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I currently work at Penguin Random House as a front-end developer working on some great projects with an amazing team.

I spend most of my time in development on the front-end with HTML(5), CSS(3) and JavaScript, including experience with jQuery, EmberJS and Backbone. I also do quite a bit of work with WordPress and Ruby on Rails on the back-end.

Bringing Back the Personal Site

There have been quite a few articles recently about the importance of the personal site, and the blogging community. It’s a sentiment I’m super excited about.

Rian Van Der Merwe has probably the simplest point. Blogs are the front page of the internet, and it’s their freedom that gives them their strength.

All this to say that I think it’s time we bring blogging and personal sites back. Some of my favorite sites are the ones that give me a glimpse into everything a person is interested in… It’s a way to get to know someone through their interests, and to learn a bunch of things along the way. So I invite you not just to follow along here as I expand into topics beyond design and technology, but to start your own personal blog up again if you’ve been neglecting it for a while.

Tom McFarlin pointed out that a personal site was a great way to ensure that you own your own data, so that it can outlive and outgrow the third party, walled gardens we’re all used to.

Imagine being able to continue sharing information, but also continuing to own all of the information for yourself by [...]

The Responsibility a WordPress User

Last week, WP Tavern posted an article about how Matt Mullwenweg was addressing concerns over WordPress development moving too quickly. Matt more or less shrugged the question off in his State of the Word, but it is still a rising sentiment. And it’s not just a concern in the WordPress community, but in the larger web community as well.

There was a lengthy discussion that followed the post. It’s worth a read if you’re into that kind of thing, but to me, it highlights a growing divide that gets right down to the core of what’s expected of a WordPress user. 

Several users noted that even small changes can ripple out to larger ones or break expectations without even a remote need. Similarly, users don’t have the time or capacity to keep up with every little development and when things change they have to go through and check the changes against all of their sites and client sites, then update tutorials, then let their clients know. Every. single. time.

Others, including a handful of core committers, pointed out (rightfully so) that even small changes are heavily considered, and that they often solicit feedback about these things on places like WP [...]

The Magpie Developer

Jeff Atwood wrote this article seven years ago but it holds true:

These so-called thought leaders have left a virtual ghost town before anyone else had a chance to arrive.

I became a programmer because I love computers, and to love computers, you must love change. And I do. But I think the magpie developer sometimes loves change to the detriment of his own craft.

This seems as relevant as ever. As a developer in the Javascript world, it’s hard to keep up. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve done more “Hello World’s” then real projects. Small side projects help, but I’ve found the trick is to learn the basics of something, then log it in the back of your head (or write it down somewhere) for future use.

Side note, it’s disturbing how many links in this article are 404’ed these days. We need to all do something about that.

Leveling Up in JavaScript for WordPress Developers

Or How I Learned JavaScript.

When I started building websites, I used Notepad, and wrote pages in plain HTML and a little CSS. After a couple of years giving that a go, I moved to WordPress, and found out all about web standards. I’ve certainly written my fair share of PHP, but my primary skill set is the front-end. I was never trained in computer science, and programming has been a slowly acquired skills. Only in the last few years have I truly become serious about JavaScript development. In that time, I’ve picked up a few resources that I wish somebody had told me about when I first started out. Hopefully, a couple of these will help.

The JavaScript / jQuery debate

I’ll cop to it. I learned jQuery first. Some will say that’s wrong. In my opinion, it abstracts away annoying browser quirks and makes diving into code a lot easier. The trick is to avoid simply writing a mess of chained spaghetti right from the get go.

If you really want to understand how jQuery works, I’ll give you the secret sauce. Learn jQuery in 30 Days, from Jeffrey Way. In about 8 hours you’ll learn about how forgiving [...]

To return to a book is to return not just to the text but also to a past self. We are embedded in our libraries. To reread is to remember who we once were, which can be equal parts scary and intoxicating. Other services such as Timehop offer ways to return to past photos or past tweets. They, too, are unexpectedly evocative. Far more so than you might think. They allow us to measure and remeasure ourselves. And if a resurfaced tweet has an emotional resonance of x, than a passage in a book by which you were once moved must resonate at 100x.

Craig Mod, in Aeon

How to Make Text That Writes Itself in Javascript

One of my goals for the new year is to start actually blogging, to share the things that I’m learning, and to keep a better record for myself. To go along with that, I launched a new version of my site with the Fixed Theme from Array Themes. It’s incredibly well balanced, fast as hell, and a pleasure to use.

But I did want to carry over one thing from the last iteration of my site, and that is a sort of typewriter effect on the homepage which has a few messages from me to you. I actually saw this over at Music For Programming, and adapted the code for my own needs. But I thought I’d break down how it works. It’s written in vanilla JavaScript, in about 50 lines of code. The end effect is that text appears to type itself across the screen, delete the words, and then type some more.

Here’s what it looks like in action:

The effect itself is deceptively simple. JavaScript runs through each message, and one by one, pops the last letter off of the a message, and attaches it [...]

For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks… the work for which all other work is but preparation.”

Ranier Maria Rilke, A letter to a friend

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Jay Hoffmann

A Web Developer