Thudfactor
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Real Punctuation for Programmers

A page set with moveable lead type

My fellow developers find it tedious, but I always check punctuation in public-facing text in pull requests. Punctuation is a deep and complex subject, and our typewriter layouts—the US layouts, at least—still reflect the legacy of an earlier age. Here I want to discuss common and often misused punctuation marks: quotation marks, apostrophes, and ellipsis.

The underappreciated reason Google is useless

A mostly empty, modern auditorium with musical instruments set up on the stage. The picture has been taken from the balcony. Small box seats are visible to either side. A screen on stage promotes details of the NPR show Mountain Stage

You don’t need me to tell you that search engines are struggling to be relevant. Often the blame falls on search engine optimization and Google’s business practices. Both contribute, no doubt. But Google — and the rest of us, actually — depended heavily on the volunteer attitude of the young web and its dedication to open access.

Syntax coloring in template literals

A picture of a code sample showing CSS being assigned to a string, but without any visible syntax coloring.

I’ve been digging into web components recently. For this site, a big advantage to the components is encapsulating the code samples in my articles. But since you tend to write CSS and HTML inside a Javascript file you lose the syntax colors. I like syntax colors. I spent enough years trying to do bracket-matching without them.

Instant Pot steel-cut oatmeal

Oatmeal with blueberries and slivered almonds in a blue bowl

Although the original craze was some years ago, we make regular use of our Instant Pot. This time of the year I use it a lot to make oatmeal. Making oatmeal in the pot is pretty straightforward:

Prefers reduced motion

A closeup of Medusa’s sneering face from the 1981 movie “Clash of the Titans”

Some people say Medusa turned people to stone because she was just that ugly. Others portray her as an evil, magical being. Still more claim Medusa was just an unlucky woman cursed by the victim-blaming God Minerva. I have my own theory, which is that Medusa just wanted people to settle down.

Exploring HSL

A picture of a flower doctored so that the leaves and blossom are brilliant green and purple on the left, but fade into shades of grey on the right.

The next most common color model in CSS is HSL. Unlike the RGB color model, HSL doesn’t define color as a mixture of three primaries. It describes color as being made up of three different qualities.

Exploring RGB

Closeup of tiny red, green and blue LEDs arranged in a matrix for a display.

It’s a revolution for CSS color! Not only do we now have access to many different color models, we also have entirely new color spaces to explore. As part of deepening my own understanding of what’s available to us, I’ve been experimenting a bit. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Web development of auld lang syne

Twenty-two corinthian columns arranged in a rectangle in a field, supporting nothing.

I am really excited to say that the update to Thudfactor that posts this also removes PostCSS from the blog’s build process. SASS and PostCSS handled a lot of CSS complexity. But the CSS standard has mostly caught up to what these tools provide, so now I can now ship exactly the CSS I write… at least for this project.

AI integration: challenges and discoveries

AI art of a bunch of gerbils riding an antique-looking open-top car across a dry lake bed, a cloud of dust behind them.

So I’m coming off a R&D sprint investigating how to integrate the newer AI tools into our toolkit, and it’s been an interesting ride. I’ve learned a bit about prompt writing (“prompt engineering?” I’ll get to that), a bit about Python, a bit about Ruby, and a bit about neural nets. Not bad for a developer from Frontendistan.

Some notes about working with AI Art

AI art of a large spaceship with many antennae and protrusions landing in a fog-filled forest canyon.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the last few days playing around with AI-generated art. I have a few mostly unorganized thoughts I wanted to get down, so here you go.