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It was a great format …but I knew it would be. Jason told me last year how inspired he was by the podcast recordings from Responsive Day Out and how much he and Lyza wanted to do a Responsive Day Out in Portland. As the day unfolded on Friday, I found myself being quite moved. It was genuinely touching to see my conference template replicated not only in format, but also in spirit.

It was a lovely, lovely feeling to think that I had, in some small way, provided some inspiration for such a great event. When I organised the first Science Hack Day in London a few years ago, I never could have predicted how amazingly far Ariel would take the event. Fifty Science Hack Days in multiple countries—fifty! I think it would be paralysing and overwhelming to even contemplate in advance.

But in retrospect …it sure feels nice. I was so close to bringing my ancient copy of DOM Scripting to rfdpdx for adactio to sign. Ten years! It feels like a lot happened ten years ago. The evening after dConstruct this year, we threw a party to mark our decadal milestone. What happened at the Clearleft birthday party stays at the Clearleft birthday party.

I had already been living in Brighton for five years before Clearleft was born. In one of those funny twists of fate, we found ourselves travelling back to Freiburg last week, the day after the Clearleft party. I was in Freiburg to speak at Smashing Conference. I was the mystery speaker. When the website for the conference went live, it looked like a Clearleft school reunion: me, Andy H , Cennydd , Anna , and Paul were all on the home page.

I was there in the early nineties, just a few years after the Velvet Revolution. I was hitch-hiking and busking my way around Europe with my friend Polly she played fiddle, I played mandolin. When I visit foreign countries now, I get to stay in hotel rooms and speak at conferences.

Back then, I sang for my supper and slept wherever I could find a dry spot—usually in a park or on the outskirts of town, far from activity. I remember how cold it was on that first visit to Prague. We snuck into an apartment building to sleep in the basement. But I also remember extraordinary acts of kindness. When we left Prague, we travelled south towards Austria. We were picked up by an old man in an old car who insisted we should stay the night at his house with his family. I remember walking over the border into Austria. That switchover was probably the biggest culture shock of the whole trip.


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There was quite a disparity in wealth between the two countries. When we reached Vienna, we met another couple who were travelling through Europe. But whereas Polly and I were travelling out of choice, they were in desperate search of somewhere to call home. Their country, Yugoslavia, was breaking up. One of them was Serbian. The other was Croatian. They were in love. They peppered us with questions.


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  • A few weeks later, we were crossing over the alps down into Italy. We got stuck at a service station for two full days. I know I say this every year, but this month—and this week in particular—is a truly wonderful time to be in Brighton. I am, of course, talking about The Brighton Digital Festival. Reasons To Be Creative just wrapped up. The activities for the Codebar Code and Chips scavenger hunt are also underway. I guess clashing events are unavoidable. Like tonight. But of course the big event is dConstruct tomorrow.

    Andy has asked me to compere the event. And, you know, after talking to most of the speakers for the podcast —which I enjoyed immensely—I feel like I can give an informed introduction for each talk. I went to Copenhagen last week for the Coldfront conference. Coldfront was fun. At Coldfront there were some very clear themes around building for resilience, and specifically routing around the damage of inconsistent connectivity.

    There was a very clear message—from Paul , Alex , and Patrick blog imminent —that the network is not always on our side. Making our sites work offline should be much more of a priority than it currently is.

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    Heck, even I mentioned it in glowing terms in my own little presentation. I was admiring the way it has been designed specifically to be used in a progressive enhancement kind of way. So if I were Mr. Are you listening? The topic was inline styles. Well, not quite. But there are many, many other situations where the cascade is very useful indeed. It makes sense to me try to solve the perceived problems with CSS—issues of scope and specificity—without asking everyone to change the way they write.

    I like that. So I was kind of surprised by the bullishness of those who seem to honestly believe that this is the way to build on the web, and that CSS will become a relic. That all styles will be managed through JavaScript from here on? I find that a little disheartening. Chris has written about the confidence of youth :.

