Archive: November, 2012

Responsive cat

Cute idea. Be sure to stretch your browser from a narrow to wide position to get the big payoff.

Responsive design’s dirty little secret

Web developer John Albin Wilkins on rounding errors in fluid grids:

I put errors in quotes, because the issue actually has to do with the CSS spec. It doesn’t specify how browser vendors should deal with percentages that contain decimal place precision. For example, with a 6 column grid, each column is 100% ÷ 6 = 16.666667% wide. On a 1000 pixel wide viewport (which I’ve conveniently picked to make our math easier), that calculates to 166.66667 pixels per column. Since the spec gives no guidelines, browser vendors are free to make their own rules.

I’ve learned this problem the hard way several times. It’s a frustrating problem, but John goes on to list several great remedies: adaptive (break point)based design, the CSS border-box element and container-relative floats.

Viewport resizer

There are several bookmarklets out there that can do a simple change of your viewport to match the size of common mobile devices, but I’ve never seen it in as slick a package as what Viewport Resizer offers. You can customize the bookmarket to only include the viewport sizes you chose and jump between portrait and landscape views with a single click. It works great on local development files and, while I haven’t directly tested it, is touch friendly as well.

Font custom

Cross browser, flexible custom icon web fonts. Just throw your SVG files in a subdirectory, run a command line prompt and you’re good to go. I haven’t directly tested this myself, but this could be a very useful tool.

Films dispense with storytelling conventions

New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis:

Once upon a movie time you went to a film, and after it played on the circuit, it disappeared, perhaps showing up later on television. Home video changed our relationship with movies — suddenly we could watch a title when we wanted as many times as we wanted — a relationship that shifted further with the introduction of DVD, which gave viewers even more and possibly deeper ways into a film with special features, directors’ cuts and hidden jokes and clues called Easter eggs. This new film-audience relationship may help account for the emergence of these new, complex narratives.

The article highlights a pretty fascinating trend in “A list”, mainstream movies that implement more unorthodox plotting and screenplays. I doubt as little as a year ago I’d see a film like The Master playing wide in a blockbuster theater chain.

GamesBeat discusses first-person shooters with a vet

U.S. Army sergeant Dave Mull on what games like Call of Duty don’t get right:

A lot of times it’s simple things like nomenclature, the positioning of equipment, or a feature on the rifle. I remember Counterstrike used to have the M4 eject on the wrong side so there would be more interesting things occurring on the screen when you fired. Also, you have the realism aspects: There’s almost never any calculation for bullet drop or ambient wind, and dropped weapons and magazines are magically full when the player walks over them to pick them up.I happened to notice in the opening [of Call of Duty Black Ops 2], Frank Woods rambling about a C-130, but the plane that was shown had a high tail and a body more like a C-17 Globemaster … just with turboprops.

In defense of descendant selectors and id elements

Jeffrey Zeldman:

Say it with me: There is nothing wrong with id when it is used appropriately (semantically, structurally, sparingly). There is plenty wrong with the notion that class is always preferable to descendant selectors and semantic, structural ids.

Pretty hard to argue with one of the web godfathers on this one.

Over the top: the new war for TV is just beginning

The Verge’s Nilay Patel:

The final moments in the battle to replace the cable box will be easy to recognize — it’s when you can simply flip on an Apple TV or a PS3 or a Roku box and it’s already playing something. It’s when the streaming services start making choices for you — choices that up until now have been made by network executives acting on a hunch and a prayer. Netflix’s recommendation engine is great at showing things you might want to start watching, but imagine if Netflix was just already playing your own personal Mad Men marathon when you flipped on the TV. Or if your Xbox was smart enough to know that you’d be watching the Nets game if you only knew it was on.

Very smart article. Nilay really outdid himself with his writing here.

Donkey Kong vs. the world

Nice reporting and interview work by Wired writer Chris Kohler with Nintendo heads on the eve of the big Wii U launch. More than any other part of the article, this statement by Miyamoto gave me pause:

Nintendo unveiled Wii U at E3 last year. At this year’s show, Microsoft showed off a similar concept called SmartGlass, by which users could interact with their Xbox 360 using a tablet or phone. Miyamoto took the announcement as the sincerest form of flattery. “We’re seeing the emulation [of our ideas] occur very quickly, which if anything tells us they know this is a good idea,” he said.

I think Nintendo is missing the boat here. SmartGlass wasn’t imitation of Wii U, instead more of a reaction to the tablet explosion spearheaded by the iPad. Based on early reactions on how weak the touch screen responsiveness is on the Wii U controller, I’m worried Nintendo will let down a lot of people’s expectations.

Death march: the long, tortured journey of Homefront

I think almost any objective reviewed agreed the THQ first person shooter Homefront was a mess. But why? Polygon reporter Rob Zacny digs deep and uncovers a lot of problems with the game’s AAA development process:

It might have been too late to truly set Homefront apart from Call of Duty, but that didn’t stop upper management from belatedly trying to match it in terms of spectacle….Intimidated by Modern Warfare 2, senior managers started going back over Homefront asking, “How exciting is this moment? How can we dial it up to 11?”

What frustrated directors and producers about the eleventh hour revisions was that they meant misery for the lower-level developers who would have to implement all these changes. If THQ and Kaos’ senior management were going to throw out two years’ worth of preproduction and development, then a long, brutal crunch was all but inevitable.