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Songs from The Americans

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 21:27

Last week, FX aired the final episode of The Americans, one of my all-time favorite television shows.  (There are no spoilers in this post, so read on without worry.)  The concept of the show is intriguing (especially considering that it is based in part on a true story), the spy adventures are exciting, the dynamics between the main characters are interesting and sometimes heartbreaking, the acting and writing are first-rate, and I enjoyed watching a show set in the 1980s.  On top of all of that, the music in The Americans is amazing, with great songs from the 1980s and others that fit in perfectly with each scene in the show.

I put together an Apple Music playlist of some great songs from The Americans, and everyone can enjoy these songs, regardless of whether you ever watched the show.  This isn't every song that was ever used in the series; I just included my favorites, and I even left out a few which I like but which seemed out of character with the rest of the playlist.  At the end, I added a song by Sting that I was surprised to never hear on The Americans.  All of these are fantastic songs, and if you grew up in the 1980s like I did, you probably have specific memories of your own life associated with many of these songs.

If you want to listen to these songs on your iPhone, you can click here to get the Apple Music playlist.  In fact, even if you don't subscribe to Apple Music, I believe that you can click that link and hear previews of every song, and you can also sign up for a free Apple Music trial.

The songs on the playlist are as follows, and I included an indication of the season and episode in which each song was used.  Total running time is 2 hours and 51 minutes.

  1. Main Title from "The Americans" by Nathan Barr
  2. Tusk by Fleetwood Mac (S1, E1)
  3. Harden My Heart by Quarterflash (S1, E1)
  4. In the Air Tonight (S1, E1)
  5. Roller by April Wine (S1, E1)
  6. Queen of Hearts by Juice Newton (S1, E1)
  7. Love With Find a Way by Pablo Cruise (S1, E8)
  8. Slap and Tickle by Squeeze (S1, E11)
  9. Rough Boys by Pete Townshend (S1, E11)
  10. Mississippi Queen by Mountain (S1, E12)
  11. Games Without Frontiers by Peter Gabriel (S1, E13)
  12. Passion by Rod Stewart (S2, E1)
  13. Beer Bar Blues by Lloyd Conger (S2, E1)
  14. Here Comes the Flood by Peter Gabriel (S2, E3)
  15. I Melt With You by Modern English (S2, E4)
  16. The Gambler by Kenny Rogers (S2, E5)
  17. Rock This Town by Stray Cats (S2, E8)
  18. It Must Be Done (from "the Americans") by Pete Townshend & Nathan Barr (S2, E10)
  19. Twilight Zone by Golden Earring (S2, E13)
  20. Every Breath You Take by The Police (trailer for Season 3)
  21. All Out of Love by Air Supply (S3, E3)
  22. Don't Go by Yaz (S3, E4)
  23. Only You by Yaz (S3, E4)
  24. Goody Two Shoes by Adam Ant (S3, E4)
  25. I Ran (So Far Away) by A Flock of Seagulls (S3, E5)
  26. The Chain by Fleetwood Mac (S3, E7)
  27. Stand and Deliver by Adam & The Ants (S3, E10)
  28. Tainted Love by Soft Cell (S4, E2)
  29. Under Pressure by Queen & David Bowie (S4, E5)
  30. Winter Kills by Yaz (S4, E9)
  31. Major Tom by Peter Schilling (S4, E9)
  32. Out of the Blue by Roxy Music (S4, E13)
  33. That's Good by Devo (S5, E1)
  34. Old Flame by Alabama (S5, E3)
  35. Slave by The Rolling stones (S5, E5)
  36. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John (S5, E13)
  37. So. Central Rain by R.E.M. (S5, E13)
  38. Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House (S6, E1)
  39. Louisiana Saturday Night by Mel McDaniel (S6, E1)
  40. Gold Dust Woman by Fleetwood Mac (S6, E1)
  41. Drivin' My Life Away by Eddie Rabbitt (S6, E4)
  42. With or Without You by U2 (S6, E10)
  43. Russians by Sting

Enjoy the playlist.  And if you created your own playlist which is worth sharing with iPhone J.D. readers, feel free to post a link in a comment to this post!

