Explore My Notes

Wireless charging is a disaster waiting to happen | OneZero

In my tests, I found that wireless charging used, on average, around 47% more power than a cable.

Not only that, but slight changes to the alignment between phone and charger decreased efficiency massively, so that millimetre tweaks could result in 80% more energy for a single charge. Plus, wireless chargers use electricity 24/7, amounting to as much as 6 watt-hours a day of energy just turned into heat. For all current smartphones to move to wireless charging, we'd need the equivalent of 73 more coal power stations to meet the additional global requirements; if all of those chargers used the worst-case alignments, it could be closer to 150 more power stations!

Interesting to consider the environmental impact of a purely convenience-based gimmick. Do we really need it?

Fund efforts to solve the climate crisis | Ecologi

I've seen some good reviews of Ecologi. For a relatively low monthly cost (<£5) you can fund tree planting, rewilding initiatives, and environmental community schemes all over the world. They've also produced an app that challenges you to change your personal behaviour and live more sustainably. There are definitely parallels with Pawprint.

Verify your green power | Carbon.txt

A very early-draft stage proposal for a new web file verification system. Basically, you add a carbon.txt file to your site specifying where the site is hosted. Hosts would then provide a file stating where their data centres are. Those, in turn, state where the energy is coming from. Energy providers can do the same, though that data is publicly available anyway in most European countries. So by following the carbon.txt chain, you can verify whether a site genuinely runs on green energy or not.

A universal follow button for RSS | SubToMe

SubToMe is a fun little open-source project: a reusable button that lets people immediately subscribe to your RSS feed from a huge list of feed readers. Simple, intuitive, solves a genuine issue. Nice 👍

📆 15 Aug 2020  | 🔗

  • Frontend
  • RSS
  • social web
  • indie web
  • follow
  • subscription
  • feed 

Web carbon calculator | WebsiteCarbon

Accuracy in carbon footprint tools will always be a little dubious, but the Website Carbon Calculator is still a neat idea. theAdhocracy is currently sitting at 89% "cleaner" than the average website, meaning that 0.14g of CO2 is used to load the homepage. I'm hurt a fair amount by Netlify not being a green host, too. Room to improve, but I'll take that as a solid starting point.

CSS @property superpowers | Una Kravets

Looks like the new CSS @property extension has landed in Chrome. Una has put together some interesting examples and explanations on the fallback mechanism in particular. Usage appears to be the same as initially outlined.

📆 15 Aug 2020  | 🔗

Naturally ventilating Amsterdam's Breeze hotel | CIBSE Journal

I love seeing new engineering ideas for creating low-energy buildings and the "earth, wind, and fire" method by Dr Ben Bronsema shows promise. Basically it uses a combination of solar energy/heating, thermal air currents, and natural wind to keep buildings cool; the idea was created through studying termite mounds (which are exceptionally efficient at maintaining internal temperature). The Breeze Hotel in Amsterdam will hopefully open this year and be the first true test of the system.

Of related note, this article references similar engineering principles being used in Seattle (for quite a while now). The building there was built with lots of windows and a central, open atrium (think doughnut shape) so that air in the centre would heat up, rise, and pull cool air through the buildings as the convection current got going on warm days. Neat.

Prometheus unbound | Cavalorn

Is Prometheus a good movie or a bad movie? My answer is yes, and I feel like this deep dive into the mythology underpinning the film is part of why. There's a lot to consider here:

  • Christian motifs throughout the film were obvious to me on first viewing (including the "crucifixion" scene as the pilot destroys the ship to save humanity, the washing of David's feet, and much more) but it is verifiably nuts that the original script included a heavy-handed hint that Jesus was actually an Engineer and that his crucifixion was the inciting incident in why the Engineers fell out with humanity. Which, I mean, fair enough? I thought it was just a hatred of AI but that fits somewhat better.
  • I'm not sure I'd ever truly considered the fact that the "black slime" was somehow mirroring the host's intentions, so when a selfish, self-preservation-fueled human ingests it the result is an abomination that only considers itself.
  • Obviously the film has a lot of references to the Prometheus myth from ancient Greece, but I wasn't aware that this is seen as a stepping stone in an incredibly common proto-mythological narrative of the "Dying God". As a storytelling construct it's clearly ancient and ties in with a lot of religious and mythological constructs: the idea of a God that sacrifices themselves in order to bring life into the world or let it achieve a true potential. Nor had I noticed the common thread of torn open abdomens (very Alien of course), with Prometheus himself having his liver removed each day and obviously you have the spear strike on Jesus, amongst others.
  • I also think that mural in the first chamber of the Xenomorph fighting an Engineer (with abdomen torn open) is evocative of the yin-yang concept.
  • I generally like the concept that the film is about the difference between acting to save others (self-sacrifice) versus acting to save yourself (self-preservation). Plus, framing the Engineers as a culture that values self-sacrifice above all else makes sense of the panspermia scene, the attack on David/androids (considering they are life born without suffering or sacrifice), and the killing of Weyland, a man who has spent a lifetime coming up with ways to prevent death.

