Explore My Notes

Reality behind pub names | Ferment Magazine

Some interesting facts taken from an article by Louise Crane in Ferment 68:

  • Pub and inn names/signs became a thing in Britain in the 12th Century, after a Royal decree from King Richard II that all such places would have a locally distinctive name and bear a painted sign clearly communicating that name for those who could not read. This was partly because a lot of Crown-employed Ale Tasters (a job that would check beer was up to standard, measures were fair etc.) were illiterate.
  • As a result, lots of pubs became "The White Hart", which was the official symbol of Richard II (hence the common crown around the deer's neck).
  • Similarly, the White Lion is the symbol of Edward IV; the White Boar is Richard III; and the common Red Lion is James I of unification fame. There are so many Red Lions because James I actually forced all "important buildings" to display his heraldic animal, and pubs were often the most important place in a community, so many just changed their names for simplicity.
  • The shortest pub name in the UK is the Q Inn, in Stalybridge, Manchester.
  • Pubs named along the lines of The Swan with Two Necks or The Two Necked Swan these days often have signs with, well, multi-headed Galliformes, but the name actually makes more sense. During the reign of Elizabeth I, the queen would occasionally gift swans to lucky patrons. These royal birds would have their webbed feet "notched" with two small incisions, or "nicks", to show their heritage. Over time, "two nicks" became "two necks", and the pub name was born. Definitely not common, but if seen it means that royalty once stopped there (or favoured the pub in some way).

Compose to a vertical rhythm | 24 Ways

An interesting look at using consistent line-heights to force a vertical rhythm to a page. Specifically, it looks at setting a base line-height (in this case 18px) and ensuring all text uses it. That means smaller fonts have larger gaps between lines, larger fonts have smaller. I'm not 100% sure I like the outcome on the example page given, but there's definitely some interesting use-cases and applications.

just as regular use of time provides rhythm in music, so regular use of space provides rhythm in typography, and without rhythm the listener, or the reader, becomes disorientated and lost.

📆 07 Aug 2021  | 🔗

Why compliments break brains | The Oatmeal

I have long struggled with taking compliments in certain situations. Basically, the better I know someone, the more I consider them a friend, the harder it is to get a compliment from them. That's weird, but I've always felt it was at least a little universal. The latest Oatmeal comic confirms my suspicions, and neatly explains/encapsulates most of the emotions and oddities that come with being complimented far better than I'd have ever been able to describe them 👏

Some interesting points:

  • If compliments hit a "self-esteem nerve" (i.e. something you have deeply held, likely negative personal beliefs over, like weight or clothing or comedic ability) then your brain can struggle to accept them, for all the same reasons that providing facts to conspiracy theorists only entrenches their belief structure. Instead, it may just create a "useful" lie that allows both realities to coexist; "useful" because often it assumes the compliment is false and intended for some manipulative purpose. Sigh...
  • Public compliments that are referencing recent events are largely okay, but the longer the lag time between event and compliment, the more it is unexpected, and the greater the cognitive load it can produce.
  • Importantly, that transfers to the workplace, so whilst the whole "criticise privately, praise publicly" thing is useful, if the praise gap is too long it can leave the recipient burdened rather than benefitted. Worth considering 🤔

60 years of rewilding | The Conversation

Monks Wood Wilderness was a regularly ploughed field 60 years ago. Then (for whatever reason) it wound up without clear ownership and became an environmental study well ahead of its time: a rewilding project decades before the term was first coined.

This isn't all that surprising; plenty of places have looked into how areas respond to varying levels of intervention, both human and faunal, plus it provided a good excuse for the local council to simply ignore any questions around land management. Still, it's an interesting and useful study that proves how fast rewilding can occur.

The field in question benefitted from being adjacent to existing mature woodland, but even so, it's now a fully functional late-stage oak wood, with populations of rare species including marsh tits and purple hairstreak butterfly. There are over 400 trees per hectare, many of which are oak, and strong populations of deer, songbirds, bats, and insects. All in just 60 years. Imagine what would happen if the government started rewilding thousands of similar pockets of land?

The original council note that kickstarted efforts:

It might be interesting to watch what happens to this area if man does not interfere. Will it become a wood again, how long will it take, which species will be in it?

