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Onboarding: A College Student Discovers A List Apart

A list Apart development site - Tue, 05/22/2018 - 09:02

What would you say if I told you I just read and analyzed over 350 articles from A List Apart in less than six weeks? “You’re crazy!” might have passed through your lips. In that case, what would you say if I was doing it for a grade? Well, you might say that makes sense.

As a part of an Independent Research Study for my undergraduate degree, I wanted to fill in some of the gaps I had when it came to working with the World Wide Web. I wanted to know more about user experience and user interface design, however, I needed the most help getting to know the industry in general. Naturally, my professor directed me to A List Apart.

At first I wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of the assignment other than the credit I needed to graduate. What could one website really tell me? As I read article after article, I realized that I wasn’t just looking at a website—I was looking at a community. A community with history in which people have struggled to build the right way. One that is constantly working to be open to all. One that is always learning, always evolving, and sometimes hard to keep up with. A community that, without my realizing it, I had become a part of. For me, the web has pretty much always been there, but now that I am better acquainted with its past, I am energized to be a part of its future. Take a look at some of the articles that inspired this change in me.

A bit of history

I started in the Business section and went back as far as November 1999. What a whirlwind that was! I had no idea what people went through and the battles that they fought to make the web what it is today. Now, I don’t mean to date any of you lovely readers, but I would have been three years old when the first business article on A List Apart was published, so everything I read until about 2010 was news to me.

For instance, when I came across Jeffrey Zeldman’s “Survivor! (How Your Peers Are Coping with the Dotcom Crisis)” that was published in 2001, I had no idea what he was talking about! The literal note I wrote for that article was: “Some sh** went down in the late 1990s???” I was in the dark until I had the chance to Google it and sheepishly ask my parents.

I had the same problem with the term Web 2.0. It wasn’t until I looked it up that I realized I didn’t know what it was, because I never experienced Web 1.0 (having not had access to the internet until 2004). In that short time, the industry had completely reinvented itself before I ever had a chance to log on!

The other bit of history that surprised me was how long and hard people had to fight to get web standards and accessibility in line. In school I’ve always been taught to make my sites accessible, and that just seemed like common sense to me. I guess I now understand why I have mixed feelings about Flash.

What I learned about accessibility

Accessibility is one of the topics I took a lot of notes on. I was glad to see that although a lot of progress had been made in this area, people were still taking the time to write about and constantly make improvements to it. In Beth Raduenzel’s “A DIY Web Accessibility Blueprint,” she explains the fundamentals to remember when designing for accessibility, including considering:

  • keyboard users;
  • blind users;
  • color-blind users;
  • low-vision users;
  • deaf and hard-of-hearing users;
  • users with learning disabilities and cognitive limitations;
  • mobility-impaired users;
  • users with speech disabilities;
  • and users with seizure disorders.

It was nice to have someone clearly spell it out. However, the term “user” was used a lot. This distances us from the people we are supposed to be designing for. Anne Gibson feels the same way; in her article, she states that “[web] accessibility means that people can use the web.” All people. In “My Accessibility Journey: What I’ve Learned So Far,” Manuel Matuzović gives exact examples of this:

  • If your site takes ten seconds to load on a mobile connection, it’s not accessible.
  • If your site is only optimized for one browser, it’s not accessible.
  • If the content on your site is difficult to understand, your site isn’t accessible.

It goes beyond just people with disabilities (although they are certainly not to be discounted).

I learned a lot of tips for designing with specific people in mind. Like including WAI-ARIA in my code to benefit visually-impaired users, and checking the color contrast of my site for people with color blindness and low-vision problems. One article even inspired me to download a Sketch plugin to easily check the contrast of my designs in the future. I’m more than willing to do what I can to allow my website to be accessible to all, but I also understand that it’s not an easy feat, and I will never get it totally right.

User research and testing methods that were new to me

Nevertheless, we still keep learning. Another topic on A List Apart I desperately wanted to absorb was the countless research, testing, and development methods I came across in my readings. Every time I turn around, someone else has come up with another way of working, and I’m always trying to keep my finger in the pie.

I’m happy to report that the majority of the methods I read about I already knew about and have used in my own projects at school. I’ve been doing open interview techniques, personas, style tiles, and element collages all along, but I was surprised by how many new practices I’d come across.

The Kano Model, the Core Model, Wizard of Oz prototyping, and think-alouds were some of the methods that piqued my curiosity. Others like brand architecture research, call center log analysis, clickstream analysis, search analytics, and stakeholder reviews I’ve heard of before, but have never been given the opportunity to try. 

Unattended qualitative research, A/B testing and fake-door testing are those that stood out to me. I liked that they allow you to conduct research even if you don’t have any users in front of you. I learned a lot of new terms and did a lot of research in this section. After all, it’s easy to get lost in all the jargon.

The endless amount of abbreviations

I spent a lot of my time Googling terms during this project—especially with the older articles that mentioned programs like Fireworks that aren’t really used anymore. One of my greatest fears in working with web design is that someone will ask me something and I will have no idea what they are talking about. When I was reading all the articles, I had the hardest time with the substantial amount of abbreviations I came across: AJAX, API, ARIA, ASCII, B2B, B2C, CMS, CRM, CSS, EE, GUI, HTML, IIS, IPO, JSP, MSA, RFP, ROI, RSS, SASS, SEM, SEO, SGML, SOS, SOW, SVN, and WYSIWYG, just to name a few. Did you manage to get them all? Probably not.

We don’t use abbreviations in school because they aren’t always clear and the professors know we won’t know what they mean. To a newbie like me, these abbreviations feel like a barrier. A wall that divides the veterans of the industry and those trying to enter it. I can’t imagine how the clients must feel.

It seems as if I am not alone in my frustrations. Inayaili de León says in her article “Becoming Better Communicators,” “We want people to care about design as much as we do, but how can they if we speak to them in a foreign language?” I’m training to be a designer, I’m in Design, and I had to look up almost every abbreviation listed above.

What I learned about myself

Prior to taking on this assignment, I would have been very hesitant to declare myself capable of creating digital design. To my surprise, I’m not alone. Matt Griffin thinks, “… the constant change and adjustments that come with living on the internet can feel overwhelming.” Kendra Skeene admits, “It’s a lot to keep track of, whether you’ve been working on the web for [twenty] years or only [twenty] months.”

My fear of not knowing all the fancy lingo was lessened when I read Lyza Danger Gardner’s “Never Heard of It.” She is a seasoned professional who admits to not knowing it all, so I, a soon-to-be-grad, can too. I have good foundations and Google on my side for those pesky abbreviations that keep popping up. As long as I just remember to use my brain as Dave Rupert suggests, when I go to get a job I should do just fine.

Entering the workplace

Before starting this assignment, I knew I wanted to work in digital and interaction design, but I didn’t know where. I was worried I didn’t know enough about the web to be able to design for it—that all the jobs out there would require me to know coding languages I’d never heard of before, and I’d have a hard time standing out among the crowd.

The articles I read on A List Apart supplied me with plenty of solid career advice. After reading articles written by designers, project managers, developers, marketers, writers, and more, I’ve come out with a better understanding of what kind of work I want to do. In the article “80/20 Practitioners Make Better Communicators,” Katie Kovalcin makes a good point about not forcing yourself to learn skills just because you feel the need to:

We’ve all heard the argument that designers need to code. And while that might be ideal in some cases, the point is to expand your personal spectrum of skills to be more useful to your team, whether that manifests itself in the form of design, content strategy, UX, or even project management. A strong team foundation begins by addressing gaps that need to be filled and the places where people can meet in the middle.

