Webdev and UX links

“HTML is almost 100% responsive out of the box. These 247 bytes of css fix the ‘almost’ part.”

12 Little-Known CSS Facts
“…even if you’ve been writing CSS for many years, you probably still come across new things — properties you’ve never used, values you’ve never considered, or specification details you never knew about…”

Jordan Moore on Mobile-First Type & Layout
“…UX designer Jordan Moore showed us ways to improve mobile-first design by loading type faster and improving small-screen design patterns…”

The Scroll Up Bar
“A design pattern that is currently growing more popular is the fixed position bar at the top of the page…”

Improving the hamburger button
“There is probably no other UI element on the web that has witnessed such an intense and successful career as our well beloved friend: the hamburger button…”

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Ollie’s sandbox

A couple years ago I constructed a sandbox for my son Oliver. It’s one of the best investments of time and money ever. He plays in it all the time, and it never gets old. I had some requirements:

  • Lid to keep cats, rain, and leaves out
  • Enough volume to make really big sand castles (I want to play in it too!)
  • Good looking — no ugly sandbox for my yard!
  • Big enough for several kids


Click on any pic for super-size.

Ollie helps:

Slightly higher on one side so rain runs off:

Stained and assembled. I originally planned it with a base and feet to sit on concrete, but we later took off the bottom and placed it in the dirt for better drainage (with garden cloth underneath to keep a porous barrier between the dirt and sand). You can also get an idea of how many bags of sand we had to get — about 22:

Ollie dumps in the first bucket of sand:

Year-round fun

Here’s Ollie happily playing in his sandbox in the middle of winter, December 27, 2013. View from my office window.

And this spring:

Helpful links and tutorials

Here is some of the inspiration I used when planning Ollie’s sandbox.

Deluxe DIY Sandbox
This one’s great because the lid is also a deck. Mine’s a bit bigger and deeper, though. We have the space, and we figured there’d often be 4–6 kids playing in it at a time. How to Build a Sandbox with Seats This is the design I used for the basis of mine. Same construction and materials, although I planned one seat and added a hinged lid. Eventually I want to add the awesome faucet idea he had. Toward the end of his article you’ll find out how much sad you’ll need. Sand’s heavy! You’re better of renting a truck.

Sandbox with Chalkboard Lid
I planned to do this but never got around to it. I’m a horrible parent.

The Sandbox Chronicles: Part 2
This one has a double lid, and that’s a great idea I sometimes wish I’d done (the lid’s heavy). Also, their safety chain is a really good idea, we did something similar.

The Sandbox Chronicles: Part 3, The Remix
I don’t, however, advocate using gravel in place of sand. What a terrible sandbox fail that would be. To all those parents who might be worried about silica damaging the lungs of their little ones, just stop, take a breath, and try to think of all the people you know who died of lacerated lungs due to inhaling sand dust. Hundreds? Thousands? …None? Right.

Penofin Verde – Environmentally Friendly Wood Stain
I used this to stain the sandbox before putting it together. It’s not cheap but it’s good.

Sandbox Home Design Photos on Houzz
Finally, for inspiration there are some great contemporary designs on Houzz.

Sandbox faucet
Last but not least, there was a link to an awesome design where the guy ran a new underground water line out to the kids’ sandbox and installed a faucet on a post, with one of these self-closing faucets like the ones used on old-school drinking fountains. It was a brilliant idea, but perhaps too brilliant, because now they guy charges for the plans and doesn’t actually show the pictures of how cool it was (marketing fail). It was great because kids could get all the buckets of water they wanted, but they couldn’t leave it running to waste water. Here it is if you really want to buy it: Look for the Water Station.

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Robert A. Heinlein quotes in Stranger in a Strange Land

I just finished re-reading one of my all-time favorite books, and certainly a foundationally influential one, and decided to compile my favorite quotes from the book.

“Secrecy begets tyranny.”
– Ben Caxton (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“[Pay attention to politics.] It’s only barely less important than your own heartbeat.”
– Ben Caxton (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“A government is a living organism. Like every living thing its prime characteristic is a blind, unreasoned instinct to survive. You hit it, it will fight back.”
– Ben Caxton (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk ‘his life, his fortune and his sacred honor’ on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children, can never be anything else.”
– Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

“I used to think I was serving humanity…and I pleasured in the thought. Then I discovered that humanity does not want to be served; on the contrary it resents any attempt to serve it. So now I do what pleases Jubal Harshaw.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“He did not expect reasonable conduct from human beings; he considered most people fit candidates for protective restraint and wet packs. He simply wished heartily that they would leave him alone!”
– Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

“I’ve never been able to understand ‘faith’ myself, nor to see how a just God could expect his creatures to pick the one true religion out of an infinitude of false ones — by faith alone. It strikes me as a sloppy way to run an organization, whether a universe or a smaller one.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“Harshaw held that certain feet were made for stepping on, in order to improve the breed, promote the general welfare, and minimize the ancient insolence of office.”
– Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