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

IBM z14 Model ZR1 Technical Guide

IBM Redbooks Site - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 09:30
Redbook, published: Wed, 6 Jun 2018

This IBM® Redbooks® publication describes the new member of the IBM Z® family, IBM z14™ Model ZR1 (Machine Type 3907).

Categories: Technology

Getting Started with z/OS Data Set Encryption

IBM Redbooks Site - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 09:30
Redbook, published: Tue, 5 Jun 2018

This IBM® Redbooks® publication provides a broad explanation of data protection through encryption and IBM Z® pervasive encryption with a focus on IBM z/OS® data set encryption.

Categories: Technology

Why lawyers will love iOS 12

iPhone J.D. - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 02:48

Yesterday at its WWDC conference for app developers, Apple provided the first sneak peak of iOS 12, due out this fall.  This free update will bring lots of great new features to the iPhone and iPad.  It does not look like iOS 12 will include a heavy focus on iPad productivity features like iOS 11 did (the dock, multitasking, etc.), but there is still a lot in iOS 12 that lawyers and other professional users of the iPhone and iPad will love using to get things done.  Here are the highlights.


A common worry regarding iOS upgrades is that the new features will work well on newer devices but will cause older devices to run slower.  But the first thing that Apple said yesterday about iOS 12 is that it will increase performance.  iOS 12 should make every device that can use iOS 11 run faster at many tasks — including older devices like the iPhone 5s and iPad Air, which were released in 2013.  Apple says that on some tasks, the performance increase will be an impressive 40%. 

Better notifications

If your iPhone is like mine, then you are always getting notifications.  New emails, new text messages, various apps that want your attention, etc.  iOS 12 improves just about everything that there is about notifications.

First, when you get multiple notifications from the same app, they are now grouped together like a stack of cards.  The top card may tell you that you have 8 new emails.  Tap on that to get more specific information if you are ready to work with emails, but if not you can move on to the next stack.  You can even manage all of the notifications from a single app at once, such as marking all new emails read.

Second, you can now adjust the notifications when you get notifications.  If an app sends you a notification and no no longer want to hear from that app, swipe on it and tap Manage to turn off notifications without having to open the Settings app and then going to Notifications and then finding the settings for that particular app. 

Third, you can set some types of alerts to be "critical" alerts so that they always come on top, even when Do Not Disturb is engaged.  (I don't yet know the details on this feature.)

Fourth, you can manage the notifications that you see during the night.  Apple has improved the Do Not Disturb features in iOS, and you can now turn on Bedtime Mode.  With this mode turned on, if you happen to look at your iPhone in the middle of the night (for example, to see what time it is) you won't see any notifications on the lock screen.  Thus, you won't be tempted to start looking at emails, only to realize that now you cannot go back to sleep.  In the morning, the first thing that you see is a friendly Good Morning message with the time and weather.  Once you are ready to move past that and start your day, then you see all of the notifications that came in during the night.

Fifth, you can use Do Not Disturb during the day, with new 3D Touch options.  For example, you can quickly turn on do not disturb for just the next hour or during the next even on your calendar to make sure that you are not bothered during an upcoming meeting, but then your notifications will return after the meeting is over.


I am a big fan of the Workflow app, which I first discussed on iPhone J.D. back in 2015 after California attorney David Sparks crated a useful guide on using the app.  I've since expanded the number of automated tasks that I do with this app, but it always had inherent limitations because it wasn't built-in to iOS.

Fortunately, those limitations may be going away.  In early 2017, Apple purchased the Workflow app and (more importantly) hired the team which created the app.  This team has been working in the Siri division of Apple.  Now we know why:  yesterday, Apple revealed the new Shortcuts app with Siri.  Individual app developers can now enable their apps to expose certain functions to Siri, and the Shortcuts app can now trigger one or more actions after a voice prompt that you give Siri. 

As an example of multiple steps, you can create a set of actions which occur when you tell Siri you are leaving work.  For example, that can trigger Siri doing the following:  (1) send a message to your spouse to say that you are on your way home, (2) tell you how long it will take to get home with current traffic, (3) start playing a song playlist in your car using CarPlay, and (4) tell the HomeKit thermostat at your home to adjust the temperature to something that will be more comfortable when you arrive at home.  The Shortcuts app comes with hundreds of workflows, and you can adjust them to meet your specific desires.

