Weekly Web Harvest (weekly)

My Twitter Goodbye Email — Medium “Number of times bringing down the site: 2” tags: twitter beta experiment fail failure weekly The Official Crow Box Kit tags: crow box learning animals training weekly On Surveys — Medium “It is too easy to run a survey. That is why surveys are so dangerous. They are so easy to create and so easy to distribute, and the results are so easy to tally. And our poor human brains are such that information that is easier for us to process and comprehend feels more true. This is our cognitive bias. This ease makes survey results feel true and valid, no matter how false and misleading. And that ease is hard to argue with. “ tags: research surveys brain weekly On meta-design and algorithmic design systems ” Design is how it works and sketching in code is the only natural way to prototype a dynamic system. Building even the simplest of data visualizations means hours of work in languages like R, Julia or Python. When your content is data, poking around in Photoshop simply makes no sense. In some way, it’s the direct opposite of design: prettifying without context. One important aspect of modern design products is their increasing demand for temporal logic, where a linear narrative is replaced by a set of complex […]

Learning JavaScript

For some time now I have achieved things in JavaScript through a combination of examples and brute force persistence. My methods are roughly akin to prisoners digging out of jail with a spoon. You can do it but it’s not something I’d recommend. Given my increasingly more sophisticated goals1 I was finding this to be too slow and too irritating. So I sat down on Monday to learn at least the basics of JavaScript. I watched the videos from Code School with the videos at about 1.5x speed which was pretty bearable. They offer the intro JavaScript course for free but everything beyond that is pay. I also did the Code Academy version. Their version is free in its entirety. Both sites have live editors that allow you to do your work right there in the page. The work’s on the left and a console is on the right. It’s a bit like a stripped down version of Code Pen (which I still find to be amazing). I did hit some points of frustration when I would do something that worked fine but was not exactly how they wanted me to do it. This is one of those perils of machine learning that I don’t see any easy way around for a good while. It’s especially difficult when programming allows […]

Semi-Programistan and Other Conundrums

I can create basic child themes. I can make some low level plugins. I can take themes and plugins as they’re given and live with the shortfalls. Lately I’ve become (more?) interested with the space between those two options. Can I use one or two plugins to create the equivalent of on-the-fly-child-themes? Can I teach other people who aren’t interested in making child themes how to do it? How replicable are the design/building patterns? To parallel that line walking, I’ve repeatedly tried to deal with the example/tool/tutorial structure in a way that might get people curious. Building lists of tools doesn’t appear to have advantages long term. I’ve done that too many times. Plus it puts the focus on the wrong element from the start. At the same time people need to see the association between tool and possibility.1 For this to ever really work well there has to be a fairly tight entwining of tool, possibility, and example. This site is supposed to show examples by discipline, tell how to make them (tutorial/FAQ), and add in other interesting and useful elements. It may be this matters more to us internally. It’ll help provide a quick way to find examples in the moment of need when talking to instructors and provides enough documentation for most of our internal people to […]

Photography – Week 63

I’m pretty sure I’ve taken this shot before. Maybe multiple times. I still like the mix of lines and the bright yellow of the bricks. There’s also a pink stripe in the room which I didn’t see before.   I like all the geometry here- triangles, squares, rectangles, and the half circle of the wreath. Having the beware warning from Halloween up in February is also a plus.   Bright snow. Dark trashcan.   Another geometry based shot. The signs, the shadows and building all mix together to make something that feels interesting to me. The lady on the phone ends up nicely highlighted.   VCU street crossings can be an interesting mix of people and shapes.   I liked the color of the leaves against the green of the garage door across the street. The person walking by hurts things a bit. I should have been more patient.

Add a Custom Masonry Layout with 2 Plugins

I’ve been meaning to set up a Masonry style layout for my weekly photography posts for a while. After my earlier post meshing together plugins, I figured now was the right time to show how to do it. Sure you could do this with a child theme and some specific themes have this layout. There are also some Masonry plugins that’ll get you some of this. This path allows you a good bit more freedom in the end and hopefully walks the middle path between intimidating coding and still having some real control over the end product/style etc. It’s also not a bad example pattern for integrating other javascript options without the hassle/upkeep of child themes etc. Plugins Needed Display Posts Shortcode – gets us the posts we want Specific CSS/JS for Posts/Pages – lets us tie in the masonry JavaScript library and custom CSS To Business Activate those plugins. Make a page where you want your Masonry layout to show up. You’ll have the option at the bottom of that page (or post) to link to the mansonry library and turn it on for the page. You can see that below. You can put the CSS in this area as well. Don’t forget to wrap it in the style tags. Since I was using a Bootstrap based theme I […]

Photography – Week 61 & 62

I’m slipping a bit with my consistency. Sucky weather combined with lots of work is eroding my time/energy. I am better at pretending to be human if I relax and take some pictures.


