ProgrammableWebHack.Summit() Conference Tackles Inequality in Tech

Hack.Summit() is a virtual programming conference being held Dec. 1-4. It's already the largest virtual programming conference in the world, with more than 27,000 registrations, but ProgrammableWeb readers still have time to sign up and participate.

ProgrammableWebTransitions API for Chrome to Animate the Web

<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="346" src="" width="615"></iframe>

<figcaption>Google is looking to create an enhanced user experience via a Navigation Transitions API that provides seamless transitions in browsers and apps. The above video from Google's Chrome Dev Summit provides a sneak peak.</figcaption>

ProgrammableWebPrintchomp Print API Brings Scalable Print Functionality to Apps

Despite the rise of the digital age, print has stood its ground. Take the humble business card, for example, or 3-D prints, photo books and product labels, to name a few.

ProgrammableWebOptimal Payments Launches Developer Center and New APIs

Optimal Payments, a leading online and mobile payment processing services provider, has announced the launch of a Developer Center and a suite of REST-based APIs.

Amazon Web ServicesAWS Data Pipeline Update - Parameterized Templates

AWS Data Pipeline helps you to reliably process and move data between compute and storage services running either on AWS on on-premises. The pipelines that you create with Data Pipeline's graphical editor are scalable and fault tolerant, and can be scheduled to run at specific intervals. To learn more, read my launch post, The New AWS Data Pipeline.

New Parameterized Templates
Today we are making Data Pipeline easier to use by introducing support for parameterized templates, along with a library of templates for common use cases. You can now select a template from a drop-down menu, provide values for the specially marked parameters within the template, and launch the customized pipeline, all with a couple of clicks.

Let's start with a quick tour and then dig in to details. The Create Pipeline page of the AWS Management Console contains a new menu:

As you can see from the menu, you can access templates for jobs that use the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI), Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Elastic MapReduce, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), and Amazon Redshift. We plan to add more templates later and are open to your suggestions!

I chose Run an Elastic MapReduce job flow. Now all I need to do is to fill in the parameters for the job flow:

The "+" next to some of the parameters indicates that the template makes provision for an array of values for the parameter. Clicking on it will add an additional data entry field:

You can use these templates as a starting point by editing the pipeline before you activate it (You can download them from s3://datapipeline-us-east-1/templates/).

How it Works
Each template is a JSON file. Parameters are specified like this (this is similar to the syntax used by AWS CloudFormation):

           "id": "mys3OutputBucket",
           "description":"S3 output bucket",
           "default ":"s3://abc"

          "id" : "myobjectname"
          "type" : "String",
          "description" : "Object name"

Parameters can be of type String, Integer, or Double and can also be flagged as isArray to indicate that multiple values can be entered. Parameters can be marked as optional; the template can supply a default value and a list of acceptable values if desired.

The parameters are very useful for late binding of actual values. Organizations can identify best practices and encapsulate them in Data Pipeline templates for widespread use within and across teams and departments.

You can also use templates and parameters from the command line and the Data Pipeline API.

Available Now
This feature is available now and you can start using it today.

-- Jeff;

Daniel Glazman (Disruptive Innovations)Yosemite maximize/fullscreen button

The always remarkable Wladimir Palant has found a fix for the most annoying OS X "feature" ever, the change of behaviour of the window maximize button. In Yosemite, it now defaults to fullscreen and you have to press the Alt key to get the "classic" behaviour of window maximization. This is so painful all the people I know are currently asking how to reverse that. Given the very negative feedback, I'm pretty sure Apple will at some point in the future introduce a defaults allowing to reverse that from the command line, but for the time being we're all cursing in front of our Mac when we toggle an app fullscreen instead of maximizing it. Apple, read it well: One Does Not Change a 25 Years Old Behaviour; remember the Windows Start button. Oh, and the fullscreen standalone button on the right hand side of the titlebar was better than the current Yosemite blurby hack.

Soooo... Wladimir found that free piece of software called BetterTouchTool (BTT). Follow the steps below:

  1. Download BTT and install it.
  2. During installation, your mac may ask you to allow Preferences to control accessibility, that's normal
  3. In the main BTT window, click on the Other button in the main toolbar

    (image 1)

  4. Create a new trigger and select the "Leftclick Green Window Button"

    (image 2)

  5. Click on the Predefined Action dropdown button and type "zoom" in the search field

    (image 3)

    select "Zoom window below cursor"
  6. Create a new trigger again and select again "Leftclick Green Window Button" (see step 4 for the image)
  7. Check the "Opt" button

    (image 4)

  8. Click on the Predefined Action dropdown button and type "full" in the search field

    (image 5)

    select "Enter fullscreen"
  9. You can now close the window ; make sure BTT is running at all times.

Thanks Wladimir and thanks BTT! Not perfect but better than regular Yosemite's behaviour!

Matt Webb (Schulze & Webb)Hardware coffee morning one

Last Thursday's hardware-ish coffee morning was fun. Lovely to spend time with Tom, Charles and David, Daniel, Alex, Dan, Basil, and Ben. Thank you for coming!

Although... Too Many Dudes. Something to fix for next time.

Here's a pic of our sign to alert people that this was a Coffee Morning With Intent.

And Ben is part of Knyttan which does on-demand knitted jumpers on industrial knitting machines. Here he is wearing the test pattern, which had a lot of fans.

So, what happened? We sat round a table and people chatted with people. Zero structure, except for 5 minutes for everyone to say their names and what they're doing at moment (arcade machines, newspapers, jumpers, just interested). Plus coffee. I think everyone left at about 11. I'm not sure what everyone else discussed but I had a chat about telescopes and another about what a "minimum viable product" is in hardware, and also I found out about a hardware/making cluster at Somerset House, all of which was very enjoyable.

Conclusions. I like coffee and I like mornings and I liked chatting with everyone. There will be another! Probably next week. I'll let you know.

ProgrammableWebGoogle Maps Offers Developer Access To Street View

Google's Street View and Photo Sphere viewing tools offer users a pretty cool way to get as up close and personal with a place as is digitally possible. Having a 360-degree perspective of a specific location means they can really have a good look around. The problem that arose with sharing these images in the past was that recipients would need to navigate to a dedicated page in order to view them.

Jeremy Keith (Adactio)Interstelling

Jessica and I entered the basement of The Dukes at Komedia last weekend to listen to Sarah and her band Spacedog provide live musical accompaniment to short sci-fi films from the end of the nineteenth and start of the twentieth centuries.

It was part of the Cine City festival, which is still going on here in Brighton—Spacedog will also be accompanying a performance of John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos, and there’s going to be a screening of François Truffaut’s brilliant film version of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in the atmospheric surroundings of Brighton’s former reference library. I might try to get along to that, although there’s a good chance that I might cry at my favourite scene. Gets me every time.

Those 100-year old sci-fi shorts featured familiar themes—time travel, monsters, expeditions to space. I was reminded of a recent gathering in San Francisco with some of my nerdiest of nerdy friends, where we discussed which decade might qualify as the golden age of science fiction cinema. The 1980s certainly punched above their weight—1982 and 1985 were particularly good years—but I also said that I think we’re having a bit of a sci-fi cinematic golden age right now. This year alone we’ve had Edge Of Tomorrow, Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Interstellar.

Ah, Interstellar!

If you haven’t seen it yet, now would be a good time to stop reading. Imagine that I’ve written the word “spoilers” in all-caps, followed by many many line breaks before continuing.

Ten days before we watched Spacedog accompanying silent black and white movies in a tiny basement theatre, Jessica and I watched Interstellar on the largest screen we could get to. We were in Seattle, which meant we had the pleasure of experiencing the film projected in 70mm IMAX at the Pacific Science Center, right by the space needle.

I really, really liked it. Or, at least, I’ve now decided that I really, really liked it. I wasn’t sure when I first left the cinema. There were many things that bothered me, and those things battled against the many, many things that I really enjoyed. But having thought about it more—and, boy, does this film encourage thought and discussion—I’ve been able to resolve quite a few of the issues I was having with the film.

I hate to admit that most of my initial questions were on the science side of things. I wish I could’ve switched off that part of my brain.

There’s an apocryphal story about an actor asking “Where’s the light coming from?”, and being told “Same place as the music.” I distinctly remember thinking that very same question during Interstellar. The first planetfall of the film lands the actors and the audience on a world in orbit around a black hole. So where’s the light coming from?

The answer turns out to be that the light is coming from the accretion disk of that black hole.

But wouldn’t the radiation from the black hole instantly fry any puny humans that approach it? Wouldn’t the planet be ripped apart by the gravitational tides?

Not if it’s a rapidly-spinning supermassive black hole with a “gentle” singularity.

These are nit-picky questions that I wish I wasn’t thinking of. But I like the fact that there are answers to those questions. It’s just that I need to seek out those answers outside the context of the movie—I should probably read Kip Thorne’s book. The movie gives hints at resolving those questions—there’s just one mention of the gentle singularity—but it’s got other priorities: narrative, plot, emotion.

Still, I wish that Interstellar had managed to answer my questions while the film was still happening. This is something that Inception managed brilliantly: for all its twistiness, you always know exactly what’s going on, which is no mean feat. I’m hoping and expecting that Interstellar will reward repeated viewings. I’m certainly really looking forward to seeing it again.

In the meantime, I’ll content myself with re-watching Inception, which makes a fascinating companion piece to Interstellar. Both films deal with time and gravity as malleable, almost malevolent forces. But whereas Cobb travels as far inward as it is possible for a human to go, Coop travels as far outward as it is possible for our species to go.

Interstellar is kind of a mess. There’s plenty of sub-par dialogue and strange narrative choices. But I can readily forgive all that because of the sheer ambition and imagination on display. I’m not just talking about the imagination and ambition of the film-makers—I’m talking about the ambition and imagination of the human race.

That’s at the heart of the film, and it’s a message I can readily get behind.

Before we even get into space, we’re shown a future that, by any reasonable definition, would be considered a dystopia. The human race has been reduced to a small fraction of its former population, technological knowledge has been lost, and the planet is dying. And yet, where this would normally be the perfect storm required to show roving bands of road warriors pillaging their way across the dusty landscape, here we get an agrarian society with no hint of violence. The nightmare scenario is not that the human race is wiped out through savagery, but that the human race dies out through a lack of ambition and imagination.

Religion isn’t mentioned once in this future, but Interstellar does feature a deus ex machina in the shape of a wormhole that saves the day for the human race. I really like the fact that this deus ex machina isn’t something that’s revealed at the end of the movie—it’s revealed very early on. The whole plot turns out to be a glorious mash-up of two paradoxes: the bootstrap paradox and the twin paradox.

The end result feels like a mixture of two different works by Arthur C. Clarke: The Songs Of Distant Earth and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

2001 is the more obvious work to compare it to, and the film readily invites that comparison. Many reviewers have been quite to point out that Interstellar doesn’t reach the same heights as Kubrick’s 2001. That’s a fair point. But then again, I’m not sure that any film can ever reach the bar set by 2001. I honestly think it’s as close to perfect as any film has ever come.

But I think it’s worth pointing out that when 2001 was released, it was not greeted with universal critical acclaim. Quite the opposite. Many reviewers found it tedious, cold, and baffling. It divided opinion greatly …much like Interstellar is doing now.

In some ways, Interstellar offers a direct challenge to 2001—what if mankind’s uplifting is not caused by benevolent alien beings, but by the distant descendants of the human race?

This is revealed as a plot twist, but it was pretty clearly signposted from early in the film. So, not much of a plot twist then, right?

Well, maybe not. What if Coop’s hypothesis—that the wormhole is the creation of future humans—isn’t entirely correct? He isn’t the only one who crosses the event horizon. He is accompanied by the robot TARS. In the end, the human race is saved by the combination of Coop the human’s connection to his daughter, and the analysis carried out by TARS. Perhaps what we’re witnessing there is a glimpse of the true future for our species; human-machine collaboration. After all, if humanity is going to transcend into a fifth-dimensional species at some future point, it’s unlikely to happen through biology alone. But if you combine the best of the biological—a parent’s love for their child—with the best of technology, then perhaps our post-human future becomes not only plausible, but inevitable.

Deus ex machina.

Thinking about the future of the species in this co-operative way helps alleviate the uncomfortable feeling I had that Interstellar was promoting a kind of Manifest Destiny for the human race …although I’m not sure that I’m any more comfortable with that being replaced by a benevolent technological determinism.

Paul Downey (British Telecom)One CSV, thirty stories: 19. Bubblepleth

This is day 19 of One CSV, 30 stories a series of articles exploring price paid data from the Land Registry found on GOV.UK. The code for this and the other articles is available as open source from GitHub

Yesterday I made a simple choropleth map of average prices. Today I wanted to iterate on this hack. Once again this took me longer than expected, this time because I didn’t like the results.

First-off it was a little remiss of me not to call out one of the design decisions in yesterday’s post. The colours are scaled across the entire range of yearly maps, illustrating how house prices have hotted up over twenty years. There is an alternative to scale the prices within each year to show how the distribution of prices have moved over twenty years:


I wondered about changing the squares to match the Land Registry’s marvellously retro logo:

This wasn’t too tricky thanks to the CSS tricks outlined by James Tauber which uses adjacent blocks with enlarged boarders to create a mesh of hexagonal divs which tessellate across a plane:

Atomic cauliflowers

Using the grid values with these shapes was a bit of cheat; I really should have recalculated the averages based on the geometry of each hexagon, and worked harder to make them work in any browser beyond Firefox and Chrome, but this experiment was enough to convince me I really didn’t like the look of where the hack was heading. Hexagons are just not my bag, unless I’m playing Settlers of Catan:.

