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David Mead

QUAKE!

1 min read

Today we had a 4.0 magnitude earthquake in Ohio. A weird feeling as everyone in the office looks around and without saying a word, we're all "you're feeling this right?"

The ODOT cameras made it look more terrifying (at the top of poles) than the slow woozy feeling in a building.

 

David Mead

Lost digital music

2 min read

As Warren Ellis searches out physical copies of his music collection, I got to thinking of the various digital music products that I can no longer access.

Loscil - Adrift

This first appeared for iOS and I waited to get the Android version. Turns out he couldn't get it through the regular app store, only Amazon's version (size limitations?). I had to install Amazon's store on my Nexus 7, then download it through there.  I liked it, but it never quite worked all the time and would shut off.

Since my Nexus 7 died, this has been lost to me as it won't download to the older Kindle I'm using.

A (non-endless) version of  'Bannockburn',  is on Bandcamp.

Brian Eno & Peter Chilvers - Bloom: 10 Worlds

Again, something released on iOS, Bloom was a great generative music app.  I used to play it on my wife's 1st Gen. iPad, but it never came to Android.  A decade later, 'Bloom: 10 Worlds' appeared in Google Play.

I would set this going then throw it to my Chromecast to have it playing through the TV. When my Nexus 7 died so dit it-unable to run on my newer Pixel 2 phone. Peter Chilvers himself replied when i ran into this...

"Unfortunately there’s an audio glitch that only occurs on the Google Pixel range, so we took the precaution of excluding it until that can be fixed. At time of writing, it seems to be beyond our control, but if we can find a way to work around it, we’ll make it available."

I live in hope.

MUJI - MUJI to Sleep

This was an app that would play nature sounds to help you sleep.  One of the extra cool things it did was...

"Use the smartphone's light and camera to measure your pulse. From countless sound combinations, the best relaxing music for you is created."

It's now branded 'MUJI to Relax', so that's a win.  MUJI has a good article on sleep too.

SSEYO Koan

In the back of my mind I remember a Flash/SSEYO Koan thing too. It was an early generative music player, but I lost that late 90's.

David Mead

The Ark of Taste

1 min read

Only today have I found out about "The Ark of Taste". It's mentioned in an article about rare pasta, shared via Slack channel.

A quick search led me to a YouTube video (embedded below) from 2016. It only had 55 likes, 4 dislikes, 1 comment, but 11,220 views.  It's an interesting idea.

Described on the @arkoftaste Twitter profile as...

...the international project from @SlowFoodHQ that promotes by cataloging people’s alerts on the foods we risk losing

The last post there was October 2015. The link to the homepage of the Twitter bio leads to a 404, but it is part of SlowFoodHQ.

Going there reveals 4930+ Ark of Taste products. A few more clicks took me to https://www.fondazioneslowfood.com/en/what-we-do/the-ark-of-taste/ which seems to be this Ark's Mount Ararat.

These are dishes, plants, and animals that a slowly being erased from memory and the environment.  It's weird to see 179 products in The Ark from the UK.  Especially as this is EU backed, and with the recent Brexit results, the UK seems to want to be forgotten itself.

 

 

David Mead

More new music, this time from Norway...

1 min read

Putting pay to the fact, as a kid, "Norway = nul points". First up some electro-pop starting with Aurora's 'Churchyard'...

...then Sigrid with 'Sucker Punch'.

An old favourite of mine, Royskopp, have now started to release their "Lost Tapes". 'Church' is very good.

Ending with a more "traditional" track from those proto-Norse folk singers Wardruna — 'Solringen'

 

David Mead

Sketch plugin goes from free to paid, with dark pattern. Looking at you @sketch_runner...

2 min read

I'm a big fan of a Sketch plugin called Runner.  This lets you run, and install, plugins from within Sketch by typing-much like Alfred.

When I hit the keystroke to launch it today, nothing happend. I went to tool bar and everything looked normal, so I started it from there.  What I saw was a splash screen for Runner Pro.

screenshot of Runner splash screen

I didn't want to start a 14 day free trail. I just wanted to keep using the free (and only version up-to that point) that I had installed.

