1 is Greater Than 1.5

Back in the late 1990s, when internet still got piped into peoples’ houses by way of a modem, web developers cared deeply about the download size of their websites.  After all, there was only so much patience you could expect of a user on a 128 Baud connection.  But broadband solved all those problems, right? In a way, broadband solved a lot of problems, but it also moved the needle on acceptable user experience.  I remember waiting patiently for 10 or 20 seconds for a page to download on the phone modem, and that was ok.  These days if I have to wait 5 seconds I’m a little irritated.  So users expect fast, but are we giving it to them?  Not really. Internet speeds have risen dramatically since then and it’s pretty routine to stream video at home.  The pipes are much bigger, so all that worry about file size doesn’t make business sense.  But it does: there’s a confounding variable in the mix, and it’s called the iPhone.  Before the iPhone, internet connectivity on a phone was a sort of novelty act, but now it’s standard.  Remember, it was only 2007 that the iPhone appeared, and now the entire web industry supports mobile web.  We have terms like “responsive design” and “mobile first” to help lead the way.  But it hasn’t been a painless ride, and we’re far from done. It goes without saying that a mobile phone doesn’t always have the best connection.  And under the hood is another insidious little problem: cellular networks have a lot of latency.  What that means is for every image, every JavaScript or...

Dear Fuzzy

Dear FuzzyGalore, I’ve been a follower of  your blog for some time and I have a thousand questions.  The thing is, I haven’t asked them.  Not to you anyway, mostly to myself.  Part of it is that I’m embarrassed to ask questions.  Not for some macho reason, or my sensible and stoic Midwestern upbringing, but because I’m not sure answers will do me any good right now. I recently read your post about things not making sense sometimes, and using writing to pull yourself back into gear.  I know that trick pretty well.  I used to do that all the time, but now when I write it’s about technology stuff, in part for my job, and in part to make me better at tech stuff.  Writing became work and I stopped using it as therapy. I’ve never been one to take photos of my motorcycle rides.  I have an old Honda that I got by bartering tuba lessons with an older student.  I think we both ended up feeling like we got the better end of the deal, which is the way a good barter works.  Anyway, I finished grad school, moved a couple times and eventually hit it good: job, paycheck, bought a house, paying off my student loans… So back to those questions I wanted to ask: all the motorcycles I’ve been tracking for years, you own them.  I know you love your Ural, will I love one too?  I know you love your Enfield, will I love one too?  I need a reliable road bike I can saddle up heavy, like your Triumph, but I think I might...

Dust Bunnies and Your Search Ranking

There are a lot of “tricks” to boost your search ranking, but the best bet has always been to say something worthwhile, and say it well.  The first half of that is often summarized as “content is king,” however the other half -say it well- often gets glossed over, as if punctuation and grammar are the vehicles of the web.  In truth, code is the mechanism for delivering content, and Google has started indexing fully rendered pages– including CSS and JavaScript.  That means a lot of things, but the important take-away is that clean code matters. “Clean code?” you say?  Yes, because the web has always been a messy place.  In an ideal world, all web browsers would expose the same functionality, would adopt new features at the same rate, and users would upgrade their browsers eagerly.  Web programmers are either laughing or crying at that last sentence because we remember the “browser wars” of the late 1990s.  In short, browser makers were adding new features faster than any standard specification could be written, so it was routine to see “Best Viewed In Internet Explorer 6” on a web page, all other comers be damned. As an outgrowth of that mess in “the good old days,” usability across other browsers was a secondary concern.  Thankfully that hasn’t lasted.  Nowadays users demand a high quality user experience, regardless of browser, device, screen resolution, or language.  To address those concerns, web programmers have gladly jumped on the various bandwagons, including AJAX, responsive design, HTML5, CSS3, etc.  The quality, sophistication, and usability of web sites (and now “web applications”) has improved drastically, but...