I already have skills that someone desperately needs. I just need to find the right fit and expand my skills from there. Brandon Gregory also feels that hiring isn’t all about technical knowledge. In his article, he says, “personality, fit with the team, communication skills, openness to change, [and] leadership potential” are just as important.

Along with solid technical fundamentals and good soft skills, it seems as if having a voice is also crucial. When I read Jeffrey Zeldman’s article “The Love You Make,” it became clear to me that if I ever wanted to get anywhere with my career, I was going to have to start writing.

Standout articles

The writers on A List Apart have opened my eyes to many new subjects and perspectives on web design. I particularly enjoyed looking through the game design lens in Graham Herrli’s “Gaming the System … and Winning.” It was one of the few articles where I copied his diagram on interaction personality types and their goals into my notebook. Another article that made me consider a new perspective was “The King vs. Pawn Game of UI Design” by Erik Kennedy. To start with one simple element and grow from there really made something click in my head.

However, I think that the interview I read between Mica McPheeters and Sara Wachter-Boettcher stuck with me the most. I actually caught myself saying “hmm” out loud as I was reading along. Sara’s point about crash-test dummies being sized to the average male completely shifted my understanding about how important user-centered design is. Like, life-or-death important. There is no excuse not to test your products or services on a variety of users if this is what’s at stake! It’s an article I’m glad I read.

Problems I’ve noticed in the industry

During the course of my project, I noticed some things about A List Apart that I was spending so much time on. Like, for example, it wasn’t until I got to the articles that were published after 2014 that I really started to understand and relate to the content; funnily enough, that was the year I started my design degree.

I also noticed that it was around this time that female writers became much more prominent on the site. Today there may be many women on A List Apart, but I must point out a lack of women of color. Shoutout to Aimee Gonzalez-Cameron for her article “Hello, My Name is <Error>,” a beautiful assertion for cultural inclusion on the web through user-centered design.

Despite the lack of representation of women of color, I was very happy to see many writers acknowledge their privilege in the industry. Thanks to Cennydd Bowles, Matt Griffin, and Rian van der Merwe for their articles. My only qualm is that the topic of privilege has only appeared on A List Apart in the last five years. Because isn’t it kinda ironic? As creators of the web we aim to allow everyone access to our content, but not everyone has access to the industry itself. Sara Wachter-Boettcher wrote an interesting article that expands on this idea, which you should read if you haven’t already. However, I won’t hold it against any of you. That’s why we are here anyway: to learn.

The takeaway

Looking back at this assignment, I’m happy to say that I did it. It was worth every second (even with the possible eye damage from reading off my computer screen for hours on end). It was worth it because I learned more than I had ever anticipated. I received an unexpected history lesson of the recent internet past. I was bombarded by an explosion of new terms and abbreviations. I learned a lot about myself and how I can possibly fit into this community. Most importantly, I came out on the other end with more confidence in myself and my abilities—which is probably the greatest graduation gift I could receive from a final project in my last year of university. Thanks for reading, and wish me luck!

Thanks

Thanks to my Interactive Design professor Michael LeBlanc for giving me this assignment and pushing me to take it further.

Categories: Technology

TeenSafe leaks Apple ID usernames and passwords

iPhone J.D. - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 22:46

What is your teenager doing on his or her iPhone?  Many parents looking for answers to this question have turned to services that promise the ability to monitor an iPhone.  For example, TeenSafe offers a service called TeenSafe Monitor.  For $15 a month, parents can access a web-based dashboard to review their child's text messages (both SMS and iMessage, and even if the messages were deleted from the iPhone), messages sent through WhatsApp, incoming and outgoing calls, a full list of contacts on the iPhone, the history of websites visited on the iPhone, and the current and historical locations where the iPhone has been.  How does it get access to all of this information?  The iPhone has to be configured to backup to iCloud, two-factor authentication has to be turned off, and you have to give TeenSafe your teenager's Apple ID username and password. 

Those requirements may make you raise your eyebrows and bit, and for good reason.  If you are going to give any third party a username and password, you have to trust them.  Not only do you have to trust that they are going to use the information responsibly, but you also need to trust that they are going to safeguard this secret information.

Unfortunately, Zack Whittacker of ZDNet reported this weekend that TeenSafe wasn't very careful in storing this information.  TeenSafe stored a file which had all of those usernames and passwords and other information in a place on the Internet where anyone could access it.  Even worse, the data was not encrypted and was instead stored in a plain text format.  The reporter contacted some of the email addresses in the file that anyone could download, and confirmed that, sure enough, the leaked passwords were accurate.  Ugh.  As you would imagine, TeenSafe is now taking efforts to secure the data again and to inform its customers of the leak.

Did any bad actors get access to the usernames and passwords before the story was published on ZDNet?  Perhaps we will never know.

The ZDNet story came just one day after an article by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries of the New York Times.  She reported that while these services say that they are for parents to monitor their teens, they are heavily used by people to monitor their spouses, especially when infidelity is suspected.  The report goes on to explain that some stalkers are using them to monitor their victims. 

I'm reminded of an incident about four years ago, when a hacker was able to trick celebrities through a phishing attack into providing their Apple ID passwords.  Once he had the username and password, the hacker was able to access their iCloud backups, find nude photographs, and then leak them to the Internet. 

We live in a digital world in which many aspects of our privacy are often protected by little more than a username and password.  Every time you give a password to someone else — your spouse, a co-worker, or a third party — you need to be sure that you can trust that they are going to protect your privacy just as much as you yourself would.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

IBM z14 Model ZR1 Technical Guide

IBM Redbooks Site - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 09:30
Draft Redbook, last updated: Sun, 20 May 2018

TBD

Categories: Technology

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 01:18

Only two weeks ago, I started In the news by stating:  "It seems like every time we get one security disaster behind us, the next one comes along."  Sure enough, two weeks after the issue with Twitter passwords, we now have the next one.  If you use PGP to encrypt your emails, the EFF reported this week that new vulnerabilities have been discovered, such that the EFF recommends not even using PGP anymore.  Sigh.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • If you use GoodNotes for your iPad handwritten notes, the developer recently posted a helpful article with videos showing you how to make the most of drop and drag with the GoodNotes app.
  • Rene Ritchie of iMore writes about how Apple has worked with a number of other companies to develop carbon-free aluminum smelting so that the aluminum used in future Apple devices can be made with less negative environmental impact.
  • Good news:  Ben Lovejoy of 9to5Mac reports that the Logitech Crayon for iPad is now on sale, giving you most of the capabilities of an Apple Pencil for half of the price.  Bad news:  it only works with the 6th generation iPad, and you have to be a school to buy one.
  • If you don't subscribe to Apple Music but you want to watch Apple's Carpool Karaoke show, Killian Bell of Cult of Mac reports that all 19 episodes of the first season are now available for free for anyone with an Apple TV.
  • The iMac is 20 years old.  To celebrate, you can give your iPhone a case that looks like the early iMacs.  Leif Johnson of Macworld shows off the cases, made by Spigen.
  • And finally, if instead of celebrating the iMac you want your iPhone to celebrate how much money you have to spend, the Russian luxury item company Caviar is selling an iPhone X in a custom case which includes a solar panel.  Caviar calls it the iPhone X Tesla.  The 64 GB version sells for 284,000 ₽ (about $4,500) and the 256 GB version sells for 299,000 ₽ (about $4,800).  Here is a video which shows off the device (with the voiceover in Russian):

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Storwize HyperSwap with IBM i

IBM Redbooks Site - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 09:30
Draft Redpaper, last updated: Tue, 15 May 2018

IBM HyperSwap is a response to increasing demand for continuous application availability, minimizing downtime in the event of an outage, and non disruptive migrations.

