Blog-o! Notes from latte.ca

Sat, 29 Jun 2013

(Probably Not Actually Everything)

Boston

This week I went to Boston for a two-day work thing, which I will not discuss at length lest this gets linked as some kind of relevant post and too many work people start reading it, which I don't mind but makes me feel weird about posting boring crap about my kids and my hair. Anyway, yeah, Boston. I didn't get to do much interesting touristy stuff but I had fun and would visit again.

(I should point out that I wasn't ever in Boston, except when I was at the airport — I was in Cambridge.)

I got there on Sunday afternoon and right away went to BJ's with my infinitely patient Boston friends to get snacks for the boot camp. After we unloaded the snacks at the B&B we went for dinner at Cambridge Brewing Company, which my friends kept confusingly referring to as CBC. I had the cheese plate (cheeeeese) and I want to say a salad but I don't recognize any of the salads on the menu. It was tasty and satisfying. I also had the HefeWeizen (which I now realize I was pronouncing wrong, for shame, haven't I sung enough Bach?) which hit the spot.

We walked over to Toscanini's Ice Cream where I had Ovaltine, and Peanut Butter and Honey. Ovaltine ice cream is a wonderful and necessary thing. The Tosci's ice cream was good, but I have to say it's no better than the good ice cream places in Toronto. Sorry, I know that's kind of a jerky thing to say.

Then I said goodbye and many thanks to my friends, and oddly enough went back to CBC, where I met up with some boot camp instructors and helpers, and drank more beer (a Saisonniere, which I did pronounce properly).

I worked the next two days. On Monday night we had a catered dinner at the boot camp, so I didn't even eat out. (Catered dinner is good too! Such a treat to have someone turn up and make everything right, with wine!) Tuesday morning I had to go to a supermarket and buy another cartload of snacks because apparently people are way hungrier than I thought.

The boot camp ended on Tuesday afternoon and I went for a drink at Catalyst with a couple of instructors and helpers. The bathrooms were fancy! Then I went walking around Harvard with a new friend before a late dinner at The Kebab Factory (goat curry! gulab jamun!). We talked about the supposed advantages of name-brand universities, and national identity, and immigrant identity, and walkable neighbourhoods. It was one of those great conversations.

The B&B was fabulous — clean and beautiful, and the proprietors and staff were delightful company. If I ever go back to Cambridge I will definitely stay there.

First Day of Summer Vacation Didn't Go Well

Friday — yesterday — was the first day of summer vacation. Well, as a friend kindly pointed out, yesterday was technically a PA day, and Monday is a statutory holiday, so the first day of summer vacation is Tuesday. This is good because it gives me a chance to not foreshadow a terrible summer.

I woke up with a hideous headache and a mild but nagging nausea. Like a hangover without the fun. I took some ibuprofen and drank some tea, but it didn't get better so I gave up and went back to bed while the children did I-don't-know-what. When I woke up at 11:30 I felt mostly okay and what was left of the headache seemed vanquishable by drugs, so I took some and dragged the girls downtown to the office; I needed to talk to Greg about the boot camp and some other stuff.

The office was the best part of the day. We had lunch there and saw some people, and the girls got to play with Post-it notes and the white board.

As we left the office it started raining, and after we went to Winners for a failed attempt to buy socks for the girls everything was quite soggy. On the way into the subway at St Andrew I warned the girls to be very careful because the stairs were slippery. And then I fell down them.

You know the part in Lord of the Rings where Legolas slides down the stairs at Helm's Deep on a shield? It was like that, but instead of a shield, my butt. Apart from that it was the same, with the rain and the orcs. Or maybe those were commuters.

Somehow I righted myself at the bottom of the stairs, accepted sympathy from friendly orcs and limped on. No serious damage, I think, but some nasty bruises, and new pains every time I move. I seem to have done something clever with my left arm on my way down, although I'm not sure what. I was trying very hard to stop falling and apparently my left arm wanted to help. And failed.

The exciting news is that my back is not busted up. So far.

School

As pointed out above, school's out for summer. I guess we had a pretty good year. C's teacher was fantastic and just right for her: sweet and gentle but insistent and with high standards. C's reading has improved and so has her stick-to-it-iveness and focus, and most importantly she enjoyed school despite her moaning.