Settlers of Catan

So I decided to try a different tack and experimented with turning each square div into a circle using a single line of CSS:

.circle { border-radius: 50% }

I then resized each div to show both the average price and number of transactions for each postcode:


This looked more promising, but not great, so I played quite a bit, experimenting with the size, shape and colour of the bubbles:


The biggest difficulty was finding a way of revealing the map, illustrating the massive difference in the price-paid and number of transactions within London as opposed to the immediately surrounding area. A logarithmic scale might have helped, but in the end I settled on spheres, which meant taking the cubed-root of the number of transactions at each postcode and applying a small amount of border-shadow on each sphere:

CSS spheres

I continued to try, but couldn’t get this visualisation to work. I elected to make the spheres transparent, but that created darker colours when bubbles overlap, which say nothing about the price at that location, and blurs both the discrepancy in the number of transactions and the price which can vary greatly in adjacent postcodes:


And, as mentioned previously, transparency and gradients don’t work well in postscript, making the resultant PDFs large and unprintable. So I spent even more time futzing with this page, trying to flog a dead-tree, to no avail:


Literally the bottom line: today I iterated wildly, but failed to improve on yesterday. I should probably move along, but I’ve still at least one more idea I want to try out with this data “tomorrow”.

ProgrammableWebEmbed Custom Timelines Using Lifestreams Open API Portal

This article is a company-provided press release and ProgrammableWeb cannot vouch for the accuracy of the statements within. If you have questions regarding the information below, please contact the company that issued the press release.

Andy Budd (Clearleft)Introduction to Value Pricing

I think most designers would agree that design has a huge amount to offer businesses in terms of differentiating products, solving complex problems and delivering increased value to consumers. I think most designers would also agree that this ability is often ignored or seriously undervalued by those same businesses.

Value pricing is an attempt to redress the balance by pricing work based on the value it delivers to clients rather than the time it takes to create. The argument goes that the value of a logo, like the Coca-cola logo, is often worth more than the hours that went into its creation. So whether the final creation took a team of branding experts 6-months, or was sketched on the back of a napkin during the first meeting, the value to the client-and hence the cost-should be the same.

This can be best illustrated by the fable of the plumber, who when asked to fix a boiler, pulls out her hammer, hits the boiler in exactly the right spot to get it working, then asked for ÂŁ100. When the homeowner questions how she could justify such a high charge for so little work, the plumber responds by saying “that was ÂŁ10 for me hitting it with the hammer and ÂŁ90 for knowing where to hit”. The implication of this story is two-fold. First off the plumber wasn’t charging for her time on the job, but for all the years of training that led up to that point, and ultimately the customer wasn’t paying for the time either, bit for a working boiler.

It’s a great story and one that makes a lot of sense. After all, there are plenty of circumstances where you care more about the output than the time it took you to get there. In fact with time being so precious, getting there quicker can often be worth more. This is one reason why Concord was always more expensive than a 747, and why some people will pay more for an abridged audio book than the full version - because they value their own time over completeness.

Designers often struggle to price projects based on the value of their work, so typically sell their time instead. As such, the only way to earn more money is to increase their day rate or sell more hours. So when you see news stories of that latest multi-million dollar rebrand, you can’t help but wonder whether all that time was strictly necessary to come up with final logo, or whether it was the agency trying to justify extra revenue through unnecessary focus groups and consultation.

By contrast, value pricing takes elapsed time out of the equation and tries to focus on outcomes instead. That way it doesn’t matter if it takes one month to solve the problem or six if the problem still gets solved to the clients satisfaction. If you’re good at what you do (read “efficient at solving problems”) you’re able to generate much more profit than simply billing on time alone.

Value pricing seems to require a little more work up front as you need to spend time understanding what the client values before you can come up with a figure. For instance, are they willing to pay more for the project to start sooner, or for access to specific experts. Are they looking to hit specific revenue targets by a certain date, or are they more interested in developing out the capabilities of their team? Do they need every page designed and built, or would some kind of pattern portfolio deliver more value? Now none of the questions are exclusive to value proving, but you do need to spend more time uncovering these issues when you take this approach.

Value pricing also seems to imply fixed scope contracts, as you need to define exactly what value you’re proposing to deliver to what price. So there’s an interesting question as to whether value pricing can work alongside agile practices.

On the whole I think value pricing is a very interesting concept and one that I’ve seen come up more frequently over the past few years. Possibly because designers are feeling ever more squeezed to produce more for clients on less. So I can definitely see why people are attracted by the concept. However I also see a number of challenges with this approach, not least that fact that it’s not how the majority of agencies price their work.

In my next post on the subject of pricing I’m going to flag up some of the issues I see with value pricing. Then I’m going to look at the more traditional approach of time-based pricing, paying particular attention to agile pricing. Finally I’ll end things up with a short summary and a list of places you can go to find out more information on this subject.

ProgrammableWebOutbrain Amplify API Opens Discovery Platform to Developers

Outbrain, a leading content discovery platform, has announced the launch of the new Outbrain Amplify API which allows company approved partners programmatic access to the Outbrain platform.

ProgrammableWeb: APIsOutbrain Amplify

The Amplify API enables complete management of Outbrain marketing campaigns at both the campaign and the article levels. The campaign level involves campaign management on a large scale, including budgets, CPC, and flights, and enabling or disabling campaigns. At the article level, developers can programmatically add new articles to a campaign, enable or disable current articles, and test headlines and thumbnail images. The Amplify API also enables integration of campaign performance information into your own tools or existing solutions.
Date Updated: 2014-11-25
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWebWhois Offering 500 Free API Lookups For New Accounts

This article is a company-provided press release and ProgrammableWeb cannot vouch for the accuracy of the statements within. If you have questions regarding the information below, please contact the company that issued the press release.

ProgrammableWebWaveMaker Adds API Designer to RAD Environment

WaveMaker today announced that it is including an API Designer within its namesake rapid application development environment. Aimed at both professional developers short of time and citizen developers lacking application development skills, WaveMaker provides access to both

Amazon Web ServicesNow Online - Audio, Video, and Presentations from re:Invent 2014

Whew! I had an incredible time at AWS re:Invent and I know that many readers of this blog did as well. In between my Sunday night arrival and my Friday afternoon departure I managed to publish seventeen blog posts, record a bunch of cameo videos for the re:Invent Facebook Page (including this to-be classic), sit for interviews with 8 or 9 international jouirnalists, watch some hungry competitors gnaw their way through hundreds of chicken wings at the re:Invent Tatonka Challenge, sit in a Lamborghini, meet and talk to hundreds of blog readers and Twitter followers, attend plenty of social events, and dance to the unique sounds of Skrillex!

I did not, however, have the time to attend a single one of the re:Invent sessions! Fortunately, almost all of the content is now online and I have plenty to watch and to listen to. Here's an overview to get you started.

re:Invent Video Content
As I write this, we have published 215 videos on the AWS Video Channel. We are finalizing the stragglers and they should be up within a day or two.

The videos include the Day 1 (Andy Jassy) and Day 2 (Werner Vogels) keynotes, keynote highlights (Day 1 and Day 2), launch videos, and over 200 breakout sessions (Innovation at Scale looks great, as does A Tale of One Thousand Instances - Migrating from EC2 Classic to EC2-VPC).

re:Invent Audio Content
If you, like me, enjoy content in audio form, be sure to check out the re:Invent Audio Podcast series. Audio for more than 200 sessions is already online.

re:Invent Presentations
The slide decks from re:Invent have been tagged with "reinvent2014" and are available on on SlideShare:

I hope that you find this content interesting, helpful, and valuable. As always, please feel free to use the link below to send feedback my way.

-- Jeff;

ProgrammableWebYahoo&#039;s New Search API Pricing Compared to Google, Bing

On Nov. 20, new pricing went into effect for the Yahoo BOSS Search API, a suite of APIs and tools that can be used to build custom search engines driven by the Yahoo search platform.

Amazon Web ServicesAWS Week in Review - November 17, 2014

Let's take a quick look at what happened in AWS-land last week:

Monday, November 17
Tuesday, November 18
Wednesday, November 19
Thursday, November 20
Friday, November 21

Here are some of the events that we have on tap for the next week or two (visit the AWS Events page for more):

Stay tuned for next week! In the meantime, follow me on Twitter and subscribe to the RSS feed.

-- Jeff;

ProgrammableWeb: APIsLifestreams

Lifestreams is a sofware-as-a-service which offers an easy way to create interactive timeline that mimic social network functionally and community engagement. Developers can access the Lifestreams API through an open portal to create custom time-ordered cards to embed into websites or apps, and to also store and retrieve timeline-related data. To aid developers, Lifestreams currently offers a JavaScript SDK. LIfestreams plans on releasing an iOS & Android SDK in the near future. For additional information and Lifestreams support, developers can request API access from their website.
Date Updated: 2014-11-24
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWeb: APIsFileCloud User

FileCloud is a Dropbox-like solution that allows businesses to create private, brandable clouds for their employees, customers, and clients. These clouds provide file sharing, syncing, and mobile access services. FileCloud also comes with a number of features that differentiate it from other cloud services, such as active directory integration, searchable audit reports, remote mobile device management, and endpoint backup. The FileCloud User API allows users to programmatically access their favorites, files, images, profiles, sharing options, and more.
Date Updated: 2014-11-24
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWeb: APIsMetaname

Metaname is a professional-grade, New Zealand-based domain name management service. It costs nothing to transfer domain names to Metaname, and users can perform domain name transfers and updates in bulk. Month-by-month renewal is available for .nz domain names. Metaname provides full support for IPv6 and DNSSEC. The Metaname API allows users to register, transfer, update, and renew domain names programmatically. Additional API methods allow users to perform whois lookups, manage DNS zones, and more.
Date Updated: 2014-11-24
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWebAMD Plans To Release Mantle SDK Later This Year

Richard Huddy, Gaming Scientist for AMD, announced at a presentation last week at PDXLAN that plans are still in motion for releasing a public Mantle SDK this year. Intel and Nvidia have been publicly encouraged by AMD to use the SDK for free.

Norman Walsh (Sun)The short-form week of 10–16 Nov 2014

<article class="essay" id="content" lang="en">

The week in review, 140 characters at a time. This week, 9 messages in 10 conversations.

This document was created automatically from my archive of my Twitter stream. Due to limitations in the Twitter API and occasional glitches in my archiving system, it may not be 100% complete.

Monday at 02:48am

Check out #Cloak Tor router @ndw Open source & custom made @Reclaim_Privacy —@prabaganesan

In a conversation that started on Monday at 01:49pm

@rdeltour curiosity to help inform xproc vnext, which we (mostly @ndw and @alexmilowski ) are going great guns on ... will shout if needed—@xquery
@xquery ok cool! I noticed the github activity, keep up the great work :) @ndw @alexmilowski —@rdeltour

Tuesday at 07:59pm

Many reviews of the Nexus 9 state that Amazon Instant Video is available. This runs contrary to my experience. Anyone actually using it?—@ndw

In a conversation that started on Wednesday at 02:21pm

XML Prague 2015 call for papers is now open: Start thinking and start writing, you only have until 1 December.—@ndw
RT @ndw XML Prague 2015 #CfP is now open: Start thinking and start writing, you only have until December 1st—@dret

Friday at 02:05pm

"Oh. I thought it was a chocolate. But it's a battery." Category Errors 101 with @ndw —@doctortovey

Sunday at 11:25am

@aspyker It could be, maybe it couldn't. BANG.—@ndw

Sunday at 11:39am

$10 for Words With Friends? Kinda pricey. Never waiting for another f'ing video advertisement? Priceless.—@ndw

In a conversation that started on Sunday at 11:37pm

@JohnTheBastard @gruber @hopsinglaundry Also a shame they no longer sell dry white. Only "extra dry" now in the US. #sadpanda —@ndw
@ndw @JohnTheBastard @hopsinglaundry But that said, it’s not available in Pennsylvania and I’ve never seen it in New Jersey, either.—@gruber
@gruber @ndw I thought both the French and American variety were supposed to be available now, but I haven't specifically looked for them.—@JohnTheBastard
@JohnTheBastard @gruber I haven't seen dry recently. I console myself with the fact that I'm getting 2 bottles of Ambré in December.—@ndw
@ndw @gruber @hopsinglaundry I always preferred the extra dry in martinis (still have half a case of pre-2009 bottles), and Dolin otherwise.—@JohnTheBastard
@ndw @JohnTheBastard @hopsinglaundry Noilly “Extra Dry” is supposedly the same stuff they used to call “Dry French”: —@gruber
@gruber @JohnTheBastard @hopsinglaundry Perhaps. I still prefer the stuff they used to sell as simply "Dry".—@ndw

Sunday at 11:44pm

@kendall It is pretty awesome. That whole album is actually pretty good.—@ndw

Sunday at 11:46pm

RT @mnot: “Non-religious, non-superstitious, basing morality on shared human values of decency, tolerance, reason, justice, the search for …—@ndw

Norman Walsh (Sun)The short-form week of 3–9 Nov 2014

<article class="essay" id="content" lang="en">

The week in review, 140 characters at a time. This week, 13 messages in 12 conversations. (With 2 favorites.)

This document was created automatically from my archive of my Twitter stream. Due to limitations in the Twitter API and occasional glitches in my archiving system, it may not be 100% complete.