Categories: Technology

The Slow Death of Internet Explorer and the Future of Progressive Enhancement

A list Apart development site - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 08:55

My first full-time developer job was at a small company. We didn’t have BrowserStack, so we cobbled together a makeshift device lab. Viewing a site I’d been making on a busted first-generation iPad with an outdated version of Safari, I saw a distorted, failed mess. It brought home to me a quote from Douglas Crockford, who once deemed the web “the most hostile software engineering environment imaginable.”

The “works best with Chrome” problem

Because of this difficulty, a problem has emerged. Earlier this year, a widely shared article in the Verge warned of “works best with Chrome” messages seen around the web.

Hi Larry, we apologize for the frustration. Groupon is optimized to be used on a Google Chrome browser, and while you are definitely able to use Firefox or another browser if you'd like, there can be delays when Groupon is not used through Google Chrome.

— Groupon Help U.S. (@GrouponHelpUS) November 26, 2017

Hi Rustram. We'd always recommend that you use Google Chrome to browse the site: we've optimised things for this browser. Thanks.

— Airbnb Help (@AirbnbHelp) July 12, 2016

There are more examples of this problem. In the popular messaging app Slack, voice calls work only in Chrome. In response to help requests, Slack explains its decision like this: “It requires significant effort for us to build out support and triage issues on each browser, so we’re focused on providing a great experience in Chrome.” (Emphasis mine.) Google itself has repeatedly built sites—including Google Meet, Allo, YouTube TV, Google Earth, and YouTube Studio—that block alternative browsers entirely. This is clearly a bad practice, but highlights the fact that cross-browser compatibility can be difficult and time-consuming.

The significant feature gap, though, isn’t between Chrome and everything else. Of far more significance is the increasingly gaping chasm between Internet Explorer and every other major browser. Should our development practices be hamstrung by the past? Or should we dash into the future relinquishing some users in our wake? I’ll argue for a middle ground. We can make life easier for ourselves without breaking the backward compatibility of the web.

The widening gulf

Chrome, Opera, and Firefox ship new features constantly. Edge and Safari eventually catch up. Internet Explorer, meanwhile, has been all but abandoned by Microsoft, which is attempting to push Windows users toward Edge. IE receives nothing but security updates. It’s a frustrating period for client-side developers. We read about new features but are often unable to use them—due to a single browser with a diminishing market share.

Internet Explorer’s global market share since 2013 is shown in dark blue. It now stands at just 3 percent.

Some new features are utterly trivial (caret-color!); some are for particular use cases you may never have (WebGL 2.0, Web MIDI, Web Bluetooth). Others already feel near-essential for even the simplest sites (object-fit, Grid).

A list of features supported in Chrome but unavailable in IE11, taken from caniuse.com. This is a truncated and incomplete screenshot of an extraordinarily long list. The promise and reality of progressive enhancement

For content-driven sites, the question of browser support should never be answered with a simple yes or no. CSS and HTML were designed to be fault-tolerant. If a particular browser doesn’t support shape-outside or service workers or font-display, you can still use those features. Your website will not implode. It’ll just lack that extra stylistic flourish or performance optimization in non-supporting browsers.

Other features, such as CSS Grid, require a bit more work. Your page layout is less enhancement than necessity, and Grid has finally brought a real layout system to the web. When used with care for simple cases, Grid can gracefully fall back to older layout techniques. We could, for example, fall back to flex-wrap. Flexbox is by now a taken-for-granted feature among developers, yet even that is riddled with bugs in IE11.

.grid > * { width: 270px; /* no grid fallback style */ margin-right: 30px; /* no grid fallback style */ } @supports (display: grid) { .grid > * { width: auto; margin-right: 0; } }

In the code above, I’m setting all the immediate children of the grid to have a specified width and a margin. For browsers that support Grid, I’ll use grid-gap in place of margin and define the width of the items with the grid-template-columns property. It’s not difficult, but it adds bloat and complexity if it’s repeated throughout a codebase for different layouts. As we start building entire page layouts with Grid (and eventually display: contents), providing a fallback for IE will become increasingly arduous. By using @supports for complex layout tasks, we’re effectively solving the same problem twice—using two different methods to create a similar result.

Not every feature can be used as an enhancement. Some things are imperative. People have been getting excited about CSS custom properties since 2013, but they’re still not widely used, and you can guess why: Internet Explorer doesn’t support them. Or take Shadow DOM. People have been doing conference talks about it for more than five years. It’s finally set to land in Firefox and Edge this year, and lands in Internet Explorer … at no time in the future. You can’t patch support with transpilers or polyfills or prefixes.

Users have more browsers than ever to choose from, yet IE manages to single-handedly tie us to the pre-evergreen past of the web. If developing Chrome-only websites represents one extreme of bad development practice, shackling yourself to a vestigial, obsolete, zombie browser surely represents the other.

The problem with shoehorning

Rather than eschew modern JavaScript features, polyfilling and transpiling have become the norm. ES6 is supported everywhere other than IE, yet we’re sending all browsers transpiled versions of our code. Transpilation isn’t great for performance. A single five-line async function, for example, may well transpile to twenty-five lines of code.

“I feel some guilt about the current state of affairs,” Alex Russell said of his previous role leading development of Traceur, a transpiler that predated Babel. “I see so many traces where the combination of Babel transpilation overhead and poor [webpack] foo totally sink the performance of a site. … I’m sad that we’re still playing this game.”

What you can’t transpile, you can often polyfill. Polyfill.io has become massively popular. Chrome gets sent a blank file. Ancient versions of IE receive a giant mountain of polyfills. We are sending the largest payload to those the least equipped to deal with it—people stuck on slow, old machines.

What is to be done?Prioritize content

Cutting the mustard is a technique popularized by the front-end team at BBC News. The approach cuts the browser market in two: all browsers receive a base experience or core content. JavaScript is conditionally loaded only by the more capable browsers. Back in 2012, their dividing line was this:

if ('querySelector' in document && 'localStorage' in window && 'addEventListener' in window) { // load the javascript }

Tom Maslen, then a lead developer at the BBC, explained the rationale: “Over the last few years I feel that our industry has gotten lazy because of the crazy download speeds that broadband has given us. Everyone stopped worrying about how large their web pages were and added a ton of JS libraries, CSS files, and massive images into the DOM. This has continued on to mobile platforms that don’t always have broadband speeds or hardware capacity to render complex code.”

The Guardian, meanwhile, entirely omits both JavaScript and stylesheets from Internet Explorer 8 and further back.

The Guardian navigation as seen in Internet Explorer 8. Unsophisticated yet functional.

Nature.com takes a similar approach, delivering only a very limited stylesheet to anything older than IE10.

The nature.com homepage as seen in Internet Explorer 9.

Were you to break into a museum, steal an ancient computer, and open Netscape Navigator, you could still happily view these websites. A user comes to your site for the content. They didn’t come to see a pretty gradient or a nicely rounded border-radius. They certainly didn’t come for the potentially nauseating parallax scroll animation.

Anyone who’s been developing for the web for any amount of time will have come across a browser bug. You check your new feature in every major browser and it works perfectly—except in one. Memorizing support info from caniuse.com and using progressive enhancement is no guarantee that every feature of your site will work as expected.

