Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality

Today has been dubbed a “Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality“.  Several of the world’s largest tech companies (including Google and Amazon) are staging elaborate (but worthy) stunts to mess with the internet to prove how important Net Neutrality is. Net neutrality means that internet service providers (oddly enough, AT&T came out in support of Net Neutrality today) have to serve all websites and services with the same speed. They are not permitted to make deals to speed up and slow down traffic to premium sites. Currently there is a FCC rules change that could destroy that neutrality.

“Websites, Internet users, and online communities will come together to sound the alarm about the FCC’s attack on net neutrality. We’ll provide tools for everyone to make it super easy for your followers / visitors to take action. From the SOPA blackout to the Internet Slowdown, we’ve shown time and time again that when the Internet comes together, we can stop censorship and corruption. Now, we have to do it again!” source

Here is a video explaining more about net neutrality:

 

If you would like to voice your support in favor of net neutrality, you may do so on the FCC website.

What Kind of Idiot Gets Phished?

One of my favorite podcasts, Reply All has been doing a series of stories on internet security after their founder and president, Alex Bloomberg’s Uber account got hacked. The story that caught my attention was this piece about how easy it is for someone, even smart, internet savvy people to get phished.  Also how things 2-step authentication do not protect you in this case. These phishers are able to mimic the entire google experience in a seamless way that you would never know you’re giving away your information including your 2-step code. It makes me feel a little bit better about all the horror stories you hear with political campaigns and major corporations getting hacked.  It can happen to anyone so just be suspicious and careful out there on the world wide web!

Listen to the story here and I highly recommend subscribing to all of Gimlet’s podcasts.

A Fearless Girl on Wall Street

Today is International Women’s Day which means more this year than ever. Women have been particularly defiant and vocal in a treacherous political climate. These acts of defiance have also been seen from our male allies. Which is why I was so excited and touched to see this new statute of the “Fearless Girl” posed right in front of the famous Wall Street Bull, sponsored by a predominantly male State Street Global Advisors. This was their way of saying, we hear you, we’re with you and we’re trying to do better. Although McCann (the agency that executed this idea) did get a permit for the statue, it still feels like a gorilla act.

This statue represents the future. This girl will grow up to be the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Neil Degrasse Tyson and I love that she is completely unphased, starring the bull in the face.

 

Can the EPA Report Yet?

Here at Compose[d] we appreciate science and freedom of information. Being that so many of us are technologists, we think that it’s only important and necessary to speak up when science and open information is infringed upon. To that point, lost in the latest news cycle is the fact that our national scientists are still prohibited from posting to the world about factual information on official government channels.

So, at least in regards to the EPA, we’ve put together a quick tool using one of our own products to monitor when they can post again (sadly as of this post it’s now 11 days and counting where an official government agency is censored from posting relevant and factual information on their channels). Let’s hope that we can hear from the agency in charge of keeping our air clean, our water safe, and the all around environmental health of our nation. Because without any of it, none of is would be able to do the things we do for a living, or enjoy this great country in our free time. In the meantime, you can check to see if the EPA can report at http://cantheepa.report

Annotator.JS

What does it do?

As the name might suggest, this is a JavaScript library that allows users to annotate webpages. The days of bookmarking a webpage and inevitably forgetting what you were thinking at the time seem distant now. However, Annotator doesn’t come in the form of a browser plugin, instead it is included on a webpage and will require some setup.

With Annotator you can make notes for you and a group of others or only yourself–really, it’s pretty customizable.

 

I will update this blog post this weekend when I have a live demo for show.

Just Walk Out with Amazon Go

A few days ago, Amazon announced their grand experiment in brick and mortar grocery and light food shopping called Amazon Go. Basically a shopper checks into the store using the Amazon Go app, puts their items in their bag and “just walks out”. Their items will be tallied and charged when they leave the store.