As an example of a single step, you can now interact with a single third party app using Siri.  Apple yesterday gave the example of an app containing your travel itinerary giving Siri access to the next item.  You might decide that every time you say "travel plan" to Siri it tells you what is next, without you even needing to open up that travel app.  That way, when your plane lands, just say "travel plan" and Siri will tell you the info on the hotel where you will be checking in so you have that information as you approach the taxi stand.

Siri will even recommend shortcut actions to you based upon your frequent activities.  If you start every day by using an app to order a specific type of coffee from a coffeehouse on the way to work, Siri can help you do so more easily.

The new Shortcuts app already looks like a big improvement on the Workflows app, and if Apple gives this app enough tools, it has the potential to be something really special.  I cannot wait to try this one out myself, and I look forward to Apple developing this app further over the next few years.

Screen Time

The new Screen Time tools in iOS 12 allow you to limit the way that you use your iPhone or iPad.  Do you feel that you spend too much time in Facebook, Twitter, reading the News app, etc.?  Screen Time will show you how much time you are spending using different apps on your device, and then you have the option to limit yourself.  Maybe you don't want to use a certain app more than a certain amount of time every day.  Just set the limit, and your iPhone will alert you when you have hit that time limit.  You can choose to disregard the notification, but at least you'll know that you should start to wrap things up.  The settings sync across your iPhone and iPad, so you cannot cheat yourself by looking at Instagram on your iPad instead of your iPhone.

If you feel that you are spending too much time on your iPhone or iPad on non-productive apps, the Screen Time app looks like a nice way to help you modify your behavior.

Note that you can use the same features to impose hard limits — which cannot be bypassed without explicit parental permission — on devices used by your kids.  No text messages after 8pm, only a certain number of hours spent on YouTube each day, etc.  Your child can request additional time or privileges, but you have to approve it.  As a father of a 12 year old boy and a 10 year old girl, I'm already a big fan of the feature by which a child has to request a parent's permission before downloading an app from the App Store.  I look forward to having similar controls on many other aspects of a child's use of a mobile device.


Currently, I only use FaceTime for talking with family members.  If I have to talk with attorneys in other cities or clients, I typically use expensive videoconferencing solutions that sometimes don't even work very well.  With iOS 12, however, I will be tempted to start using FaceTime for my work-related videochat needs. 

Instead of being limited to you and one other person, iOS 12 lets you to have a FaceTime group videochat with up to 32 simultaneous participants.  Each person appears in a square tile which increases in size as a person is talking, and which moves the background or the bottom of the app when a person is quiet.  (But you can always tap on a specific square to bring that face to the forefront.)

I've used lots of multi-person videochat solutions in the the past, but after iOS 12 becomes mainstream and is used by a large number of folks, this free videochat solution might make it unnecessary to use other products, as long as you are talking with folks who have an iPhone or iPad.

Another nice feature — if you are in a Messages thread with multiple participants, you can initiate a FaceTime call for that entire group from within the Messages app.  Great idea.

New iPad gestures

In iOS 11, you need to remember different gestures for the iPhone X and the iPad.  A swipe up from the bottom of the iPhone X brings you to the home screen, but a swipe up from the bottom of the iPad brings you to the app switcher and control center.

In iOS 12, the gestures on the iPad will instead mimic the iPhone X.  For example, swipe down from the top right to see the control center.

There is nothing really inherently obvious about any of these gestures, so I think that it makes sense to have them unified as much as possible across the different devices.


If you have a CarPlay technology in your car, in iOS 12 you will be able to use third party navigation apps such as Google Maps or Waze.  It is nice to have more options when you are traveling to a deposition or a courthouse in a faraway town for the first time.

The fun stuff

Those are the primary new changes that will help you get more work done with your iPhone and iPad, but of course there are many other new features aimed at making the iPhone more enjoyable.  There are lots of improvements to the Photos app, including better search options.  For example, instead of just searching for pictures that include a dog, you can now search for pictures with a dog and a pig — or whatever other combinations are relevant to you.