The W3C’s website for the CSS Working Group as viewed in the latest version of Safari.

Regardless of how perfectly formed and well-written your code, sometimes things break through no fault of your own, even in modern browsers. If you’re not actively testing your site, bugs are more likely to reach your users, unbeknownst to you. Rather than transpiling and polyfilling and hoping for the best, we can deliver what the person came for, in the most resilient, performant, and robust form possible: unadulterated HTML. No company has the resources to actively test their site on every old version of every browser. Malfunctioning JavaScript can ruin a web experience and make a simple page unusable. Rather than leaving users to a mass of polyfills and potential JavaScript errors, we give them a basic but functional experience.

Make a clean break

What could a mustard cut look like going forward? You could conduct a feature query using JavaScript to conditionally load the stylesheet, but relying on JavaScript introduces a brittleness that would be best to avoid. You can’t use @import inside an @supports block, so we’re left with media queries.

The following query will prevent the CSS file from being delivered to any version of Internet Explorer and older versions of other browsers:

<link id="mustardcut" rel="stylesheet" href="stylesheet.css" media=" only screen, only all and (pointer: fine), only all and (pointer: coarse), only all and (pointer: none), min--moz-device-pixel-ratio:0) and (display-mode:browser), (min--moz-device-pixel-ratio:0) ">

We’re not really interested in what particular features this query is testing for; it’s just a hacky way to split between legacy and modern browsers. The shiny, modern site will be delivered to Edge, Chrome (and Chrome for Android) 39+, Opera 26+, Safari 9+, Safari on iOS 9+, and Firefox 47+. I based the query on the work of Andy Kirk. If you want to take a cutting-the-mustard approach but have to meet different support demands, he maintains a Github repo with a range of options.

We can use the same media query to conditionally load a Javascript file. This gives us one consistent dividing line between old and modern browsers:

(function() { var linkEl = document.getElementById('mustardcut'); if (window.matchMedia && window.matchMedia(linkEl.media).matches) { var script = document.createElement('script'); script.src = 'your-script.js'; script.async = true; document.body.appendChild(script); } })();

matchMedia brings the power of CSS media queries to JavaScript. The matches property is a boolean that reflects the result of the query. If the media query we defined in the link tag evaluates to true, the JavaScript file will be added to the page.

It might seem like an extreme solution. From a marketing point of view, the site no longer looks “professional” for a small amount of visitors. However, we’ve managed to improve the performance for those stuck on old technology while also opening the possibility of using the latest standards on browsers that support them. This is far from a new approach. All the way back in 2001, A List Apart stopped delivering a visual design to Netscape 4. Readership among users of that browser went up.

Front-end development is complicated at the best of times. Adding support for a technologically obsolete browser adds an inordinate amount of time and frustration to the development process. Testing becomes onerous. Bug-fixing looms large.

By making a clean break with the past, we can focus our energies on building modern sites using modern standards without leaving users stuck on antiquated browsers with an untested and possibly broken site. We save a huge amount of mental overhead. If your content has real value, it can survive without flashy embellishments. And for Internet Explorer users on Windows 10, Edge is preinstalled. The full experience is only a click away.

Internet Explorer 11 with its ever-present “Open Microsoft Edge” button.

Developers must avoid living in a bubble of MacBook Pros and superfast connections. There’s no magic bullet that enables developers to use bleeding-edge features. You may still need Autoprefixer and polyfills. If you’re planning to have a large user base in Asia and Africa, you’ll need to build a site that looks great in Opera Mini and UC Browser, which have their own limitations. You might choose a different cutoff point for now, but it will increasingly pay off, in terms of both user experience and developer experience, to make use of what the modern web has to offer.

 

Categories: Technology

Wiki read-only notice

Lotus Notes wiki recently added info - Mon, 05/14/2018 - 10:39
As of July 14, 2018, this wiki will be closed to new community contributions. You will not be able to author, edit, or comment on articles, but you will still be able to view all content, including articles that might be added or updated by IBM going forward.
Categories: Technology

[Sponsor] iTimeKeep -- time entry built for attorneys

iPhone J.D. - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 23:22

Thank you to Bellefield Systems, the creator of iTimeKeep, for sponsoring iPhone J.D. again this month. 

You may talk to a client over the weekend, spend time working on a brief at night after you put the kids to bed, or handle something in a courthouse because you happen to be there on another matter.  iTimeKeep makes time entry so simple and accessible that you can easily enter your time no matter when or where you are working, and thus you don't forget to record your time entries.

Forgetting to record a few 0.1 or 0.2 time entries may not seem like a big deal, but over weeks and months it can really add up.  This time that would have otherwise been lost is what Bellefield refers to as invisible time. With the iTimeKeep app on your iPhone — which is likely with you all the time — you can enter your time contemporaneously and before you forget about it.  As soon as you enter time, the app quickly talks to your firm's time management system so that the activity is officially recorded.  By using your iPhone to record your time entries at the time that you do the work, you don't have to worry about losing time that you forgot about as you try to reconstruct your activities at a later time.  It’s not unreasonable to expect that you will record some additional billable time every day by keeping your time contemporaneously with iTimeKeep.  Multiply that by 255 work days a year, and multiply that by your billable rate, and the value of iTimeKeep becomes obvious.

Contemporaneous time entry is good for another reason.  It is much easier to keep track of what you are doing while you are doing it than it is to try to reconstruct your time entries at the end of the day (or on a subsequent day).  We've all been there before — you are doing your time entries at the end of the day, and you find yourself staring blankly as you try to remember what it was that you worked on in the morning.  Eventually it may come to you, but you are wasting your own (non-billable) time as you attempt to remember what you did.  If you instead enter your time as you are doing tasks, you save yourself the agony of reconstructing your day.  And because iTimeKeep makes it so easy to keep track of your time contemporaneously, over time you will find that you do it more and more.

iTimeKeep works with law firms of any size, integrating with several time and billing systems:  Aderant, Elite, Omega, PC Law, TimeMatters, and many, many more which are listed here.

I started using this app in my own law practice last year, and I posted a comprehensive review in August.  I have used this app on more occasions that I can remember to record my time when I am out of the office, time that I might have otherwise forgotten about.  Thus, the app has helped me to get paid for the work that I am actually doing, plus it ensures that my timesheets accurately reflect all of the work that I am doing for my clients.

 

iTimeKeep validates your time against client billing guidelines, so you don't have to worry about forgetting to add a needed issue or task code for a file, or entering time in 0.1 increments when the client requires 0.25 entries.  And you can use built-in timers to keep track of precisely how long you spend working on a task.

What surprised me about iTimeKeep is that it isn't just a tool for avoiding missed time entries.  It is also a fantastic tool to use every day for recording all of your time.  The iTimeKeep interface is so incredibly well-designed and fast to use that I often prefer using iTimeKeep over the interface for my law firm's time entry software.  And fortunately, it doesn't matter which one I use — time that I enter in iTimeKeep shows up on my firm system, and time that I enter in my firm's system shows up in iTimeKeep if I have to go back and edit an entry.

I cannot type on an iPhone as fast as I can type on a computer keyboard.  However, I can often enter time just as quickly using iTimeKeep on my iPhone.  Sometimes I use Siri dictation to speak a time entry, which is fast and easy.  Other times I use the iPhone's keyboard shortcut feature to speed up time entry.  (In the Settings app, go to General -> Keyboard -> Text Replacement.)  For example, if I type "tcw" on my iPhone, it automatically changes that to "Telephone conference with " so I just need to type the name and the "re" information.