Monday at 09:21am

@standupmaths Count me in!—@ndw

Monday at 09:28am

Contender for most beautiful sentence in the English language: "Just make all the bacon."—@ndw

Monday at 07:33pm

Computer security works about as well as you would expect from something designed by people without empathy who think you don't deserve it.—@SwiftOnSecurity

Tuesday at 06:44am

RT @j4: "Since our documentation is somewhat lacking on, you can watch this for a 1 hour overview" NO NO NO JUST NO.—@ndw

Tuesday at 06:47am

RT @Wireman: It’s probably time to roll this out again. #Newsnight —@ndw

Tuesday at 06:49am

Dear United States, please go vote. It matters.—@ndw

In a conversation that started on Wednesday at 11:55am

Dear @ups, "By End of Day" is really not a very useful "approximate delivery time". Surely you can do better than that.—@ndw
@ndw "Some time before 11:59pm. Most probably, maybe." @UPS —@CanOfBees

In a conversation that started on Wednesday at 11:18pm

OH (about Austin) "Now I know what Berlin felt like surrounded by East Germany."—@ndw
Sorry @ndw, at least West Berlin had public transportation and more highway access points than Travis County.—@jeff_iezzi
@jeff_iezzi Fair point. And those both got voted down as well.—@ndw

Friday at 10:19am

#WordsWithFriends is literally unusably bad on the Nexus 9. #Zynga —@ndw

In a conversation that started on Friday at 12:41pm

Come on, people! If your website pops up some sort of modal "would you like to join" dialog BEFORE I can login, you're doing it wrong!—@ndw
@ndw would you like to join my Twitter conversation?—@alexmilowski
@alexmilowski Which conversation is that?—@ndw
@ndw I take it you aren't following my attempt at humor.—@alexmilowski
@alexmilowski Apparently not. My bad. Thag easily confused.—@ndw
@ndw or my attempt at humor was a failure. ;)—@alexmilowski
@alexmilowski @ndw Thank you both for joining ModalHaters, a high-volume curated community. To opt out, press—@svgeesus

Saturday at 11:50pm

A Canadian perspective on the #GOPtakeover. —@RickStrandlof

Sunday at 10:53pm

RT @neiltyson: Relativity. Gravity. Quantum. Electrodynamics. Evolution. Each of these theories is true, whether or not you believe in them.—@ndw

Shelley Powers (Burningbird)Ferguson: Media, You Are Hurting Us

screenshot of Jon Stewart on Crossfire

The story read that the FBI had arrested two New Black Panther members for buying explosives to bomb Ferguson protests. Not long after, though, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted a story that what really happened is the FBI arrested two men for providing false information when buying guns. And that New Black Panther association? Well, that's implied because a "police source" made the connection. Not the men. Not officially from the FBI. A "police source".

One of the many sources who have added to the confusion and alarm associated with the Ferguson protests. The same sources that both Twitter users and mainstream press reporters have quoted without fact or verification. There is some excuse for the Twitter users: it's not their job to fact check what they retweet. The same cannot be said for the media, who have done a piss poor job of covering Ferguson.

Even today, the Chicago Tribune and Washington Post have stories about a $5,000 bounty placed on Darren Wilson's head by a black militant group. The only problem is, it's all fake, a fraud. There is no black militant group. There is no $5,000 bounty. It's all one anonymous Twitter user making the claim among a set of overly fantastic and conflicting claims, in an account that demonstrates glaringly obvious disconnects in linguistic styles. A Twitter account for a group that has absolutely no hint of existence outside of Twitter. Even photos purportedly showing the Twitter user's hands holding a box of ammo, with dark implications of future mayhem, generated little but doubt from other Twitter users primarily because the hands looked remarkably white, and what most people missed, remarkably feminine. So much for discussions about "fellow warriors".

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(The only other reference to the group was a pulled Go Fund Me page.)

It was all fake, yet these stalwarts of the press, these icons, dutifully copied each other without any of their journalists once going, "Hey. Maybe we should fact check this or something."

CNN writes last week about a Grand Jury decision on Friday, and it wasn't because they had inside information, as the implication might be. No, it was nothing more than a guess. So we end up having a press conference and all sorts of stories on Saturday about no Grand Jury decision happened on Friday. That's the same as saying, "We didn't get hit by an asteroid this weekend", or, "There's a lot of snow in Buffalo".

How much confusion has been generated by dutifully quoting Chief Jackson from Ferguson, as he makes assertions in the AM, only to add "clarifications" later that day or the next? By the time the media report the clarifications it's already too late: the seeds of doubt are sown, and mismatched stories get flung about in Twitter, like stones fired from slingshots.

All these stories do is add to the tension and distrust. They generate unnecessary suspicion, and add fuel to an already volatile situation. It is like members of the media have gotten together over a beer somewhere and said to each other, "You know, riots in Ferguson would be good for ratings. What can we do to make it happen?"

What did Jon Stewart say on Crossfire years ago? Before his appearance on the show signaled its impending doom?

Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America.

Media, you are hurting us.

Matt Webb (Schulze & Webb)Filtered on 23 November


Get Your Kicks on the Route G6.

The Economist (from 2012) on China's growing network of expressways, and the culture of driving it's kicking off. Everything from service stations with rubbish shops, to the Beijing-Tibet Expressway: several thousand kilometers from Beijing, across China, then a climb up onto the Tibetian plateau itself.

You need oxygen cannisters for the altitude sickness on the drive.


Piccolo is a pocket-sized, open source drawing robot. Attach a pen and make it draw.

See also Mirobot, which is bigger and Wi-Fi connected too.


Christmas in Yiwu by Dan W. Over the summer, Dan travelled across China and by container ship following the electronics supply chain... this piece is about his visit to a vast commodity market.

I expected to find bizarre oddities but the products were all familiar. I'd seen them in pound shops and market stalls already.


In the bridges between Districts I would sometimes see counterfeit money in various currencies being sold off a blanket on the floor.

Incredible. Where shit comes from. It all reads like something Bruce Sterling might write.


I currently have my nose deep in Mike Brearley's The Art of Captaincy which is ostensibly about how to captain a cricket team, but is really all about the psychology of groups (Brearley became a psychoanalyst after retiring from cricket).

But also in the book is the concisest description of what class means in Britain.

Until 1954, every captain of England was an amateur; that is, he was not paid to play cricket. (The Latin root imples that amateurs played because of love of the game, rather than for anything so base as money.) Before the War, and for some time afterwards, the distinction was secure. Amateurs had different changing-rooms, stayed in better hotels, and emerged on to the playing area through separate gates. They stated when they were able to play, which explans why a cricketer of G.O. Allen's stature played only 146 matches for Middlesex in a career spanning twenty-six seasons. Their names were represented differently on score-cards, either as 'Mr' or with 'Esq.', or with the initials before rather than after their surnames. In 1950 Fred Titmus played his first game at Lord's. It was a fine Saturday, with a good crowd. An announcement came over the loudspeaker: 'Ladies and gentlemen, a correction to your scorecards: For "F.J. Titmus" read "Titmus, F.J.".'

[...] By no means all the amateurs in cricket were High Tories in background or style. They had simply gone on from school to Oxbridge, been good at cricket, and followed a natural route into the first-class game. (Indeed, until 1981 the Wisden 'Births and Deaths' list marked out those of us who played for Oxford or Cambridge as 'Mr'.)

That's a lot of what you need to know about this country, right there.

Ben Buchanan (200ok)WD14, The Big Stonking Post™


Yes a jump nav is old school, but this is a BIG stonking post...

Disclaimer & photo credits

These notes were hammered out very quickly because doing so seems to help me remember the talks. However due to the haste, errors occur and you should always assume I'm paraphrasing - if you need an exact quote, please check the session recording later.

Photo credits:


  • Keywords: empathy and intertwingled.
  • Recurrent slide theme: retro futurism; and cats on robot vacuum cleaners.
  • Prevalent tech toy: wearable fitness trackers (fuelbands, fitbits, etc). Not that they were ostentatiously displayed or talked about, it just seems lots of people had them; and nothing else was especially notable. Of course I'm not including the Tesla as a 'tech toy', although it would win hands down for the most coveted item...
  • Most-asked question at the after party: "so what are you going to spend your 100 hours on?"

Web Directions 2014


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Along with the conference proper, the sideshows were great. I made it to the coffee crawl and the SydCSS 1st Birthday event - no surprise on either count there ;) I was particularly chuffed with SydCSS (and not just because ansarada sponsored the food).

I had quite an amazing moment, realising there were people in the room from every job I've had in 14 years - colleagues, bosses and members of my own team... and as Steve pointed out later, this was a good thing! We have an amazing community, we're very lucky.

There are some photos from the night over at

The Venue

Web Directions 2014

Web Directions moved to the Seymour Centre this year. The smaller venue gave the event a vibe more akin to the early years at UTS than the gigantic convention centre. There was a sense of a reboot, which so often comes from a change of scenery.

[Edit: despite what we all thought, the crowd was not smaller! John informs me it was in fact the biggest by 10%.]

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The coffee hit a new high, with Sample providing espresso, hot filter and cold brew... and unlike the convention centre, there was no problem taking it into the theatre. Oh yes :)

Opening Credits

This year's opening credits were really slick and atmospheric, which I loved. I think it was a pity to break the mood with the fake error joke, but still an excellent job. You can see it here: People Behind the Pixels.

Opening Keynote: Matt Webb – Interconnected

Shots from paleo future. Amazing to see what people thought the future would be like... how close they were on some things, how far off on others.

Kubrick did get the video chat experience right in 2001 – the dad's sitting down being serious on a phone call... but the kid's flopping about, doesn't care that she's chatting with daddy who is in space. This is entirely the Skype experience.

2001, like music, succeeds in short-circuiting the rigid surface cultural blocks that shackle our consciousness to narrowly limited areas of experience and is able to cut directly through to areas of emotional comprehension. - Kubrick

The death of HAL is actually very sad, you actually feel that someone is dying.

Matt also loved the movie War Games... although his childhood self probably had a huge crush on Ally Sheedy...


Myths have long memories. The land has a memory of history, humans have a memory of history. Matt feels Australian history has imbued us, culturally, with an egalitarianism; an unwillingness to allow people to inherit privilege.

Theory of bottleneck events – there is some genetic evidence that human population massively dropped 50,000 years ago (possibly caused by a massive volcanic eruption) and recovered again.

Origins matter. What was there when the world was writ small will be there when it is writ large.

Curious case of the myths of the Dogon people in Africa – their myths about Sirius included the accurate information that Sirius is actually two stars. Were they really visited by aliens? Or did some astronomers visit them...

There is a myth that stellar dust is sentient and it drags matter together to be reborn as stars. It's a nice thought...

The japanese have the notion of 'artefact spirits', Tsukumogami. When an object reaches 100 years old it becomes sentient, has emotional reactions to its life. However the idea is not applied to modern items... do new things not have souls?

> The network is the new electricity

> Connecting products is the 21st century equivalent of electricification

Edison had to launch a power station as well as a lightbulb... and then get cables laid. The first station in NYC powered a whopping 400 bulbs. He also had to create the electricity meter so he could bill people. It was all very startup.

Station Jim at Slough railway station – a much beloved dog that rode the trains and had a charity collection satchell. So when he died they taxidermied Station Jim and stuck him on Platform 5. “Yes... this is weird.” So Matt tweeted about it... AND GOT A REPLY ON TWITTER from @stationjim … with some cheeky attitude!

Where we start matters.

Electricity led to electric motors. This didn't immediately replace factories but it created small appliances... fractional horsepower motors were successful because they were less powerful, but small.

[At some point Matt brought the house down by showing this...

<iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="420"></iframe>

...and then after talking over it for a minute, observing "none of you have heard a word I've said, have you?"

Too true!]

Around the time Doug Englebart delivered the Mother Of All Demos, a book “Computer Lib” was released – with the tagline “You can and must understand computers NOW”. Features lines like “Everything is deeply intertwingled”.

Book: “A commentary on the unix operating system” - John Lions, UNSW. A seminal text distributed illegally for years.

If we look to Tsukumogami, perhaps all the new devices were waiting for electricity to become 100 years old! (“...ok, serious face... I don't really believe the devices are coming to life”)

Familiar concepts cause us to think along predictable lines – Xerox made an operating system that modeled the ideas of moving bits of paper around.

Metaphors shape how we think and they allow us to imagine the future.

The dominant trope of product design in 2014 is Apple.

Jony Ive quote “Why do we assume that simple is good? Because with physical products, we feel we can dominate them. As you bring order to complexity, you find a way to make the product defer to you.”

But you can't be a maestro of an iphone, the way you can be a maestro of the violin. Has product design topped out?

We humanise technology – Little Printer was a prime example, using the face to indicate the state of the network and the device.

Most cultures classify entities into four broad categories:

  • humans
  • animals
  • plants
  • nonliving objects

Web Directions 2014

[slide: Homeostatic Ultrastability Loop... designed by Welsh cyberneticist Stafford Beer to model companies. He tried to model this with a pond...!]

Everything starts somewhere. [slide: top of JFK's head backed by the sky...] JFK set down the dream of going to the moon. It took ~ 100 million man-hours of effort after that. Yet only about 12 people walked on the moon for a total of 160 hours.

So what's the equivalent of the moon landing for our generation?

Wikipedia took about the same amount of hours, the same amount of human effort.

So which do we prefer to have? 12 people on the moon, or wikipedia available to all humanity?

So what would happen if you put aside 100 hours over summer (an 8 hour day a week), then choose something to spend those 100 hours on. Ask people at #wd14 what they will use their 100 hours.

Matt got an email from someone who used their 100 hours to set up Pork Camp – a food festival from farm to plate. Later on Matt got in touch again and he'd done it again and TV producers were interested in the next food journey...

Beginnings matter. Culture is established at the beginning.


The web is egalitarian. It's a level playing field. It routes around deference... “in a way, the web is an Australian medium.”


Scott Thomas – Doing Simple. Honest. Work.

Four years since Scott has been at WD! Wow time flies.

