Goodbye ACL

After almost two years at ACL, I’ve decided to move on.

My last day is tomorrow, Nov 29. I had so much fun working at ACL, and had the chance to work on some really cool stuff:

  • I worked on adding or improving at least 10 features to Results Manager, which is built on Ruby on Rails. I’ve also helped with our transition to React components.
  • I did most of the frontend for a Chromium embedded desktop app last year built with Angular.
  • I had the chance to contribute to our growing design system, both with smaller fixes and components, as well as larger ones.
  • I was project lead for the ACL Code Guide which is a Ruby Gem that distributes guidelines on how we want to write CSS. So far, it’s already helped other teams without dedicated frontend developers to write better CSS.
  • I helped define the new role of UX Developer at ACL which in other places would be called a frontend developer. The company and individual teams have really embraced this role to help bridge the gap between design and engineering.

I’m so thankful to everyone at ACL for being incredibly supportive of me, and how much they’ve helped me grow. On Wednesday, I’ll head to Miami for the awesome Caribbean cruise we’re going on!

If you’re team is hiring, please get in touch! In the meantime, I’m looking for freelance work, so if you or someone you know needs a designer/frontend developer for a project, you should definitely hire me.

Switching Back to Kramdown

Quick update on my markdown woes.

I’ve written previously on switching to Redcarpet to process markdown. Since then, I was determined to find out if I could do the same thing with Kramdown since it’s already a dependency of Jekyll.1

Turns out, that writing Github Flavored Markdown is super easy with Kramdown. So easy in fact, that I don’t understand how I didn’t figure this out earlier. Here are the markdown-related lines in my _config.yml:

# Markdown Rendering
markdown: kramdown
markdown_ext:  markdown,mkdown,mkdn,mkd,md,mdown

kramdown:
  input: GFM

That’s it! No additional gems to install or nothing. In fact, if you were using Redcarpet, you should delete it from your Gemfile.

Happy Jekyll-ing!

  1. I try as much as I can to minimize the dependencies needed to run this site. This site is for fun at the end of the day, but if I can remove things that do the same exact thing, I want to.

USB-C vs. the Headphone Jack by Manton Reece

Manton Reece on whether Apple’s decision to move away from USB-A and the 3.5mm headphone jack are the same:

USB-C is a standard that is already used in many devices from different vendors. It will become universal. The immediate replacement for the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7 is the Lightning EarPods which come in the box. Lightning is a proprietary cable that will never be used in non-Apple phones, and in fact is not even used on Macs.

You can argue that more and more people will use Bluetooth headphones, but I doubt they will be as common as wired headphones for many years, and there’s no guarantee that an all-wireless future will ever arrive. There is a very clear migration from USB-A to USB-C. The move to Lightning headphones and Bluetooth is much more complicated and not directly comparable.

I’m in favor of Apple’s move to nix the headphone jack, but even I can’t claim that these two things are the same. As Manton himself says, “It’s a convenient narrative”, but a false one. USB-C truly is the future, and the capabilities this one cable has is remarkable. More importantly, it’s an open standard.

The wireless push that Apple made is hampared by it all being powered with a proprietary chip. The magic they’re selling is only accessible to you if you’re in the market for over-priced headphones.

While the push for USB-C is one that is beneficial for everyone, the removal of the headphone jack is only for people who are already committed to an Apple ecosystem. If Apple was really interested in making wireless better for everyone, they would’ve worked on improving Bluetooth. While I’m not excited by the cognitive load of figuring out how USB-C will work for my needs, I’m not about to complain when Apple supports an open standard. 💯, Apple.

Using the iPad for: Blogging with Jekyll by Matt Gemmell

Matt Gemmell:

This entire site is built using Jekyll, a static site generator written in Ruby. I have custom templates, CSS, and even several Ruby plugins, and I’m pretty pleased with it. It lets me keep all my content in Markdown, and edit posts in any text editor.

My host is Linode (oh how I love them), and I have a fully iPad-only workflow for blogging and updating the site.

I love these types of posts. We should all be sharing how we do stuff with our own setup. I wrote about my own method of publishing to Jekyll via iOS, and while drastically different to Matt’s method, it’s documented and potentially helpful to many people. If you’re interested in going #iPadOnly, I definitely recommend Matt’s series on the topic.