But iTimeKeep is not just a product for your iPhone (and iPad and Apple Watch, and even Android).  You can also use iTimeKeep on your computer via a secure website interface.  Whether I am entering time in the office on my PC or at home on my Mac, I frequently use the desktop version of iTimeKeep to type my time entries in the clean and efficient interface.

No attorney enjoys time entry, but it is a necessary part of the practice of law for most of us.  With iTimeKeep, you significantly reduce the friction associated with entering your time, especially when you record it contemporaneous with performing the work for your client.  Thank you to Bellefield for sponsoring iPhone J.D. again this month, and thank you for creating this perfect example of an iPhone app that greatly improves the practice of law for attorneys.

Don't waste anymore time.  Try iTimeKeep today.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Developing a Blockchain Business Network with Hyperledger Composer using the IBM Blockchain Platform Starter Plan

IBM Redbooks Site - Fri, 05/11/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Fri, 11 May 2018

Blockchain has emerged as a disruptive technology in the areas of trading assets and sharing information.

Categories: Technology

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 05/11/2018 - 01:26

If you have an older iPhone with a battery that no longer holds a charge for very long, you can go to an Apple Store and pay only $29 to get the battery replaced.  When Apple first started this program a few months ago, I heard many stories about how hard it was to get an appointment for this service.   Serenity Caldwell of iMore reports that Apple seems to finally have a sufficient stock of the replacement batteries.  If you were waiting for the line to shorten before giving new life to an older iPhone, now seems to be the time to do so.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • California attorney David Sparks discusses Apple's efforts to make the iPhone more secure.
  • Debra Cassens Weiss of the ABA Journal reports on a federal Fourth Circuit decision holding that some form of individualized suspicion is necessary before the government can search a cellphone seized at the border.
  • In an article for The Daily Record, New York attorney Nicole Black discusses iPhone use by attorneys.  Note that the title of the article mentions 2018 use, but the data she is discussing comes from the 2017 ABA Tech Survey released last November (my report), which is based on data collected from February to May, 2017.
  • Luke Dormehl reports that Apple now has permission to use drones to improve Apple M4444444aps.
  • Benjamin Clymer of Hodinkee (a website and magazine devoted to expensive watches) interviewed Apple's Jonathan Ive to discuss the creation of the Apple Watch.
  • Matthew Byrd of The App Factor came up with a list of 20 iPhone apps that you might not know about but which are worth checking out.  There are some good ones on this list.
  • Harry Guinness of How-To Geek explains how secure Face ID and Touch ID are on an iPhone.
  • Olloclip has made external lenses for iPhones for years now.  Jim Fisher of PC Magazine reviews the new Olloclip for the iPhone X, and finds that while it can work well, there are tradeoffs.
  • Peter Cao of 9to5Mac reports that starting in July 2018, all new apps and all updates to older apps must include support for the iPhone X's display.
  • And finally, Ed Hardy of Cult of Mac reports that at the recent 97th annual Art Directors Club awards, Apple won Best in Show for an ad that Apple created called Barbers which shows how portrait mode on the iPhone can make anyone look good.  I mentioned this ad almost exactly one year ago when it debuted, not only because I thought it was a great ad, but also because it was filmed right here in New Orleans.  (I also noted that Apple made some digital changes to the neighborhood, including adding a fake law firm.)  Perhaps this will inspire Apple to film even more commercials in the Big Easy.  Here is that award-winning ad again:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Bypassing Mitigations by Attacking JIT Server in Microsoft Edge

Google Project Zero - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 15:12
Posted by Ivan Fratric, Project Zero
With Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft introduced a new security mitigation in Microsoft Edge: Arbitrary Code Guard (ACG). When ACG is applied to a Microsoft Edge Content Process, it makes it impossible to allocate new executable memory within a process or modify existing executable memory. The goal of this is to make it more difficult for an attacker who already gained some capabilities in the browser’s Content Process to execute arbitrary code.
Since modern web browsers rely on Just-In-Time (JIT) compilation of JavaScript to achieve better performance and the code compilation in JIT is incompatible with ACG, a custom solution was needed to enable ACG in Microsoft Edge: The JIT engine was separated from the Edge Content Process into a separate, JIT Process.
We analyzed ACG and tried to answer the question of how useful this mitigation is going to be in preventing an attacker from exploiting Microsoft Edge. Additionally, we examined the implementation of the JIT server and uncovered multiple issues in it (that have been fixed at the time of publishing this). While the paper focuses on Microsoft Edge, we believe that any other attempt to implement out-of-process JIT would encounter similar problems. Thus we hope that this work would be useful for other vendors who might consider employing similar mitigations.
We published the result of this work in a whitepaper that can be found here. All related materials (tools, PoC code) can be found here.
Categories: Security

So You Want to Write an Article?

A list Apart development site - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 10:30

So you want to write an article. Maybe you’ve got a great way of organizing your CSS, or you’re a designer who has a method of communicating really well with developers, or you have some insight into how to best use a new technology. Whatever the topic, you have insights, you’ve read the basics of finding your voice, and you’re ready to write and submit your first article for a major publication. Here’s the thing: most article submissions suck. Yours doesn’t have to be one of them.

At A List Apart, we want to see great minds in the industry write the next great articles, and you could be one of our writers. I’ve been on the editorial team here for about nine months now, and I’ve written a fair share of articles here as well. Part of what I do is review article submissions and give feedback on what’s working and what’s not. We publish different kinds of articles, but many of the submissions I see—particularly from newer writers—fall into the same traps. If you’re trying to get an article published in A List Apart or anywhere else, knowing these common mistakes can help your article’s chances of being accepted.

Keep introductions short and snappy

Did you read the introduction above? My guess is a fair share of readers skipped straight to this point. That’s pretty typical behavior, especially for articles like this one that offer several answers to one clear question. And that’s totally fine. If you’re writing, realize that some people will do the same thing. There are some things you can do to improve the chances of your intro being read, though.

Try to open with a bang. A recent article from Caroline Roberts has perhaps the best example of this I’ve ever seen: “I won an Emmy for keeping a website free of dick pics.” When I saw that in the submission, I was instantly hooked and read the whole thing. It’s hilarious, it shows she has expertise on managing content, and it shows that the topic is more involved and interesting than it may at first seem. A more straightforward introduction to the topic of content procurement would seem very boring in comparison. Your ideas are exciting, so show that right away if you can. A funny or relatable story can also be a great way to lead into an article—just keep it brief!

If you can’t open with a bang, keep it short. State the problem, maybe put something about why it matters or why you’re qualified to write about it, and get to the content as quickly as possible. If a line in your introduction does not add value to the article, delete it. There’s little room for meandering in professional articles, but there’s absolutely no room for it in introductions.

Get specific

Going back to my first article submission for A List Apart, way before I joined the team, I wanted to showcase my talent and expertise, and I thought the best way to do this was to showcase all of it in one article. I wrote an overview of professional skills for web professionals. There was some great information in there, based on my years of experience working up through the ranks and dealing with workplace drama. I was so proud when I submitted the article. It wasn’t accepted, but I got some great feedback from the editor-in-chief: get more specific.

The most effective articles I see deal with one central idea. The more disparate ideas I see in an article, the less focused and impactful the article is. There will be exceptions to this, of course, but those are rarer than articles that suffer for this. Don’t give yourself a handicap by taking an approach that fails more often than it succeeds.

