Getting to know you…🎶

(Cross-posted from Medium.)

Nice dress, Julie.

Tomorrow is my first day in the immersive curriculum of the Grace Hopper Academy full-stack JavaScript “bootcamp,” (as opposed to the part-time, remote portion, which has been going on since April), and we’ve been asked to write a blog post introducing ourselves to our classmates and anyone else who happens to stumble in.
Continue reading “Getting to know you…🎶”

Degristling the sausage

One of the things I do at my job is clean up and beautify e-books that have been produced by a “meatgrinder”—the sort of automated conversion process that an outsourcer uses. My company has worked with a couple of conversion companies, and there are definite differences in the quality and markup philosophy of the files they produce, but one problem that appears to be chronic is that the EPUBs come back with CSS files containing tons of unused style declarations.

I’m talking thousands of lines, when two to three hundred will usually do.

This makes the files extremely tedious to troubleshoot and rework, so one of the first things I usually do if I know I’m going to be spending a considerable chunk of my day living in a particular EPUB is to cut down that stylesheet to what’s actually being used.

Continue reading “Degristling the sausage”

Nextbook’s swank new pad

Tablet Magazine home page, June 9, 2009

My erstwhile coworkers have been toiling their little hearts out for months, rethinking and rebuilding Nextbook’s online magazine, the former Nextbook.org. The shiny new publication, which launched today, is called Tablet, and it was designed by Prem Krishnamurthy and Rob Giampietro. Tablet‘s Liel Leibovitz has posted a little slideshow in which the designers talk about what they did: Our New Look.

The new site has a WordPress backend (the old one ran on some weird Perl CMS), which the firm Hard Candy Shell set up and filled with all the previous magazine’s content.

Go visit, and tell them what you think of the new digs. If you don’t know what the old site looked like, you can find some screenshots in my Flickr collection.

(I made no contribution to the redesign myself, having [mostly] resigned from my post in January so that I could concentrate on school. The fabulous Abigail Miller, assistant art director, held the fort on her own all spring, while Alana Newhouse, editor in chief, dealt with the designers and developers directly. Nextbook’s new art director, as of about three weeks ago, is the mighty Len Small.)

Make hay while you can still hit the nail on the head.

Composing stick loaded with a few words

I spent most of last week TypeCon, where I took three classes and attended about half of the presentations. The highlights were, hands down, the day I spent making mudpies at Hal Leader’s aptly named Paradise Press and Erik Spiekermann’s obscenity-laced presentation on opening night (big, big crush).

Overall, I think this was my favorite TypeCon of the four I’ve been to, but few of the conference sessions I attended stand out, so mostly I must have liked it because of my trip to Paradise. Hal’s just such a sweet guy, and he’s so enthusiastic about letterpress, and I love the smell of inky machinery, and I love doing meditative handwork like picking letters out of trays and building them into lines of text. The best TypeCon ever? Would be spending four days just doing that. I’d probably need a wheelchair afterward, though—it killed my feet to stand all day, and the next morning I discovered that I had a major sore spot way deep in my left shoulder from holding a composing stick full of lead all day.

Newsflash: Lead is heavy.

Continue reading “Make hay while you can still hit the nail on the head.”

“If I spike you, you’ll know you’ve been spoken to.”

Camberwell Carrot

So, the other day, I was asked to set up HTML for an e-mail that someone else—let’s call them Agent B—is sending. Today Agent B sent us a preview of the e-mail, with the Agent B logo added at the top and the usual “Click here to unsubscribe, etc., etc.” at the bottom, but the middle of the message—my part—has become completely verkakte in the process. So I looked at the code and found that my nice, clean, valid HTML had been run through MS Word’s garbagealator. For example, this—

<p>Sunday, May 18, 2008<br /> 11am to 5pm<br /> The Times Center<br /> 242 West 41st Street</p>

—was converted to this—

<p = style=3D'mso-margin-top-alt:0in;margin-right:7.5pt;margin-bottom:12.0pt; margin-left:7.5pt'><font size=3D3 color=3Dblack face=3DHelvetica><span = lang=3DEN style=3D'font-size:12.0pt;font-family:Helvetica;color:black'>Sunday, May = 18, 2008<br> 11am to 5pm<br> The<span class=3Dapple-converted-space> <st1:place = u2:st=3D"on"><st1:placename u2:st=3D"on"></span><st1:place w:st=3D"on"><st1:PlaceName = w:st=3D"on">Times</st1:placename></st1:PlaceName><span class=3Dapple-converted-space> <st1:placetype = u2:st=3D"on"></span><st1:PlaceType = w:st=3D"on">Center</st1:placetype></st1:place></st1:PlaceType></st1:place= ><br> <st1:street u2:st=3D"on"><st1:address u2:st=3D"on"><st1:Street = w:st=3D"on"><st1:address w:st=3D"on">242 West 41st = Street</st1:address></st1:street><u1:p></u1:p></st1:address></st1:Street>= </span></font><font color=3Dblack face=3DHelvetica><span = style=3D'font-family:Helvetica;color:black'><o:p></o:p></span></font></p>=
Continue reading ““If I spike you, you’ll know you’ve been spoken to.””

Am I in the wrong business?

dirty hands

I just spent something like three blissful hours doing my best to break a new module in Nextbook.org’s content management system, and then writing up a list of bugs and change requests. (The most rewarding was when I managed to elicit an SQL syntax error—all hail the mighty apostrophe!) This is perhaps the most fun thing I’ve done at my job all year.

I used to love doing this . . . stuff—what would you call it? QA?—at Poets.org (where it was a major part of my job), I once sent an unsolicited website critique to my friends at jubilat (I also sent an unsolicited critique of some typographic aspects the magazine, which garnered an “Okay, if you know so much, you fix it, smartass,” though much more kindly, of course), and I frequently submit bug reports to other sites that I visit. I haven’t gotten to really nitpick over any websites in recent years, though, and I miss it.

Anybody need a beta tester?

Photo: dirty hands by O Pish Posh / Shauna R; some rights reserved.

Coda

green leaves

Has anyone been playing with Panic’s Coda yet? I just downloaded it yesterday, and I like it, so far, though I’m still feeling my way around. The CSS editor, in particular, makes sense to me. The tag autocompletion has been driving me a bit crazy, but not so crazy that I’ve turned it all the way off yet.

Thoughts?

Photo: green leaves by Friedemann Wulff-Woesten; some rights reserved.

Integrate Firefox with your text editor

I use Firefox as my main Web browser because I am totally hooked on its extensibility. It may not be the greatest browser in the whole, entire universe straight out of the box (though it’s a damn good one), but once you’ve tricked it out with extensions and Greasemonkey scripts specific to what you use your browser for, nothing else will do. I simply can’t use Safari or Opera, no matter how many people tell me it’s faster or better integrated with other Mac applications or better at rendering certain websites, because . . . where’s the Greasemonkey? How am I going to add Convo and GMail Manager and save my browsing sessions and, and, I can’t even describe to you what modifications I’ve got on this application, because I don’t ever think about them unless I have to use someone else’s computer, and then that person’s browser—even if it’s Firefox, too, but without the exact same array of extensions and preference settings—is just broken. Continue reading “Integrate Firefox with your text editor”