30 Jun 2017

Journal: June 30, 2017

After a scorching hot holiday in the UK last week (visiting some red pandas!), I've spent this week back in Sheffield and working on my progressive enhancement experiments. I also gave a talk at Sheffield JS and finished reading George Orwell's 1984.


L & I were on holiday last week, so I didn't write a blog post. Instead, here's a friendly red panda we met at Longleat:


It was ridiculously hot by UK standards (32 C), so the red pandas were mostly indoors enjoying the air conditioning. But as we did the 'VIP experience', we got to feed them pears, which we used to persuade them outside for a bit (where I shot this photo). Surprisingly, they were very amenable to being petted too!

Back to rain

True to form, the weather here then promptly dropped 10-15 degrees and resumed its normal rain cloud routine. Perhaps buying new garden furniture had something to do with it…


I'm still working on 'Mark II' of my progressive enhancement framework - the plan is to improve the development experience for small JavaScript enhancements to traditional multi-page sites. The new version is almost usable now (and quite a bit smaller in file size at ~16kb), but I've not done any of the planned performance optimisations yet. The syntax has changed significantly, so if you're interested in this project I'd really appreciate your feedback - just open an issue on GitHub or tweet me with your comments.

Python Sheffield

Tuesday was Python Sheffield, where Gary Martin presented his 'Pixels as a Service' (PaaS) project. He demonstrated controlling each 'pixel' of a display via ZeroMQ messages. Every message had a key which the server associated with a pixel, similar to DHCP associating your MAC address with an IP. Subsequent messages for a key update the same pixel.

I believe the plan is to use this for 'contextless' or ambient displays, where the dimension of the display and the exact image created is unimportant (e.g. build status, monitoring etc.). It certainly looked pretty on the new Pimoroni Unicorn HAT HD!

Sheffield JS

Thursday was our monthly Sheffield JavaScript meetup, where I gave a talk on JavaScript Proxy objects (slides). We were also lucky enough to have Luke Bonaccorsi join us to give a tour of his personal assistant bot 'Woodhouse' - it even automated his curtains!


This time, I wrote my presentation for Sheffield JS using org-mode with the org-reveal plugin. That meant I could author my presentation as a convenient plain-text document, and later export it to a HTML slideshow using reveal.js. It's one of the better workflows I've used, so I plan to use org-reveal in future presentations too.



I finished reading George Orwell's 1984. I'm surprised it took me this long to get around to it after enjoying Kafka's "The Trial" and Orwell's "The Road to Wigan Pier". This book lives up to it's reputation - it's a terrifying vision of a totalitarian dystopia. The chilling effect of surveillance in particular, with characters continuously on guard against their own thoughts and emotions, seemed a prophetic warning.