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Joen Asmussen
Works at Automattic
Lives in Espergærde
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Joen Asmussen

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This past week, my Automatic colleagues joined me in Copenhagen for a meetup. It was quite surreal having my international friends walk the same streets that I've walked for years and years. Pretty cool.
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Joen Asmussen

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Have you ever noticed how the NFC logo is almost the same as the Nespresso logo?

Guess which one is for Nespresso. 

#logodesign  
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Joen Asmussen

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My other lamp is a death star.
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Jeremy Herve (jeherve)'s profile photoJoen Asmussen's profile photo
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Back when Google killed the Reader, the feature I lamented the most was the social layer that service had. Basically, any post in the stream you tapped the "Share" button on — my god it's been so long I can't even recall the exact name of the button — would show up in your friends streams as well. It was a collaborative feed reading experience, and it was the tiniest social layer, and it wasn't fleshed out or discoverable. But it was amazing.

I've never really shared on Google+, simply because of what it tried to be: a Facebook clone. Well I'm not on Facebook. So why would I share Facebook-esque things on Google+ instead? There's nothing wrong with a traditional social network, to each their own, but for me, neither Facebook nor Google+ appealed to me as a social network. Weirdly, Instagram has become that for me — it's sufficiently low-maintenance that it doesn't bother me. 

So why would I start sharing now? 

Well, it seems Google is now downplaying the social network aspect in favor of "interest-based streams". It's hard not to throw up when reading that sentence, but what it's trying to say is that Google no longer believes Plus will ever become the place where I share baby-pictures for my family to comment on. Which serves me pretty well.

Additionally, I'm seeing rather decent discussion happening on the posts of those I follow here. It's also easy to make sense of said discussion. I'm starting to see glimmers of the wonderful albeit tiny interactions Google Reader of yore had. Could it be that Plus could become the place where links are discussed, without an arbitrary 140 character limit? Seems worth a shot to me. 
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On sliding keyboards

I'm a big fan of sliding keyboards. Been using them ever since they first came out. I find I can type faster using sliding keyboards than any other type of glass based keyboard. I think I'm still faster on a physical keyboard, but I'm also pretty sure the only thing making me faster there is I make fewer mistakes.

Which brings me to my problem with virtually all current sliding keyboard solutions. It's the dictionaries, they're too expansive. Or maybe the weighting of probabilities is off.

When I'm typing fast on a sliding keyboard, I know in the back of my head which words to slide, and which words to tap out. Common sentence words I'll always slide. Very long words I'll also usually slide, since the array of possibilities you end up with after a particularly complex doodle are often few, so the keyboard will rarely get it wrong. But I almost never slide names, or names of places. So when I'm in the middle of a sentence and the keyboard thinks I'm writing ghee instead of the, it's particularly aggravating. You'd think based on sentence context and how common the word ghee is, that it might take a good guess?

My previously favourite keyboard was Kii on the Android. It was virtually identical to the stock Android keyboard except for two features I really liked. First off, it would always show you the suggestion bar above the keys, even when your were typing in a url-bar: useful since the Chrome url-bar doubles as a search bar. Secondly, Kii allowed you to delete words from the dictionary, so it would never suggest them again and therefore never expand an intent to write "the" into "ghee" or "so" into "shoo". If I actually wanted to write these words I'd damn well type them out. Alas Kii is no more.

It's a sliding keyboard dilemma. On the one hand, I can understand why vendors would want to offer expansive dictionaries so as to always have useful suggestions in the word prediction bar. On the other hand, I'd personally be way faster on a sliding keyboard if the dictionary didn't include slang, place names or contact names.

This post was written using the Swype keyboard.
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Jeremy Herve (jeherve)'s profile photoJoen Asmussen's profile photo
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+Jeremy Herve I like the stock android keyboard, I find it's the keyboard that loads the fastest and feels the snappiest. 

That said, I recently switched to Swype mostly because my 5.2inch phone just isn't one handlable with a full-width keyboard. Swype on the other hand allows me to have a smaller, like 75% width keyboard, on the left side of the screen so it's still one-handable.
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Joen Asmussen

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An article about adblocking made the rounds the other day, with this pullquote receiving particular emphasis:

"If blocking becomes widespread, the ad industry will be pushed to produce ads that are simpler, less invasive and far more transparent about the way they’re handling our data — or risk getting blocked forever if they fail."

That's a load of manure. 

