Interesting Stuff Club
Our monthly round up of anything we’re doing and learning in our own time.
“At home I’ve been playing with CouchDB and PouchDB. CouchDB predates mongoDB in the NoSQL DB world. Its neatest feature is a replication protocol, allowing you can create a client-side DB with PouchDB that silently synchronises with the server. This allows for great offline first development, and we added it to the MEMZ application we’ve been building during our hackdays.
I also went to London Web with Ryan and James where Jack Franklin was talking about ES6 with react and SystemJS. It was a good talk, and nicely aligned with what we’ve accomplished recently using SystemJS and TypeScript the last few months. That was a nice pat on the back for UVD.”
“I went to Responsive Day Out 3 with James and amongst other highlights, one talk in particular really stood out for me about pattern libraries, from The Future Lab. We’ve seen the development benefits of introducing a pattern library into our projects at UVD but Alla raised other areas it can benefit, chiefly in communication and understanding. Naming things is difficult so having a ‘Controlled Vocabulary’ for your project helps build a shared understanding of all the UI in your project, helping in design discussions and development implementation. It’s important, Alla reminds us, for more than one team member to be involved in the naming of components so that the meaning of these things stay relevant or ‘alive’.
A few themes that were explored throughout were; embarrassing the flexibility of the web by using relative units and flexbox, allowing the browser to make more decisions on which content to serve with responsive images, upcoming capabilities such as web components and service workers that will give us more granular control of the web experience, along with a reminder at the top of the gig of the moral case for accessibility to the close of the day reminding that building accessible websites may well be the best way to future proof them.
Also on a separate note worth mentioning I’m quite enjoying the following short videos from the google developers youtube channel: mini pub debates in HTTP 203, Totally Tooling Tips giving bite sized dev related tips and advice, and a convenient weekly round up of web related stuff with Lazy Web.”
“So, I’m new to UVD which means I’ve been introduced to lots of new and exciting tech at work, but in my own time I’ve been researching hosting solutions. I’ve got a few sites on a shared hosting platform and a separate VPS, but I’m looking to consolidate everything. I looked at AWS – which is familiar, VJ suggested Google Cloud and I also looked at Heroku but it’s probably too expensive for my needs. Overall I found all of the pricing structures to be quite confusing, but I’m thinking of setting up on AWS as this will be most beneficial in terms of learning for work, and I can also ask the team for help!
Aside from that, I’ve been looking into Android app development again and have got a basic version of MEMZ set up. I’m currently working on the ability to download all the images in an album. It currently downloads all assets on a page but it should be fairly simple to filter out all the unintended resources. Next I want to work on syncing between the app and the web version.”
“I read an article about frontend build tools, and how everything we use has its own command line interface and we’re all bloating our machines with stuff we don’t use. We can use NPM to create shortcuts for builds to create tasks rather than using gulp or grunt. I don’t think it’s the ultimate solution but for many tasks NPM is more than adequate to provide what you need.
I’ve also started watching documentaries during lunch times and (sticking with the recurring space theme) there was one filmed by the astronauts in the International Space Station which was a good watch. Another worthy one was about Arran Swartz – The Internet’s Own Boy. At the age of 14 he started getting involved with the internet, and was part of the team that specced out RSS, and he co-founded reddit. He then went on to find out about JSTOR which is a digital library of academic journals, which users have to pay for access to. He believed that this wealth of human knowledge should be available to everyone, for free, so he began hacking them and making the journals available for everyone. He was eventually arrested by MIT. I won’t tell you the rest, but it’s certainly worth a watch. ”
“Kubernetes 1.0.0 came out this week, and I’ve had a play with it before but found it a pain to get up and running. Hopefully that’s changed now it’s a major version. I’ve ended up looking into Docker Machine & Swarm instead as Kubernetes is geared more towards Google Cloud Platform.
As I’m planning on doing a Masters in Cryptology I bought a book a few months back: Everyday Cryptography. I’ve finally started reading it and I’m about halfway through. The main thing that has stuck with me is a really simple concept:
Say we had two characters; Alex and John, and Alex wanted to send John a message ensuring that the message retains its integrity. Alex could write the message on a piece of paper and put it in a suitcase, he could then lock the suitcase with his own padlock and then send it to John. John would then attach his own padlock and send it back to Alex. Alex would then remove his own padlock (leaving John’s on) and then return the suitcase to John. John would then open the suitcase with his padlock and they both know that no one was able to open the suitcase throughout the journey.”
“Since the last Interesting Stuff Club I’ve been reading a lot about Growth Hacking which suits my role in UVD perfectly. The term stems from Silicon Valley and the startup movement who had no money to pay for marketing, but the technical skills to make tweaks to their products to get more users. For example, when Hotmail set up they added ‘Get Your Free Email at Hotmail’ to every email that was sent. This was a cheap, quick and easy way to spread awareness of the product, and resulted in 1 million users in 6 months. This growth hack is still used now by Apple: ‘sent from my iPhone’. As it’s been 8 months since we redesigned our website I used the new data fom Google Analytics to see what has worked, and what hasn’t. We’ve since made small tweaks to the site based on this data and are now using Lucky Orange to validate these changes. Using recordings of real users interacting with our site, we can ensure we’re on the right path.”
“I’ve been holding my ISC in for weeks, so the Women’s World Cup isn’t topical right now, but my point is still interesting nonetheless.
In the run up to the Women’s World Cup, they showed a history of women’s football and how people talk about how it’s only a decade old, but there’s actually a bigger history. Football in England became massive in industrial towns and cities, such as Manchester, where the men would play after their shifts in the factories or mines. But in World War 1 all the men went away to fight so no one was playing football.
Then the women took over all of the roles in factories making munitions for the war and did the same as the men; they played football after their shifts, which was heartily encouraged for good health, well-being and moral. Women’s football quickly became huge, and people would go to charity matches to watch the women take on wounded soldiers. Eventually, women’s football became big in it’s own right and they would play in the big FA stadiums to crowds of 50/60 thousand spectators.
After the war, the men returned home and complained to the FA about women playing football in these stadiums, as women ‘aren’t strong enough’. This was from the FA at the time:
“Complaints having been made as to football being played by women, the Council feel impelled to express their strong opinion that the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged…For these reasons the Council request the Clubs belonging to The Association to refuse the use of their Grounds for such matches.”
It’s taken 50 years for women to be allowed to play in the FA again which is why we think women’s football is only ten years old. The FA affectively killed women’s football there and then for 50 years”