We’re back after a long summer! Today’s episode is all about games.
- Kyle has recently been playing an iOS game called Super Hexagon by Terry Cavanaugh, a simple but deceptively-challenging game where one tries to maneuver a small hexagon through a never-ending obstacle course. Available for iPhone and iPad for $2.99 on the App Store.
- Also by Terry Cavanaugh is VVVVVV, a challenging retro platformed where the action button reverses gravity instead of jumping. Available for Mac and PC on Steam for $4.99 and for the Nintendo 3DS for $7.99.
- Nathan likes playing Jetpack Joyride by Halfbrick, a single-button sidescroller with great replay value where one flies a jetpack down a hallway, avoids obstacles, and collects power ups. Available for iPhone and iPad for free, with optional in-app purchases for coins.
- Jason has been enjoying an addicting slot-machine simulator / RPG hybrid called Dungeons and Coins, by Sigma Game. Available for free on iPhone and iPad, with optional in-app purchases for coins.
- We’ve all been playing a lot of Letterpress lately. Letterpress is an engaging word game in the style of Words with Friends by ate bits where one plays against a friend to form words and gain control of the game board. Its interface and design is also excellent. Available for free on iPhone and iPad, with a $0.99 in-app purchase to unlock full functionality.
- Nathan also enjoys Puzzlejuice by Asher Vollmer, one of the inspirations for Letterpress. Puzzlejuice is a fast-paced combination of Tetris and Boggle, available for $1.99 on iPhone and iPad.
- We’re back already from our summer hiatus! Our topic this week is CSS development on the Mac.
- The software one spends the most time in when working with CSS is, of course, a text editor. Nathan is a fan of Chocolat, which is lightweight but full featured. Kyle likes TextMate for its powerful CSS bundle features. Jason loves Vim for its many powerful shortcuts and built-in editing tools.
- The next step up from a plain text editor is a dedicated IDE for web development, which usually includes previewing and deployment tools. We’re all big fans of Coda 2; its recent update has brought its capabilities beyond those of Espresso. The Hints and Navigator panels are especially helpful for working with CSS.
- We also discuss Diet Coda, a pared-down version of Coda made for iPad. The app’s editing and terminal features are attractive, but being limited to working with files directly on a server reduces the app’s value.
- Beyond a good editor, there are a few tools that can streamline the writing process even farther. Nathan has set up TextExpander to automatically expand abbreviations of properties that are hard to type. If a design is started in Photoshop, the CSS Hat plugin can also save time by automatically generating CSS rules to match the styling of an object.
- After writing CSS comes testing it. A tool called LiveReload streamlines this process considerably by automatically injecting new CSS into a webpage as you save, which is especially helpful when tweaking the design of a stateful web app. CodeKit is a similar tool with some compelling features, but its reloading capabilities are less robust.
- The WebKit developer tools are hugely helpful when tweaking CSS, allowing one to quickly change and test values, and when debugging, showing the cascade so one can diagnose specificity issues. Additionally, the Firefox developer tools have been greatly improved recently and are becoming comparable to the WebKit tools, even boasting a few unique capabilities.
- Returning to the process of writing CSS, we discuss two preprocessors, SASS and LESS. These languages are supersets of CSS that add helpful features like variables and nesting. LiveReload and CodeKit can automatically compile code written in these languages into standard CSS.
- After testing comes deployment, starting with minification. Smaller is a great tool that allows one to easily combine and minify all the code in a deployment folder. An IDE’s tools can be used to upload files to a deployment server, as well as dedicated apps like Transmit.
- Finally, we share one final tool that can be helpful when either working on a team or reading existing CSS. ProCSSor can prettify and un-minify CSS documents, ensuring that they adhere to the formatting rules you select.
We bring you a short update to talk about our inconsistent schedule over the last two months, and to report that it will continue for the near future. We are calling a summer
sabbatical hiatus off from the Podcast in order to have some time to straighten our schedules back out.
However, we’re not leaving the site! We simply do not have enough time to focus on projects as demanding as the podcast and this very blog. Your contributions to the blog are still welcome, and there are a handful of users reviewing and scheduling posts besides us.
We leave you with a project that has occupied some of our time in the interim. The three of us put together an automatically generated community ad that we hope will attract even more attention to questions with bounties.
Thanks for listening, we look forward to returning to the show soon.
- We begin with more talk of the new iPad. One feature that we would have loved to see is pressure sensitivity. Apps like GarageBand are use accelerometer-based trickery to determine the pressure of a tap, but we would love to see this functionality natively integrated and made accessible to all apps. The possibilities for new gestures and states are attractive.