Weekly Web Harvest (weekly)

How did they make that? | Miriam Posner’s Blog Maybe this is a framework/concept for doing some of the ALT Lab documentation. It mixes tutorial/tool guide/example in a way that works pretty well. tags: digitalhumanities examples tutorials tools weekly After Twitter bot makes death threat, its owner gets questioned by police — Fusion “Robots are starting to break the law, the law is trying to figure out what to do about it, and it all seems to be happening in Europe. Last month, Swiss authorities seized the Random Darknet Shopper art exhibit which included weekly purchases made by an automated bot given Bitcoin to surf a Dark Web marketplace. (It mainly bought drugs.) This week, police in the Netherlands are dealing with a robot miscreant. Amsterdam-based developer Jeffry van der Goot reports on Twitter that he was questioned by police because a Twitter bot he owned made a death threat. “ tags: robots twitter twitterbot future laws weekly How I Taught My Computer to Write Its Own Music – Issue 21: Information – Nautilus “On a warm day in April 2013, I was sitting in a friend’s kitchen in Paris, trying to engineer serendipity. “ tags: computer music serendipity weekly Big Bird on Twitter: “Tweet?” “@BigBird I’m too tall to be short!” tags: weekly twitter bigbird Casey Reas – Artist […]

Bootstrapping Nonprogramistan

I want to be like Alan Levine someday but as I slowly progressively acquire the necessary coding skills I often make do with various kinds of semi-programistan hackery. Today was an example of that and so worth a bit of blogging. Jesse Goldstein, one of a cadre of most favored sociologists, sent me an email asking how hard it’d be to do a few things with his course site for Understanding Capitalism. He wanted the front page to have – three columns- each from a separate category a way to highlight items of import in the leftmost column a static chunk of text in the leftmost column There are lots of ways to do this. I’m actually confident I could write a child theme to do this . . . but it was fun to do it without that and to do it in about 30 minutes as we sat at the .1 The Theme Jesse course started out with the tried and true Twenty Fourteen theme. It’s a nice theme but not really the one I’d choose for something with three columns. I’ve really been enjoying Flat Bootstrap lately. It’s nice and clean both in the code and in the presentation and it’s, as the name implies, built on the Bootstrap framework which makes all sorts of neat tricks […]


Weekly Web Harvest (weekly)

WhiteHouse/2016-budget-data on GitHub “Data for the The President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget” h/t Audrey Waters tags: whitehouse budget data github weekly http://faculty.ithaca.edu/mismith/docs/environmental/leopold.pdf “There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from a furnace.” h/t Enoch Hale tags: weekly nature essay danger separation Make Hitler Happy: The Beginning of Mein Kampf, as Told by Coca-Cola ” In the wake of its republication of Mein Kampf, Coca-Cola has suspended the “Make It Happy” tweet campaign. All Mein Kampf tweets have been removed and the @CocaCola handle is no longer responding to #MakeItHappy tweets with ASCII art, or at all, really. The company provided AdWeek with the following statement: “The #MakeItHappy message is simple: The Internet is what we make it, and we hoped to inspire people to make it a more positive place. It’s unfortunate that Gawker is trying to turn this campaign into something that it isn’t. Building a bot that attempts to spread hate through #MakeItHappy is a perfect example of the pervasive online negativity Coca-Cola wanted to address with this campaign.” While Gawker strenuously disagrees with Coke’s own clearly stated desire to “secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children,” we are even more disappointed to […]

Kefitzat Haderech

Do you bring a shortening of the way? 1 I’m a bit obsessed with the idea of speed/energy/enzymes/accelerants at the moment and so as my head churned on my silent drive to work I remembered a sentence about shortening the way. It was actually “Kwisatz Haderach” that was in my head from Dune . . . but my vague memory of the spelling led me to the Kefitzat Haderech entry in Wikipedia and it turns out Herbert based his title on a Kabbalistic reference to something akin to teleportation (literally- contracting the path)- “reaching destinations with unnatural speed.” Sometimes the journey is the destination but in most of education we’re only doing X and Y to get to the magical land of (o)Z where the real payoff lives. The faster we can get there the better. That goal often get confused in both education and certainly ed tech. People become overly focused on tough paths that “build character” or forget that they’re going anywhere beyond the next hill. I have to keep asking myself if what I’m doing will get us to the place we want to be faster. That place might be the journey. It might be a place of ambiguity. I’m not advocating for Chinko learning machines.2 Simply put, if hiking is the goal I want to spend […]