Since 2010

The website obesity crisis

Sunday 3 January 2016

Maciej Cegłowski:

The way to keep giant companies from sterilizing the Internet is to make their sites irrelevant. If all the cool stuff happens elsewhere, people will follow.

On the other main point of this talk - page weight - zerosleeps isn’t too bad, but it does include jQuery and a lightbox plugin, and I’m also using Google Fonts. Posts which pre-date October 2015 and have images are unneccesarily heavy because those pages only contain one decent-sized image; posts since then have a much smaller thumbnail which links to larger images (hence jQuery + plugin).

It often ain't as broke as we think

Saturday 2 January 2016

The iFixit guys can occasionally miss the point, and slam products which are better for not being repairable. That being said, I do enjoy peeking inside stuff that I don’t want to or can’t take apart myself.

Their sister-site,, uses the vacuum cleaner as a nice example of something that should be repairable in this article. Think of all the abuse and crap a vacuum cleaner takes, but how many people spend any time at all maintaining these things or replacing worn-out parts?

My Mum always taught me that it’s better to make do with what we already have than to replace, and my Dad taught me how things work. A good combination when it comes to looking after a house and it’s contents.

I have a similar problem with people who announce that they need a new computer because their current one is running slowly. It’s the same principle as cleaning the filters on your Dyson - if you don’t look after the software on your computer, and you use it to suck up rocks, then things are going to degrade. The hardware in your computer doesn’t get any slower over time, just the demands being placed on it.

My brother and I had this argument the last time he visited. He has a GPS thingy that helps golfers out on the course, and he needed a computer to add some new courses to it. He couldn’t believe his ears when I refused to install the crappy software needed to do the job onto my own computer. The concept of even thinking about this was completely foreign to him - he’s gone his whole life just clicking stuff without any consideration, and is therefore one of my most frequent sources of the “I need a new computer” line!

Maybe you do need to replace that thing that’s not working as smoothly as it used to, but spend a little bit of time learning how it works first. You’ll be amazed how much a few minutes of preventative maintenance can save.


Friday 25 December 2015

Why New York subway lines are missing countdown clocks

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Boy do I know how this feels:

A post-mortem by the Federal Highway Administration details how from the start, an agency which had had little experience with large “systems” projects tried to wing it. For instance, the consulting firm tasked with developing the project plan never made a list of requirements, didn’t talk to the workers who would be maintaining the system until after it was designed, and left vague instructions for large chunks of work—specifying, for instance, “similar functionality to what is currently available"—that later became the focus of drawn-out contract disputes.

A great piece, with just the right balance of techy details and business screw-ups.