The brief for the Obama campaign was simple and powerful – to design everything in front and behind the campaign. Everything from the website to the placards and podium graphics.

Took a messy site and designed the now-famous Obama Brand. After the campaign Scott didn't want to move to DC... but he did create the Designing Obama book, which is now out of print. But this is what he spoke about last time, so moving on...

Scott's company is named Simple.Honest.Work. They feel technology should be used to humanise us.

His guiding principles as he built (hired) the company:

  1. Be Collaborative
  2. Solve Problems
  3. Process Driven

Fast Company came to SHW wanting to launch a new website. They took inspiration from Fast Company's awesome magazine cover design – that was being lost on the website they had. “Everything just ended up in boxes.” – attempting to get a consistency of icon meaning. Huge shared project, 50k icons and growing.

Great work doesn't happen on its own.

Creation is a process.

All processes need structure.

You have to constantly iterate on your process – keep getting better, keep working to solve the points of frustration.

“Just be creative” - argh! We hear these things all the time. But we need to stop rolling our eyes at this and be the guides, the leaders. We should provide the structure within a project.

Talking through the process of creating the New America Foundation's new brand.

SHW's process includes:

  1. Understand – clarifying strategy, questioning, planning, workshopping, requirements gathering
  2. Approach
  3. Accomplish – the actual creation, the nitty gritty of launching
  4. Analyse – data gathering, come back to questioning (ask the questions again), a/b testing, user testing (qualitative), surveys
  5. Enhance

The process is more of a cycle than a linear path. Iteration, not waterfall.


What's a brand? When people say they want a new brand, a new identity... they built a “periodic table of brand elements”, to break up the concept of a brand into manageable pieces. eg. Logo, imagery, colour, typography... naming, products, processes... what do you do for the world? What is your culture while you do it? How do you describe what you do to other people? What is your brand voice? How do you visualise it all?

Web Directions 2014

Getting to the core: Vision, Misson, Values.

What are your brand attributes? (innovative or traditional, simple or complex, fun or serious..?)

SHW actually created a set of brand keyword cards, with the opposites on either side. They do an exercise where they get participants to choose their cards; then strip it down to a small set of core values.

They also get people to imagine their brand as a car, as a fashion brand, as a celebrity, an animal. It helps people understand the idea of identity and personality and helps them express what they want for their own brand.

People struggle with questions like... Describe the brand's style? What images describe the company? Do you like a serif or sans-serif?

They created mood board sheets - ~8 images with numbers, then have people rate them. Each mood board had an overall theme or concept.

Then ask... What do you do? What differentiates you from competitors?

This leads into voice, naming, taglines. This is where you can see if the brand is really working.

(margaret mark quote - “the most successful brands are those that most effectively correspond to fundamental patterns in the unconscious mind known as archetypes”)

What archetype aligns with your business? Regular guy/gal? The caregiver? The ruler? The explorer? The sage? The hero? Etc...

Scott finds it's a challenge to keep his own team from going straight to sketching, drawing. It's a natural reaction to jump ahead, just as devs like to start building. “Just wait until you understand the brand... you're not creating it for you.” You have to stop, learn, only start creating when you properly understand the goals.


Research, qualitative, interviews, competitor analysis (for the New America Foundation, every single competitor was using blue as their brand), gut test.

20 Second Gut Test: you can begin to test your hypothesis. You can get the group aligned with a quick test. They put up lots of quick images and get data from it with a survey → they turn gut reaction into data. The participants only have 20 seconds to tick ratings/numbers.

Then when they present actual on-brand designs, they continue using quick surveys. They set the tone and make the client expect to do homework, give feedback, provide detailed numbers on how they rate different options.

Make people feel part of the process by making them part of the process.

“Designers and engineers I don't think are that different. They both have a spirit of creativity.”

Start somewhere. The problems are massive and can be overwhelming.

Be empirical. Try to get numbers, remove subjectivity.

Keep iterating.

Bring people into the process.

Use process to distract dissent. If someone said they liked something at the start, it's harder to suddenly say they don't like it later on.

Wear many hats. Step out of your comfort zone.


Q: despite your process, do you get people saying “give me Obama!”

A: It happens - but he has to say well, you're not Obama, you're doing something else so that won't work for you. You need to build your own brand.

Q: do you think your background in coding influences your design process?

A: absolutely. Noun project was a bit like github for icons. Design needs to be more like open source, more democratic, more open. People see it as a closed magic box that produces amazing things.

Q: if your empirical data suggested what you have isn't working, how do you deal with that?

A: well if the data says it, then you need to change things! But you should still ask whether the 'problem' really is a problem - will it prevent the project reaching its goals? When someone looked at the New America Foundation's revised logo, and said it “looks like a guy lying on a mattress”, it was fair feedback but it didn't impact the mission of the brand.


Emily Nakashima – The operable front end

Web Directions 2014

(missed a couple of minutes of the talk)

“make your software more operable” ...whuh???

Build code to be more friendly to the build and release cycle.

Be able to:

  • detect when there are problems
  • diagnose and fix them
  • deploy the fix to production (efficiently!)

Operability is about everything that happens after a feature is ready for production.

Automate things, test things, have monitoring endpoints, dashboard everything!

The attitude that used to be... (worked fine in dev, ops problem now – burning house girl meme)

Web Directions 2014

...became “it's a user problem now!” Understand that problems are an issue for everyone – the user, support team who has to field the calls, etc.

Notion of “frontend ops” - while not a common job title or well-defined role, it's definitely a concept that is out there and should be discussed. It's probably going to become more common as more code shifts from the back end into the front end.

(reference a smashing mag article from 2013 “front-end ops”)

Emily's day starts by checking some dashboards. Looking for things which aren't normal – a new pattern, a new error, something that's a bit suspicious.

In one case she found a problem with a license text injection menu – a feature she didn't even know existed! It was built before she joined and not a hugely popular feature. First thing she did was check the issue queue to see if a user has already spotted the issue (in this case, yes). She knew having just looked into it, she was “the company's leading expert on this one bug...” so she was able to answer the issue, saving the support team a few minutes.


They have a short script that collects contextual information for JS errors. The browser provides lots of detail including message, filename, line number, the error and even a stack trace. Then they also grab document.ready state and time since load. Capture the target of the event (what were they clicking?).

They filter out quite a few errors and send it to an app called Haystack, which is an internal github system built originally for backend errors. But since all errors are just objects they adapted it to track JS errors as well.

They use chat to query the error API, partly as it gives the team visibility on who's working on an issue.


Two main categories: synthetic metrics (debugging tools and systems) and real user metrics (from the users browser).

Specific callout – lots of third party code insists on a SCRIPT in the HEAD which really causes problems if that third party is down. You can have blank pages being served but it may not trigger traditional monitoring (eg. It's still a 200ok status, for a successfully-delivered-but-totally-empty page).

  • Loading metrics - Monitoring response time, domcomplete time, etc gives more detail so you can work out where problems are occurring.
  • Simulated loading metrics (ajax, pjax, etc) – pjax lets you time navigation actions
  • Interactive performance (jank) – harder to track but awful for the user. Github has a “hacky FPS measure” that runs in the background, but it doesn't give a lot of detail. There's an API coming (frame timing) that will make this better.


Nothing is as good as instrumenting the user experience directly. Google Analytics can provide some of this...

War story: she accidentally broke the “create pull request button” one time... they now monitor how many PRs have been created in the past few minutes and alert if it drops.

GA can actually provide alerts for these metrics!


Tests never really capture all the weird things users do in real life. You need as many canaries as possible... but ultimately coworkers


They are building a set of a11y checks in JS; this fires a custom error class, console.logs and gets reported to Haystack. They detect images with no alt, links with no text, form labels not connected, inputs with no label, etc.

Why not put this in your test suite? It's actually hard to get the tools to test every view; but running the checks in staff mode/dev mode runs on everything.


“OK cool but I don't have Haystack...”

There are services that can help:

New Relic, errorception, Raygun, LogNormal (SOASTA), Google Analytics.

Graphs and alerts – Circonus, Graphite+Nagios+your ops team, GA again.

“The best answer is talk to your ops team, find out what they use and then use that too.” It's good to collaborate!

Anything you can send an event to GA you can get alerts on.


Putting all this together gives you some really good tools and techniques that will help you write better code. It can change the way you code.

People wouldn't use XHTML 1 Strict because it was too hard to know if you were serving broken pages. People liked using jQuery because it doesn't throw errors much. But if you are monitoring you want errors so you know things have gone wrong.

Why not just write tests? You don't want to write tests for everything! Some things are better to simply monitor results than write massive, complex tests.

Tests won't catch everything – monitoring will find errors that occur when your users upgrade their browser, even if your tests aren't running that version yet.

Monitoring makes for fewer 'code janitors' – you find bugs sooner, so you can usually get the author of the bug to fix it (opposed to someone having to dig through and reverse engineer it again later).

Front End Ops Engineer – quite a title. But worth remembering that even if you have some people named “javascript developers” usually everyone is writing some JS. So her job is to put the tools in place to make it easy and safe for people to write and deply frontend code.


Q: why did you roll your own app instead of using sommething like new relic?

A: github just prefers to roll their own to customise things... they obviously prefer open source too.

Q: are there performance hits from the actual monitoring code?

A: this is a question they ask a lot – and how do you monitor the monitoring code? - but they keep an eye on the impacts; plus they can run the site in “staff mode” so users aren't taking the hit.

Q: how do they manage alert-itis, too many alerts or too much noise?

A: something's that's really critical will send an SMS, but something not so urgent might get a chat message from Hubot.

Q: do your devops people care about the FE monitoring/errors? How do you get everyone to care?

A: they don't automatically get ops involved, they naturally work together when they need to. The teams also generate a lot more empathy for each other and get on more easily.

Q: how bad are the cross-browser issues?

A: they have a pretty modern user base so they actually get issues from really new versions of chrome rather than the really old browsers...


Sarah Mei – Unpacking technical decisions

“I can't see you too well – it's very bright. I can just see your glowing apples...”

Awesome bit of geek social hacking: Sarah literally calling to people to come talk to her during breaks, “even if I'm on my phone!” ...because she doesn't know people here, it's a long way from her usual conferences.

Sarah started in backend but now does about 50/50 Ruby and Javascript. Interesting shift over the years! This talk is about how we make decisions about code; and how we can get better at that kind of decision. While the talk uses Ruby examples it's not specific to Ruby... but the talk is also about humans; and that's the hardest stuff we do. Human relationships are much harder than code.

Code and humans are inseparable. You can't just have one or the other.

[Conway's Law: organizations which design systems ... are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.]

You can tell a lot about programmers by looking at their code – how much pressure they were under, how clear the scope was, what their coding background is (backenders write very different javascript than frontenders).

There are some key groups that turn up at conferences like Fluid... backenders, design+ux, and frontenders. But although they are very different in many ways, but they also all end up with the “which js framework to use?” question.

There are absolutely tons of options out there. But it's not specific to Javascript, all technical groups have these quesitons. Which data store, which x, which y.

There's heaps of data; there are always pro- and anti- blogs or presentations for every option. Our job is to make a decision and it is scary as there's a cost to that decision.

Many companies just live with the drag of past choices. However this is a great way to get disrupted by a startup who can move faster than you. It's usually not a catastrophe, more of a slow decline.

Because we don't make these choices often, we don't get the benefit of repetition – which is a key way we learn. So we don't have a lot of opportunity to get really good at making these decisions. Think about the 10000 hours meme – even though it's mostly untrue, there's a kernal of truth. We learn well by repeating – practicing – and evaluating the outcome then trying it again.

Decision frequency: we don't choose languages very often, we choose libraries on github more often and we choose names for variables all the time. The process is usually pretty opaque – we usually can't explain our choices very well. We tend to say it's gut, or experience.

How do people evaluate github projects? They usually start with the readme. You could also start looking into the API, look at the style of code. Commonly people look at the activity levels on the project, ask around for opinions of coworkers/peers.

Issues with this? Not everyone evaluates the same way; lots of the data is social data rather than technical data; not everyone does as many evaluations.

You can split it up:

  • Interface – readme, use gem
  • activity – commits, issues, Prs, etc
  • popularity – community strength
  • accessibility – reading the code, how accessible is this to my mental process, my style of code?

The Mei System:

people Accessibility Interface project
Popularity Activity

Many times the options will rate pretty evenly on all counts except accessibility. The different options will often feel different, and do you identify with the style of the code?

Angular feels very familiar to backend (Java) devs. This means there is less cognitive load as it doesn't require the java dev to learn an entirely new programming paradigm. Of course to non-java devs it's pretty disorienting to learn.

Ember meanwhile feels familiar to Rails devs. Backbone is older and will feel familiar to people who are used to a more traditional rending model, where JS works on top of a server-side rendered page.

So, accessibility can be very hard to evaluate – partly because people don't realise where the frameworks come from. The frameworks don't really advertise it, consumers may not realise their own bias.

So how do you see the bias? You don't have to necessarily know what the bias is, but you'll feel the results. How hard does it feel to use it?

Plus you don't always want to choose the easiest option for accessibility – sometimes the team is ready and wanting to learn a new way, sometimes they don't have the time or energy.

[Tweet: “the only reason nimrod isn't adopted instantly is because people don't evaluate things logically”]

[“A change of perspective is worth 80 IQ points.”]


Q: how do you balance the New And Shiny aspect?

A: part of a project's success is how enthusiastic people are. If you have people who are bored and frustrated, it will be hard to retain them if they can't work on something fresh and new. So it has value to the business to keep them!


Tom Armitage – Some of these Things are not like the others

Internet of Things (IoT) – not such a great term as it “others” the things from their context. Tom prefers “connected objects”.