Sure, a big part of the problem is the ad industry itself: to this day most ads are still the standard mrec (300x250) or skyscraper (120x600). Ads served are not hi-dpi, they're not responsive, and they're usually blinking GIFs. With all the technology we have available to us today, you'd think we'd be able to see better ads at this point.

Ads don't offend me. I personally find Google ads to be mostly alright, especially the context-relevant text link ads. +Liam Spradlin recently blogged about new mrec size Google ads featuring FABs: http://www.dadapixel.com/blog/2015/8/6/google-makes-text-ads-fabulous-with-material-design — that looks good to me too.

But it only takes a few horrible ads to poison the well. It seems every other news website out there runs full take-over ads, interstitials, huge "Like us on Facebook" or "subscribe to our newsletter" popups, and if you dare try browsing the mobile web you're likely to be looking through blinds in the form of social sharing links at the top and big undismissable blinking GIF banners at the bottom. It's like television, and Ghostery is the Tivo of the web. Naturally people are going to skip the ads if they can.

The thing is, adblocking is only going to pick up steam. The fact that the next iOS will allow adblocking in the browser but not inside apps is a rabbit hole on its own, but it means adblocking is going to be very much mainstream in the next few years. This is where the pullquote above falls apart. Ad networks aren't going to get better, they're going to get worse. Today it's possible to make a living running a site that's free to read, solely because of ad revenue. Some can even make a good living. As adblocking grows more widespread, ads are going to be more intrusive to get around this, more guerilla, and even bigger, to keep the "performance" up. It'll happen to good people that run these sites. Despite their best intentions, their staff have families to feed, and if they just use this slightly larger ad, and add an interstitial, they can keep up their standard of living. 

It would be unfair to blame them. It's human nature: millions and millions of sites aren't suddenly going to see the light at the same time and change their ways all at once. Even if they did, it's unlikely everyone would suddenly stop using Ghostery because of this. Once Ghostery is installed, once web-ads have been poisoned by years of bad practices, ads aren't coming back. 

In my experience humans want sea-change events, but they very rarely happen. What's likely going to happen is that web ads are going to get way worse, adblocking is going to go way up, and at the peak of this arms race curve, someone will have found a new form of advertisement that will make the blocking curve taper off. Will it be native advertisement? In-app unblockable advertisements? "Pay $1 for this article, or pay by watching a video?" "Get 5 free access tokens by visiting the site every day, or buy 10 access tokens right now for $5"?

Nature will find a way. But we aren't suddenly going to wake up to rainbows and unicorns. No matter how cool that would be.

Oh and by the way, most adblocking rarely make webpages actually faster to load. Usually there's a huge overhead of adblocking CSS injected into every page, ads or not. 

#adblock
The adoption of ad-blocking technology is rising steeply. Some see an existential threat to online content as we know it, but others see a new business niche.
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Joen Asmussen's profile photofrank goossens's profile photoDonncha Ó Caoimh's profile photo
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for your reference, I uploaded the screenshots here; https://plus.google.com/+frankgoossens/posts/aJzXiHToKTY
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Joen Asmussen

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I've been watching the TV show Wayward Pines. The Twin Peaks vibes its marketing exuded pulled me in, and even when after seeing 10 minutes of the pilot I realized it had nothing to do with Twin Peaks, the mystery kept me watching.

It's a TV show/mini-series. Ten episodes in total, and episode 10 is the series finale. It revolves around an FBI agent going to Wayward Pines, Idaho, to search for two missing agents only to realize it's very hard to leave Wayward Pines once you enter.

Twist-ending afficionado M. Night Shyamalan has produced the series and directs 1 episode. I don't think it's a spoiler to then clarify that sure enough, there's a twist in this mystery show, just like there was in Lost, and in Fringe, and in Twin Peaks, and in many of my past favorite mystery shows. 

The thing about Wayward Pines that's unusual and interesting is that there are only ten episodes, then it's done. Moreso, the entire mystery and key twist is explained in episode 5. This arguably sidesteps the biggest gripe against Lost. On the other hand, while the first 5 episode had me gripped, the last 5 were a slog to work through — not because they were bad. There just wasn't any mystery any more. 
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Joen Asmussen

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I'm growing more and more tired of Safari and its increasingly lacklustre support for modern web standards. 

Safari used to be a bastion of web standards. It was the first to support many advanced CSS3 features which enabled websites that felt like native apps in performance. It was no coincidence either: the first iPhone wasn't supposed to run native apps, the web was the SDK. Sure, it's very possible Apple was working on their app store all along, and that whole web-app spiel was just something to hold you over until their true SDK was ready. Nonetheless, web-apps written for the iPhone could do things no other platform really could, and they felt like first class citizens.