There are new Animoji character, plus the ability to create "Memoji," a cartoon character that looks like you, opens your mouth when you do, etc.  And you can even wear Animoji or Memoji cartoons like a mask when you are in FaceTime.  This reminds me of this classic clip from The Jetsons cartoon.

Improvements to ARKit will allow for even more sophisticated augmented reality on the iPhone and iPad.  For now, this is mostly just an entertainment feature, but as Apple continues to develop this technology I can see it being more useful for business applications in the future.


iOS 12 surely has other tricks up its sleeve that we haven't heard about yet, but even based on just what we saw yesterday, I'm already eagerly looking forward to this software update in the next few months.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Getting Started with zHyperLink

IBM Redbooks Site - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 09:30
Draft Redpaper, last updated: Mon, 4 Jun 2018

With the pressures to drive transaction processing 24/7 due to online banking and other business demands, IBM zHyperLink on the IBM DS8880 is making it easy to accelerate transaction processing for the mainframe.

Categories: Technology

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 02:01

This week is the calm before the storm in the world of the iPhone, iPad and Mac.  On Monday, June 4, Apple begins its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, CA.  The conference kicks off with a Keynote address on Monday at 10 Pacific / 1 Eastern.  Apple always uses this as an opportunity to preview the next version of the operating system for the iPhone and iPad, which I presume will be called iOS 12.  (This time last year, Apple previewed iOS 11.)  This is also an opportunity for Apple to make new hardware announcements, so perhaps we will see a new iPad Pro or a new Apple Watch.  With WWDC around the corner, there wasn't much other iOS news this past week, but here is the news of note:

  • About six weeks ago, I posted a review of the iPhone Field Guide by California attorney David Sparks.  It is a fantastic e-book (including tons of videos) with tips for how to make the most of your iPhone.  This week, David announced that he updated his book to version 1.1, adding new content and fixing some small typos.  David also announced that he plans to update this book "for a few years," with the next update likely to come after iOS 12 is released.  If you think you might be interested and you haven't yet purchased this book yet, I encourage you to do so now because David also announced that he is about to increase the price.
  • Earlier this week, I discussed the new Messages in iCloud feature of iOS 11.4.  David Pogue of Yahoo provides much more information about how this feature works.  For example, he explains that photos, videos, and other large files in your Messages app are offloaded to iCloud, which means that turning this feature on can save lots of space on your iPhone or iPad, although it does use up your iCloud space.  But it is easy to increase your iCloud space by just paying a little bit more; you cannot increase your iPhone space without buying a new iPhone.  So if you are running low on iPhone space because of Messages, the new Messages in iCloud feature might be very useful for you.
  • John Gruber of Daring Fireball notes that the Things app (a task management app) was updated to version 3.6 and adds tons of support for using a keyboard with an iPad.
  • Gruber also encourages everyone to turn on the iOS feature that erases all data after 10 failed passcode attempts.  I have never enabled this feature on my iPhone because I was afraid that my kids might trigger it on accident.  John points out that it would take over three hours before there could be 10 unsuccessful attempts, which certainly does reduce the risk of it happening when you don't want it, but I'm still on the fence.
  • It's now June, so one of the next special occasions to look forward to is Father's Day on June 17.  Roger Fingas of Appleinsider recommends a dozen Apple-related gifts for dads.
  • Guigherme Rambo of 9to5Mac discovered that a new Apple Watch face will go live on Monday, June 4 during WWDC.  It features strings corresponding to the LGBT pride flag, and it looks pretty cool.
  • And finally, here is a short video from Apple with a few tips for using the on-screen keyboard on the iPad.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

IBM z14 Model ZR1 Configuration Setup

IBM Redbooks Site - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 09:30
Draft Redbook, last updated: Thu, 31 May 2018


Categories: Technology

Enabling Hybrid Cloud Storage for IBM Spectrum Scale Using Transparent Cloud Tiering

IBM Redbooks Site - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Thu, 31 May 2018

This IBM® Redbooks® publication provides information to help you with the sizing, configuration, and monitoring of hybrid cloud solutions using the transparent cloud tiering (TCT) functionality of IBM Spectrum™ Scale.

