→ Some Will Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape

Beautiful raw video by Nervous Energies of Aaron Gillespie playing “Some Will Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape” acoustic.

There’s a lot of songs / artwork / films that have moved me, but only a handful I can sincerely say have pulled me through a time in my life.

This song is one of them.

→ Front-end Performance

In addition to soaking up as much knowledge as I can about CSS architecture, I’ve spent a ton of time recently learning more about front-end performance.

Harry Roberts excellently rounds up and explains here in detail a lot of the strategies I’ve picked up over the last few months, plus a few more. He covers markup structure, parallelisation, prefetching, gzipping and minifying, among other things.

Definitely a must read for anyone diving into this topic.

→ CSS Architecture

One of the things I love most about the work I do is that I’m constantly learning.

As I work on web applications long-term more and more and my role shifts from being a “designer who can develop” to a “front-end developer with a background in design”, writing better CSS is constantly on the front of my mind.

And by better, I mean CSS that scales across an application more easily and presents content more beautifully on more devices, both past, present and future.

I’ve been soaking up as much knowledge as I can. There’s been a lot written about this subject lately, but Jonathan Snook’s book and Harry Roberts’ article Code smells in CSS have stuck out as being especially helpful to me.

My First JavaScript Plugins

This fall I released my first two JavaScript plugins on GitHub. They’re both rather simple, but I find them really helpful in my work and my hope is others will too.

Responsive Table Headers

My usual way of handling tables for narrow viewports in responsive layouts is to convert the cells into block elements. This is very easy to do with CSS and I find the table usually remains very readable, except when the table has a header.

Instead of being on top, the header cells now need to be repeated multiple times inline next to each of their respective body cells.

Responsive Table Headers is a jQuery plugin that automate this DOM manipulation on the browser side and keeps the markup cleaner and more semantic.

Check out the code, docs and demo at the GitHub repo.

Format SymbolSet Stars

I pre-ordered Symbolset as soon as I saw it. The idea to make a semantic symbol font for the web using OpenType ligatures was brilliant.

I quickly found myself using their star symbol in ratings systems. With Sybmolset, you literally put the word “star” in your markup when you want to show a star. For ratings, i would rather output the more semantic and backwards compatible “4 stars” for a rating instead of repeating the word star multiple times.

Format Symbolset Stars is a JavaScript plugin that automates this DOM manipulation on the browser side and keeps the markup cleaner and more semantic. If you have Modernizr installed, it checks for support of @font-face before making the manipulation.

Check out the code, docs and demo at the GitHub repo.

Website Hosting Recommendations

As a website designer and developer, I frequently get asked by people I meet whom I recommend they host their website with. Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of web hosts for clients which has given me the opportunity to compare them firsthand.

Domain Registration

Registration is the purchasing of yourwebsite.com, in pre-digital world terms, it’s the listing of your address and phone number in the yellow pages so that people know where to find you.

There is only one company I recommend for domain registrations – Hover.

Their primary business is registering domains, they make money by doing a great job at this one thing, not doing something else and bundling registration in. Their interface is extremely intuitive and makes you feel like you have complete control over your domains, one of the most important assets your organization has.

Hosting

Hosting is the purchasing of space on a server for your files to be stored, in pre-digital world terms, it’s the physical space your rent out to operate from.

If you know you will be hiring a professional to build your website for you, stop here. Let them recommend the hosting that they prefer to deploy your site onto.

There are million different hosting set-ups to choose from. The rest of this post is for those with relatively low traffic sites; for example, a small business or non-profit, a newly started blog, or a designer’s portfolio.

My Current Host

I use A Small Orange to host this site and the five other ones that I directly manage. ASO offers the standard Linux cPanel configurations that many other hosts do, but their pricing model protects their servers from being as overloaded as other companies in that category.

Overloaded servers cause your site to load slower. Users won’t stick around to wait for slow loading pages and Google may even penalize you in their rankings. Even if you have the most basic blog theme with no images or JavaScript, if the MySQL calls to generate the page take forever to return, your page will load slow.

