I was a busy writing beaver the past month! I wrote an article for the wonderful 24ways about taking your code out of the browser and onto the streets. It was a nod towards thinking outside the box with web shinanigans as it isn't just about websites anymore.
I made a Portable Vj Pack (PVP) and took it around the streets of Bristol. It was great fun!
I answered angony aunt style questions about MIDI, a subject I'm extremely passionate about at the moment and you'll probably see some more musings on around here. Go check it out - MIDI is waaayy more than you think!
You may have noticed it’s been a bit quiet around here lately. You’d be right, I haven’t written much for a while now, there’s a reason for that. The reason, I've been sick.
It’s hard to put it like that, mental health illnesses are invisible illnesses to so many, with no physical signs, most people (even those close) would probably not even suggest I was sick. For me to even put that label on it is hard and kinda weird, but looking back over this summer, looking back at all the assessments, doctors appointments, occupational health phone calls and talks with my councillor, yes I was most definitely not well.
I'm currently doing a Wordpress -> Middleman shuffle for our team blog at work. This came from a review of all our infrastructure and where we could do some cost cutting. We decided to decommission the Wordpress site, as the content was primarily flat, (just blog posts), and we could host that for free on Github pages.
Most of the build was pretty straight forward. As a quick run down I chose to use middleman as I was already familiar with it, I added the middleman-blog and middleman-deploy gems to make my life easier and translated all the posts to markdown using the wp2middleman command line tool. There are plenty of good tutorials out there that run you through this.
When it came to transferring over the media it became important to me to keep the size of the images down to a minimum. Page weights are getting heavier these days (imo) unnecessarily. So when asking in the wonderful Front End London Slack about what I could use for batch image compression I received the following responses:
TLDR; I crocheted a rose, a couple of rows of which contained wire, I then sewed LEDs on the rose in a parallel circuit. This post describes how I made it flash when someone tweets with a specified string, head down to the bottom of the post if you don't care about the code, there's a cool video :)
What I want to happen, now I have a rose which lights up, its to have it flash any time anyone tweets with a string I specify. (The idea came from my workplace, as O2 sponsor the England rugby team, the rose is the English rose and the hash tag to look out for was one O2 was promoting - #WearTheRose).
Along with the rose, I needed an Arduino (I used an Arduino UNO), a script that looked for tweets containing the string I specified and broadcasted them to an Arduino script, which turned the LEDs on when triggered.
I like to think I'm comfortable with new technology, that I'm a woman who embraces new exciting developments in the world around her. I almost grew up online, dad always made sure there was a computer in the house and I thank him for that, because if it wasn't for the BBC there wouldn't have been any Chuckie Egg (imagine a world without Chuckie Egg, not even). I had one of the Motorola bricks at college and finally my own HP Desktop computer at university with shiny shiny windows 2000.
I always want to urge people to try new things, new things can be better, worried that those that are 'happy with what they have' could be missing out on better processes, saving time, seeing more awesome.
But today, today I saw the other side. Today I got a new sewing machine.
This isn't my typical way of working these days. User experience & flow, UI & wireframing, design, mark up, styling and interactivity are all very iterative to me. They don't come in a waterfall sequential order anymore. Working in a lab team, I concentrate on seeing whether an idea, product or technology to solve a problem is useful, before it goes into production, so I usually prioritise content, UX flow and interactivity, before a finished perfectly styled site or app.
Don't get me wrong, I do think styling is important, I just have to weigh up priorities with time constraints. I also built some starter files (more about these later) to help me along the way with styling, so it doesn't fall by the wayside entirely.
I know a lot of you out there are already aware of this and to you it will seem obvious, however, I've found myself giving this tip a few times over the past couple of weeks, so think it's worth quickly noting.