Gitlab Has Kanban/Trello Style Boards

And they are linked to the issue tracker! Nice!

They aren’t as nice as Trello’s. The cards are very limited and don’t “flip over”. They don’t provide full access to the issue tracker, so adding comments, even adding full fledged issues, is hard to impossible from the board. However, I think for managing a workflow, it’s fine. A little clunky, but fine.

So now I can teach them in my software engineering class…which means I need to add them to my material…yay?

It’s panic time around here! Classes are….sooooo close!

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CSS Misalignment

Well, here we are in day n of trying to add a simple logo to a showoff presentation. Showoff has a very neat feature set (esp for audience interaction) but is pretty garbage to dork with.  I mean, most HTML slideshow systems are, but showoff is screwing me pretty hard.

My current solution is to add the image to the content Markdown. That at least gets me somewhere even if I have to preprocess the Markdown. BUT, the image is aligned centre and I need it on the left. Now usually getting things to align centre is challenging for CSS with garbage like “margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto” being actual canonical moves (unless you are dealing with text or floating an image). Of course, I can’t use something like “align: left” but am off in some rathole of position, float, margin nonsense.

CSS has been around in some form since 1994. 1994. They’ve been deprecating HTML presentation stuff for quite some time now. But it’s just plain worse.

Now I’m sure if I spent enough time really learning all this shit, I would have some reasonable control. But…I don’t want to have to learn all this shit just to do some basic layout and I shouldn’t have too. LaTeX I sort of forgive just for it’s shear age, but 1994! With supposed active development since!

It makes me want to dork with transparent 1 pixel gifs.

Thinking About Bug Day

Grace Hopper discovered the “first” computer bug…a literal moth shorting out some relays. (I scare quote “first” because, like many “first”s, it’s complicated; I’m more than happy to credit Hopper though esp as it makes such a fun story and it involves an actual, biological, bug.) Last year was the 70th anniversary of her discovery and the folks at BugSnag put together a nice, if short, series of “worst bugs in history” with a focus on older ones with big property/life effects. It lists some classics which probably had an oversized effect in the literature (eg Ariane 5). Unit conversion issues figure prominently and still are poorly handled.

Bug day is Sept 9th which is inconvenient for my class. It’d be nice to have some sort of more wide spread…celebration? Event? Reflection?

Two Text UI Todo Managers

I’ve been studying Text UI (TUI) frameworks in Python for a while now. In my class, we use the built in argparse module to mange command line argument handling. I fantasise pushing up to REPLs and then widget based full screen console apps. Ideally, the TUI widget framework would have GUI and Web based backends but alas none do. Also, I have a couple of grade and exam management tools with argument handling that I’m looking to add a better front end. A TUI is appealing because it’s lightweight, portable, and easier to security audit.

In this investigation, I stumbled across a couple of TUI task and todo managers. There are, of course, dozens and based on editors, file formats, etc etc. These accidentally juxtaposed by one of them being in an open tab from Hacker News and the other is built on one of the frameworks I’m playing with. The first is a node.js app called Taskbook which has a kind of Trello mentality. The other is a Python/urwid toolkit based app called todotxt-machine and is designed around the todo.txt file format.

(I haven’t fully investigated but it certainly seems that todo.txt is sufficient to capture Taskbook’s data model.)

So, with minor differences in list layout, they have very similar functionality but very different interaction designs. Taskbook is entirely a shell app and all interaction is via arguments from the shell. This is great for integration with scripts and thus larger workflows but can get get when manually manipulating lots of items. It’s primary mode is batch.

Contrariwise, todotxt-machine is a full screen, interactive console app with a bit of menuing, mouse support, and so on. It’s virtues and vices are the reverse of Taskbook.

Implementationwise, though I don’t have actual stats or anything, it’s much easier to add the command line processing than the console UI. Adding the Taskbook argument handling should be a doddle (given feature parity).

In a similar summery, Taskbook’s JSON is more ready out of the box for processing whereas todo.txt is much easier for people to manipulate.

Virgin Atlantic’s Airfare Site seems Scammy

So, this evening we repeatedly saw a fare for about £600 but after we entered ALL the info including credit card the site told us it was “no longer available” and offer one for £100 higher.

Going back to the search page (from different computer) resulted in the same search results. Going through the info filling led to the same outcome.

I can understand a lag between an aggregator site and the real prices. Sorta. But on the company’s own site?! Over an hour or more?

It’s hard to imagine that this isn’t deliberate. But a bad idea. We bought the ticket because it was still the best deal/itinerary but now I’m very unhappy with Virgin as an airline.

Terminal Funkinesses

Two terminal graphicsy thingies crossed my radar:

  1. Brow.sh, a terminal front end for the Web. It uses a headless browser backend in a separate process and renders everything to the terminal even graphics!
  2. On a much smaller scale, there’s termgraph.py, a library for rendering bar graphs to the terminal.

I’m pretty excited about the second because, as I’ve whined before, getting a simple graph out of Python is way more difficult than it should be.

Keypad Research

Just some tab cleanup!

Phone dialers are a fascinating part of our lives. I remember moving from rotary dialers to a keypad and it was amazing. It was so much faster and easier on the hand! But the real game changer was the way it engaged muscle memory. (This is all fading as contact lists make remembering or even dealing numbers increasingly less necessary.) Most of us only experienced rotary or dialpad so it may not be clear just how designed the dialpad is. But Bell Labs experimented with a ton of layouts:

And Sajid Saiyed is revisiting this design space today! Dialing on a touch screen with a hand held, modern smartphone is very thumb oriented, but screen sizes make the pads less thumb friendly esp with the “dial” button pushing everything up a row. You can participate in the study (which looks for issues across demographics groups, which is interesting…I didn’t see across tab on screen size, though) using an iPhone app.

The current leading concept is very simple and obvious…move the seldom uses buttons (* and #) up top and slot the call button beside the 0. This brings every thing down and makes the call button easier to hit. Neat!