Category Archives: Dynamic Media

A banjo player standing in front of an orange tinged sunset

For Folks’ Sake

My family and I have been attending the Juan De Fuca Festival of the Arts (JFFA) in Port Angeles, WA for many years. Due to COVID-19 it was suspended for this year. We decided to fill our home with folk/Americana/Celtic music purchased at JFFA from artists over the years and share our favorites here.

While one of the best parts of JFFA is finding new favorites, we hope this list lets you find a new favorite yourself. Share your favorites in the comments.

Rosie & the Riveters

https://www.rosieandtheriveters.com/

We saw them live at JFFA last year and loved the mix of music and political commentary in the lyrics. Buy their album and they will invest 20% of the profits into women’s projects and businesses. Just remember to Ms Behave

Laura Love

https://www.facebook.com/octoroonbiography/

Laura has been touring for what seems like a long time. We have seen her perform a few times and each time is special. The folk songs she weaves are worth the listen.

Scott Cook

https://scottcook.net/tunes

Personally my favorite act I have ever discovered at JFFA. He has been back one more and we were thrilled when he stopped on tour through Bellingham. In each setting his music has been authentic and easy to connect to. It also makes you think. His new album is coming out soon, pre-order it now. Order One More Time Around as well to listen to my favorite song of his, https://scottcook.net/track/1813645/pass-it-along.

Derina Harvey Band

https://www.derinaharvey.com/

What a wonderful show and powerful music. Derina Harvey Band was a blast to listen to. The recordings are much like the live performance. They have a new single out, Northern Lights of Labrador. The song in the video is one we enjoyed live.

Jim Page

https://jimpage.net/music-store/

Technically, we saw Jim at the Oregon Country Fair several years ago, but it fits right into the JFFA vibe so I am going to pretend he would have been there this year. We listened to Seattle Songs this weekend. He has what seems to be an unrivaled catalog, check out the songs/albums and support Jim.

Brook Adams

https://brookadams.com/

Another, non-JFFA music favorite, that should be at JFFA. I met Brook through my boss at the time and his original music is entertaining, makes one think, and is darn fun. Go buy some music.

Moira Smiley

A lyrical voice and the coolest rhythms. We have only seen Moira once but it was memorable. She has a lot of albums, but this is the one that got us hooked. https://moirasmiley.com/?download=circle-square-diamond-flag-cd

Polecat

https://www.polecatmusic.com/home

So. Much. Fun. Polecat is always a blast with cool instrumentals and being on the front of the beat. They have a deal right now, four albums for $25. This is something great to do while social distancing, have a personal dance party with Polecat!

PaperBoys

https://paperboys.com/

Fiddle. Celtic. Rock. If you have not heard of the PaperBoys, well, that is ok. Do yourself a favor and buy their album Calithump. We have seen them at JFFA, Bellingham, and even at a local arts place in Lynden, WA. A joy to listen too.

Dustbowl Revival

http://www.dustbowlrevival.com/home

This was a great surprise. We were at a stage just getting some food and Dustbowl Revival started their set. We danced away the whole set. They also appear to be doing virtual music festivals over the summer. Tune in for great music.

The Sam Chase and the Untraditional

http://www.thesamchase.com/

Really fun music. Lots of instruments. I believe they have made it to JFFA more than once. I believe they are from the San Francisco area, they certainly have a more relaxed approach to folk music. They have a new album out that they describe as a Faustian spaghetti western rock opera. I can’t wait to hear it.

Lindsay Lou

https://www.lindsayloumusic.com/

While I have not had a chance to listen to Lindsay’s new music, we were hooked when she showed up and played as Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellies. The album Ionia is fantastic. The song “The River Jordan,” is my second favorite from all of the music listed here only to Scott Cook’s “Pass it along.” I am excited to purchase and listen to her newer works.

Homepage – What does it mean?

Homepage. Home page. Home Page. In every variant of the spelling it is a singular noun. If one must go to the homepage of a corporation or institution you visit the homepage. However, for those of us that work day to day with websites, we often say something along the lines of, “that content is on the homepage.” The thing is, we don’t mean that it is literally on the homepage. We mean it is within the site that has a front door at ***.com.

There must be a better phrase, but those I’ve tried don’t seem to have traction. Home site, the collection of pages and posts, the company site. I believe that homepage is an anachronism of the early web and a better term is needed.

Now, I realize this position is rather thin, especially for small websites. However, as sites grow more complex or there are sites within sites within sites, this becomes important. I work at a university and if a department has a website, they refer to their homepage. That gets confusing as the department site is usually within a college site and homepage which is within the university homepage.

This has certainly been kicking around in my head for several months. Surprisingly, even Wikipedia has a lightweight discussion around the term. I don’t know what the answer is, maybe I just need to accept that homepage can mean many things but I am grasping for a concrete word or phrase that captures the idea of a main web property that exists for a brand.

Pico; WordPress alternative?

My website is powered by Concrete5 and WordPress. I develop professionally sites in Drupal. Now, I am considering migrating my blog and site to Pico. It is an interesting landscape, these “flat-file” CMS systems.  There are a few very exciting looking pay-to-play products, Statamic and Kirby. However, Pico is free, uses an MIT license, and is built by the folks at Dev7 who seem to make nice products, and frankly it looks good out of the box as well.

