For Chloe Weil

Chloe Weil

Before the start of the CSS Summit, Environments for Humans took a moment to make a special announcement regarding Chloe Weil.

We are missing someone special this CSS Summit.

Ari and I first met Chloe when we first did the CSS Summit from ISITE Design’s old office in Portland, OR.

We knew right away she was funny and smart–two qualities we love to see in people.

Every year we would look forward to seeing her and Petra to catch up, like any other people who work on the web. Virtual friends meeting up and picking up the conversation as if no time had passed.

It was through her blog, though, that we realized how talented she was. Whether she was writing a blog post or announcing a project–her writing was thorough, thoughtful, entertaining, and done faithfully to her own voice. 

While we love the medium we work in–it’s unique power to communicate vast distances fails mightily to that of a simple, directed kindness. 

Take time out of your daily routine to reach out to friends and family–unexpectedly give them a kind word. Thank them by letting them know their hard work, their opinions, their humor, their approach to life is amazing. 

Most of us are not sure what to say to a friend who is going through depression. It’s a good idea to consider what you might say if someone you care about asks you for help.

And if you are feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, please talk to someone about it.

If you don’t feel like talking to a friend or loved one, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800-SUICIDE.

We asked our attendees from around the world for similar services. Here’s a listing of the few we were able to capture:

If you have more resources, please post them in the comments.

The Problem with Binge Watching

One does not simple watch one episode of a series. You binge watch them all.

I love being able to watch television shows in long stretches of time.

It’s great for people’s ADD.

It’s great for studios to get additional revenue.

It’s great for the environment as it keeps old shows from being printed on DVDs stored in the budget barrels of Wal-Marts across the nation.

The absolute worst thing, though, about is watching a show and meeting the actors right afterwards.

Before the Star Trek movie reboot, I binged watched the old Star Trek series, Enterprise.

Previously, I had watched it when it came on broadcast television, but life came up at me and, really, it wasn’t that entertaining as a weekly serial.

But for a Star Trek fan wanting to be a completist, it makes for great binge watching.

Which is what I did.

No sooner had I completed the series, with it fresh in my mind, that I happened upon a quick conversation with Scott Bakula outside of Comic Con one year.

I immediately asked him if an Enterprise movie would be in the works.

He graciously laughed it off with a good natured quip, but I was left puzzled.

Until I did the math.

The television show had been off the air for at least five-to-six years already.

By the time I had seen him from Enterprise to then see him in-person was a few days to me, but in reality, a quick IMDB search showed that Bakula had been on several other television and Broadway shows since that show.

Television binging gives one a loose grip on reality that gets more pronounced if you run into the actors immediately after viewing.

I fear the more this happens we might cause a time continuum crisis.



What Would Carl Sagan Do If He Saw HD Television?

COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey, the updated version of the 1980’s classic hosted by Carl Sagan himself, needs an editor and a better director. 

There are so many bad lines and poor storytelling, it drives me batty. I so want this show to be excellent. I want people to be talking about it during their lunch breaks. 

The first episode of the Neil deGrasse Tyson’s COSMOS starts out by saying that the journey is available to those who follow the scientific process of testing and proving theories. Fair enough. Right after they state this is minimum needed to continue this journey, the first story is not of a scientist or someone following the scientific method. Rather it’s the story of Dominican friar Giordano Bruno, the religious figure with new ideas about the movement of the stars and planets without the means to scientifically prove those theories. 

In the third episode of this rebooted COSMOS, the show portrays a vilified Robert Hooke. While noting his worthy scientific accomplishments, he is mocked for not providing proof when he claims he can explain why planets move they way they do. Very odd considering two weeks ago, it was cool in the first episode to just to deposit only theory. Sure, you get burned at the stake for doing so, but why is mathematics so important now?

Compare that story to the the first feature story of the Sagan’s COSMOS from 1980, Eratosthenes. How Eratosthenes became the first person to calculate the circumference of the earth by asking questions lays the foundation that questioning and experimentation are important for humanity and Sagan’s COSMOS.

