Archive: April, 2013

Google Search inline results Alfred workflow

Even with a split second pause for the Ruby based gem to kick in, it’s awesome typing ‘gs’ into Alfred and getting back inline Google results. Author Aviv Kiss notes its a “hacky attempt”, but for version 1.0 it’s smart workflow, one that makes me optimistic on more complex upcoming Alfred workflows.

Sleep: everything you need to know

Really interesting article by self-described fitness geek Maroun Najjar. There are insights on differences between light, deep and REM sleep, caffeine, napping and more. It’s a pretty quick read but I learned a lot.

Learning to (re)love Tom Cruise

Taffy Brodesser-Akner, writing for The New York Times:

Why did he turn into an action star at all?…with each of his three Oscar nominations, there was a sense that he was achieving great things despite the hindrance of his handsomeness. “Can you believe that Tom Cruise was nominated?” Like he had to overcome a great handicap.

So maybe it makes perfect sense that he leapt into action films and thrillers, with the rare foray into something like “Lions for Lambs” or “Rock of Ages.” Finally, here was a genre where his good looks didn’t require explanation, were not presented as an impediment, where he didn’t have to worry about being too pretty for the position…

More than that, here was a genre in which he could outdo anyone.

As much as Tom Cruise’s presence in many movies can drive me crazy, the man’s work ethic is undeniable. From the Mission: Impossible franchise to Minority Report, Cruise’s skill as an action star elevates many of his choices from merely watchable to enjoyable.

Paul Irish on web application development workflow

An hour long talk by Google web developer and evangelist Paul Irish at a recent HTML5 developer conference. Some great tools and ideas here, from shell customization to SSH and Chrome DevTools tricks.


This is a pretty brilliant tool for anyone maintaining larger sets of CSS. The little Ruby gem parses any passed in CSS files and finds duplicated rule sets. I’d recommend using it with the -n flag to only include duplications with a minimum number of matches (in the case of my current day job, eight or more.) The savings were significant: after some cleanup I saved several hundred lines of CSS, a big win for performance and organization.


Developer and CSS Wizardry writer Harry Roberts:

The problem with leaving hacks and nasty code is obvious; it’s hacky and nasty. However, other problems with leaving this code can arise…The first bits of bad code set a precedent and make subsequent developers feel less bad about using poor code themselves. It was like that when I got here! Give developers a clean slate and they’ll really think twice about messing it all up.

What is needed is a way of allowing these hacks when necessary, but making sure that they don’t go unnoticed and unresolved.

There has been some controversy online about this, but I actually think Harry’s suggestion of a separate file to isolate and focus on crappy CSS to be refactored later is really smart. I might give it a try in an upcoming side project.

Ad-blockers, the games press, and why sexy cosplay galleries lead to better reporting

Ben Kuchera writing at The Penny Arcade Report about the state of video game journalism:

This system sucks, and many writers and editors involved with the system know it sucks. The writers who are often asked to create these stories know it sucks. You think you hate to read shit, imagine having to create shit that you know will do way more business than a well-researched and thought out story on a topic you’re passionate about. Now imagine making a pitiful amount of money for both stories. Is it any wonder so many talented writers leave the business?

We talked about talented, older developers leaving game development, but the same thing happens to reporters. Few sites have the money to offer writers a full-time position, and even fewer offer benefits. It’s incredibly hard to spend the years building up the contacts, expertise, and skill it takes to report a story well when there is no money in doing so, and it makes more business sense to simply re-write an existing story or go with that cosplay gallery.

It’s rare to get such a frank look at ad buys and the importance of clicks per article. It leaves you pretty cynical on the whole situation, which is why Ben’s suggestion of a business driven directly by reader subscriptions could make sense.

Metacritic matters: how review scores hurt video games

Kotaku‘s Jason Schreier:

For one, people are gaming the system. On both sides of the aisle.

There’s the story of the mocked mock reviewer, for example. Some background: game publishers and developers often hire consultants or game critics to come into their offices, play early copies of games, and write up mock reviews that predict how those games will perform on Metacritic. Often, if possible, publishers and developers will make changes to their games based on what those mock reviews say. Mock reviewers are then ethically prohibited from writing consumer reviews of that game, as they have taken money from the publisher.

One developer–a high-ranking studio employee who we’ll call Ed–told me he hired someone to write a mock review, then threw that review in the shredder. Ed didn’t care what was inside. He just wanted to make sure the reviewer–a notoriously fickle scorer–couldn’t review his studio’s game. Ed knew that by eliminating at least that one potentially-negative review score from contention, he could skew the Metascore higher. Checkmate.

Metacritic is an invaluable resource to just casually get a first take opinion on a game. Yet it’s scary to see its effect here on the gaming industry.

It’s not a web app, it’s an app you install from the web

From the blog:

So why does it feel as if the average native app is so much better than the average web app?

The reason, I think, is this: it’s easy to make web pages. Anyone with a text editor and a browser can do it. You can learn the basics and actually publish a website in a weekend, as an amateur, without much trouble. Making a native iOS app, by contrast, is difficult and time consuming: you have to pay Apple $99; you have to download XCode and learn how to use it, along with a strange language called Objective-C; you have to create, sign, and upload certificates; you have to compile your code and figure out how to run it on your device; and you have to publish it for others to see, which requires navigating all the rules, regulations, and technical issues surrounding the App Store. All these things make for a large barrier to entry that just doesn’t exist on the web.

Working with flexbox

Developer Steven Bradley, writing for Adobe, put together one of the best overall introductions to the new flexbox CSS spec that I’ve seen. Rather than just jumping into code, Steven starts with a diagram on overall formatting and layout. It helped me visualize the basics a lot better than some of the canned demos that have floated around the internet lately.