New Slideshow System

It’s that time of year…I consider switching presentation systems. I currently use reveal.js with prez and it’s ok, but:

  1. Getting a theme that conforms to Manchester style is challenging. I’ve sorta hacked it, but it has problems.
  2. Tweaking formatting is really hard. Images in particular but really everything.
  3. Making slides progressive is harder than it needs to be and prez obliterates it.
  4. I can’t make text large enough for our screens or code listings readable

Plus I want more fancy features. I get really excited by showoff‘s interaction features (ask questions anonymously! file issues on a slide FROM THAT SLIDE!!!). But it totally defeated my attempts to put a small fucking logo in the upper left corner. It requires a ton of CSS and Javascript and understanding their framework and crises man, I just want some pretty normal layout.

I really like Makoko and it’s good for paper writing (though it doesn’t support inline footnotes because evil). It’s backed by reveal.js, but has some nice features including a very groovy editor. It doesn’t have the showoff features but it compiles to beamer. Horrible horrible and ugly beamer, but beamer nevertheless.

There are so many new HTML presentation frameworks, but they seem to be flaky and don’t solve the problem of making some simple customisations.


Joe Clark on iPhones

Catch up isn’t happening but at least I’m not falling behind.

Joe Clark is almost always worth reading. He’s a bit polemical but that’s ok. He has an inspired discussion on the usability problems with iPhones:

Very advanced, very tuned-in people learn about, and learn how to use, new Apple features by watching them being demonstrated onstage during Apple keynote events.

Then there’s everybody else.

Don Norman told us several times several years ago () that iPhones hide their functions.

(His list of example encounters hits home hard.)

The scary thing is that iOS is fairly useable as these things go. A lot of the problem is the whole “flat design” ethos which kills chrome in favor of content. There are fewer cues and more “you need to know the gesture or to tap”. Invisible features suck.

My example is how horrifically ugly and unusable the music app has become. I can barely use it. I had to provide phone tech to Zoe overseas to turn off single song repeat (it’s really hidden!).

So Apple, shape up! Make features discoverable.

Oh Mistune

I am about ready to give up on you.

I gained control of your renderers and they work great! Yay!

Lexers, grammars, all the parsing is a maze of twisty passages where I bark my shins constantly and make no progress.

I tried to enable math support which is a standard contributions and…it’s still not working. I’m going to try this other thing now. As far as I can tell, no one uses the “mistune-contribs” version.

I think this signals the end for me. I’ll have to migrate to something else more managable.

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.

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.

Some Annoyances

Welp, I lost my UK passport on my last trip. I finally faced that fact and cancelled it. Now I’m going through the pain of renewing it. This means I won’t be able to the US next week because everything sucks. Apparently you can’t do online or super expedited passport renewal for lost ones, only “one week” fast track. There’s no reason at all given. It makes zero sense. In spite of them making much of giving me a reference number for my cancelation, none of the 3 or so distinct application processes ask for it.

And the web site. Ugh. I’ll just detail the final annoyance which was  the payments form:
Without spaces?!?!? Duuuuudes! It probably took more effort to write “(without spaces) “than to strip the fucking spaces.

(If you ignore that as one is prone to do then it tells you that there was an “error in processing your payment” thank you very much. At least it doesn’t dump everything you’ve filled in to that point like other bits of the site.)