I clicked through the "Discover what's new" sections until I got to the end.  This had another start free trial call-to-action.

screenshot of last splash page for Runner

 

Nothing on how to keep using the version I had.

I went to the site to find it's now all about the paid version of Runner Pro. Digging down into the documentation online I found the top FAQ is now "Is Runner paid only?"

Seems I have to use the paid version for 14 days, which then reverts to the free version. I get it. You want people to adopt it and pay for the hard work put into a great tool. No argument there.  Just this approach feels very "dark pattern" and not great to me.

Some reassuring text on the splash pages wouldn't have had me searching the FAQ's and wondering if there are alternatives. Also wouldn't make me second guess paying for the Pro version, which is where I am now.

 

David Mead

Be aware of false positives when using #a11y contrast ratio plugins...

2 min read

I know you everyone knows this, but just in case you don't here's a pro-tip.

When using a contrast ratio plugin with Sketch (or other design tools) make sure the text layer is set to 100% opacity. Why? Because if you don't, you may get a false positive result.

screenshot showing 14px black text on gray background passing AAA level from WCAG

Here's some 14px Rubik type using #000000 (black) on a background of #D8D8D8 (gray). We get a nice 'AAA' pass when testing against the WCAG.

But if I take the text layers opacity down to 20%, what do you think happens?

screenshot showing 14px light gray text on gray background passing AAA level from WCAG

I still get the same passing grade. I assume this is because the checker still knows this is solid black text, but has no insight to the opacity of the layer.

Visually the text is the same color as #ACACAC (light gray) which would fail the contrast check.

screenshot showing 14px light gray text on gray background failing WCAG contrast check

When running your design through a checker, just make sure someone (because of course you wouldn't) has not changed the text color by adjusting a layers opacity instad of choosing a specific color.

The two plugins I use for Sketch are:

and they both seem to bring back these passes when the layers opacity are changed. 

David Mead

Context challenges between #indieweb and social media silos

2 min read

My utopian dream of owning all my content would be to post it on my blog first. Syndicating to whatever social media silo's I choose afterwards.

This isn't a reality as some of these silos (Instagram) don't allow posting apart through their apps.

This forces me to accept their context for my content if I consume it into my site, from them.

Example

On my blog I like to capture what I ate or drank. In that post I can have a photo of what I consumed along with a description. It's a thing, don't 'at' me.

On my blog it has context. You can see all the other eat/drink posts on thier own or mixed in with everything else. I can include links to the place where I bought it, who makes it, or related posts.

Instagram's context is its a photo with an optional description. It doesn't matter what it's of. It won't contain links to anything.

So when I get something from Instagram on my blog it has to have the context of 'photo'.

I jump through hoops changing content to fit my context. Swapping from a 'photo' post to a 'food' post, adding links, reformatting text.

I'm not the only one who goes through this

there are a handful of photos of food I've posted *on* Instagram that i later want to go and add to the actual food post

Aaron Parecki

A different approach

Going forward I'm going to try something else. Displace the friction to the silo. I'm going to try to enforce the habit of posting content first on my blog.

From there I'll syndicate where I can (Twitter, Flickr), create a new post using the silo's app where I can't (Instagram).

That way the only edits I have to do my end is add a u-syndication link to the post from Instagram.  This does mean I have to add a spot to do that in the Known Food plugin - but's that a different post.

David Mead

Random Known and OwnYourGram issues still abound with my #indieweb setup

2 min read

I'm still having issues syndicating photo I post on Instagram, to my website. It's very weird and random.

The setup (simply) is this - A service called OwnYourGram "watches" my Instagram  account. When I post a photo there it takes it and creates a post on my website with a link back to the Instagram post.

A service called Brid.gy takes any comments/likes/etc. on that Instagram post and adds them to the post on my website. This can happen as my site has the link back to Instagram with a class of u-syndication on it.

This way I keep, not only a copy of my content but, a copy of any interactions with it.