Covering one idea in great detail, with research and examples to back it up, usually goes a lot further in displaying your expertise than an overview of a bunch of disparate thoughts. Truth be told, a lot of people have probably arrived at the same ideas you have. The insights you have are not as important as your evidence and eloquence in expressing them.

Can an overview article work? Actually, yes, but you need to frame it within a specific problem. One great example I saw was an overview of web accessibility (which has not been published yet). The article followed a fictional project from beginning to end, showing how each team on the project could work toward a goal of accessibility. But the idea was not just accessibility—it was how leaders and project managers could assign responsibility in regards to accessibility. It was a great submission because it began with a problem of breadth and offered a complete solution to that problem. But it only worked because it was written specifically for an audience that needed to understand the whole process. In other words, the comprehensive nature of the article was the entire point, and it stuck to that.

Keep your audience in mind

You have a viewpoint. A problem I frequently see with new submissions is forgetting that the audience also has its viewpoint. You have to know your audience and remember how the audience’s mindset matches yours—or doesn’t. In fact, you’ll probably want to state in your introduction who the intended audience is to hook the right readers. To write a successful article, you have to keep that audience in mind and write for it specifically.

A common mistake I see writers make is using an article to vent their frustrations about the people who won’t listen to them. The problem is that the audience of our publication usually agrees with the author on these points, so a rant about why he or she is right is ultimately pointless. If you’re writing for like-minded people, it’s usually best to assume the readers agree with you and then either delve into how to best accomplish what you’re writing about or give them talking points to have that conversation in their workplace. Write the kind of advice you wish you’d gotten when those frustrations first surfaced.

Another common problem is forgetting what the audience already knows—or doesn’t know. If something is common knowledge in your industry, it doesn’t need another explanation. You might link out to another explanation somewhere else just in case, but there’s no need to start from scratch when you’re trying to make a new point. At the same time, don’t assume that all your readers have the same expertise you do. I wrote an article on some higher-level object-oriented programming concepts—something many JavaScript developers are not familiar with. Rather than spend half the article giving an overview of object-oriented programming, though, I provided some links at the beginning of the article that gave a good overview. Pro tip: if you can link out to articles from the same publication you’re submitting to, publications will appreciate the free publicity.

Defining your audience can also really help with knowing their viewpoint. Many times when I see a submission with two competing ideas, they’re written for different audiences. In my article I mentioned above, I provide some links for developers who may be new to object-oriented programming, but the primary audience is developers who already have some familiarity with it and want to go deeper. Trying to cater to both audiences wouldn’t have doubled the readership—it would have reduced it by making a large part of the article less relevant to readers.

Keep it practical

I’ll admit, of all these tips, this is the one I usually struggle with the most. I’m a writer who loves ideas, and I love explaining them in great detail. While there are some readers who appreciate this, most are looking for some tangible ways to improve something. This isn’t to say that big concepts have no place in professional articles, but you need to ask why they are there. Is your five-paragraph explanation of the history of your idea necessary for the reader to make the improvements you suggest?

This became abundantly clear to me in my first submission of an article on managing ego in the workplace. I love psychology and initially included a lengthy section up-front on how our self-esteem springs from the strengths we leaned on growing up. While this fascinated me, it wasn’t right for an audience of web professionals who wanted advice on how to improve their working relationships. Based on feedback I received, I removed the section entirely and added a section on how to manage your own ego in the workplace—much more practical, and that ended up being a favorite section in the final piece.

Successful articles solve a problem. Begin with the problem—set it up in your introduction, maybe tell a little story that illustrates how this problem manifests—and then build a case for your solution. The problem should be clear to the reader very early on in the article, and the rest of the article should all be related to that problem. There is no room for meandering and pontification in a professional article. If the article is not relevant and practical, the reader will move on to something else.

The litmus test for determining the practicality of your article is to boil it down to an outline. Of course all of your writing is much more meaningful than an outline, but look at the outline. There should be several statements along the lines of “Do this,” or “Don’t do this.” You can have other statements, of course, but they should all be building toward some tangible outcome with practical steps for the reader to take to solve the problem set up in your introduction.

It’s a hard truth you have to learn as a writer that you’ll be much more in love with your ideas than your audience will. Writing professional articles is not about self-expression—it’s about helping and serving your readers. The more clear and concise the content you offer, the more your article will be read and shared.

Support what you say

Your opinions, without evidence to support them, will only get you so far. As a writer, your ideas are probably grounded in a lot of real evidence, but your readers don’t know that—you’ll have to show it. How do you show it? Write a first draft and get your ideas out. Then do another pass to look for stories, stats, and studies to support your ideas. Trying to make a point without at least one of these is at best difficult and at worst empty hype. Professionals in your industry are less interested in platitudes and more interested in results. Having some evidence for your claims goes a long way toward demonstrating your expertise and proving your point.

Going back to my first article in A List Apart, on defusing workplace drama, I had an abstract point to prove, and I needed to show that my insights meant something. My editor on that article was fantastic and asked the right questions to steer me toward demonstrating the validity of my ideas in a meaningful way. Personal stories made up the backbone of the article, and I was able to find social psychology studies to back up what I was saying. These illustrations of the ideas ended up being more impactful than the ideas themselves, and the article was very well-received in the community.

Storytelling can be an amazing way to bring your insights to life. Real accounts or fictional, well-told stories can serve to make big ideas easier to understand, and they work best when representing typical scenarios, not edge cases. If your story goes against common knowledge, readers will pick up on that instantly and you’ll probably get some nasty comments. Never use a story to prove a point that doesn’t have any other hard evidence to back it up—use stories to illustrate points or make problems more relatable. Good stories are often the most memorable parts of articles and make your ideas and assertions easier to remember.

Stats are one of the easiest ways to make a point. If you’re arguing that ignoring website accessibility can negatively impact the business, some hard numbers are going to say a lot more than stories. If there’s a good stat to prove your point, always include it, and always be on the lookout for relevant numbers. As with stories, though, you should never try to use stats to distort the truth or prove a point that doesn’t have much else to support it. Mark Twain once said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” You shouldn’t decide what to say and then scour the internet for ways to back it up. Base your ideas on the numbers, don’t base your selection of facts on your idea.

Studies, including both user experience studies and social psychology experiments, are somewhere in between stories and stats, and a lot of the same advantages and pitfalls also apply. A lot of studies can be expressed as a story—write a quick bit from the point of view of the study participant, then go back and explain what’s really going on. This can be just as engaging and memorable as a good story, but studies usually result in stats, which usually serve to make the stories significantly more authoritative. And remember to link out to the study for people who want to read more about it!

Just make sure your study wasn’t disproved by later studies. In my first article, linked above, I originally referenced a study to introduce the bystander effect, but an editor wisely pointed out that there’s actually a lot of evidence against that interpretation of the well-known study. Interpretations can change over time, especially as new information comes out. I found a later, more relevant study that illustrated the point better and was less well-known, so it made for a better story.

Kill your darlings

Early twentieth century writer and critic Arthur Quiller-Couch once said in a speech, “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.” Variants of this quote were repeated by many authors throughout the twentieth century, and it’s just as true today as when he originally said it.

What does that mean for your article? Great prose, great analogies, great stories—any bits of brilliant writing that you churn out—only mean as much as they contribute to the subject at hand. If it doesn’t contribute anything, it needs to be killed.

When getting your article ready for submission, your best friend will be the backspace or delete key on your keyboard. Before submitting, do a read-through for the express purpose of deleting whatever you can to trim down the article. Articles are not books. Brevity is a virtue, and it usually ends up being one of the most important virtues in article submissions.

