Accessibility of audio files

One of the first reactions to my new series of podcasts about the definition of quality in digital design was very nice, but I can’t hear it because I’m deaf. And since accessibility is right there in my own definition of quality I decided to transcribe every episode. The first episode is published, and the transcript is done. But now after reading it I have a question about how detailed a transcript should be, especially for the people who really need it.

Questions about details

The Good, The Bad, and The Interesting

I teach at CMD Amsterdam, a digital, interactive design school. My students become digital, interactive designers when they’re done. Indeed, that’s quite a vague job description. We teach all of our students the basics of interaction design, visual interface design and frontend development. Later on they can specialise in all kinds of directions if they want to, but we think it’s necessary for any specialist to know at least the basics of the other specialists they have to work with.

So far so good

Please do use the snippet (but it’s not mine)

I love viewport relative units. And I promote them whenever I have the chance to. I write blogposts about them, I tweet about them, and whenever I have the chance to speak at a conference about CSS, I will talk about them. But alas, I am not clever enough to come up with very clever viewport relative solutions myself, unlike some people might think. I am smart enough to copy them though.

And so should you

I like food, a website

This week Evernote sent me an email in which they explained that from now on I can’t really use their service anymore, unless I start paying for it. I gladly pay for services I use. But Evernote is not really one of them. I only use it to store a few recipes I cook every now and then. So instead of paying 3000 dollars per century in order to read my recipes on any device I like, I decided to pay nothing, close my account, and host my recipes myself.

Sounds like a good idea

Laatste maandelijkse column

Ik merk de laatste tijd dat de drang om te zeuren over de slechte kwaliteit van het web aan het verdwijnen is. Het is natuurlijk niet zo dat alles tegenwoordig hartstikke goed is. Er worden nog altijd voornamelijk hele slechte dingen in elkaar geflanst. Saai. Voorzichtig. Conservatief. En vooral ook heel veel van hetzelfde. Maar de laatste jaren zijn er toch ook wel echt fantastische dingen gemaakt.

Wat dan?

The aesthetic of webby webfonts

Today I listened to the latest Presentable podcast about Typography with Jeff Veen and Jason Santa Maria. They both worked on Typekit, a subscription service for webfonts. Since they worked at, and even came up with the idea of Typekit I didn’t expect such a critical look at the webfont situation. Basically it is a mess of many different kinds of licenses, different file formats, font foundries that try to protect their fonts, and the nature of the web itself. It is possible to come up with hacks that deliver fonts smoothly, but they are still hacks. Not very future friendly, and pretty expensive as well: If you want performance, you will need to host the fonts yourself, and that is still pretty expensive for most foundries.

Such a shame

Chris Wright’s experiments

Today I used Chris Wright’s fantastic Flexbox and animation experiments in one of my workshops to inspire a design team that needed some inspiration. Chris is a genius. His examples are beautiful, and the explanations he writes with his examples are the best. I was lucky enough to meet him in Oxford at Smashing Conf this year where he gave this brilliant talk about enhancing floats with flexbox, and enhancing flexbox with CSS Grid Layout in order to keep things simple.

The Active Idler #3

I just sent out my third newsletter via e-mail. In it I have some announcements about upcoming (and past) events, some updates about (the depressing) books I read, I highlighted a few blog posts I wrote, I mentioned a thing or two I enjoyed, and I updated the books-published-by-vasilis-counter. If you don’t like e-mail (like I do), you can read the newsletter on the web. But if you do like e-mail, you should subscribe to The Active Idler directly.

Read nothing

There are certain websites whose content I’d rather not read. But every now and then I do visit them, either by accidentally clicking on a disguised link on Twitter, or just to check if the site still exists. I’ve never written a browser plugin before, but I am tempted to create one that replaces the fonts on a list of sites of your choosing with this brilliant Nothing Font. All of a sudden the most offensive texts will turn into lovely looking weird curly works of art.

Read the rest of Read nothing

Future Simple Steps

Last week Five Simple Steps, publisher of books about creating things for the web, shut down. This means that they stop selling their books, and the rights of selling the books go back to the authors. Lucky for us, someone created this website with links to the new places where you can get the books now. Some authors chose to sell their books, and others offer them for free. Not all books are listed here (yet), but it’s a good start.

Can we learn from other professions? Sure!

On the 27th of May, in the beautiful city of Leiden, I will be one of the speakers at the wonderfully eclectic GeeUp conference. I am very much looking forward to listening to all these fantastic speakers. There will be talks about some very, very interesting subjects: what about the legal side of writing code? And what does it mean to provide support for the code you wrote? There’s a talk about ethics and clients. There’s one about making sure your responsive design keeps working once it touches a CMS. A talk about things we can learn from other professions when it comes to responsive design — by yours truly. There’s a talk about automated testing. And there’s a talk about guerilla user testing.

What’s more?

Talking about the material of the web

I gave a talk on Smashing Conf in Oxford a few weeks ago. For me as a lecturer doing a lecture in Oxford is of course a fantastic honour. But doing a lecture in Oxford on Smashing Conf is double the honour. The talk is about different ways to create (responsive) layouts on the web. It is also about the idea that we should be playing with CSS a bit more. There are so many new(ish) features that we haven’t fully explored yet, which probably means that there are amazing things we can do that we can’t even imagine yet. (You can watch the video here. I’d love to hear what you think about it)

So, the material

A simple list of HTML, CSS and JavaScript examples

I really like this simple list of HTML, CSS and JavaScript examples. If I ever need the Vibration API, or if I ever want to make things with speech synthesis, I now know where to find a basic example. Which is nice.

An exciting year in type

The ever brilliant typography blog Alphabettes — probably the most brilliant blog in recent years — published this brilliant article about their favourite typefaces from the exciting year in type, 1915. It’s brilliant. It’s surprising — I thought company mergers were a more recent invention, don’t ever ask me anything about business — it’s recognisable when it comes to technological innovations, and it’s shocking. A hundred years ago there was this insane First World War in Europe which of course had its destructive and completely useless influence on typography as well. Did I mention that it’s a brilliant post?