    Discussions are always worth having. Weighing options is always interesting. It could be a very handy tool to have in your toolbox for certain situations. But ideally your toolbox should have many other tools.

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    When all you have is a hammer, yadda, yadda, yadda, nail. But my over-riding attitude towards any questions of web design and development is:. At the next front-end pow-wow at Clearleft , Graham showed the dConstruct site in all its glory …in Lynx. I love that. Even with the focus on the gorgeous illustration and futuristic atmosphere of the design, Graham took the time to think about the absolute basics: marking up the content in a logical structured way.

    Everything after that—the imagery, the fonts, the skewed style—all of it was built on a solid foundation. It turns out that the site build was a matter of prioritisation after all. But for the icing on the cake, Graham reached for canvas and programmed space elevator traffic with randomly seeded velocity and size. The dConstruct site is gorgeous, semantic, responsive, and performant. Conventional wisdom dictates that you have to choose, but this little site—built on a really tight schedule—shows otherwise.

    I was a guest on the Boagworld podcast —neither Andy nor Richard were available so Paul and Marcus were stuck with me. We talked boring business stuff, but only after an extended—and much more interesting—preamble wherein we chatted about sci-fi books. Growing your business on Huffduffer. When prompted for which books I would recommend, I was able to instantly recall some recent reads, but inevitably I forgot to mention some others.

    One book I recommended without hesitation was Station Eleven. Have a listen to the Boagworld podcast episode for some more ramblings on why I liked it. It feels quite exciting to be anticipating the third part in what will clearly be a long-time classic series, right up there with the all-time greats. I first came across Ancillary Justice through some comparisons that were being made to Iain M.

    I was reading his final work, The Hydrogen Sonata , trying to take it slow, knowing that there would be no further books from that universe. The universe that Leckie is describing has a very different but equally compelling richness. The dConstruct podcast episodes are coming thick and fast. Hot on the heels of the inaugural episode with Matt Novak and the sophomore episode with Josh Clark comes the third in the series: the one with Ingrid Burrington. This was a fun meeting of minds.

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    We geeked out about the physical infrastructure of the internet and time-travel narratives, from The Terminator to The Peripheral. Oh, and now you can subscribe to the dConstruct podcast directly from iTunes. I really enjoyed the most recent Indie Web Camp in Brighton. Well, to help keep the momentum going, Charlotte and I are going to start running a Homebrew Website Club meetup here in Brighton. We can help each other out, or just have a chance to chat and compare notes, very much in the spirit of the original Homebrew Computer Club …but applied to your own website.

    It would be lovely to see you there. My site is. The website has a manifest file. The website has a Service Worker. The user visits the website a few times over the course of a few days. Native apps are still ahead of what can be accomplished on the web, but it was ever thus : The web will always be lagging behind some other technology. That kind of future is what Alex is calling progressive apps : Critically, these apps can deliver an even better user experience than traditional web apps.

    Nicolas documented how he set up a Service Worker for his site. Jake put together an offline cookbook covering the many ways that Service Workers can be used. So if you decide to play around with Service Workers, please, please share your experience. I figured for a personal site like this, it would be nice to: Explicitly cache resources like CSS, JavaScript, and some images. Cache the homepage so it can be displayed even when the network connection fails.

    How very future friendly! The magic of Service Worker is that I can intercept that request before it happens and decide what to do with it: self.

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    I do that using a catch clause appended to the fetch statement: if request. If all else fails, show the offline page. Instead I need to return the offline page if the response from the cache is falsey: return caches. File requests I want to handle requests for files differently to requests for pages. Step one: try getting the file from the cache: event. If you fancy having a go at coding that up, let me know. Lessons learned There were a few gotchas along the way. Something else worth noting is that this: fetch request ; …is functionally equivalent to this: fetch request.