Why are some objects different and what can we learn from that?

Hello Lamp Post – entered into the Playable City competition.

“If the city is a platform, you should be able to play with it!”

The term Smart City is as divisive and inaccurate as IoT - “networked city” makes more sense.

[Adam Greenfield quote about networked cities being “made of declarative actors and objects/spaces that have their own networked identities and shadows”]

The first thing Tom put on the web was a bot that tweeted the opening and closing of the Tower Bridge in London. He partly did it to see what it would be like to have the information in his twitter stream like any other identity – “bleating about what it's up to.”

The city is a surface and a platform to build on. It's already playable, could we draw that out? Can we use existing infrastructure? A lot of street furniture items have unique IDs on them (lamp post ID numbers, postbox ID numbers, etc). They thought a lot about the idea the city is a diary of your experiences within it. It maps out places where things happened, things you remember happening there.

So their ultimate idea (in technical terms) was to allow people to SMS the codes from street furniture – no smartphone needed. You would then enter a dialog with the object... you'd find out what other people had said about the object or the place.

Hello Lamp Post - YouTube:

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The system was very simple. There were “hero objects” with the full instructions on them, which is where most people would start. But then they knew how it worked so they'd try other things, which didn't need the detailed instructions.

The writing of the SMS messages was careful – the objects had a limited personality, they did not change mood, they didn't pretend they were really sentient. It was friendly but didn't get too deep. It would ask questions like “what is your favourite memory of Bristol?”; some of the responses were really interesting, many quite lovely.

The connected city breaks away from the most common focus – objects owned by just one person or household.

Connected objects are not just Things With Wifi, they are things made more useful. This is why the networked bus stop is useful – it brings the information “when is the bus coming” right to the place where you need it. Meanwhile the bus itself is on the network, broadcasting its location so the bus stop can know when it's going to arrive. But it's worth noting the bus stop is not personified.

The tower bridge was personified because it was on twitter, so it spoke in the first person. Curiously, it didn't matter that it was just tweeting the timetable – because if it was a bit inaccurate it didn't matter. If you really need to know if the bridge is opening you can't rely on a twitter bot repeating the timetable, you'd need to monitor the actual motors, or the boom gates.

Hello Lamp Post used a lot of “cold reading” tricks – like a psychic reading it would say things that couldn't be wrong. It ensured the object prompted the person correctly - they had to iterate to get it all right, some phrasing didn't work and people would respond to the wrong part of the message. One message would respond to the user's last comment with "Really?" then ask a new question, but people would respond to the 'really' and not the question.

Columba – a public/shared bike compass that always points to the nearest empty bike rack, so you can return it when you get to your destination.

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Noting the idea that prototyping connected objects can hit the same old problem of people not differentiating an object created to test an idea, vs. something intended for sale.

For the bike, he started with a web app – which let him become familiar with the data set. He then created a small physical device – this let him explore the experience. He learned how often to show the lights, to let the user press a button to interrogate the data, he discovered the OLED screen was more legible than expected.

Two conceptual ideas: the big stick and the binoculars. One lets you see a long distance, the other lets you poke something from a distance. So seeing your washing machine's status on your phone is the binoculars; being able to turn it on or off from a distance (or from a different time – thinking of time as distance) is the big stick.

These are the most common things that are done with connected objects.

Richer interactions go beyond these two primitives. The connected pill bottle doesn't just replace the cap, it hooks in to the entire context of medical care (filling prescriptions, notifying caregivers if you haven't taken the medication).

We talk about “seamlessness” a lot, but sometimes you need seams! Doors are there to be a speed bump to entering your house.

[Example of an electronic lock that failed to let in the owner and failed to stop a stranger entering the house... The August Smart Lock Works Like Magic—When It Works | WIRED]

Some seams are meaningful. Some should be exposed to the user. Some are valuable when they are exposed.

There are questions that need to be asked about connected devices – what happens if the service that drives an object is not there any more? Can you still boil water with a smart kettle, if the service is down? Will the object work if the owner moves to a new city or country?

Trust is a big thing to ask. People invest in objects, they use them in their lives. If they lose trust it's a big failure.

A big seam in the tower bridge twitter bot is that when he manually replies to people, the tone is clearly different. It breaks the magic.

A big seam in hello lamp post is you have to get the format absolutely right or it doesn't work. Once you're past that seam it's ok, but it's a lot of friction up front. That's why they had the hero objects, to help people through that hump rather than pretending it wasn't there.

Connected objects need to be resiliant to failure. The bus still arrives even if the bus stop doesn't announce the timetable. The bike compass is quite vague so it's “wrong” less often.

“The default for a city is resiliance.”

Don't just consider things we can easily connect to the network. We should think about things that are useful, to look for the potential.

Communally owned, public connected objects are more interesting than those hidden in the homes of the affluent.

Closing Keynote: Dan Hon – An internet for humans, too

Web Directions 2014

Dan showed some ads created for Facebook while he was working at an agency – trying to improve its perception. One very fun (cosplayers finding people to hang out with), one very deeply emotional (a journey through cancer).

This was a key moment in the conference - Dan showed a great deal of emotion on stage, something people usually try to hide. He also owned the fact it was a little weird that it's possible to actually kind of make us like Facebook, even just a little bit more.

“That was basically weaponised empathy...”

Now Dan's at Code For America.

“I'm excited about the future but I'm also really angry about the present.”

Over the past 40 years computers have been getting smaller and cheaper and better... and now we are so close to realising that future. But we're pushing to build an internet of Things rather than an internet for people.

There's an empathy gap between people and the companies building things.

[another page from the Usborne Book Of The Future... showing the way people imagined an iWatch.]

If the network is the new electricity, then that network should be for people not of things.

“I wanted a flying car and all I got was a way for the entire planet to communicate instantly via massively powerful pocket computers.” - @fraserspeirs

We have a responsibility as people who build things, to remember we are building them for people.

We know Google Glass... we know there are bars that have banned them, there are people who viscerally hate Glass. “The segway for the face”, “glassholes”... why do we have such a reaction to this technology? Part of this is a failure to understand the context in which regular people operate. Sure there's a possibility we could see the world like Tony Stark or the Terminator, but we forget the intrusiveness of technology in social contexts.

Glass came from a place where it was considered awesome to strap a camera to your face, and keep other people on the periphery of their vision.

We have lots of activity monitors – personal metrics and data, thanks to things like fitbit and fuelband. But there's a problem with what to do with the information. Charts and graphs. Cool, but what does it mean? What action should I now take? Is that number good or bad? Should I tell my doctor about this information so they can explain it all to me?

Have you ever had a situation where you felt a company might have been doing something that wasn't in your best interest? People often say “phone companies”. AT&T have some awful clauses in the T&Cs that you can opt out of... by writing a letter, to which you never get a response. Tivo did the same thing.

“There are lots of opinions about Apple and it's easier to have them now that Steve Jobs has passed away.” ...but they did put something into peoples iTunes library without asking. This didn't go over well. We can't say whether Steve Jobs would have done it or not... and it was actually Bono who (kind of) apologised, not Apple.

Government examples... What if the data being moved without consent was your medical information? This happened with in the UK – which had a panic driven last minute opt-out process that nobody understood. Cal Fresh is a food stamp system in America – in San Francisco the signup process is 50 screens long. About 25% of people who do sign up drop out due to administrative problems. This is actively user-hostile; and given food stamps is about survival, it's simply inhumane. You could be forgiven for thinking they didn't really want you to sign up for it.

But we don't have to have technology that is dehumanising. We can cross this chasm of understanding.

Let's close the gap.

Web Directions 2014

In the UK, MPs were refusing to deal with people if they didn't send a letter (as in snail mail)... but it turned out you could fax them. So someone created a “fax your MP” service. Later when they were supposed to be sending a letter to their GP to opt out of medical data being collected, they adapted it to “fax your GP”. This was not hard to build. Why wasn't it built immediately? ...why was it built by a third party and not the government which knowingly created the need?

Why be hostile to users?

Dropbox allows you to opt out of enforced arbitration with a simple online form. Why didn't AT&T or Tivo? Isn't it causing them more work, losing them money manually processing letters?

Zappos do a great thing where they will help you find the shoes you need, even if they don't have them. If you ring up and what you need is out of stock at Zappos, they will send you to a competitor that does have them... because they still want to solve the problem you came to them to solve.

The UK Government is doing some work to make things more usable:

  • The bank holiday information used to be a big table with everything; but now the page tells you when the next one is. They realised from the search data that people just wanted to know when the next holiday is coming up.
  • The process to set up enduring power of attorney was simplified – it's an awful process often done under stress. Making it easier to do is a human thing.

(referring to the power of attorney form) “This isn't new... it doesn't rely on webGL, it doesn't rely on a framework that's two weeks old... although it is responsive.” It turns out part of the future we imagined and wanted was a future where things worked.

A lot things aren't hard, you just have to care about them. The more time people spend with users, the better products get.

Remember that users are simply people.

Not trying is a signal.

“It's the basics” … it's not about the new, the surprise and delight. It would actually be better if we just fixed the damn thing and made it work. Get those absolutely simple things right, like sending a form.

Let's close that gap.

Help at


Opening Keynote: Genevieve Bell, Being human in a digital world

Genevieve grew up in and around indigenous Australian communities and probably learned more by going bush than going to school. This left a great impact on her world view.

She was starting a successful academic career (tenure track at Stanford) when she had a life-changing conversation, with someone who said “couldn't you do better?”. He tracked her down (on her home number, no less, after her employer blithely gave the information out) and got her to come out to lunch with a lot of tech people, ultimately running into people from Intel.

She had a truly weird interview, as Intel was trying “behavioural interviewing”. They were trying to get her reaction to “constructive confrontation” - which she found meant “men yelling at her”. Being strong and Aussie she “got a bit Bolshy” and fought back – and they loved it, offered a job on the spot. She said no; and they chased for six months...

Eventually she decided that she wanted to be part of making a digital future. If she didn't, it would be left to these crazy engineers who didn't seem to really understand humans.

On her first day they said “we need you to help with two things... first, women”... on further investigation this meant all women. “I wrote down 'women, all' with lots of underlining under the 'all'” This was such a huge topic, it was a couple of days before she remembered they didn't actually get to the second thing. When she asked they said it was “an ROW problem”... what? Rest Of World. Meaning “non America”.

Web Directions 2014

So her job was to find out what women – all women in the world – want... and what everyone who is not in America wants. Or to put it another she had to explain everyone who was not in the building to the people who were in the building.

This has turned out to be an extraordinary job. In addition to finding out what people want now, it involves imagining what the future might be – and what we want it to be.

[slide: 1950s nuclear family playing a board game in a self-driving car.]

While many future predictions, eg. From the 1950s, weren't far off, many are and remain indefinitely deferred. Jetpacks definitely, self-driving cars... maybe. But the nuclear family with the father all dressed up in a tie for a trip in the car... probably not. The social context changes.

How fast do things really change? Genevieve illustrates this with the extraordinary changes to cricket since the 1980s. The players have different physiques, different styles; the broadcasting has changed; the umpiring technology has changed. But underneath all that some things about cricket haven't changed in 100 years – we still want to beat the English, we still chant from the stand. It's about a collective activity.

Sometimes it's easy to be very taken with the things that change, but not the things that don't. We forget to look at the things which aren't changing.

Five things about humans that don't really change:

  1. We need friends and family. We are social creatures. We may imagine a different family, but we still imagine a family. Our social circles and how we interact with them have changed, but we still have an enduring need to have a social circle. People connect to other people.
  2. We want to belong to a community. We want to be around people who share our values, interests, skills. Over the years it could be guilds, unions, clubs. Online there are communities around collecting things, watching/enjoying things, sharing activities.
  3. We want to have meaning in our lives. We have a desire to belong to something bigger than ourselves. In the 20th century that has often been nation states, churches... online now people gather around ideologies in a similar way. Hashtags on twitter give people a way to find things bigger than themselves that they agree with or want to belong to.
  4. We use objects to talk about who we are. We have an “ongoing twitch” where we need to use stuff to talk about ourselves. What brands you choose, the clothes you wear, the objects you use. We use these to show who we are, what we do, what we believe in.
  5. We need to keep secrets and tell lies. This makes us indelibly human. This is not just the active lies we tell, it's the omissions and white lies. Which is interesting when we live in an era that makes it tremendously hard to keep things secret on the internet. Studies have shown 100% of surveyed participants admitted to lying on their online dating profiles. We actually have a notion of permissable lies... less permissable lies...

These things have all been impacted by technology – particularly thinking today of everything from electricity onwards.

There are many things which are now in flux:

We worry about our reputations. People do not want their television to automatically tell their friends what they are really watching. They want to filter – and in fact to lie. People also have interesting worries that a household that's connected to the network will be gossiping about us - that the fridge is telling the washing machine what we've been eating.

We have a deep seated fear that we are deeply uncool and wish we weren't.

Technology has had social impacts around revealing the truth of our lives, ever since electricity lit our homes at night and revealed when we were at home. There were fears that advertising our presence at night would 'put women and children at risk'.

We need to be bored and we want to be surprised. In 1919 Heidegger lamented the loss of boredom and argued we needed boredom to be creative. Medical science shows that actually we do need be bored to create a different neurological state, we need to pass through it. It's problematic if we never do pass through it, or habitually prevent or defer that state.

Needing to be bored is tremendously difficult in a world full of devices to keep us entertained. There is an interesting challenge here. We live in a world of algorithms designed to send you content that interests you – even whole books being recommended.

But interestingly if people read a lot of similar books, or consume a lot of similar things of any kind... eventually people get bored and want something new. Game Of Thrones surprised people, which contributed to its massive success.