“A desire not to butt into other people’s business is at least eighty percent of all human wisdom…and the other twenty percent isn’t very important.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“Who said I was wise? I’m a professional bad example. You can learn a lot by watching me. Or listening to me. Either one.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“Democracy is a poor system of government at best; the only thing that can honestly be said in it is favor is that it is about eight times as good as any other method the human race has ever tried. Democracy’s worst fault is that its leaders are likely to reflect the faults and virtues of their constituents.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“Faith strikes me as intellectual laziness.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“The capacity of a human mind to believe devoutly in what seems to me to be the highly improbable — from table tapping to the superiority of their own children — has never been plumbed.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“English is the largest of the human tongues, with several times the vocabulary of the second largest language — this alone made it inevitable that English would eventually become, as it did, the lingua franca of this planet, for it is thereby the richest and the most flexible — despite its barbaric accretions…or should I say, because of its barbaric accretions. English swallows up anything that comes its way, makes English out of it.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“ ‘Grok’ means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the process being observed — to experience.”
– Dr. Mahmoud (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“Daughters can use up ten percent more than a man can make in any normal occupation, regardless of the amount.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“The human mind’s ability to rationalize its own shortcomings into virtues is unlimited, and I am no exception.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“I learned years ago never to argue with a specialist; you can’t win. But I also learned that the history of progress is a long, long list of specialists who were dead wrong when they were most sorry.”
– Captain Willem van Tromp (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“The Bible Belt faith in which I was brought up encouraged me to think that I was better than the rest of the world; I was ‘saved’ and they were ‘damned’ — we were in a state of grace and the rest of the world were ‘heathens’…and by ‘heathen’ they meant such people as our brother Mahmoud. It meant an ignorant, stupid lout who seldom bathed and planted his corn by the phase of the Moon could claim to know the final answers of the Universe. That entitled him to look down his nose at everybody else. Our hymn book was loaded with such arrogance — mindless, conceited, self-congratulation on how cozy we were with the Almighty and what a high opinion he had of us and us alone, and what hell everybody else was going to catch come Judgement Day.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“My folks tried to make a preacher of me and missed by a narrow margin… I would have made a good one if I hadn’t fallen into the fatal folly of reading anything I could lay hands on. With just a touch more self confidence and a liberal helping of ignorance I could have been a famous evangelist.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“A confidence man knows he’s lying; that limits his scope. But a successful shaman ropes himself first; he believes what he says — and such belief is contagious; there is no limit to his scope.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“There is no safety this side of the grave.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“I despise crowds, and I do not propose to let my social and mental inferiors tell me where I have to go on Sundays — and I wouldn’t enjoy Heaven if that crowd is going to be there.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“Jubal ignored him and spoke quietly to the replica of La Belle Heaulmière. ‘Do not listen to him, ma petit chère — he is a barbarian and knows no better.’ He put his hand to her beautiful ravaged cheek, then gently touched one empty, shrunken dug. ‘I know just how you feel…but it can’t be very much longer. Patience, my lovely.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“Anybody can look at a pretty girl and see a pretty girl. An artist can look as a pretty girl and see the old woman she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the pretty girl that she used to be. But a great artist — a master — and that is what Auguste Rodin was — can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is…and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be…and more than that, he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo, or even you, see that this lovely young girl is still alive, not old and ugly at all, but simply prisoned inside her ruined body. He can make you feel the quiet, endless tragedy that there was never a girl born who ever grew older than eighteen in her heart…no matter what the merciless hours have done to her.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“Abstract art is all right — for wall paper or linoleum. But art is the process of evoking pity and terror, which is not abstract at all but very human.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“One does have to learn to look at art, just as you must know French to read a story printed in French.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“Obscurity is usually the refuge incompetence.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“Solipsism and Pantheism. Teamed together they can explain anything. Cancel out any inconvenient fact, reconcile all theories, and include any facts or delusions you care to name. Trouble is, it’s just cotton candy, all taste and no substance.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“You go into a man’s house, you accept his household rules — that’s a universal law of civilized behavior.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“A purse is a person who thinks his own rules or propriety are natural laws.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“Age does not bring wisdom, but it does give perspective…and the saddest perspective of all is to see far, far behind you, the temptations you’ve passed up.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“Geniuses are justifiably contemptuous of the opinions of their inferiors.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“The slickest way in the world to lie is to tell the right amount of truth at the right time — and then shut up.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“ ‘Sin’ is hardly ever concerned with real wrongness…but sin is what the sinner groks as sin.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“Goodness alone is _never_ enough. A hard, cold wisdom is required, too, for goodness to accomplish good. Goodness without wisdom invariably accomplishes evil.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

“The actual joining and blending of two physical bodies with simultaneous merging of souls in shared ecstasy of love, giving and receiving and delighting in each other [is] the source…of all that makes this planet so rich and wonderful. That’s what it should be. Instead it was indifference and acts mechanically performed and rape and seduction as a game no better than roulette but with poorer odds and prostitution and celibacy by choice and by n choice and fear and guilt and hatred and violence and children brought up to think  that sex was ‘bad’ and ‘shameful’ and ‘animal’ and something to be hidden and always distrusted. This lovely perfect thing, male-femaleness, turned upside down and inside out and made horrible.”
– Jubal Harshaw (Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land)

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Milenkaya.org featured in design book

I’ve had this book since it came out in 2010 and I didn’t even realize one of my sites was featured in it, until last week when I was doing a search and it came up in Google Books.