Categories: Technology

The Cult of the Complex

A list Apart development site - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 09:15

‘Tis a gift to be simple. Increasingly, in our line of work, ‘tis a rare gift indeed.

In an industry that extols innovation over customer satisfaction, and prefers algorithm to human judgement (forgetting that every algorithm has human bias in its DNA), perhaps it should not surprise us that toolchains have replaced know-how.

Likewise, in a field where young straight white dudes take an overwhelming majority of the jobs (including most of the management jobs) it’s perhaps to be expected that web making has lately become something of a dick measuring competition.

It was not always this way, and it needn’t stay this way. If we wish to get back to the business of quietly improving people’s lives, one thoughtful interaction at a time, we must rid ourselves of the cult of the complex. Admitting the problem is the first step in solving it.

And the div cries Mary

In 2001, more and more of us began using CSS to replace the non-semantic HTML table layouts with which we’d designed the web’s earliest sites. I soon noticed something about many of our new CSS-built sites. I especially noticed it in sites built by the era’s expert backend coders, many of whom viewed HTML and CSS as baby languages for non-developers.

In those days, whether from contempt for the deliberate, intentional (designed) limitations of HTML and CSS, or ignorance of the HTML and CSS framers’ intentions, many code jockeys who switched from table layouts to CSS wrote markup consisting chiefly of divs and spans. Where they meant list item, they wrote span. Where they meant paragraph, they wrote div. Where they meant level two headline, they wrote div or span with a classname of h2, or, avoiding even that tragicomic gesture toward document structure, wrote a div or span with verbose inline styling. Said div was followed by another, and another. They bred like locusts, stripping our content of structural meaning.

As an early adopter and promoter of CSS via my work in The Web Standards Project (kids, ask your parents), I rejoiced to see our people using the new language. But as a designer who understood, at least on a basic level, how HTML and CSS were supposed to work together, I chafed.

Cry, the beloved font tag

Everyone who wrote the kind of code I just described thought they were advancing the web merely by walking away from table layouts. They had good intentions, but their executions were flawed. My colleagues and I here at A List Apart were thus compelled to explain a few things.

Mainly, we argued that HTML consisting mostly of divs and spans and classnames was in no way better than table layouts for content discovery, accessibility, portability, reusability, or the web’s future. If you wanted to build for people and the long term, we said, then simple, structural, semantic HTML was best—each element deployed for its intended purpose. Don’t use a div when you mean a p.

This basic idea, and I use the adjective advisedly, along with other equally rudimentary and self-evident concepts, formed the basis of my 2003 book Designing With Web Standards, which the industry treated as a revelation, when it was merely common sense.

The message messes up the medium

When we divorce ideas from the conditions under which they arise, the result is dogma and misinformation—two things the internet is great at amplifying. Somehow, over the years, in front-end design conversations, the premise “don’t use a div when you mean a p” got corrupted into “divs are bad.”

A backlash in defense of divs followed this meaningless running-down of them—as if the W3C had created the div as a forbidden fruit. So, let’s be clear. No HTML element is bad. No HTML element is good. A screwdriver is neither good nor bad, unless you try to use it as a hammer. Good usage is all about appropriateness.

Divs are not bad. If no HTML5 element is better suited to an element’s purpose, divs are the best and most appropriate choice. Common sense, right? And yet.

Somehow, the two preceding simple sentences are never the takeaway from these discussions. Somehow, over the years, a vigorous defense of divs led to a defiant (or ignorant) overuse of them. In some strange way, stepping back from a meaningless rejection of divs opened the door to gaseous frameworks that abuse them.

Note: We don’t mind so much about the abuse of divs. After all, they are not living things. We are not purists. It’s the people who use the stuff we design who suffer from our uninformed or lazy over-reliance on these div-ridden gassy tools. And that suffering is what we protest. div-ridden, overbuilt frameworks stuffed with mystery meat offer the developer tremendous power, agility. But that power comes at a price your users pay: a hundred tons of stuff your project likely doesn’t need, but you force your users to download anyway. And that bloat is not the only problem. For who knows what evil lurks in someone else’s code?