Of course this seems like the future of shopping to me. I personally like to limit my human interaction when doing things like grocery shopping which is why I use Instacart several times a week. But it does have scary implications for removing the human out of the shopping experience. There will still be jobs for people to stock shelves and prepare food but no more baggers, no more neighborhood checkout girl. We’ll have to see how well the technology works and whether or not people end up wasting time with a buggy UX but for now, it’s a pretty neat idea and I’d love to see how it can be implemented to other traditional retailers.

Space X wants to deploy 4,425 satellites for broadband services

Space X filed an application with the FCC recently to deploy 4,425 satellites orbiting at altitudes ranging from 715 miles (1,150 km) to 790 miles (1,275 km). “With deployment of the first 800 satellites, SpaceX will be able to provide widespread U.S. and international coverage for broadband services,” SpaceX wrote. “Once fully optimized through the Final Deployment, the system will be able to provide high bandwidth (up to 1 Gbps per user), low latency broadband services for consumers and businesses in the U.S. and globally.” 4.2 billion people (or 57% of the world’s population) are offline for a wide range of reasons, but often also because the necessary connectivity is not present or not affordable, so this would make a huge impact for populations both in those areas that are underserved, as well as in developed nations where even with broadband, the average speed is far below the purported Gigabit Internet.

If approved, and implemented, the effect that this could have for content, advertising/marketing, and e-commerce could be huge; opening up markets both  domestically and internationally. From the article “According to a June 2015 story by Christian Davenport at The Washington Post, Google and Fidelity invested $1 billion into Musk’s company, in part to support the project. So it’s a good guess that if and when the network becomes functional, those companies would partly assume control of it. (Google parent company, Alphabet, is also working on its own effort to beam internet connectivity from the skies using satellites, balloons, and drones.)”

Designing Progressive Websites

Last week it was my turn to bring something cool to the team and I decided to share was some stuff I learned at a meetup from earlier in the week.

The meetup was hosted by Sergey Chernyshev from the NY Web Performance meetup group and the topic was “Designing Speed with Progressive Enhancement”.

 

The underlying topic is Progressive Enhancement. If you ask a group of web developers what Progressive Enhancement means, odds are good you’ll get several definitions. But what each of those definitions have in common will be amount or type of features available to a user. Whether that’s in the form of prioritizing content loading (like the main-navigation) or building your website such that it works without JavaScript (this idea is a little older).

This presentation focused more on prioritizing loading and it also touched on pre-loading effects when navigating once already in the website.

Something to focus on is getting that time to “first paint” down to or below 3 seconds, so how can we do that?

In addition to moving your javascript calls to just before the closing </body> tag, when focusing on getting that “first paint” to render as soon as possible you can inline your CSS for static elements such as the main navigation, that way the loading of that interactive content isn’t waiting for your css to get loaded.

When testing for your loading time I recommend using your browser of choice’s developer tools to simulate different mobile networks. This will allow you to see how your website is loading from your current WiFi connection but also allow you to see how it would load for a mobile user on their phone network.

Google Chrome Developer Tools
Google Chrome Developer Tools

For more of a breakdown and slew of other great Progressive Enhancement tips I highly recommend you look through Sergey’s entire presentation.

Full Stack Toronto

I spent the beginning of this week at Full Stack Toronto, a 2-day conference devoted to all things web development. I was honored to be asked to be the Keynote speaker where I gave a talk about the Radical Topic of Women in Tech.  The talk was well received and prompted some really good conversations about the ratio of women to men in the workplace.

Some of the highlights of the conference were:

  • Jennifer Wong’s (Eventbrite) What The Duck-Typed Are My Engineers Saying? talk which fully admitted that developers often use terminology they don’t fully understand.
  • Kate Travers’ (Flatiron School) talk about converting their CSS to Object oriented CSS
  • and my personal fav Henri Helvetica’s talk about The Hateful Weight which discussed how we are accruing way too much page debt in our development and some techniques for getting those page weights down. Check out the slides here.

I’ve been spending much of this week incorporating some of the things I learned into this very website.