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Dave Rupert’s animation-timeline example

See Dave Rupert’s post on scroll shadows with animation-timeline. Browser support isn’t quite there yet so it’s more of a progressive enhancement, but this is a great use case example.

He wrote that off the back of Bramus’s scroll-driven animation exploration, and wow. So many of those behaviors would have been useful on past projects…

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Current listening: “Transatlanticism”

Currently listening to Transatlanticism 🐦
by Death Cab for Cutie.

One of my best friends from college just invited me to the Death Cab + Postal Service 20th anniversary gig at Madison Square Garden on the 20th. I am SO pumped.

Listening to Transatlanticism is giving me major high school flashbacks. Driving home past curfew on cool East Bay summer nights and knowing that I couldn’t possibly want, need, feel, any more than I did.

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Manifesting cake

All of the birthdays in our little family fall within a 15 day period in the middle of the summer. There was a lot of cake around for nearly a month. And then we went to the UK to visit family who kindly wanted to celebrate all of our birthdays, so we did it all over again.

Now, B asks for cake after nearly every meal, sometimes for breakfast. Obviously we’ve been trying to phase it out, explaining that there’s none left. But there have been enough times when he’s asked for it at random moments and it has been around. So there’s no way he’s going to chance not asking for it.

This was the conversation the other day at his Nana’s table during lunch.

“KEHK??”

“No buddy, there’s no cake.”

“… Happy bur-day?”

“No buddy, there’s no cake. It’s no one’s birthday.”

“…… Happy bur-day Nana?”

“… 🤦🏻‍♂️”

It had been my birthday, Sam’s birthday, and his birthday already. But we hadn’t celebrated Nana’s yet, so it was a logical ask to be fair.

I asked him what his favorite song was yesterday, and he started singing Happy Birthday. (This was 100% a ploy for cake, his actual favorite song is “Hey Jude” because he likes to yell the NAH NAH NAH part.)

He’s still getting over jet lag since we arrived back from the UK last weekend, lots of 5:30am-ish wake-ups. This morning, he wandered sleepily out of his bedroom to go use the potty and the first thing he said was, “Bur-day?”

I’m pretty sure he thinks he can manifest cake.

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“Kill your personas”

Counterpoint to yesterday’s post: “Kill your personas: How persona spectrums champion real user needs” by Margaret Price at Microsoft.

A persona spectrum is not a fake person. It’s an articulation of a specific human motivation and the ways it’s shared across multiple groups. It shows how that motivation can change depending on context. Sometimes, a trait can be permanent, like someone who has been blind since birth. A person recovering from eye surgery might temporarily have limited or no vision. Another person might face this barrier in certain environments, like when dealing with screen glare out in the sun. How would your product adapt to this range of people and circumstances with similar needs?

I can get behind that!

Related, check out Microsoft’s Inclusive Design Toolkit. (Though I reeeeeally wish that were a webpage…)

Via Doug Belshaw’s “Temporarily Abled” article on Thought Shrapnel.

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GDS’s Accessibility Personas

If you’re a designer or engineer and have never dug in to accessibility personas or cognitive walkthroughs before, I’d recommend checking out GDS’s accessibility persona homepages and their accompanying blog post about how they use persona profiles to test accessibility. As of right now, their profiles include the following personas:

  • Claudia – a sight impaired screen magnifier user
  • Ashleigh – a severely sight impaired screenreader user
  • Ron – an older user with multiple conditions
  • Chris – a user with rheumatoid arthritis
  • Pawel – an autistic user
  • Simone – a dyslexic user
  • Saleem – a profoundly deaf user

It’s no substitute for testing with real users, but it’s a big step in the right direction if it’s not already a part of your design and engineering process.

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A long-overdue work update

It’s been a wild few months professionally.

Earlier this year, I was asked to be the Engineering Manager at SuperHi and started in that role in May. That same month, I gave a talk at Parsons on the invitation of Eric Li and Michael Fehrenbach for their Typography and Interaction students in the MPS CD program. Maybe a month or two ago, SuperHi CEO and friend Rik Lomas and I were interviewed by Aja Singer for the recently-released first episode of her new podcast “Interview Stack” which offers a “deep dive on the engineering hiring process”. She’s a great interviewer, I’d keep an eye on her work.

