Should

Taking a break – and so should you

TL;DR: I am going on holiday for a week and don’t take any computer with me. When I’m back I will cut down on my travels, social media and conference participation and focus more on coaching others, writing and developing with a real production focus.

Sleeping dog
Larry shows how it is done

You won’t hear much from me in the next week or so as I am taking a well-deserved vacation. I’m off to take my partner to the Cayman Islands to visit friends who have a house with a spare room as hotels started to feel like work for me. I’m also making the conscious decision to not take any computer with me as I will be tempted to do work whilst I am there. Which would be silly.

Having just been in a lot of meetings with other DevRel people and a great event about it I found a pattern: we all have no idea how to measure our success and feel oddly unsatisfied if not worried about this. And we are all worried about keeping up to do date in a daily changing market.

I’m doing OK on both of these, but I also suffer from the same worries. Furthermore, I am disturbed about the gap between what we talk about at events and workshops and what gets released in the market afterwards.

The huge gap between publication and application

We have all the information what not to do to create engaging, fast and reliable solutions. We have all the information how to even automate some of these to not disrupt fast development processes. And yet I feel a massive lack of longevity or maintainability in all the products I see and use. I even see a really disturbing re-emergence of “this only needs to work on browser $x and platform $y” thinking. As if the last decade hadn’t happened. Business decisions dictate what goes into production, less so what we get excited about.

Even more worrying is security. We use a lot of third party code, give it full access to machines and fail to keep it up-to-date. We also happily use new and untested code in production even when the original developers state categorically that it shouldn’t be used in that manner.

When it comes to following the tech news I see us tumbling in loops. Where in the past there was a monthly cadence of interesting things to come out, more readily available publication channels and a “stream of news” mentality makes it a full-time job just to keep up with what’s happening.

Many thoughtpieces show up in several newsletters and get repurposed even if the original authors admitted in commentary that they were wrong. A lot is about being new and fast, not about being right.

There is also a weird premature productisation happening. When JavaScript, Browsers and the web weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now, we showed and explained coding tricks and workarounds in blog posts. Now we find a solution, wrap it in a package or a library and release it for people to use. This is a natural progression in any software, but I miss the re-use and mulling around of the original thought. And I am also pretty sure that the usage numbers and stars on GitHub are pretty inflated.

My new (old) work modus

Instead of speaking at a high amount of conferences, I will be much pickier with where I go. My time is more limited now, and I want to use my talents to have a more direct impact. This is due to a few reasons:

  • I want to be able to measure more directly what I do – it is a good feeling to be told that you were inspiring and great. But it fails to stay a good feeling when you don’t directly see something coming out of it. That’s why instead of going from event to event I will spend more time developing tools and working directly with people who build products.
  • I joined a new team that is much more data driven – our job is to ensure people can build great apps and help them by fixing our platform and help them apply best practices instead of just hearing about them. This is exciting – I will be able to see just how applicable what we talk about really is and collect data of its impact. Just like any good trainer should ensure that the course attendees really learned what you talked about this is a full feedback loop for cool technologies like ServiceWorker and Push Nofifications.
  • We just hired a truckload of talented people to coach – and I do want to see other people on stage than the usual suspects. It is great to see people grow with help you can give.
  • I just had a cancer growth removed from my face – it was benign but it is kind of a wake-up call to take more care about myself and have my body looked after better on an ongoing basis
  • I am moving to Berlin to exclusively live there with my partner and our dog – I’ve lived out of suitcases for years now and while this is great it is fun to have a proper home with people you care about to look after. I will very much miss London, but I am done with the politics there and I don’t want to maintain two places any longer.
  • I will spend more time coding – I am taking over some of the work on PWAbuilder and other helper tools and try them out directly with partners. Working in the open is great, but there is a huge difference between what Twitter wants and what people really need
  • I will write more – both articles and blog posts. I will also have a massive stab at refreshing the Developer Evangelism Handbook
  • I will work more with my employer and its partners – there is a huge group of gifted, but very busy developers out there that would love to use more state-of-the-art technology but have no time to try it out or to go to conferences.

Anke, Larry and Chris
Greetings from Berlin

What this means for events and meetups

Simple.

  • I will attend less – instead I will connect conferences and meetups with other people who are not as in demand but great at what they do. I am also helping and mentoring people inside and outside the company to be invited instead of me. A lot of times a recommendation is all that is needed. And a helping hand in getting over the fear of “not being good enough”.
  • I will stay shorter – I want to still give keynotes and will consider more workshops. But I won’t be booking conferences back-to-back and will not take part in a lot of the social activities. Unless my partner is also coming along. Even better when the dog is allowed, too.
  • I am offering to help others – to review their work to get picked and help conference organisers to pick new, more diverse, talent.

