This week’s reading

I’m really enjoying reading people’s weekly wrap up e-mails of links and the things that they’re reading. Some recent favourites are The Fishwick Papers by Jim Fishwick, Chris Unitt’s Cultural Digital newsletter, and the CSS Tricks newsletter. This week, I thought I’d give it a go, too.

Here’s some links I’ve been reading this week:

  • Valve gives up on responsibility — an article on Polygon about Valve’s lacklustre and disappointing approach for dealing with discrimination, harassment, or objectionable content on Steam. Meanwhile,’s founder Leaf Corcoran is doubling down on keeping hateful content off Valve’s trajectory over the years is nicely summed up by Dan Golding’s tweet.
  • I’m working backwards through Dave Rupert and Chris Coyier’s podcast Shop Talk Show. In episode 304, Dave talks about the problem with trying to accurately estimate how long software development work will take, referencing the You Are Not So Smart podcast and the episode on Optimism Bias. The idea is that we’re prone to thinking optimistically about our own goals, and that everything will go as planned and that we will succeed, but we tend to be more realistic when looking at other people’s goals. I love the way that listening to one interesting podcast leads to other interesting podcasts!
  • Someone made an animated Magic Eye on Codepen using THREE.js — my favourite Codepens are ones like these, where I can’t think of any practical application, but you end up looking at it and thinking, “Wow, that’s possible?”
  • Jen Simmons wrote a Twitter thread on selecting technology stacks based on the community and people surrounding that technology, saying “It’s not the technology that matters. It’s the humans that matter.” I just found out about her Youtube channel Layout Land where she has heaps of great videos on Flexbox and Grid. Along with Rachel Andrew’s Grid By Example, I’m looking forward to catching up on CSS developments of the past couple of years and how to best integrate new features while providing safe fallbacks for older browsers.
  • I’ve been reading about the Nunjucks templating language for JavaScript, which has a similar syntax to Jinja2, which is used in Flask. I do a fair bit of work in Flask and have been meaning to try out a Node JS based workflow for similar kinds of projects, and Express paired with Nunjucks feels like a good way to make the transition to a different technology stack, while keeping a similar structure to my server-rendered projects.
  • Only just discovered that there’s a free cloud-based environment for running Scrapy, the Python-based framework for web scraping, on Scrapinghub called Scrapy Cloud. This could be a fun and quick way to crawl some data from the web for analysis or building front end prototypes.
  • I installed WordPress on Digital Ocean this week and am having lots of fun trying out their new Gutenberg editor. I’ve been following along on Github for a while now, and reading posts on WP Tavern. While I understand that the plugin is controversial in the WP community because it’ll replace the core editor, I didn’t realise the extent to which existing users are concerned about the big change — the one star reviews on the WP plugin directory are pretty brutal. It’s an interesting problem, and I feel for the core team. To users new to WordPress, or coming back to it from a long absence, the new editor feels modern and familiar when compared to things like Medium, while allowing a level of control you can only get from running your own blog. I really want to see this succeed because I think it has the potential to be a big deal for people running their own websites and blogs, so I’m looking forward to learning more about what people like about the old editor and what the new one doesn’t do for them.

Reading books (non-fiction)

I’m working my way through Nicholas Zaka’s The Principles of Object-Oriented JavaScript. It’s a 2014 book, so it’s talking about Ecmascript 5, not all the fancy ES6/7/8 stuff of the past few years, but it’s helping me to get a better understanding of how JavaScript deals with primitive and reference types, and how methods work on strings even though strings are primitive types (autoboxing). I’m about halfway through, and think I’ll move on to Eloquent JavaScript 3rd Edition by Marijn Haver next, (free to read on the website).

Reading books (fiction)

I’m halfway through book one of Ilona Andrews’ The Edge series at the moment. I haven’t read much paranormal romance, but this one has me hooked — a magical world that sits at the edge of our world, good characters and writing that’s vivid enough to inspire your imagination, but moves quickly to keep you reading.

That’s it for this week, it’s been fun writing up some of the things I’ve been reading and thinking about. Not sure if I’ll manage to do this every week (or even every month), but already this has been a helpful way to jot down some things I’d otherwise forget!