Two cheers for frameworks

If you entered web design and development in the past ten years, you’ve likely learned and may rely on frameworks. Most of these are built on meaningless arrays of divs and spans—structures no better than the bad HTML we wrote in 1995, however more advanced the resulting pages may appear. And what keeps the whole monkey-works going? JavaScript, and more JavaScript. Without it, your content may not render. With it, you may deliver more services than you intended to.

There’s nothing wrong with using frameworks to quickly whip up and test product prototypes, especially if you do that testing in a non-public space. And theoretically, if you know what you’re doing, and are willing to edit out the bits your product doesn’t need, there’s nothing wrong with using a framework to launch a public site. Notice the operative phrases: if you know what you’re doing, and are willing to edit out the bits your product doesn’t need.

Alas, many new designers and developers (and even many experienced ones) feel like they can’t launch a new project without dragging in packages from NPM, or Composer, or whatever, with no sure idea what the code therein is doing. The results can be dangerous. Yet here we are, training an entire generation of developers to build and launch projects with untrusted code.

Indeed, many designers and developers I speak with would rather dance naked in public than admit to posting a site built with hand-coded, progressively enhanced HTML, CSS, and JavaScript they understand and wrote themselves. For them, it’s a matter of job security and viability. There’s almost a fear that if you haven’t mastered a dozen new frameworks and tools each year (and by mastered, I mean used), you’re slipping behind into irrelevancy. HR folks who write job descriptions listing the ten thousand tool sets you’re supposed to know backwards and forwards to qualify for a junior front-end position don’t help the situation.

CSS is not broken, and it’s not too hard

As our jerrybuilt contraptions, lashed together with fifteen layers of code we don’t understand and didn’t write ourselves, start to buckle and hiss, we blame HTML and CSS for the faults of developers. This fault-finding gives rise to ever more complex cults of specialized CSS, with internecine sniping between cults serving as part of their charm. New sects spring up, declaring CSS is broken, only to splinter as members disagree about precisely which way it’s broken, or which external technology not intended to control layout should be used to “fix” CSS. (Hint: They mostly choose JavaScript.)

Folks, CSS is not broken, and it’s not too hard. (You know what’s hard? Chasing the ever-receding taillights of the next shiny thing.) But don’t take my word for it. Check these out:

CSS Grid is here; it’s logical and fairly easy to learn. You can use it to accomplish all kinds of layouts that used to require JavaScript and frameworks, plus new kinds of layout nobody’s even tried yet. That kind of power requires some learning, but it’s good learning, the kind that stimulates creativity, and its power comes at no sacrifice of semantics, or performance, or accessibility. Which makes it web technology worth mastering.

The same cannot be said for our deluge of frameworks and alternative, JavaScript-based platforms. As a designer who used to love creating web experiences in code, I am baffled and numbed by the growing preference for complexity over simplicity. Complexity is good for convincing people they could not possibly do your job. Simplicity is good for everything else.

Keep it simple, smarty

Good communication strives for clarity. Design is its most brilliant when it appears most obvious—most simple. The question for web designers should never be how complex can we make it. But that’s what it has become. Just as, in pursuit of “delight,” we forget the true joy reliable, invisible interfaces can bring, so too, in chasing job security, do we pile on the platform requirements, forgetting that design is about solving business and customer problems … and that baseline skills never go out of fashion. As ALA’s Brandon Gregory, writing elsewhere, explains:

I talk with a lot of developers who list Angular, Ember, React, or other fancy JavaScript libraries among their technical skills. That’s great, but can you turn that mess of functions the junior developer wrote into a custom extensible object that we can use on other projects, even if we don’t have the extra room for hefty libraries? Can you code an image slider with vanilla JavaScript so we don’t have to add jQuery to an older website just for one piece of functionality? Can you tell me what recursion is and give me a real-world example? “I interview web developers. Here’s how to impress me.” Growing pains

There’s a lot of complexity to good design. Technical complexity. UX complexity. Challenges of content and microcopy. Performance challenges. This has never been and never will be an easy job.

Simplicity is not easy—not for us, anyway. Simplicity means doing the hard work that makes experiences appear seamless—the sweat and torture-testing and failure that eventually, with enough effort, yields experiences that seem to “just work.”