I must also note that it’s astonishing that Sagan’s enthusiasm for telling Eratosthenes’ story still radiates on follow-up viewings as he not only explains how Eratosthenes calculated the circumference with a slow ease, he does it with a prop that looks like two sticks glued to a piece of flimsy poster board that one would find in a middle-school science fair.

Special effects, though, are important today. Children grow up in a world of television and movies with special effects. They will never know a show, film, or YouTube video without them. 

I want so badly for a shot of Neil to walk from a outdoor setting of the beach onto the Ship of Imagination to help kick off the journey. To help people buy into it. But, no, he just pops in and out of the ship, into different locations, sets, etc. Shoot. Even Raiders of the Lost Ark has scenes of Indiana Jones getting on and off an airplane.

In an age where we can see Iron Man’s in-flight heads up display in the silver screen, respect the modern audience and show mathematical equations as they are mentioned. Go further and show overlay animations of these equations being demonstrated as they are being discussed. 

Go even further. When you have communities develop around sci-fi and fantasy shows like Battlestar Galactica and Lost, fans will watch and re-watch episodes looking for clues and hints for future episodes. Follow this lead by loading scenes with hidden messages on science history. 

Or how about creating fill one frame with information that can only be read when one pauses the screen on an HD television? For example, when mentioning Voyager’s Golden Record, all in an instant list the musical selections on the record, what each song’s wave form looks like, the timeline of the musicians, the icons of animals that make up the nature sounds, etc.

And, if may be so bold, when talking about historical cultures of mankind, show their location on a map or rotating globe and the years they existed. 

But do that mostly for me. I stink at geography and history.

Get Caught up on RWD and CSS

Want to get caught up on the latest in CSS and Responsive Web Design?

Over at Environments for Humans, we’ve slashed prices on two of our most popular Summit recordings for the months of December and January! 

Spend Winter sharpening your skills with these 2013 recordings. 

CSS Summit 2013

Master the Web’s language of design with three days of cutting-edge tools and techniques. Day One is a full day of CSS3 training, Day Two has more advanced CSS topics, and Day Three covers preprocessors like SASS.

RWD Summit 2013

The RWD Summit Recordings includes three days’ worth of material to help you discover the newest Responsive Web Design techniques and change the way you build the Web. 

For a limited time only, get 6‑days worth of content is a quick way to get up to speed on both CSS and RWD for only $99 each with code WINTER2013.

Help Us Help Molly Holzschlag

Who is Molly?

She’s a woman who did nothing, but help change the direction of the web for good in ways we, thankfully, can take for granted today.

As Zeldman was talking about independent content and promoting the mantra “the independent content producer refuses to die”, Molly was there, too, helping to make sure the web was and is for everyone.

She’s worked with the best like Microsoft, Opera, CERN, AOL, Microsoft, BBC, Opera, Web Standards Project, and Netscape. 

She’s helped educate others through her numberous books. She’s written or co-authored such as Integrated Web Design, The Zen of CSS Design with Dave Shea, and Trandscending CSS with Andy Clarke. 

The fund for Molly’s care is over the goal of $50,000 for treatment, but more is needed to help her pay those non-medical bills that pile up when facing a health concern.

Please, help me raise funds for Molly Holzschlag’s medical care by giving what you can and/or by helping me spreading the word. 

It’s very much appreciated. 

Non Breaking Space Show: Daniel Ryan

With the rise of the web and big data in campaigns, I’ve been fascinated with political campaigns, their managers, and how they use (or don’t use) the latest and greatest technology. (Check out my notes from Harper’s Keynote address at Texas JavaScript.)

The goal of the Non Breaking Space Show is to seek out the best and brightest in our industry. 

Being part of a presidential campaign means that you are one of the best.

Being part of a winning one? Even more so. 

Our guest for the latest episode, Daniel Ryan, is no exception. 

A talented web builder before being tapped to help the digital efforts of the Obama re-election campaign, Daniel helped change the face of presidential campaigns. 

His team did nothing less than break campaign fundaising efforts and, oh, a side note here: got the President re-elected.