📆 30 Jul 2021  | 🔗

  • Natural World
  • rewilding
  • Britain
  • wilderness
  • environmentalism
  • climate change 

Safari isn't protecting the web, it's killing it | Tim Perry

People joke about Safari being the new IE6 a lot, but I've never seen as succinct and well-reasoned a take on just how true this is becoming than what Tim has written. Their argument breaks down into multiple sections, but clearly demonstrates that Safari (and the WebKit team) are fundamentally failing the web, through a combination of (what appears to be) stubbornness, protecting existing business interests, and poor development practices (to be clear, Tim only mentions number three on that list, but the others seem fairly likely).

For example, I knew (and have personally been frustrated by) the fact that Safari seems to always be the last to ship new web features, but seeing a full list of fairly basic functionality that is still missing was still informative (especially with some of it having shipped a decade ago in Chromium or Firefox). Ditto seeing a detailed list of web APIs and elements that have shipped in WebKit, but did so years after widespread adoption elsewhere.

One aspect of Tim's article I found interesting was how WebKit's monopoly on iOS was framed as a good thing, effectively forcing devs to actually care about the browser engine. I'm all for diversity in browsers (and browser engines), but I think this is a stretch: Apple are just abusing their competitive edge here and I thoroughly hope that the EU (and many other courts) slap them firmly back into place soon. Still, they have a point that when this does happen, WebKit's own behaviour may end up being its downfall:

There is no point in winning on principles if there are no users left.

On why Safari should be leading innovation, not playing catch up (and how their ridiculous release cycle is hurting their competitiveness):

A far better way to improve APIs would be to ship such features early in Safari, behind flags & origin trials, and gather feedback from as wide an audience of developers and browser implementors as possible before they become stable, so that feedback can help every browser include better APIs.

On why a 6 month minimum release cycle hurts the web and forces people off Safari:

This makes the whole problem so much worse, because even if bugs were quickly recognized and fixed, they're going to be around for at least 6 months, and likely well beyond too

On the localStorage bug that I hadn't realised was still an issue 🤦‍♂️:

As an example: the localStorage bug above seriously breaks a core web API, and was very quickly fixed (within 24 hours! Superb) but today nearly 3 months later that working fix still hasn't been released to users

On why taking a hardline stance against the new web APIs that Chrome is shipping will ultimately leave Safari (and Firefox, they're just as at fault here) in the dust:

That's not to say that every website will use these shiny new APIs - they're mostly isolated to web application use cases. In some ways that's worse though: your average user isn't going to install a new browser to read a news article, but they might if it offers them reliable notifications from their chat app (background push), makes it easier to work with a webapp they use at work every day (native filesystem), or if it's required to set up a new bluetooth gadget (web bluetooth). Once they switch for one thing, it significantly increases the change they switch for everything.
The percentage of users who'll never use Chrome out of principle is vanishingly small compared to the group of users who will switch to the best tool for the job.

On why WebKit, Mozilla, and others should be actively working with the Chromium team to ensure these new Web APIs aren't just what Google wants, but will actually consider aspects like privacy and mobile performance, instead of just refusing to join the discussion (and thereby letting Google win):

Safari and others can't simply ignore serious proposals for popular features that Chrome wants to implement. They need to engage and offer alternatives, or the problem will only get worse.

Deceptive dark patterns | adactio

"Dark pattern" is one of those phrases that could be problematic,  or could just be evocative (there are some obvious race-related issues with equating dark/darker with bad/worse, but there's also a legitimate cultural attachment to light/dark as in day/night). As Jeremy puts it:

The phrase “dark pattern” is …problematic. We really don’t need to be associating darkness with negativity any more than we already do in our language and culture.

But, it's also one of those terms which don't make a huge amount of sense if you step back and look at it with fresh eyes. For both reasons, I like Jeremy's suggestion of moving towards "deceptive pattern", which is more on-the-nose as to what it's trying to convey, and avoids any lingering sense of problematic language. Good, I think I'll adopt it 👍

(I wish there was some way to pseudonym tags in Craft...)