    Likewise: caches. Updates I got some very useful feedback from Jake after I published this… Expires headers By default, JavaScript files on my server are cached for a month. I could just register it with: if navigator. Get out of my head! What problems do they have? Finally, what do they need to do next?

    The structure of stories Ellen and I have been enjoying some great philosophical discussions about exactly what a story is, and how does it differ from a narrative structure, or a plot. For that to happen the attitudes of ordinary citizens in the developed countries would have to change radically: accepting the massive reduction of emissions and the changes in lifestyle that would have to accompany such moves to check climate change, paying for more for aid, welcoming migrants, and seeking to eliminate the sources of conflict rather than repress those who take up arms.

    It would be a remarkable reversal and it will have to happen soon. It is not, of course, likely to happen at all. The comrades at SIAW would no doubt see the considerations adduced by Hirst as an argument for the democratic socialist world revolution for which they are waiting. But if the economic calculation argument is valid, we must accept that Marxian, non-market socialism, however democratic etc, etc , would result in industry grinding to a halt and people dying like flies, as indeed it has done whenever it has been seriously attempted.

    Fortunately it has not been seriously attempted in most socialist countries, hence the otherwise inexplicable prevalence of state capitalism, and the inevitable reversion from state to private capitalism. If so, it's time for responsible Marxists to follow Hirst's excellent example and stop blathering on about socialism, in the sense of some post-market order about whose actual economic mechanism that is supposed to replace the market they like the rest of us have when you part the thickets of wearisomely familiar verbiage no fucking clue , and which won't arrive no matter how long we wait.

    There is, however, hope, and it does lie in the proles. For if socialism has been the crushing disappointment of the twentieth century, proletarian revolution has been its smashing success. Marx was absolutely on the money about the revolutionary potential of the urban working class. He was just wrong about its liability to establish a socialist order.

    Proletarian revolutions have been frequent and are increasingly prevalent, but socialism in Marx's sense is still news from nowhere. A perhaps avoidable digression: There was one proletarian socialist revolution, and it went to the devil as swiftly as any medieval millennarian commune, due in large measure to the unexpected and in quite novel and inexplicable phenomenon of industry grinding to a halt and people dying like flies.

    Lenin, to his undying credit, promptly added 'Soviety' to his already extensive thesaurus of pejoratives. But to his dying day he never did understand why a Soviety bridge was a rickety bridge - he thought it had something to do with bureaucracy, and put Stalin in charge of sorting the matter out, a decision he lived just long enough to regret but not, alas, long enough to rescind. For lack of even the most essential data, also excluded from this study is the People's Socialist Republic of Nambuangongo, established around February in the Dembos forests in north-western Nambuangongo between the rivers Loge and Dang in the immediate wake of the rising in Luanda.

    The republic will probably remain the most distant and curious echo of the Bolshevik revolution. Therefore, in spite of the fact that it has not proved possible to unearth any data on this example, it does seem important that its existence should be put on record. The book painstakingly and almost tediously documents the non-proletarian social basis of every single establishment of a self-styled Marxist regime, other than the one established by the Military-Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet in October Old Style. Some of the most impressive proletarian revolutions have been anti-socialist: Hungary , Poland , Rumania , China Not all were victorious but, as Perry Anderson said of the 19th-century English workers, even when they won no victories, their defeats were astonishing.

    What The Economist said of can stand for them all: Marx's irresistible force met Lenin's immovable object. Sometimes the irresistible force was stopped, and sometimes the immovable object Not long ago the commonest form of unconstitutional governmental or regime change was through military coup, with guerilla war running a distant but respectable second.

    These days it's through proletarian revolution: mass, urban, working-class insurrections have toppled governments across the globe. The wage and salary earners are now the largest class on the planet, and by far the most decisive one. They've been throwing their social weight around to good effect. The unappeasable crowd in Republic Square, the converging columns of the rural poor, the snowstorm of secret police files from the broken windows of the gutted Ministry of the Interior, the armed workers and students reading the news in the national television studio - such formerly once-in-a-generation epochal events have become so common in the years since that they sometimes fail to make the front pages of even serious bourgeois newspapers.