D's year was harder, although not catastrophic. Not even terrible. I've already blogged about the problems she had, and the good news is there's a change coming: she's been offered a place at a new gifted program. Well, kind of — she was offered an opportunity to express interest in being offered a place at the new gifted program, supposing that there are enough other kids expressing interest to make it worth starting up said program.

We were only given one evening to decide (though really we had had weeks to think about the idea of going to a gifted program, I didn't want to dwell on it too much until we had a more concrete offer, so we hadn't made a decision yet). D didn't know how to decide, so she sat on the kitchen garbage can with a sheet of paper and we listed the pros and cons of each decision while I made dinner. And finally, tearfully, she said she would go to the program so long as she could have two playdates with her best friend from her old school every week.

I'm pretty excited to be joining a new program. For some reason there has been a surge of applicants to the gifted program this year, and I'm hoping that that means that a) the new program will be mostly filled with new applicants, and b) the new applicants will have a better proportion of girls than the existing gifted population. That's kind of an optimistic assumption, because I have no idea why there have been so many applicants this year. I suppose it could be that there has been a surge in insufferable gifted boys and the teachers want to get rid of them all. Either way, it will be nice to be there for the first year of a new program — at the very least D won't be joining a crowd of kids who already know each other.

I'm a bit sad that she won't be able to walk to school and back with C next year, and that she won't be able to be in the school choir that I volunteer with. Okay, I'm very sad about that. But it didn't seem like enough reason to keep her from this opportunity.

I'm bad at wrapping up blog posts. The End.

[Posted at 23:43 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 28 Jun 2013
Using Persona in Angular apps.

In my previous blog post, I mentioned a tool I’m writing to make it easy for designers to link mockups to live bugs. But I didn’t mention that I had a reasonably-working version of the tool written in Backbone which I’ve decided to port to Angular. The reasons why are largely beside the point of this blog post, but I’ll try to sum them up by saying that I reached a point where Backbone seemed to be confusing me more than helping me, and Angular got a lot of good press at FluentConf this year.

So this morning’s task in the re-write was to re-hook up the Persona integration. I had read recently that when you had a lot of dom-manipulation functions, you should probably put that code in a directive, and since I hadn’t written an Angular directive yet, I figured this would be a great time to learn how. Writing the html was pretty easy, of course, and most of the code from the existing implementation (which was largely based on the code from the express-persona readme) could be ported over fairly quickly. The only tricky part I ran into was figuring out that I needed to include restrict: 'E' in the Directive Definition Object. After I was done, I noticed that there really wasn’t that much in the code that had anything to do with the tool I’m writing, and thus I pulled it out into a separate repo so that other people can use it.

And with that, I announce Angular-Tools, a repo containing one or more tools which you might find useful if you build Angular apps. As always, pull requests and bug reports welcome!

[Posted at 15:16 by Blake Winton] link
Fri, 14 Jun 2013
Drawing lines with CSS.

One of the things I’m working on as part of my job1 at Mozilla is a tool to make it easy for designers to create mockups that are linked to live bugs, similar to the ones at Are We Pretty Yet. Now, I’ve got the background showing up, and the bugs overlayed on top of it, but as it stands, I’m requiring the designers to draw the lines connecting the bugs to the various areas in the mockup right on the mockup itself! This is obviously a fairly terrible idea, since it makes it much harder than it should to move stuff around after the fact, and requires a ton of up-front planning when creating the initial image. But what are my other options?

I thought for a while about layering a canvas element over the mockup; it would let me draw whatever shapes I wanted to, but passing the click events through to the mockup seemed like it would be fairly annoying, and I don’t think the connecting lines should appear in front of the boxes showing the bug details, which adds another wrinkle. Then, over lunch, I started to wonder what it would look like if a 1px by 1px black square got stretched and rotated with CSS… So I took some time after lunch, and played around a little, and it seems like it just might work! Give it a try, let me know if you have any ideas to make it better, and feel free to take the idea anywhere you think it might be useful!

Update: In the comments, Andrew points out that I could use a 1px by 1px span instead, which would make it much easier to change the colour of the line, so I’ve linked to his jsfiddle instead. :)


  1. Sometimes I still can’t believe how lucky I am to get to do this stuff all day, and get paid for it!  

[Posted at 14:57 by Blake Winton] link