When is a box not a box?

Ah! The things I could do if I had two MASSIVE monitors, fitted on a couple of giant robotic arms. Though to be fair I would probably just use it to play LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.

Box explores the synthesis of real and digital space through projection-mapping onto moving surfaces. The short film documents a live performance, captured entirely in camera.

Directed by: BOT & DOLLY
Executive Producer: Julia Gottlieb
Producers: Bill Galusha, Nick Read

London tube map redesign

Redesigned London tube map by Jug Cerović

Redesigned London tube map by Jug Cerović

The London tube map first designed in the 1930s by Harry Beck was a piece of design genius. But I really like this redesign by French- Serbian architect Jug Cerović.

Ukip will be pleased, it returns the Circle line to being a circle again!

Not content with the London underground map he has also tackled maps of

While we’re on the topic of tube maps. Here’s a tube map made entirely from HTML and CSS.

The nimble web

I spotted this video scroll past me in Twitter the other day. It lasts 31 seconds, is from an interview with Ethan Marcotte (who gave us responsive web design, as we know it today). I thought it was worth transcribing and sharing.

The web is definitely getting cheaper and slower, and more broadly accessed. Which is why it is incumbent upon us to make sure that our websites are not necessary the only place where that information lives. It could be in apps, it could be in services that are then pulled by other people. I think the more distributed we could think about our content and our services, I think the better off we’re going to be. I don’t know if the web is in decline but I definitely think it needs to be a lot more nimble.

Now there’s a challenge for us: the nimble web.

Minimal theme for Sublime Text

Minimal theme, compatible with both Sublime Text 2 and 3.

Minimal theme, compatible with both Sublime Text 2 and 3.

My favourite workspace theme for Sublime Text is currently Minimal Dark. With its dark sidebar I find it significantly less distracting than the default theme.

Here’s how to get it:

  1. Use via Package Control to install Theme – Minimal.
  2. Go to Preferences > Settings – User.
  3. Add the following line to your Preferences.sublime-settings file: “theme”: “Minimal Dark.sublime-theme”,

My current colour scheme is Tomorrow Night, which is also available via Package Control.

Creating a new habit begins with a tiny step

I had the good fortune of meeting BJ Fogg a few times about 10 years ago; he used to live a couple of doors down from my cousin in California. I had recently redesigned my website and when showed it to him he leaned in and got really interested in it. It’s a conversation that has stuck with me ever since and was one of the many pebbles in the jar that led me to decide to do this web thing for a living.

BJ works primarily in the area of creating systems to change human behaviour, very often with computers. He wrote a really interesting book called Persuasive technology: using computers to change what we think and do. And edited another called Mobile persuasion: 20 perspectives on the future of behaviour change.

A couple of years ago I took part in a short experiment that he ran worldwide, via email, about starting new habits. This TEDx talk more or less outlines what we did. What worked for me was:

  1. Start small, e.g. floss one tooth a day.
  2. Tag your new behaviour onto an existing habit.
  3. Be accountable to someone.

I decided to start flossing my teeth (having been nagged by the dentist). I used a floss pick, which allowed me to floss all my teeth in about 30 seconds (that was tiny enough for me). I tagged it onto the end of my daily morning shower. So when I stepped out of the shower I would floss. And within the first few weeks I would email BJ to give him an update.

It worked! Even on the days when I consciously decided that I was running so late I would skip my teeth floss that morning I always found myself standing flossing my teeth after my shower thinking “Eh?! But…!”

If you want to take something up, I can thoroughly recommend BJ’s approach.

How to address your mail

I love geeky stuff like this! The Royal Mail (formerly Consignia, formerly Royal Mail) has a page on their website all about about how to clearly address your mail.

Graphic showing an envelope and what information to write on it

Image credit: Royal Mail

An envelope requires only five lines if addressing somewhere in the UK:

  • Line 1—The addressee’s name.
  • Line 2—Building number and street name.
  • Line 3—Locality name (if required).
  • Line 4—POST TOWN (print in capitals).
  • Line 5—POSTCODE (print in capitals, in full, on a separate line).

Important points to note:

  1. You do not need a county name (e.g. Fife) if you use the post town and full postcode.
  2. No commas or full stops.
  3. Left-align your address, do not centre or stagger your lines.

So now you know. Although you probably use email and Twitter, don’t you!

 

Signed off

Statement of fitness for work: You are not fit for work

Statement of fitness for work

A few months back I promised that I would write more honest blog posts this year. Last month I blogged elsewhere about mental health in web development. How about a blog post today that combines the two, in a spirit of transparency?

This morning I made a same-day appointment to see my GP as I’d had a sore mouth for a couple of weeks and it didn’t seem to be getting any better. I expected him to take a quick look, make a diagnosis, and send me packing with either a prescription or a handful of advice. Instead he signed me off for a week. (And gave me a prescription.)

I’ve only just read what he wrote: “stress related illness”. That about sums it up.

It turns out that your oral health offers clues about your overall health. And my mouth told my doctor that my general health was terrible and that I needed to be signed off. And when I say “my mouth told my doctor” I don’t mean the speaky bit of my mouth.

What has brought me here is a combination of

  • being hugely understaffed at work (two vacancies, two off on long-term sick, one secondment; leaving our potential team of seven as a team of two);
  • not having had a proper break (being off sick with a bad cold or a chest infection doesn’t constitute a proper break, does it?) since mid-October 2013;
  • the usual night-time interruptions related to having small children;
  • general (and specific!) family stresses and strains;
  • other (probably)

It all came to a focus this morning in that doctor’s surgery. And I cried.

I resisted his suggestion of time off, of course. I tried to negotiate a week’s grace to see if I needed to be signed off next week instead, as I didn’t want to let the team down. And when I say ‘team’ I am now, of course, referring to one person (!?)

I do feel bad about it. I have colleagues who have said during the last few months, “I don’t know how you keep going?” Today I acknowledged that I can’t just keep going. It also highlights very much, I hope, that our current way of working within the University web team just isn’t sustainable.

Something had to give and thankfully it was my physical health first rather than my mental health. But as the GP said it would only be a matter of time if I didn’t stop now. Without exactly saying “a stitch in time saves nine”, my GP responded by saying something along the lines of “a week off in time saves nine”.

In the end, after a thorough examination, bloods eventually coaxed from my veins, and the promise of some ‘tasty’ liquorice-flavoured medicine, I relented and agreed to a week.

Believe me, the irony is not lost on me: weeks of trying to unsuccessfully negotiate time off at work and when the GP offers it immediately and for (please choose) one or two weeks, I hesitate.

So… doctors orders are to rest. I took him at his word, returned home, made a couple of calls, had a spot of lunch and then slept until 3:00pm.

Here’s to a few days of healing.