Oldskool Wacom

At Aligent all our workstations are on CentOS 7, which is fine & dandy except for one thing. I couldn’t get my Wacom tablet to work.

Ever since I started using computers I’ve used a graphics tablet as my preferred input device and after 20 odd years I can’t stand using a mouse.

Why? Aside from the issue of RSI it just feels so slow and inaccurate. Using a mouse there is another step in the chain between brain and screen. You look at  the screen and know where you want the mouse, then you move your hand and the cursor moves closer to the target. Then you repeat those steps until the cursor is in the right place and THEN you can click. With a tablet, the pen is mapped to the screen. Your body is clever enough to quickly learn the exact position to move your hand  and touching the pen to the tablet is a click. Much quicker.

For the past few weeks I’ve been unable to get my latest Wacom tablet to work with linux. Today I found a solution. I dug out a 20 year old tablet I stole from a company I worked for in London back in the 90’s. Sure enough I plugged it in and bosh – it worked first time. Happy days.

I just love oldskool solutions to modern tech problems.

Progressive Web Apps

The first week of my new job has been interesting. This is a smart group of people who are engineering some very high end eCommerce websites for big clients like Coopers Beer & Haighs Chocolate.

One of the things I’ve been working on recently is the idea of creating enhanced front ends for exiting systems like WordPress or Magento. I’m thinking about Single Page App using React or something similar to connect to a RESTful API provided by the system being enhanced. The idea is to leave the older display layers in place for the search engines to index but then adding an uber-display layer on top for users whom it suits.

What I’ve learned here at Aligent is that this is already an idea which is quickly taking shape in the ever speedy world of web development. There are a few concepts I hadn’t thought of, but essentially what I had in mind was a Progressive Web App. I’m on it.

This new level of quality allows Progressive Web Apps to earn a place on the user's home screen.

A Progressive Web App is:

  • Progressive – Works for every user, regardless of browser choice because it’s built with progressive enhancement as a core tenet.
  • Responsive – Fits any form factor: desktop, mobile, tablet, or whatever is next.
  • Connectivity independent – Enhanced with service workers to work offline or on low-quality networks.
  • App-like – Feels like an app to the user with app-style interactions and navigation because it’s built on the app shell model.
  • Fresh – Always up-to-date thanks to the service worker update process.
  • Safe – Served via HTTPS to prevent snooping and to ensure content hasn’t been tampered with.
  • Discoverable – Is identifiable as an “application” thanks to W3C manifest and service worker registration scope, allowing search engines to find it.
  • Re-engageable – Makes re-engagement easy through features like push notifications.
  • Installable – Allows users to “keep” apps they find most useful on their home screen without the hassle of an app store.
  • Linkable – Easily share via URL, does not require complex installation.

Starting a new job

I’m starting a new job today. I have much and varied experience of starting new jobs. I’ll not lie, I’m 42 years old and I’ve never had a single job that I’ve been in for 12 months.

Don’t judge me. I know it’s not a good look on your CV and all that, but that’s who I am. I’m a kid whose first taste of work was freelancing a website for the local photo printing shop who had noticed me come in with my PhotoShop creations when I was at Newcastle University studying psychology in 1995 (ish). I’ve been a freelancing cut & paste script kiddie ever since. Going with the most interesting and highest paying jobs and standing on the shoulders of giants, a career in front end web development isn’t like the olden days.

Likesay I’ve started many new jobs both good and bad in that time. I hope for a good one this time around. They’re a great company who specialise in ecommerce sites using magento have taken the time to properly recruit a front end developer they feel will be a good fit in their company culture and I’m ready to engage with that. Hi ho.

Magento: eCommerce platforms and solutions for selling online