A tribute to Internet Explorer

In case you haven’t heard, today, the first Patch Tuesday of 2016, marks the end of support for Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10 in favor of Internet Explorer 11 and, of course, Microsoft Edge.

I remember the first time I went online. It was the year 1996. I was 4 years old. The then-current version of Windows was Windows 95. One of the only remaining memories I have of going online back then was spying the ever so curious ship’s wheel icon on the desktop of the family computer1, double-clicking it, and discovering that it was in fact another way to access the World Wide Web.

My initial reaction: complete and utter bewilderment. I knew what websites were, I knew that websites consisted of pages and pages of information, but it blew my mind to learn that there were other programs that could be used to access said websites besides that blue ‘e’ with a ring around it. And one of the first things I noticed, aside from the differences in the UI, were the differences in how pages looked in each program.

Unfortunately, as a 90s kid, I was completely ignorant of such things as the browser wars, HTML, CSS, or any of that jargon. I wasn’t even that much of a computer person myself. I was just your average preschool boy. Nevertheless, watching my dad work on the computer was one of my favorite things to do at home, and one of the things he worked on was — you guessed it — a personal site of his own (which he maintains to this day!), and although I can’t remember for sure, I’d bet his was one of the sites I poked about on back then.

By the age of 8, I was well-versed with the Internet, having heard that blasted dial-up noise a thousand times. I discovered Neopets, and their HTML Guide for helping Neopians design home pages for their pets. And that’s how I got started with HTML, as well as my first experience testing my own pages in differing implementations. A skill that would remain one of the most important for a web designer to have over a decade later.

It’s my 24th birthday!

Happy birthday to me, I’m officially 24! w00t!

As this is my first birthday since launching NOVALISTIC 5.0 “Veldin”, here’s a fun fact for you: I’ve always wanted to launch my site on my birthday, but not once has it ever happened.

However, launching this iteration at the end of November 2015 is one of the closest I’ve come to a commemorative launch date, because the domain name was first registered in November 2001. The closest is NOVALISTIC 2.0, which was launched in the first week of November 2006, around the fifth anniversary of the domain.

So, that was a little nugget of trivia for you.

While I have plans later this month, I don’t have any for today, so I’ve just taken the opportunity to catch a break and play some games. I haven’t played TF2 in a while, so that’s exactly what I spent the past three hours on. To be honest, the gameplay changes brought about by the Tough Break Update have really shaken things up for me as a Pyro main, and I’ve been finding it difficult to adjust. So I don’t see myself playing as often as I used to for a while.

Which just means more time for me to focus on adding new stuff to my site! Although I did just update my Steam Wishlist, and there’s a few hours left of the Steam Winter Sale, so if you’d rather I played more games than worked on stuff…

It’s always the basic stuff that gets you

I was updating my About page tonight when I found myself wanting to mark up parts of the text with the b element (as, thanks to HTML5, it has found its true calling in life). But I didn’t want the text to be bold, as I was going to style it differently. In particular, I wanted it to have the same font weight as the rest of the text.

But I knew that there wasn’t a special value of the CSS font-weight property that meant “use the current font weight” — there was only lighter and bolder for one step lighter and bolder than the current weight respectively, neither of which was what I wanted.

Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks:

b {
    font-weight: inherit;

That’s right: it’s our old friend the CSS-wide keyword inherit. That is, “inherit the parent’s computed font-weight“. How could I have forgotten?!

And I realized that perhaps other, less experienced CSS authors might run into this problem as well. So I decided to post yet another one of my self-answered questions on Stack Overflow documenting this. Then I realized that the way Stack Overflow treated self-answered questions meant I pretty much had to tell the world how dense I was for a night, as someone who is generally known on SO to be really, really good with CSS.

Oh well; happens to the best of us, I guess.

Emergency Chat now available for Windows

Emergency Chat is now available on the Windows Store!

Download from Windows Store

Emergency Chat is assistive software that helps people communicate via text when they lose their ability to speak.

Originally created for Android, I had the privilege of designing and developing a version for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 (Universal Windows Platform). Currently only the Windows Phone 8.1 version is available; the Windows 10 version will be ready in early 2016 as a free update, along with the general availability of Windows 10 Mobile. The Windows Phone 8.1 version will be compatible with devices already running Windows 10 Mobile such as the Microsoft Lumia 950, Lumia 950 XL, Lumia 550, and any devices running Windows 10 Insider Preview (though, of course, preview builds are not supported).

It’s my very first Windows Store app, and by extension my first foray into the app space. Granted, being an assistive utility, this app serves a very specific niche, but it is one that is very relevant to me. I have a condition that prevents me from speaking in most situations and to most people, called selective mutism. Basically, imagine your voice being imprisoned — you want to speak, but you either can’t think of the words to say, or you can but you simply can’t verbalize them. I’m in the latter category, which means I have no trouble expressing myself by other means such as writing or typing on a device.

And that is why, with special permission from Jeroen De Busser who originally created the Android app, I’ve built this app for Windows. It’s an app that I depend on on a regular basis, and I’m thankful to have been able to build it for the platform I care about the most.

Adobe Animate CC

For nearly two decades, Flash Professional has been the standard for producing rich animations on the web. Because of the emergence of HTML5 and demand for animations that leverage web standards, we completely rewrote the tool over the past few years to incorporate native HTML5 Canvas and WebGL support. To more accurately represent its position as the premier animation tool for the web and beyond, Flash Professional will be renamed Adobe Animate CC, starting with the next release in early 2016.

Welp… and they announced this less than a day after I’d unveiled my new site and had a massive load taken off my shoulders.

The good news is that, fundamentally, Animate CC will still be the same animation tool I’ve used and loved for the past 12 years (!), and the SWF format isn’t going away yet (Animate CC will continue supporting Flash (SWF) and AIR formats as first-class citizens.) — Flash as we know it hasn’t been radicalized, much less “killed off” as so many media outlets and Flash haters (fueled by media sensationalism, no less) have put it.

SWF may be well on its way to legacy status, but it will take a while yet. Call me when you find a tool that offers equal or superior authoring capabilities and ease of use. Until then, even if I stop making Flash movies and games, I will continue using it for digital art for the foreseeable future.