Living in a state of accord.

Myth busting mythbusted

As a follow up to the earlier link regarding the performance of animations in CSS vs JavaScript, Christian Heilmann – Myth busting mythbusted:
Jack is doing a great job arguing his point that CSS animations are not always better than JavaScript animations. The issue is that all this does is debunking a blanket statement that was flawed from the very beginning and distilled down to a sound bite. An argument like “CSS animations are better than JavaScript animations for performance” is not a technical argument. It is damage control. You need to know a lot to make a JavaScript animation perform well, and you can do a lot of damage. If you use a CSS animation the only source of error is the browser. Thus, you prevent a lot of people writing even more badly optimised code for the web.
Some good points that provide balance and perspective to the way web standards evolve and how to approach web development.

Myth Busting: CSS Animations vs. JavaScript


Myth Busting: CSS Animations vs. JavaScript:

As someone who’s fascinated (bordering on obsessed, actually) with animation and performance, I eagerly jumped on the CSS bandwagon. I didn’t get far, though, before I started uncovering a bunch of major problems that nobody was talking about. I was shocked.

This article is meant to raise awareness about some of the more significant shortcomings of CSS-based animation so that you can avoid the headaches I encountered, and make a more informed decision about when to use JS and when to use CSS for animation.

Some really good detail on performance of animations in browsers. I hadn’t heard of GSAP previously but it looks like a good option for doing animations, especially if you need something beyond simple transitions.

Are iPads and tablets bad for young children?

The Guardian: Are iPads and tablets bad for young children?

Kaufman strongly believes it is wrong to presume the same evils of tablets as televisions. “When scientists and paediatrician advocacy groups have talked about the danger of screen time for kids, they are lumping together all types of screen use. But most of the research is on TV. It seems misguided to assume that iPad apps are going to have the same effect. It all depends what you are using it for.”

It all depends what you are using it for. I can’t think of a better answer to any question about whether a technology is good or bad. Kids spending time staring at an iPad watching a movie probably isn’t giving them much benefit apart from some down time to have a break, but sitting with your child playing games or reading stories on the iPad has many great benefits.

As a parent, I sometimes find this unsettling. But I try to be mindful that it is an open question whether it is unsettling because there is something wrong with it, or because it wasn’t a feature of my own childhood.

We’re often unaware of how strongly we are biased towards the way we were brought up. People who grew up in a family with two children generally want to have two children themselves. People who grew up on a farm think its important for their kids to get experience on a farm etc. Even when you’re aware of that, it’s easy to forget it works the other way too – you may view certain activities as undesirable for your children purely because you didn’t do them in your childhood.

So what should a parent who fears their child’s proficiency on a tablet do? … “You need to acquire proficiency,” she says. “You can acquire it from them. They can teach you.”

This is probably the best advice in the entire article. Don’t be afraid of doing things with your child just because you aren’t familiar with them or confident in how to do them. Discovering new things together or having your child teach you something is one of the best ways for you both to learn and grow as people.

Finally, regarding the case of a four year old who was supposedly addicted to iPad use: 

that “case”, so eagerly taken up by the tabloids, comprised a single informal phone call with a parent, in which <the doctor> gave advice. There was no followup treatment. He doesn’t believe that “addiction” is a suitable word to use of such young children.

So don’t believe everything you hear in the media…

Why Are My JUnit Tests Running So Slow?

This is mostly a note to myself, but often when I setup a new Linux install, I find that JUnit tests run significantly slower than usual. The CPU is nearly entirely idle and there’s almost no IO-wait making it hard to work out what’s going on.

The problem is that JUnit (or something in our tests or test runner) is doing a DNS lookup on the machine’s hostname. That lookup should be really fast, but if you’re connected to a VPN it may search the remote DNS server which takes time and makes the tests take much longer than they should.

The solution is to make sure your hostname is in /etc/hosts pointing to (and that /etc/hosts is searched first but it usually is). Then the lookup is lightning fast and the tests start maxing out the CPU like they should.