Your intro should have a clear thesis so readers know what the article is about. For every bit of writing that follows it, ask if it contributes to your argument. Does it illustrate the problem or solution? Does it give the reader empathy for or understanding of the people you’re trying to help? Does it give them guidance on how to have these conversations in their workplaces? If you can’t relate a sentence back to your original thesis, it doesn’t matter how brilliant it is—it should be deleted.

Humor can be useful, but many jokes serve as little more than an aside or distraction from the main point. Don’t interrupt your train of thought with a cute joke—use a joke to make your thoughts more clear. It doesn’t matter how funny the joke is; if it doesn’t help illustrate or reinforce one of your points, it needs to go.

There are times when a picture really is worth a thousand words. Don’t go crazy with images and illustrations in your piece, but if a quick graphic is going to save you a lengthy explanation, go that route.

So what are you waiting for?

The industry needs great advice in articles, and many of you could provide that. The points I’ve delved into in this article aren’t just formalities and vague ideas; the editing team at A List Apart has weighed in, and these are problems we see often that weaken articles and make them less accessible to readers. Heeding this advice will strengthen your professional articles, whether you plan to submit to A List Apart or anywhere else. The next amazing article in A List Apart could be yours, and we hope to see you get there.

Categories: Technology

Tips for using 3D Touch

iPhone J.D. - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 01:48

Unless you are using an older iPhone, I suspect that you are using an iPhone that can support 3D Touch.  This is a gesture similar to tapping, except that you push down a little bit more.  3D Touch was introduced with the iPhone 6s in September 2015, and also works on the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and the iPhone X (and the Plus variants of those phones).  But even though 3D Touch has been around for many years, I talk to many folks who don't even know that the feature is there.  Frankly, I forget about it sometimes too.  But there are tons of really useful things that you can do with 3D Touch.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Quickly jot something down

I often need to quickly jot something down, like a phone number, a name, a case number, etc.  The built-in Notes app is a great place to put that information.  Of course, you can open the app and then tap on the button to create a new note, but it is faster to use 3D Touch.  Just push down on the app icon on your home screen and tap New Note.

Perhaps even more useful is the option just below that:  New Checklist.  If you need to jot down a number of items, such as a grocery list, the New Checklist option after you 3D Touch will open the Notes app, create a new note, and then enter the checklist mode (normally accessed by pressing the icon of the check mark inside of a circle).  Using 3D Touch and tapping New Checklist is far, far faster that doing all of those steps one at a time.

 Compose a new email, without distractions

If you 3D Touch on the built-in Mail app icon, there is a New Message option.  Thus, using 3D Touch is a fast way to compose a new email.  But the real reason that I like this shortcut is that whenever I open the Mail app to compose a new email, the first thing I see when the Mail app opens is a list of emails, which probably includes some new ones that I haven't seen yet.  Thus, I find myself distracted, and sometimes sidetracked, by those messages.  By the time I start composing my email, I may have even forgotten what I was going to say.  When I use the 3D Touch shortcut to compose a new email, I don't see my Inbox until my new email is composed and sent. 

3D Touch cursor

When typing an email, or when typing virtually any other text, if you push down on the keyboard, the keys turn blank and the keyboard turns into a trackpad.  You can slide your finger around to move your cursor up a few lines to edit or add to text.  Not only does this save you the trouble of tapping to select a new location for the cursor, I also find that it is far more precise than just tapping on text you previously typed.

While you are moving the cursor around, you can 3D Touch again to select a word, and then drag your finger to select multiple words.

Message a specific person

If you tap on the Messages app icon, you will probably see your most recent text message conversation.  But if you 3D Touch on the Messages app, you will see a list of names of folks who have recently had text message conversations with you.  Assuming that you wanted to send a message to, or review a recent message from, one of those three people, this is a faster way to jump directly to the text message conversation with that person.

Beware of Contacts

This isn't as much of a tip as it is a warning.  If you 3D Touch on the built-in Phone app, you see a list of four favorites.  Tap a name, and you call that person.  That makes sense.  What I don't like is that if you 3D Touch on the Contacts app icon, you see that same list of Phone favorites, and tapping one of those names will also call that person.  That shortcut makes sense to me on the Phone app icon, an app used to call people, but not on the Contacts app icon.  It would make much more sense to me for a 3D Touch on the Contacts app to bring up the Contacts entry for that person so that you can review contact information.  And that might be the behavior that you were expecting as well, which can cause quite a surprise if you were intending to quickly bring up a person's contact information to see some detail about the person and instead you find yourself calling that person's phone.

Mark my location

If you 3D Touch on the Maps app icon, the first choice is to Mark My Location.  Tap this to drop a pin on the map at your current location.  This can be useful if you are parking a car or a bike and then you are going to walk somewhere else and you are worried that you might forget where your car or bike was located.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

I frequently have a need to open the Settings app and go to the Wi-Fi settings or the Bluetooth settings.  Both are located near the top of the list after you open the Settings app, but an even faster way to access these settings is to 3D Touch on the Settings icon and then tap Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Get this app first

Sometimes I want to start using an updated version of an app, so I will open the App Store icon, tap Updates, pull down from the top of the screen to see what updates are available, and then I'll tap the button to update all of my apps.  Normally this works fine, but sometimes I find that I really want my iPhone to start by updating app X, and instead my iPhone is slowly updating apps Y and Z.  As I wait, I cannot even launch the app that most interests me because the app icon is gray.  Ugh.

To solve this, 3D Touch on the app icon on your home screen for the app in question, and then tap Prioritize Download.  This will tell your iPhone to put the other updates to the side and immediately start updating this app.

Speaking of the App Store, you can 3D Touch on the App Store icon to see a few choices, one of which is Search, which brings you directly to the search function of the App Store.

Adjusting 3D Touch

You can adjust how hard you need to press on the display to trigger 3D Touch.  Open the Settings app and go to General -> Accessibility -> 3D Touch to select Light, Medium or Firm.  You can also turn off 3D Touch, if for some reason you need to do that.

And much more

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to 3D Touch.  For example, you can also use it to "peek" at a link or a file before you officially open it.  And many third-party apps offer interesting 3D Touch options, such as the Launch Center Pro app which lets you see miniature icons.  Click here to see a short video by Apple showing off the features of 3D Touch.

If you are looking for something to do while in waiting in line at the grocery store, on a train, etc., take a few minutes to play around with 3D Touch in different places to find other interesting uses.  3D Touch is a useful, but I suspect underused, feature on the iPhone.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

IBM Geographically Dispersed Resilience for SAP HANA and SAP NetWeaver

IBM Redbooks Site - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Wed, 9 May 2018

This IBM® Redpaper™chapter publication explains the configuration, relocation, and verification of the IBM Geographically Dispersed Resiliency on IBM Power Systems™ solution to protect SAP HANA and SAP NetWeaver applications.

Categories: Technology

We’re Looking for People Who Love to Write

A list Apart development site - Tue, 05/08/2018 - 09:02

Here at A List Apart, we’re looking for new authors, and that means you. What should you write about? Glad you asked!

You should write about topics that keep you up at night, passions that make you the first to show up in the office each morning, ideas that matter to our community and about which you have a story to tell or an insight to share.

We’re not looking for case studies about your company or thousand-foot overviews of topics most ALA readers already know about (i.e., you don’t have to tell A List Apart readers that Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web). But you also don’t have to write earth-shaking manifestos or share new ways of working that will completely change the web. A good strong idea, or detailed advice about an industry best practice make excellent ALA articles.

