Posts tagged with #dev

Dev Stuff

Long ago I wrote an open source ember addon for New York Public Radio called ember-hifi that powered their web audio applications, like,,, It was used and maintained consistently for years and years, and as ember evolved it lagged behind a bit. So I started a branch to bring it up to modern Ember standards, and really started thinking about it from the outside in, to try and lower the learning curve.

I find it tremendously useful to start with a interactive documentation site when building something like this, as the usability problems are easy to spot early. And building this one was no different. Naming things is the hardest part, and that stuff really jumps out at you when you’re trying to explain how to use it to someone else.

After all the updates I did to the project, the changes got too big to feasibly do a mega-pull request to NYPR as their apps were still running legacy version of Ember and couldn’t benefit anyhow. So I did a hard fork, renamed it and launched it.

Ember Addon active
Ember Stereo
Interactive Documentation active
Ember Stereo Docs
Dev Stuff

Back in those quaint times when it seemed like there was no way Texas would re-elect everyone’s favorite Senator, Ted Cruz, I woke up one morning with the url “cruzclues” in my head. Remarkably nobody else had thought of this, so I snagged the domain and then created a site to fit.

Thankfully there hasn’t been a shortage of meme content since he secured that senate seat for another term.

Site active
Cruz Clues
Ember Addon stale
Ember Data Prismic
Dev Stuff

Jake and I just finished a little collaborative effort. For this little thing, he initially wanted a way to throw in a legitimate looking news article into a chat conversation but have it end up with sort of a “just kidding” type page.

To me, this seemed like a good time to bring back the Rick Roll.

We wanted to have the URL look as close to a legitimate news organization as possible, and considered things like “”, or “”, but ended up with with the incredible, which we are pronouncing “Lah-Tillmes”.

Of everything in this silly project, the name is the thing I’m most proud of. A two pixel difference between it and a legitimate news organization’s URL? Amazing.

Because when receiving with a message from a friend like, “whoa, this is crazy” paired with long url like, are you really gonna notice that it’s a lowercase L instead of a lowercase I?

No. No, you are not.

Jake made the real nice design, and I did the development. Create a headline on the front page, and choose the video your target will end up being forced to watch: Rick Astley, Tay Zonday, or Epic Sax Guy.


Site active
La Tlmes
Dev Stuff

I’ve been working on features for this website lately, one of which has been figuring out silly social sharing links. I’ve had a website long enough to remember the days of building a comment system in Perl, having a hit counter, and that being good enough.

Now you need to have all sorts of crap on a page in order to make sharing as easy as possible. One option is to piecemeal all the different networks together, but that requires giving up some control of your aesthetic, which I am not a fan of.

I hereby agree to have my site polluted with social sharing buttons in exchange for increased chances of going viral

Or you use a plugin like AddThis, which makes all that easier, maintains some control of your aesthetic, and also allows the people on your site a comical number of options for sharing.

Still use Livejournal? YOU ARE IN LUCK.

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Ruby Gem stale
Popularity Gem

I was working on getting an old project updated, and I stumbled upon this beautiful artifact. #TTYB, or expanded: “Take that, you bitch!”

Why didn’t I work harder to remember this? Why isn’t #ttyb already in the common lexicon?

In this new age of hashtags, I encourage you to use this gem. And don’t limit yourself to apps/sites that recognize hashtags. I find hashtags are used best in mediums where they serve no special purpose, like email, text messages, and hand-written notes.

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Dev Stuff

We all had tried our fair share of todo list apps, and none of them quite did the job. A friend of mine swore highly of his very low-tech system: write down the next three things he was going to accomplish, immediately followed by doing them. In a world of overly complex productivity solutions, this worked surprisingly well.

We started talking about creating a web-app that would better mimic this simple approach, called “Daily Goals”.

Common Problems With Todo Software

  1. People tend to put too much on their lists, leaving many tasks unfinished at the end of the day.
  2. Most Todo list software is either boring, overly-complex, or too open ended. We felt that with the right UI and right messaging, things could be made much better.

How Daily Goals Would Be Different

  1. Focus all messaging on what could be done today.
  2. Make our UI stand out, by not taking the typical approach to the problem.
  3. Don’t allow more than 3-5 incomplete tasks on the list at a time.
  4. Don’t automatically carry over unfinished tasks from the previous day.

Design Principles

  1. Simple things should be simple, and complex things shouldn’t be too hard.
  2. Talk to your users like they’re humans. Light, playful messaging is key.

“Boring software is broken software.”

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Dev Stuff

The KUTX mobile experience was in a sorry state. It’s so bare-bones, it doesn’t even feel minimal; it feels broken. After a friend pointed out that the iPhone app was built using Cordova and Angular, and how easy it was to extract that source code from the .ipa file, I got to work. With KUTX’s first birthday coming up just around the corner, I figured a much improved iPhone app would be a great birthday gift.

Old app on the left, new app on the right, obviously.

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Dev Stuff

I made this for fun while I had mono. (Yes, Mono. At 31.)

It seems easy—just rotate those panels, right? Except they’re half panels. We’re making numbers fold in half, here, and it’s not that simple.

Dev Stuff

I had this idea for (yet another) package tracking web service, and in the process of making it I got really into tracking numbers.

So I wrote this gem, which made it possible to detect and identify tracking numbers, and to tell if it’s even valid.

  t.valid? #=> false
  t.carrier #=> :unknown

  t ="1Z879E930346834440")
  t.valid? #=> true
  t.carrier #=> :ups

Also, can take a block of text and find all the valid tracking numbers within it.

  text = "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit,
  sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore
  magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, 1Z879E930346834440
  nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex
  ea commodo consequat. Duis aute 9611020987654312345672 dolor
  in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu
  fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat
  non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit
  anim id est laborum."

  #=> [TrackingNumber, TrackingNumber]

There’s a lot more information baked into a tracking number than you’d think.

Ruby Gem active
Tracking Number
Dev Stuff

I came up with this during SXSW Interactive 2009. Seemed like the current internet rage was to add an ability to update your status—be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or even Spiceworks—so I thought it’d be funny to make a site where you could update your Beard Status.

It was actually really fun to design and build, because it was so simple. And at the time, a simple app like this was especially attractive to me because I was being consumed by an extremely complicated application at work.

Beard Status got relatively popular for a while—there was a couple of day period where I was a pretty big deal on Twitter—but the hyped died down soon after that. I had plans to add more features to it, but so far I haven’t found the motivation to do so. It’s still there, though.

What’s your Beard Status?

Here’s mine

Go ahead, update yours

Site stale
Beard Status
Dev Stuff

Whenever I listen to 89.3 the Current, I hear a lot of great music I haven’t heard before, and want to hear again. Before this widget existed, I’d have to figure out what song was playing, and then manually add it to my list of songs to buy sometime.

Later, I’d go through the list and decide what to buy.

This widget makes this whole routine much, much easier. Hear a song you like? Click on the star icon, and it’ll get added to the back of the widget. When you’re ready to buy, click the arrow next to the song to buy it on iTunes, or Amazon (your choice)

Expand your playlist with a little less effort.

Project Release obsolete
The Current Widget
Dev Stuff

One Click Conversations allowed painless access to your recent Gmail conversations, in just one click. The demo below should explain things succinctly.

For a while this was pretty popular, and got included in Better Gmail. But then it ran into problems when Gmail changed several times, and is currently in a state of disrepair.

But the silent video below should give you a pretty good idea of what it does. Not the greatest demo video, but hey, in 2007 we didn’t have all these nice tools. Times were tough, man.

Project Release obsolete
One Click Conversations