Tag Archives: atx

Keep Austin Weird

Keep Austin WeirdThe city of Austin is a stuff of legends. For a young man, its annual festivals, its club scene, and its diverse cuisine, build it a reputation, as the Texas-sized playground. A city of mirth, a city of mystery, & a place of music.

Of course people who live in its overcrowded neighborhoods, who rake leaves and pick up bottles and send kids to school don’t have the same perception of their city as in-state tourists. But since when has fantasy needed to have correlation with reality?

My first week as a resident of ATX, I know it is a city of tolls, traffic congestion, and road construction. With people of many hues, shades, and values. I found a place to buy bread, a place to fuel my car, and a place to work out. The regular things seem to have taken on the trouble of legend; just living is harder, more because I’ve moved than because of Austin.

There is the sense that this city is buckling beyond maximum occupancy, coping to contain its citizens. Each of the 70 people who relocate here per day add to the payload of penance that the people pay. Moving trucks are on every road; it’s common to see 2-3 per day, and with each sighting, locals sigh outwardly. But deep within, there is a rising groan. The city’s unofficial slogan, rising to replace “Keep Austin Weird,” is a bit more obvious: “Austin: don’t move here.”

But the hypocrisy is palpable; there are corporate brands on every street corner. It’s clear that the city’s elite did not share the value of keeping Austin weird.

It’s still possible to foster local loyalty and love one another by giving our business to families who will keep the profits in the city instead of sucking them offshore. This is what it means to keep Austin weird. Preferring mom & pop – and insisting on knowing the owners we deal with – is how we can preserve a cultural legacy. I don’t buy into the “don’t move here” t-shirt; that angst is just misguided.

Let’s welcome the newcomers with open arms, giving the “keep Austin weird” vision to them as the key to our city.

Texas JavaScript 2013


Here are some notes from the #TXJS conference three days ago at Austin, Texas

When walking around, I made three observations about the attendees: 1. there were ALOT of them; hundreds and hundreds, 2. they brought Mountain Lion OS running laptops, 3. there were no windows laptops in attendance; not even one.

Dave Rupert really started us thinking why we do what we do; his talk challenged us to love what we do and do what we love, letting the core values of our hearts dictate the values of the working environment and relationships. He challenged everyone to recommit to making the responsive web an accessible one including ARIA. See his http://a11yproject.com/ and subscribe to the Shop Talk Show podcast at http://shoptalkshow.com/.

You can guess what Nicole Sullivan’s talk was about from its title, presuming you’ve followed her recommendations for writing CSS in an object-oriented manner in the past: “OOCSS and Preprocessors in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.” She full-on recommended that all web designers write stylesheets in SCSS in a way that preserves that OOCSS harmony, avoiding tempting possibilities that result in bloated compiled deliverable size.

The author of www.css-tricks.com and www.digWP.com seconded her advice for us to write Sassy CSS (SCSS), but he was less worried than Nicole about the performance hit of having a few extra kilobytes in the compiled, machine read browser deliverable.

You’ll just have to watch the video of Trek’s presentation when (if) it comes online; I could listen to him talk for days. Trek argued that web designers just doing Photoshop today should and are learning RWD so “slice & dice” web (psd→html+css) monkeys need to either acquire legit design education or specialize in JavaScript software engineering.

Frances Berriman, front-end development lead for @govuk, spoke about “Culture change for creating better user experiences.” Some elements of web design @phae advocated adoption include audience targeting, using analytics to improve UX, functional design, minimalism, and plain language <http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/plain-english-magazine.html>

@jedschmidt & @izs & @polotek talked about server-side programming in Node.js

Charlie Robbins talked about the ethics and end-game of “All Open Source Everything,” championing the model of open sourcing much of the useful internal architecture of systems while retaining and monetizing key components which make the parts a product.

Drew Wilson gave us some golden nuggets of wisdom from his new book EXECUTE www.EXECUTEbook.com, which sounds WELL worth its meager price.

Phil suggested that not every website and/or client actually benefits from a CMS, particularly with a “WYSIWYG” rich text editor.