“Simply standing up, a minimum of 30 times a day, is a powerful antidote to long periods of sitting and is, surprisingly enough, more effective than walking.”

Mercola.com

Enabling Retina Images on Tumblr

For a while I’ve wanted retina images on my tumblr. I checked to see if Tumblr had added this as a feature but I couldn’t find any info about it so I set off to try it myself.

A bit of googling turned up a simple explanation of displaying retina images. The basic idea is to use a retina source image paired with an image size in CSS.

Next, I checked Marco’s tumblr since I figured he’d have retina images. By viewing the page source, I learned that the source image urls ended in 1280, which reminded me of the PhotoURL-HighRes option on the Tumblr photo post theme settings page. I also noticed that the images on his site were around 700 pixels wide, which gave me the idea to use the high resolution image source option along with the CSS image width setting.

With that idea in mind, these are the two changes I made to my theme:

  1. img src="{PhotoURL-500}" —> img src="{PhotoURL-HighRes}"

  2. img { border:none; } —> img { border:none; width:500px}

Changing the photo URL to the high resolution version means that the source image for photos will now be up to 1280 pixels wide (as long as the photo I’ve uploaded is at least that wide) instead of 500 pixels. This provides an image large enough for retina up to 640 points.

The last piece of the puzzle was adding a CSS image width setting of 500 pixels to make the photos stay inside the roughly 500 pixel width content area here on the site. Otherwise, the images would render to their full, non-retina size and overlap with the side bar.

I’m really happy with how this turned out. In the future, I could even increase the image size to 640 points and still have full retina images (or go even bigger and still have near retina quality). For now, I’ll be aiming to upload 1000 pixel wide images, which is optimal for the 500 point display width.

One of the downsides of this approach is that all devices, including ones without retina screens, will now need to download a retina image. This should work fine on this site considering the small number of images and constrained size but could significantly impact load time on a site with more (and larger) images.

For a while I’ve been wondering about ways to explain why investing in design and the small details is worth it. This video clip does that. It’s KPCB General Partner (and Chief Product Officer) Bing Gordon explaining how producing products that are even incrementally better can increase bottom line performance dramatically.

“One of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it. And I’ve made this mistake probably more than anybody else in this room. And I got the scar tissue to prove it.”

Steve Jobs

Setting up a computer for focused work

I was inspired to remove distractions from my computer after reading a chapter in the book Remote by 37signals. My strategy is to limit the inflow of information during working hours. My phone already shows alerts for important stuff so pretty much all the alerts on my computer are either redundant or unimportant.

First, I crank up the Do Not Disturb settings in OS X to be active during working hours (mainly to prevent alerts from appearing on the screen). If needed I can open up Notification Center to see them or toggle them back on. The moon icon in iOS suggests that Do Not Disturb is for nighttime but I like not being disturbed during the day too. This article on OS X Daily has info about setting this up: http://osxdaily.com/2013/11/12/schedule-do-not-disturb-mac-os-x/

I try to keep social apps like Twitter uninstalled. Same goes for messaging apps if I don’t need real time messaging.

Lastly, I keep my browser logged out of Facebook and Gmail as much as possible. If I need to login, I try to logout when I’m done. I discard this rule if I need frequent access to email.

A collection of details

User experience is a collection of details. The more details that are done with excellence the better the experience. A naive assumption is that a small detail will be quick and easy to implement but often the reverse is true. Things that appear small to the user can take long amounts of time to get right. The willingness to invest time in the small details is what makes something great and requires patience and dedication. So, here I am using the two year old Tweetbot 2 for iPad and I’m happily waiting for Tweetbot 3 for iPad because I know that something like that can’t be rushed out the door.

“People that really want to achieve something, they need to get easy results. It doesn’t matter what you do, if you get results quickly, you’re going to enjoy it. And then that reinforces you to do it more often.”

Debug 17: Krzysztof Zabłocki and Foldify

Progression

The thing that gets me up in the morning is progression. I’m inspired to do things I’ve never done before and often those things can be very simple. The part that is exciting is doing something I couldn’t do before. This goes hand in hand with slow, steady progress, which may not seem like the fastest route but actually is.

Good Code

Good code satisfies all the requirements of a project while still being logically organized into manageable chunks. If the requirements of a project change, good code can turn into bad code. So, the enemy of good code is a change in requirements.

Xcode Tip: Speeding up documentation search

I noticed that documentation searches in Xcode seemed to be getting slower (even on a recent Mac with an SSD) over the past few years so I wanted to see if there was anything I could do.

Deleting old documentation sets was the first thing I tried (and it worked) but I discovered a better approach, which is to set the searchable doc sets directly in the Xcode organizer.

To do this, first click on the magnifying glass next to the search field in the Organizer (shown below) and select Show Find Options.

Next, click on the Find In drop down and uncheck any doc sets that you don’t need.

That’s it. Searches should run smoother and hopefully you won’t see any more beach balls.

Instructional Snowboard Videos

I learn by a cycle of trial and research. The more I try something the more I discover what knowledge and skills I lack. Once I know what I lack, I can seek out and absorb the information. In terms of snowboarding, the trial part is riding at the mountain and watching snowboarding videos is the research. Here are some of the videos I’ve found useful.

Snowboard Addiction Videos

Really great, detailed videos. I have the Freestyle Program which is a package of almost all of the videos offered on the site. Burton sponsors the making of these and some of the content comes from the Burton Snowboard Academy. Highly recommended. I’ve watched most of them multiple times. There is so much to absorb and some of it won’t even register until you’ve tried to apply it on the mountain.

Transworld FunDuhMentals

It’s a 45 minute video available on iTunes. Worth getting. They go over the basics like choosing a board and setting up your gear as well as riding fundamentals like turning. Next is a tricks section. Even though I’ve seen many of these things explained before I still found it valuable to hear something explained differently or to see it from a different camera angle.

Transworld Snowboarding’s 20 Tricks

Transworld snowboarding also has a 20 Tricks video series that goes back to 2008. There are 5 volumes out now but so far I’ve only seen Volume 1. Volume 1 is worth it just to see Jeremy Jones explain the ollie. Most of the tricks are very advanced but it’s enlightening to see the attitude of the pros towards skill progression.

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