That's squarely in the past now. 

Usually I work in Chrome, due to its amazing web inspector. Then at some point I test in Safari, or on the iPhone, and I sigh: what now?

- A while back it was the lack of support for object-position
- Then it was animation-play-state, which works in everything but mobile Safari.
- Now it's perspective, which doesn't work in conjunction with overflow: hidden, and by the way doesn't work at all if you want momentum scrolling on the phones. 

The problem is, these are such advanced features, that I can't just work around them. The fact that they don't work on Safari means I can't build what I set out to build. I have to build something worse. 
Last weekend I attended EdgeConf, a conference populated by many of the leading lights in the web industry. It featured panel talks and breakout sessions with a focus on technologies that are just ...
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Joen Asmussen

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I've had a Dribbble account for years, but I haven't actually done as much with it as I've been meaning to. The thing is, Dribbble is supposed to show work in progress. But as a graphic designer it's just so hard to show true work in progress, with all its inherent flaws. 

An old mentor of mine once told me to surround myself with art I liked —good stuff I'd made myself and good stuff made by others. But especially the homemade stuff. It would serve not only as inspiration for future projects, but as a reminder to oneself: you made this. 

So I hope to Dribbble a bit more in the future. Even if I still don't like the elitist tinge the invite system gives it, I like that it makes me screencap and collect the stuff I make. It's good for me to look back at it once in a while.

Attached here are three pieces from a project we just launched at Automattic, "Mesh", which is an iPhone app for creating super easy photo galleries using your thumb. You can check out the app on https://me.sh

Here's my Dribbble account, by the way: https://dribbble.com/joen
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Joen Asmussen

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Peel.
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Michael Ryan's profile photoNaja Dornonville de la Cour's profile photo
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Den her har jeg endnu ikke. Hint hint
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Joen Asmussen

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What's wrong with Google+?

The UI designer in me has thought about this a lot. I really can't quite put my finger on it. There's so much to love about Google+, so why aren't more people using it, and why does the general interest appear to taper off? Is it just an incredibly difficult market to enter, like search after Google?

My first thought was that Google+ fell in to the trap of trying to create the "everything to everyone" product, collecting too many disparate features with too little focus to bundle it all up. This is usually a highway to hell for any product, but since it works for Facebook, why shouldn't it work for Google+?

I adore Google Hangouts. I use them weekly at work, and once the plugin is installed, it just works -- you'd think someone else had built the product. Even on flaky connections with 8+ people in a video conference, audio almost never stutters. Still, I can't help but feel that's the only thing I'm using Google+ for.

I'm in love with the "Instant Upload" feature from the Google+ app on my phone. It works remarkably well, backs up all my photos to the cloud and has a negligible impact on my battery. But it's supposed to get me sharing photos here, and I don't. At least not as often as the diskspace I use suggests.

When I first joined Google+, I was instantly enamored with the Circles concept. Unlike Facebook, I could easily create my own social circle and curate the groups I wanted to share with. Given time, however, I've found out that I'm too lazy to curate my Circles -- someone, a shell-script, curate them for me!

There's even something to be said for all the ways Google+ is surfacing interesting content from YouTube, circle recommendations, even the "What's Hot" search in the sidebar. Still, that just feels like a curated stream of what everyone likes, and not what I like specifically -- those two bubbles wouldn't be exactly on top of each other in a Venn diagram describing my interests vs. the rest of the worlds.

So what's wrong with Google+? For all intents and purposes it should be working for me! But somehow, as much as there is to love about Google+, I can't help but dream back to the days when I could click "share" in my Google Reader stream, and my three friends would read it.

#googleplus , #googlereader
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Gareth Cook's profile photoAhmad Abd-Elghany's profile photoMark Dodsworth's profile photoJoen Asmussen's profile photo
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+Mark Dodsworth exactly! I'm getting tired of "inspirational quotes" set in the Papyrus font.
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Wrangling design, usability and data
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  • Automattic
    Design wrangler, 2010 - present
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    Self-employed, 2007 - 2010
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    Project lead, 2002 - 2007
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Design wrangler at Automattic.
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I believe in gravity, the moon landing, and well-mixed White Russians.
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Espergærde
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Copenhagen - Hørsholm - Nykøbing Falster - Hellebæk - Ljungby, Sverige - Lagan, Sverige
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