Archive: January, 2014

On interviewing front-end engineers

Front end developer and author Nicholas Zakas:

The things I look for in a front-end engineer have little to do with traditional computer science concepts. I’ve written before about what makes a good front-end engineer and how to interview front-end engineers, and generally I still agree with everything I wrote in those articles. I want enthusiasm and passion for the web, and understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and more importantly, how to use them together to create a solution to a problem.


Responsive image solutions are still clearly a work in progress. The BBC News throws out their suggestion. Not fully crazy about their syntax given how different it is from srcset and src-n but I’m curious to see how it works in action.


We’ve all been there: you’ve been adding to your CSS but iterations later there’s plenty of unused selectors junking up your files. You need grunt-uncss, a Grunt task to strip unused CSS from your projects. It’s arguably best for smaller projects, because if you’re not careful with keeping your Gruntfile with proper source html files you could have a mess on your hands.

The Coen canon

The Coen brothers are, in my opinion, the most consistently strong directing force in cinema today. There are misfires like The Ladykillers and (arguably) Intolerable Cruelty, but the rest of their output ranges from very good to great. It’s especially incredible when you consider their range, from surreal farces to noir thrillers and westerns.

That genre hopping is exactly why Nelson Caravajal’s latest Press Play essay on the brothers’ output is so interesting; anyone who’s seen their works is probably familiar with many of the scenes, but the way Caravajal edits them together, you can see thematic links among the material.

The builder’s high

Michael Lopp, writing in his Rands in Repose blog:

This New Year, I wish you more blank slates. May you have more blank white pages sitting in front you with your favorite pen nearby and at the ready. May you have blank screens in your code editor with your absolutely favorite color syntax highlighting. May your garage work table be empty save for a single large piece of reclaimed redwood and a saw.

Turn off those notifications, turn your phone over, turn on your favorite music, stare at your blank slate and consider what you might build.

Ubisoft and the evolution of second screen gaming

Emanuel Maiberg over at Kill Screen talks to Ubisoft about their commitment to “companion apps” for smart devices on their big AAA games like Assassin’s Creed 4. I came into the whole concept pretty skeptical, but admittedly seeing a full, real time AC4 map on my iPad as I’m gaming on the PS4 is pretty cool. Far from revolutionary, but it’s a nice touch. Looks like Ubisoft is in it for the long haul:

In fact, Early said Ubisoft’s so committed to the companion app concept that any game being pitched today within the company has to describe its companion app before it’s greenlit.

Easing functions cheat sheet

As a front end developer I find myself tweaking easing functions a lot, especially when I’m fine tuning web UI before launch. There’s no substitution for testing the final product but this easing function cheat sheet gives you a nice starting point. Besides, it’s virtually impossible to remember the animation details between many easing functions like easeOutBounce and easeInOutBounce.

Fonts have feelings too

Mikael Cho writing at Medium:

I came across a study by psychologist Kevin Larson. Larson has spent his career researching typefaces and recently conducted a landmark study at MIT about how font and layout affect our emotions.

In the study, 20 volunteers- half men and half women- were separated into two groups. Each group was shown a separate version of The New Yorker- one where the image placement, font, and layout were designed well and one where the layout was designed poorly.

The researchers found that readers felt bad while reading the poorly designed layout.

Good design and good typography are more than just fluff. They make us happier.

CES: it’s mostly bullshit

I’ve been a fan of Will Smith and the whole Tested crew for a while. And Will tells it exactly like it is from his first day on the CES show floor:

It’s an endemic problem at this show–the vast majority of products being shown here are absolute garbage. I’m talking about products that no one in their right mind could want.

Open current Safari tab in Chrome

I use Safari as my primary browser with Flash disabled. But occasionally I’ll run into a site with Flash enhancements or video which is better run in Chrome, which has full Flash support. Before Alfred 2 I’d just manually copy my current URL and paste it in Chrome, but this relatively simple workflow makes it a lot easier. Now I just fire up the Alfred launcher and start typing ‘openinchrome’. After a few keystrokes it’s ready to go.

You can also read the original thread on Alfred Forums where there’s several similar workflow alternatives.