Milenkaya.org is the professional site of my good friend Olya Milenkaya, who is finishing up her doctorate at Virginia Tech. I designed and coded it a few years ago for her; I also host it and update it once or twice a year when she updates her résumé or sends me new pictures or minor text changes.

The single-page design is featured in The Web Designer’s Idea Book, Volume 2, by Patrick McNeil, in the chapter titled “Wood.”

The Hitchin’ site I designed and created for Velma and myself was featured in McNeil’s first book in 2007, The Web Designer’s Idea Book.

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Introducing Fitbit Ultra

I can’t take all or even most of the credit for this video, but I did provide graphics and creative direction on the animations. I was also on location for one of the days of shooting; it was quite interesting.

Kudos to Pete and Steven at Creative Destiny LLC for doing the majority of the heavy lifting.

You can watch it in high def.

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Why You Need to Fail, by Derek Sivers

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Hangin’ with Tony

I got to spend all day Saturday with my buddy Tony Alves, who I rarely see. It was also his birthday, plus the first time I got to meet his girlfriend, and the first time he got to meet my wife and son. To top off a momentous day, we also finalized plans to finally revive his long-neglected website, TonyAlves.com.

Tony first contact me in the early 1990’s when I was publishing Western Front News, a rock newspaper I founded when I was 18. He was one of many photographers over the years who offered to send me photos to publish, but one of the few who was almost always reliable.

I had a sizable “staff” of volunteer writers and photographers, all of whom did it for the love of the music business and certainly because of the perks, like free shows, meeting and interviewing rock stars, and plenty of schwag like advance review copies of records and CDs.

Tony had been sneaking his camera into shows since the early 1980’s and had a backlog of shots of artists like Kiss, Jimmy Page, and Morrisey. But perhaps more importantly, he was a passionate music fan who had his ear to the ground and attended tons of local shows. Subsequently, he had shots of bands that were still somewhat unknown then, like Faith No More and Primus, and others that were about to become the biggest acts in the world over the next few years, such as Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam.

After I had to shut down my newspaper in 1992, Tony and I kept in touch off and on over the years. In 1996 Tony came to my design office in Palo Alto and we created his first website in one day, posting a long list of all the bands he’d ever shot and the years, and how many photos he had. There was a gallery of just eight or ten photos, but it was pretty good for the times.

Over the years, I always thought it was a shame that Tony’s photos remained stowed away in his closet or a storage locker somewhere, and we’ve talked several times about trying to gather them up and put them online for sale. Part of what bugged me was that there’s this small treasure trove of unique pictures which fans of these bands would love to see. The other part that bugged me was that Tony doesn’t make any money from these photos today, and my newspaper never made enough money to pay him either, other than in free schwag and tickets, and film when I had some to spare. He’s a good guy, and he deserves to make a little scratch on those pictures he made.

In the past few years, new Internet services have cropped up which make it more and more possible to make this sort of thing work. Tony’s film is mostly in negatives, and most of it’s black and white, so it’s costly to get scanned (and ridiculously prohibitive to do it ourselves). But I’ve used ScanCafe a couple times for my own slides and negatives, and Tony and I identified about 1,000 images of bands that are most likely to sell, and we’re going to send those in first.

After that we’ll upload them to one of the many photo printing/fulfillment companies such as Shutterfly, which will serve as the back-end for our sales. I’ll put together a new site for Tony and we’ll probably do some limited edition print runs of his best shots and sell them on eBay to hopefully get a little exposure (“If you liked this print, check out 100s more at TonyAlves.com…”).

It’s hard to say whether this will be a money-maker or loser. We just don’t know how to gage the demand for prints of some of the bands. If it doesn’t pan out in a year, we’ll shut it down, take the loss, and move on. But hopefully it’ll provide a small stream of income for Tony and myself, without much overhead.

It might take a few months to get up and running, so I suppose this “announcement” is a bit premature. As some of my dear readers will know, I have several prior commitments that take precedence, the new addition to the family chief among them, but also the full-time gig I go to each day, a small but important home remodel project, and another business side project for my wife and father in law. Tony is aware that we’re not in a hurry, or at least that I’m not able to be. But I think we’re both excited to be finally doing this. Hopefully people will like the results.

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That’s one way to eat a watermelon

[via Jason]

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Revolutionary new product

[via Tim R.]

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Magnum chocolates Pleasure Hunt

One of the best rich ad experiences I’ve ever seen.

[via Caroline W.]

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