Time to update your theme-color meta tag | Stuff & Nonsense

I have mixed feelings about the inclusion of Safari's new editable browser chrome, but love it or hate it, more and more iOS and OSX users will end up seeing it. Andy hasn't touched on any of the controversies around the tag, but their article does a solid job of outlining what's changed, why, and how to make the most of it.

For example, I hadn't realised that theme-color was already used by PWAs installed from Chrome; nor did I know that Safari had enabled media queries on the tag, meaning that you can do things like this (code is Andy's example):

<!-- Dark mode theme: blue -->
<meta name="theme-color" media="(prefers-color-scheme: dark)" content="#0e4359">

<!-- Light mode theme or no preference: red -->
<meta name="theme-color" content="#a62339"> 

Also, good to have confirmed that this will be a user preference:

Safari users can turn off coloured toolbars with “Preferences > Advanced > Never Use Background color in toolbar” but I suspect most people will leave the default turned on.

📆 29 Jul 2021  | 🔗

  • HTML & CSS
  • theme-color
  • meta tag
  • PWA
  • Chrome
  • Safari browser
  • theme
  • dark mode
  • a11y
  • media query
  • example 

Fully repairable laptops | Framework

A fully repairable laptop design, as thin as a standard ultrabook and with high-end Intel parts, up to 64GB RAM, and up to 1TB of hard drive space. I/O is hot-swappable, so you can configure the four ports to what you most need and modify in the future if those needs change (or on the fly, if they change a lot).

Right now, the downsides I see are a non-touch monitor (though colour reproduction looks great) and the fact it's only available in the US and Canada as pre-orders. Hopefully they thrive, though, because the machine looks great, the ethos is extremely welcome, and the innovation in aspects like the I/O modules and the BIOS battery switch (so cool!) means this feels like a genuine competitor out the gates, rather than an enthusiast/hacker hope'n'see.

📆 28 Jul 2021  | 🔗

  • Technology
  • laptop
  • right to repair
  • modular
  • innovation
  • eWaste 

A dictionary of problematic terms | Self Defined

A community-led, open-source project attempting to define problematic language (in English) and suggest better replacement terms. Unfortunately, not all listed phrases or words have detailed breakdowns, but those that have do a great job of outlining the historical or cultural contexts that gave rise to the language in the first place, and why the modern usage is less than ideal (or not; some terms are deliberately listed for being positive), including sources or further reading.

Terms are also marked up with at-a-glance categorisation, such as cultural appropriationracist language, or slur. Even if I don't 100% agree with some of the arguments presented (it skews American and therefore can lose or ignore some localised context), it's a brilliant resource for fact-checking, finding more inclusive language options, or just increasing awareness of the nuances involved.

Guide to React plus TypeScript | GitHub

I find navigating the type options in React (and decoding what they actually do/mean) really difficult. It's layers of abstractions on top of layers of more abstractions 😄 Luckily, this guide provides a lot of useful context and some well-reasoned defaults (though I don't agree with them all).

The variations of the commonplace book | Chris Aldrich

An interesting overview of the history of note-taking, specifically as it relates to the concept of a commonplace book and the myriad related forms, including the most recent idea of a digital garden.

It also serves as a reminder of all the things I want to achieve in this space, but have yet to find the time...

On the general lack of understanding behind note-taking:

People are “taught” (maybe told is the better verb) to take notes in school, but they’re never told why, what to do with them, or how to leverage them for maximum efficiency.

On the historical impact and use of commonplace books (I really like this sentiment):

... [commonplace books are] somewhat like a portable Google search engine for their day, but honed to [the author's] particular interests.

On florilegia, a term I've not come across before:

Florilegia are a subcategory of commonplace book starting around 900 CE but flourishing in the 12th and 13th centuries and primarily kept by theologians and preachers.

On wikis, and the discovery that I share my birthday with both the ending of the Third Age of Middle-Earth and their creation – sweet 😄:

Inspired, in part, by Apple’s HyperCard, Ward Cunningham created the first public wiki on his website on March 25, 1995

(Mildly related, but this does strike me as a good idea for a microsite, perhaps bday.theadhocracy.co.uk 😁)

On the (less than ideal) history of the term "second brain" (and why other terms should probably be preferred):

Second brain is a marketing term which stands in for the idea of the original commonplace book.

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