" \) | xargs sed -i 's/^[ \t]*#\{1,3\}//g'

Replace lines that are ony made up of spaces with an empty line

find . -type f \( -name "*.coffee" \) | xargs sed -i 's/^\s*$//g'

Rename all coffee files to litcoffee

find . -type f \( -name "*.coffee" \) -exec rename -v 's/\.coffee$/.litcoffee/' {} \;

Compile litcoffee files

coffee --compile ./

Bonus: SVN Remove all coffee files

svn st | grep ^! | awk '{print $2}' | xargs svn delete

My assumptions are that you do not use any block comments (###) and that you do not have any lines that comment out code e.g. # foo = 'bar'. While these will just get turned into regular text it's probably a good idea to quickly look through your litcoffee files to make sure that things aren't messed up. This is especially true if you have block commented out code. In that case you will probably end up with blocks of code that will actually get parsed and break stuff.


Complete Convergence

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I am absolutely shitting myself over the the announcement from Canonical that they will be releasing Ubuntu for phones. Ubuntu for phones is a truly revolutionary convergence of mobile, desktop, and large screen devices. Mark Shuttleworth describes it perfectly:

Today there many different devices for personal computing: laptops, tablets, smartphones—and we use completely different interfaces for them, even when they come from the same company. Now that seems a little bizarre when you consider that all of these different devices are just different faces of the same thing. You have apps, you have content, contacts, and messages, and you need to access them in a way that suits your situation. That's why we set out to create something completely new. A family of interfaces for each of these devices. Individually great in their own right, and also coherent as a group.

One OS, multiple expressions

My assumption here is it will work just like Ubuntu for Android:

  • Your phone runs Ubuntu, so you can do all the things you would do on a desktop but with an interface that is designed specifically for small-screen devices.
  • You can plug it into your desktop computer and continue to work and play just as you would normally---with a mouse, keyboard, and monitor, but powered by your phone.

There's a cute video about Ubuntu for Android, and there's a real-life demo that help to explain the concept.

The difference between Ubuntu for Android and Ubuntu for Phones is that the former is just Ubuntu as we know it, but on a phone. Ubuntu for Phones, on the other hand, is still Ubuntu but with a beautiful, phone-centric interface.

Privacy and portability

My biggest issues with computing have always been privacy and portability. Unfortunately, I've had to compromise on privacy to achieve portability. This mostly means that I end up using a lot of web-based services for things that I would typically want to keep private, such as email and passwords.

In an ideal world, I could use a desktop app at work, on the road, and at home without ever going on the web, and without having to sync my devices. In reality that syncing process gets really fucked up. I end up emailing myself backups and importing on whatever device I'm working on, or something gets viewed on one computer but becomes unavailable on another. Ubuntu's new take on personal computing appears to marry the best of both worlds, removing the need for syncing and allowing you to be selective about what you put in the cloud.

Commercial Viability

The downside is that there aren't any takers yet, and Ubuntu needs full support from carriers and manufacturers to move forward. The upside is that a version of Ubuntu for Phones that runs on the Galaxy Nexus is going to be released in the next few weeks.

Let's be honest: a commercially-available Ubuntu phone may never see the light of day, even with Ubuntu's relationship with Dell. But I bet we're going to see a run on Nexus' in the next few weeks.


New Book By Nicholas Zakas: Principles of Object-Oriented Programming in JavaScript

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I got super excited today when I found out that Nicholas Zakas is publishing a new book. Partly because I love the topic and partly because it's really cool how he's going about it1.

Even though I've been doing OOP for some time, I still find myself questioning what I've done when it comes to JavaScript. Something about dynamic languages throws me off and I get really sloppy—It's like JavaScript pulls me into some parallel dimension where I just throw a bunch of unrelated shit into an object and call it good. In the end I have this, thing, with a bunch of semi-related utility functions, but no real objects in the OOP sense of the word. So yeah, as soon as I saw the title I knew it was a must read.

But what I think really did me in was Zakas' transparency about the whole thing: self-publishing and the extra effort required to do so; the separate formats he wanted to support (yay .mobi!); the fact that it was written in markdown (!); the beta process and updates to final copy; and the pricing structure. Seriously how cool is it that you can pay what you like (within a certain range), and see how much he's making off each copy sold.

The whole thing is just plain cool. And oh, by the way… it would probably make a great Christmas present (hint, hint).


  1. And partly because he's got some very smart shit to say, and partly because his work has been influential in a project I've been contributing to, and everything like such as etc.