- We get Jason’s first impressions of the new iPad. He appreciates how much lighter it is than the original version, and loves the greatly extended battery life. The long charge time is an acceptable trade off to a battery that lasts all day. The camera is also a helpful inclusion, and Jason is looking forward to a promised update to Instatweet bringing camera integration. Continue Reading »
- This episode is all about the big news of the week: the new iPad. The first interesting thing about it is its name: iPad. Not iPad 3, not iPad 4G, just iPad. Officially, it’s the iPad 3rd Generation. We discuss our opinions of and experiences with the new naming convention, as well as how we plan to handle the tagging situation on Ask Different.
- We move on to the meat of the new iPad and discuss its features. We list the major changes that were announced, and Kyle and Mike, who both have the new device, share their favorite features and the features they’re more skeptical about. Both love the Retina display, a favorite of Kyle’s for watching time lapse videos. Kyle also appreciates being able to use an AT&T 3G SIM card in a Verizon 4G iPad. The new 5MP, f2.4 camera is also a great addition.
- The first part of the iPad experiences buying it. Kyle and Mike share their experiences with purchasing new iPad, and compare them to previous launch day purchases. Mike observed some technical problems that the Apple online store seem to be experiencing. Kyle went to the Apple Store early, and had a much better experience than the last time he tried that (aside from being pressured to buy AppleCare+). A video from Kyle’s iPad launch experience can be found here.
- Some of the favorite apps that Kyle and Mike have put on their new iPads include: Tweetbot, Reeder, Garageband, 1password, Screens, Prompt, Agenda, FileMaker Go, Keynote, Numbers, Pages, Instapaper, and Twitterific.
- We conclude with some Ask Different news. The New iPad Challenge is currently taking place. This contest awards prizes to people who participate on Ask Different. If you achieve level one, you’ll be entered into a contest to win an iPad. At level two, you’ll receive an iPod touch as well as be entered into the contest. Those who make it to level three will be given an iPad! To see details and check leaderboards, go to http://thenewipadishere.com.
- We begin with some important Ask Different news. Three new moderators have been elected. Congratulations to our own Jason, Daniel, and Mike! We look forward to working with you all.
- In other Stack Exchange news, there is now another way to see a site’s top questions. The greatest hits page, accessible at /questions/greatest-hits, shows the top 1000 questions based on how popular they are to the Internet in general.
- High on that list is How can I block specific telephone numbers on my iPhone 4?, with more than 146 thousand views at the time of this writing. Jason’s solution is to create a contact with all the numbers that he wants to block and assign a silent ringtone and empty vibration pattern to it.
- We begin with some talk of the Ask Different 2012 Community Moderator Election that is currently in progress. This year’s election is different than last year’s for a number of reasons, most of which are directly linked to the size and participation in Ask Different. We discuss the voting process, STV, and we wish all of the candidates the best.
- Also in Stack Exchange news, Jeff Atwood has announced that he will no longer be working at Stack Exchange, beginning in March. He is leaving to spend more time with his children, including two new twins. We greatly appreciate all of the work he poured into Stack Exchange and are glad that he is able to choose to spend time with his family. You should also read Joel Spolsky’s farewell post on the Stack Exchange blog. Continue Reading »
- Welcome to the podcast, Daniel! This is the perfect week to have Daniel on the podcast because, in addition to being the #10 user on Ask Different, he’s a community college teacher.
- We begin with a discussion of Area 51 and the process of starting a Stack Exchange site. Kyle recalls that his ‘Apple’ proposal took some time to get off the ground; in many ways, that was harder than maintaining the site now. Daniel used to do something similar when he evaluated potential Usenet groups.
- Ask Different has come a long way from its Area 51 days. Our traffic and questions have been rising steadily ever since graduation, about one year ago. That’s right, on January 28th, 2012, Ask Different celebrated its 1-year anniversary! Here’s to an even greater site a year from now.
- In the time after the anniversary, we’re planning an Answer-a-Thon-style cleanup effort.
- In the first phase, the community will flag posts that should be closed or deleted (for example, incomplete questions where the asker hasn’t responded to requests for more info). Otherwise, edit questions to make them cleaner and less localized.
- In the second phase, the community will go on a campaign to answer as many of the unanswered questions on the site as possible. There will be prizes for the most productive users.
This is the twenty-first episode of the Ask Different Podcast. Your hosts this week are Kyle Cronin, Jason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein. We also have a special guest today: Ask Different user and TUAW editor TJ Luoma!
This week we take a detour off the beaten path, and talk exclusively about best practices on Ask Different, and Stack Exchange in general.
Stack Exchange is a Question & Answer site. It is not a Wiki, Forum, Blog, or content aggregator like Reddit or Digg, but it takes many good ideas from these types of sites. For a long time Stack Exchange consisted of what we call the “Big 3″ Sites, Stack Overflow, Server Fault, and Super User, but over the past 2 years it has expanded into a network of 31 unique topics and growing. All of these sites follow the same basic principles, but differ in their content and scope.