Other Options

If you do need the high storage / high bandwidth and low cost of a large hosting company, I’d recommend using InMotion; this site was happily hosted there for its first couple of years, from my experience, their servers run much faster than their big-name counterparts and their admin UI isn’t littered with ads.

If you’re a designer or developer and have the budget for some extra features; MediaTemple comes recommend by dev gurus I follow; they’ve created their own control panel that has a lot of really nice features that cPanel doesn’t, plus they’re huge supporters of the design community.

If you’re 100% on WordPress, WPEngine comes recommended by WordPress gurus I follow; your site will be on a server built just for WordPress that will have speed and security that would take you a lot of time and expertise to set-up on your own.

Not technically minded?

If you don’t want to deal with any of the technical challenges of setting a server up and don’t have the budget to hire a web developer, you can register your domain with Hover and point the web traffic to WordPress or Tumblr (blogs), Carbonmade (portfolios), Bellstrike (non-profits), Virb or SquareSpace (all of the above) and point the email traffic to Google Apps or Hover.

→ America's Finest Timelapse

I grew up in a pretty rad city…

→ Joy: The Fight vs The Dance

Jon Foreman:

The “dancing” at SOMA was easy to learn. Throwing my fist in the air with the rest of the pubescent throng, I found that I could fit in just fine.

Needless to say, I loved this article, and the anecdote about the mosh pit at SOMA was just the beginning.

I do so often choose the fight over the dance, I settle too easily for insignificant victory instead of reverberant joy. I find it especially absurd that I do this in marriage, when I know “my wife and I are struggling for the same thing.”

A Response to the Kony 2012 Backlash

Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign has been all over social media since it launched. I’ve also seen a lot of links to a critical response entitled Visible Children as well and felt I should respond to some of the arguments that were put forward.

I would consider myself a lay person on this subject, but I have traveled to LRA affected countries multiple times and have spent hours upon hours researching and following the development of the LRA over the last six years.

While I disagree with the author’s assessment of Invisible Children as a non-profit, I’m going to only write about the arguments he makes against the execution of the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act that President Obama signed into law on May 24th, 2010 and IC’s support of the plan of action stated in that bill.

These are the primary statements he makes that I disagree with:

“Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them.”

IC doesn’t defend, deny or even attempt to hide the problems with human rights abuses that exist inside the Uganda government, the UPDF, nor the SPLA. I haven’t extensively researched humans rights abuses in the UPDF, but I have trouble with the idea of one group’s human rights abuses being used as a reason to allow another one’s far greater abuses to go on.

“Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006.”

What country the LRA is residing in is irrelevant. Invisible Children doesn’t claim that Kony needs to be apprehended for the betterment of Ugandans and their most recent project was in DR Congo. IC’s redevelopment focus is centered in Northern Uganda because that’s where the overwhelming majority of those affected by the LRA reside.

“Any effort to capture or kill [Kony] will almost certainly result in many children’s deaths, an impact that needs to be minimized as much as possible. Each attempt brings more retaliation. And yet Invisible Children supports military intervention.”

I can assure you everyone at IC is painfully aware of this reality.

The reasons stated is one of the chief reasons why the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act was drafted. The only way to capture Joseph Kony without creating a major threat to the innocent around him is to use sophisticated military intelligence gathering methods to prepare an unpredictable ambush. This is something the UPDF is incapable of doing on their own.

To me, the writer also seems to be implying that IC supported Operation Lightning Thunder in 2008 / 2009. That was never my impression when that operation was going on. A peaceful resolution with Joseph Kony has been pursued exhaustively. The most recent talks collapsed in 2008 in Juba. I remember the heartbreak of all of us who were advocating for peace when it happened.

Kony used the time of peace to regroup his armies and then launched one of his worst offenses in recent memory six months after the Juba talks ended.

Popular support of military intervention has come after every other conceivable option has been attempted without success. Something isn’t always better than nothing, but it is in this situation, I believe it is.

To close, I will point you to a video of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, so eloquently telling MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow why she supports the President sending military advisors.