We cover a lot of ground in this episode.

Like every show we do, we first go back in time to discuss how our guest got into the web. 

Then, we talk about how one handles the management and technical difficulties of running a digital team that’s built from ground up that works around the clock for 18 months.

There’s also talk of A/B testing all those emails Obama’s campaign sent in 2012, the rise of mobile in campaigns, how the team used GitHub, the engineering of Obama’s get out the vote strategy, and how Facebook played a role in getting your friends to vote. 

Thanks to Daniel’s patience, this show is one of the longest ones we’ve done at Non Breaking Space clocking in a bit over 89 minutes.

Ironically, I felt we could have talked longer. 

Check out Non Breaking Space Show: Daniel Ryan.

CSS Summit Returns for 5th Year

CSS Summit, the online and live conference focused on CSS, celebrates its fifth year this Summer. 

In its first year, the conference luminaries such as Zoe Gillenwater, Stephanie Rewis, Nicole Sullivan, Molly Holschlag, and more were part of the line-up giving their expertise. 

Attendees from all over the world took a chance on cutting edge conference meeting software.

And everyone complained about Internet Explorer.

CSS Summit this year reflects the maturity of web’s design language by stretching out to three days representing three tracks:

  • Day 1 focuses on CSS3
  • Day 2 focuses on Advanced Workflow
  • Day 3 focuses on Sass for CSS Preprocessors

From the start off talk by Web Standardista Estelle Weyl to the last presentation by Happy Cog’s Allison Wagner, over twenty great speakers are taking part… all on your desktop.

The future is pretty amazing. 

But we probably will still complain about Internet Explorer.

WCATX: Moving Sites and Managing Domains

In his presentation at WordCamp Austin 2013, presenter Chris Weigman, Senior Developer at Springbox, talked about the steps required in moving domains and changing web hosts. 

Why Move a Domain Name?

  • You’ve outgrown your shared or other host
  • You want a new host
  • You want a development site
  • You’re rebranding your site
  • You picked the “wrong” domain name

What are Domain Names?

  • Associating number, called an IP address, with short handle
  • A numerical name assigned to every device on the internet
  • Maps a human readable name to an IP address
  • Example: is the same as 
    • 0:0:0:0:0:ffff:adfc:6e1b (IPv6 Expanded)
    • 10101101.11111100.01101110.00011011 (binary octets)
    • 2919001627 (decimal)
    • (IP address)

Doman Names and WordPress

  • Your server your host on has an IP address
  • IP addresses are set in DNS
  • Many shared hosts have many sites on a server 
    • This is why you can’t often to your site by just entering the IP address
    • You’re have to pay for a unique IP address to access it directly
  • DNS entries are cached–often for days
  • Tip: Don’t register your domain name with your web host If you get locked out of the web host, you will also get locked out of your domain name.

Changing Hosts

  • Services that provide easy migration: 
  • What you will need for manual migration: 
    • A good backup
    • Access to DNS
    • Direct access to database on both hosts
    • Access to wp-config.php and .htaccess files
    • New username and password
  • What you will want: 
    • Navivat, a database management tool for transferring databases between servers
    • Forklift, very FTP software

Preparing for the Web Host Move

  • It’s easier to deactive on old host and reactivate on new host
  • One week out from the move: 
    • Lower the TTL (Time To Live) setting on your domain to 1 minute
  • One day out from the move: 
    • Make sure you have access to files and databases on both hosts, passwords, addresses, etc.

The Web Host Move

  • Create a fresh backup
  • Create a database on the new host 
    • Write down database name, username, password
  • Use navigate to copy the old database to the new host
  • Use forklift or ftp app to cover over all the files
  • Edit wp-config.php
    • Update database name, db username, password
    • Update path info if preset (you’ll have to get this from your host)
  • Update .htaccess, if necessary 
    • It’s easier to deactivate and then reactivate plugins
  • Change the DNS address (and it will take time to propagate through the Internet)
  • Test the site to see if it’s changed. 
    • If something goes wrong, simply change back DNS and start over

After the Web Host Move

  • Increase TTL on your DNS to one day or more
  • Close old hosting account

Moving Web Hosts Tips

  • If you’ve outgrown your shared host don’t get another shared host
  • Warn your users that a move is happening
  • Test your backup
  • See if your host can migrate it for you. Most web hosts offer services to make this move for you. 