There's something unnerving about a world in which we can't reinvent ourselves, because everything we have already done is remembered. We are caught in a tension where a form of consistency is expected, so it's hard to leave behind things in the past.

Our technology is also relatively simple and focused on removing surprise. What if your device not only told you about the nearest coffee, but it told you to stop and admire some surprising public art first because it might challenge you and make you think?

We want to be different. Is the internet making us more global or more local? This is a question that is long standing – when shipping opened up nations to each other, there were fears that there would be a loss or dilution of culture.

We use differences to understand boundaries, to know what makes people “us” or “other”. We do want to be different from other people.

We want to feel time. As long as there have been techologies, we have shaped our notion of time. Clocks, obviously, stabilised something which used to be extremely local. Clocks fixed time in place. Electricity messed with this! It changed what you could do and when; it certainly changed the way we sleep and think about sleep. While our devices function best when they are full of charge and data... humans need downtime. Humans function best when they can be “off” for a while, but our devices do not respect this.

We now have the concept of “digital detox” (often terribly unsuccessful). There are companies turning off their email servers over the weekend and having staff leave their devices work - because they are more productive if they actually switch off when they are out of the office. We have people trying to decide on rules about what devices are allowed in the bedroom.

We want to be forgotten. We want to have the capacity to not be remembered, we need to be able to forget. If we literally remembered everything we'd ever said and heard, we would struggle to process it. Being forgotten is important because it allows us to be forgiven and to reinvent ourselves.

In silicon valley there is a persistent preoccupation that “everything is different” and everything is moving fast. But it's not true. Some things are moving very slowly, some things don't change much. Human nature is quite stable.

Web Directions 14

[Stable: friends and family, shared interest, something bigger, our objects, our secrets

In flux: reputation, surprise/boredom, difference, time, forgetting]

If there was one request from Genevieve it would be to tackle the challenges in the flux side, because there is a great deal of opportunity there.

We should make sure we are asking the harder questions and doing the harder work.


Jonny Mack – Building trust

Tagline: communication, conflict, teamwork

Rather than jumping straight into the work – our natural desire to start building, start drawing and designing – how can we create a team dynamic where great work will occur?

A tale of two teams... a main team and a side project.

On the main team there was no real way for people to deal with conflict. People simply wouldn't budge. There was a lot of heirarchy, everyone was a stakeholder... a lot of product decisions were being made behind closed doors. Nobody was talking about barriers to success. Communication was terrible – information wouldn't come out to the rest of the team, just decisions from behind the curtain.

The other team was essentially the opposite: they communicated openly, they had trust. They could deal with conflict, they could work through decisions and challenges. They felt that they could make something together that was better than anything they could do alone.

So, Jonny wondered how can you create the good team? How can you go in and set things up so the good dynamic was created?

[book: Developmental Sequence in Small Groups. Tuckman, 1984. The forming, storming, norming, performing model.]

So how can you see this play out? The movie Cool Runnings!

  • Forming – they just get the group together, they want to be accepted so they don't really have conflict, they're observing each other and gathering information. It can actually be a very comfortable stage to be in, due to the lack of conflict.
  • Storming – now the team has built up enough trust, they start challenging each others opinions and … well, having arguments. This can be very difficult for people on the team who don't like conflict. But it's an important stage as it facilitates growth. Many teams get stuck in this stage, though, and it can be very unhappy.
  • Norming – agree on rules, goals, methodologies; even when that means accepting disagreement but putting it aside. Set the norms of the group.
  • Performing – the group an operate very smoothly, with minimal supervision. The team's a well oiled machine. It's frustratingly rare but it's where the best work happens.

[Showed some clips:

Jony Ive – talking about how he will remember his team(s) at Apple as much or more than the products they created

Rick Rubin - “I trust the artists... I want them to feel this is their record...” and how in his early career he insisted on His Way and it did not create the best result.

Nick Cave – talking about collaboration in 20,000 Days On Earth... “these strange collaborator creatures”


The common thread through all of this is trust.

People trust each other, trust each others' talents, trust each other to make the right decisions.

So how do you create trust? “I don't really know... I have some thoughts... I'm still learning this and asking the questions...”

  • Trust yourself – trust you are bringing value to the team, to what you are doing. In doing this you gain confidence, you know that when you speak up it's valuable.
  • You need to have humility, you need to be humble and realise that while you might have good ideas someone else may have a better one. Which is tough when you think you're right or you have a key insight.
  • There are trust exercises and personality evaluations that can help a team learn to understand each other.
  • Team building activities can be really good – shared experiences... indoor skydiving “was great because we ALL looked like idiots!” People were laughing and joking around... so hokey as this stuff can seem, it really can work if you commit to it.
  • A lot of trust concepts also apply to your users. You need to build trust with your users; and if you lose their trust you are in trouble. Case study of AirBNB responding to a host who wrote a very unhappy post about getting their place trashed... although they didn't handle it well at first, they came through with changes ($50k guarantee, identity verification) to try to stop it happening again.
  • Consistency is huge – companies often say one thing and do another, which is a trust killer.

What we build is not lasting – the web is ephemeral. What can last is the experiences you have building it, the teams you build to do it. So create great teams.


Jonathon Colman – Build better content

Web Directions 2014

Ambiguity makes people guess – content strategists are enemies of ambiguity.

Hey wait, a content strategist for Facebook... but isn't it all user-generated? Actually no, his team creates content experiences so you get the best out of Facebook.

Example: they are making a new privacy checker to remove ambiguity about who can see the things you are posting.

Language is an interface. (concept Jonathon got from Andrew Hinton)

Content strategy != copywriting, managing people or content marketing. It is interaction design, user experience.

Page views are not your goal, much as it might seem like it... you have a goal, a mission and that's why you are out there. Page views are just a measure, or side effect.

Content experiences have a hierarchy of needs, just as our broader lives do... if you want to hit the peak, “joy”, you need to make a great deal of use out of the brief moment of time you have the user's attention.

So how does Facebook do it?

Start with why – it's always more interesting than the what. Then move on the how and finally the what (the actual design, engineering, content, research, etc..).

FB's core values: focus on impact, be open, be bold, build social value, move fast.

Yes, FB usedto say things like “done is better than perfect” and “move fast and break things”... but through a process of double-loop learning, questioning their norms, their values changed. Now they say things like “nothing at facebook is someone else's problem” and “measure twice, cut once” or “give more than you take”. Jon's favourite: “slow down and fix your shit” - people put post-it notes over the Y to make it “fix our shit”.

Web Directions 2014

Minimum viable content: the minimum they ask of all their products.

Content principles:

  1. keep it simple
  2. get to the point
  3. talk like a person

These things form Facebook's voice.

Error messages make good illustrative examples, as they are common to all systems and they tend to be very obscure and not human at all.

“Sorry, there's a temporary issue with your post. Please try again in a minute.”

This tells you what has happened; where it happened; and what you can do to fix it and when can you try to do it. This deals with fear, anxiety, relief and impatience.

A good error message can speak to the feelings that your users will have when things go wrong.

Things learned working on four products:

“Saved” essentially a bookmarking system for FB.

  • Less content is more difficult. He had to use four lines of copy to explain a great deal of information.
  • Don't get in the way. “Save (name of the link)”, not “Save this awesome content...”
  • Make the most of small spaces. Use less words... noting that after they are translated out of English they are often much longer!


  • great content is invisible
  • optimise for clarity and show examples
  • break apart big decisions – let the user consider each part, in some cases you actually want them to slow down and think before they decide

Anonymous login

  • it's hard to tell where design ends and content begins
  • use research to iterate rapidly

Nearby friends

  • empathy is the hardest thing we do every day – the hardest part is not the technical, it's the people.
  • The product had a lot of opt-in considerations, it's a double-opt-in system. It had to be easy to decide to opt in and easy to opt out again.

Great concept of the five layers where content strategy works – see the slides!



Doug Bowman – A voice for everyone

Web Directions 2014

(My notes are a bit brief for this as I tended to get drawn into the story.)

If eyes are the windows to the soul, the voice is the gateway to the heart.

But a voice can only be powerful if it's heard.

When Doug was a kid he was really shy, but he discovered he could draw – and let the artwork speak for him. So it's interesting from that start for him to work at twitter, which is about letting peoples voices be heard...

Doug formed the design team at Twitter from scratch. He got to set it in motion and scale it. He worked there from the days it was a tiny little loft, to its current massive headquarters.

“Twitter has always been about people.” It is fundamentally a human service, for the people by the people.

The usual definition of a network is that it connects you with people you know... Twitter also connects you to people you want to know.

Doug ended up in a twitter conversation with Seal (the musician) after Seal complained about the new twitter app; and Doug replied that he was listening if he had feedback. This is not something Doug would ever have imagined would occur...

Because people can listen in and drop into conversations, you can end up with some delightful or at least surprising interactions. Businesses are often more human than they are in any other channel; and more playful.

Web Directions 2014

Not everyone gets twitter at first. Takes a lot people some time to work out a way to get any value out of it. Roger Ebert said he'd never join, until he lost his vocal cords. After that, he took to twitter and posted the way he would have spoken. He used it as a second voice.

[Amazing quote from Roger Ebert about what twitter is and what it's for.]

Twitter is a series of moments. The small moment tweets often become fascinating in the aggregate – tracking the hashtags #hungry and #tired show some really clear patterns. Tracking “feeling happy” tweets shows a really clear bias to the second half of the year. Also twitter is very clearly “hung over” on New Years Day, the day after St Patrick's Day...

Big moments on twitter bring lots of people together at once. Great events, terrible tragedies... twitter celebrates and mourns, or shares the tension of an escalating situation.

James Buck was covering the Egypt protests and when he was arrested he could tweet “arrested”. His family was able to take action and he later tweeted “free”.

Twitter now has 500m tweets every day. This has grown from 2m/day in 2009.

Twitter often plays a supporting role for people doing great things. It is not Twitter doing these things, so much as a tool people use to add something to what they're doing. It can amplify a voice.

Social media did not create the Make A Stand lemonade story but it certainly played a role:

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Although these stories have been rooted in Twitter, the message applies to everything we make.

We are the creators of the modern age and we have a responsibility to make sure peoples voices are heard.


Closing Keynote: Tobias Revell – Haunted machines

Web Directions 2014

(themed around Halloween and horror movies..)

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Technological literacy is not as high as we might imagine. People (not many but some) were duped by pranks getting them to put their iPhone in water or the microwave..!

Our devices are so networked they talk to a huge number of other machines, yet we have a very low level of understanding of them or control over them.

  • The OSX Yosemite update had an opt-out to stop Spotlight sending all your keystrokes to Apple (here's how to fix that)
  • Some books disappear from your Kindle in Singapore because they are banned there – you didn't truly buy the book, you rented access under a set of conditions you didn't particularly know about.
  • Someone was able to hack a wifi printer and replace the firmware with Doom (2014 hack)

Any sufficiently advanced hacking is indistinguishable from haunting.

Nest devices were hacked last year and used to launch a DDoS attack. You can be haunted by your own house. The more devices that are connected the more devices can be hacked.

Some ghosts are friendly of course... it's a very common trope in horror. They do tend to be relatively subtle and mostly unseen.

Should we offset the existential burden of being human onto a machine? Nest is great as it can reduce your impact on the planet in terms of energy use... but what are the implications of handing that off to a machine? How do you know it's truly doing it properly?

[Telecommunications of the 1990s by BT... where the amazing new futuristic chat actually doesn't work very well. Surprisingly realistic...]

(To the gathered crowd:) “You can speak machine!” but most people can't...

Paro – companionship robot... it has therapeutic benefits for the elderly. “But you're still just lying to old people! It's an algorithm in a seal suit!”

We can't tell the difference between people and bots – there are many cases where people thought something was a bot and it turned out to be a human... and people felt a bit cheated. There was a telemarketing system which sounded like a robot, but it was actually a person sitting and hitting pre-recorded sound bites. Apparently telemarketers no longer trust their employees to speak?!

Any sufficiently advanced render is indistinguishable from reality.

There are people building computers in Minecraft... in fact they are trying to build a computer in Minecraft that can play Minecraft. Minecraft is a child of the network. If the internet had a physical landscape it would probably be Minecraft.

Ghostbusting... How do non-developers deal with connected devices?

[ – bits of data that reflect the state of the human race. It doesn't really mean anything...]

Tobias created a film The Monopoly of Fair Use, and finds the sparked conversations reveal that people didn't realise they could do things like that... they don't have to follow the rules.

The cloud is strange as it is so different from what it sounds like – we talk as though it's light and fluffy and amazing, but it's actually incredibly heavy equipment buried underground or in buildings. Our websites require masses of cables and servers and resources ripped from the earth and turned into computers.

There are no ghosts on the internet, there are just people. But we deal with the unknown by talking of ghosts. The internet is a ghost story.

“You control the perception of objective reality.” The way developers show things to the rest of the community shapes the way they understand it.

Happy Halloween!


Thank You Maxine

Web Directions 2014

WD14's wrap up included a thank you and standing ovation for Maxine Sherrin, who is moving on to new things after ten years as an organiser.

Like many others, my first impression of Web Directions came from Maxine. I turned up to pre-registration in 2005 feeling a long way from home (having travelled down from Brisbane ahead of colleagues) and Maxine immediately made me feel welcome. A little thing perhaps, but little things can often set the tone for bigger things to come.

Last thoughts

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WD14 was probably the most human and emotional Web Direction ever. Many talks went deeply into human motivations, relationships and identity. I suspect more than a few people had tears in their eyes as Dan Hon shared the 'cancer journey' video, an arresting moment on many levels. Ricky Onsman has an excellent post which talks about it.