    The governments they put in have so far not been outstanding at advancing the interests of the working class, but no doubt we'll get the hang of it eventually. Cheryl Morgan has forwarded this curious email: Dear Ken, Apologies for hijacking one of your friends' email accounts, but as you can probably guess it is not wise for me to reveal my location to the authorities right now. Anyway, to the point: outsourcing. Please tell Jon not to worry about the Indian thing.

    I am on the point of securing a lucrative deal with a call centre based on Mars. Their rates are very competitive and initial tests have shown that they have adequate bandwidth. There is a small problem with time delay, but their staff cleverly cover that by claiming to be thinking hard about calls. As you have probably guessed, their employees are not human. I am still in the process of determining whether or not they are organic.

    One clue is that they claim to have no transgendered employees, which they say gives them a big advantage over the Indians when going after lucrative US contracts. Personally I don't give a fuck, and I doubt that the average Evangelical Christian has a clue what hijra means anyway, but I suspect that Jon may be concerned that the Indians are exploiting a cultural minority that has difficulty obtaining work in traditional companies. One small problem. The company gives its name as Freedom Hound Ltd.

    I smell a rat. Or rather a dog. If you or Jon still have moles inside GCHQ a few quiet enquiries concerning bizarre explanations for lost exploratory hardware would be appreciated. Yours profitably, Dave Reid I should make clear that references to 'moles' are entirely a product of my friend's vivid imagination. The free-market foundations' entire staffs have been sacked and replaced by eager graduates in the Bombay-based Kali Call-Centre, dedicated to the Hindu goddess of creative destruction.

    As for religious interference in politics and private morals, we're up against the world's worst serial offenders outside of Iran. We can undercut American ideologues any day. We're English-literate, hip, and nobody can accuse us of being a bunch of fat white men. And it gives us a chance to hang in there until the Indians are in turn undercut by the Fr - the Fr In cases where I made a point for point response, I've given the whole of Michael Fahey's message first: Economic calculation is not a barrier to socialism.

    The powers-that-be make political decisions to subsidize particular people, goods or activities. Subsidies may be exploitative or re-distributive, and subsidies may be offensive to some economists, but they are neither impossible nor unusual. Thanks Mike. The only socialism that the economic calculation argument addresses is socialism that dispenses with money and prices.

    This was a common view of the socialist goal before WW1 and the Russian Revolution and it is this that Mises and others claimed was impossible. Other socialisms that retain the market and price system are, as you correctly say, unaffected. Perhaps Steele and the writers he cites were demoralized by the daunting task of society-wide computation in the pre-digital era.

    Nowadays, two honest brainiacs with one Pentium could do a better job calculating and articulating the wants and needs of humanity than the ''free" market ever will. Sorry, no, this is exactly what the economic calculation argument claims can't be done. How on earth could a computer be programmed to register the 'wants and needs' of humanity? Not even a Culture Mind could do it. Not so fast, MacLeod. As to needs: six billion times the optimum personal amount of clean water, grams of protein, square feet of safe housing, linear feet of sewage pipe with supporting infrastructure, etc. As to wants, I'm assuming the brainiacs will have access to polling data through which we can express our preferences as to ice cream flavors, garment styles, etc.

    A socialist society presumably would not produce ice cream until malnutrition is conquered, botox until And I'm not looking to hand myself over to Big Brother. Verify that I've done my share of the work, and then leave me alone. I believe that freedom is illusory without substantial leisure time and discretionary income. Not too much to ask given 21st Century labor-saving technology. At that point, the economic calculation problem only begins. Perhaps calling it 'economic calculation' is misleading. All it means is that you have to have an accurate measure of the value of the resources you're using, to make sure they aren't being wasted - that for any given project, your inputs aren't worth more than your outputs.