I have a lot of friends who do events and I will keep supporting those I know have their full heart in them. I will also try to be supportive for others that need a boost for their new event. But I think it is a good time to help others step up. As my colleague Charles Morris just said at DevRelConf, “not all conferences need a Chris Heilmann”. It is easy to get overly excited about the demand you create. But it is as important to not let it take over your life.

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Internet Privacy Rules: Why should Web professionals care?

The U.S. Congress repealed the FCC broadband/ Internet privacy rules established in the latter days of the Obama administration in late March, 2017. President Trump signed this repeal on April 3. Untouched, those rules would have gone into effect later this year. Those rules were an outgrowth of the Federal Communication Commission’s battle to protect net neutrality. You may be asking yourself – why does this matter, what will this change, and how will you and your clients be affected.

What you need to know:

  • Although most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have said nothing has changed, they are free to change their policies at any time going forward. Consumers will not have a choice (to opt-in or opt-out).
  • It will be much easier for ISPs (think AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and similar corporations) to track your specific browsing history across all devices.
  • If an ISP decides to intercept search requests, they could send results from their own marketing databases (instead of the results someone might expect).
  • There is also a risk that such “injection” could be hijacked or compromised by malicious individuals. These large databases of consumer information would also be prime targets for hackers.
  • Previously, if you didn’t like the amount of data collected by a corporation (for example, Facebook), you could simply choose not to use their services and select some competitor. That will no longer be an option since your ISP will be the one tracking all your access (potentially).
  • There will not be any filters regarding your browsing history and how it can be used. You will have very limited control over what is shared with others (or sold).

Why this is important

In a nutshell, this is game changer (particularly in the U.S.). Up to this point, individual sites collected data (and used it to target ads). As a general rule, if a service appears free on the WWW, you are likely paying for it with your personal data. Facebook would be an excellent example of this. Using this company an example, Facebook wants you to visit Facebook so they can mine the data you share and can then sell targeted ads. These sorts of ads are likely to generate more revenue for the advertiser. That being said, each company wants to keep the data they collect about you to themselves. Frankly, information equals power these days. The more a company knows about you (and your browsing habits and searches), the better they can target ads.

That being said, there are limits. Most of us have smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices. Trying to identify the common visitor across all these devices is a lot easier when the Internet Service Provider can be involved. One can no longer opt out by choosing an alternative company (perhaps DuckDuckGo instead of Google or Bing for Internet searches, for example).

Those of us who have been alive much longer than the WWW understand that limits were set in place for other technologies. For example, phone companies could not collect specific information that you were calling a physician or attorney and then target you with ads for similar types of services. The previous rules likened much Internet traffic to be similar to telephone traffic (and under the same guidelines).

Who voted for and against

Here are the details (who voted for and against this bill in the House of Representatives). For the senate version, votes followed party lines. We also found this overview of how we got to this point informative.

You will have less control of how your online history is used

With the elimination of these Internet Privacy rules, more of your online history will be available to more companies and you will have less control over how it is used. In addition to now being able to collect vast amounts of information from their customers, each company can use said information to provide targeted ads or can sell the collected data to others. Each company is free to change their policies at any time. That is why this is such an important change.

We found this NPR article to provide a solid overview of the situation and what your options are.

Help your customers understand these changes

Undoubtedly, some of your customers will have questions. More sophisticated customers will have detailed questions. At a minimum, we recommend mentioning these main points:

  • Internet Service Providers are able to change their policies at will. There is now much less oversight by the FCC and FTC.
  • It is likely there will be more tracking/ recording of your browser history and this data may be used for more targeted advertising. Much more data is likely to be collected (and shared or sold). As a consumer, you will likely not have the option to either opt-in or opt-out of such data collection. Many do not have the luxury of being able to easily select another ISP.
  • For additional information, you may wish to review this FAQ regarding what happens as these rules are cancelled.

For those who wish to pursue more privacy, here are some of the things you can do today:

  • Download and use the HTTPS everywhere extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera
  • Consider employing a tool like Privacy Badger to block spies and hidden trackers on sites you visit
  • Consider using a VPN
  • Consider using Tor as your browser
  • You might also want to introduce some Internet noise (a tool which loads random sites so your actual searches are obscured by large amounts of nonsense searches). This latter tool certainly will not protect your privacy; it will only generate additional “noise” which will obscure your actual search interests among a larger amount of random searches.