Jamstack is fast only if you make it so | Nicolas Hoizey

Critique of JavaScript-heavy frontend frameworks and useful deep-dive into the issues of using client-side scripts or libraries for webmentions. Nicolas rightfully points out that this isn't just less performant for users but also increases resource usage for the webmention.io service, which is run for free.

Sometimes, using the server-side build is enough to get data from an API and serve HTML to all visitors, which is much better for performance.

Accessible hidden content | The A11y Project

Great write up on the current best practices around hiding elements keeping all users in mind:

.visually-hidden {
  clip: rect(0 0 0 0);
  clip-path: inset(50%);
  height: 1px;
  overflow: hidden;
  position: absolute;
  white-space: nowrap;
  width: 1px;

Or if you need to unhide when focused (better for keyboard users etc.):

.visually-hidden:not(:focus):not(:active) {
  /* ... */

Alternatively, need to hide an element from non-visual users (screen readers, smart speakers, reading mode), use aria-hidden: true and then if you also need to hide visually:

.my-component[aria-hidden="true"] {
  display: none;

Or use the HTML5 hidden attribute.

State of frontend 2020 | The Software House

Some interesting results from the latest Software House frontend survey. Surprised to see that over a third of respondents reckoned CSS-in-JS would be a "fad" and gone in three years; personally only Redux on that list seems likely (a suspicion their results elsewhere corroborate as many people seem to be moving away from Redux to Hooks and the Context API).

Incredible to see Netlify beating out GCP and Azure for hosting usage, though given that two of the experts interviewed for the final results are from Vercel I do wonder how closely TSH are tied to the Jamstack community. Also a surprisingly large number of people using micro frontends... I should probably try to work out what they are 😂

SEO questions I think missed the mark, as these days a lot of SEO maintenance is done via SEO tools or outsourced (in my experience), and similarly, I think it's a stretch to claim that the dev/design divide is closing just because developers are likely to have used Zeplin or InVision. If anything, I feel like these tools may have widened the divide by making it easier to cut all communication lines, just email a link instead.

The most worrying element though is this:

Only just over half of respondents said they actively "take care of accessibility" within the applications they work on.

The hell are the other half doing then? It's one thing when that kind of result crops up in surveys focusing on JS or the whole tech team, but in a frontend survey!? Making the application useable is literally our job, so if you aren't responsible for accessibility what are you responsible for? Sigh... 🤦‍♂️

📆 07 Aug 2020  | 🔗

  • Frontend
  • JavaScript
  • accessibility
  • survey
  • a11y
  • front-end
  • SEO
  • Netlify
  • web hosting
  • CSS-in-JS
  • Redux
  • Context API
  • Jamstack 

A foodie road trip in the Outer Hebrides | Olive Magazine

Our trip to the Outer Hebrides a few years ago has made us incredibly wistful to return at some point, so this list of great food spots is perfect:

  • North Uist Distillery now produces Downpour gin (love the name ♥) and are working on a whisky using the oldest barley breed in the UK: bere
  • Hebridean Smokehouse in Clachan for smoked scallops and pâté
  • Namara Café in Grimsay for seafood (at the back of the Kallin Shellfish shop); the bacon and scallop rolls are a speciality, crab rolls are exceptional
  • Uist Scandi Bakery in Lochboisdale (South Uist) has great cinnamon buns and sourdough
  • Scallop Shack, Uig on Lewis for cheap local scallops (honesty box system so need cash or can be preordered via Facebook)
  • Flavour chocolates include a Harris Gin variety (Harris Gin also getting a mention, obviously)
  • Sam's Seafood Shack, a blue caravan near Clements Church in Rodel, has a daily menu depending on the catch

Also, Tigharry Schoolhouse sounds like a great holiday rental in the Uists. Plus, the Euston to Glasgow sleeper gets you within striking distance and Car Hire Hebrides is a useful company to remember.

📆 07 Aug 2020  | 🔗

  • People & Places
  • Scotland
  • travel
  • food
  • Uist
  • Hebrides
  • Lewis
  • Harris
  • seafood
  • bakery
  • gin
  • whisky
  • chocolate
  • smokery
  • tips 

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