London, UK

Week notes #2

These are some unedited notes about my week. There are rules. Let’s begin:


Freelance work is starting to gain traction, at least according to the data I’m seeing from Cushion, a great tool for freelancers which helps me track the projects I’m currently working on. Even though it’s described as a paid beta, there’s little about the service that gives you that impression. The writing is clear and consistent, the sign up process is a delight and the interface shows me how financially turbulent this year might turn out to be if I don’t pull my finger out.

Sasha Bruce Youthwork

Sasha Bruce Youthwork is a charity based in Washington D.C. that helps homeless and runaway children, and I worked on the front-end for a new event website which celebrates their 40th anniversary. The project only lasted a couple of days but I’m relatively happy with the results. This was the first time I used the picture element and seriously pushed back against the need for adding jQuery to a project. Yay for progressive enhancement and performance! Yay for charities making the world a better place!

CSS-Tricks

On Sunday I joined the writing staff at CSS-Tricks and I posted two quick updates to the Almanac: the object-fit and object-position CSS properties. For now this property isn’t particularly exciting (since the browser support isn’t that great) but look out for them in the future because I guarantee they’ll turn out to be really useful.

These properties allow us to add background-images or colors to any object (such as a video or an image), which was sort of possible before, although now we have more fine-grain control over that process.

We can do odd things with these properties, such as make an inline-image sprite. Weird, huh?

Codepen

Speaking of CSS-Tricks, I’m starting to fall in love with Codepen. For some reason I’ve always thought it was cool but I never really understood why it was more useful than the plethora of alternative tools that let you write code in the browser. However, as I was learning about some JavaScripty things earlier in the week I stumbled upon the greater community of developers, game designers and framework-builders, hundreds and hundreds of people that want to experiment with the underlying technology of front-end development and ultimately want nothing more than to share with you what they know.

Unlike those other services, I’ve already met incredibly smart people and found new ways in which to improve my own work. To put it briefly: I think Codepen is the front-end playground equivalent of Readmill, the defunct reading service which I drooled over at every opportunity whilst it was around because it was a tool that let you discover books and bookish-friends.

Anyway, you can check out my profile to see what I might be working on + testing in the future.

Things that went into my eyes and ears

Usually I can’t listen to podcasts or videos whilst I work, but at one point or another I checked out The Books on Song Exploder and it was great. Other noteworthy moving-picture-sound-things include:

Books, etc

Last night I started reading You by Austin Grossman and I’m going to write my thoughts up once I finish it but for me this book feels like the spiritual successor to Close to the Machine (in other words I can’t possibly describe right now how much I’m enjoying this novel at the moment).

It’s a book about making video games from an actual, honest-to-goodness games designer and it’s a book about technology and storytelling and it captures so much of what I’ve wanted someone to say about the art form.

Where am I?

I’m sat on the train heading back to Devon after a couple of days in London where I worked on some freelance projects and I’m buzzing with excitement. It’s late at night and it’s cold outside—the flitter of bulbs that rock by appear to be cast in a formidable bubble of icy darkness—however I’m still recovering from the capital’s ability to blush, ache and sigh whimsically with potential.

On the train out of Devon the carriages are crowded, yet as you watch the countryside pass you by you’ll get the distinct impression of warming your toes in a bath. Foliage and hills glide past the window as if you were being swept across the country in a hot tub that was attached to a magic carpet, but travelling back towards Plymouth the carriages will spew their insides; these journeys are always dark, they are always cold and they are always very lonely.

On the return journey there is a newfound awareness that you happen to be sitting in an uncomfortable seat from a rumbling, belching, wheezing old train that munches itself stupid on coal, and now, to your utter horror, you must listen to the conductor when he half-heartedly claims that this is the train headed to “the Cornish Riviera.”