Nor, in lamenting our industry’s turn away from basic principles and resilient technologies, am I suggesting that CDNs and Git are useless. Or wishing that we could go back to FTP—although I did enjoy the early days of web design, when one designer could do it all. I’m glad I got to experience those simpler times.

But I like these times just fine. And I think you do, too. Our medium is growing up, and it remains our great privilege to help shape its future while creating great experiences for our users. Let us never forget how lucky we are, nor, in chasing the ever-shinier, lose sight of the people and purpose we serve.

Categories: Technology

[Sponsor] Lit Software -- TrialPad, TranscriptPad and DocReviewPad apps for the iPad

iPhone J.D. - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 00:21

Thank you to Lit Software for sponsoring iPhone J.D. again this month.  Lit Software was one of the first companies to recognize that the iPad is an amazingly useful tool for lawyers, and it has been creating great software for lawyers ever since 2010, the same year that the iPad itself was first released.  For many years, I have heard amazing stories of attorneys having great success using TrialPad to present evidence to a jury or judge (or other audience).  If you haven't yet thought about what TrialPad can bring to your own litigation practice, be sure to check out my review.

The second app for attorneys created by Lit Software was TranscriptPad (my review).  I know of no better way to manage, annotate, and work with transcripts in a law practice.  It easily beats working with paper or any other software solution out there.  The complex litigation and other cases that I work on don't go to trial very often, but I do work with depositions all the time, so TranscriptPad is the Lit Software app that gets the most use on my iPad.  I use this app every time I prepare a motion for summary judgment, and I cannot even count the number of times that this app has been essential when I am taking a deposition of one witness and I need to quickly look up what another witness said in a prior deposition.

More recently, Lit Software released DocReviewApp (my review).  This is an app that you can use to review and annotate documents on your iPad, so this app is especially useful during the request for production of documents process.

As I mentioned last month, Lit Software has already announced its next app for lawyers, an app called TimelinePad which will allow you to create timelines to explain to a jury and others how certain facts, documents, etc. work together chronologically.  And Lit Software frequently adds new and useful features to its existing apps.

Thanks to Lit Software for sponsoring iPhone J.D. this month, and a big thank you to Lit Software for giving attorneys these powerful apps which make the iPad so incredibly useful for litigators and others.

Click here to get TrialPad ($129.99): 

Click here to get TranscriptPad ($89.99): 

Click here for DocReviewPad ($89.99): 

Click here for the Ultimate Litigation Package (all three apps) ($299.99): 

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Apple releases iOS 11.4

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 01:05

Yesterday, Apple updated the operating system for the iPhone and iPad to iOS version 11.4.  iOS 11.4 adds two more important features, plus it includes a few smaller features and bug fixes.

Messages in iCloud

We all know that you can check your email on your phone, your computer, or your iPad.  And deleting an email from one device will delete the email from all of your devices.  The system works because all of your devices talk to a single server to handle your email.  iOS 11.4 brings this same feature to your text messages.

Before iOS 11.4, if you deleted a message thread on one device it would still exist on other devices.  And while new text messages would normally show up on all devices, sometimes they would appear on one device but not another one.  And sometimes messages would display out of order on one device.  In iOS 11.4, once you turn on Messages in iCloud, iCloud acts as a central hub for all of your messages (both SMS text messages and iMessage messages) so that all of your devices can stay in sync.  And iMessage is encrypted end-to-end for your privacy.

To enable Messages in iCloud, open the Settings app, tap your name at the top, then tap iCloud and turn on Messages.

At least, that is how it is supposed to work.  Last night, the Messages app in iOS 11.4 worked great for me on my iPhone, but on my iPad the app seemed to get caught on the "Signing in..." screen, where it has been stuck for many hours.  I tried signing out of my iCloud account on my iPad and signing back in again, but that didn't fix the problem.  I haven't yet seen any other reports of something similar, so perhaps this was a hiccup unique to my iPad Pro.  I'll update this post when I figure out how to get this working.

Note that even though the messages are stored in iCloud, that doesn't mean that you can see them at the iCloud.com website.  That website does give you access to other items synced via iCloud such as mail, contact, photos, etc.  But for now, at least, there is no Messages app on the iCloud website.