Although not for the first time, we were powerfully reminded that our industry is responsible for building things with huge societal impacts. Our projects and organisations may not have the immense reach of Twitter, Facebook, Intel and github; but we still build products for people. We have a responsibility to do our work with a good heart, building for humans first and machines second.

It may seem slightly contradictory that many speakers challenged us to tackle problems which are important rather than impressive. The web as a whole is changing society; but in our own working life it may be that we have forgotten the need to 'slow down and fix our shit', to make the simple things actually simple.

So all in all, WD14 was something of a reframing: a reboot of the event and a shift in industry thinking. We've talked about the web a lot; we've talked about the internet of things. But this year the focus was nudged back to the people using the web, the humans living in increasingly connected homes rather than the devices they own.

And with that, we adjourned to the pub to poke fun at ourselves and talk about music :)

wd14 after party

Amazon Web ServicesAWS Public IP Address Ranges Now Available in JSON Form

Many of our customers have asked us for a detailed list of the IP address ranges assigned to and used by AWS. While the use cases vary from customer to customer, they generally involve firewalls and other forms of network access controls. In the past we have met this need by posting human-readable information to the EC2, S3, SNS, and CloudFront Forums.

IP Ranges in JSON Form
I am happy to announce that this information is now available in JSON form at The information in this file is generated from our internal system-of-record and is authoritative. You can expect it to change several times per week and should poll accordingly.

Here are the the first couple of lines:

  "syncToken": "1416523628",
  "createDate": "2014-11-20-22-51-01",
  "prefixes": [
      "ip_prefix": "",
      "region": "us-east-1",
      "service": "AMAZON"
      "ip_prefix": "",
      "region": "us-east-1",
      "service": "AMAZON"

Valid values for the service key include "AMAZON", "EC2", "ROUTE53", "ROUTE53_HEALTHCHECKS", and "CLOUDFRONT." If you need to know all of the ranges and don't care about the service, use the "AMAZON" entries. The other entries are subsets of this one. Also, some of the services, such as S3, are represented in "AMAZON" and do not have an entry that is specific to the service. We plan to add additional values over time; code accordingly!

For more information, read the documentation on AWS IP Address Ranges.

-- Jeff;

PS - By my count, there are now 10,130,200 IP addresses in the EC2 range. My code excludes the first (all zeroes) and last (all ones) address in each CIDR block.

ProgrammableWebAPIs Could Unlock Much Needed Banking Industry Transformation

Banks will need to open up their transactional data via API in order to maintain their foothold in a financial services ecosystem that is halfway through a decade-long industry-wide disruption, PayX CEO Adrian Hausser said Tuesday at the API Academy’s API360 Summit in London.

ProgrammableWebWeChat API Adds Payment Functionality

WeChat, the instant messaging service owned by Tencent, is popular in its home base of China but faces stiff competition from WhatsApp and others as it tries to expand globally. To compete successfully, it will have to add new features. To give developers access to its 300 million users, the company has just released an API for iOS and Android. The API allows sharing via WeChat's Message and Moments features.

Amazon Web ServicesNew APN (AWS Partner Network) Blog

The AWS Partner Network (APN) is a rapidly growing ecosystem of Consulting and Technology partners. These partners push the boundaries of what can be done with cloud computing by creating and bringing value-added solutions to their customers. Our goal is to continue to support the APN partners as they work to build successful businesses on the AWS platform. As our ecosystem grows, we continue to launch new programs, benefits, and content for APN Partners via the AWS Partner Network (APN).

New APN Blog
Today we are launching a new AWS Partner Network Blog that will serve as a central source for information that will be of interest to current and prospective APN Partners. We plan to provide up-to-date coverage of the entire partner ecosystem. Look for posts that discuss compelling APN solutions built on AWS, details on key AWS and APN launches of special interest to APN Partners, and stories of two or more APN Partners working jointly to provide a solution for a customer. The new blog is designed to serve as a real-time base for all things APN.

In addition to APN Partner stories, the new blog will keep you informed of additions to the APN program. We'll continue to launch additional programs, such as the recent APN Competencies (including Storage and the Life Sciences, with more on the way), intended to highlight the APN Partners with proven expertise in particular solution areas such as Big Data or specific workloads (Microsoft is a good example) We also have a program designed for Managed Service Providers.

The new blog will also put new APN launches in to perspective. You'll be among the first to learn about key information and why it is important to your organization. It will also cover new content on the APN Portal along with AWS Training and Certification launches and other news of special interest to APN Partners from across AWS.

Finally, the blog will take a closer look at the AWS, APN, and partner announcements that were made at AWS re:Invent.

-- Jeff;

Amazon Web ServicesAmazon AppStream Update - Access Windows Apps on Chromebooks, MacBooks, Kindle Fires, and More

AppStream can provide our customers with easier access to the tools they need on a wider range of devices than in the past.

Ray Milhem
VP of Enterprise Solutions at ANSYS

When I first wrote about Amazon AppStream last year, I described the AppStream APIs and showed you how to use them to modify an existing application to give it the ability to stream output to a wide variety of output devices. The AppStream SDK can be used to build customized streaming experiences that integrate local and remote applications in a unified fashion. As an example of what can be done when AppStream is used in this manner, see my blog post, Amazon AppStream Can Improve the New-User Experience for Eve Online.

Today I would like to tell you about an important new feature for AppStream. You can now stream just about any existing Microsoft Windows application without having to make any code changes. You simply step through a simple installation and configuration process using the AWS Management Console. Once you've completed the process, your users can begin to use the application.

This is a new way to deliver software that obviates the need for shipping CDs (you do remember those, right?) or waiting for massive downloads to complete. Your users can access the applications from devices that run FireOS, Android, Chrome, iOS, Mac OS X, or Microsoft Windows.

On the development side, running the remote side of the application in a single, well-understood, cloud-based environment can dramatically shrink the size of the test matrix. The client application is relatively simple, with responsibility limited to authenticating users, decoding video streams, and relaying local events to AppStream. Because the run-time environment is well-understood and under your control, issues related to libraries, DLLs, and video drivers are no longer an issue.

Finally, streaming applications from the cloud can protect your proprietary data and code from undesired exposure. Put it all together and you have a new and very powerful way to deliver applications to your users!

Getting Started
Let's take an existing Windows application and make it available via streaming! Since AppStream runs the application on EC2's GPU-equipped g2 instance type, I went to the NVIDIA Demos page and chose the Design Garage. Then I opened up the Console and selected AppStream:

I clicked on Deploy an Application and filled in the details:

Then I installed the application using the streamed copy of Windows running within the Console:

The download of the installation package takes place over the AWS backbone, generally at very high speed. This is yet another cool benefit of the cloud-based AppStream model.

To finalize the installation I clicked on the Set launch path button to tell AppStream where to find the application. Setting the path initiates the deployment process:

The deployment process can take 30 minutes or more (up to several hours) depending on the size of the application. As part of the process, AppStream creates an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) containing the application.

Once the deployment process is complete, AppStream will automatically launch a server and have it standing by to accept connections ( AppStream pricing is based on the total number of "streamed hours" per month, so you don't start to accrue any charges until the application is actually put to use).

The console includes instructions and quick links so that I can easily test my application using a sample client:

I downloaded the sample client and pasted in the quick link. Then I clicked on the Connect button and I was up and running without the need to install the application locally. Here's what I saw on my screen:

The presentation was very responsive and free of lag (I deployed the app in US East (Northern Virginia) and accessed it from my desktop in Seattle). I was able to rotate and zoom the image quickly and efficiently. Although I used the Windows client for this demo, I could have also used the Chrome client. This would allow me to run the Design Garage on any platform that can run the Chrome browser — Chromebooks, Macs, Linux desktops, and more.

In the example above I used the sample AppStream client. For production use you will need to customize the sample client or use it as the basis for your own, custom client. Your client will need to include a mechanism to authenticate users. For more information, read about Building a Client Application.

Try it Now
You should be able to think of all sorts of ways to put this new AppStream feature to use. You can deliver many types of applications (medical imaging, data visualization, and CAD all come to mind) to a very wide variety of mass-market devices without the need for lengthy downloads.

AppStream is currently available in the US East (Northern Virginia) and Asia Pacific (Tokyo) Regions.

I've saved the best part for last! You can try out this new feature at no cost as part of the AppStream Free Tier. The first 20 hour of streaming each month are free for one year. I'd like to invite you to go ahead, deploy an application, and take this new feature for a spin!

-- Jeff;

ProgrammableWebMicrosoft Announces OneNote Search API Beta Release

Microsoft has announced the beta release of its OneNote Search API. Bing search technology powers the full text search features of the latest OneNote API.

ProgrammableWeb: APIsAmazon Cloud Drive Trash

The Amazon Cloud Drive Trash API lets developers trash nodes and send them to the recycle bin. The nodes that get put in the bin can also be restored from their previous state. The Amazon Cloud Drive APIs are REST-based APIs that developers can add to web, desktop or mobile applications. The main Amazon Cloud Drive API provides a variety of abilities for developers to let their customers access the photos, videos, and documents they have saved in Amazon Cloud Drive. The Amazon Cloud Drive APIs are free and offer the experience to put your own creative spin, as a developer, to how the users upload, view, edit, download, and organize their digital content using your app. The Amazon Cloud Drive APIs can offer confidence and peace of mind to your customer, as their content is safe and accessible from Amazon Cloud Drive.
Date Updated: 2014-11-21
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWeb: APIsAmazon Cloud Drive Changes

The Amazon Cloud Drive Changes API lets developers sync and get updates from a specific checkpoint. The Changes API provides the ability to keep up with the changes in a customer account. The Amazon Cloud Drive APIs are REST-based APIs that developers can add to web, desktop or mobile applications. The main Amazon Cloud Drive API provides a variety of abilities for developers to let their customers access the photos, videos, and documents they have saved in Amazon Cloud Drive. The Amazon Cloud Drive APIs are free and offer the experience to put your own creative spin, as a developer, to how the users upload, view, edit, download, and organize their digital content using your app. The Amazon Cloud Drive APIs can offer confidence and peace of mind to your customer, as their content is safe and accessible from Amazon Cloud Drive.
Date Updated: 2014-11-21
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWeb: APIsAmazon Cloud Drive Nodes

Nodes are a primary part, a core function, as digital assets, of the Amazon Cloud Drive. The Amazon Cloud Drive Nodes API gives developers the resources to create, read and update the contents in a customer's account. The Amazon Cloud Drive APIs are REST-based APIs that developers can add to web, desktop or mobile applications. The main Amazon Cloud Drive API provides a variety of abilities for developers to let their customers access the photos, videos, and documents they have saved in Amazon Cloud Drive. The Amazon Cloud Drive APIs are free and offer the experience to put your own creative spin, as a developer, to how the users upload, view, edit, download, and organize their digital content using your app. The Amazon Cloud Drive APIs can offer confidence and peace of mind to your customer, as their content is safe and accessible from Amazon Cloud Drive.
Date Updated: 2014-11-21
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWeb: APIsAmazon Cloud Drive Account

The Amazon Cloud Drive Account API provides developers the ability to get information about customer accounts. The Amazon Cloud Drive APIs are REST-based APIs that developers can add to web, desktop or mobile applications. The main Amazon Cloud Drive API provides a variety of abilities for developers to let their customers access the photos, videos, and documents they have saved in Amazon Cloud Drive. The Amazon Cloud Drive APIs are free and offer the experience to put your own creative spin, as a developer, to how the users upload, view, edit, download, and organize their digital content using your app. The Amazon Cloud Drive APIs can offer confidence and peace of mind to your customer, as their content is safe and accessible from Amazon Cloud Drive.
Date Updated: 2014-11-21
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWeb: APIsPushetta

Pushetta is a software as a service company that focuses on delivering real time notifications, broadcasting messages to a groups of subscribers. The Pushetta API lets developers to integrate its service into their applications. With this API, users will be able to create different groups of subscribers specifically to the purpose of their message.
Date Updated: 2014-11-21
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWeb: APIsFileCloud Admin

FileCloud is a Dropbox-like solution that allows businesses to create private, brandable clouds for their employees, customers, and clients. These clouds provide file sharing, syncing, and mobile access services. FileCloud also comes with a number of features that differentiate it from other cloud services, such as active directory integration, searchable audit reports, remote mobile device management, and endpoint backup. The FileCloud Admin API enables users to access administrative methods for handling alerts, audits, checks, external objects, groups, users, etc.
Date Updated: 2014-11-21
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWeb: APIsQuatriceps

Tetragy is a Computation-as-a-Service company that focuses on mathematics education & publishing. The Quatriceps API lets developers integrate the QuatraTeX service into their applications. With this API, developers will be able to make calls/requests to receive instructional output for various mathematical operations. It is problem/solution generator that also has plugins for Drupal and Wordpress. QuatraTex is an online service for compiling LaTeX projects into PDFs.
Date Updated: 2014-11-21
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

Paul Downey (British Telecom)One CSV, thirty stories: 18. Choropleth

This is day 18 of One CSV, 30 stories a series of articles exploring price paid data from the Land Registry found on GOV.UK. The code for this and the other articles is available as open source from GitHub

Following on from yesterday I wanted to create a choropleth map to show how prices are distributed across the country. A number of people have constructed shapefiles for postcodes which can be used in d3 but as discussed on day 13 the licensing of this data isn’t clear.