In the Indieweb we call this PESOS.

The problem

When I first set up this Known blog it worked fine, and imported the last few entries from Instagram. After updating Known the OwnYourGram service returned errors posting to my site.

Once in a while I can log in to OwnYourGram and get a stuck photo to resend without an error.

Yesterday I posted a photo to Instagram and the whole process worked as it should! Going in to try and get the other "trapped" photos out, I got errors again.

OwnYourGram interface showing a photo went through and one erroring

Nothing had changed with my site or any of the services as far as I know.

I live in hope that an update to the core of Known may fix this. It doesn't seem to be an issue on the OwnYourGram side of things as the error is a result of something my site is doing.

But after a couple of conversations at the recent RustbeltRefresh, I may be changing things.

David Mead

Fix for my @GooglePlayMusic issues? Yes! Use @Firefox instead of @GoogleChrome.

2 min read

A week ago I wrote about my issues with Google Play Music. I added another one to the tally as I couldn't upload any music over the past couple of days.  The uploader was stuck with no error message or way to cancel the queued uploads.

Seems a lot of people have had the same issue recently.

I tried the advice in the Reddit thread and it did clear the stuck uploader, but I couldn't get anything new to load.  That was until I tried it in Firefox.

See I'd been doing this all in Chrome because, you know, it's all Google. Turns out that's rapidly turning from a 'pro' to a 'con'.

Opening Google Play Music in Firefox is a little slower than Chrome, but, it fixed some of the issues I was having:

  • upload artwork where it's missing
  • replace incorrect artwork

Downloading the Music Manager desktop app now uploads songs right away and gives me an error report if something fails, along with a reason why it failed.

screenshot of Music Manager showing why a file didn't upload

Chrome never did this. Who knew there was a maximum file size for music - I didn't.

Could this mean, after many years, I switch back to Firefox as my default?

 

David Mead

Thoughts on The Division 2 private beta

3 min read

The original game has been my mainstay for a couple of years now. An original concept of NYC collapsing after an engineered smallpox pandemic. Completing missions, grinding for gear and commendations kept it interesting.

With the second one announced, I was all in. I have already pre-order The Division 2, and I was lucky to get a beta code from E3 last year too.

The Division 2 private beta loading screen

The Story

I really like the time and location jump. Washington D.C. in the sweltering summer after the pandemic. The city looks overgrown and falling apart.

screenshot - looking at Washington monument

Adding 'Settlements' that you have to help and maintain is something is interesting. Adding to the lore and continual play. Holding "control points" also looks like a challenge.

With the rise of new factions, and the promise of an "invasion" as part of the endgame, has me sold.

Lighting

Good grief it's dark. Running into internal corridors, or in the open world at night and it's hard to see anything.

screenshot - dark corridor

I turned the brightness up to 20 (the highest setting) and I still couldn't see half the stuff. I don't expect to see everything, but not knowing what you're stuck on right under your feet is an issue.

Sound

In the first game, sound design was great! It was immersive and gave great clues where people were. In this beta I had big issues with the sound - as in there was none.

I would go into combat and have zero sound. Running around in a silent movie didn't help. Both times I tried 'Conflict' all I could hear was the wind. Made it unplayable.

When it was there though, it was excellent and atmospheric.

PvP

I'm not the greatest fan of PvP to be honest. In the first Division game I would go into the Dark Zone only when I had to for the first year of play. It's in the Division 2. I'll play it, but I don't have much to say.

Glitches/Bugs

Yes, it's a beta so we're still running out the kinks. Some though were very annoying. I mentioned the sound, but there was also a delay when firing certain weapons which felt weird.

Completing the hostage rescue only to find you couldn't actually rescue him. It didn't register the door opened or you in the room.

When talking to NPCs, I'd get trapped in boxes or behind barriers. Also NPCs would walk through the scenery.

screenshot - trapped in scenery

Summary

I'm sold. The graphics are better, the world larger and felt more interactive.

If they can sort out the sound and small glitches (this was a beta) then I can see losing vast amounts of time on this.