    Or to put it another way, that you aren't using up stuff for one use that would be better put to another use. For that you need a market price, or some measure that does the same job as a price. It is the contention of the economic calculation argument that no such measure has been found, or is likely to be found; and so far none has. As Trotsky put it: 'Economic accounting is unthinkable without market relations.

    There are some problems with this, starting with that polling data can't tell you accurately how much people want a particular good i. As to priorities not expressed through the market - as you said yourself, these can be dealt with by taxes and subsidies. Indeed not, but unattainable or at least, unlikely to be attained, and greatly at risk if you don't have a way of counting costs. Points taken, MacLeod.

    Re: Market price as necessary for efficiency: 1a. We can set prices without a capitalist market. In our roles as consumers, shop-floor producers, or enterprise managers, we constantly establish the value of things for the purpose of exchange. Consider the "black market" in Cuba, or the barter among factories in late Soviet Russia. There is no "correct" price in the abstract. Price is the product of subjective interactions, continually settled in our billions of transactions.

    Price need only be acceptable to the parties involved to be functional. Socialist societies have typically had a retail sector to facilitate distribution of consumer goods. Productive goods, such as hydroelectric dams or dialysis machines, for which there is no ready consumer market, must be assigned resources by the powers-that-be. Reason, trial-and-error, and good faith will do the job. Capitalist relations of production retard our immense productive capacity. Mal-distribution is one of capitalism's most glaring defects. Distributing things [e. Efficiency is a means, not an end.

    Waste is certainly to be avoided, but would it be so bad if we built too much housing, or distributed too much AIDS medication? Capitalists have never scrupled about redundant production in their weaponry and propaganda. Re: Preference and fulfillment: 2a. Polls routinely ask us to make choices and rank preferences. There is no automatic link between asking for people's preferences and fulfilling them. We're assuming an honest socialist government, which will require the constant vigilance and participation of its citizens.

    Take heart, MacLeod! After slight embarassing confusion of having two seperate short stories in one book, I greatly enjoyed both tales.

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    Shipminds and Ice Cream took me back to a time when I would sit on the floor listening to my great-grandfather tell stories of WWII and imagining him in the story. Flat Out is a unique look at future technology that the military has looked at using in recent years evolution of the Soldier exoskeleton designs coming out in recent years. The author briliantly uses plausible technological concepts to weave a believable story and makes you forget you are reading Sci-Fi.

    Great read. Read them, and tell your friends about them. Format: Kindle Edition. I obtained this book through the Kindle Unlimited program. I first encountered Kevin Ikenberry's work in the Four Horsemen universe. Two probably unrelated short stories. The first, 'Shipminds and Ice Cream,' requires a world of future tech in order to work. The second, 'Flat Out,' does exist in a world of advanced technology, but the story is pretty much that of Cain.

    In the first, we learn of a father who has identified encroaching Alzheimer's Disease, and wants to say goodbye to his children. We don't know HOW it will be accomplished, but we do know that he has willed his body to the use of the military. The story will have particular poignance for people who have loved ones taken by this living death, but to everyone, I hope the meaning is: 'Good-bye' means 'I love you,' and we never stop saying it.

    In the second story, the protagonist is literally on the run, but he has been without a home for a very long time. He has no hope of rest; the best he can hope for is a temporary reprieve, and a warning before the executioners come for him again. The technology serves to highlight the fact that regardless of any other changes in how we get food, do work, or kill others, Cain is always Cain; he slew his brother, and now he is hunted through the land. When I read scifi, I don't expect to be emotionally moved by it.

    Kevin Ikenberry's "Shipminds and Ice Cream" took me by surprise and punched me in the guts in a good way! I enjoyed immersing myself in an optimistic future where the tech was interesting and where human pain and loss still exist. This was definitely a memorable tale told extremely well. See all 4 reviews. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers.

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