So I wrote a small Perl script to use the points in the OS OpenData™ Code-Point® Open dataset to place each price into one of 1024 squares on a 32×32 grid, then a used a small PHP template to present the average price of each square as a coloured grid on an HTML page. Re-running the script for each year also shows how property prices have heated up over time:



A choropleth map made without a map. I’ve an idea about iterating on this hack for tomorrow. Provides Predictive Travel Suggestions Via Traitfy API

Web developer Tom Rutka has released an app named that utilizes the Tratify personality API. Powered by Traitfy's big data and psychology, the mashup implements similar predictive methods used by Amazon or Netflix to determine a travel destination using behavioral clues. 

ProgrammableWebAkamai Exposes Content Delivery Network APIs

Akamai Technologies extended the reach of its content delivery service in the cloud with the introduction of a set of open APIs that are made available via a SaaS Provider Option that it introduced.

Amazon Web ServicesAmazon Zocalo Update - Mobile Apps + 5 TB Files

I have a couple of pieces of good news for current and potential users of Amazon Zocalo. Both items are available now and you can start using them today.

Zocalo Mobile Apps
You can use our new mobile apps to access Zocalo on your iPhone or Android device using your corporate credentials. You can work offline, make comments, and securely share documents while you are in the air or on the go! The Android app is available on the Kindle and Google Play stores. The iPhone app is in the iOS AppStore.

Here's what the Android version of the app looks like:

And here's the iPhone version of the app:

Support for 5 TB Files
Zocalo users have been asking us to support larger files. Many of the requests have been coming from health care and media companies. For example, one of our largest Zocalo customers is a media production company. They appreciate the fact that Zocalo stores data in S3 and asked us to match the existing S3 object size limit of 5 TB.

I am happy to report that you can now use Zocalo to upload, sync, and share files of up to 5 TB! As part of this change, the existing sync clients have been improved and now handle uploads and downloads with greater efficiency. They will now automatically resume large uploads and downloads as necessary (this feature makes use of S3's existing support for multipart uploads).

The sync clients will prompt you to update. If you’re not running a sync client already, you can install one today.

-- Jeff;

ProgrammableWebTwitter Search Update Exposes Every Tweet Since 2006

Twitter has announced a brand new search architecture that indexes every public Tweet since 2006. The new system consists of a batched data aggregation and preprocess pipeline, an inverted index builder that runs on Mesos, Earlybird shards, and Earlybird roots. Twitter first added search functionality to the platform in 2008 through the acquisition of Summize, a Twitter search service that also provided an API.

ProgrammableWebConnectWise Embraces Agile Development And REST API Design

To meet the standards of the evolving web API industry, ConnectWise has introduced a RESTful API framework. This release replaces their SOAP APIs that Jeannine Edwards, Director of the ConnectWise Platform, realizes have become outdated.

Daniel Glazman (Disruptive Innovations)Lettre à une tarée

Ceci est une lettre ouverte à la connasse profonde, tarée majeure, qui m'a grillé une priorité en roulant à 80 km/h en zone 30 ce jeudi 20 novembre à 08h38 au croisement entre la rue Jeanne D'Albret et la rue Rouget de Lisle à Saint-Germain en Laye.

Chère connasse pressée,

Je me tamponne que votre fils soit en retard à l'Institut Notre-Dame de Saint-Germain en Laye (où vous l'avez déposé sous mes yeux) ou pas, qu'il soit en retard par sa propre faute, la vôtre ou celle des embouteillages. J'attends de pouvoir quitter mon domicile et rejoindre mon lieu de travail sans avoir à entrer en collision latérale mortelle avec une furie demeurée dans votre genre.

Si je n'avais pas laissé - ce que je fais toujours - traverser une enfant sur le passage piéton, si cette seconde de ralentissement ne m'avait pas été accordée par le destin ce matin, je serais entré sur ce croisement au moment où vous avez grillé la priorité parfaitement signalée par un panneau et une ligne au sol et vous seriez morte, votre fils serait mort, tous deux encastrés à grande vitesse dans le côté droit de mon véhicule. Je serai moi-même fort probablement en assez méchant état, vu la vitesse délirante à laquelle vous rouliez.

Vous n'avez aucune excuse : vous empruntez très certainement ce chemin plusieurs fois par semaine et vous saviez pertinemment qu'il y avait là une priorité, vous saviez parfaitement que cette priorité est dangereuse, vous saviez parfaitement que vous êtiez à proximité d'établissements scolaires en zone à vitesse limitée puisque vous alliez y déposer votre fils.

Vous avez sciemment mis en danger au moins trois personnes pour quelques minutes de retard au bahut et il s'en est fallu aujourd'hui de peu que le retard de votre fils ne se transforme en absence définitive. Rien ne peut justifier votre comportement potentiellement suicidaire et meurtrier et ces quelques lignes sont bien peu cher payé.

Je vous méprise, espèce de crème d'andouille à un pourcent de matière grise.

ProgrammableWebAppy Pie API Introduces In-App Customer Loyalty Cards

This article is a company-provided press release and ProgrammableWeb cannot vouch for the accuracy of the statements within. If you have questions regarding the information below, please contact the company that issued the press release.

Daniel Glazman (Disruptive Innovations)Spammeurs téléphoniques

À la demande générale, et pour faire plaisir au petit Laurent qui a l'air hagard face aux hordes déchaînées de spammeurs téléphoniques, voici mes dix techniques de gestion de la chose:

1. la simple

Écouter précisément la première phrase du spammeur ou de la spammeuse, celle qui sonne dans le genre « je suis monsieur machin de la société Truc » et dire immédiatement « non merci, au revoir » et raccrocher. Si on vous rappelle, ce qui m'est déjà arrivé, laissez libre cours à votre colère, au moins ça défoule.

2. la fourbe

Bien écouter le nom de la société mentionné dans la première phrase et interrompre immédiatement haut et fort le spammer/la spammeuse avec un « savez-vous que votre société ne nous a toujours pas payé un contrat de trois cent quarante mille euros d'il y a six mois ? ».  C'est alors l'autre côté de la ligne qui raccroche très vite, en général.

3. la pas pressée

Rentrer dans le jeu du spammeur/la spammeuse et les faire poireauter au moins 3 minutes au téléphone avec des questions totalement débiles, délai à partir duquel l'écran de contrôle de leur manager vire au rouge. Lachez-vous juste après...

3. à la Francis Blanche

Jouer le vieux con à moitié sourd avec un accent à couper au couteau. Genre « Allo pichour ??? Ché fou zentend mallll, pourrrrrriez-fou parler très plus fort ? ». En général, le spammeur/la spammeuse craque dans la première minute. On peut aussi jouer le bègue, c'est très efficace, mais plus lent.

4. la fachée

Interrompre dès la seconde phrase avec un « m'avez-vous demandé si vous me dérangez ? Et bien vous me dérangez. Vous vous prenez pour qui ? » et laisser venir le reste.

5. l'informée

Interrompre dès la seconde phrase avec un « je travaille chez Orange et suis sur liste anti-prospection, vous n'avez pas le droit de m'appeler, quel est le nom de votre entreprise et d'où appelez-vous ? »

6. la coquine

Commencer à causer de tout et n'importe quoi avec le spammeur ou la spammeuse pour arriver à leur faire dire des trucs qui n'ont rien à voir avec leur appel. En général, j'arrive à leur faire dire de quel pays ils appellent et je diverge vers le tourisme dans leur pays et le climat du jour. Au bout de trois minutes, ils me larguent et ne me rappellent plus jamais.

7. l'experte

Dès que le spammeur ou la spammeuse a présenté son produit, lui dire que son produit c'est de la merde avec des arguments techniques de tous ordres pour finir par un « vous savez que vous pourriez avoir des ennuis si des gens portaient plainte contre leurs produits ? ». J'ai fait ça récemment avec un vendeur de fenêtres. Une variante est de dire très tôt « ah mais je suis déjà client chez vous » genre j'ai déjà acheté vos super-fenêtres il y a un an merci au revoir.

8. la très pressée et très efficace, ma préférée

En générale, le spammeur ou la spammeuse décline son identité puis vous demande si vous êtes bien Monsieur ou Madame Machin. Répondez tout simplement "ah mais pas du tout ici c'est une entreprise". Dans 99% des cas, ils couperont court à la conversation et ne rappelleront pas.

9. la geek

Avoir un fichier de sons particulièrement pénibles à entendre, genre craie qui crisse sur un tableau, sur son ordi et le jouer dans le micro de votre téléphone. Je l'ai fait une ou deux fois, c'est assez sympa.

10. la rageante

Faire semblant d'être TRES intéressé et couper la conversation au milieu d'une phrase comme si c'était un problème technique. Le spammeur ou la spammeuse va vous rappeler, faites ça quatre ou cinq fois. En tout il y en a pour 40 secondes environ en tout. Ils vont craquer avant vous :-)

Je dois mentionner un  cas spécial : j'ai été appelé en début de semaine pour... de la VOYANCE ! J'ai été tellement étonné de la chose que je me mis à éclater de rire au téléphone et me foutre de la tronche de la spammeuse qui n'arrivait plus à placer une. Je lui ai raccroché au nez après une bonne minute d'éclats de rire et un « ma pauv'dame, merci pour l'éclat de rire » final.

ProgrammableWebGoogle Fit Developer Challenge Promotes Healthy Competition

Google has announced a developer challenge in hopes of promoting the creation of Google Fit applications. Submissions are now being accepted and the deadline is February 15, 2015. Winners will be chosen and announced in March. The best 6 apps will be prominently featured on Google Play. Runners-up will recieve various smart devices from Google Fit partners, allowing further development on the latest hardware. 

ProgrammableWeb: APIsHumanitarian Data Exchange Ebola Data

The Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) provides a dataset containing top line figures for the Ebola outbreak. The dataset includes information on cumulative cases of ebola, cumulative deaths from ebola, open ebola treatment centers, people receiving food aid, appeal coverage, and currently affected countries. The Ebola Data API allows users to access this data for integration into their own applications.
Date Updated: 2014-11-20
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWeb: APIsSchool Loop High Priority Groups

School Loop is a learning management system designed to power professional learning communities, especially those that support at-risk youth. It has many features, including easy integration with Google, student performance tracking, learning management teams, secure in-network mail, and daily email newsletters that cover assignments and grades. The SchoolLoop High Priority Groups API enables users to programmatically create, list, update, and delete high priority groups.
Date Updated: 2014-11-20
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWeb: APIsInternet Acronym Server

Silmaril is an international management consultant company that also has an accessible collection of acronyms thru the web. The Internet Acronym Server API allows developers to integrate this service into their applications. Users of the applications will be able to search for and access different acronyms available in the Silmaril’s database.
Date Updated: 2014-11-20
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWeb: APIsZendesk Voice

Zendesk is a software as a service company that provides businesses with different communication tools. The Zendesk Voice API enables developers to integrate the Zendesk Voice service into their applications. With this API, users of the applications can take voice calls, or route the calls to their mobile phones.
Date Updated: 2014-11-20
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWeb: APIsZendesk Zopim

Zendesk is a software as a service company that provides businesses with different communication tools. The Zendesk Zopim API enables developers to integrate the Zendesk Chat service into their applications. With this API, users of the applications can interact with each other by chat.
Date Updated: 2014-11-20
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

ProgrammableWeb: APIsZendesk Help Center

Zendesk is a software as a service company that provides businesses with different communication tools. The Zendesk Help Center API enables developers to integrate the Zendesk Help Center feature into their applications. With this API, depending on the request, users of the applications will be able to access the filtered information that is already in the Help Center.
Date Updated: 2014-11-20
Tags: [field_primary_category], [field_secondary_categories]

Amazon Web ServicesCloudSearch Update - Price Reduction, Hebrew &amp; Japanese Support, Partitioning, CloudTrail

I've got some good news for current and potential users of Amazon CloudSearch. As you may already know, CloudSearch is a a fully-managed service that makes it easy to setup, operate, and scale a search service for your website or application. If you use CloudSearch, you will benefit from a price reduction, additional language support, and control over domain partitioning (we released these features earlier this year but I didn't have a chance to blog about them at that time). You can also take advantage of the recently released support for AWS CloudTrail.

Price Reduction
An ever-increasing number of AWS customers are adopting CloudSearch and we are scaling accordingly. We are reducing the hourly charge for CloudSearch by up to 50%, across all AWS Regions and search instance types. This change is effective as of November 1, 2014 and will take effect with no action on your part. With this change, the overall cost to run CloudSearch compares very favorably to the cost of setting up, running, and scaling your own search infrastructure.

Check out the CloudSearch Pricing page for more information.

Additional Language Support
Earlier this year we introduced language-specific text processing for Hebrew. With this addition, CloudSearch now supports a total of 34 languages. Here's a search of some Hebrew-language content:

In mid-October we added support for custom tokenization dictionaries for Japanese. You can now control how CloudSearch tokenizes Japanese by adding a custom tokenization dictionary to the analysis scheme that you use for fields that contain Japanese-language text. To learn more, read about Customizing Japanese Tokenization in the CloudSearch Developer Guide.

Control Over Partitioning
If you are using the m2.2xlarge search instance type, you can now preconfigure the number of index partitions for your search domain. Preconfiguring a domain will improve the performance of large uploads. You can also add partitions to boost query performance by reducing the number of documents per partition. CloudSearch will still scale the domain up and down based on the volume of data and traffic, but the number of partitions will never drop below your desired partition count. You can exercise control over partitioning from the AWS Management Console, the CloudSearch APIs, or the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI). You can set it when you create a search domain:

And you can update it later:

CloudTrail Support
Last month we added AWS CloudTrail support to CloudSearch. You can now use CloudTrail to get a history of the calls that are made to the CloudSearch API. The calls are recorded and delivered to an Amazon S3 bucket. To learn more, read about Logging Amazon CloudSearch Configuration Service Calls Using AWS CloudTrail.

-- Jeff;


Updated: .  Michael(tm) Smith <>