Where we’ve been

Although A List Apart covers everything from accessible UX and product design to advanced typography and content and business strategy, the sweet spot for an A List Apart article is one that combines UI design (and design thinking) with front-end code, especially when it’s innovative. Thus our most popular article of the past ten years was Ethan Marcotte’s “Responsive Web Design”—a marriage of design and code, accessible to people with diverse backgrounds at differing levels of expertise.

In the decade-plus before that, our most popular articles were Douglas Bowman’s “Sliding Doors of CSS” and Dan Cederholm’s “Faux Columns”—again, marriages of design and code, and mostly in the nature of clever workarounds (because CSS in 2004 didn’t really let us design pages as flexibly and creatively, or even as reliably, as we wanted to).

From hacks to standards

Although clever front-end tricks like Sliding Doors, and visionary re-imaginings of the medium like Responsive Web Design, remain our most popular offerings, the magazine has offered fewer of them in recent years, focusing more on UX and strategy. To a certain extent, if a front-end technique isn’t earth-changing (i.e., isn’t more than just a technique), and if it isn’t semantic, inclusive, accessible, and progressively enhanced, we don’t care how flashy it is—it’s not for us.

The demand to create more powerful layouts was also, in a real way, satisfied by the rise of frameworks and shared libraries—another reason for us to have eased off front-end tricks (although not all frameworks and libraries are equally or in some cases even acceptably semantic, inclusive, accessible, and progressively enhanced—and, sadly, many of their users don’t know or care).

Most importantly, now that CSS is finally capable of true layout design without hacks, any responsible web design publication will want to ease off on the flow of front-end hacks, in favor of standards-based education, from basic to advanced. Why would any editor or publisher (or framework engineer, for that matter) recommend that designers use 100 pounds of fragile JavaScript when a dozen lines of stable CSS will do?

It will be interesting to see what happens to the demand for layout hack articles in Medium and web design publications and communities over the next twelve months. It will also be interesting to see what becomes of frameworks now that CSS is so capable. But that’s not our problem. Our problem is finding the best ideas for A List Apart’s readers, and working with the industry’s best old and new writers to polish those ideas to near-perfection.

After all, even more than being known for genius one-offs like Responsive Web Design and Sliding Doors of CSS, A List Apart has spent its life introducing future-friendly, user-focused design advances to this community, i.e., fighting for web standards when table layouts were the rage, fighting for web standards when Flash was the rage, pushing for real typography on the web years before Typekit was a gleam in Jeff Veen’s eye, pushing for readability in layout when most design-y websites thought single-spaced 7px Arial was plenty big enough, promoting accessible design solutions, user-focused solutions, independent content and communities, and so on.

Call to action

Great, industry-changing articles are still what we want most, whether they’re front-end, design, content, or strategy-focused. And changing the industry doesn’t have to mean inventing a totally new way of laying out pages or evaluating client content. It can also mean coming up with a compelling argument in favor of an important but embattled best practice. Or sharing an insightful story that helps those who read it be more empathetic and more ethical in their daily work.

Who will write the next 20 years of great A List Apart articles? That’s where you come in.

Publishing on A List Apart isn’t as easy-peasy as dashing off a post on your blog, but the results—and the audience—are worth it. And when you write for A List Apart, you never write alone: our industry-leading editors, technical editors, and copyeditors are ready to help you polish your best idea from good to great.

Come share with us!

Categories: Technology

ABCs of z/OS System Programming Volume 10

IBM Redbooks Site - Fri, 05/04/2018 - 09:30
Redbook, published: Fri, 4 May 2018

The ABCs of IBM® z/OS® System Programming is an 13-volume collection that provides an introduction to the z/OS operating system and the hardware architecture.

Categories: Technology

IBM TS7700 Release 4.1 and 4.1.2 Guide

IBM Redbooks Site - Fri, 05/04/2018 - 09:30
Redbook, published: Fri, 4 May 2018

This IBM® Redbooks® publication covers IBM TS7700 R4.1 through R4.1.2.

Categories: Technology

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 05/04/2018 - 00:50

It seems like every time we get one security disaster behind us, the next one comes along.  This week it is Twitter, which announced yesterday that apparently all of its passwords were accidentally decrypted and stored in plain text for a period of time.  Twitter hasn't said for long, and we don't know if any hackers accessed it during this time period, but obviously Twitter is telling everyone to change their passwords just in case.  Twitter also has optional two-factor verification, so while you are updating your password, you should turn that on for extra protection if you have not yet enabled it.  But more importantly, even if you don't use Twitter, this serves as yet another warning that you ought to use unique and secure passwords for every website and service — a task that is much more simple if you use a Password Manager.  (I use 1Password and was able to change both my @jeffrichardson and my @iphonejd account passwords very quickly.)  If you don't currently use a password manager, I strongly recommend that you do so.  Better yet, get it for your entire family, like I recently did with 1Password Families.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • Twenty years ago, Apple introduced the iMac, and Apple created a commercial called Simplicity Shootout to show how much easier it was to set up an iMac versus a PC.  I remember that commercial very well.  Michael Steeber of 9to5Mac explains how that video was made, and he even tracked down the two people who starred in that video.  The former PC-user now uses a 12.9" iPad Pro.  It's a fun article and worth reading.
  • Jennifer Vazquez of Channel 4 New York reports on a man who saw a notification on his Apple Watch telling him to seek immediate medical attention because something was wrong with his heart rate.  He immediately went to the ER and the doctors found a dangerous ulcer that could have killed him if he had waited.
  • If you want to get an Apple Watch, for yourself or someone else, Lief Johnson of Macworld reports that they are currently $50 off at Macy's.
  • In my experience, games don't work very well on the Apple Watch, but maybe I just haven't tried the right one yet.  Andrew Hayward of Macworld recommends 15 Apple Watch games.
  • If you use Wemo smart home products, you can add the Wemo Bridge to make it work with Apple HomeKit.  That normally costs $40, but as John Levite of iMore reports, you can currently get it on Amazon for only $30.
  • Today is Star Wars Day.  To celebrate, you can now pre-order tickets for Solo: A Star Wars Story at your local theater.  I just bought mine for May 25th.
  • Yesterday, to celebrate French film director Georges Méliès, Google released a Google Doodle video.  Thuy Ong of The Verge has details.  You can watch it on YouTube, but if you have Google Cardboard, I strongly encourage you to watch the VR version of it using the Google Stories app on the iPhone.  It is an incredibly well done VR short cartoon.  You need to watch it multiple times to catch all of the fun details.
  • And finally, here is an interesting picture recently tweeted by developer Steve Troughton-Smith that I don't remember seeing before, although apparently it was also posted back in 2014 on MacRumors.  This is the hardware setup that Apple used to create the initial software for the iPhone before it was released in 2007:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Viewing and Managing FlashSystem Performance with IBM Spectrum Control

IBM Redbooks Site - Thu, 05/03/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Thu, 3 May 2018

This IBM® Redpaper™ publication discusses on performance monitoring for IBM FlashSystem® storage products.

Categories: Technology

Using the IBM Spectrum Accelerate Family in VMware Environments: IBM XIV, IBM FlashSystem A9000 and IBM FlashSystem A9000R, and IBM Spectrum Accelerate

IBM Redbooks Site - Thu, 05/03/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Thu, 3 May 2018

This IBM® Redpaper™ publication is a brief overview of synergistic aspects between various VMware offerings and the IBM Spectrum™ Accelerate family, including IBM XIV® and IBM FlashSystem® A9000 and IBM FlashSystem A9000R servers.

Categories: Technology

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