The bottom line is that there will be more data available for marketers. While this may be a plus for Web marketers, this is a giant step backwards for privacy advocates.

This has the potential to allow much more focused ads as big data and predictive analytics are brought to bear on an ever increasing amount of consumer information. If one is in marketing, they need to remain aware of consumer concerns.

Practicing web professionals should leverage this change as an opportunity to inform and educate their customers/ clients regarding what may be collected and how best to deal with this new reality (perhaps recommending using a VPN and plugins like those mentioned above).

The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently posted a list of ISPs that respect your privacy. They also provided a solid overview of how to protect your privacy from your ISP. This article also included a number of questions to ask about any VPN (before you purchase). Examples include:

  • How long has the VPN been in business?
  • Does the VPN log your traffic?
  • Is the traffic encrypted? Is there a single shared password for all encryption?
  • Would the VPN leak your DNS queries to your ISP?
  • Does the VPN support IPv6?

We anticipate that this is only the beginning of the discussion regarding increased awareness of privacy issues on the part of consumers and professionals alike.

Best always,

Mark DuBois

Community Evangelist and Executive Director

The post Internet Privacy Rules: Why should Web professionals care? appeared first on Web Professionals.

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7 Reasons why EdgeConf rocks and why you should be part of it

Having just been there and seeing that the coverage is available today, I wanted to use this post to tell you just how amazing EdgeConf is as a conference, a concept and a learning resource. So here are seven reasons why you should care about EdgeConf:

Reason 1: It is a fully recorded think-tank

Unlike other conferences, where you hear great presentations and have meetings and chats of high significance but have to wait for weeks for them to come out, EdgeConf is live in its coverage. Everything that’s been discussed has a live comment backchannel (this year it was powered by Slack), there are dedicated note-takers and the video recordings are transcribed and published within a few days. The talks are searchable that way and you don’t need to sift through hours of footage to find the nugget of information you came for.

Reason 2: It is all about questions and answers, not about the delivery and showing off

The format of EdgeConf is a Q&A session with experts, moderated by another expert. There are a few chosen experts on stage but everybody in the audience has the right to answer and be part of it. This happens in normal conference Q&A in any case; Edge makes sure it is natural instead of disrupting. There is no space for pathos and grandstanding in this event – it is all about facts.

Reason 3: The audience is a gold-mine of knowledge and experts to network with

Edge attracts the most dedicated people when it comes to newest technology and ideas on the web. Not blue-sky “I know what will be next” thinkers, but people who want to make the current state work and point towards what’s next. This can be intimidating – and it is to me – but for networking and having knowledgable people to bounce your ideas of, this is pure gold.

Reason 4: The conference is fully open about the money involved

Edge is a commercial conference, with a very affordable ticket price. At the end of the conference, you see a full disclosure of who paid for what and how much money got in. Whatever is left over, gets donated right there and then to a good cause. This year, the conference generated a massive amount of money for codeclub. This means that your sponsorship is obvious and people see how much you put in. This is better than getting a random label like “platinum” or “silver”. People see how much things cost, and get to appreciate it more.

Reason 5: The location is always an in-the-trenches building

Instead of being in a hotel or convention centre that looks swanky but has no working WiFi, the organisers partner with tech companies to use their offices. That way you get up-close to Google, Facebook, or whoever they manage to partner with and meet local developers on their own turf. This is refreshingly simple and means you get to meet folk that don’t get time off to go to conferences, but can drop by for a coffee.

Reason 6: If you can’t be there, you still can be part of this

All the panels of this conference are live streamed, so even if you can’t make it, you can sit in and watch the action. You can even take part on Slack or Twitter and have a dedicated screening in your office to watch it. This is a ridiculously expensive and hard to pull off trick that many conferences wouldn’t event want to do. I think we should thank the organisers for going that extra step.

Reason 7: The organisers

The team behind Edge is extremely dedicated and professional. I rushed my part this year, as I was in between other conferences, and I feel sorry and like a slacker in comparison what the organisers pulled off and how they herd presenters, moderators and audience. My hat is off to them, as they do not make any money with this event. If you get a chance to thank them, do so.

Just go already

When the next Edge is announced, don’t hesitate. Try to get your tickets or at least make sure you have time to watch the live feeds and take part in the conversations. As someone thinking of sponsoring events, this is a great one to get seen and there is no confusion as to where the money goes.

