Arment on the Slow Death of Firefox→

I’m a bit sad for Firefox. It used to be the fast, powerful, progressive browser that finally broke IE’s era of stagnant dominance and saved web developers’ sanity. Now, it’s a bloated, slow, unstable monster that’s often a pain in this web developer’s ass.

My feelings exactly. I never thought I’d see the day when I was cursing at Firefox for bad rendering, but here we are. And is it just me, or does all type look worse in Firefox? It’s as though every typeface is semibold and jaggy.

As much as I think competition is a good thing, I really long for a WebKit-only browser landscape.

Posted Saturday, December 10, 2011

You Should be Writing with Markdown

Markdown nerds, this is not for you. This is for regular folks who need to start using Markdown. Go away.

Also, this article is not for masochists. This is for people who want to be happy, and who want their lives to be better. If your computer is running some flavor of Microsoft Windows, this is probably not for you.*

Did you ever make a little smiley face with a colon and a close-parenthesis? Was this incredibly difficult for you to do? No? Then you, my friend, have no excuse to not be writing in Markdown. Get rid of Microsoft Word, open up a plain-text editor and start writing something that will be forward-compatible, exchangeable, and beautiful in its simple elegance.

I repeat: It is exactly as hard to write Markdown as it is to make a sad-face.

Here's a paragraph.

Here's another paragraph. See, all I did was leave a line in between.

##Here's a Level Two heading. Just a couple of pound signs.

And this is what a Level Two heading looks like (in this context)

###Here's a Level Three heading. Just add another pound.

And this is what it looks like

You can have as many levels of heading as you want, but don’t be a terrible person with more than six. Seriously.

What is a heading level, exactly? Well, it’s something that you can elect to style in any way you want, but generally you would make it bigger than say, your paragraph text. You can use a level one heading to hold your title, for example, and a level two to label sections, and a level four for something else. Whatever you want. The point of all this is that you can decide what these headings will look like in different contexts, and you get to set their style once, and it will be repeated throughout whatever you have written. If you’ve ever tried to go through a Microsoft Word document and make it “look right,” you should begin to see how much better it is to write with Markdown.

Oh snap, do you see these italics?

_This is how you do italics_.

Just an underscore on each side. Or if you would prefer to use an asterisk, that’s fine too.

**This is bold, by the way**.

Again, you can use underscores if you want. Underscores and asterisks are interchangeable when it comes to bold and italics. But hold up! It’s not even really bold and italics we’re talking about and here’s an opportunity to try to give you a small peek into how you can think about Markdown and how it works differently from what you’re used to:

In Markdown, when you surround a word or a string of words with single underscores, you are telling Markdown that this part of your text is to be emphasized. Generally, you emphasize your text by making the font-style italic, as you are used to doing in Microsoft Word. But what if, for a certain application of the piece you’re writing, you wanted emphasized text to be not italic, but slightly larger and purple? Because you have sytactically indicated all of your emphasized text using underscores in Markdown, all you have to do is change the style applied to emphasized text, whether you are outputting to a PDF for printing, the web, or wherever your piece is headed. Now, everywhere you have emphasized text, it will be automatically styled to your wishes.

And in a hundred years, when the way they are emphasizing text is by making it holographic shimmering rainbow ether, the piece you wrote in Markdown will still work fine.

Do you see? Do you?

A couple more rules:

1. Here's how you make an ordered list.
2. That's right. Most obvious thing in the world.
3. Just numbers, periods, and then stuff.

* And here's an unordered (bulleted) list.
+ You can use asterisks, pluses, or hyphens.
- Just don't forget to put a space between the bullet and the liste item.
  1. Here’s how an ordered list looks.
  2. Just as you’d expect.

  3. And here’s the unordered list.

  4. There’s a lot you can do with this.

So how can you get started? Download a simple plain-text editor. Two that come with built-in Markdown support are Byword and iA Writer. But don’t misunderstand me. The “support” I’m referring to is purely cosmetic. All plain text editors “support Markdown.” Byword and Writer are just a little prettier. If you want, you can totally just used TextEdit, pre-installed as part of OS X. Just make sure you are saving everything as .txt and not .rtf.

Last but not least. Links. Those things which make the internet so much more powerful than the printed page.

This is a link to [Byword]( That's it. 
Just put the text of the link in square brackets, 
and the URL in parentheses.

And out pops a link to the Byword site.

There is a lot more that Markdown can do, but I’ve covered most of what you’ll use.

In closing, I will say that one of the nicest things about Markdown is simply the act of writing in a plain text editor. It is so easy, so clean, and so fast. Anything that reduces the friction between you and your writing is well worth it, and with Markdown, I think you’ll find that writing feels much more like gliding than grinding

  • If you are tired of the pain in your life, there is still hope for you. And remember, you are worth it. You are a human being, and you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Posted Sunday, November 27, 2011

Don Imus on Newt Gingrich→

“He’s a fat, repulsive pig! I hate to be so harsh,” Imus said. “You go out in the woods and find a piece of old, dead wood, you lift it up and underneath there’s a bunch of bugs crawling around and white stuff … that’s Newt Gingrich.”

Rare form, Imus. Rare form.

Posted Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bob Schieffer, Ron Paul and Journalistic “Objectivity”→

Glenn Greenwald:

I would have no problem with Schieffer’s adversarial behavior here if this were also how he treated claims made by David Petraeus, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton. But one would never, ever see that. Part of this is what Jay Rosen calls “the Church of the Savvy”: journalists revere power and political success and thus revere those who wield it in their world (Washington) while scorning those who do not (like Paul). But part of it is also that their function is to defend the political establishment of which they are a part and glorify its orthodoxies — defined as: the approved views of the leadership of the two parties, which in turn reflect the interests of the private factions that control both parties — and, conversely, to try to delegitimize any views and/or persons posing a challenge to it.

Wonder why you don’t see Greenwald on Morning Joe anymore…

…when you watch a media star on TV, what you are seeing in almost every case is an extremely well-paid, high-ranking employee of a major corporate conglomerate. They are the consummate insiders in every single sense. Except in the rarest cases, it would be irrational to expect them to be adversarial to the establishment which is responsible for their status and which lavishes them with so many rewards. Those admitted to the royal court don’t make a habit out of agitating against the King; quite the opposite: they become his most loyal and devoted subjects, the ones most eager to protect and defend the monarchy which guarantees them their wealth and status. That’s all the Bob Schieffers of the world are doing. Again, there’s nothing wrong with it per se, or at least not unusual. It’s just the very opposite of “objectivity.”

Watch out for that “liberal media.”

Posted Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gruber on the Tablet "Market"→

January to October tablet sales in the USA.

At least 10 million iPads sold.

1.2 million tablets sold from all PC manufacturers combined, the top seller having discontinued its tablet.

Doesn’t seem like much of a market.

Posted Wednesday, November 23, 2011