The new Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which Congress passed yesterday, contains an important — and fantastic — provision: it requires that scientific research funded by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education be placed in a free online repository within 12 months of their publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
Cozy Cloud is a french startup funded by the Mozilla startup accelerator. Cozy is open-source software they’ve released that let’s you host your own personal cloud-based services. You set it up on your server and have access to a calendar, photos, files, address book, RSS feeds and pretty much every type of cloud-based service that is supposed to synch with your computers and mobile devices.
The proposal is that by hosting your own information, it is more secure than using services. It also makes it easier to control your information by keeping in one place you can more easily get it out of and giving you the ability to destroy the whole installation with one command.
If you don’t want to manage your own server, they offer a hosted service in beta.
Recently, the Pew Research Center found that 90 percent of Americans would be upset if their local library closed. But the survey also found “52% of Americans say that people do not need public libraries as much as they used to because they can find most information on their own.”
That’s why libraries need to adapt. People want them—but want them to be better. Instead of a warehouse of information, libraries need tools for use by the commons—a Netflix of things.
“We’ve been in the information business for 3,000 years,” Hill says, waxing philosophical on the role of the librarian in society. “If there’s anything we do well, it’s deliver information, and information is knowledge. I think if anybody is positioned to help build workers for this new information age, it is the library.”
The Pew Internet and American Life Project released a new report today entitled How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities PDF, that shows a very large majority of Americans value libraries, viewing them as critical to their communities and vital to providing services that ensure equality of opportunity for people who would otherwise be at a terrible disadvantage in life.This is in contrast to a few privileged blowhards whove opined that the library is an obsolete institution in the age of the Internet — and worse, an unaffordable luxury in a time of austerity and recession. The mission of libraries is to help the public navigate information and become informed — a mission that is more important than ever. As Eleanor Crumblehulme said, “Cutting libraries in a recession is like cutting hospitals in a plague.”
The Net Neutrality ruling is in and Internet service providers can discriminate however they like.
The Nuts and Bolts of Network Neutrality is good overview of what neutrality is about.
Who Killed Net Neutrality? : The New Yorker has a review of how we got to this point.
After The Open Internet Order, Reclassification! finds a silver lining in the cloud.
‘A FEMA-level fail’: The law professor who coined ‘net neutrality’ lashes out at the FCC’s legal strategy
This is an index of a series of articles I wrote on the process I went through creating the third theme for this site. It was spurred on by the release of WordPress with the new Customizer feature and my desire for a responsive, retina-ready theme I could re-skin when the desire hit me. The articles are listed in the order they were published but they’re each written to be read alone.
Responsive design is a method of web design that has been developed in response to the almost infinite number of screen sizes designers are faced with today. Rather than create multiple websites or relying on browser-sniffing, it uses fluid design and a CSS3 feature called Media Queries to adapt the website design depending on the size of the browser window.
Media Queries have been used for years to specify print stylesheets. They are fairly sophisticated, accepting both a range of widths and arguments such as media (screen, print, aural), orientation (portrait, landscape), and color. They are commonly used to adjust the layout, typography and size of images and icons down for mobile devices, however, I used the “Mobile First” technique of using the mobile design as the default and making modifications as the window gets larger.
One of the additional problems with mobile devices (and one of the pillars of Responsive Design) is page load time. They often don’t have the processing power to load pages as quickly as desktops and often have data limits that make the large images of desktop websites prohibitive. A number of methods of changing images based on screen size and device are being worked on but there is no easy answer yet.
I discussed the responsive icons used on this site in an earlier article. In short, I chose an icon font for the limited impact on page-weight, the ease of resizing, resolution-independence, and the ability to style them with CSS. It was easy to implement using CSS :before and :after selectors and adds to the visual appeal and usability without adding noticeably to the download time.
Mobile Navigation in Responsive Design
Design for Internet Explorer
So Responsive Design is a great idea and media queries are supported in all modern browsers… (Say it with me) except Internet Explorer. Until version 9. Unfortunately, there are people who are still stuck with earlier versions of IE for one reason or another and others who simply don’t bother to upgrade.
Respond.min.js adds basic media query support for IE versions 6-8, which combined with conditional comments allows them to get essentially the same experience as those with more advanced browsers. All you have to do is call the script.
The last workaround for IE was a little script to add HTML5 support for older versions. I like HTML5 for its increased semantics and accessibility as well as how easy it makes to use common techniques like form validation. This script makes versions on IE that don’t support HTML5 recognize the elements for styling.
<!--[if lt IE 9 ]>
Flat design is the current trend seen in Windows 8, Apple’s IOS 7, and a number of color-blocked websites. I like flat design a lot as it fits with my own aesthetic of simplicity and minimalism. It forces the designer to focus on typography, shape and color contrast to maintain interest and usability. Many designers are using bright crayon colors along with it but there’s no reason more muted colors couldn’t work. It’s all in how you place them for proper contrast.
Flat design also makes responsive design easier with simpler designs that flow more easily between screen sizes and smaller file sizes.
When this theme went live, it was completely flat. As I’ve gone back since then and added back a couple of faint borders and subtle shadows. Not only do I find the result looks better but they also aid in usability by making it easier to distinguish between elements. Everything in moderation, even minimalism.
With the advent of high-density displays (including Apple’s Retina), there has been a scramble in the web design community. Since the creation of the World Wide Web, small and low quality (compared to print) images were the standard way of dealing with slow connection speeds as computer monitors were not advanced enough to display the full size versions.
Now, web designer are being pulled in two different directions trying to balance screens that require high quality images with the increase in mobile devices whose loading speeds and data limits still make large images undesirable.
When I decided to include a few icons in this design, I went looking through my bookmarks for possible solutions: icons at multiple sizes, SVG, pure CSS and endless icon fonts. I was drawn to an icon font as a solution because it solved the problem of multiple display resolutions while only adding one small font file to the download. Because font characters are drawn on the device, they have no resolution and look good on any screen. Because they are characters, they can be styled using the same CSS font rules, allowing me to resize as needed for different screen sizes and making them more appropriate for my plan to change the colors frequently.
Most desktop and mobile browsers now support webfonts and since I planned to use them in addition to text labels I didn’t have to worry about usability issues in older browsers.
I chose Ligature Symbols because it had all the symbols I was looking for initially and came with example code for CSS :before and :after selectors. This means no extraneous markup in the HTML file, it’s all done in CSS. Any browsers that don’t support :before and :after selectors or icon fonts simply don’t display anything.
Using CSS made it very easy to implement and as I added more symbols to the design, it only took a few lines of CSS without impacting the download time. The icons themselves add visual interest and make the site easier to navigate.