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Why “just use Adblock” should never be a professional answer

1983 Apple T-Shirt Ad showing a Stylin' "Apple Family"

Ahh, ads. The turd in the punchbowl of the internet party. Slow, annoying things full of dark interaction patterns and security issues. Good thing they are only for the gullible and not really our issue as we are clever; we use browsers that blocked popups for years and we use an ad blocker!

Firefox preventing hundreds of popups

Hang on a second. Whether we like it or not, ads are what makes the current internet work. They are what ensures the “free” we crave and benefit from, and if you dig deep enough you will find that nobody working in web development or design is not in one way or another paid by income stemming from ad sales on the web. Thus, us pretending that ads are for other people is sheer arrogance. I’ve had discussions about this a few times and so far the pinnacle to me still was an answer I got on Twitter to posting an article that 40 percent of mobile ad clicks are fraud or accidents:

offensive tweet about ad clicking people

I believe people who intentionally click ads are morons

Don’t get me wrong: ads as a whole are terrible. In many cases they have the grace of a drunk guy kicking you in the shin before asking you to buy him a beer. They are very much to blame for our users being conditioned to things behaving in weird ways on the web, thus opening the door for the bad guys to phish and clickjack them. Ads may also be the thing that drives many of our users to preferring apps instead. Which is kind of ironic as an app in many cases is a mixture of a bit of highly catered functionality wrapped in an interactive ad.

We’re blocking our own future

So what does that make us? Not the intelligent people who know how to game the system, but people not owning the platform we work for and are reliant on. As people in the know, it should be our job to ensure ads we publish or include in our project are not counterproductive to the optimisation efforts we put into our work. We also should have a stake in the kind of ads that are being displayed, making sure they don’t soil the messages we try to convey with our content.

A lack of empathy and a lie to ourselves

This is uncomfortable, it is extra work and it feels like we are depriving ourselves of an expert shortcut. The problem with blocking ads ourselves is though that we are not experiencing what our end users experience. We get the first class treatment of the web with comfortable computers and less interruptions whilst our users are stuck in a low cost carrier where they get asked every few seconds if they don’t want to buy something and pay extra if they forgot to bring the printout of their ticket.

By blocking all the ads and advocating for “clever web users” to do the same we perpetuate a model of only the most aggressive and horrible ads to get through. We treat each ad the same, the “find sexy singles in your IP range” and the actual useful ones: we just block them all. Yes, I’ve had some deals by clicking an ad. Yes, I found things I really use and am happy to have now by clicking an ad. I could have never done that with an ad blocker. What it does though is cut into the views of ads and thus force ad companies to play dirty to get the figures they are used to and use to negotiate payments to the people who display their ads. In essence, we are creating the terrible ads we hate as we don’t allow the good ones to even show up. It’s like stopping people swearing by not allowing anyone to speak. Or trying to block adult content by filtering for the word “sex”.

The current ad model is too comfortable and can be gamed

You could say that people who expect everything to be free don’t deserve better. This would hold water if the paid experiences of the web without ads were better or even available. In many cases, they are not. You can not pay for Facebook to get rid of ads. Many providers are so comfortable in the horrible model of “plaster everything with ads and create as much traffic as possible” that trying a subscription model instead bears too much danger and extra effort in comparison.

A sign of this is the horrible viral bullshit world we live in right now. Creators of original content are not the ones who make the most money with it; instead it is the ones who put it in “this kid did one weird trick, the result will amaze you” headlined posts with lots of ads and social media sharing buttons. This is killing the web. We allowed the most important invention for publishing since the printing press brought literacy to the masses to become a glossy lifestyle magazine that spies on its readers.

It should be up to us to show better ways, to create more engaging interfaces, to play with the technology and break conventions. It is sad to see that all we have to show for about 16 years of web innovation is that we keep some parts of our designs blank where other people can paste in ads using code we don’t even know or trust or care to understand. This isn’t innovative; this is lazy.

There’s more to come here and some great stuff brewing in Mozilla Labs. It is time to be grown-up about this: ads happen, let’s make them worth-while for everyone involved.

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Ten Things Developers should know about the Mozilla Developer Network (MDN)

The Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) is one of the most popular resources for developers on the Web. Designed by developers for developers, MDN helps support Mozilla’s mission to promote openness and innovation on the Web.

As an open, community-driven wiki, MDN provides Web developers, designers, application developers, and extension and theme writers with access to the best documentation, tutorials and developer tools available. Anyone can add and edit content to make it even better. It’s used by developers building resources for a better Web, regardless of brand, browser or platform.

To give you a quick overview of what developers can get out of MDN we’ve put together this Top 10 list of things you should know about MDN and some tips on how to get involved.