Hello Again World by Jen Simmons

Jen Simmons:

I worry about Twitter. The company doesn’t care about things I care about. It will do whatever it needs to for the money it wants. It might go away. It might get even worse. By outsourcing our whole means of connecting to each other to a company we seem to agree we hate… we are putting our relationships at risk. So I’m determined to at least start getting away from the monopoly of Twitter by posting to my website. A lot. I’ll setup RSS (or double check that it’s already been setup, or setup multiple options or whatever something better) and I’ll try for the dozen-teenth time to get the CMS that runs this site to connect to Twitter and crosspost in some way. But… all of that is a delay. An excuse to not write until all is perfect. Forget that. I’m posting this. Resetting expectations. Building a habit.

Do we dare to write on our own sites again? Do we dare to not be polished or perfect? Do we dare to ramble for tiny audiences who might not care? I hope that I can dare to do just that. Starting here.

👏🏽 Jen. Twitter is becoming a steaming pile of crap—nay has become. Most days, I wonder what it is that I get out of being on Twitter, and Jen and I are only two of the many who feel this way. At best it’s a way to keep up with people, at worst it’s the breeding ground for harrasment, racism, sexism, and any other vile thing you can think of. And as Jen points out, Twitter doesn’t care. They’ve had plenty of opportunities to say that a line has been crossed, yet that line is nonexistent for them.

Hello, Jekyll by Trent Walton

Trent Walton:

I’ve logged quite a lot of hours battling databases, plugins, and a GUI editor to write (and occasionally design) blog posts. Wordpress has served me well, but to simplify the process I’ve ported my blog to Jekyll. It’s great to be static! Writing already feels more casual and enjoyable.

Welcome to the light side, Mr. Walton. I moved my personal site to Jekyll back in 2013 and have never looked back. Since then, I haven’t built a personal project with WordPress. Back then I asked myself if I was going to be anti-WordPress:

Not at all. I love WordPress. I’ve been working with WordPress for years. However, I work on this site a lot, and I found myself very frustrated with how WordPress handles a simple blog. The honest truth, WordPress is too much for just a blog these days.

Things have changed since then. I do not love WordPress anymore. It’s become cumbersome to me for both personal and client projects. I recently set up a client with a Jekyll site using SiteLeaf, and she loved it. The benefits for a lot of projects just outweigh the cons:

  1. No messing with PHP.
  2. MySQL databases don’t have to be setup locally, aren’t a hassle to sync to production, and don’t randomly become corrupted.
  3. Developing with Liquid and Sass is a breeze, and Jekyll does it out of the box.
  4. A whole site can be checked into Git, making version control easy.
  5. Don’t even get me started on the horrible UI and typography choices that have plagued the WordPress CMS.

Don’t get me wrong though, WordPress can be useful for certain projects, and certainly has a stronghold powering 26.4% of the web.1 But it’s interesting to be seeing an ever-increasing shift away from WordPress for blogs, and at-least for me, it no longer being my no-brainer go-to for new projects.

  1. Statistic from ManageWP. The number is from March of this year, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it had grown.

A Year of Ruby, Together by André Arko | EuRuKo 2016

This is an important talk to watch. All of us use open-source libraries, and while this talk is ruby-specific, our support and contribution to the communities we belong to is important. Most open-source software is worked on people’s free time, and even if they’re currently being paid by a company to do so, that’s no guarantee it’ll continue forever nor does it absolve our responsibility to help.

Visualizing a Job Search or: How to Find a Job as a Software Engineer by Kelly Sutton

Kelly Sutton:

Today, I start a new job at Gusto. This concludes the most comprehensive search I’ve done for a new job. My job search lasted a total of 35 days from start to signed offer letter.

In total, I communicated with 23 different companies to receive 4 offers to make a single choice. During the process, I was rejected 9 times with the remaining conversations fizzling or being cut off by myself.

This is a fascinating post. We’re all used to seeing the conventional “I’m starting a new job” post, but this one is unique in that I’ve never seen a job visualized like this. One thing becomes very clear after reading this: looking for a job is awful and time-intensive.

Still, I would love to see more posts like this. It’s very educational. The idea of using a spreadsheet to keep track of everything is helpful, although I’d assume you could use something like Highrise too. My big takeaway: organization is key if you want your job search to be successful in less time.

Discontinuing Support for Check the Weather by David Smith

David Smith:

Four years ago today I introduced a weather app called Check the Weather. I was really proud of how it turned out. It was my first app where I was able to do everything ‘right’ from the beginning.

Sadly, however, the time has come to discontinue support for the app.

This news really bums me out. I’m a huge fan of Check the Weather. I purchased it a few years ago, and it’s been my one-and-only weather app (even though it didn’t have an Apple Watch complication). Seems that I’ll be switching to Dark Sky.

Thank you for all of your hard work on this app, David. RIP Check the Weather.