What to Watch Out When Moving Web Hosts

  • Domain/host are on the same account
  • Plugin settings — some plugins will need their settings resaved

Changing Domain Names

  • A domain name is nothing but an alias to the IP address of your site
  • What you will need: 
    • IP address of your host
    • Access to your site via FTP/SFTP
      • Note: cPanel or other host access will work as well
    • The username/password of your database 
      • In WordPress, found in the wp-config.php file
    • Search and Replace DB
      • This small PHP script replaces every instance of old domain name to your new database with your new domain name.

Moving Domain Names

  • Step 1: Backup your database
  • Step 2: Point your new domain to your server
  • Make sure you update every record that you need to change
  • Step 3: Setup your domain with your host 
    • How it’s done varies from host to host
    • Leave your old domain in place (for now)
  • Step 4: Verify your new domain has taken to your site. 
    • It’s okay if the site itself is broken when you get there or redirects to the old domain)
  • Step 5: Update the database 
    • Upload Search and Replace DB
    • Enter database details
    • Search for: [old domain]
    • Replace with: [new domain]
    • Delete Search and Replace DB so no one else can use it.
  • Step 6:
    • Update the .htaccess and wp-config.php
      • Replace any instances of the old domain name
  • Step 7: Clear cache on any caching plugins
  • Step 8: Test the site
  • Step 9: Update ogle Webmaster Tools, Google Anaytics, or any other services
  • Step 10: Wait a week to verify everything is working
  • Step 11: Deelte or redirect the old domain to the domain name with mod_rewrite in the .htaccess files: 
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^ [OR]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^ [NC]
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [r=301,L]

Tips for Moving Domains

  • Keep domain name separate from you web host
  • Watch Google very closely
  • Don’t turn off the old domain, just redirect it.

What to Watch Out When Moving Domains

Create Dev Environment

  • Create a domain name for your computer or local IP 
  • Copy Files and database to local computer 
    • Changing domain name and host
  • Use GitHub/DeployHQ
    • Separate branch for production/dev/merge and deploy
  • Use host staging area (WPEngine and others) if not a developer

Putting It Together

  • Changing domain names really just require changing the database and .htaccess/wp-config.php to replace the old with the new.
  • Changing hosts requires only the changing of the server address and updating the wp-config.php on your host once database and files are directly copied over
  • A dev environment is just copying host and a new domain to your local machine.
  • The 2 biggest point of failure 
    • Not making sure the new works before turning off the old.
    • System failure without a backup.

TXJS: Harper’s Keynote Address

In his Keynote Address at Texas JavaScript 2013, presenter Harper Reed, former CTO at Obama Biden Election Headquaters, talked about his experiences and lessons learned based on three overiding themes: build a great team, practice for failure, and faciliate community.