Enjoy!

  1. One of the most popular resources for developers on the Web with over 4.5 million page views and 2 million visitors per month.

  2. One of the richest resources on the Web for documentation:

    49,748 documents and climbing
    9,185 contributors have made 272,134 edits to date

  3. An active developer community in the MDN IRC channels including: #mdn-dev, #devmo and #mdn.

  4. The only developer site to be localized in 15 languages. MDN offers translations in 15 languages for HTML docs, 13 for CSS, and 11 for JavaScript. All of these translations are created by a global community of volunteer localizers, who prioritize translation of topics based on local needs and interests. See where localization help is needed.

  5. The best destination for JavaScript reference documentation anywhere.

    “MDN is hands down the best resource for finding quality JavaScript documentation. It’s well organized allowing developers to quickly find the information they need without poring through multiple specs,” – jQuery core committers

  6. A great resource for developers looking for a wide variety of freshly updated content. MDN is maintained by the community of developers and technical writers and hosts literally thousands of documents on a wide variety of subjects such as: HTML5, JavaScript, CSS, Node.JS to name just a few.

    For Mobile Web developers, MDN provides documentation such as: How to build HTML5 mobile apps or build a mobile add-on or learn about location aware apps.

  7. Anyone can edit or add documents to the wiki, you just need to create an account and start. Don’t worry about asking for permission; don’t worry about making mistakes. On the other hand, if you are going to be working on the site it does help to get to know the MDN community – we’re friendly and here to help!
  8. Rich with community-submitted demos; over 500 and climbing. MDN introduced “Demo Studio” in 2011 – for web developers to share and show off their code.

  9. Each month, the Dev Derby provides a different challenge to developers – from offline apps to “no JavaScript” (the most popular Derby topic in 2012, with 71 entries). A panel of distinguished judges choose the prize-winning entries.

  10. A new HTML wiki was launched in August of 2012 – meaning developers don’t have to learn a new markup language to edit and write docs. The platform is open-source and based on Django, so developers can add new features and functionality to the wiki from Github. Also a new HTML5 WordPress plugin was launched that lets developers hotlink words on their blog to MDN.

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What is Linked Data and Why Should Web Professionals Care?

In this fourteen minute interview with Manu Sporny Founder, CEO of Digital Bazaar a leader in the democratization of finance and payments on the Web we learn about Linked Data and why Web professionals should care.

Specifically we learn:

* The history of Linked Data
* Tim Berners Lee vision for Linked Data
* How data is locked in silos
* How Linked Data aims to free the data
* How Linked Data differs from the Semantic Web
* Examples of Linked Data
* Benefits of Linked Data and why Web professionals should care
* Recommendations for Web Professionals and how to get started
* Linked data plugins and tools
* Linked Data resources and best practices
* The importance of education and advocacy

According to LinkedData.org is about using the Web to connect related data that wasn’t previously linked, or using the Web to lower the barriers to linking data currently linked using other methods. More specifically, Wikipedia defines Linked Data as “a term used to describe a recommended best practice for exposing, sharing, and connecting pieces of data, information, and knowledge on the Semantic Web using URIs and RDF.”

Check out the Video from Manu on Youtube:

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HTML5 Why Should You Care – Interview with Aditya Bansod

In this six minute interview with Aditya Bansod VP – Product Marketing at Sencha, a provider of a comprehensive suite of application development tools we learn Aditya’s perspective regarding the benefits of HTML5. We also talk about the Development Manager’s Quick Guide to HTML5 What Is HTML5 – and Why Should You Care? published by Sencha.

What Is HTML5 – and Why Should You Care?

According to Sencha, HTML 5 Is Making a Big Impact – and Quickly HTML5 is the biggest leap forward in web technologies in the last generation. With broad support from Apple, Mozilla, Microsoft and Google, all the major browsers have rapidly incorporated HTML5 features. Apple Chairman Steve Jobs has said that the world is moving to HTML5 as the open-standard development solution for rich applications. And did you know that HTML5 is now one of the fastest trending searches on technical job sites? But with people pointing to everything from simple JavaScript animations to CSS3 effects as examples of HTML5, it’s not surprising that there is confusion about what HTML5 is and what it means. So…what exactly is HTML5, and why should development managers even care?

Specifically we learn:

* About the benefits of HTML5 for Web designers and Web developers
* Key take away’s from the Development Manager’s Quick Guide to HTML5 What Is HTML5 – and Why Should You Care?
* Recommendations for Web designers and Web developers that want to get started with HTML5
* Advice for students and those that teach Web design and Web development

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