And then over two thirds of us were laid off from SuperHi yesterday!

It’s unfortunate but understandable given the circumstances, it’s a tough world out there for startups right now. I really wish nothing but the best for the remaining SuperHi team and hope they’re able to reach the lofty goals that we set for ourselves. It’s a great platform and community with so much potential. I recommend checking out the courses and workshops that we recently released including one on generative art, one about Squarespace, and another on integrating AI on the web. There should be a lot more to come soon, SuperHi’s newsletter is the best way to get updates if you’re interested.

We achieved so much together. Personally, I’m really proud to have improved a lot of the accessibility practices, project management, QA, knowledge transfer processes, and documentation at SuperHi, even though some of that isn’t publicly visible just yet. I’m proud of the code I wrote and the languages and frameworks that I learned while there, going from working largely with CSS, HTML, JS, and PHP before to working heavily with TypeScript, Next.js, and React across multiple interconnected projects in a monorepo. I’m also really proud of the quality of our collaboration both across SuperHi in general and particularly within the Engineering team specifically. We shared extremely trusting working relationships which isn’t easy, especially when working remotely.

It’s sad to not be a part of that anymore, and it’s tough when you’ve been working towards a goal so hard for so long and then suddenly the next morning is a blank page.

But I am looking forward to pottering a little. A little blog gardening, improving performance on this site (when did it get so effing slow?! the cobbler’s children have no shoes etc. etc.), maybe finally setting up the bookshelf site I always wanted to make. Will have to do a little bit of LinkedIn cleanup. ::makes gagging sound:: And I had the last week of summer scheduled off anyway so I’ll be spending that fully focused on B, probably wandering in and out of all the water features in every playground within a 5 mile radius.

If anyone has interesting opportunities to share, please give me a shout.

And please do share this with your friends. I think I’m looking for another software engineering role at a remote USA- or UK-based company, or in-person at a NYC-based company. But I’m going to think about it a little more and am aiming to post again soon with more specifics.

Of course I wasn’t the only one, there is a lot of other ex-SuperHi talent out in the world now too including top-notch designers, razor-sharp teachers, meticulous engineers, brilliant strategists, and community management geniuses. I’m not going to post names here just yet because I want to verify who would like what shared, but if you have any opportunities along those lines, send them my way and I’ll make sure they reach the right eyeballs.

Now, time to relax a little during our remaining few days visiting family in the UK. Below are the flowers that my mother in law picked from her garden for me after she heard the news. I wish Smell-O-Vision was a thing, because these are pretty fantastic.

I’ll be back in Brooklyn on Sunday. If you happen to be nearby in the coming weeks, let’s get a coffee or go for a stroll in Prospect Park or something.

Until soon x

A small bouquet of pink and purple sweet peas in a glass bottle on a white kitchen counter

Published

Family recipe for classic white frosting

This is my Grandma Piper’s classic white frosting recipe that she always used on the family recipe for white layer cake. Her notes: “This frosting is super. It never hardens on the cake. BUT, it is only enough for sides and top. So must use a filling.” I just doubled it for B’s birthday cake and there was plenty left over.

I’d never heard of a frosting with a flour and milk base before so looked it up online. Apparently this is “ermine” frosting. I was sort of skeptical, but it is really, really nice. It’s not quite as sweet as a standard buttercream, and Grandma Piper is right. It stays so fluffy, it’s kind of crazy. It was super easy to spread even after it had been in the fridge (after it had come to room temp, of course).

***

Double the quantities if using it for the top, sides, and inside of this white layer cake recipe.

  1. In a saucepan, combine 5 T all purpose flour and 1 c (225 mL) milk, and cook until very thick. Whisk constantly! If you manage to avoid lumps, you won’t have to push it through a sieve later. Put it aside and let it cool completely.
  2. In a KitchenAid mixer or a large bowl with hand beaters, cream together 1 c (227 g) unsalted butter, 1 c (125 g) powdered sugar, and 1 t vanilla until white and fluffy.
  3. Add the 100% cooled milk mixture to the butter mixture and beat them together for around 10 minutes. At the end, the frosting should be lump-free and the consistency of thick whipped cream.
  4. If you still have lumps, push the frosting through a fine mesh sieve to get the majority out.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.