Also note the keeping your messages one the iCloud server uses up some of your iCloud data space.  If you are not paying Apple for additional iCloud space and if you have lots of pictures and videos in your messages, you might not have enough space on iCloud.

AirPlay 2

If you own an Apple HomePod, iOS 11.4 is an important update for you.  Especially if you own multiple HomePods.  With AirPlay 2, you can put two HomePods in one room for richer, stereo sound.  Or you can place them in different rooms and the music will stay in sync as you travel from room to room.

If you own a smart speaker from another company, it may also support AirPlay 2.  Apple has a page on its website listing dozens of devices from manufacturers like Sonos, Marantz and Devon that will also work with AirPlay 2.

Fixes and Security

Virtually every iOS update fixes various bugs and improves security in various ways.  iOS 11.4 fixes issues with CarPlay in which audio can be distorted.  I don't yet know exactly what this means; I've noticed that CarPlay in iOS 11.3 would occasionally cause some popping noises for me, and perhaps this fixes this.  iOS 11.4 also fixes some issues that arose when accessing certain Google files in Safari including Google Drive, Good Docs, and Gmail.  Apple also fixed a bug that could cause Messages to crash if certain characters were sent in a text message.  And Apple will soon update this page with information on the security improvements in iOS 11.4.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Enabling Hybrid Cloud Storage for IBM Spectrum Scale Using Transparent Cloud Tiering

IBM Redbooks Site - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 09:30
Draft Redpaper, last updated: Fri, 25 May 2018

This IBM® Redbooks® publication provides information to help you with the sizing, configuration, and monitoring of hybrid cloud solutions using the transparent cloud tiering (TCT) functionality of IBM Spectrum™ Scale.

Categories: Technology

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 23:33

Cybersecurity is never easy, and often there is a tradeoff between convenience and security.  That's why I like services such as 1Password, which increase your security while also making it easier to use passwords.  This week, Eliana Johnson, Emily Stephenson and Daniel Lippman of Politico reported that President Trump uses at least two iPhones for Twitter and for making calls, but that he has resisted recommended security protocols such as swapping out his iPhone on a monthly basis because it is too inconvenient.  I that countless hackers are constantly trying to compromise mobile devices being used by world leaders, especially the President of the United States.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • California attorney David Sparks of MacSparky discusses Gemini Photos, an app that can look for duplicate (or very similar) photos on your iPhone to streamline your collection.
  • Joel Rosenblatt and Mark Gurman of Bloomberg report that a federal court jury awarded Apple $539 million against Samsung for copying the iPhone design.
  • Michael Potuck of 9to5Mac discusses some of the new features in the Dropbox app.
  • If you are on an airplane and you want to use your AirPods to listen to the in-plane audio (for example to watch a movie), Ben Lovejoy of 9to5Mac reviews AirFly from Twelve South, a Bluetooth transmitter that you can plug into a 3.5mm headphone socket. 
  • Jesse Hollington of iLound also posted a review of the AirFly.
  • If you want a direct connection from a 3.5mm headphone socket without using Bluetooth, Chance Miller of 9to5Mac reviews the Belkin 3.5mm audio cable with Lightning connectivity.
  • Buster Hein of Cult of Mac discusses Camera+ 2, the new version of the one of the best third party camera apps for the iPhone.
  • Andrew O'Hara of AppleInsider reviews Logetech's Logi Circle 2, a home security camera that works with Apple's HomeKit technology.
  • There are complicated rules on when it is permissible to record a telephone conversation, and even if it is generally legal in your state it may be unethical for a lawyer to do it.  But if you are in a situation in which a recording is appropriate (such as when you have the consent of all parties to the conversation), Elizabeth Stinson and Josie Colt of Wired give advice on how to record a phone conversation on an iPhone.
  • And finally, here is a colorful new music video produced by Apple using Animoji, featuring the song Citizen Kane by South Korean band HYUKOH.  (The lyrics are in English.)  Apple calls the spot Taxi Driver, which frankly seems like a better title for this catchy song:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Storwize HyperSwap with IBM i

IBM Redbooks Site - Wed, 05/23/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Wed, 23 May 2018

IBM® Storwize® 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

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 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


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


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