I am a happy vi user so using a product name pico has a bit of an internal dig built into it. There are several other free flat-file systems out there as well. What I find intriguing about Pico is that it uses the twig template system. The twig system is what powers the themes in Drupal 8 so there is a good chance what I learn in Pico will be applicable to my D8 theme modifications and vice-versa.

What all of these systems use for text entry is Markdown. I am slowly beginning to see the convenience of it though HTML isn’t difficult for me, learning Markdown has been a process. Making lists with an * or headings with ## is quite cool. I’ll be able to adapt.

Pico’s code seems to be fairly stable too. The github issue page is fairly active and folks are making pull requests. This is what makes choosing a new system difficult, trying to answer the question of will it be around in the future? One way to make sure it sticks around is to take the plunge and give it a try.

Deliberating still…

 

Aural interfaces for the masses: What would it look like?

Recently I have been using my Siri like voice command capabilities on my phone. I have an Android based device and I have no idea what it is called but it does the same thing. If I ask, “Where is the nearest restaurant,” it fires up Google Maps and shows me without me having to type that into Google Maps. I know other apps can be context aware but I am curious about how an aural interface would work if you didn’t need to pull up a screen reader, it would just be always on.

When you have a full desktop browser and a mouse this still wouldn’t serve much purpose but if you are on a device without a mouse and you could just say “follow, link title” the browser would find the link titled as such and go there. Another example would be when you are on the page reading text you could say, “scroll down one page,” and the screen would scroll automatically for you. Dragon Naturally Speaking apparently can accommodate much of this.

CSS 3 already has a speech spec that is recommended. That spec is really geared towards implementing an enhanced experience for screen readers but I suspect that if you improve the markup for screen readers it would open up a doorway for use without screen readers as well. This is the classic progressive enhancement win that has been exemplified with each iteration of HTML, CSS, and JS.

Pairing this with future enhancements in eye tracking technology one day we might be able to look at the page and then dictate what we want to do. I think that would be very liberating as a user that is on a computer for 8+ hours a day. Beyond the CSS 3 spec, pages are now often built with ARIA regions that make it very straight-forward to make very robust identification/function for each HTML element.

If anyone is aware of a JS library, technology or stack that accommodates any of the above please let me know. It would be lots of fun to experiment further with this idea.

Zurb responsive tables within Drupal

Responsive tables are a big challenge. Tabular data is often very important and you don’t want to hide the data just to keep the nice responsive design in shape. Currently within Drupal I am not aware of any defacto solutions. I experimented with jQuery Mobile’s technique table reflow, the footable module, and lastly Zurb’s responsive tables.

I had one criteria for a successful solution; my users should not have to do anything to make their table responsive. I did not want them to right click on the table and add a class, I didn’t want them to have to build all of their tables with views, just plop in a ckEditor table and hit save.

A secondary criteria was that the solution should be lightweight since it is primarily to be used by users on mobile devices and we don’t all have 4G LTE in our offices and living rooms as of yet. All of the solutions mentioned above use some sort of CSS hook to indicate that the table needs to become responsive at certain breakpoints. The lightest weight solution for me turned out to be Zurb’s approach.

To automate the insertion in the HTML of a CSS class I turned to the Flexifilter module. Not enough people use this module but what it allows you to do is to create a Drupal input filter, so really an output filter, on anything that is formatted, like your WYSIWYG output.

After enabling the module you need to go to Structure -> Flexifilters -> Add New Flexifilter.

Setting up a flexifilter in Drupal 7.
Configuring a filter.

Inside of a filter you have several options but the Pattern Based Text Replacement widget works with regex. Once a filter is configured, you have to enable it. Once enabled, head over to your text format configuration screen and enable your new filter.

Configuration -> Content Authoring -> Text Formats -> Full HTML. I put the filter as the last item to be ran so that I can ensure the class I want added is actually added.

Enabling a text filter in Drupal 7.
Enable the text filter and place it as the last filter to run.

So now we have a class called responsive being added to tables folks create. How does this help us? We need to leverage Zurb’s great work to answer that. You can grab the source from their GitHub project page. We want two of the files, responsive-tables.css and  responsive-tables.js. You can discard the rest. Place the css file in your theme/css directory and the js file in your theme/js directory.

Open up your theme.info file and tell Drupal about these two new files. In a Zen sub-theme it looks like this:

stylesheets[all][] = css/responsive-tables.css
; Optionally add some JavaScripts to your theme.
scripts[] = js/responsive-tables.js

Next, open up the responsive-tables.js file as we need to wrap it in a Drupal safe closure. At the very top of the file add

(function ($, Drupal, window, document, undefined) {

and at the very bottom add

})(jQuery, Drupal, this, this.document);

This allows the code that the Zurb folks wrote to run without conflict with the other jQuery that Drupal executes. That is pretty much it. Save those files. Go to Structure -> Appearance to reload the info file and your table should now be responsive at small window sizes.

Zurb style responsive table rendered in Drupal 7.20.
Zurb style responsive table in Drupal 7.20.