  • On hacking:
  • Worked at Threadless, an online t‑shirt company. 
    • We invented crowdsourcing.
    • We take a design and put it on a shirt.
    • Four steps to working at Threadless: 
      • Design a shirt
      • Submit a shirt
      • Scoring of the shirt from community
      • Cash money.
    • Result:
      • 100k of shirts submitted
      • Millions of tee shirts sold
      • Grew from revenue of $x millions to $xx millions
      • We did none of the hardwork
      • The crowd and community did the hard work which was fun
      • Our team was able to focus on product, not on technology
      • I had accomplished my goals at Threadless, I quit
  • Went on Vision Quest and got hired by Obama Biden Campaign team
  • The Obama re-election team transitioned from politically-tight
    people to engineering focused.
    • For 2012, they need something different to the shock of
      others: “hired engineers to do enginnering”.
      • Hired ~40 engineers and ~120 tech staff in 18 months fromall over to “web scale”
      • Started out with zero, just pile of code.
    • Execution, couldn’t get fancy 
      • We invested early and built platform called Narwhal
      • Narwhal is a focus on bottom foundation.
      • It wasn’t an app, as the press liked to have believed,but the name for all of our APIs
      • With the API foundation in place, we can build toolsincluding: 
        • Call tool Mobile apps, Contribute. Social
        • Dashboard
        • Mobile apps
        • Contribute
        • Social
      • In total, there were ~290 products, deployed weekly on1,000s of servers
    • We used any technology that was able to solve the problem. 
      • This included Python, Ruby, MySQL, StatesD, Graphite,Puppet, Vagrant,… pretty much all the things!
      • We weren’t a “Python shop” or a “PHP shop” or whatevertehcnology of the month was as we didn’t want to stopanyone from using what technology they wanted to use.
      • Instead, we foucsed on what simply solves the problem. 
        • For example. Dashboard was done in Node.js since weliked what that community was doing.
    • We invested heavily in user experience 
      • User experience heavy investment 
        • We talked to users to help build products that wereusable and not merely functional.
        • Performed a lot of A/B testing, which allowed us tounderstand where we were wrong
        • Did you know that the Groundhog Day movie is reallyismulti-variant testing?
        • Fail Safety
          • Early in the campaign had chance to see the last Shuttle launch.
          • The goal of fail safety when we were sending people on shuttles is to get people into space without killing them.
          • Error states should always be helpful or where a user has the potential to be lost or hurt.
          • 404 pages should redirect people to different parts of the site and ask users to do different work
          • Users are not stuck in a fail state
      • Practiced gamedays
        • For a month, called “October”, they practicedpotential scenarios where items and compenents of thesuite of tools would fail.
        • On Election Day, there were no more changes. 
          • Since people were trained and knew what to do, there wasn’t any politics.
        • Gameday entails:
          • Destroying all of our applications
          • Destroying our database
          • Seeing how we needed to patch things
          • Then the next day Amazon’s cloud services went down on the East Coast and we were prepared to handle it.
          • The AWS rule: “If netflix is down, you are down too, if netflix is up, but you are down — you are screwed.”
      • Facilitate community
        • Users are the power behind your brand and is oftenunderestimated in developing it.
        • For example, moderation is hard to do and no onereally enjoys it. 
          • Insert a flag button to allow users to let you know when something about the site or other user’s contribution isn’t appropriate.
          • This empowers your community to moderate your content
          • Sort of like Minecraft for social web sites
        • This allows for the building an environment of trust. 
          • You have to create a place users can flourish
    • Working with teams is hard. 
      • Manage by your outbox, not your inbox” — Larry Bacow
        • Often times we wait for people to email us and whatwe really need to do is reach out to them.
        • Send out simple emails by 9am every morning and,surprisingly, they write back.
      • Diversity in the workplace is important. 
        • He found the time with the most diversity have begetthe most innovation.
        • We do crazier stuff and build value for a lot morepeople.
      • Roll forward. Never roll back.” * Etsy 
        • Rolling back code was emotionally draining.
        • Instead, add and fix code to move forward.
  • Lessons learned from his experience as a hacker and manager include: 
    • Building a great team isn’t straightforward or easy: 
      • After exerting so much effort into building a team,sometimes you need to let people go and don’t be afraidto do that.
      • Poisonous people can ruin teams, but don’t drop therelationship. That person might be good on the nextproject
      • Hire people that are better than you 
        • People that are A’s hire A’s and B’s hire C’s
    • Knowing that we could throw things away, we didn’t document
      as much:
      • We tried to do dilerberate code.
      • A lot of Harper’s job was managing trust including askedto be at weekly internal meetings with Obama relectionexecutives letting them know things were okay.
    • Practice for failure: 
      • Failing sucks, but important.
      • Instead, work at being terrible at failing.
    • Create an environment worth trusting and remember to SHIP
      • You will feel better for having deployed code.
      • Your customers will feel better seeing progress.
      • And your team will feel that they aren’t just working forthemslves and producing.