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Ian Clifton
325 followers -
Android app developer, author, UX advocate, artist, bacon lover
Android app developer, author, UX advocate, artist, bacon lover

325 followers
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Ian's posts

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Posted a new woodworking video to my YouTube channel. This was one of those projects where everything went wrong and I eventually had to walk away from the project... but I couldn't let all the video footage go to waste. I had to rush production on this one a bit to get it processed and uploaded before I left for the airport, but I hope it provides some entertainment to someone.

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A couple of months ago, I started my new job and was provided a Magic Mouse to use. In my opinion, Apple has been terrible at developing a mouse that even gets the basics right, so I was curious to give this latest device a try. Eventually, I gave up on it due to a variety of flaws. The experience was so bad that I had to vent with a blog post despite not having used it for over a month, haha.

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I wrote a bit of a rambling post about user experience (UX) in OS X. The gist of it is that I believe all desktop operating systems have some very obvious UX issues and OS X is no exception. It's generally more visually polished than Linux or Windows, but it still has sharp edges for any new user.

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I still haven't jumped onto the reactive programming bandwagon, but I may have to consider it again.
We just released Agera, a library for creating reactive Android apps. https://github.com/google/agera/ 

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I decided to finally weigh in on the bottom tabs conversation. I've actually talked about this before (years ago) and my stance hasn't changed.

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Around 10 years ago, I created a website for second-generation MR2s (a sports car Toyota made in the 90s). I used an ancient version of CodeIgniter (<1.0) to keep it organized back then and the big feature that people in the community enjoyed was my "wheel and tire calculator." You could input a set of wheels and/or tires and it would tell you all kinds of information like how much further in/out they'd be than the previous ones, whether they might touch the suspension, how close to flush they were, etc. I didn't update the website much and didn't even really look at it after I sold my MR2 in 2012.

Recently, I upgraded my VPS and decided it'd be good to start completely fresh. I didn't want to run PHP, MySQL, etc. on it, so I converted my blog and portfolio site to generated HTML (via Jekyll). I used wget to archive all my other sites that I didn't expect to ever run again just in case (including my ancient blog, my MR2 sites, and some others). Although I have the source code, having the generated HTML is valuable.

Like a terrible sysadmin, I wiped the VPS and installed everything in the middle of the day without worrying about downtime, but it only took a couple of hours. After my blog and portfolio site were working fine, I was again able to ignore my VPS.... for a few days. Then I started to get messages from various members of the MR2 community who were missing the wheel and tire calculator. I decided I should figure out how to get the MR2 site running again, but I didn't want to run PHP or MySQL (especially considering the old versions that the site had originally depended on... maybe it'd work with a newer version, but it wasn't something I wanted to deal with).

I decided to rewrite the calculator in JavaScript to avoid any server dependencies. I haven't been a web developer for many years, so I was more than a little rusty with the language. On top of that, I had to look at PHP code I wrote a decode ago. Wow, Ian - 10 years == terrible dev. Fortunately, that guy added a reasonable amount of comments and actually named methods well, so I was able to figure out what was going on and get things working. I ran into some annoying JavaScript features (e.g., for (key in blah) loops give you an int for each key value instead of the string... easy enough to use once you realize what it's doing, but not what you expect after working with most other languages), but I worked through them and got the calculator going again. It's actually fewer lines than before... but mostly because JS classes are awful, so I decided to avoid them for this relatively simple script.

Anyway... long story short: You never know who will depend on code you stopped caring about years ago, so don't forget to write plenty of comments so that future you can throw something together quickly and get back to other projects.

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I made a woodworking channel on YouTube. I still need to do the channel art and get a lot better at making videos.... but one step at a time.

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After trying the official Twitter Android app for about two weeks, I've had as much as I can handle and will be looking for a third-party app instead. I really wanted to like this app, but it seems so focused on injecting irrelevant content everywhere it can in order to increase "engagement" that I actually find myself not opening Twitter now because I don't want to trudge through it all to find what I care about.

Occasionally you have to look back to see how far forward you've gone.

(Filed under motivational advice that is also helpful when lost in a desert.)
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