Measure, then act

Dan, a co-worker from Automattic wrote this in a p2 post today:

Measure, then act. Almost every major decision we made was in response to real-world data. Often we would be surprised and have our expectations challenged, both in terms of what was NOT possible, but also what WAS possible.

It reminds me of the old saying, “Measure twice, cut once”, and in software development, the more we measure, the more we discover.

Best of #wcme15 Tweets

WordCamp Maine blasted off today, and it has been quite fun. MECA has been a wonderful host and has provided a backdrop of weird and wonderful art. Otto provided some yummy pizza. And Mendal taught me about the Periscope app. Before I head off to the after party, here is a list of some of my favorite tweets:

ClickVentures are better than videogames

I don’t care what console you play, you will love the drama, the comedy, the sheer inventiveness of the ClickVenture. It’s like Zork, but with honest-to-goodness spit takes. It’s fucking funny, ok?

Here’s all of ’em:

The latest is a spy adventure, and it is both hilarious and infuriating. Let me know if you can “win” it. Please. Comment or email me if you figure that shit out. Other exciting escapades include surviving the first day of high school, and a harrowing sleepover at Brynna’s house.


Ferris Bueller, a hacker ahead of his time

Today, I’m taking  a break from battling software bugs so that my immune system can battle a fierce flu bug. I haven’t eaten anything all day because food makes my stomach burn. I’m overly hot one moment, and overly cold the next. Every muscle aches. I’m hoping a good night sleep cures it.

In my weakened condition, I started thinking about 80’s movie chararcter Ferris Bueller, and how he got his fabled day off by hacking into his highschool’s database from a home computer. The movie was released in 1986, and I wasn’t really using computers at the time. I was just six years old.

I don’t know about you, but I call bullshit! There’s no way Bueller’s highschool was storing records in a database that was accessible via the internet. Gopher servers first made their appearance in schools in 1992. I’d appreciate it if someone with a strong knowledge of computer history could weigh in.

Today I'm Cameron. Not faking it. "Let my Cameron go!" Drawing by samdrawsalot
Today I’m Cameron. Not faking it. “Let my Cameron go!”
Drawing by samdrawsalot

Playing PacMan on the streets of Ferry Village

The Google Maps Pac-man prank is one of my favorite April Fool’s gags of all time. Not only do you get to play Pac-man, but it is super fun to search through familiar places to find the perfect level.

Check out this level from Ferry Village in South Portland, Maine.

It is a fairly challenging and fun level. Have fun!

If you find any difficult levels, please reply.

Start your week off right

So I’m finding that it is good to start my week by watching a presentation on computer programming. It really sets the tone for the days to come. Today, I have my co-worker Enej to thank for sharing the following presentation by javascript developer Angelina Fabbro:

There are a lot of nice things to say about this presentation. It taught me what “grok” means, and it is a fine word. You can use it even if you are not a programmer. Look it up. The nicest thing I can say, though, is that is a helpful piece of advice for any intermediate programmer who is looking to get to the next level. Some key bullet points:

  • Ask “Why?” obsessively
  • Teach others, and speak a lot about the work you do
  • It is okay to be reckless when experimenting
  • Have opinions & principles
  • Think like a programmer when AFK

I’m thankful that this video fell into my laptop at this precise time. It is very inspirational and just what I needed. Let me know if you watch it.

Span tag paintings

My pal Chris is artist always experimenting with new mediums. He was excited to find that if instead of a traditional canvas, you were to use a web browser, and instead of paints and paintbrushes, you were to use HTML span tags, you’d get an interactive image resembling 8-bit artwork. What the heck is that? Here’s the Mono Lisa, for example:


Note how the appearance changes dramatically if you resize the browser. Span tag paintings are responsive.

In trying to create a photorealistic span painting of President Barrack Obama, Chris found that it was a rather tedious process. Thanks, Obama! I told Chris that using PHP I could teach a computer to make these paintings faster than he could. He was thrilled when my script produced the following image before he could finish his painting.

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 6.52.27 PM

I then extended my script into this neat Backbone.js app, allowing Chris to upload any image which would automatically be changed into an HTML painting. I even built a color picker so you could limit the colors in your painting to a pallet of your choosing. Here is an image of acclaimed painter Bob Ross which was produced by script. Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 6.56.01 PM

I’m glad that Chris made these paintings.  You can see some of his favorites here. I like how you can make different patterns by resizing the window, and then BOOM! the image jumps out at you as soon as you find the right size. We also discovered that image will repeat itself at regular intervals.


Pretty good. Pretty neat. Please reply with your own painting.

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